The abstract below circulated on Historical Materialism's announcement's list is interesting. Alberto Martínez Delgado's doctoral thesis, An exploration of the Class Character of the Marxist Conception of Right argues Marxism is not an expression of proletarian experience, interests and aspirations. Instead it speaks to and articulates the outlook of an intermediary class of organisers different to and independent of the working class and the bourgeoisie. Before anyone dismisses Delgado out of hand, there are two points that make it at least worthy of consideration. The experience of Stalinism and national liberation struggles demonstrates how Marxism, or at least bastardised versions of it, were attractive to intelligentsias and other technocratic class fractions: a development Tony Cliff tried to get to grips with via his notion of deflected permanent revolution. Secondly Delgado locates his project within the critical realist tradition, itself an offshoot (often an esoteric one at that) of Marxism. In other words, he is "one of us" and his argument should be treated as coming from within Marxism rather than as a neoconservative or pomo attack from without.
Hopefully I'll find time later in the week to write something more about Delgado's thesis. While middling "organising" layers do secrete their own ideologies I do not think Marxism can be described as one of them. Here's the abstract for readers interested in learning more (it's been slightly altered to improve the standard of translation from the Spanish):
The aim of this thesis is to analyse the hypothesis that Marxism – including its juridical ideas - does not correspond to a proletarian class character. Rather, it offers conclusive signs of being representative of the interests of a new
rising social class in the capitalist society: the socialist class, the managerial class, the cadres class or the organizers class.
This central hypothesis is divided into three hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1 (socio-economic): the evolution of capitalist society engenders from the start a rising social class different from the proletariat: the organizers class; whose social functions justify its aspiration for a new economic, social and juridical structure of the society, and of the State, under its rule.
Hypothesis 2 (socio-ideological): the new emergent social class, in accordance with its own social development generates as its own ideology the Marxist socialist theory, a characteristic ideology of the new social class of the cadres, organizers, managers, or socialist class; especially of its revolutionary sector.
Hypothesis 3 (juridical): the juridical Marxist conception agrees with the interests and with the general ideology of the socialist or cadres class.
The experience of the countries of 'actually existing socialism' is a crucial support for our thesis. However, the thesis does not focus on the generalised historical lessons of the experience, but on their 'official' Marxist ideologies and on sociological and historical data about the cadres social class. This allows for a new hypothesis to emerge to explain contradictions within these societies (until their reversion to capitalism) and inside their official doctrines. This boils down to divisions between the orthodox/revolutionary tendency and the revisionist/reformist one, corresponding to the 'state-centralist' cadres and the 'enterpriselist-decentralist' cadres.
From an epistemological viewpoint, our investigation can be located in the scientific tradition of social inquiry; of trying to achieve a degree of objectivity in our knowledge, best exemplified by critical realism. The materialist approach of Marxism, which focuses on production and social classes, appears dissociated from dialectical thinking. Our materialist view connects the sociological analysis of societies, capitalist and socialist, with the “suspicion hermeneutics” of which is a a good example Marx himself: “... and just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge a revolutionary period by its consciousness, …” (Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy).