Marx's Dream: From Capitalism to Communism 9780226554662

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Marx's Dream: From Capitalism to Communism
 9780226554662

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Marx’s Dream

Marx’s Dream From Capitalism to Communism

Tom Rockmore

University of Chicago Press  Chicago and London

The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London © 2018 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact the University of Chicago Press, 1427 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637. Published 2018 Printed in the United States of America 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18   1 2 3 4 5 ISBN-­13: 978-­0-­226-­55452-­5 (cloth) ISBN-­13: 978-­0-­226-­55466-­2 (e-­book) DOI: https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226554662.001.0001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Rockmore, Tom, 1942– author. Title: Marx’s dream : from capitalism to communism / Tom Rockmore. Description: Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017038032 | ISBN 9780226554525 (cloth : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780226554662 (e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Marx, Karl, 1818–1883. | Philosophy, Modern—19th century. Classification: LCC B3305.M74 R573 2018 | DDC 335.4092—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017038032 ♾ This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-­1992 (Permanence of Paper).

The unity of theory and practice exists not only in theory but also for practice. Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness

Contents



Introduction 1

Pa r t O n e  

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

7

On Culture and Civilization  9 Plato’s Republic and Human Flourishing  10 Rousseau’s Problem  12 On Property, Private Property, and Human Flourishing  16 Hegel, Recognition, and the Modern State  19 Hegel on Human Flourishing in the Modern State  21 Hegel and Economic Flourishing  24 Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right  29 Marx on Theory, Practice, and Changing the World  39 On the Marxian Subject  40 Feuerbach, Fichte, and the Marxian Subject  43 On the Marxian Alternative to Modern Political Economy  49 Marxian Political Economy as Economic Constructivism  52 Marx on Human Flourishing and Communism  55 Human Flourishing as Social Freedom  62

Marx and Marxism on Materialism,



Pa r t T w o  



Feuerbach, and Hegel What Is Materialism?  74 Materialism in Marx’s Early Writings  82 Engels’s (Marxist) View of Feuerbach  89 Materialism, Idealism, and The German Ideology  96 Marx’s (Non-­Marxist) View of Feuerbach  102 Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach”  105

73

CO N T E N T S

Vico, Materialism, and Constructivism in Capital  114 Materialism, Dialectic, and the Second Afterword to Capital  119 Excursus on the Reflection Theory of Knowledge  125 On Hegel’s Dialectical Theory of Cognition  133 Marx on Hegelian Dialectic  139

Pa r t T h r e e  

On the Practice of Marx’s Theory, or the

Transition from Capitalism to Communism

147

1. Transition through the Revolutionary Proletariat  148 2. Transition through Economic Crisis  157 Normal and Abnormal Economic Crises 161 Introduction to Marx on “Crisis” in Theories of Surplus Value  168 Marx Attacks Ricardo’s View of Profit 172 The Mature Marxian View of Economic Crisis 175 Financial Crisis and the Marxian Model of Economic Crisis 177 Economic Crisis and Value Theory 178 Limitations to the Falling Rate of Profit 183 Croce, Okishio, Piketty, and the Falling Rate of Profit 184 Critical Remarks on the Marxian Model of the Final Economic Crisis 187 An Excursus on Marx and Financial Crisis 189 3. Transition through Politics  193 On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat 194 On the Practice of Proletarian Dictatorship 197 On the Withering Away of the State 200 Lenin on the Party as the Revolutionary Vanguard 201 Lenin on Democracy 203 Dictatorship over the Proletariat 206 4. Transition through Critical Social Theory  209 Hegel, Marx, and Critical Theory 211 Critical Theory, or Critical Social Theory 213 Excursus on Pollock and Critical Theory 217 Pollock, Habermas, and Critical Social Theory 220 Habermas on Historical Materialism 222

Conclusion: Marx’s Dream

Notes 243   Index 275 viii

232

Introduction

Karl Marx was trained in classical German philosophy. Though he later became a political economist, in some respects he always remained a German idealist philosopher.1 He is, by any measure, one of the most important thinkers of modern times. In the middle of the nineteenth century he dreamed a powerful dream of an alternative vision of modern indus­ trial society. His effort to solve the ancient philosophical problem of human flourishing provides a position as well as the criterion to evaluate it in his famous claim that phi­ losophers only interpret the world but the point is to change it. In rejecting the suggestion that philosophy as such is use­ ful, he formulates a view that neither overlooks nor isolates theory from practice, nor substitutes practice for theory. The practical possibility of such a theory is not evident but must be examined. One of the differences between this volume and the usual way to approach Marx is that this book attempts as much as possible to understand him through his own texts rather than seeking to understand him through Marxism. Marx­ ism was mainly created by and still often follows Friedrich Engels. It was initially formulated in the 1880s, shortly af­ ter Marx’s passing, at a time when many of Marx’s central texts were not yet available. They include a number of his most important writings: “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law [Elements of the Philosophy of Right],” the Paris Manuscripts, the Grundrisse, Capital volumes 2 and 3, and the Theories of Surplus Value. There are clearly political reasons for understanding Marx through Marxism

1

Introduction

in continuing to maintain the fiction that Marx and Engels hold the same view but that, as is sometimes said, Engels explains it better. Yet there are clearly philosophical reasons to understand Marx through his own writings. Since Marxism was formulated before the majority of these texts were available, there is an obvious tendency to insist on various forms of the Marxist view of Marx that has historically often been de­ fended against the view Marx works out in writings that in many cases only later became available. In parting with this tendency, this study will base its account of Marx’s position on what he in fact says as distin­ guished from what is often said in his name. For the present aim is not other than incidentally to find out what is living and dead in Marxism but rather to find what is living and dead in Marx. This study breaks with the Marxist view of Marx in four main ways. First, it depicts the concern with the relation of theory to practice as arising in the tradition as early as Socrates and as constitutive of philoso­ phy in its best moments. Second, it seeks to free Marx from his unsolic­ ited Marxist embrace in order to consider his theory on its own merits. Third, it relies on the normal standards of philosophical debate, hence without special pleading of any kind. Fourth, it seeks to read Marx in his own context as well as from the present perspective in order to present, as far as possible, a wide-­ranging, informed view of Marx for our times. The need to read Marx not only in his own historical moment but in ours as well is obvious. This is a historical moment in which Marx’s contribution lies less in his possible contribution to bringing about revo­ lution however understood than in helping us to understand the con­ temporary world. Since Marx stresses practice, and since the world has changed, we should no longer read Marx in the way that, say, he was understood by Vladimir Lenin shortly after the turn of the twentieth cen­ tury. It is more useful to read Marx against the background of current problems and possible solutions. Hence one aim of this volume is to sug­ gest a different way to grasp Marx at a time when, unlike the 1920s, it no longer seems as if the entire world, or at least Europe, is teetering on the verge of revolution. Though I will often be critical of Marx, let me say that I regard his crit­ icisms of capitalism in the middle of the nineteenth century as correctly identifying deep, persistent problems of modern industrial society that for the most part are unfortunately still with us. The difficulty lies less in the diagnosis, which mainly appears sound, than in the suggested reme­ dies, which are often unsound. Marx, who died in 1883, is a rare original thinker. This study is largely concerned with piecing together, interpreting, and evaluating Marx’s over­ 2

introduction

all position, which he never presents in any single text. Marx’s view is more than usually difficult to interpret. He is not always a precise or clear writer. Further, few of his texts, with the obvious exception of the first volume of Capital, were intended for publication or even finished. His extensive bibliography is composed of often very interesting, important, but incomplete fragments that, taken together, represent Marx’s gigantic effort in a huge corpus over many years to work out his position. Marx is often, indeed routinely, conflated with those who claim to speak in his name. Statements by influential Marxists are often taken as an authoritative description of Marx’s position. In places where Marxism is historically strong, such as the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China, Marx has often been and in the latter is still often studied through textbooks prepared by Marxists rather than through his own writings. This practice amounts to reducing Marx’s position to a form of ideology. His success or failure in addressing the problem or problems for which his theory was formulated is less often studied.2 Classical Marxism depicts Marx, under the influence of Ludwig Feuer­ bach, as leaving philosophy behind in order to solve the problems of clas­ sical German philosophy. This Marxist-­inspired Feuerbachian approach to interpreting Marx is developed in different ways in the debate. These include the claim that Marx was concerned to leave philosophy, the idea that there is a so-­called epistemological break between the early philo­ sophical position and the later supposedly extraphilosophical scientific or at least more scientific position, the view that Marx seeks to overcome problems that German idealism is incapable of overcoming, and so on. Yet it is false that he followed Feuerbach (or indeed anyone else) in leaving Hegel, or philosophy, behind. Marx is often depicted as leaving philosophy behind for science. According to Engels, Marx, in departing from philosophy, discovered the law of the development of human his­ tory. I will be describing Marx’s position, on the contrary, as a continu­ ous series of developments initially arising out of his philosophical cri­ tique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right and eventually leading without breaks of any kind to his alternative model, including his rival economic theory of modern industrial society. Marx follows Socrates and many later thinkers in seeking to apply philosophical insights to the world in which we live. From ancient Greece to the present, selected thinkers have sought to bring philoso­ phy to bear on a range of social problems. Socrates famously claims that the unexamined life is not worth living. In the seventh letter, Plato says that “the true philosophy . . . enables us to discern what is just for a city or an individual in every case and that the human race will have no respite 3

Introduction

from evils until those who are really and truly philosophers acquire political power or until, through some divine dispensation, those who rule and have political authority in cities become real philosophers.”3 Others have been content merely to practice philosophy, secure, like Im­ manuel Kant, in the belief that it is in all its forms intrinsically useful. I will be arguing that Marx does not break with but rather builds on his philosophical background in formulating his own distinctive posi­ tion, initially through his dialogue with G. W. F. Hegel. This updated ver­ sion of the struggle between the gods and giants ( gigantomachia peri tes ousias), or quarrel about reality, takes different forms running through­ out his entire position.4 Marx does not turn his back on philosophy but rather strives to provide a distinctive new response to the ancient prob­ lem of human flourishing. This traditional philosophical theme arises in the early Greek tradition and assumes a distinctive new form in the mod­ ern tradition beginning with Jean-­Jacques Rousseau. The present work is, like Gaul, divided into three parts. The first sec­ tion depicts Marx’s philosophy as a theory of human flourishing. It situ­ ates Marx within the broader ethical tradition from Plato onward, with special attention to Hegel but also to Johann Gottlieb Fichte and others. The first section seeks to free Marx from his self-­appointed Marxist followers to understand him through his own writings. It is well said that Marxism is a series of misunderstandings about Marx.5 Marxism makes the implausible, politically motivated suggestion that Marx’s view arose as a single position jointly invented and jointly held by Marx and Engels. In this way it directs attention away from important differences in philosophical temperament, training, and capacity. These differences emerge from crucial philosophical disagreements between them. Marx, who earned a doctorate in philosophy according to the standards of the day, was a product of classical German philosophy. Engels, who did not finish high school, was a philosophical autodidact. His views are often closer to positivism than to Marx’s own views. Marx and Engels were closely associated over many years. They agree politically but disagree philosophically. Marxism claims their views are identical in attributing different roles to each of them. Marxism often depicts Engels as a philosopher and Marx as a political economist. It would be closer to the mark to say that Marx was a philosopher as well as a political economist, but Engels, who had many interests, was neither one. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels invented an influential but largely imaginary tale of how Feuerbach enabled Marx to escape from philoso­ phy to science, from idealism to materialism, and, by implication, from ide­ology to truth. 4

introduction

The second section discusses aspects of Marx’s relation to Hegel in some detail in developing the non-­Marxist interpretation of Marx pre­ sented here. It depicts Marx as a philosopher either within or at least close to the German idealist tradition. It argues that the Marxist account of Feuerbach as the key to Marx’s transition from idealism to materialism is false. It further argues that the traditional Marxist account of Marx as a materialist arises mainly through a series of misunderstandings invented by Engels and should be rejected. Marx’s effort to understand the relation of theory to practice is not intended as an end in itself but rather as a means to transcend modern industrial society through the transition to a postmodern form of soci­ ety often called communism (and less often socialism). The third section considers four main accounts of the transition from capitalism to com­ munism, including the action of the revolutionary proletariat hand in hand with the philosophers, as following from an unmanageable eco­ nomic crisis, as orchestrated by an organized revolutionary communist party, and finally as brought about by critical social theory. Marx’s overriding concern is not to overcome Hegel and even less to overcome Feuerbach. It is rather to solve (or resolve) the modern version of the theme of human flourishing, roughly free and full development as a human individual in the social context. This theme takes different forms at different times. After Rousseau the ancient philosophical con­ cern with happiness or virtue is transformed through the Industrial Rev­ olution into the problem of freedom in modern industrial society. Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and others discuss this theme in differ­ ent ways, though not under that name. According to Marx, human flour­ ishing is not and cannot be realized in the modern industrial world. It can only be reached in the postcapitalist or communist phase for which capitalism is a necessary presupposition. Marx’s answer to this theme arises through his dialogue with Hegel and others. Marx’s early text “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law [Elements of the Philosophy of Right]” (1843)6 shapes his critique of Hegel, German idealism, and philosophy in general as well as his own alternative view. His “productive” misreading of Hegel’s view of the conditions and nature of human flourishing leads to his rival theory of this theme. In his Elements of the Philosophy of  Right Hegel answers Rousseau through a multilevel account of human flourishing within the confines of the modern world. Marx’s sharp critique of Hegel’s account of modern soci­ ety that begins at the beginning of his intellectual career runs through­ out his writings until the end of his life. In a sense, all of his later writings 5

Introduction

are successive steps in his effort to go further than Hegel in formulating a multidimensional view of human flourishing in the context of mod­ ern industrial society. Marx’s position takes shape as his response to the complex question of the transition from capitalism, the central element in modern indus­ trial society, to communism, also known as socialism. The suggestion that theory must not only interpret but also change the world points toward the unclear, never realized, in all probability unrealizable tran­ sition from capitalism to communism as Marx understands it. Marx’s view is heroic, insightful, and in many ways still useful. Yet when judged by his own standard as a theory that not merely interprets but also real­ izes itself, his position fails. In other words, it fails as a theory that ap­ pears likely or even possibly capable of realizing itself in practice as he understands it. It will be useful to say a word about the edition of Marx’s writings I will rely on here. Except for rare instances, I will be citing the Collected Works of Marx and Engels (CW ) published in fifty volumes by Lawrence and Wishart in London, also known as the MECW, or Marx-­Engels Col­ lected Works. This edition is currently the most complete edition of the collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels translated into En­ glish. As such it is preferable to the MEGA (Marx-­Engels Gesamtausgabe), which, when it is finished, will be the definitive edition and when it is translated into English will displace the CW, but which is currently still a work in progress. I do not deny that there are better partial editions. The scholar may wish to verify particular texts in the MEGA edition. Yet, like the MECW, this study is not intended solely for the scholar, though it does not intentionally slight scholarship, but is rather intended for educated people everywhere. At present this aim seems best served by a more widely available, though less scholarly edition.

6

Pa r t O n e

On Marx’s Theory of Practice Philosophical views, like theories of all kinds, are formulated to respond to problems, enigmas, and puzzles of the most varied kinds. Marx’s main concern is a modern variation on the traditional ethical theme of human flourishing. This theme, which overlaps with such related conceptions as nature and nurture, happiness, self-­actualization, human development, and other near synonyms, is as old as the Western philosophical tradition. It is, though not under that heading, anticipated by Socrates, stated by Plato, restated by Aristotle, and reformulated in modern times by Rousseau as what I will be calling Rousseau’s problem. Rousseau asks the crucial question, In what social conditions, or in what kind of society, do human beings flourish and, if there is a difference, in what conditions do they flour­ ish best? This theme emerges in the ancient tradition and runs throughout the modern tradition. It clearly en­gages Kant, Hegel, and Marx. Yet at present, after John Rawls, it is possible we are in the midst of a turn away from a concern with human flourishing and toward the more limited and perhaps less interesting question of what is just, not, as Plato asked, in the state writ large, but rather for the modern individual.1 Marx and Hegel react to Rousseau’s problem, and more generally to the modern world, in sharply opposing ways. In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right and other texts, Hegel studies freedom within modern industrial society.

7

Pa r t O n e

This is a theme he does not discover but analyzes in depth and embraces. He thinks finite human beings “recognize” themselves within the modern world. Marx rejects Hegel’s view of capitalism as even potentially an acceptable solution. He focuses on liberating individuals from the conse­ quences of modern industrial capitalism, hence from the modern world, as a condition of flourishing in communism or a future social phase lying beyond capitalism. Hegel was consistently interested in property throughout his career, starting with his early theological writings, then again in the early Jena lectures, before culminating in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. He approaches the modern state through a quasi-­Fichtean conception of the finite human subject as basically active from the related perspectives of property, morality, and ethics. Hegel’s ethical theory builds on a number of predecessors, including Rousseau. Hegel regards Rousseau as the first thinker to recognize that free will is central to political philosophy. Hegel shares Rousseau’s view of the unity of morality or, perhaps better, ethics and desire when the subjective desire is objectively right. Yet he rejects the idea of the noble savage who acts on immediate desires. Hence he turns away from the idea of the isolated individual subject in favor of a plural conception of the subject2 as well as from the social contractarian position to which the concept of the noble savage leads. Hegel believes that it is only in spirit that one is free. He thinks that human freedom is a product of human history, which is finally and best attained in the modern state. We know that Marx was already reading Hegel as a teenager. The beginning of his lifelong dialogue with Hegel is his “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s [Elements of the] Philosophy of Right” (1843), the essay that later led to his mature position; Marx ini­ tially encounters the problem of human freedom in modern industrial society in criticizing Hegel in the initial installment of a dialogue between these two conceptual giants that runs in different ways throughout all Marx’s later writings. Except for the introduction, this text was not published during Marx’s lifetime. The whole text, which only finally appeared in 1927, was not available as Marxism was taking shape.3 In The Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel analyzes the problem of recognition in the context of an analysis of the relationship of master (Knecht) and slave (Diener). The Elements of the Philosophy of Right studies human freedom in the modern world, culminating in an account of recognition in the institutions of the modern state. Property is crucial to Hegel’s idea of modern self-­recognition as well as to capitalism. According to Hegel, “A person, in distinguishing himself from himself, relates himself to an­ other person, and indeed it is only as owners of property that the two 8

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

have existence for each other.”4 Marx denies the Hegelian view that we recognize ourselves in modern society, particularly through property. It would be incorrect to claim that Marx calls attention to private property, which Hegel somehow overlooks. Yet their views clearly differ on this topic. According to Hegel, property is a basic form of social possession that gives a person status protected by contract and against crime with respect to others. Marx believes that private ownership of the means of production does not enable but rather prevents human self-­ recognition, hence human flourishing in modern society.5 Hegel thinks individuals can and do flourish within the institutions of the modern world. According to Marx, an indispensable condition of human flourishing is to leave capitalism behind in making the transition to communism. Marx, for whom Hegel misunderstands the modern world, holds that we must change the world to bring about human flourishing. The Marxian intention to change the world is a qualified restatement of the Aristotelian theory of the sublunar world in which we live. Marx’s position includes theories of the subject, modern industrial society, communism as opposed to capitalism, and human flourishing as real social freedom possible only under communism. These four views function as pillars of Marx’s solution to Rousseau’s problem of the real conditions of human freedom in the modern world. The Marxian conception of the subject arises in rejecting the Hegelian conception of the subject as the absolute, as well as the economic conception of what is often described as homo economicus, in favor of a modified form of the Fichtean view. Marx identifies capitalism and communism through the institution of private property. One of the great surprises is that Marx, who spent a life of enormous intellectual toil struggling to bring about the flourishing of human beings, and who wrote voluminously, said very little about how he understood this goal. He seems never to have identified a final view of human freedom. His solution to the theme of human flourishing in communism is perhaps best characterized through the shortening of the working day. I come back to this point below.

On Culture and Civilization Human flourishing is studied in a bewildering series of domains including religion, medicine, sociology, philosophy, and so on. It includes such conceptions as happiness (eudaimonia), independence or self-­sufficiency (autarkeia), virtue or excellence of function, health, welfare, full development, and so on. According to Christianity human flourishing depends 9

Pa r t O n e

on reversing the fall. Augustine describes this approach, which for Christians of all stripes has always centered on a relation of finite human being to an infinite God, as returning from Athens to Jerusalem.6 Another approach is to understand culture and civilization as human constructions, in short as a series of indirect relations to themselves. Human beings emerge within nature in constructing culture as well as, if there is a difference, civilization. It has been widely believed since Greek antiquity that human beings are social animals who naturally live in groups of various kinds, including the Greek polis and later cities and modern states. The city in all its many forms has a special role for human beings as a site for living, living better, and living well. In different ways the relation of humanly constructed surroundings to human flourishing, roughly what Aristotle called happiness (eudaimonia) as the consequence of excellence of function, has been on the agenda over a very long period. Plato’s Republic is an early effort to respond to this problem through a rationally designed city-­state at a point in time when city and state had not yet been separated. The vocabulary and in part the problem changes in the modern tradition, where the ancient concern with happiness7 gives way to emphasis on freedom. In modern times human flourishing is understood as variously referring to self-­determination or human development8 by Adam Smith,9 Rousseau, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Marx, and many others.

Plato’s Republic and Human Flourishing The relation of nature and culture attracted interest in early Greek philosophy. In the Republic, Socrates is challenged to demonstrate that justice is better than injustice. He responds by describing a just city that, since no one is self-­sufficient, relies on cooperation for meeting human needs.10 The Platonic conception of the city-­state echoes through the later debate, where it is understood in different ways. What for Hegel is only an empty ideal11 is for Martin Heidegger the very model for the Nazi state12 from the totalitarian perspective K. R. Popper rejects.13 In different ways, the theory of the rational state links politics, aesthetics, and epistemology. According to Plato, those engaged in cultural pursuits, including artists, sculptors, and poets, should be banned from the polis. For they do not and cannot know what they depict. This view supposes a mimetic conception of art that was the norm in ancient Greece. Nonphilosophical art must be excluded from the just polis that is based on philosophical insights. Plato contrasts philosophers, who 10

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

alone have access to reality, hence know, to artists, sculptors, painters, and others of all kinds who do not and cannot know. He depicts philosophers as the true artists, who construct a republic that, as a work of art in his sense, is simultaneously true, good, and useful. The Platonic account of human flourishing is based on a conception of human being. The main insight is the conception of function (ergon) that, if properly exercised, constitutes human well-­being. The basic argument emerges in the course of thinking about living better in a just state late in Republic, book 1. Socrates asks, in calling attention to a conception of human being underlying the theme of living better in the just state: “Do you think there is such a thing as the function of a horse?”14 This leads to an important argument linking function and virtue. A function is what someone or something alone can do or does better than anything else, and a virtue is excellence of function. Socrates illustrates this doctrine in pointing out that a horse has a function, or what one can do with it. In the same way, the function of the eye is to see and of the ear it is to hear. Socrates goes on to suggest that, if the soul is just, a person will live well. The key insight is that a human being has a function best expressed in a particular kind of social context. Plato links his conception of human function to the organization of the city-­state, or the individual writ large. The Platonic republic is conceived as a living work of art, in which, through division of labor corresponding to intrinsic capacity, each person is subordinated to the whole in exerting a function that that person is most capable or even only capable of performing. Plato draws attention to a link between human capacity and human function that echoes through the later debate. He believes that living well—­what Aristotle later thinks of as human happiness (eudaimonia),15 which is also sometimes translated as human function16—­depends on excellence of human function in a social context, in short, in doing the job well for which one is assigned by nature as it were. This view echoes through the later tradition. In modern times, it returns as the idea of the division of labor in two ways. On the one hand, there is one’s specific capacity to be happy in a social context. Thus Aristotle describes human flourishing as an activity, or the exercise of virtue, also called excellence (arête), according to reason, a characteristic he understands as unique to human beings. On the other hand, there is the maximization of profit within the process of production condemned by Smith, Marx, and many others. Smith points out that, as Marx later emphasizes, especially in his account of alienation in the Paris Manuscripts, “the man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, 11

Pa r t O n e

perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding . . . and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to be. . . . But in every improved and civilized society this is the state in which the laboring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.”17

Rousseau’s Problem The problem of human flourishing takes different forms at different times. Plato bases his solution to the problem of human flourishing in the ideal city-­state on his view that human beings have a fixed nature, hence a fixed social function. In modern times, Rousseau and others call this Platonic assumption into question. This assumption is understood from many different perspectives. In his influential version of human flourishing,18 Rousseau examines the Platonic assumption of a fixed link between human being and the social surroundings. In this way he transforms the theme of human flourishing, which the Greeks approach through happiness, into the problem of freedom in the modern social context. In the seventeenth century, in Leviathan Thomas Hobbes is concerned with the problem of defending the mere possibility of life that, as he famously observes, is “nasty, brutish and short”19 through a social contract. When around a century later in the eighteenth century, Rousseau equally famously observes that “man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains,”20 his objective in entering into a social contract is not merely life itself. It is rather a meaningful form of freedom in the social context as the central modern place of human flourishing. The challenge Rousseau posed in the middle of the eighteenth century was interpreted in vastly different ways. Kant was deeply interested in Rousseau. He depicts the latter’s problem from a recognizably Aristo­ telian perspective in terms of the relation of morality and happiness. According to Kant, Rousseau, “in his Emile, in his Social Contract, and other works . . . seeks to answer this more difficult question: how must culture progress so as to develop the capacities that belong to mankind’s vocation as a moral species and a natural species? From this conflict . . . arise all true evil that oppresses human life and all vice that dishonors it.”21 In his “Handschriftlicher Nachlass,” he repeats his acceptance of Rousseau’s thesis in adding a kind of early ecological point about the proper relation to nature. According to Kant, humanity must strive for 12

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

“the unity of happiness and morality” that reaches its high point not in dominating nature but rather in enabling it to flourish.22 Other observers, including Hegel and Marx, treat Rousseau’s challenge as a problem of civilization. There are in general three main modern solutions to the problem of human flourishing. These include, first, returning beyond the socially constructed context to an earlier, more primitive but clearly imaginary state of development, sometimes called the state of nature. Some observers think the state of nature is comparatively more advanced than alternative approaches to human well-­being. Second, there is the concern to seek the human good not outside of but within the modern social context in all its many forms. Third, there is the view that it is only in transcending the modern social context, hence in leaving the modern world behind, that human beings will finally be able to become fully human. These three approaches can be illustrated through remarks concerning Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx. At the time he wrote the Discourse, Rousseau already held the anti-­ Christian view, strongly resisted by Roman Catholicism, that human beings are naturally good. We can leave to one side the problem of whether his view basically changed between the Discourse (1755) and the Social Contract (1762). In the latter work he raises the question that, as Shlomo Avineri notes, he was unable to answer, about “the gap between history and the good life.”23 In other words, how can we construct an authentic and true society in view of the evils and corruption of conventional society? Everyone knows that, according to Rousseau, human beings, who are naturally good in the state of nature, are supposedly later corrupted by civilization. There is a close relation between the state of nature and human nature. Georg Lukács usefully notes that “nature” is understood in different ways. He points to differences among conceptions of nature as a mechanical model, beginning with Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, which is later restated by Kant; as a value concept; and finally as a series of human capacities supposedly thwarted in various social stages such as capitalism. The latter is discussed by J. C. F. von Schiller, the German poet, then by Hegel, and then in enormous detail by Marx, and is at least implied much earlier in Rousseau’s conviction that “modern social . . . institutions strip man of his human essence.”24 Rousseau is either uninterested in, or unable to grasp, the origin of this state of affairs in which in modern society human beings have lost their supposed original freedom. He seems to understand political legitimacy as deriving from a so-­called common liberty that belongs to 13

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human nature in the natural state. He takes as his political model, as Hegel later does, the family in which, since everyone is born free and equal, and individuals justly alienate their freedom for utility. Rousseau bases his fictitious idea of liberty prior to and apart from the modern state in the equally fictitious state of nature that holds sway prior to government. This fiction was widely popular when he was active. Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and others think it is rational to leave the so-­called state of nature to overcome deficiencies for which government is the appropriate remedy. The general conception of the state of nature goes back to Thomas Aquinas and perhaps even to Aristotle. Modern social contract theorists characterize it in different ways. According to Hobbes, it is a realm in which “the notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice . . . have no place.”25 But according to Locke it is a prepolitical state in which “the state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”26 Hegel, though influenced by Rousseau, strongly denies that the state of nature is one of natural happiness.27 According to Hegel, “original sin” means that in the state of nature, which is immediate and uncivilized, one is in a situation from which one must liberate oneself.28 Hegel further objects that Rousseau’s idea of freedom in the state of nature misunderstands human beings as savages.29 In simplifying, we can say that Rousseau reverses the (shared) view of Aristotle and perhaps Aquinas that, since man is a social animal, the political state is natural for human beings in suggesting that it is unnatural. Human beings, who are naturally good, are corrupted by society. Through the general will (volonté générale) that applies equally to all and comes from all, the entire citizenry achieves sovereignty over itself in promoting virtues (e.g., liberty, equality, and fraternity) later enshrined in the American and the French Revolutions. Writing at a time when capitalism was emerging, Rousseau is misunderstood as rejecting the modern social context, hence civilization, which is unnatural, in favor of returning to nature. Rousseau rejects this suggestion in stressing, for instance in the Second Discourse, that he does not think that we “must . . . destroy Societies, annihilate thine and mine, and go back to life in the forests with Bears.”30 It is, in Rousseau’s view, not possible to return to the simplicity and happiness of the state of nature. Left unclear is how the general interests of all human beings, which on his account cannot be satisfied within

14

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the modern world, which corrupts natural goodness, can be satisfied outside it. For Rousseau, the path to freedom does not lie behind but rather before us. According to Ernst Cassirer, Rousseau’s idea of freedom excludes a Kantian conception of free choice (Willkür).31 It rather presupposes, parenthetically in anticipating Kant, that the individual freely agrees to a strong law that he constructs, and which is the true and real nature of freedom. Rousseau’s aim is to find a form of society in which everyone is protected and linked to everyone else, but in which the individual person obeys only himself. He finds the appropriate mechanism in what he calls the general will (volonté générale), through which each individual recognizes himself in the state. According to this view, the individual realizes himself in the state, which is constructed in a way that realizes the general will in which everyone participates, but not under the dictates of the state. Though Rousseau says little about the general will, this conception is extremely influential. It is, for instance, restated in article 6 of the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (1789): “Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to contribute personally, or through their representatives, to its formation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, are equally admissible to all public dignities, positions, and employments, according to their capacities, and without any other distinction than that of their virtues and their talents.” Rousseau’s conception of the general will is controversial.32 It is sometimes objected that this concept anticipates the Marxist conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In Hegel’s nuanced view, the state is the actuality of the highest form of the ethical idea, and the individual has substantial freedom in the state.33 He like Smith thinks that in satisfying individual needs in civil society one in fact also satisfies the needs of others.34 But he also argues that Rousseau’s general will, which is not grounded in objective reason, necessarily leads to the terror exemplified in the French Revolution. A similar view is held by others as well, for in­ stance, Benjamin Constant. If the general will, unlike the will of all, reflects the common interests of everyone, as Denis Diderot thinks,35 then Rousseau can be read as sug­ gesting that the modern social context falls below that standard. For in­ stance, as he indicates, in certain circumstances the general will is subordinated to the purposes of individuals who distinguish their private interests from the common interest.36

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On Property, Private Property, and Human Flourishing The debate on property goes all the way back to ancient Greek philosophy and includes many views, including those of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Rousseau, John Locke, and others. The views on property are very disparate. Locke, for instance, argues that property that is acquired justly is just and Marx that it is unjust in all its many forms in impeding and even preventing social freedom. Yet Hegel, who by inference presupposes that there can be just property, suggests its crucial role in achieving freedom in the modern social context. The discussion of property or private property starts very early. In the Republic, Plato indicates that the guardians must have neither silver nor gold nor private property.37 He further insists on specialization, which he justifies on economic grounds as key to justice in the state.38 When Socrates describes the living situation of the guardian classes in the ideal city,39 he is clear that personal property will be sharply limited. When he discusses the kinds of regulations the rulers need to have in place for the whole city, he is again clear that the producers will have enough private property to make the regulation of wealth and poverty a concern.40 In the Laws, a dialogue left unpublished at his death, Plato alters his earlier economic views in arguing that virtue is incompatible with great wealth.41 Plato now argues that property must be held in common in order to provide for common pursuit of shared goals. Hegel thinks that through private property, but not through possession of the means of production, someone comes to exist objectively and not merely abstractly.42 Hence in and through private property an individual comes to exist as a person.43 In other words, property is the condition of development of the person.44 Plato counts as a critic of this institution. But Aristotle is a nuanced defender of the right to private property. The exact nature of Aristotle’s view of property is, like much else in his position, a matter of debate. Yet it is clear that he favors ownership as the best way to serve the common good,45 that he discusses legitimate ways to acquire property,46 and that he opposes confiscation of property as unjust.47 In the modern debate property is centrally important in different ways for Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and others. Private property is understood differently by those who, more or less distantly following Locke and have in mind ownership of land, and Marx, who focuses more broadly on private ownership of the means of production, including land and other means. Rousseau criticizes but does not oppose private prop­erty, though 16

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

his view is inconsistent. In his “Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind,” he attacks private property. But in his articles on political economy in the Encyclopédie, he describes this right as more important even than freedom. Further, in Emile he says property infects everything it touches, and in the Social Contract he contends that work will protect the person and property of its associates.48 In the Social Contract, Rousseau rejects Locke’s view that any individual can appropriate property. Rousseau claims that this person is the “true founder of civil society,” which leads to countless horrors due to “forget[ting] that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to nobody!”49 Hegel, on the contrary, insists on the importance of the modern institution of property in the account of abstract right, which begins the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. He sees property as necessary for human freedom in the modern social context. In his examination of that work, Marx does not attack property in general but rather private ownership of the means of production. He regards this institution not as useful but as pernicious, and as the main obstacle to human development in modern industrial society beyond the realization of the very minimal capacity to meet basic or reproductive needs. Here and in later writings, Marx simply assumes without argument that private property in all its forms is illegitimate, hence that it is legitimate to do away with it. In this way he rides roughshod over a practice that many think is an important, indeed vital component of human development, in simply ignoring the many efforts to justify this institution. Many different defenses of the institution of property have been devised.50 Marx, who apparently never examines any of them, rejects the institution as such in all its forms in favor of communism lying beyond the institution of private property, whose justification lies in its contribution to the solution of the problem of human flourishing. Marx’s aim is not to bring about communism, which is not an end in itself, but rather a crucial means to realizing human freedom in postindustrial society. Marx thinks that human freedom is only possible, if it is possible at all, in a political regime in which the absence of private property, which impedes rather than fosters human development, is not an excep­ tion but rather the rule. In the modern world, there seem to be two main justifications of the institution of property, including the relation of human beings to God and through natural right. Both defenses suggest that property is not due to theft, as Pierre-­Joseph Proudhon thinks and Marx accepts, but rather is in fact earned. The former view is discussed by many authors, such as Samuel von Pufendorf. According to Pufendorf, “Things were 17

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not yet assigned to certain individuals, there was a tacit convention that each man could appropriate for his own use. . . . And such a universal use of things in some way took the place of proprietorship, while, what a man had taken in this way, another could not take from him without doing him an injury.”51 The latter view is identified with Hugo Grotius, Locke, and others. Grotius writes: Now, as there are some things which every man enjoys in common with all other men, and as there are things which are distinctly his and belong to no one else, just so has nature willed that some of the things which she has created for the use of mankind remain common to all, and that others through the industry and labor of each man become his own. Laws moreover were given to cover both cases so that all men might use common property without prejudice to any one else, and in respect to other things so that each man being content with what he himself owns might refrain from laying his hands on the property of others.52

The latter view is enormously developed by Locke. We owe to Locke an important anticipation of the labor theory of value as well as the most influential modern view of the legitimate acquisition of private property. The basic insight is in all cases that an individual possesses the fruits of his own labor, since his body is his own. According to Locke “the Labour of his Body and the Work of his Hands . . . are properly his.”53 Locke suggests that value is created by labor when he writes, “For ’tis Labour indeed that puts the difference of value on every thing.”54 He also writes, “From all which it is evident, that though the things of Nature are given in common, yet Man has still in himself the great Foundation of Property.”55 He further claims in many places, for which a single passage shall suffice, that in mixing one’s labor with nature one justifiably acquires it as private property: “Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby make it his Property.”56 Marx agrees with Locke that value is created through labor, which belongs or at least ought to belong to the individual, but denies that either an individual worker or indeed anyone else can justifiably acquire private property. Yet Marx fails to mount an argument that this acquisition is illegitimate. His view further seems inconsistent. For if the worker fails to but ought to possess the results of his work, and if as Locke says he mixes his work with nature, the result should belong to the worker. That is, unless one takes the stance that nature cannot belong to any single human being, since, as some religious thinkers hold, it belongs to God. 18

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

Hegel, Recognition, and the Modern State Since Marx begins to formulate his position in reacting against Hegel’s theory of the modern state, it will be useful to describe this theory in more detail. Rousseau and Hegel divide about the proper response to political Platonism. Rousseau, who proposes a kind of political anti-­Platonism, relies on the general will as his criterion. He thinks that the human good cannot be found in the social context either as it exists or could exist unless it instantiates the general will. From his perspective one must not and cannot decide in the name of the people, who must rather determine for themselves their shared general interest. For Rousseau, who seeks to navigate between the natural state and the never-­reached instantiation of the general will, the modern world is only a “false” construction in which human beings do not and cannot recognize themselves. This controversial view has provoked many responses. Kant points out that the rational will is, as Hegel later insists, first realized in the state. Hegel thinks that in the social contract Rousseau conflates a romantic concept of freedom as mere caprice and real social freedom. According to Hegel, the universal will is not rational because it includes all the individual wills, but rather because it is rational. Hegel understands the impulse behind Plato’s Republic as an unsuccessful, in fact counterproductive effort to counter destructive forces present in then contemporary Greek ethics through a mere idea. He rejects this effort in preferring ideals to ideas.57 According to Hegel, philosophy, which cannot knowingly transcend its own historical moment, must comprehend the state as it is, not as it ought to be. He follows Fichte in understanding human being as essentially active in adding his own neo-­Aristotelian view that all human activity of whatever kind is goal-­ directed, hence always rational. It follows that it as well as its results are always graspable through reason. Hegel offers a complex argument for the conclusion that human beings flourish in the modern state, which, since human activity is intrinsically rational, he understands as “an inherently rational entity.”58 This does not mean that Hegel absurdly endorses all forms of the state. It also does not indicate that he endorses the state of his own time after the Prussian reformation. This criticism was raised against the Elements of the Philosophy of Right by a number of Hegel’s contemporaries. It is still often raised by his Marxist critics, but there is inadequate proof in the texts. According to Hegel, human beings relate to each other in different ways that are antagonistic, violently antagonistic, or nonantagonistic 19

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and that in the best of circumstances culminate in mutual recognition, whose most significant form is love. Mutual recognition leads in different directions depending on the form it takes. One form is the deeply destabilizing force unleashed through awareness of one’s function within the modern capitalist framework that Lukács identifies as the class consciousness central to Marx’s understanding of modern industrial society.59 This centrifugal force does not stabilize but rather destabilizes the modern state. It is at the root of many freedom movements, recently in what has come to be known as the Arab Spring. Another form is self-­ recognition or recognizing oneself in modern industrial society. This depends on the existence of various structures that make it possible for an individual to find oneself, so to speak, in the modern social world. Recognition is accompanied by consciousness and at its highest level by self-­consciousness. It is not immediate but is rather mediated through modern social institutions and practices that belong to the framework of the modern state. We can reconstruct Hegel’s argument through his views of human activity and recognition.60 The basic insight of mutual recognition is apparently first mentioned in Fichte’s initial version of the Wissen­ schaftslehre (1794). Under Fichte’s influence, the concept of recognition emerges in the early Jena Realphilosophie (1805–­1806), which belongs to Hegel’s Nachlass. Hegel, as noted, develops this insight into an important theory in later writings, including The Phenomenology of Spirit, the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, and the Elements of the Philoso­ phy of Right. The different kinds of recognition include recognition between individuals and of an individual in the state. In the former case, an individual can be said to accord recognition to, or acknowledge recognition by, someone else. This kind of recognition is two dimensional. According to Hegel, an individual reaches self-­consciousness as a consequence of being acknowledged by another person. In the Phenomenology, recognition is linked to desire (Begierde), which forces human beings into the social surroundings to meet their basic needs, including the need for recognition from others. This view was later developed by Marx in the Paris Manuscripts. The relationship between two or more individuals can either be one of equality or inequality as in the case of friendship, as discussed in detail by Aristotle, or love, as described more rapidly by Hegel. The relationship can also be unequal, as in the so-­called master-­slave relationship that arises in the debate as early as Plato.61 This interaction takes two main forms. One form is the situation in which the master kills the slave, which in turn definitively stultifies the drive for recogni20

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

tion. The other form is the social relation of inequality, in which the master seeks recognition from someone who is not in turn recognized within the relationship. Hegel thinks that the master-­slave inequality is unstable. He contends that, through a dialectical inversion, it will turn out that the truth of this relationship is not the master but rather the slave. This point is sometimes formulated as the claim that the slave is the master of the master, and the master is the slave of the slave. Hegel carries his theory of recognition further in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right in his account of the modern state. On the level of the individual and of the state, recognition requires a relation between two elements. The difference is that in the former case an individual seeks recognition by another, through whom he comes to know himself. In the latter situation a person is said to find or recognize himself in the state. This includes the legal recognition of various rights, including the right to private property, which Hegel sees as basic to the modern form of the state, as well as one’s status as a human being, or even the recognition of a state by other states.

Hegel on Human Flourishing in the Modern State The theme of human flourishing is an ethical concern in Hegel’s sense of the term. To the extent that Marx builds on Hegel, one can say Marx is in that perspective basically a nonstandard kind of ethical thinker. Hegel thinks that human beings flourish in the modern state. After Hegel began to teach at the University of Berlin, he published the Ele­ ments of the Philosophy of Right; Or, Natural Law and Political Science in Out­ line (1821) as a text to use in his lectures. The Philosophy of Right, his last work, is the final development of the discussion begun earlier in the section of the Encyclopedia on objective spirit. On this level spirit becomes “concrete” within the relations of law, morality, and ethical life and on the levels of the family, civil society, and the state. The discussion of right, of morality, of ethical life, as well as of the family is earlier formulated in the Phenomenology before being taken up again in less historical but more systematic fashion in the Encyclopedia and then in more detailed form in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The approach followed in the Encyclopedia and then again in the Ele­ ments of the Philosophy of Right is a progression rising from the most abstract to the most concrete. It proceeds from the concept of the will, hence from a conception of human being as active within a social context, which is successively realized in formal right, morality, and ethical 21

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life, its most concrete form, which brings together formal right and morality. The discussion continues on the level of the family, the most natural and least developed of the manifest forms of right, in taking up exteriorization, or concrete manifestation, in civil society and, finally, in the state. According to the dictionary, the word “right” (German Recht) that He­ gel employs in a juridical or legal sense normally refers to the totality of rules governing the relations between members of the same society. He­ gel, who understands the term in a manner intrinsic to his treatise, distinguishes right (Latin ius) from civil right, regarded as formal. In his sense of the term, “right” takes on a broader meaning including civil right, or that aspect of the concept most closely linked to legality, as well as morality, ethical life, and even world history. In the Hegelian view right concerns free will as well as its realization, which requires a transition from theory to practice. Hegel follows Aristotle’s view that all actions aim at the good. He holds, in rejecting the Kantian deontological view, that it is not sufficient to think the good. It must also be realized through the transition from subjective desire to external existence. In other words, the good must take shape not only within the mind but also within our lives. For Hegel, philosophy is the exploration of the rational. The various levels of the social context culminate in the state, which provides the practical locus for the realization of the rational element in history. In depicting the state as such as rational, Hegel suggests that every state represents a stage in the realization of reason, or as he famously says, the rose in the cross of the present.62 But no particular state fully realizes reason. The frequent objection that the mature Hegel simply identifies with the Prussian state of his time as the culmination of the historical quest reflects a serious misunderstanding of his view. The theme of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right encompasses the idea of right as well as its realization.63 Hegel expresses this point in his view of the development of the idea or rational element of any object of study in what he calls “the immanent development of the thing itself.”64 Hegel is specifically concerned about the extent to which, through a system of right, the realm of freedom, about which Kant dreams in his view of the kingdom of ends, has in fact been instantiated in the modern state. In Hegelian language, Hegel focuses on the degree to which “the world of mind [has been] brought forth out of itself like a second nature.”65 Hegel’s concern with social practice is reflected in the different moments of his treatise. They are keyed to the logical development of the absolutely free will as immediate in the form of abstract or formal right. 22

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

They are further linked to subjective individuality featuring the idea of morality that, since it is not rooted in the social context, stands over against and opposes the community. They are finally connected to ethical life, where the social good is not only apprehended but also realized on the three levels of the family, civil society, and the state.66 It is central to Hegel’s vision that the social good that cannot be realized through abstract morality can only be realized in concrete fashion on the ethical plane in the many diverse institutions characterizing the modern state. This point has been diversely appreciated in the Hegel debate. Depending on how we read Hegel, we find different models of freedom in his thought. These include freedom as self-­consciousness, freedom as entailing basic social changes, freedom as realized within the social structures of the modern state, and so on. The latter view is initially formulated in Plato’s Republic, a dialogue Hegel apparently regards as a failed effort to save the declining Greek city-­state. Hegel’s conception of freedom has been extensively studied.67 There seems to be broad agreement that the Hegelian view of autonomy culminates in a view of social freedom encompassing both the individual and the group, which observers often understand as an expansion of the Kantian view of morality into the social realm. Christopher Yeomans, who is typical, provides an account of the development of Kant’s theory of freedom as autonomy. According to Yeomans, the realization of freedom requires the shared, institutionalized “ethical life” of modern states. He believes Hegel focuses on determinate social institutions that shape and guide the agency of their individual members and thus enable them to realize freedom. He is especially interested in Hegel’s theory of the estates or the professional groups (farmers, craftsmen, merchants, etc.) that for Hegel constitute the social stratifica­ tion of modern ethical life.68 Michael Quante closely follows the text of the Philosophy of Right, tak­ ing §113 as his central text.69 He depicts Hegel’s view of human flour­ ishing as the realization of Rousseau’s view of the general will and as an expansion of the Kantian conception of moral freedom. His main thesis is that everyday actions are intentional, directed toward realizing ends, immediate. According to Quante, such actions sublate the merely individual within the group. Robert Pippin thinks that the central question of Hegel’s practical philosophy is his conception of freedom, which he understands as essentially a theory of human agency, or as Hegel’s philosophy of spirit. He understands this view as a dual claim: an individual must be able to give rational form to inclinations and “incentives,” and this requires 23

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institutional, norm-­ governed social relations.70 Pippin, who suggests Hegel is an opponent of individualism, further maintains that the latter’s view of the priority of Sittlichkeit over individualism has not been properly appreciated. He identifies the central problem in Hegel’s practical philosophy as why someone cannot be free alone.71 These and other observers stress aspects of autonomy in pointing to the need to surpass the individual level. Yet the popular stress in the Hegel debate on freedom as autonomy as ethical is only part of the answer. Such an approach fails to address or even to identify the relation of Hegel’s constructivist account of modern industrial society to the problem of human flourishing earlier raised by Rousseau. At a minimum this means that, unlike Marx, who denies that human beings flourish or even could flourish in modern industrial society, for Hegel they can and do flourish as a group within the institutions they construct for themselves and within which they are at home, so to speak.

Hegel and Economic Flourishing Marx is a Hegelian whose initial critique of Hegel’s view of the modern state crucially orients his own later development. He initially denies the Hegelian claim that freedom is in fact realized in modern industrial society. Later, with this problem in mind, he formulates an alternative theory of the modern state. Marx’s alternative theory of the modern state conflicts with the prevailing view in two ways: initially with the Hegelian philosophical view of the modern state and later with its depiction from the perspective of modern political economy. Hegel’s view of political economy belongs to his overall conception of the modern state.72 Hegel is neither the first philosopher to be inter­ ested in economics nor, depending on what this means, even the first in German idealism to which chronologically and intellectually he belongs. It is sometimes noted that Kant, who stresses the moral dimension of modern social life, is at least distantly concerned with economics in the form of the difference between rights and so-­called aggregate utility.73 Fichte was also concerned with the economic sphere, though, like Kant, he was apparently unaware of modern views of political economy. He formulated a theory of the state as a fully independent economic entity (Closed Commercial State, 1800) that he regarded as an autonomous political and economic entity. Schelling, who developed a view of the philosophy of nature, or Naturphilosophie, was interested in, though, as

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Hegel pointed out, only superficially knowledgeable about natural science, but he displays no interest in economics. Hegel was knowledgeable about current events as well as the current state of economic theory, particularly that of the Scottish School. Throughout his career, he was interested in anything and everything concerning concrete social conditions and political life. As early as 1800 to 1802, he was at work on an article eventually titled “The German Constitution,”74 which only appeared posthumously. In 1817, shortly before removing to Berlin, he published a review with the awkward title “Evaluation of the Printed Negotiations about the Parliament of the Royal States of Würtemberg in the Years 1815–­1816.”75 He was particularly interested in events in England. When he was still in Frankfurt before leaving for Jena in 1799, he kept up on the debates in the English Parliament. He studied Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and he wrote a commentary, which has been lost, on a book by Sir James Steuart entitled An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy.76 In writing on Steuart, he followed the lead of his younger colleague J. G. Hamann (1730–­1788), a German philosopher friendly with Kant.77 Hamann’s first book was a treatise on political economy centering on nobility and trade. Though the name has now disappeared into history, Steuart was at the time thought to be important enough for Marx, who refers to him often, to suggest that he was the first British economist to provide a correct system of modern, or bourgeois, political economy.78 Hegel’s grasp of political economy is central to his philosophical theories.79 His detailed study of the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment enabled him to surpass Greek economic thought, for instance through his concept of civil society (die bürgerliche Gesellschaft).80 This theme, which runs throughout his writings, appears very early, for instance in a fragment on folk religion from the early 1790s81 and then with increasing frequency when, during the Jena period (1799–­1807), he began to study political economy. For Hegel, civil society lies between the family and the state. Writing at the time of the Greek city-­state (polis), Aristotle naturally runs together political economy and the household. In the eighteenth century, civil society had already become a common theme. Adam Ferguson, another prominent Scottish economist, published a History of Civil So­ ciety (1767) shortly before Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776). Roughly a half century later, when the first Industrial Revolution was drawing to a close, Hegel equally naturally distinguishes more clearly than before between civil society and the state. He regards civil society as both a

25

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moment of the state and a kind of state. In civil society, economic activity directed toward the satisfaction of human needs is regulated through the administration of justice to protect private property as well as what he calls the police and the corporation. The adjective bürgerlich, from Bürger, refers both to someone who dwells in town, as opposed to a citizen, or Staatsbürger, and to someone, who, as in the French term “bourgeois,” belongs neither to the noble class nor the proletarian class nor the clergy. Civil society or Gesellschaft functions outside the family but within the state according to rules of its own. In the Elements of the Phi­ losophy of Right, Hegel takes up the anatomy of civil society in the impor­ tant passage titled “The System of Needs.” Hegel carefully studied such modern economists as Smith, Jean-­Baptise Say, and David Ricardo. Yet his “System of Needs” remains on an extremely general, abstract level. Marx, who strongly objects to the abstract character of Hegel’s study of the modern state, is from the beginning and increasingly interested in the concrete. In this passage, Hegel provides a rapid analysis of the economic foundations of modern liberal society in terms of its capacity to respond to real human needs. In The Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel formulates a view of the human individual as self-­realizing in and through objects, which manifest the subjective will in objective form. In the Elements of the Phi­ losophy of Right, he develops this view in his statement of the con­ceptual foundations of the modern liberal state. Early in the book, in a discussion titled “Use of the Thing,” he points out that in appropriating a thing (Sache) it becomes mine in acquiring a positive relation to me to fulfill my needs.82 Hegel defines “satisfaction,” which he equates with full individual development, through the supposed “unity of the universal and the particular within the state.”83 In “The System of Needs,” Hegel immediately notes that the individ­ ual reaches satisfaction through things that belong to and result from work. “Particularity,” he states, “attains its objectivity, i.e. its satisfaction, by means of (a) external things, which at this stage are likewise the property and produce of the needs and wills of others, and (b) work and effort, the middle term between the subjective and the objective.”84 Hegel understands political economy as a specifically modern science concerned with satisfaction through work and things. His view is rather unlike the normative conception of economics that currently prevails. According to the present normative view, an economist is mainly concerned to study, but also on occasion to intervene in, the dynamic functioning of the modern economy.85 Like Aristotle before and Marx after him, Hegel detects an indissoluble link between economics and ethics. 26

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These two domains are combined in a political economy that concerns the fulfillment of the full range of human needs. Hegel, who is a political realist, is under no illusions about the effect of modern society on individuals. He has, for instance, little tolerance for the modern failure to remedy endemic poverty and related difficulties. Hegel is concerned to describe the foundations of political economy. He breaks his discussion of human needs into three parts in order to consider basic, or subsistence, needs (Bedürfnis); their corresponding satisfaction (Befriedigung) in modern bourgeois society starting with the Industrial Revolution, including the kind of work appropriate to this task; and capital (Vermögen). He further considers three class divisions with respect to economic capacity, before suggesting an analysis of the concept of satisfaction. According to Hegel, the satisfaction of human needs, which affects all members of society,86 generally turns on needs and the means to satisfy them.87 Needs are both natural and nonnatural, as in the need for liberation (Befreiung). Yet the so-­called state of nature cannot be recovered in any way other than through work.88 Hegel’s account distantly follows Locke, for whom labor creates value,89 and anticipates Marx’s labor theory of value. Hegel distinguishes between work, which confers monetary value to objects, what Marx later calls exchange value, and use value.90 Division of labor merely increases the mutual dependency of individuals,91 as a result of which individual satisfaction is linked to satisfaction for others.92 Hegel distinguishes between property (Eigentum) and financial capacity, or capital (Vermögen).93 The latter presents work opportunities to each individual while tending thereby to increase.94 Capital divides society into three main classes: the agricultural, the business, and the civil servant.95 Class membership depends on natural capacity, birth, and other factors. A failure to integrate individuals into the structure of society is destabi­ lizing.96 Hegel thinks a person is “actualized” only through responding to a particular sphere of need, that is, within the practical realm.97 In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel treats freedom as a prerequisite as well as a result of historical development. He studies the idea of the absolutely free will on three levels: as immediate, or abstract, hence as embodied in an external thing; then as reflected into itself, or inward; and finally as the unity of these two abstract moments, in which the idea is not only understood but also realized within ethical life on the levels of the family, civil society, and the state. Property is studied on the level of abstract right, in which the absolutely free will is abstract and immediate.98 Marx later employs an economic approach 27

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to property. Unlike Marx, Hegel takes a generally legal, or juridical stance to property in focusing on possession, or property ownership. As concerns property, individuals relate to each other through the legal mechanism of contracts. In the first subsection, Hegel examines property in detail before discussing contracts and crimes against property. The remarks on property provide a general account that is followed by three parts: taking possession (of a thing), use of the thing, and alienation of property. Individual freedom assumes external form as a thing, in which one enjoys the right to embody one’s will. Possession is having power over a thing. Property includes the satisfaction of needs as well as the “embodiment of freedom.”99 In this sense, property is private property, but not private ownership of the means of production.100 Since the individual will is realized through property, property becomes private property. The amount of property that an individual possesses to meet his needs is in­ different with respect to rights. Taking possession of an object assumes three forms, according to whether one physically appropriates the object, makes it, or marks it as one’s own. The first is immediate but temporary. The second is the way in which a person imposes a form on something, which endures as an external object. This form of possession is presupposed in the production of commodities typical of modern industrial society and, as will emerge below, in Marx’s theories of surplus value and of alienation. Hegel disagrees with Aristotle, who condones slavery. In a comment on slavery, Hegel says that man is not a natural entity capable of being enslaved, since we are not naturally free. We only become free as the consequence of the consciousness of freedom. This leads to the fight for recognition in the relationship between master and slave,101 analyzed in greater detail in The Phenomenology of Spirit. Under the heading of the use of the thing, Hegel points out that the individual will is realized in and through the thing that is changed, destroyed, or consumed. Full, unrestricted usage presupposes the relation of ownership, as distinguished from partial or temporary use of a thing. Value is the universal property of the thing, or the use to which it can be put. Marx develops this idea as use value. In Hegel’s position, objectification is a central concept. Hegel begins to discuss objectification early in the book where he identifies what he calls the absolute drive of the free spirit to make itself into an object.102 He quickly links right and freedom.103 Right is the realm of actualized freedom.104 Hegel, like Rousseau, understands alienation as the cession of one’s property. He begins by pointing out that one can only alienate that prop­ 28

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

erty, or an object that has been invested with one’s will. Yet one’s personality, or self-­consciousness, is inalienable, since it is not an object. Only those things or products of human activity can be alienated, in giving someone else the use of either my capacities or my time, which introduces a separation between myself and what I do. In an important statement, Hegel writes: “By alienating the whole of my time, as crystallized in my work, and everything I produced, I would be making into another’s property the substance of my being, my universal activity and actuality, my personality.”105 Anticipating Marx, Hegel refers here to objectification and alienation. Though Hegel did not go on to develop a theory of alienation specific to modern industrial society, his conception of objectification clearly provides the conceptual basis for doing so.106 Marx develops the Hegelian idea that one “crystallizes” oneself in one’s work in capitalism in the production of commodities as the basis of views objectification and alienation in modern industrial society. I come back to objectification and alienation below.

Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right According to Harold Bloom, great poets misread each other in the course of working out their own poetry.107 This could be true of philosophers as well. Marx’s early study of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right suggests serious misunderstandings as well as serious criticisms. Hegel is an important but obscure thinker. There is truth in the suggestion that “Hegel is cited much more frequently than he is read, and discussed far oftener than he is understood.”108 And when he is read, he is, as Marx shows, not always read correctly. Marx’s position arises directly as well as indirectly through his effort to come to grips with Hegel in several early texts, above all through his detailed critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Marx was still very young when he composed this study. Though he is very critical of Hegel, it is doubtful that he understood Hegel’s treatise in more than fragmentary fashion. In his very early study of the Philosophy of Right, there is no evidence that he has read more than a small part of the text with any degree of care. There are demonstrable weaknesses in what he says about Hegel at this point, weaknesses that are arguably never later corrected. Marx’s critical study of Hegel’s treatise, which he wrote in 1843, is an unfinished, partial commentary. Engels correctly thinks that the unfinished analysis of Hegel’s philosophy of right is crucial for Marx’s 29

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subsequent turn to political economy.109 At this early point in his development, before the initial formulation of his distinctive position, Marx is still very close to the Young Hegelians, with whom he quickly breaks. His critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right presupposes a right-­wing, theological reading of the latter’s position that, and in following the Young Hegelians, Marx refutes through a left-­wing, antitheological reading.110 A right-­wing reading, which is also presupposed in Feuerbach’s transformational critique of Hegel, typically approaches the latter’s position as a disguised form of theology in which God is the central actor. According to Marx’s left-­wing critique, Hegel errs in substituting a fictitious subject, or the state as the manifestation of God, for the real subject in society, which supposedly culminates in the institution of private property.111 In a letter to Arnold Ruge, a left-­wing or Young Hegelian in early 1842,112 Marx mentions his intention to criticize Hegel’s theory of right (Recht), a systematically ambiguous term meaning “law” as well as “right” or “correct.”113 At the time Marx composed his critique of Hegel’s theory of the state, barely a decade after Hegel’s passing, the latter was still the dominant figure in German philosophy. In the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx notes that the first task he undertook was a critical reexamination of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right.114 Prior to examining Hegel’s treatise, Marx had begun to read Feuerbach, whose influence on his thinking in the short period leading up the “Theses on Feuerbach,” where he turns against the latter, is obviously strong. Feuerbach’s influence, which is especially strong with respect to the anthropological ideas Marx develops in the Paris Manuscripts, just as rapidly recedes.115 Feuerbach began as a Hegelian and then became a critic of Hegel before turning to theology. Marx’s interest in Feuerbach points to a series of contemporary debates in Protestant theology. David Friedrich Strauss’s controversial claim that the incarnation occurred not in a single individual but in the entire human race quickly led to further attacks on Christianity by Bruno Bauer and Feuerbach. Bauer maintained that the true result of Hegelianism is neither pantheism nor theism but atheism. Feuerbach was a former student of Hegel and Friedrich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher (1768–­1834). Schleiermacher, an important Protestant theologian, was best known for the creation of modern religious hermeneutics, or the interpretation of sacred texts. Feuerbach was the author of The Essence of Christianity (1841)116 in which, through so-­called transformational criticism, he inverted the usual view of the relation between God and human being. Feuerbach controversially claimed that 30

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

the former depends on the latter. He followed Hegel and anticipated Sigmund Freud (1856–­1939) in arguing that human beings create the idea of God,117 who is not the source of human beings. Feuerbach applies so-­called transformational criticism to Hegel in his Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (1843).118 Here he follows the right-­ wing, conservative view of Hegelian philosophy as theology to which he opposes a left-­wing, radical revision along strictly anthropological lines. Feuerbach thinks the secret of theology is that it is anthropology, and the secret of Hegel’s speculative philosophy is that it is theology. In his book, he suggests that Hegel substitutes an abstract analysis for the real material world, in a word, a theological form of philosophy for human reality. Feuerbach, who studied with Hegel, took Hegel seriously, more seriously than Engels, whose grasp of Hegel was never more than very fragmentary. Unlike Engels, Feuerbach did not recommend casting Hegeli­ anism aside but rather completing it. Feuerbach’s new philosophy was intended not to turn away from but rather to realize Hegel’s philosophy. He implicitly denies the widespread contemporary belief that in Hegel philosophy comes to a peak and to an end. Then as now, Hegel has often been read as claiming that philosophy leads up to and culminates in his own position. This interpretation is fallacious, since as early as the Differenzschrift, his initial philosophical publication, Hegel suggests that all positions, including his own position, belong to the historical tradition. It follows that he thinks no one has brought, is bringing, will later bring, or could bring the ongoing debate to an end. In his so-­called new philosophy, Feuerbach applies He­ gel’s supposed view that prior philosophy leads up to and culminates in his own position, which he depicts as the fulfillment of the Hegelian po­ sition, in substituting his own synthesis for Hegel’s.119 After Montaigne and Descartes, in different ways the view of the subject runs throughout the modern debate. In his early study of Hegel’s treatise, Marx is already concerned with the conception of finite human being. With the exception of the Critique of Judgment, where his view changes, Kant grasps the subject from an anti-­anthropological perspective. In the Critique of Pure Reason, he formulates an abstract view of the subject as what is sometimes called an epistemological placeholder. Here Kant “deduces” the subject as the final step, the coping stone as it were, of the “transcendental deduction of the categories.” Feuerbach, who was strongly influenced by Fichte, participates in the post-­Kantian rethinking of the subject from an anti-­Kantian, anthropological point of view. This transformation includes contributions by Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Strauss, Marx, and others. Feuerbach’s view that Hegel’s position is 31

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essentially a mystified form of theology suggests the need to show that man, not God, is, as Marx later famously states, the root of man. In his critical study Marx gives no evidence of accepting or even understanding that the Hegelian subject is not, as he objects, an abstract concept but rather, as Hegel himself clearly insists, an immanently finite human being. Hegel expounds his conception of the subject in the first part of the book, which includes accounts of free will, the system of right, the person, and so on. The Elements of the Philosophy of Right clearly builds on Hegel’s conception of the modern political subject, which functions as the high point in his theory of the state. Marx concentrates on a close reading of part of Hegel’s view of the state. Instead of analyzing Hegel’s view of the subject in the modern political context, he relies primarily on Hegel’s discussion in the Science of Logic. He reads Hegel as advancing an abstract, speculative, logical view of the subject as the so-­called absolute. This suggests the Hegelian view of the subject is an abstract concept in a speculative theory that fails to do justice to finite human being. In this respect, Marx perhaps relies on Feuerbach, or perhaps has not studied Hegel’s writings in sufficient detail. For whatever reason, he charges that Hegel mistakenly replaces concrete, finite human being with a mere abstract concept. In other words, according to Marx, Hegel, who is imbued with speculative logic, substitutes a purely logical development for the real historical process. According to Marx, Hegel provides an anti-­anthropological conception of the subject. In response, Marx stresses a thoroughly anthropological approach to the real social subject as finite human being. At this very early point, Marx’s language and approach are still very similar to those of the budding professional philosopher or advanced graduate student. His very close textual examination of a portion of He­ gel’s book, numbered paragraph by numbered paragraph, shows a clearly Hegelian effort that persists in Marx’s later writings to think with Hegel against Hegel, in short to overcome Hegel by Hegelian means. Marx’s debate with Hegel, which begins here, runs throughout his later writings, at times explicitly, but more often implicitly. Marx’s dialogue with Hegel resembles the latter’s dialogue with Kant, who is arguably at least implicitly present on every page of Hegel’s corpus. Absent here is any reference to other writers, though Marx constantly refers to specific historical phenomena to test Hegel’s philosophical formulations. This text, which is unfinished, and which Marx did not prepare for publication, is repetitive and painful to read, but important in view of its strategic role as the initial statement of ideas Marx later developed into his mature position. This study gives the impression of a young but highly 32

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intelligent thinker attempting to work out his own view by struggling with Hegel’s theory of contemporary society, in the early 1840s still the dominant philosophical conception of modern society. Marx’s account centers on the idea that in the modern state human beings, in Hegelian language, “recognize themselves,” hence flourish in the modern world. Marx’s main complaint is that civil society is in fact very different from and more important than Hegel’s grasp of it. Hegel postulates an identity of interest between individuals and the state. But Marx insists that the single most important factor is the role, above all the economic role, of private property in civil society. It is, then, not the state that determines civil society, but rather civil society and, prior to it, the crucial institution of private property that Hegel analyzes in detail as the initial part of his account of abstract right and that determines the state. This point remains on Marx’s agenda. In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx later influentially reformulates this insight in his account of the relation of superstructure and economic base. Marx’s text provides a series of comments on specific passages instead of a synthetic account. A brief summary will suffice to indicate some main points in Marx’s discussion. The entire study turns on his reaction to the crucial Hegelian claim, crucial in that Marx’s mature approach to modern industrial society centers on the central role of economic factors, about private ownership of the means of production. According to Marx, Hegel misrepresents an unresolved tension in modern society because of his supposed failure to appreciate the specifically economic role of private property. Marx identifies the alleged Hegelian failure to resolve real tensions in his model of the state at the very beginning of his own text and continues to hammer away at that point in different ways throughout the essay. But he says less about the nature and function of private property in modern industrial society, which is the central sticking point. Marx begins by noting that, according to Hegel, so-­called concrete freedom consists in a postulated identity between the particular interests of the family and the more general interests of civil society and the state.120 Kant believes knowledge begins in and ends with the limits of experience. For Kant, the unavailing effort to extend knowledge beyond experience gives rise to antinomies. The Kantian term “antinomy” refers to a conflict of reason seeking in vain to grasp the whole lying in principle beyond conceptual reach. With Kant in mind, Marx remarks that Hegel sets up an “unresolved antinomy,” in fact a contradiction.121 He detects this contradiction in the difference between the end of the state and the particular interests of individuals. Individual interests should 33

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coincide, since individuals should recognize themselves in the state. But in fact they diverge. In terms Rousseau employs, in practice we are confronted with the will of each individual as opposed to the general will. Rather than resolving the tension, Marx believes that Hegel supplies no more than a “logical, pantheistic mysticism.”122 This is manifest in his substitution of an idea, or concept, for the real subject, that is, a human individual or collection of individuals. In substituting an idea for the real subject, Marx thinks Hegel reduces it to an imaginary predicate.123 His initial, precarious grasp of Hegel quickly improves in the Paris Manuscripts, which is centrally concerned with human freedom in the modern social context.124 Hegel’s supposed failure to identify the real subject is an important factor in Marx’s turn in the Paris Manuscripts from Hegel to Fichte to overcome a perceived deficit in the Hegelian theory of the modern state. In reality the family and civil society produce the state through the unfolding of the concrete social context. Yet, Marx contends, Hegel incorrectly sees them as produced by the idea125 or, in Hegelian language, by a self-­realizing concept. Marx sums up his methodological criticism by accusing Hegel of a Feuerbachian inversion of subject and predicate: “The fact which is taken as a point of departure is not conceived as such, but as a mystical result.”126 In other words, Hegel conflates causes and effects in substituting effects for causes and the converse. At stake is a difference between the abstract and the concrete as concerns modern society. Hegel, who was aware of this problem, which he discusses briefly in a rare popular article,127 employs these terms in a nonstandard manner. He means by “concrete” what is mediated through thought and by “abstract” what is immediate and hence unmediated. Hegel’s view that it is only the uneducated among us who think abstractly corresponds to the more usual meaning of “concrete.” The educated rely on an increasingly developed conceptual matrix that Hegel, in using the term in a nonstandard way, understands as “concrete.” For Marx, Hegel is caught up in theoretical considerations that lead him to ignore practice in simply failing to grasp the specificity of what occurs.128 This critique implies that the Hegelian subject is not in, but rather transcends, the social world. Yet this criticism simply fails to acknowledge Hegel’s quasi-­Fichtean view that the finite human subject is always already in the social world, from which it only distances itself through the infinite capacity of mental abstraction.129 When Hegel was active, it was still thought important to have a system. Hegel describes the Phenomenology in two ways: initially as the first part of the system and later as the introduction to the system. According 34

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to Hegel, the system begins in and depends on his theory of logic.130 This may be one reason why Marx approaches Hegel’s view of the subject through the “science of logic” rather than, as is essential in a detailed critique of the Hegelian theory of the modern state, through a careful reading of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Marx, who either does not grasp or overlooks Hegel’s important distinction between the abstract and the concrete, thinks the latter begins from the idea rather than its object in using the state as an example of his preexisting logic rather than in grasping the logic of the state.131 This statement is more persuasive as a philosophical aphorism than as an analysis of Hegel’s view. Marx is perhaps referring to Hegel’s suggestion in the Science of Logic that his logical theory is the basis of his theories of the modern state and the philosophy of nature. According to Marx, the logical theory is formulated as a categorical framework that Hegel works out in starting from being. Marx, who later examines this point in the Paris Manuscripts, apparently thinks that Hegel begins from abstract concepts in order only then to consider social phenomena. This is manifestly not the case in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, which Marx does not consider directly, but where Hegel begins his account through an analysis of the social context from the perspective of a finite human being in the social context. There Hegel claims that “the [human] will” is not transcendent to the social world but, as he explicitly states, “in the determinate condition of immediacy.”132 In short, such an individual is not abstract but rather always exists in relation to such concrete phenomena as private property, morality, ethics, the family, civil society, and the state. Marx, who objects that Hegel mistakenly believes that individuals recognize themselves in the modern world, overlooks Hegel’s reason for this point. Marx, who tacitly follows Feuerbach’s anthropological perspective, thinks Hegel does not, but ought to, begin from real human subjects.133 Perhaps because he takes the logical theory as the basis of Hegel’s position, he overlooks the obvious anthropological component in Hegel’s theory of the modern state. Marx further thinks that Hegel masks the antithesis between private property (Privateigentum, from German “privat,” meaning “private,” and “Eigentum,” meaning “property”), particular interests and the interests of the state.134 He believes that Hegel incorrectly maintains that the state, where human beings flourish, is the highest form of freedom as well as, we can infer, the answer to Rousseau. According to Marx, who has modern capitalism in view, only blind natural necessity is at work in the Hegelian state.135 For Marx, Hegel does not construct the organic unity he has in view,136 since he considers 35

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subjective freedom only.137 Yet Marx overlooks the Hegelian point that the institutions of the modern world, including the family, civil society, and the state itself are constructed by, hence function as, the locus for the fulfillment of finite human beings, who find or recognize themselves in what they do. Marx further thinks that the estates (Stände), or social classes, are not concerned with the general good but only with their own good.138 This point is simply conceded by Hegel, Smith, and most, perhaps all, other observers. The more important point is whether, as Bernard Mandeville, Smith, Hegel, and others believe, the egotism of each individual benefits society as a whole. I come back to this theme below. Marx credits Hegel with perceiving the separation of civil society and the political state but objects that the latter mistakenly insists on an illusory unity between the state and civil society.139 From Marx’s perspective, the estates, which Hegel sees as mediating between monarch and executive, or the monarch and the nation, are not united with but rather opposed to civil society.140 Marx thinks that the Hegelian illusion that the state is the central power is dashed on the rock of private property that determines the state.141 Marx here anticipates his later view, which is clearly in evidence as early as the Paris Manuscripts, that politics depends on economics and not conversely. In passing we can note that he did not anticipate the way in which this relation would later be reversed, for instance in the People’s Republic of China, which though officially Marxist, in fact subordinates economics to politics and not the converse. Marx thinks that Hegel quite “monstrously” claims that the state is the actuality of the ethical idea when in fact the ethical idea is the religion of private property.142 At this very early point in his development, he is already pointing toward the view that is only finally formulated at the end of his career in “Wagner’s Lehrbuch” that modern ethical views are not independent of but rather reflect the economic interests of modern capitalism. In short, and despite the rhetoric, so-­called universal principles in fact depend on entrenched personal interests. Marx believes that Hegel, in describing the state as a monarch, does not grasp it. Perhaps because the latter’s comprehension of modern economics is too shallow, he simply does not apprehend the role of private property.143 Though he never analyzes Hegel’s system of needs, where Hegel discusses the economic dimension of modern industrial society, Marx thinks his predecessor has at best a superficial grasp of political economy. In Marx’s eyes, Hegel makes civil society depend on a preceding idea but does not grasp its real empirical content.144 Political representation, for instance, is not separate from civil society, as Hegel would have it, but rather its political expression.145 36

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Hegel and later Marx regard political economy as starting from “needs and labor.”146 Marx objects that Hegel, who understands the legal importance of private property in the context of human needs, does not comprehend its crucial economic role as a driving force in civil society. His contribution at this early point lies in correcting and enormously extending Hegel’s analysis of private property in a full-­blown theory of modern capitalism. Marx innovates in formulating a detailed account of the modern world in the light of a future society without private property. Marx further thinks individuals do not and cannot even potentially flourish within capitalism. According to Marx, Hegel falsely identifies the real conditions of modern human flourishing in justifying capitalism. Capitalism has two main roles in Marx’s comprehension of modern industrial society. On the one hand, in developing the means of production it prepares the way leading to communism. On the other, in oppressing individuals rather than liberating them, capitalism creates pressure to turn toward socialism. More generally, human flourishing cannot be attained either through merely interpreting the present situation, nor by simply reforming it, for instance by extending health care, instituting or raising the minimum wage, providing free education, shortening the working day, and so on. Human flourishing can only be realized through transcending the present situation, which is no more than a transitional stage in the ongoing evolution of human society in favor of its successor, or communism. Hegel and Marx part company on how to understand human flourishing in the modern world. One way to bring out the difference is to note that Hegel thinks the modern industrial society is already rational. In this respect, Hegel seems to be following the Aristotelian view that human action is teleological, since it always, however distantly, aims at the good. This in turn makes it possible and indeed plausible, as he says, “to comprehend and portray the state,” any state at all, “as an inherently rational entity.”147 Thus, unlike Marx, Hegel is not concerned, as he emphasizes, with reconstructing the modern state as it ought to be but rather with depicting it as it is. He further believes, perhaps incorrectly, that philosophy, which he comprehends as the understanding of its own time in thought, only arrives post-­festum, or when it is no longer possible to ameliorate or otherwise change what has already occurred, as he says, “when it is too late to perform this function.”148 This points to a clear and decisive difference between Hegel’s and Marx’s conceptions of philosophy. Hegel thinks that the philosopher must be content, as he puts it, “to recognize reason in the cross of the present,”149 since he thinks “philosophy . . . always comes too late.” His view of the 37

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philosophical task is essentially retrospective, limited to understanding the historical moment. Marx, on the contrary, is concerned with a prospective form of philosophy that in realizing itself changes society. From Marx’s perspective, a theory that merely interprets but does not change the world contributes to but does not ameliorate the problem of human flourishing. He disagrees with the Hegelian view that philosophy is limited to understanding society at the close of the day. Yet Hegel perhaps underestimates the effect of philosophy, whose ideas have a force, which should not be overlooked. It is well said that Hegel’s right-­wing and left-­wing adherents met on the field of battle at Stalingrad. Many of the freedom movements in our time descend from Hegel’s analysis of the dialectical interaction of master and slave, including those inspired by Marx, his best student. Marx believes Hegel is a prime offender, since he is content with the prevailing situation, content with modern capitalism as it existed in his own time, content with the Prussian restoration, content merely to interpret rather than to change modern industrial society. Hegel and Marx agree about the importance of social freedom but disagree about its practical conditions. Hegel directs attention to the link between history and philosophical reflection. He views philosophy as a historical discipline that reflects on what has occurred. Though he is one of the most historically oriented thinkers in the entire tradition, he is pessimistic about the lessons of history. He realistically suggests that the only thing we have learned from history is that no one has ever learned anything from history. Yet, in his view of philosophy as its own time captured in thought, he apparently disregards his own suggestion in identifying the practical interest of thoughtful reflection on the past. One way to put the point is that a grasp of what has happened enables us to react in the present in view of a possible future. In that sense, philosophy is not useless but rather useful in drawing the lesson of what has occurred in view of bringing about a better future. Marx is doubly skeptical about Hegel’s theory. He regards it as merely another interpretation, which fails to change and even justifies the prevailing situation, hence justifies and even glorifies capitalism. His reaction to Hegel illustrates the widespread view of philosophical debate as a form of inaction. Marx’s skepticism about the social utility of at least some kinds of philosophy raises again the ancient problem of the relation of theory and practice (or praxis). In different ways, this theme echoes throughout the entire Western tradition.150 In modern times, the terms of the debate change since “practice” takes on the meaning of “prac­

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tical” as distinguished from “praxis,” the term for the ancient Greek view of doing. The concern with the relation of theory and practice echoes through the German idealist debate. Aristotle, for instance, distinguishes between pure theory, for instance metaphysics, and practical theory, such as ethics or politics. He further distinguishes three terms: the theoretical, the practical, and the productive. Praxis, or doing, is an end in itself; poiesis, or production, is a means to an end leading to an object distinct from the activity; and techne is understood as production according to right reason. Kant’s distinction between scholastic and cosmopolitan philosophy draws attention to the difference between technically perfect but practically useless theory, or the philosophy of the schools, in short scholasticism, as well as to theory intrinsically related to practice. The latter is said to realize the aims of human beings (teleologia rationis humanae).151 Kant, who thinks all human reason of whatever kind is intrinsically related to human ends, hence socially useful, does not base practice on theory but rather “absorbs,” as it were, practice into theory. Since he thinks that a priori principles are necessarily correct, he simply denies the familiar view that a given action can be right in theory but wrong in practice.152 An important instance is his view that morality requires universally valid moral principles. According to Kant, the Kantian moral subject is a purely rational source of a priori moral laws binding without exception on all rational beings in all times and places. Hegel rejects the Kantian view of morality, as well as the specific Kant­ ian view of the relation of theory to practice. Hegel thinks that a moral rule that at least in theory applies to everyone in practice applies to no one at all. He suggests a link between a posteriori analysis and social usefulness. Marx also rejects the Kantian approach in, like Fichte, contending that theory is only useful when it arises out of practical concerns. Marx further extends what for Kant is a kind of philosophy limited to scholasticism to include the critical philosophy as well. Marx further parts company with Hegel, since, as already noted several times, he understands relevance as not only understanding but as also changing the world.

Marx on Theory, Practice, and Changing the World From his early critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right Marx infers that human flourishing cannot occur in the modern capitalist state but only after the transition to communism in changing the

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world. Any judgment about Marx’s success or failure in changing the world is inextricably linked to his normative conception of theory. His thesis about a basically different kind of theory is partly clear, partly obscure. He obviously thinks that merely interpreting the world leaves it as it is. Yet a theory can presumably change the world in different ways, including through interpretation. There is a distinction between a standard theory that does not lead to change and one that does. In the latter case, one can say that ideas act through the individual in realizing themselves. In that sense Hegel at least potentially changes the world in formulating an understanding of his historical moment. There are obviously different ways to change the world, some useful, some pernicious, some intended to contribute to individual self-­ gratification, others meant to impact the welfare of the wider community, and so on. Marx aims to change the world through the transition from capitalism to communism as a necessary perquisite to human flourishing. The abolition of private property that is the defining characteristic of capitalism is a necessary but not a sufficient precondition for the transition from capitalism to communism. Yet communism in the full sense of the term requires more than the mere abolition of private property. Hence one way of reading Marx’s thesis about the relation of interpretation and social change is that he, like Hegel, has in mind a nonstandard type of self-­realizing theory, though what that entails and whether it can in fact be brought about remains to be demonstrated. I come back to this theme below.

On the Marxian Subject Marx’s call for a novel form of philosophy that interprets as well as changes the world requires him to work out new views of the modern social subject and modern industrial society. The theme of the subject is central to modern philosophy. This concept begins in the early medieval view of the individual as morally responsible, invented nearly simultaneously by a number of medieval thinkers, particularly Augustine.153 It is later slowly transformed into an epistemological view of abstract subjectivity as the necessary road to objectivity by Montaigne and Descartes and later Kant. The latter insists on the distinction between the logical and the physiological, his term for psychology, before rapidly giving way to increasingly anthropological conceptions in Fichte, Hegel, and other post-­Kantian idealists. The Hegelian subject is key to his conception of the modern state. The Marxian view of the subject is the basis 40

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of his novel conception of modern industrial society, which innovates with respect to more standard accounts of political economists such as those of Smith, Say, Ricardo, the two Mills, and so on. Marx’s view of the subject that will make possible the transition from capitalism to communism is influenced by his rejection of the Hegelian subject as well as the familiar economic conception of homo economicus. In both “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s [Elements of the] Philoso­ phy of Right” and in the Paris Manuscripts, Marx criticizes the Hegelian conception of subjectivity in relying on Feuerbach, Fichte, and, through the latter, a long tradition stretching back at least to Aristotle in the process of formulating a view of the modern social subject as basically active. Political economy has long presupposed a conception of the subject as homo economicus. Though the term is recent, the underlying idea is older. Homo economicus is often described as a useful but fictitious view of the economic subject understood as a basically selfish, single-­minded creature, capable of rational judgments, a being whose sole concern is the minimization of cost and the maximization of utility. This view is adumbrated in Smith’s influential concept of the invisible hand. It is central to contemporary rational choice theory, which depicts the subject as wholly rational, in possession of all necessary information, and motivated solely by self-­interest. It is further presupposed as the basis of mathematical models frequently encountered in contemporary political economy. The notion of economic self-­interest, which goes back to Aristotle,154 is restated in modern times by Smith, J. S. Mill, and others. Smith thinks, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”155 According to Mill, who builds on Smith, “[Political economy] does not treat the whole of man’s nature as modified by the social state, nor of the whole conduct of man in society. It is concerned with him solely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging the comparative efficacy of means for obtaining that end.”156 It is not easy to grasp Hegel’s complex view of subjectivity. He can be read as advancing different but related conceptions in The Phenomenol­ ogy of Spirit; in both versions of the Logic, two treatises whose precise relationship is unclear; and in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right. The Phenomenology of Spirit describes cognition as a historical process unfolding through a series of phases. They run from the most ordinary, nonscientific, unsophisticated, and according to Hegel, abstract level, its terminus a quo, to the least ordinary, most sophisticated, scientific, 41

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concrete form of cognition, or absolute knowledge (absolutes Wissen), its terminus ad quem. In The Phenomenology of Spirit, the term “we” (wir), Hegel’s designation for the cognitive subject apparently refers to the individual or single person; then to the group of individuals; further to all human kind, to which the individual belongs; and finally and most controversially to substance or social reality as in the difficult view that substance becomes subject. In the two versions of the Logic, the historical process described in The Phenomenology of Spirit takes the form of a logical process. The Logic culminates in the absolute idea, a concept that may be likened but not reduced to Aristotle’s unmoved mover, or to the Christian concept of God. Hegel’s view of subjectivity emerges in the wake of Fichte’s anthropological restatement of Kant’s anti-­anthropological conception of the subject. Kant was one of the first to teach anthropology in Germany, and he wrote a book on this topic during the critical period. Yet for epistemological reasons he advances a strictly logical concept of the subject in anticipating Husserl’s rejection of psychologism. In the transcendental deduction that is central to the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant “deduces,” or roughly claims to justify, an abstract, anti-­anthropological, transcendent view of the subject. This view is rapidly reformulated in increasingly anthropological form by Kant’s successors. Fichte proclaims his absolute Kantian orthodoxy while basically transforming the Kantian view of the subject as finite, active human being. In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel bases his theory of modern industrial society on a version of the Fichtean active subject as active. The Hegelian social subject is free and capable of abstraction or self-­consciousness and expresses itself in a variety of ways and on different levels with respect to property as well as the family, civil society, and the state. The Hegelian political subject has at least three functions: to extend the anthropological dimension of German idealism in understanding the subject as always already in the social context, next as the basis of a theory of the modern political state, and finally as key to understanding freedom as social determination in the modern state. In his critical analysis of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right Marx sharply criticizes the Hegelian subject. In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx provides a slightly more nuanced but still sharply critical reading of the Hegelian view of subjectivity. Marx objects to Hegel’s supposedly abstract conception of the historical subject. He points out that the logical, hence abstract supersession of alienation is not the same as the supersession of the real human alienation in practice. He concedes no more than that “within the sphere of abstraction, Hegel conceives labor as man’s 42

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act of self-­genesis—­conceives man’s relation to himself as an alien being and the manifestation of himself as an alien being to be the emergence of species-­consciousness and species-­life.”157 He also endorses Hegel’s view of objectification within the historical process of economic production. “But because Hegel has conceived the negation of the negation, from the point of view of the positive relation inherent in it, as the true and only positive, and from the point of view of the negative relation inherent in it as the only true act and spontaneous activity of all being, he has only found the abstract, logical, speculative expression for the movement of history, which is not yet the real history of man as a given subject, but only the act of creation, the history of the origin of man.”158 But, since Marx thinks Hegel only grasps human being abstractly, in the Paris Manuscripts he again objects, as he earlier objected in his study of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, that Hegel in effect substitutes a view of the absolute for the real historical subject. “Real man and real nature become mere predicates—­symbols of this hidden, unreal man and of this unreal nature. Subject and predicate are therefore related to each other in absolute reversal—­a mystical subject-­object or a subjectivity reaching beyond the object—­the absolute subject as a process, as subject alienating itself and returning from alienation into itself, but at the same time retracting this alienation into itself, and the subject as this process; a pure, incessant revolving within itself.”159

Feuerbach, Fichte, and the Marxian Subject It is well known that Marx’s early reaction to Hegel is strongly influenced by Feuerbach. It is not well known that Marx is even more strongly influenced by Fichte. At the time he wrote the Paris Manuscripts, scarcely more than a dozen years after Hegel died, Marx thought Feuerbach was the only one since Hegel to make real progress. But Engels, who knew less philosophy, hence was less reliable in his philosophical judgments, thought that Feuerbach was the only contemporary philosophical genius. In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx overestimates Feuerbach’s real accomplishment, which he quickly later corrected. Marx’s evaluation of Feuerbach, which was very positive in the Paris Manuscripts, is much less so only a year later in the “Theses on Feuerbach” and even frankly negative later on. Engels, on the contrary, never corrected but only later reinforced his inflated estimation of Feuerbach in creating Marxism, which continues to influence Marxism. Engels has a twofold view of Feuerbach. Shortly 43

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after Marx died, he created Marxism in his influential brochure on Lud­ wig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy. In the brochure, he suggests that Marx followed Feuerbach in turning away from Hegel, idealism, and philosophy and toward materialism and science. In the pref­ ace to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, he writes: “We German socialists are proud that we trace our descent . . . from Kant, Fichte and Hegel.”160 Engels suggests that if not Marxism at least Marx is positively influenced by classical German philosophy, including Fichte. His alternative view that Marx merely overcame and rejected Hegel is false. Yet, for various reasons, including the difficulty of understanding Hegel, the comparative ease with which Feuerbach is understood, and Engels’s central role in Marxism, Feuerbach’s influence on Marx has long been overstated. Though Feuerbach was only a minor critic of Hegel, he was an important Protestant theologian. In the Paris Manuscripts Marx grandiloquently claims that Feuerbach has overthrown the old philosophy, or Hegel, and even philosophy itself.161 This suggestion conflicts with the remark in the letter to Feuerbach referenced above where Marx specifically praises Feuerbach for providing a philosophical foundation for socialism. This remark implies Marx did not abandon but rather continued to rely on philosophy. In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx attributes a threefold accomplishment to Feuerbach. He shows that philosophy is nothing different than religion; that true materialism and positive science are both based on the relation of man to man; and that Hegel’s proposed negation of the negation must be rejected.162 We can deal with these three points rapidly. Only the second one is important. The frequent suggestion that philosophy is a form of religion is simply false for Hegel. In the Phenomenology and elsewhere, he consistently argues that religion, like art, is representational but philosophy is conceptual, and he indicates his preference for philosophy. According to Hegel, philosophy knows what religion only seeks but cannot know. The quasi-­mechanical approach to Hegelian dialectic as double negation or the so-­called negation of the negation, which is sometimes encountered in the literature, is an artifact of the debate that cannot be demonstrated in Hegel’s writings.163 On the contrary, in linking materialism and science to the interrelation of human beings Marx calls attention to Feuerbach’s basic commitment to philosophical anthropology. Marx believes this commitment, which is central to his own conception of subjectivity. At the time, Marx thought that the Feuerbach’s “great achievement” consisted in part in “the establishment of true materialism and of real science, by making the social relationship of ‘man to man’ the basic 44

On Marx’s Theory of Practice

principle of the theory.”164 In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx relies on Feuerbach to criticize Hegel, including the latter’s conception of the subject, but perhaps even more on Fichte to formulate his own post-­Hegelian view of subjectivity. Feuerbach’s relation to Fichte is still largely unknown. According to Alexis Philonenko, a well-­informed commentator, the young Feuerbach was only familiar with Fichte’s initial Wissenschaftslehre (1794), the first of many versions.165 In fact, Feuerbach had an early, intense interest in Fichte, including the latter’s posthumous writings. According to Johann Mader, in the context of the struggle with Hegel, Fichte provided the basis for a new, nonidealistic anthropology.166 Feuerbach was a Young Hegelian. In the Young Hegelian effort to come to grips with Hegel, Fichte looms very large. A number of the Young Hegelians were interested in activity or action as a way after Hegel to realize philosophy.167 The Polish philosopher August von Cieszkowski, who took a doctorate in Heidelberg, is sometimes said to have invented the philosophy of action in his Prolegomena to a Historiosophie (1838). Von Cieszkowski influenced both Moses Hess and Marx. Hess, an early proponent of socialism, and a friend of both Marx and Engels, published the Philosophy of Action (Philosophie der Tat, 1843) at almost the same time as Marx began to write. If we turn away from religion and other views of subjectivity in following Feuerbach, we can comprehend human society as constructed through practical human activity situated within a historical process that will in principle eventually lead from capitalism to communism. This line of reasoning calls for a theory of the subject to understand not only commodities but also human beings, social relations, and society as the result of human activity, hence as human products. This view is developed throughout the Paris Manuscripts, especially in “Fichtean” remarks inserted in the midst of a series of complex remarks on Hegel and Feuerbach. In turning to Fichte, Marx takes up an important thread in the modern debate. Classical Marxism shares with Hegelian Marxism the view that Marx should be understood mainly through Hegel. Since Marx read very widely, many philosophical and nonphilosophical influences are visible in his position. Following Fichte and others, but especially Fichte, Marx stresses activity in his conception of subjectivity. He points out in the “Theses on Feuerbach” that Feuerbach advances a static conception of the subject. In the mid-­1840s, the contrary view of the subject as basically active was best represented by Fichte. A Fichtean influence is not often detected in Marx’s theories. 45

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The Fichtean view of the subject as active has important precedents. At the dawn of modern philosophy, Descartes invented two views of the human subject: the widely known, “official” spectator theory, which several hundred years later is still a staple of the Cartesian debate; and the little-­known, never clearly stated actor theory. The latter view is implicit in the Discourse on Method in the famous remark about “trying to be a spectator rather than an actor in all the comedies the world displays.”168 The popular spectator theory of subjectivity is less interesting than the largely undefined actor view. Various thinkers rely on a merely implicit Cartesian conception to understand knowledge, morality, and the social surroundings through the prism of the activity of finite human beings. A successor version of the actor view of the subject runs through German idealism from Kant, where it underlies the Copernican turn, through Hegel to Marx. Marx, not surprisingly, was aware of the Copernican revolution.169 His interest in a view of the subject as intrinsically active derives directly or indirectly from different sources. These include the view of homo economicus drawn from political economy, the Cartesian actor theory, the Kantian theoretical subject, the Fichtean notion of the subject as intrinsically active and never passive, the Aristotelian view of human life in the Nicomachean Ethics as activity, and the supposed lack of a real historical subject in Hegel and the Young Hegelians. The origin of Fichte’s view of the active subject goes back in the tradition at least to Aristotle. Aristotle advances a view of activity (energeia) in the Metaphysics and a view of life as activity (bios energeia tis estin) in the Nicomachean Ethics. The link between Marx and Fichte is created by the Young Hegelian effort to criticize Hegel in relying in part on Fichte. In reacting against Hegel, Marx participates in a Fichtean or quasi-­ Fichtean effort to rethink the subject as basically active, including work or labor (Arbeit) in modern industrial society. Marx’s solution to the question of human flourishing turns on identifying the practical conditions of human freedom through the revolutionary transformation of modern industrial society into communism. He understands capitalism as well as communism through the self-­production of finite human beings. In capitalism individuals meet basic human needs through work. In a future communist society, individuals will supposedly realize human potentials through free human activity. In the post-­Hegelian context Marx’s turn to Fichte is compatible with his interest in Feuerbach. Feuerbach, who was strongly influenced by Fichte, distinguishes between finite human beings as species-­beings, or members of the human species, and species-­powers, or human capaci46

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ties. Following Feuerbach, Marx suggests that a person only becomes a human being in realizing capacities in a future society through cooperation between human individuals. Marx mobilizes Fichte, whom he also criticizes, for his critique of Hegel. Marx follows Fichte’s view of the subject as a natural being, a person with capacities and drives, who meets his needs through external objects. In criticizing Hegel, Marx contends that a so-­called nonobjective being, or mere object of thought, is a “non-­being.”170 He maintains that it is as much a mistake to consider human being through self-­ consciousness as it is to reduce the object of consciousness to a purely mental creation. In the initial reception of the critical philosophy, Fichte was an in­ fluential but controversial figure. Though a widely popular teacher and an important thinker, he was forced to leave the University of Jena under the suspicion of atheism. At the time, Fichte was widely but incorrectly understood to believe that reality is wholly a product of thought. The German poet Schiller, for instance, credits Fichte with the absurd view, obviously not based on careful study of the latter’s position, that the world is simply created through reflection.171 Marx, who is closer to the mark, reads the Fichtean subject as real finite human being. He utilizes Fichtean terminology against Fichte in writing: “When real corporal man . . . posits [setzt] the positing [das Setzen] is not the subject of this act. . . . An objective being acts objectively. . . . It creates and establishes [setzt] only objects. . . . In the act of establishing it does not descend from its ‘pure activity’ to the creation of objects [In dem Akt des Setzens fällt es also nicht aus seiner ‘reinen Tätigkeit’ in ein Schaffen des Gegenstandes]; its objective product simply confirms its objective activity, with its activity as an objective, natural being.”172 Marx here insists, in opposition to Fichte, on the objectivity of the external world. He further insists that, if human individuals are not solely created through mental activity, they also cannot be understood without their mental capacities. It is remarkable how closely the view that Marx now presumably urges for the most part against Hegel, and perhaps against Fichte as well, resembles Fichte’s own conception of the human subject. In order to bring out this point, it is useful to quote the relevant passage at some length. Marx writes: Man is directly a natural being. As a natural being, and as a living natural being he is, on the one hand, endowed with natural powers and faculties, which exist in him as tendencies and abilities, as drives. On the other hand, as a natural, embodied, sentient, objective being, his is a suffering, conditioned and limited being, like animals and plants. 47

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The objects of his drives exist outside himself as objective independent of him, yet they are objects of his needs, essential objects, which are indispensable to the exercise and confirmation of his faculties. The fact that man is an embodied, living, real, sentient objective being with natural powers, means that he has real, sensuous objects as the objects of his being, or that he can only express his being in real sensuous objects. . . . Man as an objective sentient being is a suffering being, and since he feels his suffering, a passionate being. Passion is man’s faculties striving [strebende] to attain their object.173

This rapid summary of some aspects of the Marxian subject calls for three further remarks. To begin with, the humanism that Marx mentions here concerns Marx’s stress on the specifically human element in human social reality. Marxian humanism is manifest in related ways in his Feuerbachian insistence on man as the root of man, in his adoption of a generally Fichtean conception of human being as basically active, and in his complaint that Hegel, who supposedly resists social change, supports the status quo. In the Paris Manuscripts Marx links his conception of humanism to an increasingly economic focus. The belated publication of this text led to an important debate on humanism in the middle of the twentieth century.174 The origin of the debate lies in part in the Marxist view that Feuerbach influenced Marx through his atheistic humanism, or again the belief that true humanism is atheism. The tardy publication of Marx’s Manuscripts drew attention in a legible way to the humanist theme in his writings while challenging the Marxist view of Marx in which from Engels to Althusser’s Marxist antihumanism, as distinguished from Marxist humanism, humanism has never had an important role to play. Althusser’s so-­called theoretical antihumanism is misunderstood as a defense of Marx but is better understood as an attack on Marx, whose writings clearly conflict with the Marxist view of Marx, hence as a defense of Marxism. The need for a defense of this kind is obvious. Marxism, which, as repeatedly indicated, arose in the absence of crucial Marxian texts, features a claim for a basic difference between Marxian writings and Marxism either prior to or, on the contrary, later than 1845, when The German Ideology was written. Marxism since Engels features a form of positivism, or a view that Marx turned his initial interest in philosophy to materialism and science. The Paris Manuscripts clearly refute Marxist positivism in stressing the humanist thrust, that is, the continued stress on finite human being running through Marx’s writings both early and late. Examples include his claim that all science is human science, his concern to develop humanism as a third possibility situated between idealism and materialism, his theories of objectification and alienation, 48

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of value and surplus value, and so on. The Grundrisse further refutes the specific Althusserian claim, following Gaston Bachelard, for an epistemological break between the early writings that even Althusser concedes are philosophical and the writings after The German Ideology. This is the point at which the French Marxist scholar claims without textual evidence of any kind that Marx abandoned philosophy for science. Third, a consequence of defending Marxian humanism against Althusser reopens Lucien Goldmann’s query. Goldmann asks: Is Heidegger’s phenomenological ontology intended as a response to Lukács and more distantly to Marx in suggesting a different form of authenticity?175 This question is not implausible, since Heidegger claims to leave philosophy for thought (Denken). In the Letter on Humanism he notoriously contends, perhaps in order to defend himself against the fallout after the Second World War in reaction to his strong support of National Socialism, that the so-­called humanism of being is deeper than “false” humanism, which is presumably merely another “false” salvation in the age of technology. Marx and Heidegger propose opposing views of human being. The Heideggerian and the Marxian views are both squarely directed against the modern tradition. In simplest terms, Marx looks to the future and Heidegger looks to the past. According to the Marxian model, finite human beings will eventually transform capitalism into communism in freeing themselves from the constraints of modern industrial society, above all from the institution of private property, in order only then finally to begin human history. The Heideggerian view seeks not to undermine but rather to affirm a so-­called authentic repetition of the tradition. Heidegger understands this repetition as a return, if not to God, or to a god, at least to being as such in his restatement of the classical Greek tradition in modern, pseudo-­Christian terms. He later came infamously to think that, in a world dominated through technology, only a god can save us. Marx, on the contrary, insists on ways for finite human beings to liberate themselves from social bonds they have themselves created in constructing a future different from the past.

On the Marxian Alternative to Modern Political Economy The familiar model of orthodox political economy formulated by Smith and his successors describes modern capitalism as a morally justified, basically stable economic system lying at the heart of modern industrial society, an economic system in which, despite the persistence of 49

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poverty, on the whole, by virtue of the invisible hand, human beings flourish. Marxian political economy is an alternative, unorthodox theory of modern capitalism. It depicts modern capitalism as morally and ethically unjustified. According to Marx, capitalism is prone to economic swings in the short run, relatively stable in the middle run, but unstable in the long run. He depicts capitalism as an economic system in which human beings do not and cannot flourish, but that, through economic development, provides the future economic basis for a transition from capitalism to communism. Hegel is certainly not the first philosopher to scrutinize the economic foundations of society. In the West, political economy, which is very old, goes back at least to the early Greeks. Plato and Aristotle both treat economic problems as ethical questions affecting the social life of individuals.176 More than two millennia later, Marx does the same. Modern political economy is examined (and justified) in different ways by philosophers like Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Locke, Mandeville, and above all by Smith, the great political economist and moral philosopher. Modern capitalism emerged toward the middle of the eighteenth century through the Industrial Revolution. In his theodicy, which was written slightly earlier, in 1710, Leibniz responds to the problem of evil in famously suggesting this is the best of all possible worlds. This claim can be taken as generally justifying specific events such as the murder of Julius Caesar and specific practices like slavery and capitalism. Capitalism, as repeatedly noted, is based on the institution of private property. It is often said that John Locke (1632–­1704) is the great philosopher of modern capitalism, and Adam Smith (1723–­1790) is its great economist. Locke explicitly justifies the private ownership of the means of production, the central institution of modern capitalism.177 According to Locke, private property is justified because one has an absolute right178 to whatever one mixes one’s labor with.179 We owe to Smith the idea, as alive today as in his own time, that the mere functioning of modern society is sufficient to bring about a better world for all of us, in fact the best world that is possible in practice. Smith famously suggests that a so-­called invisible hand ensures that our private interests coincide in promoting the public good.180 Kant restates a scarcely veiled version of this idea in his view of Providence as the design of world history.181 Smith’s optimistic view of modern life contrasts sharply with Hobbes’s pessimistic view. Hobbes, the first great English political philosopher, and Smith, the first great British economist, both rely on conceptions of human nature as naturally egoistic while drawing opposing inferences.

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The author of Leviathan (1651) contends that differences in individual interest generate a war of all against all (bellum omnes contra omnes). In making the same assumption about the divergence of individual interests, Smith draws a far more optimistic conclusion than Hobbes on the grounds that, if each person works for his own private goals, society as a whole, hence everyone in it, benefits. Smith maintains that each individual naturally pursues only his or her private interest while unwittingly serving, without either willing or knowing it, the interests of everyone. Hegel, who was perhaps more realistic, later holds that individuals pursue their own interest while omitting any claim that to do so is useful for everyone.182 In reacting to Hegel, Marx thinks that in eliminating private property the divergence of interests it creates can be overcome in bringing about the real possibility for human flourishing for everyone. Smith’s view of the functioning of capitalism is based on a view of egotism that was anticipated by the Dutch philosopher Mandeville. At roughly the same time that Leibniz suggested this is the best of all possible worlds, Mandeville proposed in The Fable of the Bees; Or Private Vices, Public Virtues (1705) that, as the title suggests, virtue, or altruism, is socially harmful, while vice, or actions undertaken only with oneself in view, is socially beneficial. It is sometimes noted that Mandeville, Leibniz, Smith, and Kant each maintain in different ways the idea of a hidden pattern or law that harmonizes the self-­destructive impulses of egoistic individuals.183 This shared optimistic view of the hidden harmony of history is countered by Hegel’s darker conception of history as a slaughter bench and Walter Benjamin’s related view of history as a storm blowing in from paradise. Possibly following Mandeville, Smith contends that the effort of each individual is sufficient to ameliorate his own condition. The justification of this claim lies in the so-­called invisible hand by which, in working for oneself, each person unintentionally promotes the public good. In a justly famous passage, he writes: As every individual, therefore, endeavors as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends

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only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end that it was not part of it.184

Smith, who was more realistic than many of his followers, was aware that industrial capitalism benefits neither everyone equally nor even everyone. He thinks it is just that those who produce profit, including the poor, should themselves profit to the extent of adequate food, clothing, and shelter. Yet, in contradicting himself, he also thinks that the justification of government is, as he argues in his Lectures on Jurisprudence, following Cicero’s De Officiis, “to defend the rich from the poor.”185 In sum, Hobbes provides a sober, very pessimistic assessment of life that Smith, following Mandeville, brilliantly inverts through the metaphor of the invisible hand. In this way, he simultaneously founded both modern orthodox political economy and a persistently optimistic reading of its prospects that he himself does not appear to share. Marx, on the contrary, shares Hobbes’s harsher vision of modern life, to which he rallies on mainly economic grounds. Throughout his writings Marx violently attacks the orthodox view of modern political economy as leading toward lasting harmony. According to Marx, the institution of private property is not only morally unjustified and unjustifiable but also pernicious. He claims capitalism is not stable but rather unstable. He attacks as well the orthodox economic conviction of the stability of capitalism in suggesting its inevitable replacement through a different organization of the means of production. He finally rejects the view that human beings either do or possibly could flourish under capitalism in calling for its replacement through communism.

