We have been critical of Marxism and of historical materialism but as the paragraph cited below makes clear we fail to see beyond the wrapper to the vigorous intent to really take on capitalism with an empirical blunderbuss blast over the bows. But part of the problem is the obscurity of economics and its a al carte incoherence of concepts dressed up, again like Marx, in the pretense of science. Try to work through any text book of economics (cf Krugman and Wells, is you can still get second hand copies for a dollar or two at Amazon, the business economic texts if Big Business for first editions in the captive audiences of Econo 101 classes) and you will find a subject a lot harder than Newton’s physics, if only because it will never make complete sense. Again that helps clarify Marx’s confusions: he embraced the dragon and the battle ended stalemate.
Marx’s obsessive British Library studies reflect the early difficulties of ambitious parties hoping to complete the scientific revolution by annexing evolution, sociology and psychology. The path to socialism should adopt an ‘recipe’ tactical and not presume to economic omniscience of theory. What is needed is an economy that can function, unlike the monstrosities of Bolshevism, say, and that is not so hard to achieve unless you obsessed with theory.
For instance, the factory inspectors employed by the British state from the early 1830s, though few in number and largely impotent, provided Marx and Friedrich Engels with a treasure trove of data without which the development of the empirically grounded arguments of Capital would have been impossible. So enthusiastic was Marx about the value of a bureaucracy armed with the tools of scientific objectivity that he described the head of the factory inspectorate, Leonard Horner, as the “censor of factories.”
Source: How Analytic Philosophers Have Made Sense of Capitalism