Episode 76: “Sociological Marxism” and Capitalist Crises––Interview with Gavin Rae

Brendan and Andrew welcome Gavin Rae, a UK-born sociologist who lives in Poland. They discuss his paper, “The Value of Crisis: Sociological Marxism and the Crisis of Capitalism,” a critique of the “Sociological Marxism” proposed by well-known left sociologists Erik Olin Wright and Michael Burawoy two decades ago, which Gavin characterizes as Marxism without Marxism. Wright and Burawoy rejected Marx’s theory of capitalist crisis, claiming that state economic management has caused capitalism to stabilize, and that the value theory underlying Marx’s crisis theory is internally inconsistent. Gavin argues that the 2007–9 Great Recession soon showed that the notion of stable capitalism is dubious. He suggests that Wright and Burawoy may have shelved the Sociological Marxism project partly for that reason. He also argues that the temporal single-system interpretation of Marx’s value theory has made it untenable to uncritically repeat the charge of the internal inconsistency.
 
 
Gavin and the co-hosts also discuss Wright and Burawoy’s embrace of Karl Polanyi’s thought––his focus on markets rather than production, his notion of a “double movement” (marketization of society and “society’s” pushback against it), and the associated concepts of “commodification” and “decommodification.” Gavin argues that Marx’s crisis theory and the “dominance of production” can be incorporated into sociology, and he suggests several ways to do so.
 
 
 
Current-events segment: New Mexico judge bars Capitol insurrectionist from holding office. Will more disqualifications follow? How high up will they go? Commentary by electoral-vote.com and a state-by-state ADL report on the Oath Keepers membership roll are cited in the discussion.

 
Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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September 9, 2022

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