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4. Anti-Marxism and Science

Anti-Marxism fully subscribes to Marxism’s hostility towards capitalism. And it resents Marxism’s political pro­gram, especially its presumed internationalism and pacifism. But resentment does not lend itself to scientific work, or even to politics. At best it lends itself to demagoguery.

But for every scientific thinker the objectionable point of Marxism is its theory, which seems to cause no offense to the Anti-Marxist. We have seen how Sombart continues to appreciate Marx as a man of science. The Anti-Marxist merely objects to the political symptoms of the Marxian system, not to its scientific content. He regrets the harm done by Marxian policies to the German people, but is blind to the harm done to German intellectual life by the platitudes and deficiencies of Marxian problems and solutions. Above all, he fails to perceive that political and economic troubles are consequences of this intellectual calamity. He does not appreciate the importance of science for everyday living, and, under the influence of Marxism, believes that “real” power instead of ideas is shaping history.

We can completely agree with Anti-Marxism that the recovery of Germany must begin with overcoming Marxism. But this overcoming, if it is to be permanent, must be the work of science, not of a political movement that is guided by resentment. German science must free itself of the bonds of Marxism by putting behind it the historicism which for decades has kept it intellectually impotent. It must shed its fear of theory in economics and sociology and get acquainted with the theoretical achievements (even those by Germany) attained during the last generation.

Carl Menger’s statements of more than forty years ago on modern German economic literature are still valid today and apply to all the social sciences: “Scarcely noticed abroad, and barely understandable abroad on account of its peculiar tendencies, German economics for decades has remained untouched by serious opponents. With unflinching confidence in its own methods it often has lacked serious self-criticism. He who pursued another direction in Germany was ignored, not refuted.”42Only a thorough study of the works of German and foreign sociology differing from etatism and historicism could help to extricate it from the deadlock of prevailing doctrine in Germany. German science would not be the only beneficiary. Great problems await their solution that cannot be achieved without German cooperation. Again in the words of Menger: “All great civilized nations have their .particular mission in the unfolding of science. Each aberration of a sizeable number of scholars of one nation leaves a gap in the development of scientific knowledge. Economics, too, cannot do without the singleminded cooperation of the German mind.”43

Above all, German science must make a proper assessment of the importance of Marxism. It is true, the Marxists and Anti-Marxists greatly overestimate Marxism as a scientific system. But also those who deny Marx as the first harbinger of the substance of the Marxian doctrine raise no objection against the validity of the doctrine itself. Only he who can see the world without Marxian blinders may approach the great problems of sociology. Only when German science has freed itself from the Marxian errors in which it is enmeshed today, then, and only then, will the power of Marxist slogans disappear from political life.

  • 42. C. Menger, op. cit., p. xx et seq.
  • 43. Ibid., p. xxi.
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