Durkheim, the Durkheimians and their Collective Misrepresentation of Marx

  • Josep R. Llobera
Chapter
Part of the Critical Social Studies book series

Abstract

It has recently been suggested that Durkheim’s success in disposing of his immediate sociological rivals — the doctrines of G. Tarde and R. Worms — partly explains the lasting hegemony of the Durkheimian paradigm in France (see Geiger, 1972; 1975). In this chapter I attempt to show that historical materialism was another important obstacle to the consolidation of Durkheim’s brand of sociology and that it was paramount for him and his associates to destroy historical materialism’s claim to scientificity. I maintain that the rejection of historical materialism by Durkheim and the Durkheimians was fundamentally ideological and that to this effect they concentrated on the perpetuation of the straw man of economic determinism or so called ‘vulgar Marxism’. It is not my intention to deny the existence of ‘vulgar Marxism’; on the contrary, I show that such leading French ‘Marxists’ as J. Guesde, G. Deville and P. Lafargue fit perfectly well into this category. I also point out, however, that a different sort of Marxism available in France, that of G. Sorel and A. Labriola, was either ignored by Durkheim and his followers, as in the case of Sorel, or distorted, as in the reduction of Labriola’s Essays to some kind of economic determinism.

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Copyright information

© Joel S. Kahn and Josep R. Llobera 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josep R. Llobera
    • 1
  1. 1.Goldsmiths’ CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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