Marxian Political Economy as Economic Constructivism It will suffice at this point, since we will come back to this theme below, to provide no more than an outline of Marxian political economy. A justification of modern capitalism is based on the Smithian view that in the long run individual economic interests appear to diverge but ba­ sically converge. A justification of Marxian political economy emerges in drawing the economic consequences of the anti-­Smithian view that individual interests do not converge but rather basically diverge in modern capitalism that in Marx’s opinion is not economically viable in the long run. In short Marx disagrees with Smith on two central points, since, unlike the Scottish economist, he believes capitalism is neither morally justifiable nor even economically viable. 52

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Marx’s view, as already noted, is a form of constructivism. Constructivism originates in ancient mathematics. According to Euclidean geometry, the construction of a single plane figure with a straight edge and compass proves the existence of its class. Constructivism, which is a second-­best theory, comes into the modern tradition through Hobbes, Giambattista Vico, and Kant. Kantian constructivism enters German idealism through his so-­called Copernican revolution, also called the Copernican turn. The common link lies in the cognitive claim that reverses the effort to base knowledge on the world, or metaphysical realism. German idealism consists in a shared effort by different hands to formulate an acceptable approach to constructivism. Marx, who calls attention to Vico in the first volume of Capital,186 relies on a Vichian version of constructivism in formulating an alternative theory of capitalism. Vico’s, Marx’s, and German idealist forms of constructivism are closely related. Marxian political economy is a theory of the construction, transformation, and reconstruction of the modern world based on the Fichtean approach to finite human beings as basically active. Marx distinguishes between basic needs and human needs. He thinks, like Hegel, that human beings, as natural beings, meet and must meet their needs outside themselves in interaction with others and with nature within a social context they construct. Hegelian objectification is closely linked to Marxian objectification and alienation. Hegel’s account of the modern state describes spirit objectified in laws, morality, and the state. In the section on morality in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel points out, in going beyond mere possession, that in a moral context, as he puts it, there is an identity between “content” and “the moral point of view,”187 and that “I preserve my subjectivity in implementing my ends . . . in the course of thus objectifying them.”188 Marx’s constructivist approach to modern industrial society follows and develops the Hegelian distinction, mentioned above, between ob­ jectification and alienation. The Marxian view of capitalism relies on a triple distinction between objectification, alienation, and value. “Objec­ tification” refers to the way that in producing commodities the worker literally “concretizes” himself as an object. For the owner of the means of production, the interest of the economic process lies in the “appropriation” of unpaid labor in the guise of surplus value. For the worker, its interest lies in meeting basic needs. Marx’s theory of alienation develops Hegel’s view of the way in which as the result of work a person is appropriated by the capitalist. Marx further distinguishes between use value, that is, what one can do with a particular commodity, and exchange value, or 53

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the monetary value of a commodity, which is a function of the quantity of labor-­time required to produce it. Marx argues that workers, who can meet no more than their basic needs in working for the owners of the means of production, do not and cannot flourish. His argument is based on the insight that workers are alienated in various ways within and through the productive process. This is a view he never later abandons.189 Surplus value is the product of unpaid labor. According to Marx, in order to meet basic needs the worker must provide the capitalist with unpaid labor. Marx thinks that capitalists are unjustly remunerated for what they do not do, and workers are deprived of what they do and by implication deserve. In response, Marx claims capitalism is unstable on economic grounds. According to Marx, the process of economic production is unstable. The worker, who produces a commodity, also produces himself as a worker, the social relations between human beings and human beings and nature, as well as the real condition of the transformation of capitalism into communism. It has been noted more than once that during his lifetime Marx published little, certainly very little in comparison to the enormous volume of unpublished writings he left at his death. Though he brought out the first volume of Capital, he was unable to complete either volumes two and three of this study or the three parts of volume 4, entitled Theories of Surplus Value. He worked steadily, often in difficult circumstances over many years, but, despite titanic effort, was unable to make more than a small dent in his enormous project. Capital as a whole is an immense study in three volumes, some 2,300 pages in English translation. This is supplemented by volume 4, entitled Theories of Surplus Value, some 1,605 pages in English. The entire study, which runs roughly four thousand pages, represents no more than a sixth of the even more gigantic project Marx outlined in the Grundrisse. Much of what we now have in Marx’s very large corpus consists of a series of unfinished sketches that he was never able to bring to fruition. Added to the fact that Marx is often not a very precise writer, many aspects of Marxian political economy, including the crucial point of the transformation of capitalism into communism, a point that is central to his entire lifework, remain unclear. Marx’s reasons for thinking capitalism is unstable and will eventually give way to communism include its impact on workers, its functioning as an economic system, and his theory of economic crisis. The effect of capitalism in bringing about what he called the immiseration of the working class is a consistent theme in passages scattered throughout 54

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Marx’s writings. They include passages about the revolutionary proletariat in the early text awkwardly entitled “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction” (1843), where Marx indicates that under philosophical leadership the proletariat can and will be brought to its own revolutionary self-­liberation; another in The Commu­ nist Manifesto that is addressed to those who, in a famous formulation, perhaps influenced by Rousseau, have nothing to lose but their chains; and further passages in Capital, volume 1, where Marx details horrors of capitalism such as child labor; and so on. The first claim relies on the effect of capitalism on those who live within its systemic constraints. A second claim lies in the supposed inability of capitalism to function effectively over time. According to Marx, in the long run capitalism tends, despite the best efforts of orthodox or so-­called bourgeois economists, to change into communism. The central difference between capitalism and communism lies in the proposed transition from an economic system in modern industrial society based on the institution of private property to a future economic system that will be based on the absence of private property. In the Marxian view the two main transformative factors of political economy are the general notion of economic crisis and the mysterious view of the tendency of the falling rate of profit. I return to these views below.

Marx on Human Flourishing and Communism The supposed future transition from capitalism to communism through the abolition of private property is clearly central to realizing the Marxian position in practice. Yet, as noted, Marx says surprisingly little about either communism (or, if there is a difference, socialism), which is an indispensable component of his conception of human flourishing, or about the mechanism of the transition. The term “communism” is, for instance, wholly absent in Capital, volume 1, where Marx writes in ringing tones about the way in which “capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation.”190 The little Marx says about “communism” elsewhere is not entirely consistent. The term seems to have come into French around 1840 through such writers as George Sand and Charles Augustin Saint-­Beuve. It later spread to other languages. But the general idea goes back in the tradition at least to Plato, who describes a form of primitive communism in the Republic. Communism is one of Marx’s very early interests. His initially critical attitude toward communism rapidly became positive. After he finished 55

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his dissertation, entitled in Hegelian fashion “Difference between the Democritean and the Epicurean Philosophy of Nature,” Marx became a newspaper editor. In his very first article as editor of the Rhineland News (October 16, 1842), he denounced the rival Augsburg General News for publishing two articles favorable to communism.191 Jonathan Sperber points out that one of the articles, which identified the plight of poor workers living in Berlin apartment houses, called for an end to private property, something Marx at the time opposed.192 Marx, who quickly changed his mind, mentions “communism” in a different manner in an early letter to Ruge, dated September 1843, where he says that it is only a “dogmatic abstraction” that exists in the teachings of such writers as Etienne Cabet, Théodore Dézamy, and Wilhelm Weitling, but which is opposed by such socialists as Charles Fourier and Pierre-­Joseph Proudhon. He goes on to note that the abolition of private property is not “identical with communism,” in pointing out that socialism is concerned only with the reality of “the true existence of man.”193 In the letter Marx does not distinguish clearly between socialism and communism, though such a distinction is implicit in Engels’s title for Socialism, Utopian and Scientific. “Communism” would, then, be a synonym, not for socialism in general, but for so-­called scientific socialism. This point is supported by the passage entitled “Critical-­Utopian Socialism and Communism” in The Communist Manifesto, a screed that was mainly written by Marx. Apart from The Communist Manifesto, perhaps the four most important passages on communism in Marx’s writings occur in the early Paris Manu­ scripts, in the “Excerpts from James Mill’s Elements of Political Economy,” written at almost exactly the same time, then in the slightly later German Ideology, whose authorship is uncertain, and in the very late “Critique of the Gotha Program.” In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx simplistically understands “communism” as the abolition of private property in conflating the precondition for communism and the end result of the transition to it from capitalism. In this text, he is already working with a distinction between crude communism and true communism, or communism stage 1 and communism stage 2, which runs throughout other passages on communism as well. Crude communism that is represented in the nineteenth century by such utopian thinkers as François Marie Charles Fourier, Pierre-­Joseph Proudhon, and Gracchus Babeuf, and, as noted, several millennia earlier by Plato as well, seeks to abolish or again to “universalize” private property. True communism aims at the positive transcendence of private property through fully developed humanism. In the Paris Manu­ scripts, Marx writes that “communism is the positive expression of annulled private property—­at first as universal private property.”194 56

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Marx, who does not simply reject crude communism, understands it as an unavoidable initial stage, which will later be superseded. The category of the worker, which is defined by the relation to private property, is not abolished but rather extended to everyone in crude communism, a stage in which private property is not yet transcended. Marx harshly criticizes this stage: “The first positive annulment of private property—­ crude communism—­is thus merely a manifestation of the vileness of private property.”195 Marx employs the Hegelian term “sublation” (Aufhebung, which is also translated as “supersession” or “positive transcendence”) in signaling his preference for true communism, which he depicts here in dithyrambic terms as no less than the aim of history. Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-­ estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being—­a return accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development. This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man—­the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-­confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.196

This optimistic passage about true communism suggests five generally Hegelian points. To begin with, history is an ongoing process in and through which human beings develop in a social context. Second, the process is teleological in that it tends toward a historical end or goal that Marx elsewhere describes as the real beginning of human history. Further, since in capitalism people are alienated or in other terms separated from themselves, its historical end is the return of human being to themselves in leaving alienation behind. This is a Marxian version of Hegel’s view of freedom as the end of history, which Marx, who advances a more developed account of alienation in this text, identifies as the effective end of human alienation and the beginning of real human history. Yet this view of true communism is in tension with Marx’s view expressed elsewhere that communism is no more than an intermediate stage in an ongoing historical process, hence not the last stage, and not the final goal of human history. According to Marx, the crucial relationship of theory and practice lies in the abstract as well as the empirical “movement of private property.” 57

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There is a clear and important contrast here between Marx and Hegel. In the Elements of the Philosophy of  Right Hegel seeks, through juridical means, not to abolish but rather to stabilize the modern institution of private property that he understands as a necessary ingredient of human social freedom. Marx, who employs an economic approach, holds that private property is incompatible with the development of the person as an individual human being. The institution of private property will in principle be superseded in communism in making it possible for human beings to reach their individual potential. In that social phase, objectification will not lead on to alienation, since “all objects become for him [i.e., the finite human being] the objectification of himself, become objects which confirm and realize his individuality, become his objects.”197 We can sum up the entire line of argument concerning communism as follows. Marx, who distinguishes between crude and true communism, thinks capitalism, which is a necessary phase in the development of human beings, will, through the abolition of private property, eventually be replaced, initially by crude communism, then later by true communism. Marx follows Hegel in distinguishing between objectification and alienation. The abolition of the institution of private property, but not the supersession of objectification, will in turn make possible humanism as naturalism and naturalism as humanism. Absent here is any mention of materialism that, at least since Engels’s little book on Feuerbach, is often central to Marxist debate. The abolition of private property will lead to the development of human beings as individuals, hence to human flourishing in the modern world. But, as Marx hastens to add, “Commu­ nism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society.”198 In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx describes, at a point still close to the beginning of his career, a view of communism he fleshes out a little, but still not nearly enough, toward the end of his career in the “Critique of the Gotha Program.” This view, which he describes in slightly more detail later is, I believe, the main conception of communism that he formulates early on and continues to hold to throughout his career. Yet, since he was not writing for publication, and since in this text he was assessing different possibilities, he not surprisingly elsewhere also describes other approaches, which are not always consistent in the views they present of communism, aspects of capitalism, alienation, and so on. Marx takes a different approach to communism in a less often discussed but important text entitled “Excerpts from James Mill, Éléments

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d’économie politique.” Marx was at work on the “Excerpts,” a text which is clearly unfinished, at almost the same time, or even the same time, as he was working on the Paris Manuscripts, for the Paris Manuscripts during the spring and summer of 1844, and for the Excerpts from April to August 1844. The two texts are very different. The Paris Manuscripts develops different phases of a single analysis. The “Excerpts” consists of some eighty-­four passages Marx copied out of Mill’s book as well as a series of notes in all probability for a text he intended to write. We see Marx at work in responding to an important contemporary economist while acquiring the basic insights of what later became his alternative view of modern industrial society, much as he earlier responded to Hegel in his critique of the latter’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right. For our purposes, the most interesting aspect of the “Excerpts” is the view of communism not as having different stages or phases and not, as a widely cited passage in The German Ideology suggests, being able to do just anything at all, without consideration of the economic dimension of society, and again not as making available free time, but as a kind of active cooperation between different individuals. Smith’s view of the economic value of egotism has already been mentioned. A more plausible story would be that everyone benefits if and only if everyone strives to help everyone else. This cooperative model seems an unlikely solution, since, except for a few exceptional individuals, most people most of the time are not focused on what is good for everyone else. Varieties of egotism typical of the vast majority are routinely manifested in the functioning of modern industrial society. It would take a wholesale transformation of human beings as they in fact are to bring about a situation in which each actively strove to contribute to the welfare of each. Marx, at this early phase, is less interested in how such a view could be realized in practice than in identifying the goal it presupposes. With that in mind, he imagines a situation in which in and through production the individual affirms himself while also affirming the other. This is a step beyond the view that in communism a person develops as an individual through self-­objectification that, after the demise of the institution of private property, hence after capitalism, leads not toward alienation but toward individuality. Marx here supplements this step with the further step, leading to a different conception of communism, in suggesting what looks like a restatement of Smith’s view of the invisible hand in a capitalist setting, this time as a visible hand in a communist social framework. According to Marx, each person, in developing as an individual, brings about similar development of others. Here is the passage:

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Let us suppose that we had produced as human beings. Each of us would have in two ways affirmed himself and the other person. 1) In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and thereby enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt. 2) in your enjoyment or use of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious or having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man’s essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man’s essential nature. 3) In your use or enjoyment of my product I would have the immediate satisfaction and knowledge that in my labor I had gratified a human need, i.e. that I had objecti­ fied human nature and hence had procured an object corresponding to the needs of another human being. . . . 4) In the immediate expression of my own life I would have directly realized my true nature, my human nature, my communal nature.199

The view of communism that Marx advances in the “Excerpts” was composed near the height of his brief but intense Feuerbachian period. It is still strongly tinged with Feuerbach’s romantic transformational criticism, which is perhaps effective in that sphere but impractical in the social world. There is further discussion of communism in The German Ideology, especially in the section entitled “Private Property and Communism,” and again in The Communist Manifesto. There are questions about Marx’s role in preparing the published version of The German Ideology, hence the relation of this text to Marx’s position.200 I come back to that point below. The German Ideology argues that a communist revolution will follow the abolition of private property, since the great mass of people are without private property. The authors of this work add a crucial point to the account in the Paris Manuscripts that later divides Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. They disagree about whether communist revolution is possible only as a worldwide occurrence, which The German Ideology affirms and Trotsky believes, or rather as a local or national occurrence only, which Stalin thinks. Since this distinction only became important, in fact crucial period after the October Revolution, this point indirectly suggests that the published version of the work was finalized or at least altered at that time. The German Ideology points to the difference between what is the case and what can in fact come about. It stresses that communism, which is more than a mere possibility, is in fact a practical movement, which can only arise on the basis of the abolition of present conditions. “Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real 60

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movement, which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.”201 The other important reference to communism occurs late in Marx’s career in the “Critique of the Gotha Program.” In this text, which is divided into three parts, Marx criticizes in some detail a program proposed for the German Social-­Democratic Workers Party. The first part addresses the fair distribution of the proceeds of labor, in other words, the total social product, and through that theme the conception of equality from the perspective of communist society in two phases: as it initially emerges from capitalism, which Marx earlier called crude communism, and which he refers to here as vulgar socialism; and as what he earlier depicted as true communism. In communism stage 1 the individual will in principle receive back from society exactly what he contributes to it. More precisely, he will receive the equivalent of the result of the labor-­time he expends. Yet as the labor of one individual differs from that of another, the result is necessarily an inequality since “this equal right is an unequal right for unequal labor.”202 Marx thinks this defect is inevitable in the first phase of communism. He nonetheless believes that what Hegel in his study of modern industrial society calls “right” is ultimately a function of economic structure in indirectly reinforcing the superstructure/base distinction. In principle, at this social stage the so-­called bourgeois problem of equality will be surpassed. In the second phase of communism, labor will at least in principle be freed from its purely economic role in being reassigned as it were to the various aspects of the all-­around development of the individual. At this point, the threshold of bourgeois right, which depends on the economic structure of society, will give rise to a new situation, which Marx famously depicts through the slogan “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” Hence in communism stage 2 the very problem of the distribution of the proceeds of labor as well as related questions of bourgeois equality, and perhaps ethics as it has so far been known, will be surpassed.203 This view is consistent with the statement in The Communist Mani­ festo that “Communism abolishes eternal truths; it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.”204 This complex assertion implies that claims for religious, moral and ethical beliefs are finally not based, or not exclusively based, on rational arguments or on traditional beliefs but rather on the social surroundings, especially the economic structure of society. Yet this view seems problematic for at least two reasons. First, one might want to suggest that, if not religion, at least morality or ethics, 61

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if there is a difference, follows from and is justified through reasons that arise in, but cannot be reduced to the surrounding social context. Marx seems to be suggesting that, through the supersession of private property, a break with past views of religion, morality, and/or ethics will be initiated. Yet if, as seems to be the case, morality is based on moral reasoning, and ethics is based on ethical reasoning, and if neither is grounded in the division of the means of production, then there is no reason, and Marx gives none, why the transition from capitalism to communism will lead to a different morality, a different ethics, or indeed to an absence of both at all. In fact, Marx is not suggesting we give up morality or ethics, since he proposes his own substitute version of morality and ethics in communism stage 2. Second, there is a difficulty about how to understand the intended break with bourgeois religion, morality, and ethics. Marx here suggests without argument that the break he contemplates will still be incomplete in communism stage 1, where earlier views will continue to survive even after private property has been abolished. But it will supposedly be completed in communism stage 2, in which the traditions based on private property and private property itself will at least in theory have been definitively transcended. In order for this view to be convincing, Marx needs to furnish an account of how the transformation from the initial to the later stages of communism brings about, makes possible, or otherwise changes the need not only for religion but also for morality and ethics as well.

Human Flourishing as Social Freedom Important philosophical theories, including Marx’s, are routinely interpreted in different ways. I have been suggesting that Marx formulates a complex, interesting position that integrates philosophical, economic, and other components. This point is crucial to understand Marxian political economy, which is misunderstood as independent of, and intelligible only if understood as based on, his philosophical view. His philosophical view underlies as well as gives rise to his economic theory of modern industrial society. It further supports the very idea of the future transformation of capitalism into communism. His overall position, which is ultimately based on an approach to finite human being as intrinsically active on loan from Fichte and others, including Aris­ totle, is primarily intended to respond to the traditional theme of human flourishing in its modern Hegelian guise. I disagree, hence, with observ62

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ers who, at least since Engels, think Marx’s position emerges either in leaving philosophy behind, or through its contribution to other disciplines in respect to which “philosophy” is a mere honorific.205 Human flourishing can be understood in different ways, as encompassing, for instance, the quality of life, as in the canonical phrase “living, living better, and living well,” as well as happiness, human freedom, full human development as an individual person, or, again, fulfillment as however defined, excellence of human function, personal autonomy, the return to God, and so on. Yet it is not an accident, since views of human being differ, that there is not now and never has been agreement on how to understand human flourishing other than that many observers think it is a singularly important theme. Marx, who never seems to arrive at a final view, understands human flourishing in different ways in different texts. Yet it seems clear that human flourishing is a central concern, the theoretical terminus ad quem for which the entire theory is formulated, running throughout his texts. It is already a central theme in his initial article on Hegel’s view of right, which turns on the problem of practical freedom in the modern industrial state, and it remains present in various ways in numerous later writings. That Marx says different things in different texts does not undermine his overall view of human flourishing, which reflects the complexity of the theme as well as Marx’s understandable hesitation about electing any simple solution as not only preferable but also and above all as realizable in practice. By far the best-­known passage, whose authorship is uncertain, occurs in The German Ideology in the section “Private Property and Communism.” This passage, which is situated in an account of the division of labor, is important for two reasons. It is contained in a text that, following Engels, Marxists often see as breaking with Marx’s philosophical past through the formulation of a new science. Further, it points for some observers to a new, extraphilosophical position, different in kind from his previous writings. This supposedly new position seems to promise something akin to Christian paradise or at least what is sometimes facetiously described as a radiant future.206 The authors of The German Ideology, who were long assumed to be Marx and Engels, write: For as soon as the distribution of labor comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any 63

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branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic. This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now.207

This oddly romantic passage, in which an unknown author waxes rhapsodic about life beyond or at least not constrained by economic considerations, sounds more like the poet Schiller’s conception of the so-­called play instinct, or the view that man is only fully man when he plays,208 than like Marx.209 Marx’s role in formulating this passage is doubt­ ful. It is difficult to take this statement seriously as his considered solution for the theme of human flourishing in modern industrial society. This passage suggests another authorship for two reasons. First, the implication that in going beyond private property to communism it will be possible to dispense with division of labor appears to be frankly utopian, hence inconsistent with Marx’s strong social realism, which rarely if ever deserts him. Second, there is the obviously continued relevance of economic activity. Once he turned to political economy, Marx never later turned away from it. It is difficult to imagine, and there is no other comparable indication anywhere in his writings, that he thinks that in communism the need to meet basic reproductive needs through economic activity will for whatever reason simply cease. This need will obviously remain central as long as finite human beings must, as Marx indicates, meet their needs outside themselves. There is also no reason to think Marx believes that economic activity will lose its interest or be abandoned through the advent of communism. This would hardly be credible. Certainly, this was never the case either in the Soviet Union or in contemporary China, the two great laboratories for the practical realization of the Marxist version of Marx’s vision. As early as his detailed analysis of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Marx considers the economic framework of capitalism as the indispensable background for any solution to the problem of real social freedom in a future social phase. He consistently maintains this view in all his later writings. In this early study, Marx criticizes Hegel’s view of freedom from an economic perspective, which he steadily deepens and extends in his later writings. He never abandons nor in any way weakens, but always maintains this criterion unchanged. The implicit sug64

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gestion that a satisfactory solution to the theme of human flourishing might entail simply dropping the concern with political economy seems inconsistent with all that we know about Marx. This passage inconsistently suggests that the economic dimension, which Marx thinks is central, later simply loses all importance. From a Marxian angle of vision, the economic dimension of modern society simply cannot, as this passage suggests, be ignored. It must be dealt with as a necessary condition of a viable approach to the theme of human flourishing. Since the author of this passage does not do so here, this in turn renders the suggestion of Marx’s authorship doubtful. Marx returns to the problem of human flourishing in two singularly important later passages, one in the Grundrisse and the other in Capital, both times in commenting on the core meaning of wealth (or riches) in modern industrial society. Both passages concern the problem of wealth, not in an economic sense but rather as it relates to human flourishing in the fullest sense of the term. In the passage from the Grundrisse, Marx seems to be answering a question (what is wealth?) in suggesting that wealth properly understood corresponds to the full development of human being as an end in itself. He begins by pointing out that wealth is a thing as well as realized in things, or products one confronts as a subject, in restating his view of fetishism. Wealth is also, as he says, the command over another’s labor, that is, the capacity that follows from ownership of private property. He calls attention to the “old view” that “human being appears as the aim of production.” With this in mind, he asks a series of rhetorical questions that aim at the point that, as in the ancient world, so in the modern world, despite the institution of private property, on a deeper level the creation of wealth is directed toward the self-­production or the flour­ ishing of human beings with respect to, as he says, the “universality of human needs” in all their many forms, through the double mastery of nature and human nature. From this perspective, wealth is not primarily economic but rather, as he indicates, “the absolute working-­out of his creative potentialities, with no presupposition other than the previous historic development.”210 In his view, the aim of wealth is not economic power but rather to surpass the developmental stasis imposed by production in modern industrial society in order to develop as an individual human being, since, as Marx asks rhetorically, “Where he does not reproduce himself in one specificity, but produces his totality?” In now recurring to the kenotic interpretation of Christ as emptying himself for mankind,211 Marx suggests that instead of linking the productive process with the realization of human being, bourgeois economics 65

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links objectification with alienation. According to Marx, “This complete working-­out of the human content appears as a complete emptying-­out, this universal objectification as total alienation, and the tearing-­down of all limited, one-­sided aims as sacrifice of the human end-­in-­itself to an en­ tirely external end.” Here is the passage: Wealth as an end-­in-­itself appears only among the few trading peoples. . . . Now, wealth is on the one hand a thing, embodied in things, in material products, which man confronts as subject. On the other hand, wealth as value is simply command over alien labor, not for the purpose of domination but of private consumption, etc. In all its forms it appears in physical shape, whether as a thing or as a relationship mediated by a thing located outside the individual, somewhere near him. In this way, the old view, according to which man always appears in however narrowly national, religious or political a determination as the end of production, seems very exalted when set against the modern world, in which production is the end of man, and wealth the end of production. In fact, however, if the narrow bourgeois form is peeled off, what is wealth if not the universality of the individual’s needs, capacities, enjoyments, productive forces, etc., produced in universal exchange; what is it if not the full development of human control over the forces of nature—­over the forces of so-­called Nature, as well as those of his own nature? What is wealth if not the absolute unfolding of man’s creative abilities, without any precondition other than the preceding historical development, which makes the totality of this development—­i.e. the development of all human powers as such, not measured by any previously given yardstick—­an end-­in-­itself, through which he does not reproduce himself in any specific character, but produces his totality, and does not seek to remain something he has already become, but is in the absolute movement of becoming? In the bourgeois economy—­and in the epoch of production to which it corresponds—­this complete unfolding of man’s inner potentiality turns into his total emptying out. His universal objectification becomes his total alienation, and the demolition of all determined one-­sided aims becomes the sacrifice of the [human] end-­in-­itself to a wholly external purpose. That is why, on the one hand, the childish world of antiquity appears as something superior. On the other hand, it is superior, wherever fixed shape, form and established limits are being looked for. It is satisfaction from a narrow standpoint, while the modern world leaves us unsatisfied or, where it does appear to be satisfied with itself, is merely vulgar.212

This passage in Capital revisits an earlier passage in the Paris Manu­ scripts. The Paris Manuscripts began many years earlier in following Engels’s “Outline of a Critique of Political Economy”213 with remarks about the wages of labor, the profit of capital, and the rent of land. In Capital, volume 3, chapter 48, “The Trinity Formula,” similarly starts with the same three categories of capital, profit, and land, or ground rent, from which 66

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it takes its name. Marx notes that capital is not a thing but a social relation in a particular phase of society, which is manifest in a thing, the commodity. He indicates that vulgar economy interprets and defends, but does not criticize, modern industrial society. In a departure from the view described in the Paris Manuscripts, Marx now criticizes the so-­called trinity formula, hence Engels’s categorial approach to political economy on which he earlier relied in the Paris Manuscripts before arriving at a passage on surplus labor and surplus value. Here he points out that the wealth of society depends not on the duration but rather on the productivity of work. Then, abruptly changing topics, he provides what, unless new texts later emerge, must stand as his mature, final view of real freedom in a stunning passage. According to Marx, the situations of labor and the real practical freedom of human flourishing are mutually exclusive. Human flourishing, which requires a solution to the venerable theme, as old as the Western tradition, of the relation of nature and nurture, demands, as an indispensable component, human freedom. Human freedom in the age of modern industrial society has two main prerequisites: human control of nature and shortening of the working day. The understanding of nature is central to contemporary ecology. Heidegger preaches a passive form of letting be (Gelassenheit) with respect to nature. Marx, on the contrary, thinks that human beings must establish rational, human control over nature instead of being controlled by it. The possibility of this or similar kinds of control is now very obviously and increasingly threatened through such phenomena as global warming. In this context, Marx claims that what he calls freedom lies in coming to dominate nature for human ends. Yet, as he realistically notes, in obviously contradicting the view described in the passage cited from The German Ideology, economic necessity that requires us to meet basic needs will not be abolished. Marx is clearly cautioning against the romantic dream of going beyond the need for labor, a suggestion we find in the cited passage. Yet, as he immediately points out, one can at least reduce economic necessity in creating the real possibility of free time through the second prerequisite, that is, in shortening the working day. Here is the passage, which in view of its importance, must be cited at length: In fact, the realm of freedom actually begins only where labor which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases; thus in the very nature of things it lies beyond the sphere of actual material production. Just as the savage must wrestle with Nature to satisfy his wants, to maintain and reproduce life, so must civilized man, and 67

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he must do so in all social formations and under all possible modes of production. With his development, this realm of physical necessity expands as a result of his wants; but, at the same time, the forces of production, which satisfy these wants also increase. Freedom in this field can only consist in socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achieving this with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most favorable to, and worthy of, their human nature. But it nonetheless still remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can blossom forth only with this realm of necessity as its basis. The shortening of the working-­day is its basic prerequisite.214

This passage is significant for at least two reasons. First, it simply denies the view expounded in the infamous passage in The German Ideology that Marx almost certainly did not himself formulate. Marx, who supposedly claims elsewhere (though this may be apocryphal) that he is not a Marxist, here contradicts a main source of the Marxist view of communism, a view that he clearly does not hold. Second, after many years of fighting for communism, Marx now apparently abandons it as a precondition of real human freedom. In the meantime, his understanding of human flourishing has changed. Marx, who was in favor of revolution, was over many years opposed to the idea of realizing socialism by reform within capitalism by peaceful means. This approach was later suggested independently by Eduard Bernstein, Jean Jaurès, and others. Yet reform as well as revolution are both consistent with the new view. Marx here seems to be indicating that human beings, who will supposedly flourish after the transition from capitalism to communism, can also flourish under suitable conditions within capitalism as well. Freedom no longer lies in a radical revolutionary break with a previous stage of society but above all in a basic improvement in the conditions of life or, in a word, in reform. In short, Marx can be read here as substituting reform for revolution. Though Marxism has traditionally been hostile to mere reform,215 in this passage Marx seems to hold out hope that modern industrial society and real human freedom are in principle compatible if and only if human beings can establish control over the economic process, which, since it is not controlled by us but rather controls us, is in effect the real subject in capitalist society. In that case, the aim becomes to reorient society away from the accumulation of capital, which stultifies the achievement of human goals, in order to free human beings for individual human development or development as an individual. Human development lies in realizing individual human potentials, which may 68

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or may not have any financial utility whatsoever. In denying that human ends can simply be identified with, or reached merely through, the accumulation of capital, Marx suggests that human beings must be freed for development beyond the economic process by being freed from its domination. In this specific sense, we find in Marx an echo of the Platonic republic as well as the Enlightenment dream of a rational society, discussed in different ways by Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and others. The view expressed in the chapter “Trinity Formula” in Capital, volume 3, is reinforced by another, also from Marx’s Nachlass, in the Theories of Surplus Value. Marx all along has been working with a basic distinction between capitalism and communism. These two historical periods differ in their relation not to production but rather to different kinds of production. The distinction between them is not between a period in which there is economic production and a period in which there is none, since production is necessary in all times and places, but rather in the type of economic production. Unlike the unknown author of the infamous passage cited above from The German Ideology, Marx does not and could not realistically suggest that in practice it would be possible to go beyond economic production, which is required in all social phases by virtue of the biological nature of finite human beings. The expected social transformation of capitalism to communism will not in any way affect the biological nature of finite human beings, which will not change from one social phase to another. Finite human beings have both basic reproductive needs and human needs. Basic reproductive needs are the minimal needs of all human beings that must be satisfied for the maintenance of life itself. Since human biology is unaffected by politics, basic needs will neither disappear nor change in any way with the change from one social phase to another. Unlike basic reproductive needs, which are the same for all human beings, human needs differ with respect to a given person. Human needs, which are the needs of each person to become a specific individual in actualizing his or her own capacities, imply the existence of a specifically human form of production, or the production of finite human beings as human individuals. It is axiomatic in the Marxian position that in modern industrial society human beings can meet their reproductive but not their human needs. Reproductive needs must be and in fact are met within the normal process of production. Otherwise, workers would be unable to perform the work necessary for the productive process to function, and the process would grind to a halt. Since the productive process is intended to maximize profit and minimize expense, there can be variations, such as greater or lesser access to health care, educational benefits, 69

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and so on. Yet it is mainly directed toward meeting the conditions of its perpetuation through responding to basic reproductive needs. It is not directed toward meeting human needs for the simple reason that in the period of modern industrial capitalism there is no financial incentive for the owners of the means of production to expend either time or money in meeting human needs that finally do not add to profit but rather tend to diminish it. The considerable interest of the proposed transition from capitalism to communism does not lie in the continued capacity to meet basic or reproductive needs. It rather lies in the fact that presumably for the first time it will be possible to produce, not for the sake of financial profit, but rather in view of human profit in the transformation of the productive process as a means to transform those who were earlier confined to their interchangeable roles within the productive process as human individuals, or again as specific, nonfungible human beings. The suggested basic reordering of the productive process through the transition from capitalism to communism is Marx’s solution to the modern form of the problem of human flourishing in Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and other modern thinkers. All four thinkers are centrally concerned with Rousseau’s problem, or the theme of human development in the modern social context. Each thinker advances a different solution to the problem of human flourishing in the modern world. Rousseau suggests that, since we cannot return to the fictitious state of nature in the premodern world where everyone was supposedly free, a society must be created that exhibits the shared general will. Hegel suggests that individual human beings find themselves within the self-­created institutions of the modern state. Marx’s countersuggestion is that, through the transformation of modern industrial society from capitalism to communism, economic production loses its link to the augmentation of surplus value, hence its status as a means to an end. Production, which does not simply cease, since that is not possible, rather becomes production for human beings, no longer as a means but as an end. Marx writes: “Production for its own sake means nothing but the development of human productive forces, in other words the development of the richness of human nature as an end in itself.”216 The problem of freedom in modern industrial society is understood very differently before and after Rousseau. Before Rousseau, at least from the philosophical perspective, freedom is often understood as moral or ethical freedom, while after him it takes on the idea of social freedom in the modern industrial context. Descartes, for instance, is sometimes credited with a “libertarian two-­way ability to do otherwise, and [it is 70

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said that] Reason also delivers the result that human volitions cannot happen otherwise than they do.”217 Yet Smith, the founder of modern economics, provides an exception in his aesthetic view of freedom. Smith’s vision of the economic order praises the beauty, and not only the efficiency, of a humming economy where the “hidden hand” of the entrepreneur has been given free rein. Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments insists that the satisfaction one derives from the acquisition of wealth can only be understood in the context of the beauty of the entire system that produces such wealth: If we consider the real satisfaction which wealth and greatness are capable of affording, by itself and separated from the beauty of that arrangement which is fitted to promote it, it will always appear in the highest degree contemptible and trifling. But we rarely view it in this abstract and philosophical light. We naturally confound it in our imagination with the order, the regular and harmonious movement of the system, the machine or economy by means of which it is produced. The pleasures of wealth and greatness, when considered in this complex view, strike the imagination as something grand, and beautiful and noble, of which the attainment is well worth all the toil and anxiety which we are so apt to bestow on it.218

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Marx and Marxism on Materialism, Feuerbach, and Hegel This study has so far sketched a non-­Marxist, hence unortho­ dox, outline of selected aspects of Marx’s position as his so­ lution to the traditional philosophical problem of human flourishing. Marxist political orthodoxy has long weighed on and often distorted the interpretation of Marx’s theories. For historical reasons Marx has mainly been approached through Marxism rather than his own writings. Marxism, which was not due to Marx, was mainly created after Marx died by Engels, the first Marxist. It was later developed by Engels and those he influenced either directly or indirectly. Engels further edited volumes 2 and 3 of Capital in directly shaping Marx’s Nachlass. Marx’s position needs to be evaluated through his writings. This part of the text aims to clarify Marx’s position independently and apart from the canonical Marxist approach in three respects: as concerns materialism, which is frequently invoked as the alternative to idealism and to philosophy; with respect to Feuerbach; and in relation to dialectic. The initial and still most influential statement of Marxism was provided in Engels’s little book, scarcely more than a brochure, entitled Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Clas­ sical German Philosophy (1886, 1888). In his study, Eng­els de­ picts materialism as the conceptual successor of idealism. According to Engels, idealism identifies real and important problems that it cannot solve but that were solved by Marx’s 73

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(or Marx’s and Marxism’s shared) materialist approach. Engels, whose own philosophical views are close to positivism, notoriously attributes a similar position to Marx, whose views he celebrates but perhaps does not always understand. An important instance is his depiction of Marx’s central accomplishment as the discovery of the law of historical development, which I come back to below. Engels’s conviction that Marx followed Feuerbach in leaving Hegel, German idealism, and philosophy behind in order to overcome the problems of German idealism through materialism or materialist science suggests three linked themes: Marx’s relation to Feuerbach, whom he supposedly followed in leaving Hegel, German idealism, and philosophy behind for materialism and science; materialism as the alleged opposite of idealism; and Marx’s supposed materialist inversion of Hegel’s idealist form of dialectic. These themes are pillars of the politically motivated Marxist view of Marx. Remarks on these three related topics will help to free Marx from the politically motivated Marxist embrace to stand on his own conceptual feet as it were.

What Is Materialism? Ever since Engels invented Marxism, Marxists have continually emphasized Marx’s supposed turn from idealism and toward materialism as crucial to his position. Yet what that means has never been clarified. According to Hegel, the relation of thinking and being is the fundamental problem of philosophy. Fichte distinguishes between idealism and materialism, which he regards as simply incompatible.1 Engels follows Fichte in regarding idealism and materialism as exclusive alternatives. Fichte de­fends idealism, but Engels defends materialism. He attributes the supposed Marxian turn from idealism to materialism to Feuerbach’s influ­ ence. This influence allegedly led Marx to concentrate on being, which is concrete, unlike thought, which is abstract. Lurking in the background is the view that Hegel and philosophy in general are both more concerned with thought than with being. Engels never shows that he has a more than incidental acquaintance with philosophy, including German idealism, which he strongly but often superficially criticizes. He apparently assumes that materialism concentrates on the world as it is, but German idealism, like Cervantes’s madman Don Quixote, who tilts at windmills, does battle with mere phantasies of the bourgeois mind. The difference is that Don Quixote fails to understand the world in which he lives because he is mad, but Marxism holds 74

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that bourgeois delusions are ultimately caused by the existence of private property in modern industrial society. There is no reason to think that this supposed approach is typical of idealism or that it is correct about Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, or even about his overall position in general. In his early critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right Marx criticizes Hegel for supposedly substituting concepts for objects. Yet it does not follow that Marx is correct about Hegel’s treatise, which, as already noted, he seems not to have studied in detail. It is further unwarranted to think that Engels, whose grasp of Hegel was never more than tenuous, presumed that in calling attention to the external world Marx successfully refutes Hegel, German idealism, idealism in general, or even philosophy in all its forms.2 Neither Hegel nor anyone else who sails under the idealist banner has ever doubted the existence of the external world. It also does not follow, though it is a cornerstone of Marxism, that in criticizing Hegel, who is an idealist, Marx abandons Hegel, on whom he later continues to rely. Marx was very aware of ancient materialism, since he wrote a dissertation on ancient philosophy of nature from a Hegelian perspective. There is no reason to believe that Engels, who uses the term “materialism” as the opposite of “idealism,” was more than vaguely familiar with the history of materialism. In his influential brochure on Feuerbach, Engels distantly follows Hegel and others in contending that the distinction between idealism and materialism, or between thinking and being, is the fundamental problem of philosophy. If this is the basic philosophical problem, then materialism is a basic philosophical doctrine, as Fichte, for instance, thinks. Since Engels suggests that he represents a position jointly held by both Marx and himself, he implies that Marx is a materialist, that materialism is not an extraphilosophical but rather a philosophical doctrine, and that Marx is a philosopher. If, on the other hand, there is a basic distinction between philosophy and science, and materialism is not a phil­ osophical but an extraphilosophical scientific doctrine, then Marx is not a philosopher but rather, as Engels apparently thinks, a scientist. Engels often suggests that Marx is responsible for the extraphiloso­phi­ cal, scientific component of Marxism. One of the more important pas­ sages occurs in his speech at Marx’s graveside. In the eulogy, Engels gen­ erously compares Marx to Darwin. He claims that Marx “discovered the law of development of human history,” which, if this is a reference to political economy, presumably means that economics is prior to every other explanatory factor in its capacity as “the special law of motion gov­erning the present-­day capitalist mode of production and bourgeois society that this mode of production has created.”3 Other observers 75

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reject this interpretation of Marx. According to Ernest Mandel, “[Marx] was not seeking universal laws of economic organization. Indeed, one of the essential theses of Capital is that no such laws exist.”4 In his recent biography of Marx, Gareth Stedman Jones calls attention to the difference between Engels’s favorable comparison of Marx’s view, which he describes as the establishment of the law of historical development, and Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which is not and should not be interpreted as deterministic.5 Engels’s appreciation for the Fichtean distinction between materialism and idealism goes no further than their incompatibility. It does not extend to their philosophical viability. The success or failure of Kant’s critical philosophy partly turns on reestablishing a causal analysis of experience, which is rejected by Hume. Kant’s a priori theory of causality, which borrows from Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason, is central to his response to Hume’s a posteriori attack on causality. Fichte, who presents himself as a faithful Kantian, defends idealism. He believes that materialism, which he identifies with a causal approach to cognition, is philosophically indefensible, in short simply bad philosophy, but philosophy nonetheless. Engels, on the contrary, thinks materialism is crucially important but rejects idealism and, by implication, philosophy in all its forms for science. Materialism is, like idealism, understood in many different ways. Bertrand Russell rejects materialism early in the twentieth century. He would no doubt be surprised to learn that he is closer to the idealist Fichte than to Engels, the self-­professed materialist. In his “Introduction: Materialism, Past and Present” to Friedrich Albert Lange’s History of  Materialism, Russell reports, in overlooking Marxism, that though he himself earlier wrote a study of Bolshevism,6 and though the history of materialism is long, almost no one believes it. According to Russell, materialism cannot explain consciousness or sensation, it has been refuted in modern science, the old view of matter is no longer tenable, and so on.7 Russell’s introduction to a new edition of Lange’s treatise appeared in 1925. In the meantime, the situation had changed. Many Marxists of all kinds but also many analytic philosophers count as adherents of “materialism,” though they differ widely in their understanding of this term. Basic philosophical terms like “materialism” are notoriously difficult to define. Early Greek materialism, the kind Marx discussed in his dissertation, reduces everything to matter in motion and the void in antic­ ipating the modern atomic theory of matter. Different conceptions of materialism continue to echo throughout the later tradition. Hobbes, the prototypical modern materialist, understands human activity through a 76

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mechanical model. “The cause of Sense,” Hobbes writes, “is the External Body, or Object, which presseth the organ proper to each Sense, either immediately, as in the Taste and Touch; or mediately, as in Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling; which pressure, by the mediation of Nerves, and other strings, and membranes of the body, continued inwards to the Brain, and Heart, causeth there a resistance, or a counter-­pressure, or endeavour of the heart, to deliver itself.”8 Materialists often hold some form of the claim that ultimately everything consists of matter. Several centuries after Hobbes, and roughly two and a half millennia after Democritus, Russell thinks there are only two basic materialist doctrines: everything is matter, and matter moves according to laws.9 In the modern debate, idealism and materialism are often linked, and the latter is frequently described as an alternative to the former. This convention is often honored in the breech. In perhaps the earliest reference to idealism as a philosophical doctrine, Leibniz suggests that idealism and materialism are not incompatible but rather compatible doctrines, which can at least in principle be synthesized in a single position. In responding to Pierre Bayle, he objects to “those who, like Epicurus and Hobbes, believe that the soul is material” in adding that in his own position “whatever of good there is in the hypotheses of Epicurus and Plato, of the great materialists and the great idealists, is combined here.”10 Early in the eighteenth century, George Berkeley understands materialism as the doctrine that mind-­independent material objects exist. He favors what he calls immaterialism but regards materialism and idealism as incompatible. It has already been noted that less than a century later, Fichte thinks idealism and materialism are exclusive alternatives that cannot be combined. Materialism is often understood as contrasted with idealism, as closely related to or even identical with physicalism, and as compatible with Catholic theology.11 Hegel suddenly died of cholera in 1831 at the height of his powers. The domination of German philosophy by Hegelian idealism in the first third of the nineteenth century was prolonged during the decade after his death before quickly fading. It was rapidly followed, toward the middle of the nineteenth century, by the revival of material­ ism, the reaction to which quickly led to a qualified return to Kant beginning in the middle of the 1860s. Factors contributing to the revival of materialism include the rapid development of natural science, Strauss’s critique of Christian theology and supernaturalism, and Feuerbach’s critiques of Christian theology as well as Hegelian idealism. The so-­called new materialism that emerged later in the nineteenth century was rep­ resented by figures like Karl Vogt, Jacob Moleschott, Eugen Dühring, 77

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Ludwig Büchner, and Heinrich Czolbe. Since many of them were practicing natural scientists, they often took the natural sciences as their ideal. Lange was one of the founders of German neo-­Kantianism as well as a historian of materialism. His criticism of materialism in History of Mate­ rialism and Critique of Its Present Importance (first edition 1866) appeared a year after Otto Liebmann’s work Kant and die Epigonen (1865) with its famous battle cry: back to Kant! Lange’s critique of materialism not surprisingly brought him into con­ flict with Marx and Engels. He exchanged correspondence with Marx, whom he classified, in tacit agreement with Marxism, as a materialist student of political economy. According to Lange, this approach appeared as early as Mandeville,12 who followed Kant in rejecting both skepticism, which Mandeville associates with Hume, and materialism.13 Marx and Engels understand “materialism” in basically different ways. Marxists routinely but tacitly follow Fichte in understanding materialism and idealism as incompatible. Yet materialism, as Marx understands it, is not incompatible with, but rather compatible with, German idealism. After his dissertation, Marx says little about the relationship between idealism and materialism and little more about materialism. Yet at least since Engels, so-­called Marxian materialism has mainly been conflated with Eng­ els’s view, hence misunderstood. Different variations on the materialist theme are widely but imprecisely invoked to characterize Marx and Marxism. “Materialism,” “historical materialism,” and “dialectical materialism” are routinely but uncritically used to describe Marx’s position. Thus, Perry Anderson has no hesitation in attributing a common view of historical materialism to Marx and Engels, a view that Marx never describes and that Engels only describes after Marx’s death.14 In the Marxist literature, Marx’s supposed materialism is closely related to his complex, never-­ending effort, running throughout his intellectual career, to come to grips with Hegel, whom he criticizes, but whose insights he incorporates and builds upon in his own position. In his various formulations of classical Marxism, Engels privileges a materialist cognitive perspective in describing a theory that supposedly solves the problems of German idealism in leaving idealism in all its forms and philosophy in general behind. According to Engels, these problems, which cannot be disposed of philosophically, yield, have already yielded, or will later yield to natural science, which is incarnated by the materialist approach he unclearly attributes to Marx. Engels’s general analysis of how Marx overcomes idealism through materialism is strongly dependent on insights borrowed from various 78

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German idealists, especially Fichte and Hegel. Engels’s views of materialism tacitly build on those of both Fichte and Hegel. In Engels’s view, there are only two possibilities: either one follows idealism in abandoning science for ideological fantasy or one follows materialism in abandoning philosophical fantasy for science. Engels seems to understand science and materialism as synonymous concepts. Engels’s interpretation of the relation of Marx to German idealism appears to be inconsistent with classical German philosophy. As early as the Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s Philosophy, his initial philosophic text, and in all his later writings, Hegel focuses on the dialectical identity between thought and being. Marx agrees with Hegel on this point. According to Lukács, who stresses the relationship between Marx and Hegel, the Hegelian identification of thought and being is “in essence, the philosophy of history of historical materialism.”15 In Engels’s wake, philosophy and science are often considered to be the two main components of Marxism. Official Marxism is strongly dependent on Engels and only distantly related to Marx. Orthodox Marxism in both its Russian and Chinese variations can be traced back to Lenin. When Lenin was active, a series of central Marxian texts were not yet available, including the Paris Manuscripts, the Grundrisse, and the Theories of Surplus Value. Lenin, who was unaware of Marx’s more philosophical writings, is strongly dependent on Engels. Lenin thinks Marx is a political economist and Engels is a philosopher. In virtue of his enormous prestige, Lenin’s understanding of Marx and Engels remained central to the Soviet understanding of Marx and Marxism. A minimalist view of Marxism, similar to the one that over decades held sway in the Soviet Union, includes two main doctrines: dialectical materialism (diamat) and historical materialism (histomat). In this respect, there is a clear difference between Marx and Marxism. Neither of these doctrines, which are central to Marxism, occurs in Marx’s writings, into which they have often been read, if necessary by altering the written texts. Dialectical materialism is often regarded as the (canonical) Marxist philosophy, and historical materialism is often taken as the (canonical) Marxist science. After Lenin’s death, Stalin transformed ideas on loan from Lenin, hence distantly derived from Engels, into Marxist holy writ. The Soviet dictator is often credited as the author of “Dialectical and Historical Materialism.”16 Partly following Stalin’s lead, Soviet primers of Marxist philosophy routinely consisted of an introduction and two parts: a lengthy discussion of dialectical materialism and an even lengthier discussion of historical materialism.17 Such primers inconsistently characterize the combination of dialectical materialism and historical materialism as the 79

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philosophical foundations of Marxism-­Leninism while further characterizing dialectical materialism as Marxist-­Leninist philosophy.18 Orthodox Marxist-­Leninists often heap praise on such central Marxist figures as Stalin. Thus, according to Althusser, Stalin should be regarded as a remarkably perspicacious Marxist philosopher.19 There are many forms of materialism. In The Holy Family (1845), which he wrote with Engels, Marx contributed “Critical Battle against French Materialism” (part 3, chapter 6) in remarks on Paul-­Henri Thiry (better known as the Baron d’Holbach), Claude Adrien Helvétius, and other eighteenth-­century French authors. Marx’s discussion, which rapidly mentions a large number of authors, reads like an encyclopedia article. He divides French materialism into two kinds. Cartesian materialism led to mechanical materialism, which was represented by Julien Offray de La Mettrie, whose view Marx evokes in passing. Locke’s theories led on to socialism. It follows, as one might expect, since Marx studied ancient materialism intensively in preparing his doctoral thesis, that he was at least generally aware of large parts of the history of materialism. It does not, however, follow that Marx was himself a materialist in any relevant sense of the term. Though “materialism” is routinely used in reference to Marx, he is not apparently a materialist in any of the usual senses. For instance, he does not subscribe to the familiar ontological claim, which he examined in his dissertation, that, in the final analysis, as the ancient Greek materialists think, everything can be reduced to, hence understood in terms of, indivisible particles, or atoms, the ancient precursor of contemporary subatomic particles like quarks, and so on. This view, which has clear roots in ancient Greek thought, still underlies much of modern science. Several thousand years later, modern science continues to rely on succes­ sive versions of the atomic theory of matter, most recently in the dis­cov­ ery of the Higgs boson. Yet it is not in any obvious way related to Marx’s position. Early in the Greek tradition, Parmenides claimed that cognition requires the identity of thinking and being. This influential claim suggests that the cognitive criterion is metaphysical realism, or the grasp of the mind-­independent world. Later materialism generally follows various versions of this protean doctrine. In Engels’s writings, “materialism” invariably refers to some form of the metaphysical realist doctrine about the primacy of the world as an object of knowledge. In Marxism, the view that to know is to know the world is routinely linked to materialism. The materialist Benedict de Spinoza supposedly eliminates the duality between mind and nature. Following Spinoza, a number of Marxists, in80

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cluding Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov, Abram Moiseyevich Deborin, and more recently Althusser and other mainly French authors, including André Tosel and Lucien Mugnier-­Pollet, understand Marxism as a variety of Spinozism.20 Realism and materialism are often conflated. Realists of all kinds believe knowledge concerns the real, however defined, and materialists contend that only matter is real. Realism, like ice cream, comes in many different flavors. Metaphysical realism, also sometimes called Platonic realism, is the popular doctrine that cognition relies on the grasp of the mind-­independent world as it really is beyond mere appearance. Scientific realism combines two doctrines: there is a mind-­independent real, and science and only science succeeds in grasping it.21 In recent debate this doctrine is often associated with the name of Wilfrid Sellars. After his early account of ancient materialism in his dissertation, with the exception, as already noted, of some historical remarks in The Holy Family and some systematic comments in The German Ideology, to be mentioned later, Marx says little in his later writings about materialism in any form. Marxism takes a stronger stand for materialism by virtue of its turn against idealism. Though Engels, for instance, seems to appeal to contemporary science in support of his rejection of idealism, modern science, after an early interest in materialism, later turned against it. The mechanical view of the world as a machine that traces back to Galileo and others, especially d’Holbach, was later discredited. Isaac Newton overturned the mechanical model in postulating gravitation, which led to a model of the world that relied on an occult force. Newton’s model leaves the world unintelligible once the theological input is dismissed. According to Leibniz, Newton offered no explanation for the phenomena of the material world. Lange, the historian of materialism, writes that “so accustomed to the abstract notion of forces, or rather to a notion hovering in a mystic obscurity between abstraction and concrete comprehension, . . . we no longer find any difficulty in making one particle of matter act upon another without immediate contact . . . through void space without any material link. From such ideas the great mathematicians and physicists of the seventeenth century were far removed. They were all in so far genuine Materialists that they made immediate contact a condition of influence.”22 According to George Coyne, it is “paradoxical that the rise of materialism as a philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries is attributed to the birth of modern science, when in reality matter as a workable concept had been eliminated from scientific discourse” through the collapse of the mechanical philosophy.23 It follows that if modern science is the criterion, then the Marxist concern to 81

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argue in favor of materialism in order to bolster the claim for scientific rigor in appealing to modern science is simply misguided.

