Titel: Reply to Four Critics
Autor: Gerald A. Cohen
Abstract: This article is a response to criticisms of my book on Karl Marx's Theory of History which were made by four authors in last Decembers number of ANALYSE & KRITIK. After clarifying (section 2) an ambiguity in an argument for historical materialism which is presented in the book, I contend (3-5), against objections raised by Philippe Van Parijs, that historical materialism is consistent only if it explains production relations functionally, by reference to their propensity to develop the productive forces. Next (6-8) I address and rebut the views of Wal Suchting and Milton Fisk, who both think that the role of class struggle in historical materialism is larger than the one I assign to it. Finally (9-12) I try to vindicate the doctrine of base and superstructure proposed in my book against the skepticism of Steven Lukes.
Titel: The Concept of Primacy in Historical Explanation
Autor: Milton Fisk
Abstract: G. A. Cohen interprets Marx as a technological materialist; the productive forces are "primary" in history. There are several mistakes here. First, for Marx technology is neither always nor predominantly the direct stimulus - either causal or functional - of the social relations of production. Second, it is not even the case that for Marx primacy in explanation is a matter of being a direct stimulus. It has to do rather with being a framework that underlies interconnections between direct stimuli and their results. It turns out that this framework cannot be technology but only the relations of production. Third, technological development is not an autonomous process but is for Marx one that is dependent on the cooperation of producers. This introduces the political element of the class struggle into technological development and refutes a technological reading of why a given class rules.