- Marxism and liberalism are fundamentally opposed to each other
- Marxism and liberalism are distinct but related forms of modernism
- Marxism is a variant of a larger liberal orthodoxy
One of the commenters was firmly committed to the first option. He thought that Marxism stood in opposition to liberalism - which then makes it sound as if Marxism is one of a number of real alternatives to liberalism within modern politics.
At a general level, Schwarzmantel seems to agree. After all, he is a neo-Gramscian Marxist attempting to set up what he calls a "counter-ideology" to the dominant liberalism of today. But it turns out that he views Marxism more in terms of the second and third options.
For instance, he describes Gramsci as believing that,
Marxism was a 'heresy' of liberalism, since both were born on the same terrain of modern civilisation ... For him both liberalism and Marxism were modernist ideologies par excellence ... (p.10)
The idea of Marxism being a heresy of liberalism suggests that liberalism is a parent philosophy from which Marxism is derived. And what is the heresy? Schwarzmantel writes:
To return to Gramsci for a moment, his idea was that Marxism, the 'philosophy of praxis', could provide the effective opposition and transcendence of liberalism. It was, like liberalism, a modernist or progressive philosophy, born on the terrain of modern civilisation. But it could go beyond liberalism ... in that it would appeal to broader strata of the population, it would be the Reformation compared to the 'Renaissance' represented by contemporary liberalism. (p.18)
This doesn't help much as it describes the 'heresy' in terms of political reach rather than in terms of underlying philosophy.
Schwarzmantel himself advocates as his "counter-ideology" to liberal dominance something that seems to very closely resemble left-liberalism. He describes his "counter-ideology" as,
an ideology of the Left. It takes seriously classical values of the Left, equality, solidarity and reciprocity, as well as a desire to restrain or restrict the scope of commodified market relations. (p.19)
I doubt if there are too many left-liberals who would have a problem with such a counter-ideology. It is typical of left-liberals that they reject the right-liberal reliance on the hidden hand of the free market to organise a society of autonomous individuals.
Schwarzmantel is concerned to reject a right-liberal view of freedom as a freedom of consumer choice. He prefers instead the idea of a freedom of self-development. He admits that this too is an idea to be found within liberalism:
The first of these is the theme of self-development, common to both liberalism and Marxism. The dominant ideology of contemporary society holds out a view of freedom as the freedom to choose; this, indeed, is the title of a popular book by M. Friedman, Free to Choose.
Both liberalism and Marxism (and here I think is common ground between them) have a more developmental view of freedom, as the freedom to develop human potential. I would argue that in both perspectives this capacity for self-development is not tied to market relations. Indeed, market relations with their instrumental perspective are seen as at best necessary but subordinate, or at worst quite inimical, to the development of human potential. (p.14)
And what of this self-development that is not tied to market relations? What does is consist of? Schwarzmantel advocates ideals of political and economic citizenship. The economic citizenship runs as follows:
all would have an obligation to work and to contribute ... a more egalitarian society in which work presented 'a site of intrinsically valuable challenge' would be able legitimately to call on citizens to make whatever contribution was in accordance with their ability. (pp. 16-17)
In other words, careerism! We are to self-develop through careers. This is what liberalism nearly always recommends, because it fits with the idea of a self-creating, self-determining individual. We get to choose our individual career pathway, in contrast to our nation, our ethny, our religion, our culture and so on. So for liberals, career is nearly always put at the centre of life meaning.
So not only is Schwarzmantel not establishing much of a "counter-ideology" to liberalism here, he is also still tying human potential to economic purposes - to the market - the very thing he set himself against.
As for political citizenship, Schwarzmantel himself doubts that "shared citizenship rights" are likely to have enough emotional appeal to motivate a commitment to society:
... the issue is whether a concept of shared civic rights is rooted firmly enough in an affective base which is needed in order to give citizens the incentive or emotional stimulus to internalise and make their own ideas of shared political community. (p.17)
So I can't see how Schwarzmantel's political and economic citizenship is likely to extend the development of human potential. Nor can I see how it's likely to trouble the role of the market. Nor how it runs "counter" to liberalism in any significant way.
Schwarzmantel has produced another left-liberal ideology and not a counter-ideology to a dominant liberalism.