Materialism in Marx’s Early Writings “Materialism,” which is a perennial philosophical problem, is understood in many different ways in the tradition, often as an alternative to “idealism.” In German idealism “materialism” refers to different functions and conceptions either directly or by analogy. Kant says that all rational cognition is either material, hence concerned with an object, in short practical, or formal, hence concerned with universal rules, in short wholly theoretical.24 Marxian “materialism” is mainly mythical, important in Marxism, but, depending on how the term is understood, less so, perhaps even entirely unimportant, for Marx.25 Marxists often argue for the superiority of Marx’s position through the alleged incompatibility between materialism and idealism, usually in pointing to the supposed incompatibility between idealism and realism. Some observers, for instance Kant, deny this distinction. Others deny the distinction between idealism and materialism.26 In Marx’s theories, “materialism” seems to be unrelated to any philosophical claim about matter,27 hence unclear. It is perhaps best understood as a synonym for “concrete,” hence as practical, as distinguished from what is “abstract” or “theoretical.” Marx refers to “materialism” in a series of writings in which it takes on a number of related meanings very different from an ordinary philosophic approach. The central theme seems to be an effort to come to grips with concrete social problems as distinguished from (scientific) knowledge of the mind-­independent world. This suggests that in his sparse references to materialism Marx is mainly concerned with what is concrete as opposed to what is abstract, or more or less distant from the social world. Marx pursues this theme in related ways in a variety of texts. The dissertation is clearly inspired by Hegel’s initial philosophical publication, a short book entitled the Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy. Kant can be read as suggesting that the critical philosophy both began philosophy worthy of the name and success­ fully brought it to an end. This claim impressed the post-­Kantian Ger­ man ideal­ists: Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. In his book, the young Hegel, who was just starting out on his philosophical journey, argues that Fichte and Schelling share two versions of a single philosophical system, that is, Kant’s position. 82

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Marx’s dissertation is a Hegelian treatment of the Difference in the De­ mocritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature (Differenz der demokritischen und epikureischen Naturphilosophie). Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus followed the Greek atomist view that literally everything can be explained in terms of atoms and the void. This view anticipates some but not all later forms of materialism. The dissertation mentions neither idealism nor materialism, hence does not mention materialism as an alternative to idealism. It includes a description of the different views of philosophy of nature in Democritus and Epicurus, then a more detailed account of the difference in their respective views of physics, as well as criticism of Plutarch’s critique of Epicurean theology. Marx’s approach to ancient materialism is influenced by Hegel’s view of difference. Hegel thinks the task of philosophy is to acknowledge, but also to overcome, difference in formulating a unified conceptual framework. Kant’s influence was immediate and enduring. The young Hegel is, as Hegel suggests, and arguably later always remains a nonstandard kind of Kantian. According to Hegel, Fichte, and Schelling, at the time the most important post-­Kantian idealists, each proposes forms of the one true philosophical system.28 In the dissertation, Marx is concerned with the fundamental Hegelian theme of difference. Marx’s dissertation studies post-­Aristotelian philosophy that for the Young Hegelians was analogous to their own situation when, in Hegel’s wake, philosophy seemed, for at least some observers, to have reached a high point and even the end. Unlike such other post-­Hegelian thinkers as Søren Kierkegaard or Friedrich Nietzsche, the very young Marx is concerned neither to subvert nor even to evade philosophy. He understands the Aristotelian moment in Greek philosophy as dividing into Epicurean, stoic, and skeptical philosophies on the one hand and Alexandrian speculation on the other. He follows Hegel in describing Epicureanism, stoicism, and skepticism as belonging to the theme of self-­consciousness. According to Marx, Epicurus and Democritus share a single philosophy of nature, which the former took over from the latter.29 Since Epicurus is a skeptic and Democritus is a dogmatist, they differ on every important issue.30 Both are committed to atomism, which they understand in different ways. Marx’s suggestion that Epicurus carries atomism to its final conclusion in the form of abstract individuality agrees with Hegel’s own view.31 Since Hegel has little to say about Democritean physics, Marx innovates in noting that the latter’s commitment to atomism is key to his empirical study of nature in general.32 Engels later develops roughly this general position in featuring what would now be called scientific realism, an approach Marx never supports either here or later. 83

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Marx’s dissertation is an informed, careful study by a gifted young philosopher, obviously influenced by Hegel, well informed about the topic, and able to read the ancient Greek texts in the original language. In other circumstances, it would have appeared as a book, which was then and still is now in German academic circles a steppingstone to the expected academic career, which Marx had planned. Marx never mentions materialism in his dissertation. But he refers to it in passing in various later works, including the “Critique of Hegel’s Philoso­ phy of Right,” the Paris Manuscripts, The Holy Family, The German Ideology, and the “Theses on Feuerbach,” but not, surprisingly, in either the famous preface to A Critique of Political Economy or in Capital, volume 1. In the early critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Marx works with a dualism between materialism and spiritualism. Each is said to be the opposite of the other. Marx, who uses the Hegelian term “corporation,” thinks that “the corporations are the materialism of the bureaucracy, and the bureaucracy is the spiritualism of the corporations.”33 He apparently believes that what is material or, perhaps better, concrete is real but that what is spiritual is merely imaginary. “The bureaucracy is the imaginary state alongside the real state—­the spiritualism of the state.”34 At this point, Marx holds that idealism is abstract and materialism is simply crass. The Paris Manuscripts contain three references to materialism: one in the third manuscript, another in the passage on Feuerbach, and a final one in the remarks on Hegel. In the third manuscript, Marx refers to a number of opposites (subjectivity and objectivism, spiritualism and materialism, activity and suffering) in suggesting that “the resolution of the theoretical antitheses is only possible in a practical way, by virtue of the practical energy of man. Their resolution is therefore by no means merely a problem of understanding, but a real problem of life, which philosophy could not solve precisely because it conceived this problem as merely a theoretical one.”35 In the German idealist context, Fichte holds that philosophy addresses practical problems through theory that arises from and hence is able to return to the social context. Apparently following Fichte, Marx distinguishes between philosophy, or at least a certain kind of philosophy, which is theoretical but not practical, hence useless in practice, and life. Theoretical philosophy, as the name suggests, is limited to theoretical considerations. It cannot grasp life, hence cannot grasp real problems, nor, for that matter, resolve them. Such concerns can only be resolved through human activity, in short through various forms of human practice. Kierkegaard and Engels both audited Schelling’s seminar in Berlin in 1841. Fichte influenced Schelling, who began as his disciple in taking 84

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over many aspects of the former’s position. This influence apparently extends to the view of the limitations of theoretical philosophy, which Fichte sup­plements through practice. Fichte’s insight about the intrinsic limitations of theoretical philosophy is later restated independently, in following Schelling, who suggests Hegel’s logical approach is unable to grasp existence, by both Kierkegaard and Engels. In the Differenzschrift, Hegel suggests that speculation constructs an identity between what for ordinary consciousness are opposites.36 Marx apparently refuses a speculative approach to real human problems that in his view resist speculation, hence Hegel’s philosophy, in short in declining any solution that relies on abstract theory. Yet that view is too simple. Marx’s view of philosophical theory at this point seems inconsistent with his earlier appeal to a kind of philosophy, which is not isolated from but able to change the world. He seems in the meantime to have changed his mind, since this claim presupposes an unbridgeable, basic difference between theoretical and practical approaches. Later in the Paris Manu­ scripts, he credits Feuerbach with a series of advances on which he relies in his critique of Hegel. Marx credits Feuerbach with two achievements: he has proven that “philosophy is religion rendered into thought” and has further brought about “true materialism and of real science by making the social relationship of ‘man to man’ the basic principle of the theory.”37 Philosophy, which was earlier described as a way to criticize religion, is now described from a different perspective as itself a form of religion. This suggests two points. First, Marx, like the other Young Hegelians, believes that Hegel conflates philosophy and religion. Second, here if not earlier, Marx follows the Young Hegelian reading of Hegel as a basically religious thinker. An interpretation of Hegel as a religious thinker is supported by an implicit distinction between types of materialism. The term “true materialism,” which presupposes a distinction between types of materialism, prefigures Marx’s slightly later attack in the “Theses on Feuerbach” against the latter’s form of materialism as insufficient, even mistaken. Yet it is not clear in this context where Marx locates the distinction in question. In the third passage, which is directly concerned with Hegel, Marx reiterates the point he has been making in the previous passages: practical difficulties, which are out of reach through a simply theoretical approach, respond to a practical approach based on human activity. This is roughly the view that Fichte, who was important in the debate at this time, fea­ t­ures in the Science of Knowledge (1794). Here and elsewhere Marx, like the Young Hegelians in general, turns to Fichte in criticizing Hegel. This passage occurs in an account of the difficult last chapter of the Phe­ nomenology, entitled “Absolute Knowing” (absolutes Wissen), where Hegel 85

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describes his view of philosophy as a cognitive alternative to art and religion. Philosophy is conceptual, or based on concepts, as distinguished from religion and other forms of knowing, which are representational, or based on representations. Marx correctly identifies Hegel’s approach to cognition but misidentifies his conception of the subject. Marx mistakenly believes that Hegel intends to solve the problem of alienation merely on the level of consciousness, in short without changing the world. Hegel’s view of the subject emerges from the German idealist debate. In reacting against Kant, Fichte formulates a conception of knowledge based on finite human being who acts in and is limited by its surroundings. Hegel formulates a nuanced conception of human being, as Marx acknowledges, from the perspective of modern political economy and of labor (Arbeit) as, in Marx’s words, “the essence of man.”38 According to Marx, Hegel bases his standpoint on modern political economy, or labor, which he basically misunderstands. Marx, whose perspective is wider than contemporary industrial capitalism, objects that Hegel’s view of the subject is one-­sided in that he grasps only “the positive, not the negative side of labor.”39 In qualifying this view, Marx now asserts two points. First, “Labor is man’s coming-­ to-­be for himself within alienation,”40 and, second, “The only labor which Hegel knows and recognizes is abstractly mental labor.”41 In short, Marx charges Hegel with reducing philosophy to an analysis of consciousness and self-­consciousness, or in other terms, with leveling down the concrete to the abstract, while neglecting labor. Alienation is a polar opposite to human flourishing. If Hegel reduced alienation to consciousness, then his conception of human fulfillment would be merely mental and his view could be fairly described as a form of neo-­Stoicism. If Hegel restricted activity to mental activity, he would be close to the Stoics, who feature, for instance, askesis in tending toward clear judgment and inner calm, and apatheia, or peace of mind. Yet Hegel clearly grasps the distinction between physical and mental activity. He sees as well that modern workers alienate themselves within the productive process within which they transform themselves into someone else’s property. It follows that Marx basically misunderstands Hegel on this crucial point. This claim can be supported by a glance at the text. As already noted, Hegel anticipates as well as influences the theory of alienation Marx formulates in the Paris Manuscripts.42 In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel points out that human beings “concretize” or objectify themselves in the form of objects in and through work leading on to alienation. In Philosophy of Right §61, in the context of abstract right concerning ownership, he remarks that a thing is nothing more than its use or employment. 86

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According to Hegel, who is apparently echoing Locke, someone who has the use, for instance, of a field, is the owner. In PR §67, he evokes different kinds of work, for instance mental as well as physical work, for another individual over a given period of time. Since most people work for others, “individual products,” which are appropriated for someone else, take on an “external relationship to my totality and universality.”43 Hegel generalizes this situation. He notes that if one gives up or alienates one’s entire time, for instance in making or producing things, and if one were a slave, not, as he says, “a modern servant or hired laborer,” then as a result “[that person] would be making the substantial quality of the latter . . . into someone else’s property.”44 In such a situation the person could be said to belong to someone else, in effect to be a slave. In Hegel’s account, the difference between a worker and a slave is one of degree only but not of kind. Through mental and physical labor, workers concretize as objects, which can be and are in fact alienated by others who have a right to what they produce. Since the worker is literally objectified in the form of the commodity, the latter is literally appropriated by the owner of the means of production in the objectified form of the product. Marx’s critique of Hegel apparently overlooks Hegel’s basic insight that human beings are reduced to a form of slavery in the modern productive process in which they are literally appropriated in the form of the product. Marx falsely claims the latter is concerned with mental alienation only, or abstractly, mental labor. As a consequence of the epistemic constructivist view that we know only what we in some sense construct, it follows that for Hegel the cognitive object literally is the subject in concretized form. This is a restatement, without reference to the critical philosophy, of the Kantian constructivist approach to cognition. Hence, in knowing the object the subject knows or is conscious of itself, in short is self-­conscious. “The main point is that the object of consciousness is nothing else but self-­consciousness, or that the object is only objectified self-­consciousness—­self-­consciousness as object. (Positing of man = self-­ consciousness).”45 Marx, who does not see that for Hegel a human being is alienated in other than merely mental fashion, and who does not read the Elements of the Philosophy of Right with sufficient care, overlooks Hegel’s explicit remark that a slave in ancient Athens was in a comparatively better situation than either a modern servant or a worker.46 He conflates two themes Hegel takes care to separate: the constructivist theory of cognition and the theory of alienation. According to Marx, Hegel fails to recognize nonmental forms of alienation and reduces alienation in all its forms to mental alienation. Marx thinks that Hegel overlooks the nonmental or concrete components in 87

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the real existence of finite human beings, that is, natural beings in a social context. Marx rapidly stresses against Hegel that “real, corporeal man, man with his feet firmly on the solid ground,” is someone whose activity is “the activity of an objective, natural being.”47 His important description of man as a natural being, which continues to the end of the text, is consistent with the views of Fichte and Feuerbach. At this point, Marx surprisingly suggests that his position is neither idealism nor materialism but naturalism or humanism, which lies deeper than and unifies the two supposedly incompatible terms. “Here we see how consistent naturalism or humanism, is distinct from both idealism and materialism, and constitutes at the same time the unifying truth of both. We see also how only naturalism is capable of comprehending the action of world history.”48 This passage, like others cited above, continues and deepens Marx’s emphasis on practice over theory by casting this theme, not as in the critical philosophy as theoretical, but, as in its Fichtean restatement, as practical. Hence it can be approached on the practical level, through a form of science, which, as supposedly true materialism and real science, is based in social relationships. Marxism never later turns away from its early, steadfast commitment to materialism. Yet at this point Marx abandons the general effort to cast materialism as an acceptable alternative to idealism, which is supposedly unacceptable. He now suggests the need to embark on what looks like a putative third way. This suggested alternative runs through naturalism or humanism, which Marx here simply equates. This suggestion functions as a triple link between Marx’s clearly Fichtean view of the active subject in the Paris Manuscripts and in all his later writings: in his conception of idealism, which is clearly false for Fichte and probably for Hegel as well, whom Marx reads as taking a theoretical approach to intrinsically practical concerns that demand practical solutions, and in Marx’s own preference, in correcting Hegel’s supposedly mistaken substitution of the abstract for the concrete, for a practical approach to practical problems based on a conception of finite human being as basically social. Two points follow from this suggestion. First, in the Paris Manuscripts “naturalism” and “humanism” are equivalent terms that refer to finite human beings. The basic reproductive needs of finite human beings can only be met outside the individual, or in a social context through a series of complex relations between human beings and between human beings and nature. In the meantime, “naturalism” has become popular in analytic philosophical circles. After the decline of Vienna Circle positivism, it currently refers to the widespread but diffuse, general convic88

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tion, among recent thinkers perhaps most clearly associated with Quine, that nothing can be invoked as an explanatory principle beyond the so-­called natural world.49 In Marx’s text “naturalism” is invoked in the middle of the nineteenth century to refer to finite human being as a natural and not a religious being.50 According to Marx, only this perspective allows the formulation of a theory that understands human problems in and through finite human beings, specifically including communism as the solution to what Marx describes as the “riddle of history.”51 Second, in this passage Marx parts company, before classical Marxism emerged, with what later becomes the consistent Marxist preference for materialism over idealism.

Engels’s (Marxist) View of Feuerbach Marx and Engels, hence Marx and Marxism, hold very different views of Feuerbach. It will be useful to reverse the chronological order to discuss Engels’s view of Feuerbach before discussing Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach.” Feuerbach (1804–­1872), who was slightly older than Marx, evolved rapidly. Originally interested in Protestant theology, he studied with Hegel in Berlin. As noted above, after he completed his dissertation (1828), he became a minor Hegelian, then later an influential Hegelian critic from a Young Hegelian, left-­wing perspective, and still later an influential Protestant theologian. His travels on the Hegelian road culminated in Toward a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy (1839). His most influential book, The Essence of Christianity, came out in 1841 when Marx was finishing his dissertation. Feuerbach’s book presented, in further developing the post-­Kantian anthropological tendency, an anthropocentric approach to religion. This approach was anticipated among contemporaries by Strauss’s critical account of the Gospels, in which he famously denied the divine nature of Jesus. There is no reason to think Marx was interested in Strauss. But he had obviously already read Feuerbach before he wrote his early articles on Hegel in 1843. Feuerbach was a Fichtean. In his very early writings, Marx adapts a version of Feuerbach’s, and hence Fichte’s anthropocentric approach to religion to criticize Hegel. Following the view shared by the Young Hegelians, he identifies Hegel’s view as a form of religion. Feuerbach looms large in the Paris Manuscripts before just as quickly receding in Marx’s later writings. What does not recede is the quasi-­ Fichtean Feuerbachian conception of finite human being as active. In the 89

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Paris Manuscripts Marx relies on ideas he attributes to Feuerbach in his complex effort to criticize and to build on Hegel. Feuerbach looms still larger in classical Marxism, where Engels attributes to him the decisive role of weaning Marx away from Hegel, German idealism, and philosophy. According to Engels, Feuerbach is doubly important for Marx: in supposedly showing the way from idealism to materialism, and, hence, since Engels mistakenly thinks materialism and philosophy are incompatible alternatives, in showing Marx the way out of philosophy to science. Orthodox Marxists, who are persuaded by Engels’s attribution of a key role in the genesis of Marx’s position to Feuerbach, often regard the latter as a kind of philosophical David slaying the mighty Hegelian Goliath, in short as a Marxist folk hero. From this perspective, Marx was not Marx before he encountered Feuerbach. Through the latter’s influence, Marx supposedly liberated himself from the empty wordplay of classical German philosophy in becoming a resolutely materialist, hence anti-­ idealist thinker. On the assumption that materialism and idealism are true contraries, this view suggests that it was only after Marx, through Feuerbach’s influence, turned away from the ideological fancies of German idealism, above all the Hegelian system, that he became a rigorous thinker operating in the austere realm of science. This view has long held unquestioned sway in Marxism, where even powerful observers hesitate to challenge conceptual orthodoxy. Thus the same Lukács who criticizes orthodox Marxism, above all Engels, in History and Class Consciousness, inconsistently strives to remain politically orthodox in this book and later writings. Perhaps for this reason, he claims without qualification that Marx owes to Feuerbach the generally anthropological approach to social problems. “From this standpoint alone [i.e., universal history] does history really become a history of mankind. For it contains nothing that does not lead back ultimately to men and to the relations between men. It is because Feuerbach gave this new direction to philosophy that he was able to exercise such a decisive influence on the origins of historical materialism.”52 This claim is at most only partially correct, since Lukács conveniently forgets other contributions to an anthropological approach to social questions in this period. They include Kant’s Anthropology as well as views formulated by Schiller, Fichte, Hegel, perhaps Max Stirner, and others. It is only later, when he felt more able to think for himself, that in the 1967 preface to History and Class Consciousness, Lukács pointed out, without mentioning Engels, that “Plekhanov and others,” parenthetically also including himself, “had vastly overestimated Feuerbach’s role as an intermediary between Hegel and Marx.”53 90

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Engels, who was there at the time, knows less about the evolution of the philosophical debate than Lukács. Yet he unhesitatingly accords decisive importance to Feuerbach, whom he regards as crucial for the evolution of Marx’s position, in three ways: in breaking with Hegel, in breaking with idealism in general, and in breaking with philosophy. Engels’s view that Marx crucially relies on Feuerbach to free himself from Hegel in leaving philosophy behind is influential in the Marxist debate but incompatible with other basic Marxist beliefs. If this were correct, then it would be incorrect to think that Marx’s later writings depend on an incessant dialogue with Hegel. The latter would have nothing to offer a thinker who in the meantime had supposedly already left philosophy behind. Lenin would also be wrong to think that those who have not mastered Hegel cannot understand Capital. Yet there is no evidence that either Engels, Lenin, or the vast majority of Marxists, who begin from the assumption that Marx overcame Hegel in the process of working out his position, ever go to the trouble of mastering the Hegelian position. Lenin was interested in Hegel, whose importance he later clearly acknowledged. Yet his grasp of the Hegelian position through Plekhanov, the first important philosophical Marxist in Russia, or through his own efforts, always remained fragmentary.54 Though Feuerbach loomed large in the debate after Hegel’s death, his direct influence on Marx, including Marx’s relation to Hegel, was mainly limited to reinforcing Marx’s interest in philosophical anthropology. It was otherwise rather slight. Thus Marx does not share Feuerbach’s concern with a philosophy of the future, nor with a new form of Christianity, nor his critique of Hegel, nor even his objections to Hegelian dialectic. Yet, as already pointed out, Feuerbach further influenced Marx in another way. Feuerbach, who was deeply interested in Fichte, is important for the quasi-­Fichtean view of the subject Marx sketches in the third of the Paris Manuscripts, and on which he continues to rely in working out his later theories, including his alternative formulation of political economy.55 Though apparently well disposed toward Hegel, Engels consistently treats the German thinker as if his philosophical views were prescientific nonsense. Yet Engels’s grasp of Hegel remains on a superficial level. An example among many is his restatement of Hegel’s three supposed laws of dialectic. At this point, Engels gives free flight to his imagination in describing in a way unrelated to Hegel three laws of dialectic: quantity changes into quality, opposites interpenetrate, and there is the so-­called negation of the negation.56 Not surprisingly, since he seems unable to estimate the relative philosophical importance of Hegel and Feuerbach, Engels has a higher appreciation of Feuerbach. In comparison to such other post-­ Hegelian 91

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nineteenth-­century thinkers as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Marx, Eng­ els grotesquely takes Feuerbach without qualification of any kind to be “the most eminent philosophical genius in Germany at the present time.”57 In Engels’s discussion, Feuerbach assumes a key role as the transitional figure who began a basic change of perspective, or what Thomas Kuhn later called a paradigm change, in the transition from German idealism to materialism. According to Engels, this change occurs in the progression away from idealism, whose other forms he does not discuss. For Engels, the important question is never to characterize idealism in general or to grasp its roots in the philosophical tradition. It is rather to reveal the way in which Marx’s position was formulated on the ground later cleared through Feuerbach’s intervention in the debate, whose high point occurs in the new materialist angle of vision represented by Marx and himself. Engels’s interpretation of the history of philosophy offers a clear but limited analogy with Hegel’s view. In writings on the history of philos­ ophy, Hegel interprets the entire prior tradition as reaching a high water­ mark in his own theory in the form of a new synthesis. Engels makes a similarly teleological claim for Marxism, which, in his account, is identical with Marx’s position, and which elaborates the truth of prior thought in a new theory, which surpasses prior philosophical views in finally reach­ ing the status of science. Engels thinks that idealism is a form of philosophy but materialism is a form of nonphilosophical science. His argument is based on three factors: a distinction between idealism and materialism as mutually exclusive alternatives; a reading of Feuerbach’s position as a conceptual hybrid indebted to both idealism and materialism, and as both philosophy and nonphilosophy or, again, philosophy and science; and an interpretation of Marx’s position as an extraphilosophical form of materialism. In the meantime, the debate has moved on. What Engels calls “materialism” contemporary thinkers now call “naturalism.” Each of these factors is questionable. Engels claims materialism views “nature as the sole reality.”58 Engels thinks Feuerbach has reestablished the independence of nature, which is only obscured but not understood by idealism and philosophy in general. “Nature exists independently of all philosophy.”59 Engels also thinks idealists believe in the primacy of mind over nature.60 From his perspective Hegel is an idealist and Marx is a materialist. The Young Hegelians notoriously believed Hegel brought philosophy to a high point and an end. Though Hegel never makes this claim, Engels thinks Hegel’s position occupies a strategic space at the end of philosophy, which naturally leads on to science. In this regard, Engels follows 92

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the view of someone Marx admired, his friend and distant relative the German Romantic poet Heinrich Heine. In Heine’s view, Hegel brings to an end everything undertaken since Kant61 and even philosophy itself, since his position is “the end of all philosophy in the hitherto accepted sense of the word.”62 If, as Engels and other Young Hegelians think, in Hegel philosophy comes to a high point and an end, then it obviously cannot, as Heine also thinks, be carried further by any of the post-­Hegelian thinkers. Heine spoke for many others when in the context of the enormous void left by Hegel’s departure from the scene he wrote: “Our philosophical revolution is concluded; Hegel has closed its great circle.”63 Feuerbach’s role lies in the transition from Hegelian idealism to materialism supposedly lying beyond philosophy. Feuerbach simply breaks with what goes before64 or, in a different formulation, fi­nally breaks completely with Hegel.65 In order to depict Marx as a postphilosophical figure, Engels must explain the transition from idealism to materialism. Unlike Marx, Eng­ els is apparently unaware of the long philosophical history of materialism stretching back to Greek antiquity. According to Engels, Feuerbach, despite his philosophical prowess, is a mere transitional figure, both a materialist and an idealist, hence, from Engels’s perspective, less than fully materialist.66 Feuerbach’s materialism lies in overcoming what Eng­ els describes as idealist fancy. In referring to the development of Marx and his supposedly common theory, Engels writes: “It was decided mercilessly to sacrifice every idealist quirk which could not be brought into harmony with the facts conceived in their own, and not in a fantastic interconnection. And materialism means nothing more than this.”67 Materialism lies in comprehending concepts materialistically, that is, as “images of real things.”68 Engels believes Feuerbach’s residual idealism lies in his continuing attachment to religion, whose human origin he grasps, which for many would count as simply refuting religion, but which Feuerbach, from Engels’s point of view, strangely desires not to abolish but rather to perfect.69 Engels’s generous reading of Feuerbach unintentionally but clearly diminishes Marx’s significance. In Engels’s narrative, Marx’s criticism and correction of Feuerbach pales before Feuerbach’s supposedly giant leap beyond philosophy to or at least toward science in at least partially substituting materialism for idealism. Engels thinks Feuerbach also needs to be corrected in further developing the shift from philosophy to science. Feuerbach calls attention to human being, hence initiates the shift to philosophical anthropology. Yet, since he is unable to consummate the break from philosophy to science, Engels thinks that he participates in 93

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the supposed cult of abstract man that must be replaced by the science of the historical development of real men.70 Engels’s complex account of Feuerbach’s role in the formulation of Marx’s position rests on at least five interconnected claims. They include the Young Hegelian view of philosophy as coming to an end in Hegel; the distinction not in degree but in kind between materialism and idealism; the reading of Feuerbach as a non-­Hegelian; Feuerbach’s status as both a materialist and an idealist, hence as belonging both to science as well as to philosophy; and Marx’s scientific status as a materialist. There seems to be no end of claims about the end understood not as the goal but rather as the chronological termination point of philosophy. The view that philosophy comes to an end, is coming to an end, or has already come to an end is an important theme in the modern tradition. The origin of this thesis lies in the critical philosophy. Kant, who began the German idealist movement, also claimed to formulate the first critical theory. Since the critical philosophy is correct, according to Kant it brings the philosophical tradition to an end. Hegel, who never makes this or a similar claim about his own position, in fact denies it. Marx also never says or even implies that with Hegel philosophy comes to an end. In fact, he at least implicitly denies this point in seeking throughout his career to build on Hegel. But this claim is made on Marx’s behalf in various ways by the Young Hegelians, Hegel’s left-­wing critics. The Young Hegelians were contemporaries not only of Hegel, but also Auguste Comte. The latter’s Law of the Three Stages suggested a threefold cognitive progression from theology to metaphysics, or an abstract stage, and then from metaphysics to the positive stage based on reason and observation as leading to the discovery of the laws of human behavior. The beguiling Young Hegelian idea that philosophy comes to an end in Hegel, for instance that philosophy is replaced by science, is obviously false. At most, a kind of philosophy comes to an end. In Hegel’s wake, philosophy continues to flourish, though perhaps on a lower plane, in a time when his views are often neither understood nor known, nor even accurately described, and where they are often rejected. Yet, Marx notwithstanding, it is unclear what it would mean for philosophy to be “realized,” for instance in arriving at a final series of responses to its main themes, hence brought to an end. It cannot be said too often that “idealism” is more often rejected than accepted, more often criticized than carefully studied.71 Since there has never been even general agreement on its meaning and the term is unclear, anyone can claim to be (or not to be) an idealist. Engels does not differentiate between “idealism” and “German idealism,” and his view of 94

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the distinction between idealism and materialism is typically imprecise. It is doubtful that any idealist illustrates George Edward Moore’s famous charge that idealism in all its many varieties denies the existence of the external world, or, as Engels implies in an earlier variation of the same claim, denies the existence of nature. It is sufficient to read a few pages of Engels’s Philosophy of Nature to know that this work is not a fair statement of Hegel’s view. Engels’s remarks on the distinction between idealism and materialism do not enable us to distinguish between idealism and materialism, between idealism and German idealism, between the main German idealists (Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel), or between German idealism, Feuerbach, and Marx. Engels thinks Feuerbach’s materialism lies in his attention to finite human being as the real subject. Yet in this respect, Feuerbach is clearly dependent on the idealist Fichte, whose view of the subject influences Hegel, Feuerbach, and Marx. Hence Feuerbach is not in any obvious sense a materialist rather than an idealist. According to Feuerbach, in order to go beyond speculative philosophy, it is necessary to reintroduce the principle of subjectivity lacking in Hegel. Fichte, who provides the best example, is relevant here.72 After Hegel, a qualified return to Fichte seemed to many, especially the Young Hegelians, to provide the basis for a new anthropology.73 Yet if Fichte is an idealist, then materialism cannot merely lie in attention to finite human being as the real subject. And attention to finite human being is not sufficient to justify the claim of materialism as opposed to idealism. Finally, the idea that Marx is not in any sense an idealist is altogether too broad, too imprecise to evaluate. One would need to know what “idealism,” a term routinely used in many often incompatible ways, signifies in order to make sense of the claim. Engels, like Hegel and many others going back to Parmenides, correctly points to the relation of thinking and being as crucial for theory of knowledge. Yet he obviously conflates ontological and epistemological claims. His statement about the existence, or independent existence, of the external world is an ontological claim, which, to the best of my knowledge is never denied by any idealist, including the often maligned but infrequently read, hence little-­understood Berkeley. This point differs from the traditional metaphysical realist claim, to which Engels, as noted, is committed through the so-­called reflection theory of knowledge, that to know is to know the mind-­independent world as it is. Engelsian materialism is incompatible with any form of German idealism and perhaps with idealism in any form as well. This specific cognitive approach is further incompatible with Marx’s view. In the introduction to the Grundrisse, he outlines a categorial approach to 95

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knowledge very similar to, or even the same as, Hegel’s, but that very obviously conflicts with the kind of empiricism Engels clearly favors.74

Materialism, Idealism, and The German Ideology It is known that the published version of The German Ideology differs from the manuscript. This in turn suggests obvious reasons both to discuss and not to discuss this work. Reasons to discuss it include the fact that not only Marxists but scholars of all kinds often, indeed routinely take it as a central text in Marx’s writings and indeed in the Marxist canon. Reasons not to discuss it include to maintain usual scholarly standards, since its authorship is uncertain. On balance, it is probably best to say something about this work, particularly in a discussion of materialism, though perhaps less than would normally be said if its genesis were clear. The published version of The German Ideology originated as a manuscript jointly written by Marx and Engels that, since it was not published during their lifetimes, belongs to their joint Nachlass. In his brief autobiographical sketch in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Politi­ cal Economy, Marx says, “We abandoned the manuscript to the gnawing criticism of the mice all the more willingly since we had achieved our main purpose—­self-­clarification.”75 This remark implies that the work he and Engels wrote, as distinguished from the work published under that title, was never intended to be published. This at least partly explains the often bombastic, exaggerated, and mocking tone, as well as a large number of very long, derisive passages. Max Stirner, for instance, the author of a book recently published at the time entitled the Ego and Its Own (1844), is parodied under the heading of “Saint Max” in chap­ ter 3, which runs to more than three hundred pages. Suffice it to say that the published version of The German Ideology is in manuscript an unfinished text whose place in the writings of Marx and Marxism is difficult to evaluate, since the identity of the unknown author or authors of various parts of the book, who could be Marx, Eng­ els, or both, or again, on the basis of the unfinished manuscript, one or more editors in successive editions, remains unclear. If the author of a particular part of what later became the published version of the manuscript is Marx, then there is obvious continuity between this text and his other writings. For one finds here a complex, interesting restatement of various Marxian themes. If it is Engels, one will recognize his typical tendency to dismiss rather than to argue with Hegel. If it is one or more 96

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editors, then it is one or more individuals deeply familiar with typical themes in the writings of Marx as well as Engels. The book is entitled The German Ideology: Critique of Modern German Philosophy According to Its Representatives Feuerbach, B. Bauer and Stirner, and of German Socialism According to Its Various Prophets. The title indicates a desire to come to grips simultaneously with German philosophy and German socialism. The title of the Feuerbach chapter is “Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlooks [Anschauung].” “An­ schauung” is a term especially associated with Kant whose primary philosophical meaning is “intuition.” If materialism is not philosophy, then it could be described as a kind of intuition. Yet it seems at the very least odd to suggest that idealism is not philosophy. The titles of the book and of the first chapter seem to indicate that the book as a whole concerns German philosophy understood as German ideology. The first chapter is specifically concerned with the difference between materialism and idealism as concerns Feuerbach. Marx takes Feuerbach very seriously in the Paris Manuscripts. If the published version of The German Ideology accurately reflects his views at the time, then no more than a year later he was simultaneously still seeking to mine the latter’s views for further insights while nearly simultaneously firmly rejecting his theories in the “Theses on Feuerbach.” Marx was an obviously learned man. The dazzling series of references and asides that are on display in this long work of two volumes and more than six hundred pages are not all important in the present context. Almost everything that concerns us here is in the Feuerbach chapter, which is not in the original manuscript but is the first chapter of the published version. The Feuerbach chapter does not break with but rather builds upon Marx’s earlier writings in developing themes that he identified slightly earlier in writings on Hegel. German ideology is on the agenda as early as Marx’s “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Phi­ losophy of Right: Introduction” (1843–­1844). Marx makes three important statements in the latter text in rapid order, which are further developed in The German Ideology. To begin with, German philosophy of the law and state, an obvious reference to Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, is the only theory of German history on a level with what Marx calls “official modern reality.”76 Further, unlike other countries that undertook revolutions, Germany has gone no further than conceptual revolutions that remain on the plane of thought. In other words, as Marx says, “We Germans have gone through our post-­history in thought, in philosophy.”77 Marx finally thinks that the Young Hegelians, whom he collectively refers to as “the practical political party” and who participate 97

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in a common effort to criticize Hegel in order to transform Germany, were right to demand “the negation of philosophy.”78 The loose association of left-­ wing Hegelians that prevailed when Marx wrote this text has already dissolved several years later when Marx and Engels were writing The German Ideology. Marx, who was closely associated with his Young Hegelian colleagues when he and Engels composed this text, seemed to quickly turn against them in The German Ide­ ology, when the authors of this work inferred that the Young Hegelians did not reject but rather shared the supposed Hegelian inclination to solve problems in theory while turning away from practice. Ideology is conceptually but not etymologically related to sophistry, an approach that was propagated by the Sophists. Plato criticized them for making the false argument appear the stronger. There are many different types of ideology. The Marxist view of ideology innovates in linking it to prevailing social conditions.79 The term “ideology” is understood here as referring to “a false or distorted conception of the surrounding social world.” The German Ideology calls attention to the connection between philosophy and problem solving. It suggests that those who fail to leave philosophy behind wrongly seek to solve real problems on the theoretical plane in neglecting practice. This suggestion carries further the Marxian view, which is stated as early as his criticism of Hegel’s Ele­ ments of the Philosophy of Right, that if not philosophy in general at least Hegelian philosophy proceeds from the abstract to the concrete rather than from the concrete to the abstract. The very short preface takes aim at Marx and Engels’s Young Hegelian contemporaries. They were criticized as well as ridiculed in The Holy Family, which came out in 1845, at almost the same time as The German Ideology (1845–­1846) was being written. The dismissive style of both books mocks the Young Hegelians who, having sprung from Hegel, are loath to leave either Hegel or philosophy in general behind. Though Hegel’s thought is on the decline, the Young Hegelians have supposedly failed to attempt a “comprehensive criticism of the Hegelian system.”80 Marx makes roughly the same point in the Paris Manuscripts, where he analyzes the relation of Hegel to German social reality. The Young Hegelians are supposedly content to remain on the philosophical level in failing to examine the relation of “German philosophy with German reality.”81 They are not doing battle with real problems of the real world but rather with the so-­called “illusions of consciousness.”82 In the Marxist debate, The German Ideology is routinely discussed as marking the point at which Marx and Engels, supposedly working as a team, took leave of their earlier views in overcoming philosophy through 98

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an account of modern industrial society. In the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of  Political Economy Marx says, referring to Engels and himself: “We decided to set forth together our conception as opposed to the ideological one of German philosophy, in fact to settle accounts with our former philosophical conscience.”83 This passage suggests at least three points: first, Marx thinks that he and Engels hold the same view or conception. Second, if not all forms of philosophy, at least German philosophy is ideology. Third, Marx and Engels counted themselves earlier as German philosophers, hence ideologues. But they now seek to leave that stage, including German philosophy and perhaps even philosophy of any kind behind. All three points require qualification. For whatever reason Marx obviously overestimates the similarity between his and Engels’s views, which are politically identical yet philosophically divergent. It further remains to be shown that philosophy in general or German philosophy in particular is ideology or even ideological. That point, which functions as a blanket assertion encompassing all philosophers of whatever kind or at least all German philosophers, needs to be argued and not merely asserted. Engels never identifies with philosophy. Yet Marx, who was a trained German philosopher, for many observers always remained close to philosophy, especially Hegel. Marx continues to identify with Hegelian themes and arguments as late as his self-­description in the first volume of Capital as a Hegelian. Hence it seems inconsistent to assert without qualification that at this early point he has already left philosophy, German philosophy, and Hegel behind. I come back to this point below. It is also not obvious that in The German Ideology Marx and Engels have broken decisively or even at all with their earlier views. Anyone familiar with Marx and Marxism will see in this work great continuity with Marx’s early, in fact only slightly earlier writings, including texts composed just prior to The German Ideology, such as The Holy Family (1845), as well as texts that emerged at almost the same time or very closely afterward, such as the “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845) and the Poverty of Philosophy (1847). In preceding writings Marx has described materialism in two basically different ways: as an ontological doctrine that is the basis of ancient philosophy of nature, and through the preference for the concrete over the abstract. The latter point suggests that materialism inverts the supposed Hegelian strategy of proceeding from the abstract to the concrete. Materialism is described here as a putative third way that is neither an ontological doctrine nor the preference for a particular approach, say materialism over idealism, which Engels recommends, but rather a method. The method consists in insisting on an economic approach 99

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to social phenomena that is already beginning to emerge in the Paris Manuscripts and that is further worked out in Marx’s later writings. His concern to formulate an alternative account of modern industrial capitalism assumes increasing importance in Marx’s writings. The relation to Feuerbach, who is not knowledgeable about political economy, is also unclear. The question of the difference between idealism and materialism seems unrelated to the account of the basic premises of an economic approach to the social world that is stated in this chapter. A short sample will suffice to indicate the approach taken in the Feuerbach chapter. The chapter begins with a section titled “The Illusions of German Ideology,” in other words, German philosophy, which the text links to the decomposition, starting with Strauss, of the Hegelian philosophy purely in the realm of thought. This process of decay is ironically characterized as the decay of absolute spirit that is now described as a caput mortuum, the same term Hegel applies to Kant’s thing in itself. German criticism, we are told, has never left the realm of spirit. The path from Strauss to Stirner goes no further than the critique of religious conceptions. The Old Hegelians and the Young Hegelians both attribute an independent existence to the products of consciousness, whose limit lies in elucidating Christianity. “It has not occurred to any one of these philosophers to inquire into the connection of German philosophy with German reality, the connection of their criticism with their own material surroundings.”84 The production of the means of subsistence that this work takes as the defining characteristic of human beings takes different forms in different times and places. They include different forms of ownership, division of labor, private property, and so on. The suggestion that German philosophy is abstract and remains on the level of thought calls for a response or solution. The response is immediately provided in the next section, titled “Premises of the Materialist Conception of History.” The premises in question are not arbitrary but real. The first such premise is living individuals. Individuals, who can be understood in different ways, “begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence.”85 This suggests that a substitute for the abstract and theoretical philosophical approach lies in the concrete economic approach to modern industrial society. According to the text, the view that human beings distinguish themselves from animals through the production of their means of subsistence depends on the development of productive forces and the division of labor. The text now makes two important points. First, ideas are not independent of, but rather related to, and in fact the result of, or 100

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caused by, our so-­called material activity. “The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men—­the language of real life.”86 The difficulty of this reductive approach lies in simulta­ neously maintaining that our ideas, concepts, and so on are influenced by our surroundings without falling into self-­referential inconsistency. The second point concerns the difference between philosophy and economics, between German ideology and its suggested replacement through an economic approach to society, or what the text calls going from heaven to earth or again from earth to heaven. German ideology or philosophy and its economic alternative are directly opposed on this point. “In direct contrast to German philosophy which descends from heaven to earth, here it is a matter of ascending from earth to heaven.”87 The claim but not its import is crystal clear. If as Marx consistently suggests in his earlier remarks on Hegel, “materialism” means what is concrete as distinguished from what is theoretical, then a theory of the economic underpinnings of modern industrial society sheds light on the real as opposed to the illusory world. But what Marx does not seem to understand, and what the authors of the published version of The German Ideology also do not grasp, is that Hegel’s approach to modern industrial society through a theory of right and his own approach through a theory of political economy do not conflict but are compatible as complementary approaches from different perspectives to the same stage of development of modern society. We can end this section with a brief glance at the relation of The German Ideology to the “Theses on Feuerbach.” This economic approach to historical phenomena is briefly developed throughout the Feuerbach chapter. In the section titled “Illusion of the Epoch, Civil Society,” which includes a subsection titled “Civil Society and the Conception of History,” we learn, for instance, that civil society, which is always at a given state of development, is the real cradle of history. History is the history of the real process of production. It follows that until now, by implication because philosophy has deflected attention from our social surroundings, the real basis of history has been neglected. In “Feuerbach: Philosophic, and Real, Liberation,” it is argued that it is insufficient to change consciousness to change society. On the contrary, liberation is a historical and not a mental act. This does not mean that philosophical problems will be neglected. For to understand things as they really are means that “every profound philosophical problem is resolved.”88 Feuerbach, however, cannot be our guide, since he remains on the theoretical plane. His form of materialism is, in anticipating the 101

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“Theses on Feuerbach,” “contemplative and inconsistent.”89 The verdict is clear, though the analysis of Feuerbach’s theories that supports it is only provided in the “Theses on Feuerbach.” “As far as he [Feuerbach] is a materialist he does not deal with history, and as far as he considers history he is not a materialist.”90

Marx’s (Non-­Marxist) View of Feuerbach Engels’s interpretations of Hegel, Feuerbach, and Marx do not support his claim, crucial for the Marxist view of Marx, that in following Feuerbach he left Hegel, idealism, and philosophy behind. Engels, perhaps because he is not philosophically competent (or again not philosophically trained), for political reasons, or even for the sake of simplicity, vastly overestimates Feuerbach’s impact on Marx. Marx was apparently familiar with Feuerbach as early as his teens, since the latter’s name is mentioned in the “Letter to His Father.” Though Feuerbach for a time influences Marx, Marx never takes Feuerbach as seriously as Engels does. Marx’s enthusiasm for Feuerbach in the Paris Manuscripts (1844) and the less enthusiastic assessment in The German Ideology gave way in the same year to blunt criticism in the “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845). Marx’s attitude toward Feuerbach later became dismissive. In a letter to Schweitzer in 1865, when Marx’s early enthusiasm for Feuerbach had long diminished, he writes: “Compared with Hegel, Feuerbach is very poor.”91 In a later letter to Engels in 1867, Marx describes the “cult of Feuerbach” as “amusing.”92 And in a slightly later letter to Engels in 1868, he ironically writes: “The gentlemen in Germany . . . think that Hegel’s dialectic is a ‘dead dog.’ In this respect, Feuerbach has much on his conscience.”93 Marx’s most intense engagement with Feuerbach occurs in the mid-­ 1840s. In the “Theses on Feuerbach,” Marx’s earlier laudatory view is transformed into sober criticism. After composing this text, Marx apparently became disinterested in Feuerbach. There is no reference to Feuerbach in either the Grundrisse or Capital. The “Theses on Feuerbach” were apparently formulated at a time when the concern with Feuerbach had already ended and when Marx’s initially very positive initial view of Feuerbach had clearly evolved. Marx’s initial reaction to Feuerbach affects his grasp of Hegel. Lukács, for instance, points out that Feuerbach lacks the theory of practice ( Praxis) on which Marx insists and which, at least from the perspective in the “Theses on Feuerbach,” is required to surpass Hegel.94 Even the famous reversal, which Feuerbach makes much of and which Marx 102

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briefly takes over in his early writings, is still earlier featured in Kant and then Hegel, in all probability its proximal source. Kant’s Copernican revolution reverses the usual relation of subject and object. This reversal is further analyzed in detail in the introduction to The Phenomenology of Spirit, where Hegel describes “the reversal of consciousness itself” (die Umkehrung des Bewußtseins selbst).95 In a typical passage, in the account of “sense certainty” (sinnliche Gewißheit) Hegel writes that “we find that it is reversed” (so hat es sich her umgekehrt).96 Engels’s claim that Feuerbach breaks sharply with Hegel at any point, even in The Essence of Christianity, or shortly before the brief period around 1843–­1844 when he most influenced Marx, is exaggerated. Feuerbach, like other Young Hegelians, like Marx, like Engels as well, criticizes Hegel. Yet even in a charitable interpretation his own position is not opposed to but rather a variant of Hegel’s. Today Feuerbach is best known and most important for his critique of religion. Yet a close reading of Hegel’s Phe­ nomenology will show that the main lines of Feuerbach’s justly celebrated anthropological reading of religion are not only anticipated but even clearly described by Hegel. Engels indicates the enthusiasm that greeted the publication of Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity, and Marx mentions Feuerbach in his early writings. In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx remarks that Feuerbach has demolished “the inner principle of the old dialectic and philosophy”97 in the course of surpassing the so-­called critical school. Yet the meaning of this passage requires discussion. The “Theses on Feuerbach” were only published after Marx died. This short text was supposedly composed as a first effort at what later became the Feuerbach chapter in The German Ideology. It depicts Marx’s view in the mid-­1840s, soon after he wrote the Paris Manuscripts, in a moment when his initial enthusiasm has already given way to a more critical attitude. In the Paris Manuscripts, where he uses Feuerbach as a stick to beat Hegel, he is not directly critical of the former. Unlike Hegel, whose view changes only slowly, Marx is a mercurial thinker whose enthusiasm waxes and wanes very rapidly. The account of Feuerbach in the “Theses” differs strongly from only slightly earlier remarks on Feuerbach in the Paris Manuscripts. In the “Theses” Marx is directly and devastatingly critical of Feuerbach, whom, if Engels is to be believed, he held in exceptionally high esteem only a year earlier. This point indirectly supports those, including the present writer, who believe Feuerbach’s actual role in the formulation of Marx’s position is clearly exceeded by his supposed role in classical Marxism. In the “Theses” Marx couches his criticism in materialist terms without, 103

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however, clarifying his understanding of “materialism.” Materialism was increasingly discussed after Hegel died in connection with the rapid development of the natural sciences.98 Yet Lange, who in this period provided the most detailed account of materialism, does not even mention Feuerbach. The latter’s supposed materialism, supposed since in comparison to the more usual ways of understanding “materialism” it is not at all obvious that his view qualifies for this appellation, has often been studied from various angles. An example is as an alternative to spiritualism.99 Marxists tend to use “materialism” very loosely as a term of approbation rather than as an ontological designation. John Wright, who is typical, indirectly suggests that “materialism” means that “consciousness can be explained by material phenomena,” since he notes that “opponents of materialism argue that consciousness cannot, after all, be explained by natural phenomena.”100 Understood in that way “materialism” is close to what in analytic philosophical circles is currently called “naturalism.” Feuerbach’s “materialism,” which is perhaps unrelated to any of the familiar senses of this term, and which seems unrelated to the main phil­ osophical views of materialism, apparently lies in his anthropological approach to religion. In the Foundations of the Philosophy of the Future, he depicts “materialism” as the negation of theology. In The Essence of Chris­ tianity, where he says that love is materialism, he suggests matter precedes consciousness and contrasts materialism and idealism. We can only guess at why materialism, which is apparently not a central theme in Feuerbach, looms so large in Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach.” An obvious reason may be that, having recently produced a passage on French materialism in The Holy Family, the material was still fresh in Marx’s mind when he formulated the “Theses” in spring 1845. The “Theses” show him trying to reconcile, or at least to navigate between, two incompatible lines of investigation. On the one hand, there is Feuerbach’s anthropological humanism, with roots in Fichte, or his version of the Hegelian view that religion is a human creation.101 On the other hand, there is the familiar ontological thesis, which emerges in the ancient Greek tradition and runs throughout the entire later debate. This approach favors an ontological conception of the world as in some sense matter, or material, in pointing toward a strongly realist, even representational approach to epistemology. The Marxian anthropological approach and traditional philosophical materialism are incompatible. A materialist perspective typically relies on a traditional causal framework to know the world in authorizing an anti-­Platonic backward inference from the representation to what it represents. To know means to grasp the world lying beyond appearance and 104

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independent of the subject. Representation, which unites such disparate approaches as continental rationalism and British empiricism, is a favored cognitive strategy in modern times. In a causal conceptual framework, the subject is often depicted as passive, for instance as a mere Lockean tabula rasa. Everything hinges on justifying the inference from the representation to the represented. An anthropological approach to knowledge, on the contrary, typically drops the claim to know the mind-­ independent world as it is in favor of what is given in consciousness. It further turns away from causality in opting for a constructivist understanding of what we claim to know. In an anthropological approach, the subject is neither an epistemological function nor a mere theoretical placeholder, two ways of characterizing the Kantian approach. It is rather a finite human being, a rival approach that underlies the effort to formulate an acceptable theory of knowledge on the basis of human activity.

Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach” Philosophers differ in their concern with practical or theoretical themes. Marx, who is consistent with his quasi-­Fichtean stress on practice, typically focuses on the practical problems of finite human beings in disregarding strictly philosophical enigmas, which mainly interest professional philosophers. The “Theses on Feuerbach” analyze the fundamental divide, in Kantian language, between a causal cognitive strategy, in which cognition necessarily conforms to objects, and the constructivist, or idealist assumption that, again in Kantian language, objects must conform to our cognition. Marx’s emphasis lies less on the specific cognitive thesis than on how to understand Feuerbach’s supposedly materialistic anthropology. It will be helpful to discuss the “Theses on Feuerbach” in the order Marx wrote them, beginning with the first thesis. Here Marx arbitrates between views of materialism as an object of contemplation, in short as a pure given, or as “human sensuous activity, [or] practice,” that is, as constructed by finite human beings. According to Marx “idealism,” a generic term that here probably refers mainly or perhaps only to Hegel, offers only an abstract alternative to materialism, since idealists are supposedly unfamiliar with “real, sensuous activity as such.” This remark recalls an implausible assumption in the Paris Manuscripts, which is already suggested in the slightly earlier critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, and which Marx simply states but for which he never argues. According to Marx, Hegel is either unfamiliar with or uninterested in concrete 105

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human beings in the real social context. Marx further mistakenly assumes that there is something like an idealist party line, or a single shared view concerning idealism. If he is thinking here of, say, Kant, he is correct. Yet if he is thinking, say, of Fichte or Hegel, he is incorrect. Marx enlarges the scope of the discussion in the second and third theses, before returning to Feuerbach in the fifth thesis. Kant is concerned with the relationship of theory to practice, which he typically approaches on the theoretical or a priori plane. Everyone knows that Kant seeks to specify the general conditions of knowledge prior to and apart from experience. In reacting against Kant, and in following Fichte, Hegel limits cognition to the contents of conscious experience. He objects to any form of the Kantian effort to distinguish between knowledge and the conditions of knowledge. Marx in turn follows in Hegel’s footsteps in insisting on practice as the criterion of truth and in objecting to any effort to isolate thought from practice. Marx refines his conception of practice in the third thesis. The Feuerbachian approach turns on the view that human beings are the products of social circumstances. This thesis is held by the utopian socialist Robert Owen and many others. Marx, who is concerned here and in other writings with social revolution, objects that individuals are formed by, but also change, or revolutionize, practice. There are different views of causality as well as different causal approaches to experience. Reductive or mechanistic, nondialectical interpretations of the Marxian superstructure/base distinction suggest that consciousness is limited by the economic structure of society. Marx, who has a wider conception of the relation of human beings to their surroundings, does not hold a reductive view of the relation of consciousness to the surroundings. He rejects economic reductionism through the obvious point that human beings are products of social circumstances on which they also act. In other words, we come into a social world, which precedes and shapes us, and with which we interact and which we also shape. The latter point usefully contradicts the later statement in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that the mode of production of material life conditions determines consciousness. I return to this point below. Theses 4–­7 concern different facets of Feuerbach’s understanding of religion. We recall that Feuerbach is a theological revolutionary, who argues against the Judeo-­Christian belief that man or, perhaps better, human beings in general are made in God’s image. He rather contends that God is made in man’s image. In the early article intended as an introduction to Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Marx adopts Feuerbach’s critique of religion as the initial step in a revolutionary agenda. 106

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Though Marx later turns away from religion, this theme is raised in Marxism by Karl Kautsky and many others.102 Feuerbach proposes a revolutionary view of religion that he fails to pursue to bring about social change. Marx generalizes Feuerbach’s insight that religion is a human creation. In Feuerbach’s place, he suggests that human beings must be freed from religion as well as from the many other social structures they construct in hindering rather than liberating themselves. In short, in becoming aware that our social surroundings are finally consequences of our actions, a point Hegel also urges, Marx thinks that we can change the world in order to liberate ourselves from obstacles we have in effect put in our own way. In the fourth thesis, Marx remarks that Feuerbach resolves the religious duplication of the world into an imaginary world and a real world into a single real one. Yet he fails to address the possibility of removing this contradiction. In other words, Feuerbach does not understand the far-­reaching social consequences of his critique of orthodox Christianity. Marx further links this general problem to the recent attack by Engels and himself on the Young Hegelians in The Holy Family (1845). The fifth thesis corrects Feuerbach with Fichte. Marx, who suggests that Feuerbach misunderstands human activity as contemplation and hence overlooks its practical nature, here restates in part the theme of the first thesis as well as his criticism of Hegel. Marx’s approach to the human subject through human activity raises the venerable theme of human nature. The sixth thesis points again to the familiar question of essentialism. This perennial concern runs throughout the history of philosophy in widely differing views of finite human being as social, or as Marx sarcastically says, as a “model citizen”;103 capable of reasoned speech; made in God’s image; Dasein; a tool-­making animal; as a user of universal grammar; and so on. These and similar efforts suggest there is a fixed human essence, or at least a specific difference between human beings, which makes them who they are, and any other kind of animal. Marx and Marxism present different views about human beings. The German Ideology features the complex essentialist claim that human beings, as noted above, distinguish themselves from animals in producing the means of subsistence. Since we cannot identify the author of this passage, we cannot say more than that it is consistent with a point made slightly earlier in the Paris Manuscripts, where Marx asserts that human beings are natural beings, hence must meet their needs outside themselves. Hegel, who makes a similar point in his view of desire (Begierde) as forcing human beings out of themselves to interact with each other 107

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and with nature in the social world. He anticipates Marx’s view that, as natural beings, human beings are obliged to meet their needs outside themselves. In this context, Marx makes two remarks. First, men and women differ from animals, which produce one-­sidedly, for instance to alleviate hunger, whereas a human being produces universally, or in ways isolated from immediate needs. Second, as a natural being, man, like animals, meets his needs through external objects. The essentialist approach to human being in The German Ideology conflicts with Marx’s obviously antiessentialist approach in the “Theses on Feuerbach.” Here he invokes “human essence” only to deny that it exists as a genus specificum, for instance as an “abstraction inherent in each individual.” Hegel’s conception of spirit points to the social aspect, which is shared among human beings and which transforms any effort to know the world and ourselves into a group phenomenon. For Hegel, human beings are what they are insofar as they are members of a group by virtue of a characteristic that each possesses, and which Hegel denotes through the difficult view of spirit. Marx denies there is an abstract human essence that each person possesses. He makes a similar point in criticizing Feuerbach, not for what he does, but rather for what he does not do. It is as if Feuerbach, who failed to take a historical perspective, were, for that reason, guilty of taking a nonhistorical perspective, which amounted to essentialism. This is another way of pointing to the price to be paid by Feuerbach, who fails to understand the consequences of his approach, hence fails to remove the contradiction following from religion, to which Marx earlier points in the fourth thesis. Marx addresses this point in the seventh thesis. Here he takes Feuerbach to task for not comprehending that religious sentiment, hence religion in general, is “a social product,” which is not universal but rather arises in a particular way in a particular type of society. At stake is the difference between Marx’s historical point of view, which understands the social context as evolving through a series of stages, and Feuerbach’s static, ahistorical approach. By virtue of his static perspective, Feuerbach identifies the historical origin of organized religion as a product of human social organization. This approach is comparable to Strauss’s historical view of the Gospels. Yet Feuerbach, like Strauss, does not draw the consequences. Marx here indicates how to carry Feuerbach’s treatment of organized religion further in relating it to the specific historical context in which religion emerged. Marx has so far offered a series of comments centering either directly on Feuerbach’s anthropological conception of materialism or at least inspired by it. Theses 7–­10 turn more directly to Marx’s own rival theory, 108

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which is lurking in the background as the justification of his remarks on Feuerbach. Marx’s lapidary remarks are obviously not intended as a complete statement of an as-­yet unformulated theory to which they merely point. They seem intended to formulate insights that, at the time he wrote the “Theses,” he probably intended to develop in order to bring them to together in a single overall theory. We can only guess at what The German Ideology would have looked like if he had relied on the “Theses on Feuerbach” as the basis for the position developed in that text. That is an indication among many that his role in the composition of the manuscript was not decisive and may even have been slight. The central point here and often elsewhere in Marx’s writings is the conception of the basically active social and historical subject, which is arguably the deepest idea in his overall position, including his economic writings. In the Paris Manuscripts, at a time when he was just beginning to study political economy, Marx had already begun to differentiate his own view from orthodox political economy. He describes the stripped-­down view of the subject featured in the form of political economy he rejects: “Society, as it appears to the political economist, is civil society in which every individual is a totality of needs and only exists for the other person, as the other exists for him, insofar as each becomes a means for the other.”104 Marx’s point is that contemporary political economy is only interested in homo economicus, namely a conception of finite human being as it in theory functions in the modern industrial world, but not finite human beings as they in reality function in a dynamic historical context. Marx can be understood as making two points: First, orthodox political economy is not a science in his specific anthropological sense since it abstracts from finite human being in relying on an abstract model of the economic subject. This idea runs counter to Engels’s view that in turning to political economy Marx leaves philosophy for science. Second, understood in that way, orthodox political economy is not in the service of human beings at all. On the contrary, orthodox political economy, which is uninterested in human beings and their history, is not a human science, but rather a nonhuman science turning on a nonhuman world made up of things and commodities. This point has attracted attention in the debate. According to Herbert Marcuse, Marx’s philosophical anthropology puts his theory above the level of reductionist economism, which depicts humans merely as a form of homo economicus, as much of contemporary economics still does.105 According to Karel Kosik, human beings, who do not correspond to the strictly economic conception in wide use in that science, are in 109

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fact transformed into the economist’s conception of homo economicus through the pressure of modern capitalism.106 Marx opposes the familiar economic approach to the subject as an abstract being on the grounds that, as he says in the eighth of the “Theses on Feuerbach,” “social life is essentially practical.”107 This suggests that human beings come together in a social setting in which the practical problems of ordinary people, hence practice, takes precedence over everything else. We glimpse here Marx’s conviction that there are in effect two kinds of German idealist theory, which are either traditional or nontraditional. Traditional German idealist theory, such as Kant’s, fails not in theory but rather in practice. Nontraditional German idealist theory, such as Fichte’s, acknowledges both in theory and in practice the precedence of practice. According to Marx, theory goes astray if it fails to acknowledge the priority of practice. What he here calls “mysticism” derives from the failure to understand that human practice is prior to everything else. Marx clearly thinks that human problems can be solved through comprehending human practice. Yet it is unclear if he also believes that solutions, which are not based on human practice, are irrational, or if he thinks all human problems can be solved through human practice. In the seventh thesis Marx objects that Feuerbach does not grasp that the so-­called abstract individual in reality belongs to a particular form of society. This is another way of saying that an individual is not abstract but rather in this specific sense concrete. In the eighth thesis, he suggests that, since social life is practical, human problems must be solved practically, not, say, through “mysticism,” a term which, as noted, here perhaps partly refers to religion. In the ninth thesis, where he contrasts his own approach with Feuerbach’s, Marx names civil society as the highest point reached by so-­called contemplative materialism. Marx’s dialectical conception of political economy, which differs in this way from nondialectical, orthodox forms of political economy, finds its terminus a quo in Hegel’s own dialectical theory. In different ways, the conception of civil society goes all the way back to Aristotle. In the Politics, he refers to the koinonia politike, or a community of free citizens, meaning adults who share a common ethos and are citizens, as distinguished from children, women, and slaves, who are not. Marx’s conception of civil society builds on Hegel’s. In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, civil society (die bürgerliche Gesellschaft) functions as a social structure in response to what he calls a system of needs. Hegel’s account of the system of needs rests on his conception of the concrete individual seeking to meet his basic needs in civil society while 110

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also seeking satisfaction in and through relations to others. “The concrete person who, as a particular person, as a totality of needs and a mixture of natural necessity and arbitrariness, is his own end, is one principle of civil society. But this particular person stands essentially in relation to other similar particulars, and their relation is such that each gains satisfaction through the others.”108 Civil society, which is situated between the family and the state, is the level on which individuals meet their basic or subsistence needs. “The mediation of need and the satisfaction of the individual through his work and through the work and satisfaction of the needs of all the others—­the system of needs.”109 Hegel’s theory of the system of needs is a central component in his model of modern industrial society. Marx attributes a static conception of human individuals to contemplative materialism, which leads to a failure to grasp human social practice. He ascribes a different but still similarly abstract conception of the subject to orthodox political economy, which in his opinion fails to grasp the specificity of individuals in concrete social practice. This point is perhaps valid for any abstract conception of finite human being. It is more difficult to accept it as an accurate depiction of Hegel’s understanding of human beings in modern industrial society. His view, despite Marx’s frequent comments to that effect, is not abstract, but exceedingly concrete. Like Marx, Hegel’s view of human being is based on the reformulation of the basic Fichtean conception of the active human subject. It follows that in attacking Feuerbach, Marx, who vastly underestimates Hegel, also vastly overestimates the novelty of his own conception of human being in a social context. In the various theses so far examined, Marx consistently suggests a distinction between kinds of materialism and, since “materialism” refers here to an anthropological approach to human being in the social context, to a specific way of grasping finite human being. In the tenth thesis, Marx focuses on the difference in kind between what he calls the old materialism, which, like political economy, adopts the perspective of civil society, and the so-­called new materialism, or the view he favors, which adopts the very different standpoint of human society. At stake is the precise nature of their difference as well as its significance. Marx very obviously did not and simply could not foresee the later evolution of the debate. He also does not take into account the ancient Greek materialism he earlier considered in his dissertation. When he formulated the “Theses,” he apparently thought that the old materialism and his new materialism were exclusive alternatives. From this restrictive perspective, which acknowledges no more than two possibilities, the choice is simple. A materialist either adopts the perspective of civil 111

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society, that is, the old materialism, or adopts the new materialism as well as human society. The difficulty lies in understanding the alternative human society presents to civil society. As concerns materialism, Marx’s view can be understood from at least three different angles of vision. He could be indicating that civil society does not and cannot straightforwardly lead to human society, since, in order for a really human society to come about, civil society must be transformed, for instance through the transformation of capitalism into communism. Or he might be indicating that the conception of finite human being in civil society is inadequate, hence should be replaced by a view of finite human being in human society. Or he might finally be indicating that the new kind of philosophy he intends to formulate is based on a different conception of finite human being, not as it already exists in civil society, but rather as it might someday exist, that is, if the transition from capitalism to communism as he understands it can be realized. The latter possibility is central to the famous last or eleventh of the “Theses on Feuerbach,” where Marx alludes to what by inference is a new kind of theory, which his own position presumably illustrates. Hegel claims that philosophy always comes too late. Marx, on the contrary, wants a form of philosophy that is able to change society and not merely record what has already occurred. The difference is roughly between the type of theory that leaves everything in place in merely interpreting the world, roughly the familiar view of the early Wittgenstein, and a new type of theory that is self-­ realizing and hence leads to change. Marx had the idea of a self-­realizing theory very early, well before he wrote the “Theses on Feuerbach.” In a letter to his friend Arnold Ruge from Kreuznach dated September 1843, which was later printed in the Deutsch-­Französische Jahrbücher, he suggests the importance of analyzing consciousness in order to reform it in then adding: “It will then become evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will become evident that it is not a question of drawing a great mental dividing line between past and future, but of realizing the thoughts of the past. Lastly, it will become evident that mankind is not beginning a new work, but is consciously carrying into effect its old work.”110 Marx here makes three points. To begin with, in his view theory must be self-­realizing, since to be conscious of it is the same as realizing it. Second, the social aim is intrinsic to society, so to speak, but remains

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to be realized. Finally, the task at hand consists in being aware of the unrealized social aims as opposed to seeking new ones. The central novelty here lies in the idea of a self-­realizing theory. A self-­realizing theory is doubly relevant in that it not only concerns but at least in principle also changes practice. An obvious example would be the complex transition from capitalism, through the abolition of the institution of private property, then the dictatorship of the proletariat, followed by the withering away of the state, and so on, to communism with the aim of bringing about human flourishing, hence in finally solving Rousseau’s problem. In short, this thesis depicts Marx’s concern with practice, his understanding of prior philosophy, as well as his intention to surpass it, but, at this point in his development, not to surpass philosophy. In focusing on practice, Marx distantly follows Aristotle, one of the first to distinguish clearly between theory and theory of practice. At the risk of repetition, we can say that Marx, unlike Aristotle, is concerned to go beyond interpretation, hence mere theory for its own sake, in changing practice. Marx rejects the Kantian view that all philosophical theory is intrinsically linked to human ends. This is tantamount to saying that practice depends on theory. Yet Marx thinks mere theoretical interest is insufficient to bring about change, insufficient to bring about human flourishing. He further rejects the Hegelian view that philosophy is unable to affect real human practice. The criterion of Marxian theory, the only criterion he accepts at this early point and throughout his later writings, is the successful realization of human flourishing in a new kind of society. Marx’s approach to a theory that realizes itself is apparently directed, if not against philosophy in general, against selected members of classical German philosophy. This effort is perhaps more convincing against Kant, who holds that theory as such is practically relevant, than against either Fichte or Hegel. Unlike Kant, Fichte formulates a view of philosophy in which theory and practice are inextricably conjoined. According to Fichte, theories formulated to respond to practical problems arise in practice to which they return. In other words, practice elicits intrinsically relevant theory. In this respect, Fichte influences Hegel, who makes a similar but more abstract argument in his view of ideas as self-­ realizing. Marx, presumably with Fichte in mind, turns this conception against Hegel in arguing that the latter is complicit with the status quo. Though Marx clearly believes that classical German philosophy and even philosophy itself prefer theory to practice, on inspection attention to practice is central to at least some German idealist views of theory. The difference does not lie in the mere attention to practice, nor even in

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the link between theory and practice, but rather in the concern through self-­realizing theory to change practice.

Vico, Materialism, and Constructivism in Capital “Materialism” is central for the Marxist view of Marx. Yet it is apparently less important for Marx, who, after the “Theses on Feuerbach,” only rarely mentions it. This term is nearly absent in the later, more economic writings. It appears only once in the Grundrisse in an unimportant passage, where Marx refers to what he intends to write about, and not at all in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. In the fourth part of the introduction to the Grundrisse, Marx mentions the need to respond to remarks about “naturalistic materialism,” but he does not go further. This latter term probably refers to the idea, frequent in Marx’s writings, that human beings are natural beings, concretely rooted in the social context. Though “materialism” is also scarcely mentioned in the three volumes of Capital, the two passages in which this term occurs, which are both in the first volume, are both extremely important. The first passage occurs in a footnote in chapter 15, “Machinery and Modern Industry.” In section 1, entitled “The Development of Machinery,” Marx refers to the difference between a tool and a machine. He then mentions that John Wyatt’s invention of the spinning machine in 1735 began the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century. Wyatt’s machine, which depended on donkey power, later led to the water frame, which, as its name indicates, was water-­driven. This machine was invented and patented in 1769 by Richard Arkwright, one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution. In a detailed footnote, Marx compares Darwinian natural selection and technology, or “the material basis of all social organization.”111 This comparison rests on a questionable analogy between natural selection, or the history of natural selection, and the history of technology. If history is the record of what human beings do or have done, it is unclear that this term can be applied to nature. Marx, who remarks that there is no critical history of technology, now asks rhetorically, in referring to Vico, the eighteenth-­century Italian philosopher: “And would not such a history be easier to compile, since, as Vico says, human history differs from natural history in this, that we have made the former, but not the latter?”112 Vico is rarely mentioned in relation to Marx, who apparently refers to the Neapolitan thinker only three times, twice in letters and then in this

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footnote. Both letters were written on the same day: April 28, 1862. In a note to Ferdinand Lassalle, Marx writes: “It surprises me that you seem not to have read Vico’s New Science. Not for anything you would have found in it for your special purpose, but it does provide a philosophical view of the spirit of Roman law, contrasting with that of the legal Philistines. . . . Vico contains in embryo Wolf (on Homer), Niebuhr . . . foundations of comparative linguistics . . . and a great deal else that is original.”113 In a letter to Engels, which bears the same date, Marx writes: “Vico says in his New Science that Germany is the only country in Europe where ‘an heroic language’ is still spoken. If he had ever had the pleasure of acquainting himself with the Vienna Presse or the Berlin Nationalzei­ tung, the old Neapolitan would have changed his mind.”114 Outside his native Italy, where Vico has been the central philosopher over several hundred years, his influence is widely discernable in such thinkers as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and perhaps Denis Diderot in France; J. G. Hamann, J. G. Herder, J. W. Goethe, and F. H. Jacobi in Germany; S. T. Coleridge in England; and so on. Yet he seems not to have been influential or perhaps even known to the great German idealists before Marx, who never mention the Neapolitan thinker. This is not surprising, since Vico’s most important book, The New Science (1724), was only translated into German in 1822 and into French in 1824. Marx grasps the relation of his position to Vico’s. But there is no evidence he was influenced by, or even aware of, the Italian philosopher in working out his position. The fact that the latter was not influential on the main figures in the German idealist debate is manifest in the long and complex path leading from Kant’s antipsychologistic, anti-­anthropological stance to cognition, diametrically opposed to Vico’s view, which he seems not to have known, to the later recovery of a quasi-­Vichian, manifestly anthropological approach in Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. In his footnote, Marx apparently conflates nature and history. Vico, who is perhaps the single most important early anti-­Cartesian, depicts Descartes as a dogmatic thinker, who doubts anything not grounded in metaphysics, in drawing attention to their fundamental differences. His criticism of Descartes relies on Hobbes’s pre-­Cartesian identification between mathematical construction and demonstration. According to Hobbes, who, like Vico, anticipates Kant, we know what we can either construct or directly deduce from constructions.115 Vico, who is influ­ enced by Hobbes, argues against the Cartesian claim to know the mind-­ independent world. Like Hobbes, Vico thinks we can only know what we in some sense make or construct.116

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Vico shares a constructivist approach to cognition with the German idealists. Vico describes a constructivist theory of knowledge in On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians, Unearthed from the Origins of the Latin Language (1710), in The New Science (1724), and in other writings. In the former text, in following Hobbes and in clearly anticipating Kant, he famously writes, “The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it.”117 In drawing the anti-­Cartesian inference, he writes that “our clear and distinct idea of the mind cannot be a criterion of the mind itself, still less of other truths. For while the mind perceives itself, it does not make itself.”118 He applies this principle in The New Science in formulating a general science of human society. According to Vico, since God made nature, only God can know nature. But, since human beings make history, they can know it. Vico develops this approach to knowledge in The New Science, where he argues that “the world of civil society has certainly been made by men, and that its principles are therefore to be found within the modifications of our own human mind.”119 He explicitly states that “verum (the true) and factum (the made) are interchangeable [convertuntur].”120 He goes on to claim that there are universal principles in the science of society, which apply to all social institutions. Vico clearly anticipates Kant. We recall that the Kantian approach to cognition turns on the alternative between “the assumption that all our cognition must conform to objects” and the further assumption that “the objects must conform to our cognition.”121 According to Kant, fruitless efforts expended to know mind-­independent reality122 indicate the interest of assuming that the object must conform to our cognition,123 in other words, to the structure of the mind. Kant claims to deduce the general conditions of knowledge in the metaphysical and transcendental deductions of the categories. The latter deduction advances a general theory of cognitive objects constructed, produced, or made in bringing the contents of the sensory manifold under the categories, or rules, of synthesis, lodged in the mind. Kant’s conception of knowledge is a priori, hence ahistorical, as well as causal. According to Kant, knowledge is based on causality in two main ways: we are affected by the mind-­ independent but unknowable world, whose existence he supposedly never doubts (and further claims to demonstrate in the “Refutation of idealism”), and through the activity of the human mind, the subject causes the synthesis of the cognitive object as a necessary condition of experience and knowledge.124 Kant is an a priori, ahistorical thinker. Vichian constructivism features an a posteriori, historical, and causal approach to knowledge of civil society. According to Vico, knowledge runs from beliefs about facts 116

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to universal truths.125 The precise meaning of this claim is unclear. Vico is a difficult author, who never succeeds in making his basic insights clear. According to Isaiah Berlin, Vico distinguishes four kinds of knowledge: scienza, which yields verum, or a priori truth; coscienza, or knowledge of external facts, that is, the certum; Platonic knowledge of patterns or eternal truths; and historical knowledge per causas of what is made by human beings.126 It is unclear if truth is a regulative idea for Vico, as for Hegel, or constitutive, as for Kant. Vico’s view is sometimes thought to concern a priori truths, since he gives as his example geometry. It is clear that he takes a constructive approach to mathematics, which is true, as he says, because it is made by human beings. Thus, for Vico geometry is something human beings do. In sum, Vico’s anticipation of Kantian constructivism is based on two related insights:127 first, the anti-­Cartesian principle that we do not and cannot know mind-­independent reality because we know only what we in some way construct. This independently but accurately anticipates Kant’s later Copernican revolution. Second, there is the further claim, which applies this thesis to the contents of the social sciences, that, since “the world of civil society has certainly been made by men . . . its principles are therefore to be found within the modifications of our own human mind.”128 Vico’s point restates the ancient Platonic view that we must have an idea in the mind as a condition of making something, as, for instance, when a carpenter makes a bed. Presumably the carpenter realizes an interpretation of an idea he does not know, since on grounds of nature and nurture knowledge is reserved for philosophers, in making an object. Plato seems to believe that the forms or ideas are organized hierarchically so that lower level forms can be constructed, hence explained, through their relationship to higher-­level forms. In roughly the same way, the true and the beautiful are explained through the good, or the supposedly final or highest form. This approach suggests that all the forms could be drawn from a few ideas or perhaps even a single one. In the Timaeus, Plato exploits this view in suggesting that the four classical elements are each associated with a different Platonic solid. This insight echoes through the later tradition in different ways. They include Euclid’s description of the Platonic solids in the last book of the Elements, Kepler’s attempt at the end of the sixteenth century in Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596) to relate the five extra-­terrestrial planets to the five elements, Leibniz’s universal characteristic (characteristica universalis), and so on. Vico generalizes this Platonic insight to the level of the social context. He goes on to assert that there are universal principles through which 117

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to construct the science of society. According to Vico, birth, death, and marriage are common to all people. This suggests that on the basis of what we claim to know about civil society, we can argue backward to the structure of the human mind. Vico believes, as already noted, that, since knowing depends on making, and making depends on history, we do not and cannot know the world, or nature. Yet we can and in fact do know human society in all its many forms in and through a historical science. Marx applies this Vichian thesis to technology and to religion. The importance of the critical history of technology is twofold: it discloses, as Marx points out, how human beings deal with nature as well as “the mode of formation of his social relations, and of the mental conceptions that flow from them.”129 In other words, technology points beyond itself in illuminating the history of human social relations. Yet the precise link, if any, Marx detects between social relations and ideas remains unclear. Concerning cognition, Marx follows while deepening Vico’s stress on philosophical anthropology. Marx shares Vico’s belief that human society in all its dimensions must be understood historically, but he denies the Vichian view of the world as eternal. He further rejects the Vichian idea that only God knows nature in favor of the view that human beings know only what they make. Now abruptly changing his focus, Marx, as in the “Theses on Feuerbach,” applies this historical approach to religion. As in the earlier remarks on Feuerbach, Marx again insists on a concrete approach, as rooted in “the material basis,” which he describes as “the actual relations of life,” as correct. A critical history of religion is not a mere list of different views. It is rather an account in which we discover through analysis how religion, which is exemplified in different doctrines and practices, emerges in concrete fashion. Marx clearly says that the concrete historical approach “is the only materialistic, and therefore the only scientific one.”130 It remains unclear whether “science” here means “rigorous,” as in rigorous philosophy, or whether it points to a specific conceptual approach, such as natural science, which has supposedly, as Engels infamously contends, left philosophy behind. In other words, is Marx suggesting, as Husserl later does early in the twentieth century, that philosophy must assume an ever more rigorous form, and even become science, or is he rather suggesting, like his near contemporary, Auguste Comte, that we must go beyond philosophy to science? Marx, who does not expand on this point, directs his attention to natural science, whose intrinsic defect lies in the fact that it “excludes history and its process,” which is a minimally necessary component of an acceptable cognitive approach. According to Marx, this defect is apparent in “abstract and ideological conceptions” that ap118

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pear when natural scientists go beyond the natural sciences. It is unclear whether this supposed difficulty lies in the fact that natural scientists are insufficiently educated outside the sciences or whether views that are abstract are also ideological, thus not true or false. Marx’s reference to Vico is important for at least three reasons. First, it provides an important indication of how Marx situates his own position with respect to philosophy and natural science. At this point he apparently understands the position he advances in Capital and by extension elsewhere, not, as Engels claims, as a natural or a historical science, but rather as a form of philosophical theory following in the path opened by Vico’s constructivist science of society. Second, this footnote shows the continuity between Marx’s earlier efforts to situate his “materialism” neither through an ontological claim nor through an abstract conception of the isolated individual but rather through a concrete historical approach. In insisting on the concrete over the abstract, Marx limits his conception of science, which, being historical, is rigorous but different from, as he explicitly notes, natural science. According to classical Marxism, Marx’s position is in every respect equivalent to a natural science, differing only in its domain as the science of society. Yet his reference to Vico suggests, on the contrary, that Marx’s position differs from the sciences, not because it is a science of history, but rather through its intrinsically historical character. This view is supported through the claim presented in The German Ideology that seems to agree with the position Marx develops elsewhere, for instance in the famous passage in the original manuscript, mentioned above, where he very clearly writes: “We only know a single science, the science of history.”131 Third, this footnote speaks to the complex relation of Marx’s position to classical German idealism. Kantian constructivism in different forms runs throughout German idealism. It links together Kant and the post-­Kantian German idealists around a general approach to cognition. Since Vico anticipates cognitive constructivism, which is the defining characteristic of German idealism, from this perspective Marx is not, as Engels suggests, opposed to, but rather a full-­fledged adherent of, classical German idealism.

Materialism, Dialectic, and the Second Afterword to Capital It has repeatedly been emphasized that Marx’s position emerges in an incessant dialogue with Hegel. In the second afterword to Capital, Marx 119

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famously writes: “I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.”132 It is hence false to think that Marx’s overall position, specifically including Marxian economics, is, as is sometimes claimed, independent of his reading of Hegel.133 It is false as well that at a certain point in his intellectual trajectory, as Engels implies, and many Marxists, for instance Althusser, believe, Marx was finally able to free himself from philosophy in simply leaving Hegel behind. Since Marx’s Hegel interpretation changes incessantly, it is difficult to specify his precise relationship to the German philosopher. We begin to see an answer in the cited passage in Capital where Marx evokes materialism. Marx is here rightly concerned, like any author, to attract attention to the second edition of a book whose original edition was, he thinks, mainly but mistakenly passed over in silence. After some perfunctory remarks, he turns to the status of political economy in Germany, where it has been “imported” from France and England. According to Marx, political science, which depends on the social context, is scientific only so long as the local class struggle is either latent or at most sporadically manifest. Though the English class struggle is underdeveloped, Ricardo provides the limit of what is possible. Bourgeois scientific economy depends on the social context. The fact that in France and England the bourgeoisie was in power led to overt forms of class struggle, which undermined economic science. At the time of the revolution of 1848–­1849, efforts to harmonize political economy with proletarian demands led to “a shallow syncretism,” which is very well represented by J. S. Mill. According to Marx, N. G. Tschernyschewsky, the Russian economist, best illuminates this situation. Marx believes that German professors concerned with political economy tend to divide into two camps: apologists of “vulgar economy” and Mill’s unavailing effort to reconcile the irreconcilable. Marx thinks the German situation provides original contributions to economy but so far lacks the critique of economy from the proletarian perspective he supplies. Marx, who remarks that the method of Capital has not been well understood, lists a variety of descriptions. He cites at length the view of Nikolai Sieber, the Russian political economist, who, in describing Marx’s method, in fact describes “the dialectic[al] method.”134 120

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Marx here rapidly describes dialectic. According to Marx, the order of method and inquiry differ, since the latter must “appropriate the material in detail, to analyze its different forms of development, [and] to trace out their inner connection” before “the actual movement can be adequately described.”135 Marx indicates that when this is successfully done, “the life of the subject-­matter is ideally reflected as in a mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a mere a priori construction.”136 Marx, who thinks there is a dialectical method, quickly describes his version of that method as the direct opposite of Hegel’s approach. Three assumptions appear especially important: there is a dialectical method; dialectic grasps the “internal” connections of the subject matter as a prerequisite to its adequate description; and from the dialectical perspective the subject matter appears as if it were reflected in a mirror and as if it were an a priori construction. Marx has never in any of his previous writings indicated interest in the reflection theory of knowledge. This cognitive approach, which is dear to Engels and many observers influenced by him, including Lenin, is simply inconsistent with a dialectical approach. Lest one think that in the meantime Marx has for whatever reason become committed to any version of the reflection theory of knowledge, or even become a Marxist, it is important to point out that here he is not considering the reflection of a mind-­independent real object in consciousness as it is in practice, nor an a priori form of Kantian constructivism, but rather its analysis as a theoretically limiting case on the level of mind. Each of these assumptions is suspect. Depending on how the term is understood, “dialectic” functions widely in Indian thought as well as in Western philosophy. The dictionary informs us that “dialectic,” which comes originally from the Greek words for conversation or to converse, is related to dialogue, from Middle English: from Old French dialoge; via Latin from Greek dialogos; from dialegesthai, “converse with”; and from dia, “through,” + legein, “speak.” The many different views of dialectic in ancient thought137 include ontological claims about what is as well as epistemological claims about how to know what is. In the former case, we find pre-­Socratic cosmological claims about the nature of the universe. According to Hegel, unlike the Ionians or the Pythagoreans, the Eleatics are dialectical thinkers. In ancient Greece Zeno was regarded as the discoverer of dialectic. Hegel was attracted to Heraclitus’s conviction that everything is in constant change as the result of strife and opposition. He remarks that Heraclitus grasps the absolute as a dialectical process through discussion between two or more interlocutors. It is widely known that Socrates was concerned with 121

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discovering truth through dialectical reasoning. Plato’s dialogues give written form to Socratic discussions in which Plato’s teacher is depicted as employing elenchus, or the Socratic method of eliciting truth by a series of questions and answers, typically in striving through discussion to identify ethical universals. The Sophists, on the contrary, often employed Socratic-­like reasoning to discredit received views in an early version of what for Kant is no more than a mere logic of illusion (Schein). Dialectic is crucial for German idealism, including the views of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. Alone among the great post-Kantian idealists, Schelling is not a dialectical thinker. Kant, who thinks that knowledge must begin in experience, restricts it to the limits of experience. In the Critique of Pure Reason, “dialectic” designates the misuse of transcendental principles beyond the limits of possible experience as concerns the soul (paralogisms of pure reason), the world (the antinomies of pure reason) and God (speculative theology). In the passage on transcendental dialectic in the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant studies the “critique of dialectical illusion.”138 Hegel, who rarely says anything positive about Kant, specifically praises the latter’s view that dialectic is not arbitrary, but “a necessary operation of reason.”139 According to Hegel, we owe to Kant “the objectivity of reflective shine” since cognition is a process of trial and error in which objective claims to know are advanced and evaluated, as well as “the necessity of the contradiction”140 through which transition occurs from one candidate of knowledge to its successor. Hegel’s conception of dialectic is often mentioned but not well understood. Perhaps foremost among the many misunderstandings about Hegelian dialectic is the familiar but misleading triple distinction between thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.141 Hegel uses this distinction, which best fits Fichte’s conception of the principles of the Wissenschaft­ slehre, in speaking about Kant only. This triple distinction, which H. M. Chalybäus later applied to criticize Hegel’s position, suggests a mechanical conception of dialectic entirely foreign to Hegel’s view.142 In his remarks on Hegel Marx is mainly, perhaps always, thinking of an ontological form of dialectic. If Marx has Hegel’s dialectical method in mind, then he is arguably mistaken. It is doubtful on Hegelian grounds that there is such a method. Kant, who thinks all knowledge begins in experience, claims to identify the a priori conditions of experience and knowledge in general. Hegel rejects both the Kantian a priori approach to cognition and the basic distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori. He denies that the conditions of knowledge can be isolated from the cognitive process. He further has no dialectical method in a Kantian or indeed in any usual meaning of the term “method.” 122

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Marx thinks dialectic grasps inner connections. He presumably has in mind the organization of social relations, which evolves in the social context. Hegel makes a very different claim. In the introduction to The Phenomenology of Spirit, he describes an empirical approach to knowledge as an ongoing cognitive process. It has already been noted that in Hegel’s sibylline language a satisfactory cognitive account requires an identity between subject and object, knower and known. The process begins in conscious experience, for which the subject formulates a concept or theory, which is tested in further experience. An acceptable account can be understood as a theory or concept, in which subject and object, or cognition and object of cognition, agree, coincide, correspond, or, to use Hegelian’s term, turn out to be “identical.” Hegel never claims the subject grasps anything more than what is given in what he calls the experience of consciousness; hence he never claims cognition of the mind-­independent world as it is. Hegelian cognition is limited to empirical reality, in short to what is given within conscious experience. If Marx is claiming to grasp the inner connection, the cognitive warp and woof, so to speak, of the social world as it is given in experience, then he is certainly a Hegelian. If, on the contrary, he is claiming to grasp what really is, as opposed, for instance, to bourgeois fantasies, as is often suggested, then he is making precisely the kind of cognitive claim that Hegel thinks is impossible and hence excludes. As concerns cognition Hegel distinguishes between representational and conceptual claims based on the formulation of a cognitive thesis about the cognitive object. Marx, very much like Hegel, is not making an ordinary strong or metaphysical realist claim to know. Cognitive claims are often asserted through naïve or direct realism, which has few adherents at present, or through representationalism, which remains popular. Though representationalism, the main modern approach to cognition, is currently more popular than direct realism, neither is satisfactory. Direct realism is widely regarded as problematic. There seems, for instance, to be no effective way to respond to problems of illusion, such as the objections about an evil demon Descartes famously raises against his own approach. Hegel is also not advancing a representationalist thesis. A representational approach to cognition presupposes a triple distinction between subject, object, and its representation through which the subject knows the world as it is. We do not understand the nature of representation. In a precritical text, “The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God” (1763), Kant suggests that “the word ‘representation’ is understood with sufficient precision and employed 123

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with confidence, even though its meaning can never be analyzed by means of definition.”143 It is then interesting that Kant, who is still often interpreted as a representationalist, explicitly denies during the critical period that representation can even be defined.144 Further, a causal theory of representation requires a backward inference from the idea in the mind to the world. Yet no argument has ever been devised to show that the former matches up with, grasps, or otherwise cognizes the latter.145 In place of either direct realism or cognitive representationalism, Marx relies on constructivism, in this case the tracing out of the inner connections or an adequate description of “the actual movement.” One could object that more than one analysis of the social context is possible. Marx can answer that the view that most closely describes the actual movement of the social context is the one that most closely follows what actually happens through the activity of finite men and women. Marx’s revised version of Hegelian dialectic is, like Hegelian dialectic, not static but dynamic. Hegel, who is concerned with the problem of knowledge after Kant, offers a dialectical approach to cognition, which takes into account, but is not dependent on, modern industrial society. Marx, who is interested in a different set of questions, focuses on a dialectical approach to the eventual transformation of capitalism into communism. According to Hegel, we gradually rise to the scientific level of cognition in proceeding through a series of different forms and levels of consciousness, culminating in absolute knowing. The motor of the dialectical process is determinate negation in the context of the ongoing effort to grasp what is given in experience. This effort continually drives itself forward in formulating, evaluating, and if necessary, rejecting successive candidates for knowledge. Determinate negation is not the skeptical negation of the cognitive process in general. It is rather the manner in which specific cognitive claims are advanced, examined, and then rejected in an ongoing progression toward an acceptable theory. Determinate negation functions within a cognitive process that, through abstraction, surpasses the fixed determinacy of the understanding.146 According to Hegel, the so-­called dialectical moment is the “self-­sublation of . . . finite determinations . . . and their passing into their opposites.”147 Hegel underscores the objective nature of the ongoing cognitive process. He describes its dialectical progression as “the moving soul of scientific progression” and as “the principle through which alone immanent coherence and necessity enter into the content of science.”148 Kant, a nondialectical thinker, believes that Newtonian mechanics not only builds upon but also presupposes Copernican astronomy as its indispensable precondition. Hegel, who is 124

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a dialectical thinker, holds that successive stages in the cognitive process build on, hence presuppose, their predecessors. Dialectical necessity denies arbitrariness or mere contingency in asserting an intrinsic relation between the cognitive stages leading on to truth. Hegelian dialectic is both positive and negative. It is negative in that it tears down and destroys, for instance in negating a specific claim to know. But it is positive in that it leads toward a further cognitive claim, or a further instance of “determinate content”149 on the dialectical road to truth. In the dialectical process where nothing is gratuitous, false appearance (Schein) is necessary for truth (Erscheinung) to emerge since, as Marx acknowledges, the negative leads on to the positive. According to Marx capital creates the conditions of its own negation, in other words the basis of the new society that will supersede it. It is only later, after he worked out his alternative conception of modern industrial society, that he realizes, as the Bolsheviks, including Lenin, did not realize, or did not sufficiently realize, that this in turn requires as a precondition the production of what Marx calls material wealth. Hegel particularly stresses the importance of negativity for dialectic. According to Marx, “The outstanding achievement of Hegel’s Phenomenol­ ogy and of its final outcome, the dialectic of negativity as the moving and generating principle, is thus first that Hegel conceives the self-­creation of man as a process, conceives objectification as loss of the object, as alienation and as transcendence of this alienation; that he thus grasps the essence of labor and comprehends objective man—­true, because real man—­as the outcome of man’s own labor.”150 According to Marx, capital creates the conditions of its own negation, in other words the basis of the new society that will supersede it. Marx later amplifies this idea when in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy he goes on to argue that at a certain stage capitalism reaches its intrinsic developmental limits, hence supersedes itself in the emergence of a new social stage that, as he later points out, has an economic prerequisite, or the production of what Marx calls material wealth.

Excursus on the Reflection Theory of Knowledge The third point addresses the infamous reflection theory of knowledge, a staple of Marxism, but which, as noted above, is simply unrelated to Marx’s position. According to the dictionary, the term “reflection,” which is used in many different ways, has two core meanings: to think deeply or carefully about, for instance to meditate on; and to be thrown back, so 125

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to speak, as when a beam of light is thrown back. In a cognitive context, the term is mainly used in the second sense to suggest that the knower cognizes what is through direct sensory intuition of the real. Stated in this way, reflection theory is clearly related to epistemic representationalism, since reflection is the limiting case of representation, which goes beyond even the most exact imitation. An instance might be a polished surface, which sends back, casts back, or reflects its precise image. Marx never directly discusses an approach to knowledge as a reflection of the real. But after he died, a link to this view was established by Engels and confirmed by Lenin and a number of subsequent Marxists.151 Engels is aware that Hegel is a dialectical thinker, but he is unclear about what this might entail. In his study of Feuerbach, he describes “dialectical philosophy,” in establishing a spurious link to the reflection theory of knowledge, as “nothing more than the mere reflection of this [natural] process in the thinking brain.”152 This description suggests a quasi-­Spinozistic conception of knowledge based on a supposed parallel between a mind-­ independent historical process and the knowing mind through which the latter “reflects” the former. In Engels’s opinion, dialectical philosophy differs from religion, which offers “only a fantastic mirror image of reality . . . the fantastic mirror images of human qualities” in providing a true or veridical reflection.153 Engels’s exact understanding of “reflection” is unclear. It is unclear if Engels is contending that, as Lukács later argues, a distorted social context, distorted from the Marxian perspective by the institution of private property that looms so large in modern industrial capitalism, in turn distorts efforts to grasp it correctly. In that case the context itself, or society, is understood not as an object but rather as a subject, which tends not to reveal but rather to conceal itself. A second possibility is that for whatever reason the subject is content with an abstract approach that, in turning away from a concrete historical grasp of the situation, leads to its misapprehension. In the latter case, the individual but not society would be at fault. Engels restates and refines the reflection theory in later writings. But it is absent in the Dialectics of Nature, where, as a supposedly privileged source of knowledge, it could be expected to play an important role. Eng­ els, like Hegel, thinks natural processes are dialectical. In Anti-­Dühring, a diatribe directed against a contemporary, Eugen Dühring, a philosopher, economist, and critic of Marxist socialism, he develops an analysis of false reflection. In adopting a positivist approach, he opposes religion to science as two conceptual extremes. Engels’s difficulty in understanding Kant is well known. He thinks Dühring’s analytical approach to knowl126

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edge is an ideological form of the a priori method. From this perspective, Kant would clearly be a prime offender. Engels, who is committed to naïve empiricism, argues that in the first step in the a priori method “the concept of the object is formed from the object” and in the second step “the object is then made to conform to the concept, not the concept to the object.”154 According to Engels, “the philosophy of reality” is “pure ideology,” which engages in “the deduction of reality not from itself but from a concept.”155 Kant rejects metaphysical realism in favor of empirical realism. Engels overlooks the distinction between metaphysical realism and empirical realism in equating empirical realism with reality. This latter commitment calls for two comments. First, what Engels describes here sounds more like Plato than Kant. We cannot now determine Plato’s position, if he had one in a modern sense. But he is often thought to be committed to the notorious theory of forms or ideas central to Platonism. Kant, who famously accuses Fichte of deducing objects from concepts, should not be read as deducing reality from an image of it, mental or otherwise. He should rather be read as identifying the supposedly necessary conditions of objects of experience and knowledge. Since he denies we can know noumena, Kant rejects cognitive claims about reality, including, for instance, its supposed deduction from an image. Engels’s form of the reflection view of knowledge is influenced by Francis Bacon. The latter believes that the so-­called idols of the tribe are a kind of logical fallacy rooted in human nature.156 He cites as an example the Protagorean view that man is the measure.157 Engels, on the contrary, who does not believe that our cognitive mistakes are rooted in human nature, thinks they are due to the organization of the means of production, which provides a distorted, or ideological, image of the tendencies of the historical moment. The image is “distorted” because “it has been torn from its real basis.”158 An ideological image, which is abstract, not concrete, is “like a reflection in a concave mirror . . . standing on its head.”159 This view can be read as a quasi-­Baconian claim about a mind-­independent world that, if we can successfully avoid the idols of the tribe, we can know through direct sense perception, and that is correctly reflected by the subject on the conscious level. Engels further adds a conception of error, which only arises for one of two reasons: either the subject fails to grasp the natural process in sufficiently concrete form or the process itself in some unknown way leads the subject astray. In any case, to know is to know the concrete historical context and ideology that, as The German Ideology claims and, as Engels believes, wrongly depicts the surrounding context. Engels thinks, 127

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as stated in the latter text, that an approach that abstracts from the real basis, leads to a result, which is inverted, as in a camera obscura. “Consciousness [das Bewußtsein] can never be anything else than conscious being [das bewusste Sein], and the existence of men is their actual life-­ process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-­ down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-­process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-­process.”160 Engels’s contrast between religion and science reflects the form of positivism, mentioned above, that was widespread in the second half of the nineteenth century. Positivism is often understood as some form of the claim that only scientific knowledge is valid and verifiable. This view was developed in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by Henri de Saint-­Simon, Pierre-­Simon Laplace, Comte, and others and in the twentieth century in a different but related way by thinkers associated with the Vienna Circle, including Rudolf Carnap, Otto Neurath, Moritz Schlick, and others. Engels’s conception of religion restates without significant alteration remarks about Feuerbach in various publications. He conflates Feuerbach, who believes that religion is a human project, with Strauss, who suggests that the miracles described in the Gospels are only mythological. Engels, who thinks religion provides no more than a fantastic, hence false, reflection of the world it describes in supernatural terms, adopts without argument the view that nature demonstrates dialectic. He depicts dialectic in anti-­Hegelian fashion as providing knowledge of the mind-­independent world as it is. According to Engels, “An exact representation of the universe, of its evolution, of the development of mankind, and of the reflection of this evolution in the minds of men, can therefore only be obtained by the methods of dialectic with its constant regard to the innumerable actions and reactions of life and death, of progressive or retrogressive changes.”161 It is unclear what an exact representation of the world might be and how dialectic enables us to arrive at it. Is, for instance, a model of the solar system with eight planets exact but one with only seven planets inexact? To the best of my knowledge, with the apparent exception of Engels, no one understands dialectic as leading to an exact representation of the world, or the world as it is. Hegel, for instance, takes dialectic as leading to knowledge of what is only given in consciousness, hence as excluding any cognitive claim about the mind-­independent world. Lenin, whose philosophical baggage was always slight, was certainly more interested in violent revolution than in tranquil philosophical ar128

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gument. Since his political weight in the evolution of Marx was enormous, his ideas were often adopted, especially during the Soviet period, as Soviet holy writ. They have since been repeated in various formulations by a long succession of Marxist-­Leninists more often concerned with political orthodoxy than philosophical correctness. Lenin, who was familiar with a number of Engels’s writings, took Engels as the paramount Marxist philosopher, though the latter was, as he himself said in a letter to Arnold Ruge, self-­taught and not knowledgeable in this domain.162 Though Lenin venerated Marx, with the exception of the three volumes of Capital, he was mainly acquainted with the latter’s views through their restatement in classical Marxism. It is then significant that in Materialism and Empiriocriticism (1909), his most important foray into philosophy, he cites Engels several hundred times but quotes Marx only once. Lenin’s book should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the original source of a number of Marxist myths, beginning with the claim, on the first page of the preface to the first edition of Materialism and Empiriocriticism, that “Marx and Engels scores of times termed their philosophical views dialectical materialism.”163 This statement is not only obviously false but also could not possibly be true. There is no passage, and Lenin cites none, where either Marx or Engels refers to their supposedly shared philosophical views as “dialectical materialism.” Engels could have but did not make a reference of this kind, but Marx could not have, since he passed away before the term was even coined. It is known that “dialectical materialism” was used for the first time by Joseph Dietzgen in 1887, hence only after Marx died. Neither Marx nor Engels ever employs this term. It was apparently later introduced into Russian philosophy by Plekhanov, for instance in the Development of the Monist View of History (1895), published the year of Engels’s death. The fact that neither Marx nor Engels ever used this term did not impede Stalin from later supposedly composing, in circumstances that require no description, his influential study “Dialectical and Historical Materialism.” In this text, he describes these two modes of investigation as together comprising the Marxist-­Leninist worldview. Lenin’s opus Materialism and Empiriocriticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy is not intended as a philosophical treatise in the ordinary sense in which a learned colleague seeks to convince other learned colleagues. It is rather intended as a polemical response to the Russian philosopher Aleksandr Bogdanov’s Empiriomonism (3 vols., 1904–­ 1906). This study brought together Marxism as well as the views of Ernst Mach, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Richard Avenarius.164 Lenin violently rejects empiriomonism in his study with the aim of convincing Russian 129

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revolutionary Marxists of all stripes. The subtitle provides a useful hint into the character of Lenin’s text. In response to Bogdanov, Lenin formulates a view of materialism based on Engels’s reflection theory of knowledge. Lenin, who accepts a form of the reflection theory of knowledge, thinks that sensation mechanically reflects, or, again, mirrors objects in the form of sensory images. Lenin, who never directly argues for this view, argues against those who supposedly misinterpret Marxism. He apparently relies on Lyubov Akselrod to support the claim that our perceptions correspond to or, again, reflect the world. Lenin advances two main arguments: first, it is only possible to distinguish true from false perceptions if there is a distinction between our perceptions and what they perceive; and, second, everyone knows that there are things outside our heads.165 Neither argument is persuasive or original. Both have often been rehearsed in different ways. Both are open to simple objections. Lenin is not supposing that in all cases our perceptions have an empirical constraint but rather that we can and do in fact know the world as it is through sensory perception. Yet it does not follow, if we suppose there is a distinction between our perceptions and what we perceive, that our perceptions correctly reflect the world or that we perceive it as it is. Correct perception, which is an epistemological claim, is not the same as the ontological distinction between the perception and the perceived. Further, we do not know but at most only think we know that there are things outside us. Though we obviously must continue to rely on the assumption there is a mind-­external world, which is the basis of natural science, it simply cannot be demonstrated. In Materialism and Empiriocriticism, Lenin argues that “it is the secret of idealist philosophy which is afraid to recognize man’s perceptive faculty as a simple reflection of nature.”166 Later Soviet writers were obviously constrained in what they said by the difficult conditions in which they worked. They often held that cognitive reflection is the result of dialectical reasoning in rejecting Lenin’s efforts to ground sensation in naïve realism. For instance, Ewald Ilyenkov, who presupposes the notorious theory of reflection, thinks logic is scientific if it reflects, hence reproduces in the form of concepts, a mind-­independent external object.167 He illustrates this approach in claiming that the economic categories of Capital “reflect” mind-­independent economic reality objectively and independently of their theoretical interpretation. Yet, as already noted, no argument has ever been devised to show that we in fact directly intuit, reflect, or otherwise grasp reality as it is. It has also never been shown how to “reflect” the mind-­independent world on the level of mind. And, finally, following Hegel, Marx denies immediate em130

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pirical claims in relying on categorical reconstruction. Hence at least on this point Marxism is incompatible with Marx. In summary, if Marx has Hegel in mind, then, since for Hegel form and content are inseparable, there is no dialectical method. It remains to address two related questions: First, in applying the so-­called dialectical method, does the subject matter appear as if it were reflected in a mirror, as proponents of the reflection theory of knowledge claim, or, on the contrary, as Marx suggests, as if it were an a priori construction? Second, does Marx rely on any version of the reflection theory of knowledge, hence rely on a key item in the Marxist cognitive arsenal? There are at least two reasons to deny that Marx relies on any form of the reflection theory of knowledge. First, he distinguishes between the inner connections of the cognitive object and its supposed reflection as in a mirror. Yet, since there is no mirror, nothing is reflected in it. Marx also does not think cognition depends on reflection. He differs in this respect from Engels, from Marxism in general, and from all those committed to cognition through reflection. Second, if there is no dialectical method, the subject matter would not appear as if it were reflected in a mirror or as if it were an a priori construction. Engels relies on reflection. Yet nothing in his writings shows he has in fact achieved this epistemic goal. Marx does not rely on a reflection of the cognitive object but rather, as he explicitly claims, on a concrete grasp of its internal connections. What this means in practice can be grasped by going a little further in the text to consider his understanding of dialectic. Marx undertakes to justify his claims in the four paragraphs comprising the remainder of the afterword. They begin with the sentence “My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite.”168 It has been argued that Hegel does not have a dialectical method. Marx, who mistakenly thinks there is a Hegelian dialectical method, im­mediately characterizes it in order to specify his own approach. Marx writes: “To Hegel, the life process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of ‘the Idea,’ he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external phenomenal form of ‘the Idea.’ With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.”169 Marx’s comment is abstract, hence difficult to evaluate. The situation is further obscured by a faulty translation. In reversing Hegel’s view, Marx accuses him of proceeding from the idea, which, as the putative demiurge, creates reality. Following his predecessors Kant and Hegel, Marx uses two related but different terms: idea and ideal. On Marx’s account, 131

