This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, see our privacy statement

New Left Review I/195, September-October 1992

Stephen Resnick, Richard Wolff

Everythingism, or Better Still, Overdetermination

While pleased to be associated with Ellen Meiksins Wood’s position against Alan Carling and ‘Rational Choice’ or ‘Analytical’ Marxism, we believe that Carling’s caricature of Wood’s Marxism and ours as ‘everythingism’ requires a rebuttal. [1] Alan Carling, ‘In Defence of Rational Choice: A Reply to Ellen Meiksins Wood’, nlr 184, November–December 1990, pp. 97–109. By inserting us into the ‘Hindess/Hirst school’ Carling raises questions about whether he read our book as well as cited it (Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy, Chicago 1987), since we there explicitly criticize Hindess and Hirst on just the issue of what Carling dismisses as ‘everythingism’. Wood’s own reply to Carling does not confront all that is at stake here, especially the refusal to deal seriously with the basic philosophical and methodological challenge posed for Marxism by Marxists working with this ‘everythingism’. [2] Ellen Meiksins Wood, ‘Explaining Everything or Nothing?’, nlr 184, November– December 1990, pp. 116–28. But first, the term ‘everythingism’ itself needs to be set aside in favour of what we actually argue. Calling it an ‘unfortunate strain of Marxian thought’, Carling defines everythingism (p. 98) as the view that ‘you need a complete explanation of something before you can have any explanation of something’. He rejects this caricature in favour of a practical approach which, not ‘aiming for an utterly exhaustive explanation’, gets ‘along as best we can—one bit of explanation at a time’.

Subscribe for just £40 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3


Stephen Resnick, Richard Wolff, ‘Everythingism, or Better Still, Overdetermination’, NLR I/195: £3

If you want to create a new NLR account please register here

’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’