The Public Interest

Look for the Marxist Label

Stephen Miller

Spring 1983

WITH the professionalization of scholarship in the late nineteenth century, those who wrote books not intended for the common reader-books that were based on scholarly researchcame to see themselves as members of distinct fields of inquiry or disciplines: art historians, political scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and so on. In the world of contemporary scholarship, which exists mainly in the academy, there are also many sub-disciplinary labels that vaguely describe the approach of a scholar to his discipline, so that in philosophy we find Kantians or Thomists, and in sociology we find Weberians. Most scholars, however, do not assign themselves such a name-label, perhaps because they think it intellectually confining to regard oneself as overwhelmingly in the debt of one thinker. But if the use of most such labels is not so popular in the academy today-it is rare, for example, to find a philosopher who calls himself a Thomist-the use of the Marxist label continues to flourish.

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