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the ideal is only the transposed (umsetzte) and translated material (Mate­ rielle). The translation, which is inexact here, attributes, in following orthodox Marxism, a reflection theory of knowledge to Marx on the basis of very obviously misreading “umsetzen,” that is, “an eine andere Stelle setzen” (or roughly “to move from one place to another”) as “to reflect.” “Demiurge,” which derives from the Greek noun meaning “craftsman” or “artisan,” later came to mean “producer” or “creator.” The term occurs in the Republic. Yet it is sometimes said to be introduced into philosophy only later in Plato’s Timaeus, which describes the demiurge as the creator of the universe. Among the German idealists, Schelling was especially interested in this dialogue. Marx, who attended a classical high school and knew Greek well, was presumably also aware that Plato uses the Greek term demiurgos in the famous passage in book 10 of the Republic, where he describes the craftsman (demiurge), who relies on an idea, or form, in making a bed. There is an obvious distinction between the craftsman, who relies on an idea to make an object, and the Platonic demiurge, who relies on knowledge of the forms in transforming pure matter into the visible world. Marx attributes a quasi-­Platonic position to Hegel. He apparently thinks that Hegel, like Plato, holds that ideas or even “the Idea” are independent subjects, a kind of demiurge of the real world, which is, in turn, only its external, phenomenal form. A different version of Marx’s complaint resurfaces in Engels’s suggestion that philosophy, which is circular, returns to “the beginning,” which “is possible only in one way. Namely, by conceiving of the end of history as follows: mankind arrives at the cognition of the selfsame absolute idea, and declares that this cognition of the absolute idea is reached in Hegelian philosophy.”170 According to Engels, who distinguishes between Hegel’s accomplishment and his supposed method, “The whole dogmatic content of the Hegelian system is declared to be absolute.”171 He is presumably referring to the supposed Hegelian view that is often asserted but has no basis in the texts that Hegel thinks philosophy comes to a peak and an end in his position. Since he thinks philosophy comes only after the fact, Hegel could not make this or a similar claim. Engels, like many observers, refers without qualification to the Hegelian system. Hegel is obviously a systematic thinker, one of the most systematic in the entire tradition. Yet, like Aristotle, for instance, another highly systematic thinker, it is unclear that there is anything so grand as a Hegelian system. The main candidate for the Hegelian system would be the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sci­ ences, which Hegel, who apparently denies that he possesses a system,

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describes in a letter as no more than “a collection of propositions” (une suite de thèses).172

On Hegel’s Dialectical Theory of Cognition In the Paris Manuscripts, Marx praises the Hegelian conception of the dialectic of negativity while strongly criticizing other aspects of the Hegelian view. He credits his predecessor with a false positivism in substituting the absolute for the real historical subject. As a result, the subject becomes a fantastic object and the object a fantastic subject, and so on. These criticisms presuppose an erroneous view of the Hegelian cognitive approach. Hegel introduces circularity as early as the Differenzschrift (1801), his initial philosophical publication, in the context of his attack on Karl Leonhard Reinhold, at the time in his opinion the leading nonphilosopher. Reinhold, an early Kantian enthusiast, is also the first to restate Kant’s position in order to improve it. He reformulates the critical philosophy as a quasi-­Cartesian foundationalist system in following a model incompatible with both the letter and the spirit of Kant’s position. Hegel criticizes Reinhold in rejecting the latter’s form of quasi-­Cartesian epistemic foundationalism, Reinhold’s favored strategy, in favor of an alternative view of cognitive theory as self-­justifying through its intrinsic circularity. Hegel, who rejects epistemic foundationalism, thinks a cognitive theory cannot be justified at the beginning but is only progressively and never finally justified through an ongoing developmental process. Two comments are necessary here. First, this is not a claim for absolute knowledge, the apparent theme of the last chapter of the Phe­ nomenology, which is entitled “Absolute Knowing” (absolutes Wissen). It is rather a suggestion for the progressive self-­justification of cognition, which does not depend on one or more initial principles, but only on itself. “As objective totality knowledge founds itself more effectively the more it grows, and its parts are only founded simultaneously with this whole of cognitions.”173 Second, any particular claim is not true but false since, from a holistic perspective, in which the truth is the whole, truth is not constitutive but merely regulative. Hegel’s complex conception of the proper cognitive approach includes a distinction between subject and object as the terminus a quo, a theory of determinate negation as the motor of the conceptual process, and a view of identity as the terminus ad quem. The Hegelian approach to cognitive identity follows the Kantian approach to the ancient Parmenidean

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concern with the identity of thought and being, knower and known, subject and world. The German idealist view of the identity of identity and difference, which only becomes explicit at the time of Hegel, is already featured in the ancient Parmenidean identity of thought and being (to gar auto noein te kai einai).174 The philosophical claim to know is routinely understood as a claim to grasp not what one suspects, believes, or hopes is the case but rather what is in independence of any observer. Since the early tradition, philosophy has steadily examined different cognitive strategies for what is now often called metaphysical realism. The history of the philosophical debate on knowledge consists of a long, varied, ingenious series of efforts to demonstrate the claim to know the mind-­ independent world. Yet other views of knowledge, including those that restrict cognitive claims merely to phenomena, and which are featured throughout German idealism, give up any form of the ancient effort to know reality while maintaining different versions of the claim for the identity of identity and difference. Plato suggests a solution to the Parmenidean formulation of the problem of knowledge through intellectual intuition. In the Republic, Plato indicates that on grounds of nature and nurture, intellectual intuition is restricted to philosophers only, hence privileged. Few modern observers rely on intellectual intuition. The main solutions to the Parmenidean problem include epistemic skepticism, metaphysical realism, and epi­ stemic constructivism. It has already been noted that Kant rejects intellectual intuition in turning from a representational to a constructivist approach. According to Kant, either cognition takes the form of a fruitless effort to grasp reality. Or, following the Copernican turn, it must “construct” the cognitive object as a necessary condition. Though critical of Kant, Hegel follows the critical philosophy down the Copernican path in formulating a modified form of cognitive constructivism. In the Differenzschrift, Hegel accepts the speculative spirit of the critical philosophy while denying its letter. Kant believes that the history of philosophy is composed of dogmatic or merely asserted positions that he rejects for failing to demonstrate their claims. He proposes the critical philosophy as supposedly the first and indeed last philosophical position. Since the critical philosophy demonstrates its claims, it brings the tradition to a close. In his “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Ele­ ments of the Philosophy of Right: Introduction,” Marx perhaps has Kant in mind in famously claiming that philosophy can be realized and abolished by abolishing the proletariat: “Philosophy cannot be made a real-

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ity without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.”175 Hegel regards Kant as a mere dogmatic thinker, who lays claim to but fails to deduce the categories, which are only finally deduced by Fichte. According to Hegel, “The principle of speculation is the identity of subject and object.”176 In the introduction to The Phenomenology of Spirit, he criticizes Kant while sketching a phenomenological alternative to a representational or causal theory of perception. Like Fichte, Hegel turns away from the thing in itself. He follows Fichte in wholly abandoning the ancient effort, which persists in the critical philosophy, to cognize mind-­independent reality. Hegel favors an experimental conception of cognition as arising within a social and historical space. He limits cognitive claims to the experience of consciousness, or phenomena, roughly, as Fichte says, to what is directly given to us when we open our eyes. He explains cognition through the construction of what we know within an ongoing dialectical process. The Phenomenology of Spirit describes cognition as an intrinsically historical process without preconditions but, unlike the Cartesian position, without an external foundation, or so-­called Archimedean point, which Reinhold reformulates as the principle of representation (Vorstel­ lungsvermögen). In the introduction to The Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel describes the cognitive process as the construction of a subject/object identity within a historical process. Truth is a limit term, or mere idea, in a word, regulative but not constitutive. It is, as Hilary Putnam says, a “Grenzbegriff,”177 which would only be reached if subject and object, knower and known, freedom and necessity coincided. Hence at the limit Hegel treats so-­called epistemological closure, or successful fulfillment of the cognitive process, not as merely regulative, but as constitutive. Hegel’s theory of knowledge presupposes a double distinction between subject and object. In the process of knowledge, the subject distinguishes itself from something within consciousness, to which it relates itself, and which it strives to cognize. The subject further distinguishes between what is for it, hence given in consciousness, and what, as independent of the subject, would, if it were grasped, constitute truth.178 We do not evaluate claims to know absolutely, abstractly, theoretically, or a priori. We rather evaluate claims to know practically in comparing them to what is not potentially or in theory but in fact given in (ordinary) conscious experience. Hegel is often supposed to ignore “experience.” He rather takes experience seriously, since he thinks cognition emerges only through experience in the form of a trial-­and-­error process within consciousness.

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The Hegelian criterion of knowledge is identity in difference. Like Kant, Hegel rejects metaphysical realism for empirical realism in further turning away from a direct grasp of the mind-­independent object in favor of concepts. Concepts are theories formulated to grasp what is given in conscious experience. The relation between concepts, or theories about the contents of experience, and experience is circular. Concepts, which are formulated on the basis of experience, on which they depend, and which they are intended to explain, influence the perception of the object, which in turn depends on the theory about it. In other words, the cognitive object is not independent of, but rather dependent on, the conceptual framework. According to Hegel, when we alter a theory in order to improve it, then the cognitive object, or what one seeks to know, also changes.179 Hegel differs on this very important point from those who think that the world is fixed and does not change, and only our theories about it can and do change.180 Thinkers committed to any form of the view that reality is fixed and does not change deny constructivism. Since they believe the cognitive object is already constituted, they are often committed either to representationalism or direct realism.181 Hegel, on the contrary, thinks that we do not and cannot know reality. We know only that a theory is better or worse than alternative theories in grasping a cognitive object that changes as the theory about it changes. The result is not, as, for instance, Quentin Meillasoux suggests, a correlation.182 Such a result would imply that one knew both the representation and the reality to which it is correlated, hence knew what, according to Kant and, following him, Hegel, one cannot know. In distantly following Kantian constructivism, Hegel thinks that the cognitive object is literally “constructed” in the process of knowing. More generally, what we know is never independent of, but rather always depends on, the frame of reference, or conceptual framework. In his view of cognition, Hegel rejects empiricism in favor of experience. Theories, in Hegel’s view, arise in response to experience and are in turn tested through further experience. There are only two possible outcomes: a theory formulated on the basis of experience either agrees with or fails the test of further experience, hence must be reformulated. A series of experiences generates successive theories on the epistemological road whose terminus ad quem is truth identified by the criterion of identity in difference. In holding that theories that in practice fail the test of experience must be modified, Hegel at least distantly follows anyone who takes an a posteriori approach to knowledge. Hegel describes his phenomenological approach to cognition in the introduction to The Phenomenology of Spirit. He presupposes this approach in his description of successive levels of knowledge leading to philosophi136

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cal cognition, or absolute knowing (absolutes Wissen). He restricts cognitive claims to the contents of consciousness understood as mere phenomena, hence as neither appearances nor representations. Kant apparently understands appearances not as representations but as referring beyond themselves to mind-­independent reality. Hegel, who thinks phenomena do not refer beyond themselves to reality, eschews dualism. He grasps cognitive objects not outside of but rather within consciousness. At the dawn of the modern era, Montaigne and Descartes draw attention in different ways to subjectivity as the only path to objectivity. Hegel follows Fichte in grasping objectivity from the perspective of the subject, or first-­person perspective, through a distinction between subject and object, not outside of but rather within consciousness.183 The Kantian a priori approach, which is by definition insulated from any dependence on, hence refutation through, experience, is not fallibilist, but, to coin a neologism, in principle “infallibilist” as the source of supposedly infallible cognition. The explicitly fallibilist Hegelian a posteriori approach replaces (simple) “constatation” (from French constater) in the course of a cognitive process. In this process theories formulated on the basis of experience are tested, hence validated (or confirmed) or invalidated (or disconfirmed) in a confrontation with further experience. Hegel limits himself to describing everyday cognitive practice. Cognition arises within a conceptual process of conscious experience in which we do not and cannot cognize the mind-­independent world. In constructing phenomena, we literally “construct” our world. This point is not well understood. Sellars includes Hegel among those committed to what he calls “givenness,” his general term for empiricism.184 Since for Hegel cognitive objects depend on theories, arguably nothing in Hegel corresponds to Sellars’s view of givenness. On the contrary, the cognitive object for Hegel is never a mere given but always depends on theories about the world in which it is “embedded,” so to speak. Claims to know are adjudicated through simple comparison within consciousness between the concept of the object and the object of the concept.185 From the Hegelian perspective, talk about truth does not concern a mind-­independent external object. It rather concerns phenomena given in consciousness, which function as the standard in terms of which to construct theories about the contents of consciousness.186 Hegel’s conception of phenomena is paradoxical. Phenomena have a dual status both inside and outside consciousness. Within consciousness, they depend on the construction of conceptual schemes, or theories, to cognize conscious experience. Though Hegel supposedly ignores experience, McDowell correctly points out that Hegel always retains an external 137

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constraint.187 Everyone is familiar with theories that, when confronted with experience, fail the test and must be reformulated. In the latter sense, what we seek to know acts as an external, empirical standard for theories about it. Sometimes a theory is provisionally adopted before more stringent tests are devised, leading to its later rejection. This suggests that knowledge and truth correspond, or coincide, since our view of what is the case in fact correctly identifies the character of future experience. Though this need not ever occur, if it happened the cognitive process would reach its end, or epistemological closure. A theory needs to be reformulated if there is a difference between what the theory suggests and experience. Empiricists of all kinds insist on respecting the verdict of experience. Kant, who rejects empiricism, formulates an a priori theory of knowledge, which is by definition prior to and independent of experience. Hegel thinks that objects depend on theories about them and that when we alter a theory the object changes. He in effect denies there is a single way the mind-­independent world is. He believes like Fichte that what we mean by “world” depends on the theory about it. In other words, a new cognitive object, or new phenomenon, is literally “constructed” as a result of the change in the theory.188 Marx accuses Hegel of inverting idea and world, subject and object, knower and known. It is incorrect to say that Hegel transforms a mere idea into the real subject but correct to say that he regards experience of the cognitive object as necessarily preceding the idea, concept, or theory about it. Plato’s notorious theory of forms suggests that ideas, or concepts of reason, are the ultimate reality. Since knowledge is restricted to philosophers, others, such as artists and poets, do not and cannot know. According to Plato, transcendent ideas situated in mind-­independent reality cause things, which “participate” in them and are their effects. But since neither cognitive imitation (from Greek mimesis) nor cognitive representation is possible, cognitive inference is impossible either from appearances to reality or, in another formulation, from effects to causes. Knowledge of reality, or the real, and, since knowledge requires a cognitive grasp of reality, knowledge in all its forms, is possible only through directly “seeing” the mind-­independent real. Kant distinguishes between ideas, which, like Plato, he comprehends as rational concepts, and ideals, or more precisely “the representation of an individual being as adequate to an idea.”189 He follows Plato in denying cognitive imitation as well as aesthetic knowledge. Plato denies, but Kant accepts, noncognitive imitation. According to Plato, since imita138

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tion depends on cognition, we do not and cannot do more than merely imitate what we cannot know. For Plato and Kant, art objects instantiate ideas. For Hegel, they instantiate ideas and ideals as well, through which they can be judged. Hegel believes ideas inform and are realized in works of art, as distinguished from ideals, which designate the limiting case of artistic beauty and general success. According to Hegel, Chinese, Indian, and Egyptian art suffer from a defectiveness of “form” due to the “defectiveness of content” beyond particular artistic skill.190 A technically perfect work of art may still, from Hegel’s point of view, fall short, by virtue of its content, of reaching the artistic ideal, which in his opinion is in principle attained only in art forms relative to the Christian religion. The highest form of art gives the correct shape to the idea, the true or genuine content it expresses. In and through art God is completely known as spirit in one of two forms. Either it is abstract or, as Hegel claims, since the idea is self-­realizing, it is self-­manifesting. When, at the highest level, the idea successfully manifests itself in concrete form, then the art object is said to be true. That means that it exhibits the complete correspondence of the idea and the thing that Hegel calls the ideal. “Thus the truly concrete Idea alone produces its true configuration, and this correspondence of the two is the Ideal.”191 Hegel has in mind concrete particularity, which also exhibits individuality in the highest degree. Though he may be thinking in the final analysis of Jesus, he does not hesitate with respect to Homer and Shakespeare, for instance in his description of Achilles among other Homeric characters as a paradigm of the many-­sided individual: “Of Achilles we may say: here is a man; the many-­sidedness of noble human nature develops its whole richness in this one individual.”192 Hegel considers art from a teleological perspective as realized in human history. Art has a beginning, then a period in which it matures, and finally an end. It evolves through history in a series of particular stages and forms on the way to the full realization of its idea as the aesthetic ideal. Art concerns the unification of content with an adequate shape in a free totality. Marx’s assertion that “the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought”193 is presumably based on the indemonstrable assumption that we successfully cognize the mind-­independent world as it is.

Marx on Hegelian Dialectic Marx goes on to specify his relation to Hegelian dialectic, which he says he criticized thirty years earlier as he was working on the first volume 139

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of Capital. Since the afterword to the second edition is dated 1873, he is presumably thinking of his initial articles on Hegel in the early 1840s. His indication that at this early moment he was already embarked on what later became Capital suggests continuity in the evolution of his theories. This point in turn counts against any claim for a supposed break between, say, the early, supposedly immature and the later mature Marx. According to Marx, there is a double mystification about dialectic, which Hegel and his followers misunderstand. The mystification concerns Hegel’s depiction of dialectic, which supposedly hides its rational kernel or core (den rationellen Kern) in what is by implication not rational or even irrational, as well as the equally mistaken way in which the public understands it. In suggesting that, despite its defects, Hegelian dialectic has a rational core, Marx implies it is like an onion from which the external layers can be peeled away to disclose a hidden but valuable core. Here the translation is not helpful. The rendering of “ihre allgemeinen Bewegungsformen” as “its general form of working” suggests there is something like a blueprint, method, or set way to go about things. This rendering fails to capture the idea that there are different forms of movement, since everything is constantly in motion. This is probably what Hegel has in mind in famously claiming there is no principle in Heraclitus he has not taken up into his logic.194 The first mystification consists in a dissymmetry between the so-­ called mystical shell, with which Hegel supposedly outfits dialectic, and its “rational kernel.” The latter is its “general form of working” or, perhaps better, “its general form or forms of motion.” The usefulness of Hegelian dialectic when suitably corrected to disclose what Marx thinks is still alive in Hegel’s thought, and hence worth saving, lies in the latter’s dialectical approach to social phenomena. Hegel builds on what is still acceptable in prior positions. Similarly, Marx intends to right the Hegelian ship to uncover, discover, or set free an authentically Hegelian approach. His aim is not to discard but rather to transform Hegel’s own approach into something that still useful for concrete analysis. In this context, he makes the famous remark, which is perhaps more picturesque than precise, that in Hegel “dialectic” is “standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.”195 This comment certainly cannot be meant literally. If, for purposes of discussion, we assume that, as Engels and his followers think, Hegel is an idealist and Marx is a materialist; it is not meaningful to suggest that we can simply “turn over” or “invert” a form of idealism in order to reach materialism. “Turn right side up again” is the usual translation of the verb “umstülpen,” which, according to the 140

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dictionary, means “to turn” or “to turn around,” that is “from the inside to the outside” or “from above to below” (umdrehen, von innen nach aussen oder von oben nach unten drehen). This term suggests that the Hegelian theory is askew and needs to be righted, for instance, as one repositions, adjusts, or “rights” a picture hanging askew on the wall, in this case in transforming the theory in Hegel’s writings. Marx merely tells us he is attracted to a modified version of Hegel’s conception of dialectic, but not how he understands it. Thus, his interpretation of Hegelian dialectic as well as the precise view he holds both remain mysterious. Marx further points to a second mystification due to Hegel’s German followers and imitators. Marx, who states without argument that they are “mediocre,” could have in mind a variety of writers, who became attached to Hegelian dialectic, since “it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things.”196 In short, in Marx’s opinion Hegel’s followers are not interested in his dialectic for its philosophical insight but rather for political reasons. At least to some observers it seemed to support the political status quo. Marx hastens to point out that, in its revised, rational form, Hegelian dialectic is just the opposite. The translation, which says that the “rational form” of dialectic is a “scandal [Ärgernis],” is very free, since the German term refers only to “a source of anger.” Marx obviously believes those currently attracted to Hegel, which at this point no longer include the Young Hegelians, who were most important during the decade or so after Hegel’s death, misunderstand his theory. According to Marx, dialectic is not simply positive but both positive and negative. “It includes in its positive understanding of what is now [des Bestehenden] at the same time its necessary going under [des Untergangs], grasps every form, which has come about against the ongoing flux, as well in relation to its passage out of reality, which does not allow anything to impose [on it], [and] which is essentially critical and revolutionary.”197 Marx describes Hegel as a conceptual revolutionary, who criticizes the bourgeois emphasis on social stability. According to Marx, Hegelian dialectic points to the transitory nature of social phenomena that, like a plant, arise, flower, die, and then later decay. In the last paragraph of the afterword, Marx illustrates a dialectical grasp of then contemporary capitalism in appealing to the bourgeois understanding of periodic cycles, modern industry, and economic crisis. Marx writes: “The contradictions inherent in the movement of capitalist society impress themselves upon the practical bourgeois most strikingly in the changes of the periodic cycle, through which modern industry runs, and whose crowning point is the universal crisis. That crisis is once again approaching, although 141

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as yet but in its preliminary stage; and by the universality of its theatre and the intensity of its action it will drum dialectic even into the heads of the mushroom-­upstarts of the new, holy Prusso-­German empire.”198 This passage and many others like it implausibly suggest there is no distinction between the world and how it is perceived on the level of consciousness. If we apply the proper procedure, we can expect to uncover the real social situation as opposed to its mere appearance. We do not merely think of contemporary society against the background of periodic economic cycles leading inexorably to a final crisis. Through the proper method we in fact know this to be the case. At least in principle an economic crisis leading to the transformation of capitalism into communism is not merely probable but inevitable. Hegel and Marx have different aims in view. Hegel, who has an encyclopedic mind and span of concerns, is perhaps most interested in cognition after Kant. Marx is focused on the revolutionary transformation of capitalism into communism. He implies that, though Hegel’s view of dialectic is invalid, there is a valid central core, which can be adapted in a successor theory. Similar arguments are made in turn in different ways about Marx’s position by Jean-­Paul Sartre (who is criticized by Lukács) and by Jürgen Habermas. Marx’s view of dialectic is closer to Hegel’s than he acknowledges. According to standard accounts, Hegel thinks dialectic is a feature not only of concepts but also of real things and processes.199 Marx and Hegel both apply dialectic to cognition. At the risk of repetition, Marx can be read as claiming that concrete analysis of the social context provides an account of its real movement. As early as the Paris Manuscripts Marx takes seriously the Hegelian suggestion that his logical theories subtend the entire position. According to Marx, Hegel mistakenly transforms the idea that we abstract from the concrete context into the subject of social change. For instance, in the introduction to The Phenomenology of Spirit, in a passage on the comparison in consciousness between concept and object he notes that “all that is left for us to do is simply to look on.”200 Marx’s critical view of the Hegelian subject is widely shared. Hegel’s suggestion that the cognitive process works by itself, that is, without our interference, led Schelling and others to object that Hegel mistakenly turns ideas into causes. Kierkegaard apparently adopted this criticism when he and Engels audited Schelling’s course in Berlin in 1841. Schelling, Kierkegaard, and Engels all object in different ways to the view that concepts can be said to act. Schelling points out that if ideas are self-­developing, then God has no role.201 Kierkegaard parodies a version of Hegel’s view of logical movement.202 In implicitly pointing to a 142

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traditional approach to cognition, he seems to suggest that the real does not develop. Schelling, Kierkegaard, and Engels all anticipate Marx’s objection that Hegel incorrectly describes the cognitive process as an a priori construction. In his own way, each asserts that Hegel overlooks the material world, which must precede and not succeed the idea. This objection misrepresents Hegel’s understanding of the cognitive process. He denies that this process follows the self-­developing idea, or more precisely the contents of consciousness. Marx, as noted, denies that the subject matter is ideally reflected as in a mirror, as a mere a priori construction. He presupposes that we can reconstruct the mind-­independent world on the level of thought on the assumption that we are dealing with a basic dualism. Yet Hegel denies dualism in adopting a conceptual, hence nonrepresentational cognitive approach. Lurking in the background is a Spinozistic view of the relation of thought and being. Spinoza’s dualistic approach to cognition reappears in modified form in Schelling’s philosophy of nature as the supplement to transcendental philosophy. Hegel, who thinks that thought and being are united, denies any separation between logic and its content. Hegelian dialectical logic is not representational but conceptual. More precisely, it is the cognitive theory of the unity of thought and being, or two relata that can only be separated through abstraction. This suggests two remarks. First, such standard epistemic difficulties as how to defeat the possibility of illusion simply disappear. From this perspective, the cognitive object and its cognition are two sides of a deeper unity. Second, the justification of claims to know lies for Hegel as for Marx in the claim to identify the concrete development of the subject matter. Hegel denies any separation between the subjective and the objective, or between thought and being. He understands logic as “the science that has pure knowledge for its principle and is a unity which is not abstract but living and concrete, so that the opposition of consciousness between a being subjectivity existing for itself, and another but objectivity existing such being, has been overcome in it.”203 The difficulty in comprehending Hegel’s claim lies in the nearly instinctive commitment to a familiar view, which can be paraphrased as the folk story of the blind men and the elephant. This view returns in the complex assertion that there is a way the world is in independence of us; we know the world as it really is through cognitive “contact” with it; and cognitive contact from different perspectives leads to different views of the world, all of which are partially correct. According to this conception, the world is theory independent, and different theories cast light on the same world from different perspectives. 143

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Contemporary debate about internalism and externalism is a version of this bit of folklore. External realism illustrates what Russell, Putnam, and others call a God’s eye view, or the claim that, at the point of knowledge, our way of referring to the world correctly matches up with the world as it is. This familiar approach assumes but does not demonstrate that “there is exactly one true and complete description of ‘the way the world is.’”204 Since the blind men cannot provide an overall description, they can never know the whole world, never know totality. The rival, internalist perspective is the view that truth claims depend on the ideal coherence of the different views with each other. Since views can cohere in different ways, many internalists believe “there is more than one ‘true’ theory or description of the world.”205 Putnam thinks Kant is the first internalist, since the latter holds that properties belong to appearances only. In fact, this view, which refers only to so-­called secondary qualities, goes back at least to Plato. In Putnam’s version of the distinction, externalists and internalists agree that there is a real world, which is independent about what we think about it. But they differ about whether we know the real directly through correct description, for instance through representation, through coherence, or in some other way. Yet Kant, who limits cognitive claims to empirical realism, or what appears to us, denies any cognitive relation between empirical realism and metaphysical realism in opening the door to a cognitive theory independent of ontology. The Kantian approach inconsistently combines subjective and objective aspects in an account of cognition based on the interaction between the mind-­independent real and the transcendental subject. Fichte gives up the transcendental subject in basing cognitive claims on finite human being. Hegel may be following Fichte, who holds that what we take to be the real is what is given in experience, or in Hegelian language, the real for us. Since the assumption about the mind-­independent world is so deeply rooted in the ordinary point of view, Hegel’s cognitive claim seems difficult. Yet unless thought and being are intrinsically linked at the beginning, there is no way later on to establish this link. That is the point of Hegel’s speculative claim. For Hegel, there is no mind-­independent world to be known, since what we understand as the world is not independent of, but rather dependent on, our views about it. The metaphysically realist suggestion that Hegel allows us to infer to the mind-­independent real is based on a misreading of his position.206 The Hegelian approach is a further formulation of the Kantian point that we know only what we in some sense construct. This view is revised in the Marxian view that we both con144

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struct and know our world. Marx denies direct knowledge of the real, since he insists on the need to construct a description, which, since it grasps the movement of the subject matter, is not merely a representation of the world. If we rule out these obvious possibilities, then it would seem that Marx is in his own way asserting an updated version of Hegel’s claim. That is, in a sense cognition and the cognized differ and are also the same, or identical. In short, Marx’s version of the canonical claim that we know only what we in some sense construct is based on his conception of the human subject lying at the very heart of his position.

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On the Practice of Marx’s Theory, or the Transition from Capitalism to Communism The theme of theory and practice originates in ancient Greece and takes a number of different forms in the Western philosophical tradition. They include, as already noted, Rousseau’s concern with freedom in modern world, Kant’s moral theory, Hegel’s political solution, and Marx’s approach. According to Marx his approach differs in that it is intended to be theoretical as well as practical. Marx famously distinguishes between theories that interpret but do not change practice and theories that interpret as well as change practice. Marx’s aim in changing the world is not limited to the transition from capitalism to communism, which is a means to the further end of human flourishing in the modern world. This transition requires a series of steps that have never been clarified. They include proletarian revolution, economic crisis of enormous size, the role of the party, social critique, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the withering away of the state, and so on. Marx seems to have a number of different aims in view. A short list might include overcoming religion, a theme that Marx takes up early in his career, and which is important in Marxism, but to which he never later returns; reacting to Hegel, who in Marx’s opinion neither changes nor aims to change the world, and whom Marx perhaps has in mind 147

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in the last of the “Theses on Feuerbach”; criticizing his Young Hegelian colleagues for their misunderstandings of Hegel as well as their inability to come to grips with the social surroundings; formulating an alternative theory of modern industrial society compatible with his concern to bring about human flourishing, and so on. It is clear that Marx intends to change the world by realizing his theory in practice but not clear how he intends to do it. The four possible strategies suggested in his writings rely on the proletariat, economics (or political economy), politics, and critique (or critical social theory). Each of these suggestions has its merits, and each is apparently part of the answer to the question, How can the Marxian approach to the transformation of capitalism into communism at least in theory be realized in practice? The theories of the revolutionary proletariat and economic crisis are directly due to Marx. The political solution, which is indirectly suggested in his writings, was developed by Lenin and his associates and later further developed by Mao and his associates. The approach to basic social change through critique, which is probably best described as neither Marxian nor Marxist but not anti-­Marxist, is inspired by Marx and selected Marxists.

1. Transition through the Revolutionary Proletariat Marx suggests that the revolutionary proletariat will function as the agent of the transformation from capitalism to communism. In Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel discusses what he calls the rabble (Pöbel ) (§§240–­245), including the very poor, roughly the uneducated mob or riffraff. Hegel is concerned by the rabble for three reasons. On the one hand there is the problem then as now that a significant part of the popu­ lation is unable to function economically but will be left behind. On the other, the existence of the rabble that for many reasons sinks below a minimal necessary standard of living represents a potentially destabilizing element. Further, Hegel, who anticipates Marx’s concerns about the relation of production to available demand, thinks that as he says society is simply not rich enough. He thinks that there is no clear solution to the problem, since increasing production would, as he points out, result in overproduction, or in underconsumption, further tending to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. What for Hegel is a rabble that represents a destabilizing element or negative in society is for Marx the proletariat, which represents the possibility of the transition from capitalism to communism or a positive in society. Hegel, who realistically sees the rabble as a problem intrinsic to 148

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modern society, is answered by Marx, who, in changing the name from “rabble” to “proletariat,” attributes to its members the capacity to transform the situation. This theme is adumbrated but, in view of its importance for Marx and Marxism, not well developed. The term “proletariat” occurs from time to time in Marx’s writings. Yet the references are often general, not specific, not specific enough to be understood as the supposed transition from capitalism to communism through those who, as the Manifesto famously says, “have nothing to lose but their chains.”1 Marx, who studied Roman law at the University of Berlin, was familiar with the Roman view of the proletariat. In the Roman republic “proletariat” referred to the class that owned little or no property. In general, Marx understands the “proletariat” to refer to a working class without property, hence, as the phrase goes, with nothing to lose, and capable of revolutionary action to overturn capitalism in creating a classless society. More specifically, “proletariat” has two main traits. First, it is a synonym for the “working class,” which, since it does not own the means of production, must sell its labor power for either a wage or a salary. Second, in view of its assigned revolutionary role in the transformation of capitalism into communism, it is “the class to which the future belongs.”2 Marx and Engels think that the development of the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will necessarily lead to increasing growth of the working-­class movement. This view seemed to be realized in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was later countered by reformers such as Eduard Bernstein who resisted the view of increasing polarization, leading to the struggle between revolutionary and reform-­minded socialists. Though this struggle continues, it seems clear that at present the trade union movement is not increasing but rather receding in many places. The boundaries between the proletariat and the petite bourgeoisie or self-­employed are not well defined. There is further a distinction between salaried workers and the so-­called rag-­tag or Lumpenproletariat, a term reserved for the poorest of the poor. According to Marx, the latter, who are not legally employed, include beggars, buskers, criminals, and prostitutes. Marx discusses the proletariat directly and in moving fashion in several chapters late in Capital, volume 1, especially in chapter 38, which bears the grim title “Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated, from the End of the 15th Century. Forcing Down of Wages by Acts of Parliament.” Marx here recounts the social situation beginning in England under Henry VII and quickly reinforced by his successors for men who were transformed through legislation into vagabonds, paupers, and even slaves by harsh leg­ islation against vagabondage. 149

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The Manifesto discusses the proletariat in two sections titled “Bourgeois and the Proletarians” and the “Proletarians and the Communists.” The former section begins with the claim that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”3 According to the Manifesto, this struggle that has so far always ended either with the “revolutionary reconstitution” of society or again the “common ruin” of both classes, has now divided into the opposition of only two classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat. In anticipating Marx’s later claim that the transformation of modes of production leads to the transformation of relations of production, the “Manifesto” proclaims that for economic reasons tradition is simply swept away. “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”4 The Manifesto, which depicts modern industrial society as the outcome of feudalism, further optimistically claims that in creating the proletariat the bourgeoisie has “forged the weapons that bring death to itself.”5 This revolutionary optimism reflects Marx’s conviction that revolution was about to sweep through Europe in 1848. In anticipating further consequences of the Industrial Revolution, the Manifesto further suggests that the worker, who is in effect a slave to the owner of the means of production, is increasingly reduced to being an appendage of the machine. This sober observation is followed by a brief, optimistic account of how the proletariat, which “alone is a really revolutionary class,”6 comes into existence through capitalism, naturally organizes itself into trade unions, into a class, and into a political party. In contrast, the other classes are basically conservative. The proletarian movement is, for the first time, not a minoritarian but a majoritarian movement. On the basis of this hasty dialectical analysis of the evolution of the struggle between the two great classes of modern industrial society, the Manifesto optimistically and famously declares: “What the bourgeoisie . . . produces, above all, is its own grave-­diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”7 This analysis is continued in the following section, “Proletarians and Communists.” It begins with the dubious series of claims later falsified by events, for instance that the communists are not separated from the proletariat and have no interests of their own. The description of the communists as the most advanced section of the working class looks backward to the early Marxian account of the philosophers as the head of the revolution and forward to the Leninist view of the party as the revolutionary vanguard. The Manifesto goes on to note that it is the abolition not

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of property in general but rather of bourgeois or private property that de­ fines communism. The Manifesto further links emancipation to democracy. Democracy interests Marx very early. “On the Jewish Question” turns on the distinction between political emancipation and human emancipation, its fuller alternative. According to Christopher Pierson, in “On the Jewish Question,” where he prefers “human emancipation,”8 Marx understands full “human emancipation” as a kind of radical democracy and not yet as the conquest of political power.9 This theme returns in the Manifesto, which suggests that the proletariat is well positioned “to win the battle of democracy” at which Marx and Engels, who could not have anticipated the October Revolution, are aiming. The section closes with what in retrospect seems to be no more than a pious hope that “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”10 In his view of the proletariat as the way out of capitalism Marx draws on diverse sources, including Moses Hess, Wilhelm Weitling, and perhaps others. Marx’s theory of the proletariat is further influenced by political events such as the French Revolution, which offers a model for revolutionary action later reprised by Sartre,11 and above all Hegel’s famous master-­ slave analysis. Though he is often unfairly criticized as uninterested in concrete events, Hegel explicitly notes that the slave, like the modern worker, is by definition subordinated to the master in the intrinsically unstable social context.12 In The Phenomenology of Spirit, in examining the triadic relation of master, slave, and thing, he famously suggests that the worker or slave is the truth of the relationship. Hegel’s influential view of the dialectal inversion of the relationship of master and slave is diversely interpreted from Platonic, anti-­Platonic, and non-­Platonic perspectives. From Marx’s quasi-­Platonic perspective, the proletariat necessarily relies on philosophers, who alone know how to bring about the revolutionary transformation of capitalism into communism. A non-­or anti-­Platonic perspective, in which the proletariat relies only, or at least mainly, on itself, was independently proposed by Lukács and Alexander Kojève. Writing in the early 1920s, Lukács, the Hegelian Marxist, points to an anti-­Platonic theory of revolutionary self-­consciousness through which the proletarian class will supposedly be, or at least could be, empowered to rise up in what now, nearly a century later, in a very different period of world history, seems to be a figment of the Marxist revolutionary imagination. According to Lukács, the proletariat is the identical subject-­object that replaces the Hegelian absolute as the real historical subject. Kojève, whose political identification is unclear, turns the

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figure of the proletariat against Marx and Marxism in reading Hegel’s Phenomenology from a resolutely anthropological point of view.13 Marx briefly sketches a theory of the revolutionary proletariat in “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction” (1843). According to Marx, Hegel and German philosophy in general receive an ideal, theoretical extension in German philosophy. Yet neither solves the real problems in practice or even affects German social reality. In this way, Marx takes issue with the long-­standing philosophical belief that traditional philosophy is useful, even socially indispensable. Though he never rejects philosophy as such, he suggests that German idealist philosophy, and perhaps traditional philosophy of all kinds, is socially useless in that it fails to change the world. The belief that at least some kinds of philosophy are or could be socially relevant runs like a red thread throughout the Western tradition. The Socratic conviction that the unexamined life is not worth living rapidly led to the Platonic view that the Greek city-­state, or by extension any political entity that can function to realize human capacities in the social context, requires knowledge that only philosophers possess. This idea runs through the entire Western tradition. It is illustrated in the last century by Husserl’s suggestion that in our time of need the defense of the ancient distinction between episteme and doxa will conceivably protect against National Socialism. It is further exemplified in Heidegger’s quasi-­ Platonic belief that, in Jaspers’s formulation, he could lead the leader (den Führen führen), in this case Hitler, in substituting philosophy for politics. A different, more restrained version of the ancient philosophical claim for the social usefulness of philosophy finds support in Hegel’s mature view of philosophy, which looks backward from the present standpoint in taking the measure of what has occurred. Marx, who does not directly engage this Hegelian point either here or elsewhere, obviously thinks philosophy as it is ordinarily practiced is not useful. Yet, unlike Engels, he is clearly unconcerned either here or later with disenfranchising philosophy as such. According to Marx, writing early in the 1840s, changing the world depends on a number of factors. They include the critique of religion and philosophy, as well as enlisting the aid of the proletariat. It is sometimes claimed that Marx’s main contribution does not lie in the economic analysis of modern capitalism but rather in the discovery of the revolutionary potential of the proletariat. The early Lukács is the most important proponent of this approach, which he discusses in terms of the revolutionary potential of class consciousness (Klassenbewusstsein).14 Marx’s suggestion that acceptable theory must change the world relies early in his career on the quasi-­Platonic view 152

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that philosophers, who alone know, can put their knowledge into practice through the proletariat. His approach to religion presupposes the view identified with Feuerbach, but anticipated by Hegel, that it is a human creation.15 At this point, even before he has begun to formulate his analysis of modern capitalism, with an eye to the proletariat Marx famously writes, as discussed above, that “material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.”16 The implicit distinction between a theory that does not realize itself and a theory that does realize itself points toward what later becomes the canonical but never clarified Marxist distinction between idealism, or roughly everything that Marxism rejects, and materialism, or equally roughly everything that Marxism accepts. This distinction, which runs through Marxism, and which is as much political as philosophical, is more important for Engels and Marxism in general than for Marx. In the cited passage, in placing himself on the level of practice, Marx seems to be saying that what is material is concrete, hence significant, and what is immaterial is not concrete, hence not significant, but rather insignificant, even a hindrance with respect to changing reality. This is different from the philosophical distinction between idealism and materialism discussed above. Marx, who here links the real possibility of social emancipation in Germany to the ability to mobilize the proletariat for revolutionary action, very rapidly makes three points. First, the real possibility of German social emancipation demands the formation of a specific class, or the proletariat, which has not yet emerged, and by implication does not exist, but is in the process of being formed. Second, at least in principle this class represents the potential dissolution of society. Third, this class has a reciprocal relation with a form of philosophy able to change the world, though not with philosophy in a traditional sense. Each of these points requires comment. In his transcendental analysis of cognition, Kant “deduces” an abstract conception of the subject under the difficult heading of the transcendental unity of apperception. Marx similarly “deduces” the revolutionary subject in calling for “the formation of an estate [or class] . . . which is the dissolution of all estates [or classes].”17 Marx apparently thinks that this class must in time emerge. In the transcendental deduction, Kant identifies the philosophical subject as a necessary presupposition. Similarly, in reference to the revolutionary proletariat Marx is pointing to an indispensable presupposition of a change from capitalism to communism. Once he turned to the proletariat in his early writings, Marx never later wavered in his interest in this class. From his early writings to the 153

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end of his life, he continued to see the proletariat as the class that would either act to destroy capitalism or, if it could not itself bring about basic social change, would at least inherit the human future in the form of communism. In his preface to the Enquête Ouvrière (1890), which was written three years before he died but published only later, Marx unwaveringly described the proletariat as “the class to which the future belongs.”18 The widespread classical Marxist view that, in following Feuerbach from materialism to idealism or in some other way, Marx leaves philosophy behind is clearly contradicted by this text. The contradictions include his speculative “deduction” of the role of the proletariat as an essential condition of the future dissolution of all classes as well as his appeal to a nonstandard form of philosophy that will change the world. Clearly the existence of various forms of proletariat cannot be denied. It is less clear if there ever was, is, or perhaps later will be a proletariat that could be mobilized in the specific Marxian revolutionary sense. It can only be known in the fullness of time whether the proletariat that, when Marx was active, was in the process of coming to be, is even potentially, as Marx contends, the dissolution of all classes. It is arguable that in later writings he increasingly relied on other forces for revolutionary change, above all the economic transformation of capitalism into communism. In his moral theory, Kant famously claims that ought implies can. In the same way, Marx seems to suggest that the proletariat, that at least in principle represents all humanity, must also represent the dissolution of a society based on private property, and, hence, the end of the class structure of society. This view suggests two further points. On the one hand, Marxists have traditionally been hostile to organized religion, which they seek to understand in nonreligious, economic terms.19 Yet Marx’s suggestion sounds suspiciously like the Christian belief that Christ died for and in the process redeemed all humanity. There is an obvious parallel between the traditional kenotic Christian view of Jesus and Marx’s conception of the proletariat as emptying itself in the process of bringing about the transition from capitalism to communism.20 On the other hand, it does not follow that, even if the proletariat had universal characteristics, it would be capable of redeeming humanity by, say, ending the institution of private property, hence in dissolving the social class structure. Marx insists on the reciprocal relation between philosophy and the proletariat. “As philosophy finds its material weapons in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapons in philosophy.”21 This statement, very early in Marx’s career, points to a crucial tension in his position. At 154

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stake is a choice between Plato and Kant. On the one hand, there is the perhaps elitist quasi-­Platonic view that only the philosopher, or someone who supposedly literally sees reality as it is, can know, which Plato understands as grasping the mind-­independent world as it is. On the other hand, there is the broader Kantian injunction directed to everyone as the distinguishing characteristic of the Enlightenment conception of maturity, namely to dare to know (sapere aude). Marx’s quasi-­Platonic suggestion denies Kant’s conviction that the high point of the Enlightenment consists in thinking for oneself. It echoes a wide selection of religious and philosophical perspectives in which an authorized figure informs others, in this case the proletarian, who in Marx’s quasi-­Platonic approach is in principle incapable of making an individual decision, what that person ought to do. Examples might include the monotheistic religious views of the priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam as the authorized guide; the Platonic view of the philosopher who on grounds of nature and nurture is able to see the forms, hence to know in the specific Platonic sense of knowledge; Fichte’s nationalistic, post-­Kantian view that the philosopher represents God on earth in guiding the people to become authentic Germans;22 Heidegger’s quasi-­Platonic appeal to philosophy to replace political science; Lenin’s conception of the party; and so on. In anticipating Lenin’s view of the party as the vanguard of the revolution, very early in his career Marx thinks the proletariat can and indeed must learn from the philosophers in transforming society. Yet neither what they will be able to learn, nor how they will be able to carry out this task is specified. Kant correctly thinks that not everyone is capable of philosophy. He apparently falsely assumes that every mature individual is capable of independent thought, roughly thinking for oneself. Distantly following Plato, Marx suggests, contra Kant, that the proletariat is in a permanent nonage, or state of immaturity. This view presupposes that the working class does not now and will not later have the capacity to think for itself. It is, therefore, unable to learn what to do on its own. The disagreement on this point between Kant and Marx is not anodyne but crucial to the latter’s view. Marx’s quasi-­Platonic conviction that, since the proletariat cannot think for itself, philosophers must think for it, points toward philosophers and philosophy. It further points beyond philosophers toward a political party, hence by extension toward the dictatorship of the party over the proletariat, thus toward Leninism and Maoism, its main contemporary exponents. Prominent Marxist observers divide about the prospect of a proletarian solution to the transition from capitalism to communism along Marxian lines. Lenin relied on the urban workers organized into soviets, 155

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who supported the revolutionary Bolsheviks, who in turn organized the armed forces, but above all the latter. Mao Zedong relied not on the proletariat but on the Chinese peasants. In the early 1920s, Lukács depicted the revolutionary proletariat as the identical subject-­object of history, hence as the real historical subject.23 Marx suggests philosophers must enlighten the proletariat. Lukács, who disagrees, follows Hegel’s famous analysis of the master-­slave relation. According to Hegel, the slave, who through work becomes conscious as well as self-­conscious, needs no teacher. For the Hegelian Marxist Lukács the proletariat can only be liberated through its own actions. It follows, as he concedes, that the proletariat must in a sense already be free in order to become free. “Any transformation can only come about as the product of the—­free—­action of the proletariat itself.”24 Lukács dispenses with Marx’s suggestion of the crucial role of philosophy in transforming the proletariat as well as with Lenin’s suggestion of the equally crucial role of the party as the vanguard of the revolution. When Hegel wrote the Phenomenology in the wake of the French Revolution, he thought he was at a historical turning point. Lukács similarly thought he was at a historical turning point when he composed History and Class Consciousness shortly after the First World War. Hegel later came to believe when he composed the Encyclopedia that the revolutionary moment had passed. Writing nearly half a century after Marx, when conditions have clearly changed, Marcuse hesitates on this crucial point. According to Marcuse, in Marx’s day as well as in ours, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have always been the two great classes. Yet Marcuse no longer discerns a revolutionary potential in the sixth decade of the twentieth century. He points out that both great classes have a vested interest in maintaining and advancing contemporary capitalism. “This historical mediation occurred in the consciousness and in the political action of the two great classes which faced each other in the society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In the Capitalist world, they are still the basic classes. However, the capitalist development has altered the structure and function of these two classes in such a way that they no longer appear to be agents of historical transformation. An overriding interest in the preservation and improvement of the institutional status quo unites the former antagonists in the most advanced areas of contemporary society.”25 According to Marcuse, the potential for changing the world through awakening the proletariat, through philosophy or indeed through other means, has in the meantime disappeared. Marx’s theory of the relation of philosophy to the proletariat further

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bears on the controversial question of whether he left or even intended to leave philosophy.26 In the Republic, Plato suggests that politics depends on knowledge, hence on philosophy. According to Plato, since the capacity to guide the state depends on knowledge that only philosophers can possess, only they can guide the state. There is a deep resemblance between the early Marxian view that philosophy is the head and the proletariat is the heart and the ancient Platonic view of the philosopher as the authorized guide of everyone else, since only the philosopher really knows. Plato and much later Marx both share the conviction, which is denied by Aristotle, that politics necessarily depends on philosophy.

