AYN RAND:THE RUSSIAN RADICAL

AYN RAND:THE RUSSIAN RADICAL

AND

MARX, HAYEK, AND UTOPIA


PUBLISHED REVIEWS

MICHAEL A. PRINCIPE, RADICAL PHILOSOPHY REVIEW OF BOOKS, no. 14 (1996)


Michael Principe discusses both of Sciabarra's books:   "Sciabarra writes in hope of contributing to radicalism, and as a defender of the dialectical method. His sense of the latter is heavily informed by the work of Bertell Ollman, who was his teacher and is now his colleague. And so it is disconcerting that the heroes of these two works are Ayn Rand and F. A. Hayek, arch defenders of capitalism. How is this possible? What is the nature of Sciabarra's 'radicalism'? To be radical as Marx himself reminded us is to go to the root. For Rand too this is the 'literal and reputable sense of the word'. (370) Sciabarra agrees, seeing this as connected to the dialectic and a philosophy of internal relations. This generates Sciabarra's ongoing project of bringing a dialectical method to bear on the analysis of libertarian thinkers. A book on libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard, criticizing him for being insufficiently dialectical is in the works. The scale and nuance of Sciabarra's growing body of work raises disturbing questions for anyone who identifies him or herself as a radical. . . . Hence, while Sciabarra rejects Marx's social vision, both of these books are filled with quite positive remarks regarding Marx's method and include positive references to such thinkers as Gramsci, Marcuse, and Habermas."

Principe provides a critique of the two books that challenges Rand's and Hayek's radical credentials, even as it appreciates Sciabarra's analysis. Most objectionable is "the uncritical, undialectical, and fundamentally ideological approach to the individual" on display in the work of such libertarians. Principe is also critical of Sciabarra's interpretation of Marx, but concludes: "Sciabarra's work is interesting and challenging and ultimately an important source for thinking about the nature of political radicalism. While my remarks have been largely critical, especially of his reading of Marx, his presentation of Marxist thinkers is far from uninformed, sometimes rising above that found in some leftist critics of Marxism. While readers of this review are unlikely to be in complete agreement with his approach, he does offer up approaches to Rand and Hayek that allow for engagement from a Marxist perspective."


Sciabarra Responds to Principe Click here to view the Author's response

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