2. Transition through Economic Crisis In his references to the proletariat Marx links revolutionary social change to the effect of capitalism on the proletariat, a selected portion of the population. We recall that Marx ends the afterword to the second German edition of Capital through a reference to “changes of the periodic cycle” leading onward to “universal crisis.”27 A second possibility is that Marx has in mind an economic approach, more precisely an unmanageable economic crisis as a result of which capitalism will supposedly irredeemably founder, as the practical means to changing the world. This view requires clarification. It is difficult to understand how to proceed from the economic chaos that will likely result from the destruction of capitalism through an unmanageable economic crisis to human flourishing. The intermediate steps have never been clarified. But it is widely believed in the Marxist debate that the economic destruction of capitalism leads directly or at least indirectly to communism. Though Marx is often read in terms of economic crisis, what that means is hotly debated. According to Rosa Luxemburg, the accumulation of capital will bring about the demise of capitalism. “The objective tendency of capitalism towards that goal suffices to aggravate the social and political conflicts within society to such an extent and so much earlier than was expected, that they must bring about the demise of the ruling system. Their increasing gravity springs from this source in exact proportion as that instability becomes acute.”28 Luxemburg holds that capitalism is fated to fail by virtue of the real historical limits to capitalist accumulation, which in turn undermines capital production.29 The result of the global expansion of capitalism would be, if it could be pursued indefinitely, the economic self-­undermining and

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destruction of modern industrial society. Yet she thinks this cannot occur in practice, since capitalism, before reaching its final economic throes, will be brought to a halt by political factors.30 Luxemburg’s introduction of political factors in an economic context arguably builds on Marxian theory. Yet her belief that the rise and fall of capitalism is governed by political as well as economic constraints, and hence cannot be understood as a merely economic process, brought her into conflict with Leninists, who understand Marx as well as Lenin as taking a more limited, strictly economic approach to the coming demise of capitalism. Like many Marxists, they often reject the very idea that Marx’s theories could be improved or usefully altered.31 I come back to Luxemburg’s view below. The Marxian view of economic crisis, like economic crisis of all kinds, which is still poorly understood, remains an enigma. According to Lukács, who does not argue the point, this theme simply lies beyond the grasp of bourgeois economic thought.32 Marxian economic crisis is a central but mysterious element of his position. His accounts of the supersession of private property and the replacement of capitalism by communism both depend on a theory of economic crisis, which he presupposes, to which he often refers, on which he labored over many years, but which was never formulated in final or even well-­developed form. That Marx never formulated a detailed mature account of economic crisis is certainly one reason why efforts to describe this crucial element in his economic view as well as the wider economic position are often vague and unhelpful. Even standard Marxist sources are often not useful for anything more than a vague idea of Marxian crisis theory. Thus a recent companion to Capital by David Harvey, a widely known Marxist scholar, entirely omits this theme,33 which is arguably central to Marx’s vision of modern industrial society. There are substantive questions about Marx’s theory of economic crisis. It is questionable whether his understanding of capitalist crisis ever applied to the transition from capitalism to communism. It is also possible that capitalism, whose current iteration differs, often basically, from what it was when Marx was active, has changed so much that even if the Marxian crisis theory earlier applied, it is no longer relevant. Since Marx incessantly revises, many aspects of his model of capitalism are obscure. Thus it remains unclear how he understands “economic crisis.” Marx’s famous reference in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy to the “conflict” between “the material productive forces” and “the relations of production” is best described as a speculative deduction, an account of what must be the case in order 158

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for capitalism to give way to communism, rather than as an empirical account. The dictionary informs us that the term “crisis” comes from late Middle English (denoting the turning point of a disease): medical Latin; from Greek krisis, “decision”; and from krinein, “decide.” According to the dictio­ nary, the use of “crisis” to refer to a “decisive point,” which dates from the early seventeenth century, suggests a time of intense difficulty or danger. “Economic crisis” is a historical variable. There is simply no consensus about the meaning of the term. Today we distinguish more sharply than in Marx’s time between economics and finance, hence between economic crisis and financial crisis. “Financial crisis” normally applies to a situation in which financial assets suddenly lose a significant part of their nominal value. This simple statement refers to an enormous range of situations, including banking panics (such as a bank run), recessions, stock market crashes, and other financial bubbles (due to the overpricing of an asset, a classic example being the Dutch tulip mania in 1637), currency crises (or a balance-­of-­payments crisis), recession, depression, economic stagnation, sovereign defaults, and so on. Marx is interested in a systemic or, as one might now say in the age of globalization, a global crisis. Since there is nothing resembling general agreement about “globalization,” the meaning of the latter term, which depends on the authority consulted, is apparently simply arbitrary. According to Marx, the tendency of the rate of return on capital investment to fall leads to economic crisis. In the Theories of Surplus Value the detailed chapter titled “Disintegration of the Ricardian School”34 includes a long digression (forty-­seven pages) on J. S. Mill’s attempt to deduce the inverse ratio between surplus value and the level of wages directly from the law of value. Marx thinks that Mill mistakenly equates surplus value with profit. For Marx, Mill seeks to deduce the rate of profit from Ricardo’s view, which in his opinion also conflates surplus value and profit in making profits depend on wages.35 He believes Mill mistakenly comprehends profit as alienation, without regard to labor-­time, which is unrelated to Ricardo’s view of value.36 He answers Mill, who thinks that profits depend on wages, in pointing out that this is only correct if the rate of surplus value and the rate of profit are identical, that is, if there is no constant capital, which is ingredient in the product. Otherwise, as Marx suggests, the rate of profit is equal to the ratio of surplus value to total value.37 In Marx’s position, an economic approach to crisis is suggested by two factors: the crucial distinction between superstructure and base, and a model of economic crisis as resulting from a dialectical contradiction. We recall that in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of 159

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Political Economy, Marx draws attention to the distinction, which quickly became canonical in Marxism, between the economic substructure, or the so-­called real foundation, and the superstructure, which further includes “the general process of social, political and intellectual life.”38 The superstructure/base model is usually interpreted in either of two main ways. One is through a mono-­causal reductive model popular during the Second International in which the superstructure is “reduced to,” hence explained through, the economic base. In this reductive model, the economic base has absolute priority over the superstructure. This approach, which is also known as “economism,” distantly echoes an inverted form of Kantianism in which everything can supposedly be explained on merely empirical grounds. Engels typically defends a form of this approach in his study of Feuerbach and in other writings. Economism, or the belief in the primacy of economic factors over all other explanatory concepts, functions as the central insight in historical materialism. The latter suggests, as The German Ideology argues, that consciousness is literally produced by the surroundings. The other model features an interaction between superstructure and base in which, as Engels later indicates, different factors come into play and the economic determinant has only relative but not absolute priority. Engels writes in a well-­known letter to Joseph Bloch that, “according to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of actual life.”39 This bilateral model in which superstructure and base mutually influence each other is compatible with the view that the superstructure depends on, but need not in any sense “reflect,” the independent economic base. Yet for Marx, however this distinction is read, in the final analysis capitalism depends on the organization of the means of production, or the institution of private property. Hence, the repercussions for capitalism of an economic crisis are clearly consistent with the Marxian analysis of modern industrial society. In the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx suggests that “the anatomy of . . . civil society” must be “sought in political economy.”40 Political economy clearly looms increasingly large in Marx’s writings from the Paris Manuscripts to Capital and in the posthumous Grundrisse, Theories of Surplus Value, and Capital, volumes 2 and 3. Yet there is a difference between “seeking” and even “finding” the anatomy of civil society in economic terms and in further suggesting that the transformation from capitalism to communism must, or is at least extremely likely to, or even possibly could run along economic

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lines. The latter suggestion relies on an unclear view of economic crisis, which, if it was ever appropriate, arguably no longer describes contemporary industrial society. In his enormous study of surplus value, Marx takes up this theme in detail in criticizing such classical economists as Say, Ricardo, and J. S. Mill. Marx, who attributes to them variations on the theme that a crisis based on a glut on the market is impossible, ar­ gues on the contrary that it is possible, though without addressing its ne­ cessity or even its likelihood. Normal and Abnormal Economic Crises Marx’s theory of economic crisis is often criticized and remains controversial.41 He calls attention to the distinction between normal crises, which occur frequently in capitalism, and one or possibly more abnormal crises, which in destroying capitalism will supposedly lead beyond it to communism. Marx’s account of crisis is understood in different ways. Observers who think his view of crisis is crucial to his position tend to focus on it. Others deny that he has any single theory of crisis. Still others believe Marx’s theory of crisis need not be taken seriously in evaluating his position. Yet at a minimum Marx thinks economic crises are neither accidental nor incidental but rooted in the very nature of capitalism itself as a serious, indeed even a mortal threat to its long-­term survival. Each of these claims is controversial. There is a clear and significant difference between economic crisis in general; an economic crisis that rapidly, gradually, or only finally causes capitalism to founder; and an economic crisis of capitalism eventually leading, after capitalism founders, to communism. Marx suggests in different ways that periodic economic crises are endemic to capitalism, that they will eventually cause capitalism to founder, and that through a mechanism he never clearly describes but obviously presupposes the future shipwreck of capitalism will eventually lead to its replacement by communism. Marx’s dialectical theory of capitalism is influenced by, but differs from, Hegel’s dialectical approach. Hegel relies on the conception of sublation (Aufhebung) in his dialectical theory, where “to sublate” means “to destroy, preserve, and lift up as the complex result of a dialectical contradiction.” Marx apparently thinks capitalism is only partly self-­sublating. In other words, it simply destroys what follows from its intrinsic economic contradiction(s) without either preserving or lifting up the economic debris in transforming itself into another economic configuration. According to Marx, in the long run capitalism tends toward its own

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self-­destruction for reasons linked to capitalism itself. Thus, in the third volume of Capital he clearly states that “the real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself.”42 The claim for the economic transformation of capitalism into communism depends on a complex but unclear series of events leading through economic crisis from the former to the latter. In accounts of Marxian economics, it is usual to distinguish among partial crises, business cycles, and general economic crises. Partial crises belong to the normal functioning of capitalism, which waxes and wanes. This is a main concern of the economic community, which focuses on stabilizing and growing the economy. Partial crises are unlike general or universal crises, which in principle threaten capitalism as such. Marx’s account of the transformation of capitalism into communism concentrates on general crises. Marx, who focuses on bringing about the transition through revolution, apparently rules out the very idea of the gradual economic evolution of capitalism into communism. He seems to believe that capitalism is fraught with economic crises of varying force. These eventually lead to a crisis of such intensity that it destroys capitalism, which falls of its own weight, further leading, as night follows day, to the onset of communism. He seems to believe, as The German Ideology puts it, that “all collisions of history have their origin in the contradiction between the productive forces and the forms of interaction.”43 This view is the result of interpreting the dialectical contradiction between the productive forces and the forms of interaction not as fortuitously but rather as necessarily leading to a series of crises. These tensions continually increase as, for instance, the rate of profit tends to fall—­Marx thinks this is a general law—­wages decline, and the labor pool increases. According to Marx, as the contradiction intrinsic to capitalism ripens over time, it spawns a series of crises, until finally a cataclysmic crisis occurs, which sounds the death knell of capitalism. It follows that in the long run the institution of private property necessarily tends to destroy the very society it has helped to bring about. Marx (and Engels) put this point strongly in the Manifesto in an already cited passage in writing, “What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-­diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”44 In his economic writings, Marx often seems to be working with a familiar quasi-­biological metaphor, in which, starting from a seed, the capitalist plant emerges and then blooms before the flower later shrivels up and dies. The difference is that capitalism, unlike a flower, which merely dies, will supposedly, at least in principle, collapse of its own weight. Marx ap162

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parently thinks capitalism runs through a cycle in which it emerges out of feudalism, then prospers over time, and finally at some unspecified future moment does not simply die but rather self-­destructs as the result of one or more economic crises. Marx consistently presupposes this model in various forms. In an important passage toward the end of the first volume of Capital, he discusses the “historical tendency of capitalist accumulation.”45 It will be useful, since what Marx says is finally not clear, to stay close to the text. Marx here offers a description of the rise and fall of capitalism through three phases in a process that “at a certain stage of development . . . brings forth the material agencies for its own dissolution.”46 There are multiple difficulties in getting clear about what precisely Marx is claiming. One difficulty is what “material agencies” means here. It is unclear if Marx has in mind so-­called objective factors intrinsic to capitalism itself or subjective factors, such as the impact of capitalism on a selected part of the pop­ ulation such as workers, whom he elsewhere calls the proletariat, or some combination of these and possibly other factors. Marx’s description runs as follows. The process begins through the primitive accumulation of capital, or what Marx here calls “self-­earned private property.”47 This is a continuity including the worker and the conditions of work. This form of private property later gives way to its capitalist form, in which capitalists exploit others through the economic mechanism of wage labor. In a further phase, capitalism is centralized through the “immanent laws of capitalist production itself.”48 Marx has in mind the way that large capital tends to drive out small capital, since, as he says, “One capitalist always kills many.”49 This familiar process of the centralization of capital impinges negatively on the workers in increasing “the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-­class.”50 Marx is here linking the normal evolution of capitalism with what, since the Paris Manuscripts, he consistently regards as the increasing immiseration of the working class. Marx, who thinks that a reaction tending to destroy capitalism is inevitable, writes in ringing moral tones that the “centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”51 Marx’s moral outrage, which seems justified, is unfortunately not accompanied by an economic argument supporting the view that capitalism’s inevitable demise is only a question of time. It will be useful to separate Marx’s argument from the picturesque way it is stated. His account of the normal functioning of capitalism 163

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presents a three-­stage model of a continuous process from the emergence of capitalism to its supposed necessary final breakdown. This includes the expropriation of individuals in the process of primitive capital accumulation, then the increasing concentration of capital in the hands of a few, and, as a result, the increasing immiseration of the working class, leading to an era of social revolution. There is an obvious gap in the argument between the outbreak of social revolution, for instance in the Paris Commune, a series of revolutionary events in Paris in spring 1871 that attracted the attention of both Marx and Engels, and the transition from capitalism to communism, which did not occur in its wake. Though Marx fills this gap in the Paris Manuscripts and the Manifesto with the proletariat, his model raises questions about “necessity” as well as the supposed nature and reality of a final crisis. The precise meaning of this term is unclear. According to the dictio­ nary “necessity” refers to what is indispensable, the fact of being necessary or indispensable, an imperative requirement or need, an unavoidable need or compulsion, financial need, and, in philosophy, the supposed quality of, as is routinely believed, following inevitably, or without exceptions of any kind, from logical, physical, or moral laws. In his account of the categories, Kant reminds us of modal differences between possibility, existence, and necessity. Marx similarly seems to presuppose a quasi-­logical view of the necessary development of modern capitalism as inevitably leading to its self-­destruction. For Marx “necessity” apparently functions as a quasi-­logical, quasi-­ sci­entific, adamantine link governing the inevitable evolution of the economic context. Marx seems to conflate two senses of “necessity”: his understandable desire that there be a final and decisive economic crisis as an indispensable condition of the transition from capitalism to communism and a strong view of causality in which there are no exceptions to the rule. In arguing for a causal framework, Kant borrows Leibniz’s logical conception of causality based on the latter’s principle of sufficient reason in answering Hume. Marx similarly seems to be working with a quasi-­logical, strong view of causal necessity. In conflating necessity and political economy, he runs together the abstract logical sense of “necessity” as inevitable with the evolution of the concrete economic context. Various kinds of economic crisis are possible. But, on Marx’s theory, it is indeed necessary that there be a final cataclysmic crisis, since anything less, even if it causes massive economic difficulties, will make a lot of people unhappy but finally fail to sink the capitalist boat. As early as the Paris Manuscripts Marx identifies what he consistently depicts as the in-

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evitable economic crises of capitalism. Yet there is no reason, and Marx identifies none, to suggest that a final economic crisis is inevitable. In pointing to the supposedly inevitable demise of capitalism, Marx has in mind predictions about the long-­range economic viability of modern industrial society. It is tempting but clearly perilous to apply a conception of logical necessity, however understood, to economic phenomena, which, if they were necessary, would be wholly predictable. Marx is often understood as analyzing modern industrial society through a conception of economic laws of nature. For instance, in considering the view of the Narodniks, who rebelled against the dogmatic interpretation of a predefined succession of socioeconomic formations presented by the Marxists, which seemed to deny all alternative perspectives for Russia, Plekhanov wrote: All laws of social development, which are not understood, work with the irresistible force and blind harshness of laws of nature. But to discover this or that law of nature or of social development means, firstly, to be able to avoid clashing with it and, consequently, to expend one’s efforts in vain, and, secondly, to be able to regulate its application in such a manner as to profit from it. This general idea applies entirely to the particular case we are interested in. We must utilize the social and economic upheaval, which is proceeding in Russia for the benefit of the revolution and the working population. The highly important circumstance that the socialist movement in our country began when capitalism was only in the embryo must not be lost on us. This peculiarity of Russian social development was not invented by the Slavophiles or the pro-­Slavophile revolutionaries.52

Engels, who inclines toward positivism, and thinks that Marx discovered the laws of human history, seems to have similar laws in mind. Yet it is doubtful that economic laws of this kind exist. If there were economic laws, then economic phenomena would be predictable. Yet economic phenomena are predictable, if at all, in a very general sense only. Economic predictions are like weather predictions, never entirely accurate but at least more accurate in the short run than in the middle run, but even less accurate in the long run. Unlike those whom Marxists call bourgeois economists, Marx is not concerned with the short-­ run situation in which various economic tools are available to fine tune the economy, such as adjusting interest rates or the money supply. He is rather concerned with long-­range economic phenomena, which are extremely difficult to anticipate accurately. The widespread inability to predict in even a general way the great recession of 2008 suggests the

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limitations of economic prediction. Hence the concept of economic necessity is unwarranted other than as a rhetorical device. Marx is not alone in relying on a concept of necessity to interpret social phenomena. Hegel, who refers to necessity in different contexts, thinks that what he calls the necessity of content is the hallmark of science.53 In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Hegel further refers to political necessity, for instance, in a remark on the “external necessity and . . . higher authority” of the state.54 Marx, who cites this passage, quickly takes over “necessity” in his early writings. In the Paris Manuscripts he describes economic crisis in terms of necessity (Notwendigkeit). He says, for instance, that the reduction of wages “necessarily leads to revolution.”55 In the preface to the first German edition of Capital, he says about the “natural laws of capitalist production” that “it is a question of the laws themselves, of these tendencies working with iron necessity towards toward inevitable results.”56 Hegel contends that necessity is the hallmark of the progression of phenomenal consciousness on the road to science.57 Marx may be following Hegel’s remark in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right that the role of political economy is to identify “the necessity at work” in the effort within civil society to meet needs.58 Yet a tendency, which expresses no more than a likelihood of varying strength, does not function like a logical law or work with so-­called iron necessity. If one turns on the cold water faucet, it is extremely likely that cold water will flow out of the pipe but, however improbable, at least possible that hot water will flow out of the pipe. Lukács similarly insists that the view of “eternal, iron laws” is a mere “pretense.”59 In other words, there is no logical necessity in nature, or, perhaps, in economic phenomena. In Marx’s writings, as in classical Marxism, the term “necessity” seems to be part of the quasi-­Hegelian claim that Marx’s theories are rigorous, scientific, or even science. “Rigor” here can be understood in two senses. One sense is philosophical rigor, in which case it is arguably similar to Husserl’s assertion that in his phenomenology philosophy has finally attained the status of rigorous science (strenge Wissenschaft). It can also be understood as a distinction in kind between philosophy and science, on the assumption that Marx leaves philosophy for science, in which the lat­ ter runs along necessary lines. Hegel also links economics to necessity. In this context, necessity seems to refer to economic laws. Marx seems early and late to rely on the view that there are necessary laws of nature, which Engels features. Yet the final Marxian view, and in fact the only one that can be defended, is the idea that, as he says in the preface to A Critique of Political Economy (1859) in further developing an incompatible, quasi-­Vichian view earlier 166

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stated in the “Eighteenth Brumaire” (1852) men make their history under the prevailing material conditions. Here is the passage: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-­selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”60 Marx goes on to amplify this view in the introduction in specifically linking the surrounding conditions to the particular phase of the development of the means of production. He further refers to political economy as concerned with discovering what he calls “necessity at work.”61 Following Hegel, Marx approaches economics from a dialectical perspective. Yet dialectic and natural science differ in kind. A dialectical approach is incompatible with reliance on the laws of nature. From a Marxian dialectical perspective, there are tendencies, such as the tendency of the decline of the rate of profit. But there are no economic laws akin to causal natural laws. The laws of nature seem unrelated to Marx’s conception of economics. It is further doubtful that human history unfolds according to laws. With the cardinal exception of the supposed self-­sublation of capitalism through economic crisis, Marx’s overall argument about the tendency of capitalism to self-­destruct reprises in modified form an argument already advanced in the early article on Hegel. In his article, Marx suggests that philosophers must energize the proletariat, hence act through them, so to speak, for two reasons. First, philosophers intervene only on the theoretical plane. Second, the proletariat is not capable of revolutionary action on its own. In Capital Marx suggests that the evolution of capitalism naturally leads to the expropriation of the expropriators by the people. He accompanies this passage with a footnote in which, in reproducing the claim from the Manifesto that the bourgeoisie produces its own gravediggers, he writes, “Its [capitalism’s] fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”62 In the meantime Marx’s view has evolved. The roles of both the proletariat and the philosophers have clearly changed. We do not know if in the Marxian economic scheme the proletariat is only intended to intervene after capitalism, following a massive economic crisis, goes belly up, or if it is supposed to play an active role in bringing that about. At this point, Marx no longer counts on philosophers to energize the proletariat. He rather suggests that as capitalism evolves, purely economic factors, or such factors in combination with their effect on the proletariat, will bring about capitalism’s demise. In Capital philosophers have also lost the direct revolutionary role Marx earlier attributed to them in “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction.” Henceforth the 167

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philosophical task of philosophy will be limited to aiding Marx in the formulation of an appropriate model of modern industrial society. Yet the future is unclear. Since once again Marx is talking about what he thinks will happen, and since it is difficult if not impossible to predict with accuracy, it is not surprising that his view is susceptible to different readings. Yet at least we know that in either case Marx thinks that, when the music stops, the owners of the means of production will be lying on the floor and the proletariat will still be standing. If he is making a prediction, then one must concede that capitalism has not so far brought forth an economic crisis leading to its collapse. That seems no more likely now as these lines are being written than at any time since the Great Depression. It is obvious that society has greatly changed since Marx’s day. It is possible that his crisis model was appropriate earlier but no longer describes the world in which we live. Events since the Great Depression might lead us to think that Marx’s conception of crisis is outdated, in need of revision, no longer relevant in whole or more likely in part. Such developments include the increasing extension of glob­ alization, the growing importance of international finance, and so on.63 It is plausible that the worldwide recession that began in 2008 is merely another sign of the growing pains of international capitalism, which at most only partly conforms to the Marxian model. Though capitalism is clearly subject to periodic crises, it is unclear that they correspond to a Marxian economic model. Obviously, capitalism did not disappear as the result of periodic economic crises. There is presently no reason, other than blind faith, or revolutionary optimism, which is perhaps the same thing, to be convinced that capitalism will later fall prey to an economic crisis of such magnitude that it will founder. The great recession that began in 2008 is an important test case. This recession emerged in the housing sector in the United States before spreading virtually around the world. It is difficult, perhaps not possible, to accommodate the great recession in a Marxian economic analysis. Everyone knows that in Marx’s day the financial sector was less developed than at present. It is then not surprising that his writings, which take into account the state of the case when he was active, focus attention on what, to distinguish it from the financial sector, is currently often called the real economy. Introduction to Marx on “Crisis” in Theories of Surplus Value Smith already warns against being unaware about what makes good times good.64 Yet late in the eighteenth century he has almost nothing to say 168

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directly about economic crisis in The Wealth of Nations. This theme has often been explored in the later debate, especially recently. Thus Charles Kindleberger, author of an important book on this topic, thinks that since the 1970s there has been unprecedented financial volatility. Kindleberger, who is close to the Austrian School of economics, attributes “the cycle of manias and panics” to “pro-­cyclical changes in the supply of credit.”65 There is widespread agreement that the great recession is a financial crisis. Contemporary economic reality differs in some ways, for instance as concerns the relative importance of the financial sector, from when Marx was active. Hence it is not surprising that the recent financial crisis as a result of the great recession differs from what his theory of economic crisis apparently predicts. Marx’s view of economic crisis is unclear and apparently inadequate to explain contemporary financial crises. Marx provides various accounts, which many observers think are inconsistent. Sometimes he points to the law of the declining rate of profit. Sometimes he identifies restricted consumption, hence overproduction.66 Sometimes he picks out the effect of the immiseration on the working class. And sometimes he focuses on the need or at least the desire to earn more and more money, which leads to more frequent and more violent “earthquakes.” Apparently none of these causal explanations applies to the great recession. It seems that, since this is not a crisis of the so-­called real economy, it cannot be explained merely through economic factors. As a financial crisis, it must be explained in whole or in part through such financial factors as simple opportunity or even the sheer greed of bankers and others within the financial community, who were and in many cases still are well placed to create conditions favorable to themselves if not to others.67 This suggests that Marxian crisis theory needs to be restated to encompass types of crisis Marx did not anticipate or did not sufficiently anticipate. Second, in an age of globalization, when there is an increasing interpenetration of national economies, we have finally reached the point when no national economy, certainly no important national economy, functions autonomously. In response to the great recession governments took a variety of political actions. Europe, mainly under the guidance of Germany, sought during the great recession to preserve its high level of exports in invoking traditional austerity measures. Yet this strategy of economic intransigence produced only mixed results. They include massive unemployment in Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Greece and to a lesser extent in France and Italy. They include as well a situation in which Greece, even after successive “bailouts,” was still teetering on the edge between financial ruin, leading to the inability to reimburse creditors or an alternative, and the possibility of a so-­called Grexit from the 169

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Common Market. They were accompanied by a dampening of inflation or even deflation in several member countries, as well as a timid economic expansion in such countries as Portugal, Greece, and Ireland. And they included the English Brexit and whatever that will bring in its wake, including a possibly revised role for Scotland and so on. On the contrary, in the United States quasi-­Keynesian stimulus measures seemed sufficient to avoid an even more severe recession. Even in its darkest moments, as mortgages on private houses were foreclosed, unemployment rose sharply, and national wealth declined, the American situation never led to such dire immiseration that workers were tempted to turn to social revolution. Thus the Occupy Wall Street movement, which flourished from September 2011 until February 2012, and which sprang up in opposition to the enormous profits being reaped by a select few, never assumed an overtly revolutionary form. Marx’s conception of economic crisis lies close to the heart of his entire theory. He clarifies this conception in a long series of writings running from the Paris Manuscripts through the Grundrisse and Theories of Surplus Value and ending in Capital. Economic crisis, which is already important in the Paris Manuscripts, becomes increasingly important in later, more economic writings. In the series of manuscripts sometimes known as the Theories of Surplus Value (1861–­1863), an enormous unfinished text that preceded the publication of the first volume of Capital, Marx links Jean-­ Baptiste Say to Ricardo and J. S. Mill. He criticizes the view, which prevails from Say to Ricardo, that “no gluts in the market . . . are possible.”68 Jean Charles Léonard de Sismondi, who took the opposite view, is in that respect an obvious influence on Marx. Some Marxists, such as Lenin, are strongly critical of Sismondi, but Marx is more positive. In Theories of Surplus Value, he credits his Swiss colleague with understanding, unlike Ricardo, that fundamental, immanent contradictions in capitalism will and must lead to its destabilization.69 Marx perhaps comes closest to formulating a general view of economic crisis in a critical account entitled “Ricardo’s Theory of Accumulation and a Critique of It (The Very Nature of Capital Leads to Crises).” According to Marx, crises in the world market reveal the contradictions and antagonisms of bourgeois production, whose apologists deny impending or even actual economic catastrophes. This does not mean that they believe there can be no economic catastrophe, which would be absurd. It rather means that it would not have occurred if the proper procedures had been followed. Marx goes on to argue that Ricardo’s defense of the view that there cannot be a general glut is mistakenly based on sub-

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stituting direct barter for commodities, hence in presenting an account that has in the meantime been superseded by the historical development of modern capitalism. Numerous observers believe that in turning to a serious study of economics Marx forever left Hegel behind, if he had not done so earlier. This is incorrect since in his later economic writings Marx is still dependent in many ways on the idealist philosopher. Marx’s view of economic crisis relies on a Hegelian conception of identity. Hegel formulates a conception of identity in the Difference between the System of Fichte and Schelling, his first philosophical publication. He maintains this conception in all his later writings. Parmenides suggests the identity of thought and being. According to Hegel, who may have Parmenides in mind, cognition requires an identity between identity and nonidentity or difference. This identity includes the knower who knows and what he knows; hence it is an epistemological claim about the consciousness of the object as it is given in phenomenal form to the knower, that is, the object for us, or in another formulation for we who know. It further includes an ontological claim about the object in itself, or as it is. Hegel understands the knowing process as the ongoing construction of an identity between what we know and what is known. Marx adopts this general view about the conditions of knowledge as the basis of his theory of economic crisis. His main claim, which is described in most detail in the Theories of Surplus Value, is a series of variations on the theme that, as he writes in the first volume of Capital, “if the split between the sale and the purchase become too pronounced,” that is, if difference is introduced into the identity, then the result is that “the intimate connection between them, their oneness, asserts itself by producing—­a crisis.”70 According to Marx, purchase and sale are two aspects of a continuous process, which belong together, and which only become independent through a destructive process. “Thus the crisis manifests the unity of the two phases that have become independent of each other. There would be no crisis without this inner unity of factors that are apparently indifferent to each other.”71 For Marx, denials of capitalist crisis by Ricardo and others misrepresent the specific nature of capitalist production. The difficulty lies in turning away from commodities in retaining use value but forgetting exchange value, which is, from Marx’s perspective, tantamount to substituting precapitalist barter for capitalism. Marx believes there is no reason there cannot be a general glut of commodities, hence a crisis of overproduction. “The general nature of the metamorphosis of

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commodities—­which includes the separation of purchase and sale just as it does their unity—­instead of excluding the possibility of a general glut, on the contrary, contains the possibility of a general glut.”72 Say, Ricardo, and others deny there can be a general glut on the market. Marx, who rejects this view, thinks economic crisis can, will, and in fact must arise through overproduction. He holds open the possibility that capitalism will later founder through an economic crisis in distantly relying on Say. The latter is concerned with the possibility of an economic crisis following from overproduction. He formulated a principle, now sometimes called Say’s law, or Say’s law of the markets, to describe a restricted form of crisis due to overproduction. According to Say, for whom products are paid for with products, “A glut can take place either because it [i.e., the commodity] has been produced in excessive abundance, or because the production of other commodities has fallen short.”73 In explaining his point at more length, he states: It is worthwhile to remark that a product is no sooner created than it, from that instant, affords a market for other products to the full extent of its own value. When the producer has put the finishing hand to his product, he is most anxious to sell it immediately, lest its value should diminish in his hands. Nor is he less anxious to dispose of the money he may get for it; for the value of money is also perishable. But the only way of getting rid of money is in the purchase of some product or other. Thus the mere circumstance of creation of one product immediately opens a vent for other products.74

This should not be read as anticipating the politically liberal doctrine, increasingly a staple of right-­wing politics, that supply creates demand, a view known to the general public as the so-­called trickle-­down theory, and more recently as the Laffer curve. It should rather be understood as the economic claim that production, in creating income, creates the possibility for consumption. Marx Attacks Ricardo’s View of Profit Marx’s conviction that generalized overproduction is possible is linked to his view of the tendency of the declining rate of profit. His attack on Ricardo’s view of profit, hence his defense of the theory of the declining rate of profit, begins earlier in the Theories of Surplus Value. The preceding chapter, entitled “Ricardo’s Theory of Profit,” considers his distinction between surplus value and profit. Marx, who expounds Ricardo’s explanation for the fall of the rate of profit in connection with the lat-

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ter’s theory of rent,75 thinks Ricardo makes two false assumptions: he believes rent is determined by the diminishing productivity of agriculture, and he understands the rate of profit as equal to relative surplus value.76 Marx draws the conclusions of his analysis of Ricardo’s view of the falling rate of profit in the next chapter, entitled “Ricardo’s Theory of Accumulation and a Critique of It.” Marx here develops his view that the very nature of capital leads to crises. The chapter begins in focusing on Smith’s supposed error, which is reproduced by Ricardo, in Marx’s eyes the most important contemporary economist. Marx follows Ricardo and other classical economists in distinguishing between fixed and circulating capital. Marx further differentiates between constant capital, including fixed assets, raw materials, and incidental expenses of production, and variable capital, or labor costs. He accuses Ricardo of failing to take into account constant capital. The Marxian critique of Ricardo aims at the classical economic view that, though modern industrial society requires adjustments from time to time, it is generally economically stable. This is not because a business cycle does not exist but rather by virtue of the shared modern view that a general glut is impossible. Marx’s twofold aim is to show that the possibility of crises is contained in the general nature of capital and that a general economic crisis can, will, and must occur to transform capitalism into communism. Probably no one now denies either the possibility of economic crises of varying importance and frequency or that economic crises are normal in modern industrial society. Yet the controversial claim for the inevitable occurrence at some future time of a cataclysmic economic crisis, that is, an abnormal economic crisis that, because of factors intrinsic to modern industrial society will inevitably bring capitalism to its economic knees, has never been demonstrated. Marx, like Hegel, stresses the importance of the concrete over the abstract throughout his writings. Yet his economic analysis is not, certainly not by today’s standards, empirical but rather conceptual. If the alternative were between qualitative and quantitative approaches to economic phenomena, then Marx’s economic approach, which is mainly not quantitative, since it is for the most part not based on empirical data, would be qualitative. Though Marx does not cite any data, he insists that his results are, as he says at the beginning of the Paris Manuscripts, the result of “a wholly empirical analysis.”77 Yet the difference with respect to contemporary economic debate is clear. Thus Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff, joint authors of what is currently the most complete quantitative investigation

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of financial crises (extending over eight centuries, going back to twelfth-­ century China and medieval Europe, and encompassing sixty-­six countries), base their work on extensive empirical data.78 Marx’s theory of the modern world is economic as well as obviously philosophical. The economic and the philosophical elements of the Marx­ ian position are very different. Marx’s economic theory is more often formulated in anecdotal and moral terms than through reference to the databases in vogue in the current version of economic science but that did not exist when Marx was active. Marx’s philosophical perspective, as noted above, is basically speculative. Marx’s lack, from the present perspective, of a stronger quantitative dimension is typical of his period. Thomas Piketty points out that Marx, like David Malthus, Ricardo, and many others, discusses inequality without adducing sources or methods enabling a quantitative comparison between different periods or even a choice between different hypotheses.79 Even granting the difference in the availability of reliable economic statistics in Marx’s day and ours, he is sparing in his reliance on quantitative documentation. In making his case he does not, as one would presumably do today, examine data sets in comparing the economic evolution of different countries over time as Reinhardt and Rogoff do. Nor does he devote much attention to different kinds of crises, for instance sovereign debt crises, banking crises, and so on. Rather, he makes his case for a general economic crisis in criticizing classical economists. The latter deny the possibility of a general crisis due to overproduction on the grounds that, when products are exchanged for other products, supply and demand correspond. “The conception (which really belongs to Mill), adopted by Ricardo from the tedious Say . . . that overproduction is not possible or at least that no general glut of the market is possible, is based on the proposition that products are exchanged against products, or as Mill puts it, on the ‘metaphysical equilibrium of sellers and buyers,’ and this led to [the conclusion] that demand is determined only by production, or also that demand and supply are identical.”80 Marx thinks that the driving force of capitalist production is the expansion of surplus value. He further believes that catastrophes can occur in the circulation process, which cannot be grasped through the formula that products are exchanged for products, which goes back to Aristotle.81 According to Marx, the fundamental principle of the circulation process of capital is the comparison of value in different periods. He thinks capital can be destroyed in two ways in economic crises: if the reproductive or labor process is hindered, or through the depreciation of values, such as the

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fall in commodity prices. Marx attributes to Ricardo the view that overproduction is impossible, since a plethora of capital is not possible.82 He devotes special attention to the latter’s denial of general overproduction, more precisely to the contradiction between commodities and money. According to Marx, observers distinguish between the theoretical claim that there cannot be a glut and crises in fact exhibiting a glut. Apologists, he claims, suggest gluts arise only through failing to follow textbook procedures, hence deny there are crises. Marx, on the contrary, thinks crises are not illusory but real. He attributes them to the destructive process resulting from the independence of purchase and sale, in short to the destruction of unity or, again, identity. “It is just the crisis in which they assert their unity, the unity of the different aspects. The independence, which these two linked and complimentary phases assume in relation to each other, is forcibly destroyed. Thus the crisis manifests the unity of the two phases that have become independent of each other. There would be no crisis without this inner unity of factors that are apparently indifferent to each other.”83 According to Marx, the denial of crises is based on denying the specificity of capitalist production through recurring to the precapitalist system of barter, in which there are no commodities. When this occurs, there is no contradiction between use value and exchange value, no difference between commodities and money, and so on. Marx argues there are no crises in the precapitalist situation of barter, but there are crises in capitalism. He goes on to make two broad claims about overproduction.84 First, before a crisis there is general inflation in commodity prices resulting in a relative, but not an absolute, excess. Second, a crisis becomes general when it affects the principal commodities. Marx attributes Ricardo’s denial of a glut to a mistaken view of production and consumption. According to Marx, Ricardo concedes there can be a glut in one or another commodity, but not a generalized glut, since different needs are satisfied at different times. The Mature Marxian View of Economic Crisis After these opening remarks on Ricardo, Marx goes on to sketch the lineaments of a view of crisis, while at intervals coming back to Ricardo. Since Marx was unable to complete his studies of surplus value, this part of the text is obviously not in final form. In expounding his general view, Marx at different times distinguishes between the idea that economic crisis manifests the contradictions of bourgeois economy, forms of crisis, contradictions between production and consumption, the expansion of the

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market and of production, the contradiction leading to overproduction, and so on. The exposition, which is obviously unfinished, is tedious and repetitious. It will be sufficient to summarize it in part. Marx begins with the view that crises of all kinds manifest the contradictions of bourgeois economy. From the perspective of identity, he again insists that crisis, or what, from a Hegelian perspective, he calls “the forcible assertion of the unity of phases of the production process,”85 is possible only because the sale and the purchase of commodities can be separated. The metamorphosis of the commodity in the circulation process, or C-­M-­C', represents the first or most abstract form of crisis, in short its possibility. The second form is due to the function of money as a means of payment. For if the flax grower does not pay the spinner and so on, a general crisis becomes possible. According to Marx, an economic crisis can occur in two situations only: if purchase and sale are separated or if there is a contradiction with respect to money as a means of payment.86 Marx reinforces this point in observing that economists, who deny crises, assert the unity of purchase and sale, whereas he insists a crisis only occurs when they have become separated and are forcibly united. Marx further considers different forms of crisis. He thinks that the gen­ eral possibility of crisis is never the cause of a specific crisis. He notes that a crisis can occur through the reconversion of money into capital or through changes in the value of productive capital. But he denies any identity between producers and consumers. According to Marx, apologists who deny economic crises assert unity where there is contradiction and conflict, which in turn cause crises.87 Marx, who credits Ricardo with belief in the unlimited expansion of the market, points out that the mere possibility of market expansion raises the specter of overproduction, which he attributes to the supposed contradiction between “impetuous” development of the powers of production and limited consumption. According to Marx, who levels against economists the point that Engels raises against idealism, classical economics is not concrete but rather abstract, since classical economists fail “to grasp the specific forms of bourgeois production,” which they rather consider as “production as such.”88 As before, Marx is particularly attentive to claims that deny overproduction. According to Marx, apologists, who support Ricardo’s view that simultaneous overproduction in all spheres is impossible in denying a general glut in the market, rely on the sophistry that if there were universal overproduction, the result would merely be proportional. Hence, one might claim that England has overproduced but Italy has underproduced. Now those who deny the overproduction of commodities admit the overproduction of capital, or “reproduction on too large a scale, 176

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which” as Marx notes, “is the same thing as over-­production pure and simple.”89 He brings the chapter to a close through a series of remarks on Ricardo’s views of accumulation of capital and its consequences, but without adding to what he has already said. Financial Crisis and the Marxian Model of Economic Crisis It is a truism to say that capitalism has changed in many ways since Marx was active. One way is through the enormous and increasingly rapid development of the financial sector. The changes are rapid and important. The financial sector includes financial services, such as credit card companies; credit unions; finance companies; stock brokerages; and so on. Financial services, which, exclusive of farm income, represented roughly 10 percent of the Standard & Poor’s capitalization in 1947, represented roughly 20 percent in 2004 as well as 20 percent of all corporate income. Since then the financial sector has continued to grow rapidly. Finance, which is routinely understood to concern the allocation of resources over time, is usually subdivided into public, corporate, and personal finance. It is related to capital through equity and debt in order to buy goods and services. Financial crises, which result in a loss in paper wealth, do not necessarily lead to crises or other changes in the real economy. In the last two centuries there have been financial crises associated with banking panics, market crises, financial bubbles, currency crises, sovereign defaults, and so on. But there is apparently no generally accepted theory of financial crisis. Marx lived in a period before the rapid development of the finan­cial sector. In Marx’s day capitalism was in an expansionary phase that many observers think is now ended. At the time, the financial sector was comparatively smaller, hence less significant, and so on. Since he understands crisis in terms of an economic model, he is arguably not equipped or not fully equipped to analyze a financial crisis, such as the great recession of 2008. Observers disagree about the cause and nature of this financial crisis. Robert Brenner, who is pessimistic about capitalism, suggests, distantly following Marx, that the problems that arose prior to the great recession as well as later reflect unavoidable difficulties intrinsic to capitalism.90 Richard Posner, who is optimistic about capitalism, suggests the great recession could have been avoided if correct policies had been followed. He acknowledges a basic difference between the public view and the deeper reality.91 Yet he denies that the great recession was due to a combination of speculation, greedy bankers, or pure irrationality, which allows policy 177

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makers to evade responsibility. He argues that on the contrary the great recession beginning in 2008 was the result of two specific policy failures: the Federal Reserve embraced a monetary policy that was too loose for too long, and financial regulatory norms were not enforced. It is not necessary for present purposes to take sides in the disagreement between Brenner and Posner. It will be sufficient to examine whether Marx’s account of economic crisis is even possibly adequate to treat financial crises. Marx’s economic, mainly nonfinancial focus, which is consistent with the period in which he was active, offers no obvious way to treat financial crises. This is merely another indication that, as Joan Robinson says, though Marx’s questions are singularly important, the theory as a whole, including the view of crises, needs to be updated, since “the world picture has slipped out of the frame of Marx’s argument.”92 Now one can argue on behalf of Marx that his theory remains relevant, since the distinction between a financial crisis and an economic crisis is unimportant. Some observers, for instance Peter Hudis, attempt to minimize the distinction in calling attention to “the worldwide financial and economic crisis that began in 2008.”93 Yet this and similar approaches simply overlook the basic difference between types of economic crisis, which in turn results in the relevance or irrelevance of economic approaches elaborated at an earlier period when the economic situation was different from what now prevails. Economic Crisis and Value Theory Marx’s account of economic crisis is linked to his view of the transition from capitalism to communism. In this context, Marx calls attention to the link between value, including the tendency of the declining rate of profit, and the normal functioning of modern capitalism. Academic economists routinely reject Marx’s controversial account of value. In a recent article on the classical conception of surplus, H. D. Kurz states without argument that, as Ladislaus Bortkiewicz has shown, Marx’s account of the transformation of value into price is untenable.94 According to Kurz, if we accept Marx’s view of value, hence his conception of the declining rate of profit as a primary cause of economic crisis, we can at most understand that there will be business cycles, hence crises. Though it is possible capitalism will transform itself into communism, this inference does not follow from Marxian economic theory. Marx’s argument derives from his understanding of value, surplus value, the falling rate of profit, and economic crisis as follows: There is

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a distinction between barter, in which things are directly exchanged for other things, and capitalism, in which commodities are exchanged in the process through which capital is converted into money, which is in turn converted into capital. According to Marx, capitalism presupposes the labor theory of value. The origin of the view that value is based on labor, which is not original in Marx, is attributed to many earlier writers, including Thomas Aquinas, Ibn Khaldun, William Petty, John Locke, and Benjamin Franklin. A labor theory of value is further stated in different ways by a series of classical economists from Smith through Ricardo. Marx’s value theory (or labor theory of value) is a distant modification of Smith’s view that what something is worth is a function of the labor contained in it and Smith’s view that this value is a historical variable. Smith, as Marx later does, distinguishes between use value and exchange value. The word

value,

it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes ex-

presses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called “value in use”; the other, “value in exchange.” The things, which have the greatest value in use, have frequently little or no value in exchange; and on the contrary, those, which have the greatest value in exchange, have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce any thing; scarce any thing can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.95

According to Smith, “Equal quantities of labor must at all times and places be of equal value to the laborer. In his ordinary state of health, strength, and spirits; in the ordinary degree of his skill and dexterity, he must always lay down the same portion of his ease, his liberty, and his happiness.”96 He further believes that “the real price of every thing, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. What every thing is really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to dispose of it or exchange it for something else, is the toil and trouble which it can save to himself, and which it can impose upon other people.”97 Marx, who attributes a subjective, qualitative view of value to Smith, opposes it in adopting an objective quantitative view of value. In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy he writes, “[Smith] fails to see the objective equalization of different kinds of labor which the social process forcibly carries out, mistaking it for the subjective equality of the

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labors of individuals.”98 Marx follows Ricardo and other classical economists in his view of value as a quantitative exchange value in monetary terms of the labor necessary to make the commodity. Marx’s value theory has evoked an enormous number of reactions centering on the difference between the value and the price of the commodity. It will be sufficient here to present a representative sample of some main views. According to Eugen Böhm-­Bawerk, Marx’s position depends on an inconsistent value theory, since he has different views in Capital, volume 1, and Capital, volume 3.99 He is answered by Rudolf Hilferding, who defends the Marxian law of value as the law of motion of capitalist society. Hilferding thinks that Böhm-­Bawerk misreads Marx’s value theory as subjective and not objective: With Marx, in fact, every individual relationship is excluded from the conception of value-­creating labor; labor is regarded, not as something which arouses feelings of pleasure or its opposite, but as an objective magnitude, inherent in the commodities, and determined by the degree of development of social productivity. For Böhm-­ Bawerk, labor seems to be merely one of the determinants in personal estimates of value, since in Marx’s view labor is the basis and connective tissue of human society, and in Marx’s view the degree of productivity of labor and the method of organization of labor determine the character of social life. Since labor, viewed in its social function as the total labor of society of which each individual labor forms merely an aliquot part, is made the principle of value, economic phenomena are subordinated to objective laws independent of the individual will and controlled by social relationships. Beneath the husk of economic categories we discover social relationships, relationships of production, wherein commodities play the part of intermediaries, the social relationships being reproduced by these intermediate processes, or undergoing a gradual transformation until they demand a new type of intermediation.100

The many critics of Marxian value theory are influentially answered by Robinson. She circumvents the dispute between those who reject any version of the theory, such as Böhm-­Bawerk; those who respond on Marx’s behalf, such as Hilferding; those who reformulate his theory to meet objections, for instance Mikhail Tugan-­Baranovsky; and finally Bortkiewicz, who proves the inconsistently of the value theory, which he reconstructs.101 According to Robinson, Marx’s position does not depend on his value theory. But the value theory, including the view of the declining rate of profit, is confused and simply wrong.102 Robinson is in turn answered by Paul Sweezy, who claims Bortkiewicz vindicates Marx’s labor theory of value;103 by Paul Samuelson, who insists that someone interested in Marx should reject the view of Capital, volume 1, in favor 180

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of Capital, volume 3;104 and more recently by Andrew Kliman, who says that on the correct interpretation Marx’s theory of value is consistent but refrains from defending it.105 In claiming there is a tendency for a falling rate of profit, Marx appears to be following the prevailing view in the nineteenth century.106 When Marx was active, it was widely thought that there was a tendency for the rate of profit to fall. This view is in part already articulated by Smith. In chapter 9 of The Wealth of Nations, entitled “On the Profits of Stock,” he links profits to stock and interest: “Wherever a great deal can be made by the use of money, a great deal will commonly be given for the use of it; and that wherever little can be made by it, less will commonly be given for it. According, therefore, as the usual market rate of interest varies in any country, we may be assured that the ordinary profits of stock must vary with it, must sink as it sinks, and rise as it rises. The progress of interest, therefore, may lead us to form some notion of the progress of profit.”107 He also claims even more directly that “the increase of stock, which raises wages, tends to lower profit.”108 He further suggests that, though it is very difficult to calculate the rate of profit, the decrease in profit is the result of prosperity.109 The view of the declining rate of profit Smith articulated in the late eighteenth century proved to be influential. Its later defenders in the nineteenth century include such classical economists as J. S. Mill, Ricardo, Stanley Jevons, and others. Marx in effect corrects Smith’s and later formulations of the fall of the rate of profit. According to Marx, Smith knows neither crises due to overproduction nor overproduction but only credit and monetary crises.110 In fact, far from thinking of the falling rate of profit as a threat to capitalism, Marx thinks Smith sees “the falling rate of profit with satisfaction.”111 Marx believes that Ricardo, on the other hand, regards the fall in the rate of profit as an effect of the accumulation of capital and the growth of population, hence on quasi-­Malthusian grounds.112 In chapter 12 of volume 2 of Theories of Surplus Value, Marx refutes Ricardo’s and Smith’s shared theory of cost-­price. He further criticizes “Adam Smith’s Theory of the ‘Natural Rate’ of Wages, Profit and Rent.” According to Marx, Smith grasps that profit and rent are only forms of surplus value. Marx believes Smith operates simultaneously with two different views: the correct view, which Marx takes over, namely that value depends on labor, and the incorrect view that, on the contrary, value depends on what is natural. Smith’s error lies in thinking there is a natural level of wages and profits, which does not determine the values of commodities but is rather determined by it. Thus he substitutes “the natural price or cost-­price of the commodity with its value,”113 which, according to 181

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the Marxian labor theory of value, is a function of labor. In competition, the cost-­price seems to be a function of the average rate of wages, profit, and rent, which Smith understands as fixing the natural price, but which neglects the value of the commodity.114 According to Marx, the same mistake, which lies in conflating values and cost-­prices, is later perpetuated by Ricardo. Marx, who criticizes other views of profit, presents his own view of the falling rate of profit most clearly in the Grundrisse, where he closely anticipates the conception he later develops in Capital, volume 3, perhaps most famously in chapter 13. There is no doubt that he considers this law important. In section 3 of the Grundrisse, entitled “Capital as Fructiferous: Transformation of Surplus Value into Profit,” Marx says about the law of the declining rate of profit: “If the rate of profit of the larger capital, as compared with the smaller, it declines just as much as the rate of profit does. In every respect, this is the most important law of modern political economy.”115 Marx goes on to indicate there is a natural limit to the development of capitalism. “Beyond a certain point, the development of the powers of capitalism become a barrier for capital; hence the capital relation is a barrier for the development of the productive powers of labor.”116 Now returning to the growing incompatibility between the forces of production and the mode of production, a view famously described in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx writes: “The growing discordance between the productive development of society and the relations of production hitherto characteristic of it, is expressed in acute contradictions, crises, convulsions.”117 Marx is obviously making two points. On the one hand, the development of capital shows the need to pass beyond a given stage in entering into a different stage, as he says “through transition to a higher stage of social production.”118 On the other hand, there is a limit to capitalism itself. In other words, the cyclical process typical of the development of capital finally encounters a limit, leading to the abolition of the institution of private property and the transition to a different social system, or communism. Now returning to the violent metaphor evoked by the development of capitalism, Marx links the development of capitalism, the decline in the rate of profit, and economic crisis to the overthrow of capitalism itself: “These contradictions lead to explosions, cataclysms, crises. . . . Yet, these regularly recurring catastrophes lead to their repetition on a higher scale, and finally to its violent overthrow.”119 The importance of this set of passages is that Marx here clearly links the decline of the rate of profit to one or more economic crises and eventually to a supposedly final cataclysm in which capitalism gives way to 182

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another social stage. Marx further expounds the tendency of the falling rate of profit, which is absent in the first volume of Capital, in the third volume of Capital. Limitations to the Falling Rate of Profit In setting out his own theory in Capital, Marx makes the simple but abstract argument, which is not based on empirical data, that an increase in constant capital decreases surplus value, hence brings about a fall in the general rate of profit. According to Marx, there is a tendency over time for constant capital, or the productivity of labor, to increase hence for variable capital and the general rate of profit to decrease. “The progressive tendency for the general rate of profit to fall is thus simply the expression, peculiar to the capitalist mode of production, of the progressive development of the social productivity of labor.”120 Since profit is another name for surplus value, this fall expresses the falling ratio between surplus value and total capital. In Capital, volume 3, after stating the law of the tendency of the falling rate of profit in chapter 13, he qualifies his view in chapter 14, entitled “Counteracting Factors,” in listing no less than six countervailing tendencies. A clue to Marx’s intentions is indicated in chapter 15, entitled “Development of the Law’s Internal Contradictions.” Marx distinguishes between the exploitation of labor, or the production of surplus value, which is the main aim of capitalism, and which, as he says, is objectified in commodities, and the fall of the rate of profit. In his account of the law’s so-­called internal contradictions, Marx claims that the fall in the rate of profit “promotes overproduction, speculation and crises, and leads to the existence of excess capital alongside a surplus population” in pointing “to the restrictiveness and the solely historical and transitory character of the capitalist mode of production.”121 Yet Marx’s argument fails to support the latter inference. Marx identifies a series of four mechanisms linked to a general crisis. One mechanism concerns the ability or inability to sell commodities, hence to realize surplus value. As Marx points out, in order to avoid underconsumption, overproduction, or a glut on the market, the latter must be constantly extended. In Marx’s view, surplus value is only produced by labor. Hence a second mechanism is contained in the fact that, if the rate of profit falls, then less labor is supplied because the composition of capital changes. The development of social productivity, which occurs either through an increase in productivity or the diminution of wages only retards but does not prevent the fall in the rate of profit. In Marx’s 183

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opinion, crises due to so-­called contradictions can only be overcome in the short run. He thinks of crises as “violent eruptions which for a time restore the disturbed equilibrium.”122 According to Marx, capitalism is a self-­ developing process in which capital itself continually throws up barriers to its further valorization due to the immanent contradiction between it and the impoverished masses, or between capital’s task and the relations of production. The reason is that, as has already been noted, he thinks capital is itself a barrier to further production. Third, on Marx’s model the fall of the rate of profit leads to an increase in necessary capital, which brings about a further drop in the rate of profit as well as increased competition among the capitalists. There is finally a fourth mechanism, which Marx mentions in passing but does not emphasize, that is, the increase in the productivity of labor leads to the decrease of variable capital, or in other words, the rise of the proportion of dead labor to living labor. As Marx points out, “this reduction in the total quantity of labor going into a commodity seems, accordingly, to be the essential criterion of increased productive power of labor.”123 Croce, Okishio, Piketty, and the Falling Rate of Profit Marx’s claim for the tendency of the falling rate of profit was always controversial. Leszek Kolakowski notes that it was opposed by a series of Russian Marxists, including B. G. Struve, Sergei Bulgakov, and Tugan-­ Baranovsky.124 It was opposed as well by Luxemburg on the basis of her theory of accumulation, which her critics sometimes mistakenly refer to as the theory of the automatic collapse of capital.125 Luxemburg, who did not hold this latter view, rather argues that capitalism depends for its functioning on access to noncapitalist markets. This suggests that there is a natural limit, or a final point at which capitalism must break down. This claim is specifically rejected by a number of Marxists. For instance Tugan-­Baranovsky, who opposes the idea of the historical inevitability of the collapse of capitalism, thinks that accumulation can go on indefinitely. Other Marxists who reject the argument from historical inevitability include Hilferding, Kautsky, Otto Eckstein, P. T. Bauer, Anton Pannekoek, and Lenin. Luxemburg, who is an exception, denies capitalism will endure until it runs out of precapitalist markets. Though it could theoretically occur, in practice this will not be the case. She believes that for political reasons capitalism will be overthrown by its own internal contradictions, leading to an economic collapse well before that fatal moment:

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Capital accumulation progresses and expands at the expense of non-­capitalist strata and countries, squeezing them out at an ever-­faster rate. The general tendency and final result of this process is the exclusive world rule of capitalist production. Once this is achieved, Marx’s schema comes into effect: at that point, accumulation—­that is, the further expansion of capital—­becomes impossible. Capitalism is caught in a blind alley. . . . Can this situation really ever come about? In general and for the most part this is merely a theoretical fiction, precisely because the accumulation of capital is not just an economic process but also a political one.126

What can we say about this view early in the twenty-­first century? Since Marx bases his argument on abstract considerations, his theory is open to theoretical as well as to empirical refutation. The theoretical debate, which is long and complex, cannot be summarized here. Suffice it to say there appear to be three standard criticisms: first, in raising productivity, the rate of profit can also be raised, since, as individual productivity rises, fewer workers can produce more. This view is supported, as noted, by Smith’s famous example of the production of pins. A second point is that the average rate of profitability, which depends on specific economic conditions prevailing in a given time period, is difficult to predict. Thus the failure of the French economy to grow during much of 2014 can in part be attributed to the consequences of politically motivated German insistence on austerity measures in the European Union rather than increased investment to promote economic expansion. Finally, it is objected that the labor theory of value is mistaken, since in practice, as old investments are consolidated, hence reducing the initial high rate of profit, investors turn rapidly toward new opportunities. For example, someone who wishes to invest now in mobile telephony might wish to turn toward Apple, which seems to be overcoming earlier difficulty in penetrating the Chinese market, but away from Samsung, which is rapidly losing Chinese market share to two Chinese companies, Xiaomi and Huawei. More specific arguments against the Marxian view of profit are advanced independently by such non-­Marxist observers as Benedetto Croce, Nobuo Okishio, and Piketty. Croce, who is a philosopher, not an economist, provides a sophisticated critique of the law of the falling rate profit in a book devoted to the clarification of central themes in the Marxian position. His book is even more interesting in that the first edition appeared in 1900,127 when many essential items in Marx’s bibliography, including such more economic writings as the Grundrisse, and the Theories of Surplus Value, had not yet appeared.

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According to Croce, the law of the falling rate of profit cannot be deduced. His reason is that this law is a mere tendency countered by other facts.128 He plausibly contends that technical improvement does not decrease but rather increases profit.129 Croce thinks that Marx’s effort to demonstrate the need to increase investment over time, hence to augment fixed as opposed to floating capital, does not improve but rather undermines the financial prospects of capitalism. Croce thinks that Marx’s law of the falling rate of profit refers to a tendency but not a law. He believes this tendency is counteracted by other factors, so that the result of additional investment is not the decline but rather the strengthening of modern industrial society, hence the opposite of what Marx seeks to prove.130 According to Croce, Marx conflates two “groups of facts,” including technical improvement and other effects. Croce contends that technical improvement does not increase but rather limits the capital employed. He further notes but does not take into account other effects that might arise, including an increase in population, greater consumption, increase in production and so on.131 Technical improvement, as he points out, increases output. Now we recall that, according to the labor theory of value, value is produced through work or labor only. Since technical improvement increases the rate of output, it simultaneously decreases the number of workers required for a given quantity of output and increases unemployment. Yet the rate of the production of surplus value remains unchanged. But, since fewer workers are required to produce the same output, their overall amount decreases. With that in mind, Croce formulates a rival economic law as follows: “Technical improvement, supposing all the other conditions remain unchanged, causes a decrease in the amount (not the rate) of surplus-­value and of profits.”132 It follows that, since as a result of technical improvement fewer workers can do the work than were earlier necessary, less labor-­time is necessary for the same result, so fewer workers must be employed, or, again, the same amount of capital will produce less value. In other words, as Croce hastens to point out, “An equal amount of profits with a smaller total capital means an increased rate of profits.”133 In short, increased investment does not weaken but rather strengthens capitalism. The moral, which is important, is that technical improvement does not weaken but rather strengthens capitalism by increasing output and lowering the cost, hence increasing profit. Marx’s mistake lies, Croce contends, in that he “attributed a greater value to the fixed capital, which after the technical improvement is worked by the same laborers as before.”134 Croce’s theoretical critique centers on the Marxian theory of the falling rate of profit. More recently this law has been criticized from an em­ 186

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pirical perspective. Marx, who measures value in terms of labor-­time, assumes productivity is constant. Okishio and Piketty both address variations on the theme that, if cost is constant but marginal productivity increases, and everything else remains the same, there is an increase in the rate of profit. According to Okishio, who considers the result of technological progress, “If the newly introduced technique satisfies the cost criterion [i.e., if it reduces unit costs, given current prices] and the rate of real wages remains constant, then the rate of profit must increase.”135 The intuitive point is that if real wages are constant, then technical innovation should lower production costs in causing other costs to fall and the rate of profit to rise. In such a situation, the rate of profit will only fall if the increase in productivity causes real wages to rise. It is then obvious that employers have an incentive never to raise wages and whenever possible to lower them. This explains persistent conflicts in the first world about the wisdom of a minimum wage. This view is sometimes regarded as neo-­Ricardian, since the English economist thinks a fall in the rate of profit can only occur if wages rise. A related argument is made by Piketty in his important study Capital in the Twenty-­First Century. His main thesis is that, as he writes, “once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future.”136 This thesis leads him to reject Marx’s view of the falling rate of profit.137 According to Piketty, it is difficult to grasp Marx’s thesis, which is not formulated clearly, and which does not rely on a mathematical model, but rather uses an anecdotal approach. Pi­ ketty believes Marx’s analysis best corresponds to the case in which there is no structural growth, which is necessary for the accumulation of capital. Piketty points out that before the work of Robert Solow in the 1950s, the view of structural growth through a lasting increase in productivity was not well understood. He thinks we now know that only an increase in productivity leads to a long-­term increase in growth. He goes on to assert that “experience suggests that the predictable rise in the capital/ income ratio will not necessarily lead to a significant drop in the return on capital.”138 Critical Remarks on the Marxian Model of the Final Economic Crisis Engels as well as the members of the Second International generally expected the sharpening of internal contradictions to lead to capitalism’s collapse. It is difficult to determine Marx’s precise view. 187

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In the unfinished third volume of Capital quarried from his Nachlass Marx quickly summarizes his account of barriers to capitalist production in two points: first, the falling rate of profit leads to crises, and, second, the rate of profit determines the level of production.139 Both points seem correct about the normal functioning of modern capitalism. Yet either separately or together they say nothing about the transition from the capitalist economic system to a successor system, much less about a successful transition to communism. Hence they are insufficient to justify the conclusion Marx has in mind. In part, the difficulty lies in the status of the falling rate of profit. Marx frequently suggests it is a “law,” though the meaning of this term remains unclear. How does he understand an economic “law”? How does he understand this economic “law”? For instance, is an economic law comparable to, say, a law of nature? Marx, who understands this so-­called law in an economic context, seems to be making at least three related claims: over time profit diminishes; the diminution of profit leads to a business cycle in which there are economic crises; and the cycle of crises not fortuitously but necessarily culminates in a giant crisis leading to the abolition of private property and the transition from capitalism to communism. Now, the first claim, which was widely shared in Marx’s time, needs to be supported through empirical data, which neither Marx nor to the best of my knowledge any other economist of his period provides. The second claim seems unobjectionable. I am not aware of any observer who denies that a decrease in profit leads to business cycles as well as economic crises. The question is rather whether the Marxian approach yields an acceptable conception of crisis so that perceived events support, or sufficiently support, the inference that a decrease in profit leads to economic crises that must or at least conceivably might bring about the failure of capitalism, hence the transition away from capitalism. The link between the tendency of the falling rate of profit, or profits, and economic crisis is complex but often invoked and relatively clear. How one analyzes this link in practice depends on the underlying theoretical approach. Brenner, for instance, is sympathetic to, but critical of, the Marxian view of profit. He thinks that in the period from 1965 to 1973 a long-­term crisis arose in the G7 through reduced profit, leading in turn to reductions in investment, productivity, wages, and unemployment as well as severe recession.140 In a later update, he claims that persistent overcapacity suggests the difficulty of overcoming the problem.141 Different claims are in play. They include the view that profit falls or tends to fall over time, the further view that there is a link between profits

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and economic crisis, and finally the view that a decrease in profits will lead to the transition from capitalism to communism. A claim that over time profits decrease, or that this decrease leads to economic crisis, suggests capitalism is increasingly diminished, or beset with difficulties, but at least for the moment still viable. The further claim that by virtue of the fall in profits or economic crises occurring either separately or together capitalism will give way to communism suggests it has reached the point at which it is no longer viable, since capitalists do not regard it as a reliable source of surplus value. How could this happen? Certainly this would not result through ordinary competition. If we assume with Marx that profit is the driving force of capitalist production, and if we further assume that profit tends to decline, then it is at least theoretically possible that the rate of profit could decline to zero. Indeed Marx is sometimes read as if he expected profit to disappear. Thus Piketty, as noted, thinks Marx’s theory is based on the idea of no growth at all in the long term.142 Yet since there is neither a practical nor a theoretical reason to justify this inference, it follows that Marx’s repeated statement that capitalism is merely a transitory mode of production,143 which is not justified by his economic analysis either in theory or in practice, is not justified at all. An Excursus on Marx and Financial Crisis Adjustment of Marx’s model of modern industrial society to take into account changes in capitalism after Marx passed from the scene does not consolidate, but rather appears to undermine, his view of its economic self-­destruction. Capital is a historical variable. In the mid-­1840s, when he began to study political economy, Marx considered capital broadly from the contemporary perspective of Ricardo, who restated a view that, he thought, had not changed since the time of Smith. Yet, since Marx was active, capital has undergone a series of major changes, including the increasing transformation of land in the eighteenth century into capital based on property, industry, and increasingly the rise of the financial sector in the twenty-­first century. In part because finance did not play the increasingly important role it now plays when Marx was active, it has been noted several times that he has comparatively little to say about it. In the meantime, Marxism has greatly expanded the Marxian account of the financial sector of the economy in the writings of Kautsky, Hilferding, Lenin, and others. Marxist theories of finance are indebted to post-­Marxian studies of imperialism and finance carried out by, for example, John A. Hobson,

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Hilferding, and Lenin. Hobson began as an economist with a book, which was badly received, opposing Say’s law. He later became a journalist covering the Second Boer War (1899–­1902). According to the OED, “imperialism” is “a policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means.” In Imperialism: A Study (1902), Hobson argues that the main cause of imperialism, which is synonymous with colonization, is an excess of capital, which cannot profitably be employed in the home country. Hobson’s book is divided into two parts. The first part studies the economic origins of imperialism, and the second part describes its mission of civilizing so-­ called lower or alien peoples. Hobson, who was a political liberal, close to social democracy, proposes to counter imperialist tendencies through social reforms at home and enlightened foreign policy. Hobson, who was not a Marxist, later influenced a long line of Marxists, including Hilferding and Lenin. The latter, who typically objects to deviation within Marxism from his view of the Marxist norm, atypically overlooks Hobson’s political inclinations in further developing the latter’s ideas about imperialism. In Hobson’s wake, imperialism is interpreted in different ways. Examples include a competitive struggle within capitalism as large corporations seek to carve up the world through controlling markets and access to raw materials, or as an excess of surplus value through reduced competition leading to an emphasis on armaments and so on. Marxism later appeared to move away from the concept of imperialism. According to Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, the era of imperialism is now over, since no single state can at present form the center of an imperialist project as was earlier the case.144 Hilferding argues against Marx that the concentration of capital is not destabilizing but rather stabilizing. His Finance Capital: A Study of the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development (1910),145 is an important contribution to Marxist theory. This book provides a broad analysis of major changes in capitalist economy, including the expansion of credit, the concentration and centralization of capital, the formation of cartels and trusts, the growing power of banks, and so on. Hilferding attributes an increasingly important role to bank capital, which, when he was active, was in the process of replacing individual capital. Hilferding’s theory of imperialism is based on a broader analysis of major changes in the capitalist economy. They include the great expansion of credit through joint stock companies and bank loans, the increasing concentration and centralization of capital in large corporations, the formation of cartels and trusts to control whole industries, and the growing

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power of banks in the economic system. He is especially interested in the development of an ever more intimate relationship between banks and industrial capital in which the banks are the dominant partners. Hilferding, who centers his research on Germany, thinks that taking possession of large Berlin banks would mean taking possession of the most important spheres of large-­scale industry. Though he was later criticized for focusing his study too much on Germany, his work is still often regarded as a model for rigorous understanding of the recent development of capitalism. Hilferding summarized the thrust of his theory of finance capital in two main theses, the theory of economic crisis and the theory of imperialism. He believes economic crisis depends on underconsumption, or overproduction, hence on the relation between supply and demand. According to Hilferding, the collapse of capitalism will be political and social but not economic. He presents his main thesis in a passage that should be cited at length. “Even today,” Hilferding writes, taking possession of six large Berlin banks would mean taking possession of the most important spheres of large-­scale industry, and would greatly facilitate the initial stages of socialist policy during the transition period, when capitalist accounting might still prove useful. . . . Since finance capital has already achieved expropriation to the extent required by socialism, it is possible to dispense with a sudden act of appropriation by the state, and to substitute a gradual process of socialization through the economic benefits which society will confer. While thus creating the final organizational prerequisites for socialism, finance capital also makes the transition easier in a political sense. The action of the capitalist class itself, as revealed in the policy of imperialism, necessarily directs the proletariat into the path of independent class politics, which can only end in the final overthrow of capitalism.146

This passage is as important for what it says as for what it does not say. Hilferding clearly supplements Marx in calling attention to the later concentration of finance capital by a few large banks, which lie at the center of modern capitalism. This claim seems as pertinent now as it was a hundred years ago when Hilferding formulated it. Marx analyzes economic crisis through the falling rate of profit, but Hilferding, who employs a different model, does not even mention this Marxian mechanism. Instead, his causal analysis relies on the classical economic mechanism of supply and demand. Second, his model dispenses with expropriation, which, he believes, has in effect already taken place. Though his specific model differs from Marx’s, he remains confident in the final overthrow

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of capitalism, not through violent revolution but rather through the rise of socialist policy, or what he elsewhere discusses under the heading of organized capitalism. Hilferding’s central thesis about the importance of finance capital was widely discussed by such figures as Bauer, Kautsky, Nikolai Bukharin, Lenin, Joseph Schumpeter, and others. Hilferding was an economist, and Lenin was a professional revolutionary, committed, unlike Hilferding, to violent revolution. In Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin appropriated central insights from Hobson, Hilferding, and others in sketching a composite picture of world capitalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. The contrast between Hilferding and Lenin, who relies on Hilferding, is striking. The former envisages the possibility of a peaceful transition from capitalism to a later phase instantiating a version of Marxian socialism. Lenin, who reads Marx differently, violently rejects the view of peaceful transition in favor of revolution in refuting all those who deny this conclusion. These include Kautsky, who has allegedly left Marx behind; Hilferding, who supposedly makes common cause with Kautsky; and Hobson, who is a social democrat. According to Lenin, an analysis of the ruling classes shows that the First World War was imperialist on both sides. He thought when he was writing that the world was on the eve of a worldwide proletarian revolution. Lenin’s description of imperialism mainly follows Hilferding’s.147 He argues, claiming to follow Marx, that concentration leads to monopolies, and he agrees that banks have in the meantime grown from middlemen into powerful monopolies. Lenin adopts Hilferding’s analysis in drawing different conclusions. According to Lenin, it is a bourgeois myth that cartels can abolish crises, since in fact crises increase the concentration of capital.148 Lenin thinks “the twentieth century marks the turning point from the domination of capital in general to the domination of finance capital.”149 He agrees with Hilferding that industrialists employ capital that belongs to banks, hence that bank capital is correctly also called finance capital. Further, like Hilferding, he thinks, “Finance capital is capital controlled by banks and employed by industrialists.”150 According to Lenin, for whom monopoly is the transition from capitalism to a higher system, capitalism only reaches imperialism when free competition is replaced by capitalist monopoly.151 Lenin, who regards imperialism as moribund capitalism, or capitalism in transition,152 sharply criticizes Kautsky, who supposedly errs in favoring a peaceful transition to democracy.153 It was always unclear if Marx’s claim for the economic transformation of capitalism into communism followed from his economic model. 192

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Since finance is an increasingly important part of modern industrial society, the addition, or perhaps better, strengthening of the financial component in Marx’s conception of modern industrial society by Hobson, Hilferding, Lenin, Schumpeter, and others at least in principle contributes to increasing the accuracy of the Marxian model. Though Lenin insists on political grounds against all others on the need for violent revolution, his conclusion does not follow from the financial revision of Marx’s original economic model. Hilferding and many later economists who study the financial world acknowledge the many difficulties of modern free enterprise. Yet they also point to the many financial adjustments that render capitalism not less but rather economically more stable, at the evident price of undermining the Marxian view of the eco­ nomic transition from capitalism to communism.

3. Transition through Politics It is sometimes said that the originality of Marx and Engels does not lie in the former’s economic or philosophical theories but in their joint contribution to politics.154 This seems incorrect. Marx, who devoted intensive effort over four decades to formulating a rival economic theory of capitalism, very obviously neglected the political theme in his writings. There are scattered political comments in his texts. Marx also discusses such specific political events as the class struggle in France and the Paris Commune in detail. He further provides a detailed economic analysis of capitalism. Yet he finally offers no more than a very rudimen­ tary, unsatisfactory account of the political process leading from capitalism to communism. He proclaims, to be sure, that after capitalism is driven to its knees, the proletariat will turn away from a system of economics based on private property and toward a system of economics in which private property no longer exists. But he provides no sustained account of this political process, no vision other than the generic idea of revolution, of how, when, and through what means the proletariat will wrest control of private property from the capitalist class. And he also fails to offer accounts of how the destruction of capitalism will lead to communism or contribute to the deeper question of human flourishing in the modern industrial space. Marxist political theory is not incidental but essential to the realization of Marx’s vision. His nonstandard theory of modern industrial society is a view of its practical transformation into communism. Yet Marx, 193

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perhaps because he formulated an alternative economic theory of capitalism, or for whatever other reason, failed to work out the political trans­ formation of capitalism into communism. Marx’s failure to formulate a political account of the transformation of modern industrial society is “remedied” by Marxism as its central contribution to realizing his theory of practice in practice. Marxist political theory, which supplements the Marxian theory of modern industrial society, implies the absence of a satisfactory economic solution in either theory or practice to the transition from a society based on the institution of private property to one in which it has been superseded. According to Marx the capitalists are expropriators, whom the proletariat have every right to, and eventually will, expropriate. Marx’s indications that the expropriators will expropriated were later developed by Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Mao, and others interested in applying his theory to practice. In seeking to fill the political void, these and other Marxists formulate crucial concepts, which Marx never clearly states, and which are perhaps sometimes incompatible in theory and in practice with his position. These concepts include three critical pillars equally important in Marxian and later Marxist political theory and practice: the dictatorship of the proletariat, a concept invented by Joseph Weydemeyer; the view of the withering away of the state, an approach traceable to Engels;155 and the idea of the party as the vanguard of the revolution, which is identified with Lenin. On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat Marx mentions but never defines the dictatorship of the proletariat. This concept is a key element in the Marxist effort to translate his theoretical vision of a better life into practice. In Marx’s writings, the dictatorship of the proletariat is, like Engels’s concept of the withering away of the state, a speculative concept introduced as an intermediary step in the political transition from capitalism to communism. Marx and Engels insist separately as well as together on the commitment to democracy. In “Proletarians and Communists,” the second chapter of The Communist Manifesto, they write that “the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy.”156 In “The Communists and Karl Heinzen,” Engels states: “In all civilized countries, democracy has as its necessary consequence the political rule of the proletariat, and the political rule of the proletariat is the first condition for all communist measures.”157

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There is a difference between the democratic commitment of Marx and Engels and Marxist reality. A half century ago, Hal Draper pointed out that the enemies of Marxism as well as its Stalinist practitioners both attribute a dictatorial meaning to revolutionary socialism, or the so-­called dictatorship of the proletariat. According to Draper, Marx, who opposes this view, regards the dictatorship of the proletariat as intrinsically democratic, more precisely as a form of representative democracy.158 Though Lenin uses the term “democracy,” in practice the Bolshevik dictatorship of the proletariat became, as Luxemburg presciently foresaw, a dictatorship over the proletariat. “Dictator,” a term that goes back to Roman times, and “dictatorship” are both widely mentioned prior to Marx. Draper usefully points out that until the nineteenth century dictatura mainly referred to a procedure specified in the Roman constitution and calling for limited emergency powers, roughly what is now called martial law, for a temporary one-­man ruler.159 The term “dictatorship of the proletariat” was initially formulated by Joseph Weydemeyer, a journalist and military author deeply interested in Marx’s views. Weydemeyer was a military officer in both Germany and then later, after emigrating, in the United States as well. He was also an active follower of Marxism. On January 1, 1852, he published an article entitled “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” in the New York Turn-­Zeitung. This term refers to a phase in the theory of the abolition of class struggle. In the Republic, Plato describes a society in which class distinctions are not based on merit in general or on comparative success in an economic struggle with others but rather on intrinsic capacity. Plato’s idea seems to be that what each person will do in the ideal state will be based on that person’s abilities, hence on what one does best. Class struggle follows from competition concerning an unequal division of economic resources. Since in the Platonic republic no one will be discontent, there will be nothing resembling class warfare in which some take economic advantage of others. In a letter to Weydemeyer dated March 5, 1852, Marx writes, “No credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists, the economy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production [historische Entwicklungsphasen der Production], (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the

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dictatorship of the proletariat, (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”160 This passage requires comment. Hobbes famously observes that, unlike the Platonic republic, where no one ever seems to lack for anything, in the real world bitter competition shortens many individuals’ difficult lives. Marx can be read as claiming that, after the end of capitalism, class struggle will give rise to the “dictatorship of the proletariat” in a necessary but limited transitory phase eventually leading through the advent of communism to a classless society. Plato understands that certain tasks must be carried out in order for the city-­state to function. He proposes a vision of society divided into classes in terms of the identifiable intrinsic capacities of various individuals. Marx, who is more radical, proposes to go beyond class distinctions entirely. His speculative suggestion that the existence of classes is linked to the phases of economic development indicates that, after capitalism founders, there will be no class distinctions between individuals. This point is sometimes interpreted as the implausible suggestion that there are no differences in intellectual capacity that cannot be overcome by better education.161 The Marxian view that class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat is doubly problematic. On the one hand, the difficulty concerning “necessity” recurs. What does “necessity” mean as concerns the transition from capitalism through a number of different phases, including the dictatorship of the proletariat, to communism? On the other, there is the question of whether the proletariat will practically or rather only theoretically exercise power. Marx, who here follows Hegel’s analysis of the volatile relationship of master and slave, addresses this enigma on the philosophical plane in positing the dialectical inversion of the relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This is an obvious restatement within the context of modern industrial society of the Hegelian view of the worker, noted above, of the slave as the master of the master and the master as the slave of the slave. Through the economic decline of capitalism, the abolition of the institution of private property, and the dictatorship of the proletariat, those who are powerless will be empowered and those who are empowered will become powerless. Whatever their intentions, it seems clear that, in reference to the dictatorship of the proletariat and similar expressions, Marx and Engels are both somewhat naïvely thinking of a real proletarian exercise of political power. They apparently divide about real political practice, such as whether the dictatorship of the proletariat was exemplified in the Paris Commune. The commune, which lasted two months in Paris during 196

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spring 1871, was apparently the only attempt to carry out a proletarian revolution in nineteenth-­century Europe. According to Marx, who wrote The Civil War in France (1871) during the commune: “Working men’s Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. Its exterminators’ history has already been nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priest will not avail to redeem them.”162 In a later letter to Ferdinand Domela-­ Nieuwenhuis (February 22, 1881), Marx denies that the Paris Commune was in fact socialist.163 Engels, on the contrary, claims in the introduction to the German edition of Marx’s study in 1891 that the Paris Commune was in fact a dictatorship of the proletariat.164 Marx either explicitly mentions or at least alludes to the dictatorship of the proletariat in various writings, including The Communist Mani­ festo, The Class Struggles in France, 1848–­1850, and the “Critique of the Gotha Program.” The term “dictatorship of the proletariat” does not appear in The Communist Manifesto, where, as pointed out, Marx and Engels call for the working class to win the battle of democracy. This suggests that at this point, and like the prerevolutionary Lenin, they have a democratic aim in mind. In part 3 of The Class Struggles in France Marx addresses the consequences of the events of June 13, 1849. In differentiating his view from so-­called utopian doctrinaire socialism, he states: “This Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.”165 Much later, in the “Critique of the Gotha Program,” in the so-­called democratic section of part 4, he writes: “Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”166 On the Practice of Proletarian Dictatorship Perhaps because they were politically naïve, Marx and Engels apparently did not foresee the way in which the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat was later transformed in practice into a dictatorship over the proletariat. The evidence is inconclusive. Yet it seems clear that Marx and Engels both think of the dictatorship of the proletariat as an intermediate 197

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step following directly from violent revolution, leading to the abolition of the institution of private property and the establishment of democracy. Luxemburg was able to anticipate the different but unappetizing forms of dictatorship that resulted from the call in Marx’s name for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx and Engels ought to have been able to anticipate it as well. There is a basic discrepancy between a theory that calls for democracy in the transition from capitalism to communism and a practice that, since it calls for dictatorship, obviously denies democracy in either theory or practice. There seem to be only two main ways to understand the difference. One possibility is that in turning from a dictatorship of the proletariat to a dictatorship over the proletariat an essential element of Marx’s position was simply betrayed through the difference between Marxism and Marx. This suggests that through simple ineptitude or for whatever other reason, a dictatorship of the proletariat turned into a dictatorship over the proletariat. Thus one might argue that Lenin’s proclaimed intention to realize democracy through the October Revolution led to its opposite as the result of political errors later committed by him­ self or other Bolsheviks. Another possibility is that in practice Marx’s theory of the transition from capitalism to communism was inevitably stultified since it could only be realized, if it could be realized at all, through the dictatorship over the proletariat, hence through what in practice turned out to be a necessary stultification of Marx’s intentions. To return to our example, in this case one could argue that Lenin not only did not but could not have realized democracy through the Bolshevik revolution, which led and in fact could only have led to a dictatorship over the proletariat. This explains Luxemburg’s ability, in following out the foreseeable consequences of the Leninist theory of the party, to forecast its transformation in practice into a dictatorship over the proletariat. In short, if Marx’s theoretical solution runs through the establishment of democracy in which the proletariat exercises power, then either it was later betrayed by Marxism in practice or, if it was not betrayed, it simply could not be realized in practice. It is difficult to know where the correct answer lies. We do not know and probably cannot now determine whether, for example, the authoritarian tendencies displayed by Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao, and many other Marxists were gratuitous, since there were other practical possibilities, or, on the contrary, were unavoidable. The difficulty does not lie in revolution as such. Revolutions can and indeed have succeeded, for instance in the United States, Czechoslovakia, Portugal, and elsewhere. Yet these were not proletarian revolutions. There is no known 198

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instance in which the proletariat was later durably empowered through revolution. The history of our times records a series of revolutions supposedly undertaken in the name of the people in which the latter are later represented by those who rule over them while claiming to rule in their name. Marx perhaps romantically suggests that the dictatorship of the proletariat is a step in the transition to a classless society. But in practice once a group takes power by force it rarely if ever relinquishes this role. A classless society would in theory result in a society in which private property is abolished by the proletariat, which later abandons its dominant role. Yet history records no example of the practical realization of this noble goal. If in principle the dictatorship of the proletariat is short or at least clearly finite, then by inference the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, the main examples in which revolutionary Marxism took power, both illustrate the failure of the theory of proletarian dictatorship in practice. There is a fateful difference between theory and practice, between what proletarian dictatorship should be and the various forms of Marxist dictatorship over the proletariat that later arose in practice in the Soviet Union, China, and many other Marxist states (e.g., Cuba, Venezuela, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and so on). The dictatorship of the proletariat is rarely linked to Marx and even less often to Weydemeyer but more often to Lenin. Lenin, who rejects reform, calls for a dictatorship of the proletariat through violent revolution. In practice, this led to a dictatorship of the Soviet Communist Party, which did not wither away but was put on hold when the Soviet Union unexpectedly disappeared. This singular series of events was followed by a hiatus during which post-­Bolshevik Russia was led by a series of different leaders more or less clearly committed at least in principle to a democratic transition (Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Boris Nikolaye­ vich Yeltsin). The hiatus was arguably brought to an end not through a continuation of the Soviet dictatorship but through the reemergence of its Russian component under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was officially proclaimed on October 1, 1949. On June 30 of the same year, Mao read a declaration of the PRC entitled “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship.”167 According to Mao, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), not Chiang Kai-­shek (Chiang Chieh-­shih), inherited the true revolutionary mantle of Sun Yat-­sen. In his declaration, Mao drew attention to supposed parallels between Le­ nin’s “Left-­Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder” (1920) and the situation in China. According to Mao, the road to communism necessarily passed through the leadership of the CCP and the people’s dictatorship. 199

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The contemporary PRC, which officially calls for the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Chinese Constitution, in fact features a dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party in the name of the proletariat. At the time of this writing, the CCP is being led by Chinese president Xi Jinping, who, through the mechanism of a fight against widespread corruption ( fubai) in the CCP on all levels, is in the process of eliminating real as well as possible enemies while consolidating power within his hands. On the Withering Away of the State The withering away of the state is a Marxist concept—­the term apparently never occurs in Marx’s writings—­that has never satisfactorily been put into practice. The idea that after the revolution the state will wither away is a metaphor that occurs at least twice in Engels’s writings. In Anti-­ Dühring (1877), a polemical work, in a passage on the theory of socialism, he claims, in distinguishing Marxism from anarchism, for instance Mikhail Bakunin’s view, that “The state is not ‘abolished,’ [it] dies out.”168 Yet this term, which is not explained, does not help us to grasp the transition between these two crucial social stages. Sometime later, in the Origin of the Family (1884), Engels wrote that the future egalitarian society “will transfer the machinery of the state where it will then belong: into the Museum of Antiquities by the side of the spinning-­wheel and the bronze axe.”169 This picturesque passage also fails to explain how the transition will come about. Further, there does not seem to be any country where the state is limited to being merely featured in a museum. In characterizing the transitional period between capitalism and communism, Lenin supplements the views of the dictatorship of the pro­ letariat and the withering away of the state through the further view of the party as the vanguard of the revolution. Above I have noted that Lenin drew the practical consequences of an antidemocratic, even totalitarian idea. This idea is already implicit in Marx’s early view that the philosophers are the brain and the proletariat the brawn of the coming social revolution. The proletariat requires philosophical guidance because Marx, in distantly following Plato, thinks this class does not and cannot know. In following Marx on this point, Lenin turned away from the dictatorship of the proletariat and toward what in practice quickly became the dictatorship over the proletariat. At this point, Marxian theory and Marxist practice obviously diverge. The theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat failed to realize, and in practice contributed to stultifying, Marx’s dream. The Bolshevik establishment of a dictatorship over the proletariat was later criticized after 200

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the Russian Revolution by a number of observers, including Luxemburg and Kautsky, who were otherwise committed to Marxism. Luxemburg was a remarkably astute critic of Leninist political theory and practice. As early as 1904, hence well before the October Revolution, she strongly objected to Lenin’s plans to replace the dictatorship of the proletariat, or rule of the workers, by the rule of the Central Committee.170 In 1910 in her “Credo,” she clearly rejected Lenin’s revolutionary centralism based on party control of the proletariat.171 In 1918, in her pamphlet “The Fundamental Significance of the Russian Revolution,” she sharply opposed the project of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which Lenin transformed into a “dictatorship over the proletariat.”172 Kautsky was the leading intellectual of the Second International. In “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky” (1918), Lenin infamously castigated Kautsky as a renegade or Marxist turncoat. He strongly criticized Kautsky in other publications, including his study titled Imperialism. Kautsky, in turn, followed Luxemburg in describing the Bolsheviks under Lenin as creating a new dictatorship in place of tsarism. Luxemburg opposed both Lenin and Kautsky. “The basic error of the Lenin-­Trotsky theory,” she wrote, “is that they too, just like Kautsky, oppose dictatorship to democracy. . . . [ We need to] exercise a dictatorship of the class, not of a party or of a clique—­dictatorship of the class, that means in the broadest public forum on the basis of the most active, unlimited participation of the mass of the people, of unlimited democracy.”173 Lenin on the Party as the Revolutionary Vanguard In the process of bringing about a dictatorship over the proletariat in Marx’s name, Lenin developed the dictatorship of the proletariat into a full-­fledged theory. Later, when the Bolsheviks came to power through the Russian Revolution, he put it into practice. In “What Is to Be Done?” (1902), Lenin follows a version of Marx’s early quasi-­Platonic view that, since only the philosopher really knows, the proletariat requires an intellectual tutor, or, in Lenin’s restatement of the Marxian theory, a political leader. The same Platonic insight seems to have occurred to Heidegger in the 1930s, as described in detail in his infamous Rektoratsrede.174 Marx, who is closer to Plato than Lenin ever was, retains the Greek thinker’s stress on philosophy as the necessary guide to politics. The Platonic link between philosophy and politics is based on an epistemic claim about truth. Lenin, who is not more than peripherally interested in a philosophical conception of truth, is rather centrally interested in taking power. 201

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He breaks the ancient link between philosophy and truth in turning from philosophy to political ideology. His main concern, which has nothing to do with winning philosophical arguments, clearly lies in doing whatever is necessary to make a revolution successful in practice. His single most important political innovation consists in substituting a party composed of professional revolutionaries for philosophers. According to Lenin, an ideology is necessary, but the proletariat is incapable of formulating one. Since there is no proletarian ideology, the choice is necessarily between either bourgeois or communist ideology. In passing he rejects an approach based on the spontaneous development of the working-­class movement. Lenin regards this view, which was identified with Luxemburg, his most important intellectual opponent at the time, as tending not to weaken but only to strengthen bourgeois ideology. Luxemburg, on the contrary, regards the Leninist view of communist centralism as going beyond the limits of what could really be accomplished toward realizing Marx’s vision. In this context, Lenin argues three points. To begin with, though the political consciousness of the working class must be developed, this cannot be done merely within the economic context. It follows that Lenin is committed to a nonreductionist view of the Marxian account of the relation of superstructure to base. He further argues that political class consciousness must be brought to the workers from outside. This insight remains influential today in contemporary Marxist-­ Leninist political practice, for instance in the People’s Republic of China. And he finally argues, in identifying a central thesis of what later became Marxism-­ Leninism, that the creation of proletarian class consciousness presupposes a cadre of professional revolutionaries, as distinguished from trade union leaders and others. The latter view, which enfranchises the permanent, institutionalized role of the Communist Party, later became a divisive theme within the Marxist movement. In History and Class Consciousness, Lukács hesitates between Lenin’s political view and Luxemburg’s economic approach, which he quickly abandons in aligning himself only a year later on Le­ nin’s political view.175 In “Two Tactics” (1905), Lenin extols the importance of bourgeois revolution as advantageous to the proletariat and indicates his conviction that a democratic revolution is already in progress in Russia. In the preface, Lenin insists that the proletariat’s victory over “tsarism” is ingredient in “a clear understanding of the concrete tasks of the Social-­ Democratic proletariat in a democratic revolution.”176 He clearly attempts to mobilize both the proletariat and the peasantry to fight for what he 202

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calls a republic and a democracy. He stresses here and in other writings that what in this period he consistently refers to as the democratic revolution is intended to be the revolution of the whole people. Lenin, who at this point publicly considers himself to be a social democrat, hence an advocate of democracy, explicitly calls for the bolstering of the strictly class party of social democracy. Unlike the Bolshevik dictatorship, Lenin’s democratic moment was no more than a transitory stage, which was quickly left behind in practice. In The State and Revolution (1917), he has already turned away from “democracy” as ordinarily understood, never to return. Here Lenin argues that the proletariat is a revolutionary class, which must suppress the bourgeoisie by political rule and violent means. He further argues strongly for the proletariat as the unique representative of the working class leading to “the political rule of the proletariat, of its dictatorship, i.e. of undivided power relying directly upon the armed force of the people.”177 In other words, according to Lenin the only solution is for the proletariat to replace the ruling class. In appealing to the early Marx’s idea of philosophy as the head of the revolution, Lenin claims that the role of Marxism, hence of the centralized political authority that here replaces Marx’s earlier reliance on philosophers, lies in educating the vanguard of the proletariat. He further promotes Marx’s scattered comments about the state into a full-­fledged theory. According to Lenin, Marx’s view of the state is a theory of “the proletariat organized as the ruling class,” as “the proletarian dictatorship,” and as “the political rule of the proletariat.”178 Hence at this point he understands “dictatorship” and “political rule” as synonymous terms. Lenin on Democracy The early article on Hegel was composed near the beginning of Marx’s career in 1843, before he began to work on Capital. The “Critique of the Gotha Program” (1875) was written toward the end of his career, after the first volume of Capital was published. In the “Critique of the Gotha Pro­ gram,” Lenin cites the passage, already referenced, about the dictator­ship of the proletariat situated in the transitional period between capitalist and communist society. In a comment, he notes the difference between the two views. On the one hand, there is the mature view that the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeoisie in order to establish its revolutionary dictatorship. This view, which is advanced in the Manifesto, is a further statement of the claim, outlined as early as Marx’s initial article on Hegel in 1843. On 203

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the other hand, there is the successor view expounded later in his career in the “Critique of the Gotha Program.” At this point, Marx thinks that the passage from capitalism to communism requires a period of political transition, during which the state can only take shape as the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. In interpolating a transitional period, Marx here indicates that he has in the meantime become aware that the transformation of capitalism into communism will not and cannot be either instantaneous or unproblematic. Lenin has a different view than Marx does. According to Lenin, the dictatorship of the proletariat indicates “how democracy,” to which he is still publicly committed on the eve of the Russian Revolution, “changes in the transition from capitalism to communism.”179 Lenin continues that, since in capitalism there is only democracy for the few at the expense of the many, progress toward communism can only occur through the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is presumably democracy for the many at the expense of the few. Apparently like Marx, who in the 1850s was concerned with a revolution leading to an extension of democracy through the dictatorship of the proletariat, Lenin is thinking here of how democracy for the few can be transformed into democracy for the many. In this connection, he suggests three points: To begin with, there must be democracy for the vast majority, that is for the exploited, but not for the exploiters of that majority. Presumably he has in mind a mixed political regime encompassing democracy for the many as well as the unavoidable repression of its enemies. By implication, real democracy in the widest sense will only be possible in a society without classes, that is, after the abolition of the institution of private property. This suggestion presupposes the obvious point that there are different levels of democracy, whose highest level is in principle only attained in communism. Finally, in following Engels, hence Marxism, but not Marx, he asserts that “democracy [will] begin to wither away.”180 By implication there will no longer be any need of the democratic state, since presumably the very need for democracy will be transcended. Lenin’s view of the withering away of the state after the dictatorship of the proletariat has special political significance because of his invention of Marxism-­Leninism. Marxism-­Leninism was central during the entire Soviet period. It remains widely influential in a specifically Chinese version in the contemporary People’s Republic of China. Faithful to the classical Marxist approach, Lenin mistakenly attributes to Marx the formula invented by Engels according to which the state withers away, as opposed to the rival anarchist conception that the state is simply abolished. 204

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In this context, in citing the passage from Anti-­Dühring where Engels discusses the withering away of the state, Lenin makes a series of points. To begin with, he distinguishes between the abolition of the bourgeois state through revolution, as illustrated in the Paris Commune, and the supposed withering away of the proletarian state after an indeterminate time period in the wake of a communist revolution. In suppressing the state, the aim is supposedly to suppress the coercive force of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat. Lenin, who is thinking of a future time that has in the meantime never arrived, remarks that, at least in principle, after the revolution the state will take the form of “the most complete democracy.” He ends his remarks about the withering away of the state by emphasizing violent revolution as its necessary prelude. Marxist observers are divided about the Marxist view of the withering away of the state. Korsch, a sympathetic observer, writing about the period after the First World War, reports in “Revolutionary Commune” (1929) that “the whole theory of the final withering away of the state in Communist society,” taken over by Marx and Engels out of the tradition of utopian socialism and further developed on the basis of practical experiences of the proletarian class struggle in their time, loses its revolutionary meaning when one declares with Lenin that there is a state where the minority no longer suppresses the majority, but rather, in Korsch’s words, “the majority of the people themselves suppress their own suppressors”; and such a state of proletarian dictatorship then in its capacity as “fulfiller” of true or proletarian democracy “is already a withering away of the state.”181 Korsch’s statement uncritically follows the Leninist line that the concept of the withering away of the state is attributable to both Marx and Engels, whereas in fact it is traceable, as noted, to Engels alone, hence to classical Marxism. This concept is controversial for various reasons. It is, to begin with, unclear what it means. There is further no evidence, as noted, to support the inference that Marx himself ever held such a view. It seems Marx was in principle directly opposed to the totalitarian results of the later effort to apply this theory in practice. And this theory, which is often cited, seems not to have the slightest link to real democratic practice. In sum, the withering away of the state in theory is a factor in promoting revolution in Marx’s name leading to communist dictatorships that run completely opposite to Marx’s aim to empower the working class. In practice, the idea of democracy in a state that simply withers away was replaced by continuing dictatorship. After the Bolshevik revo­ lution, Lenin’s utopian promise to the workers of direct rule was rapidly 205

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transformed through a series of steps from the planned dictatorship of the working class over the party into the dictatorship of the party over the working class, which in turn became what for all the world looked like a permanent dictatorship of the party. Dictatorship over the Proletariat This inability to realize the political transition from the proletarian dictatorship through the withering away of the state means that, despite the theory, in practice the revolutionary party strives toward and in fact comes to and then remains in power indefinitely. This state of affairs, which persisted in the Soviet Union until it suddenly collapsed late in the twentieth century, is further enshrined in the documents of the PRC. The 1982 Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, as amended in 2007, defines Mao Zedong’s thought (si xiang) as the application of Marxism-­Leninism to China. It states, “The Four Cardinal Principles to keep to the socialist road and to uphold the people’s democratic dictatorship, leadership by the Communist Party of China, and Marxism-­ Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought are the foundation on which to build the country.” It further describes the role of the Chinese Communist Party as in part to consolidate the so-­called people’s democratic dictatorship. And it finally describes the PRC as a people’s democratic dictatorship. Absent in this document and in Chinese practice is any indication of the withering away of the state. In fact, the current Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has made the strengthening of the role of the party the central theme of his presidency, perhaps even more important than his war against corruption in the party. Mao’s view of the dictatorship of the proletariat relies on Lenin’s. In The State and Revolution Lenin’s conceptions of proletarian dictatorship and the withering away of the state are in tension. His view of the withering away of the state is mainly, even exclusively, based on Engels’s view.182 According to Lenin, the state will not wither away but rather will be abolished by the proletariat, though after the revolution the remaining proletarian semistate will later wither away.183 He further claims unclearly that democracy will disappear and be replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat when the state disappears.184 This is not the state in the usual sense of the term. According to Marxist theory what is routinely iden­ tified as the state is only a transitional, self-­terminating phase situated between capitalism and communism. The familiar laissez-­faire version of cap­italism inclines toward a minimalist conception of the state, which the English historian Thomas Carlyle famously describes as “anarchy 206

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plus a street-­constable.”185 Lenin’s even more minimalist conception depicts the state not as a mechanism for achieving social good for all but rather as in practice an instrument of political repression in favor of the few, the bourgeoisie, against the many. Lenin apparently thinks that in communism the state is unnecessary since there is no one to suppress. Yet in practice, the Soviet Union developed an enormous system of internal repression, documented in detail by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and others. Referring to the “Critique of the Gotha Program,” Lenin says the state withers away since, as there are no classes, there is no class to be suppressed. Further, according to Lenin, the economic basis of the withering away of the state is the disappearance of the distinction between mental and physical labor. We recall that in the “Critique of the Gotha Program,” Marx distinguishes between com­munism stage 1 and communism stage 2. According to Marx, in the former, immediately after the transition from capitalism, “the individual producer receives back from society—­after the deductions have been made—­exactly what he gives to it,” but in the latter, in the higher stage, rights will be unequal since in the new situation “each [will contribute] according to his ability, [but] . . . each [will receive] according to his needs!”186 Now contradicting himself, Lenin says that the state will only wither away in the second or highest stage of socialism. The problematic nature of this view has attracted attention. Russell, for instance, who, after the Russian Revolution, was interested in Bolshevism, writes: “Friends of Russia here think of the dictatorship of the proletariat as merely a new form of representative government, in which only working men and women have votes, and the constituencies are partly occupational, not geographical. They think that ‘proletariat’ means ‘proletariat,’ but ‘dictatorship’ does not quite mean ‘dictatorship.’ This is the opposite of the truth. When a Russian Communist speaks of dictatorship, he means the word literally, but when he speaks of the proletariat, he means the word in a Pickwickian sense. He means the ‘class-­conscious’ part of the proletariat, i.e., the Communist Party.”187 Lenin leaves no doubt about the central importance of the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is not only for the political process leading from capitalism to communism but also for the right to participate in it. Since what “Marxism” is is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, who qualifies as a Marxist has always been relative to the observer. In The State and Revolution, for instance, Lenin writes: “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”188 We now know that the leading role of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union neither 207

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enabled it to realize socialism (or communism) in one country nor to destroy capitalism. In other words, neither the Communist Party nor the Soviet proletariat turned out to be the gravedigger of capitalism. The Soviet state created by Lenin never withered away, though it did later collapse for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained. It is more likely that the Soviet form of Marxism-­Leninism and the Soviet Union both fell prey to the fact that, after a certain point, and despite massive propaganda, finally nobody, or almost nobody still believed in Leninist propaganda is obligaMarxism-­Leninism.189 Though Marxist-­ tory fare in educational institutions in China, and though the Chinese Communist Party is omnipresent at all levels, it is unclear if a similar situation is possible in contemporary China. As a result of the Soviet experience, opinions are divided about efforts to effect a transition to communism in following any version of the Marxist-­Leninist model. Many Westerners subscribe to some version of the view that this model is, in Kolakowski’s formulation, the greatest fantasy of the twentieth century, even worse than National Socialism.190 This general view is held by historians like François Furet, economists like Friedrich August Hayek, and philosophers like Karl Raimund Popper. Others, like Kevin Anderson, think that, because Stalin preferred socialism in one country, the Leninist theory of worldwide socialism was not given a fair chance. The view that Stalinism was on the whole not a bad idea and that Stalin should be rehabilitated is notoriously held by such philosophers as Hans Heinz Holz and Domenico Losurdo. Still others think that the nostalgia for Stalinism, mainly among Western intellectuals more than among ordinary Russians, betrays a patent inability to learn from history. We are still waiting to see if communism as Marx understands it can be realized through the leading role of the party in the People’s Republic of China. That cannot be known in theory but can only be known as the result of historical practice. It seems that both the great leap forward and the cultural revolution were intended to prevent a return to capitalism. But in practice they resulted in nearly destroying the Chinese economy. A simple but not inaccurate way of describing the situation is to say that after the great leap forward and after the cultural revolution, Deng Xiaoping saved the Chinese economy, hence saved China in restoring what is often called zhongguo tese shehui zhuyi, or literally the special Chinese ideology. Numerous foreign observers believe this slogan is just a euphemism for the contemporary Chinese variant of state capitalism. It is striking that China today has many of the same problems Marx described in the middle of the nineteenth century, as well as a series of 208

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other problems often specific to the contemporary Chinese situation. They include inadequate medical coverage, an enormous and growing pollution, insufficient access to higher education, child labor, exploitation of women, a crisis of overproduction, and so on. It seems difficult to solve the problems of capitalism with capitalism. It is perhaps even more difficult to leave capitalism behind in realizing communism.

4. Transition through Critical Social Theory Marx’s initial effort to bring about the transition from capitalism to communism features a collaborative effort between philosophers and the proletariat. This later led to other models of transition based on economic crisis and political organization. A fourth strategy unfolds in the post-­ Bolshevik evolution of Marxism away from the revolutionary proletariat, away from a Marxian economic solution, and away from Marxist politics through renewed attention to the social function of social criticism. In different ways, each of these staples of classical Marxism was later discarded or at least lost significant ground in the ongoing debate. The result was a qualified return, this time through institutionalized Marxism, to the basic Marxian distinction between two types of (philosophical) theory. We recall that, on the one hand, there is traditional (philosophical) theory, which in Marx’s view changes nothing in leaving everything in place. On the other, there is his nontraditional approach to philosophical theory, or perhaps merely to theory, which seeks both to understand and to change the world in transforming social practice. What came to be called critical social theory is a replacement approach. This new approach is philosophically and politically neither clearly Marxist nor clearly non-­Marxist. It further gives up the idea of either a proletarian, economic, or political solution for the transition, if not to communism, at least away from some of the more pernicious aspects of capitalism. The basic idea of critical social theory, or change motivated by social critique of the existing phase of society, is clearly stated by Korsch. Korsch was interested in restoring the revolutionary dimension of Marxism that was supposedly lost in the Second International. He claims that “theoretical criticism and practical overthrow are here inseparable activities, not in any abstract sense but as a concrete and real alteration of the concrete and real world of bourgeois society.”191 This inspiration is the central theme of so-­called critical social theory that in principle seeks to realize theory in changing practice, but in practice, very much like traditional philosophy, merely left everything in place. 209

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Jürgen Habermas, the most important living thinker to have been associated with critical theory, is arguably a kind of neo-­Kantian. Yet critical theory is not as such Kantian. Critical social theory, which has only the name in common with Kant, acknowledges that the superstructure no longer depends on the base. For in the real world the base increasingly depends on the superstructure. Critical social theory emerged after the October Revolution, at roughly the time Lenin was leaving the scene, and specifically in reaction to the rise of Hegelian Marxism in the early 1920s. Marx suggests that politics depends on economics. But in fact in many ways economics, for instance specific economic policies, such as ways of handling economic crises, raising or lowering the money supply or the interest rate, and so on, often depends on politics. An example is the role of the Federal Reserve Bank in the United States, which raises, lowers, or leaves the interest rate unchanged in reacting to the prevailing economic and political situation. For instance, the bank’s hesitation to raise the interest rate to ward off expected inflation during 2015 was linked to the perceived weakness of the American economy as well as the possible political fallout in the electoral cycle. Further, many observers believe that the evolution of modern industrial society since Marx has decreased any realistic hope of relying on the revolutionary proletariat to bring about basic social change. Finally, the crucial but unclear Marxist distinction between idealism and materialism discussed above unhelpfully depicts Marxian theory as a postphilosophical science. In fact, the emergence of Hegelian Marxism in the early 1920s calls attention to the complex philosophical component of the Marxian position. The result is a return to an earlier view of Marxism, hence behind institutionalized Marxism in two ways. On the one hand, it rejects the mechanical, nondialectical Marxism of the Second International. On the other, it goes back to a period earlier than the political experience of the Russian Revolution leading to the Leninist and later Stalinist dictatorships over the proletariat. In returning from various forms of Marxism to Marx, critical social theory is both original and not original at all. As depicted here, we find at the center of critical social theory a version of the Marxian view, most clearly indicated in eleventh of the “Theses on Feuerbach,” that in the proper circumstances, a theory of practice, if not theory in general, is self-­realizing. Before the emergence of critical social theory in the 1920s, the effort to understand a particular form of theory as self-­realizing was already undertaken in the German tradition on a number of occasions and in different ways by Hegel, the Young Hegelians, and Marx. For that reason, criti210

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cal social theory should not be regarded as an effort to create a wholly new approach. It should rather be regarded as an attempt to renew and to deepen an already existing one. We recall that Marx, in following Aristotle, suggests that a certain type of theory—­for Aristotle practical theory about the sublunar realm, for Marx the theory of modern industrial society—­is intrinsically practical, hence practically relevant. Aristotle, who separates the theoretical and the practical disciplines, thinks pure theory deals with knowledge for its own sake, but the practical sciences focus on what is relevant for ethical and political life.192 This same Aristotelian distinction, as noted above, is implicitly invoked against Hegel in the 1840s by the Young Hegelians, who believe Hegel is basically a religious thinker and hence supports the status quo in featuring a form of theory that interprets but does not change the social context. In other words, the Young Hegelians think that Hegel’s position can be assimilated to pure Aristotelian theory and therefore is not practically relevant. Hegel, Marx, and Critical Theory With the exception of Eduard Gans, who was a member of the law faculty in Berlin, the Young Hegelians, including Marx, functioned outside the academy. Critical social theory is a later avatar of nineteenth-­ century Young Hegelianism. It signals the qualified return of political radicalism in the form of critique challenging contemporary society, unlike Young Hegelianism, from a vantage point situated no longer outside but rather within the academy. This approach is influenced by a number of factors, including Marx, Hegelian Marxism, as well as the views of well-­known Marxists such as Lukács and Korsch and the little-­known Friedrich Pollock. Critical social theory applies a quasi-­Kantian approach to the modern industrial world against the background of the Marxian distinction between the abstract and the concrete. Kant examines the general possibility of knowledge from an a priori or abstract perspective. In comparison, critical social theory is concrete, or concerned with the critique of modern industrial society. The evolution of the form of critical social theory that emerged in Germany after the First World War increasingly led it from Hegelian Marxism in the direction of its Kantian roots, hence away from its Marxian impulse. In part, the critical social approach is anticipated in Marx’s early essay on the introduction to Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right. In part it is developed by neo-­Hegelian Marxism, and in part it belongs to critical theory, also known as critical social theory. Since human beings 211

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respond to ideas, the so-­called material force that in principle arises through awakening the proletariat can arise elsewhere as well. The term “critique” is used in many different ways. For Kant, it refers to the general condition of possibility, for instance as concerns cognition or morality. For Marx this term means both socially critical but also, as noted, concrete as opposed to abstract. The frequent reference to “critique” in the titles of his writings both early and late seems intended to point obliquely to the Hegelian view of concepts, hence theories, in Marx’s case through a kind of philosophy that, as repeatedly noted, realizes itself. Hegel is often mistakenly regarded as merely accepting the status quo without seeking to change the world.193 He in fact thinks that concepts realize themselves in the form of ideas, hence his reliance on the Platonic term “Idea.”194 This general point is reformulated by Victor Hugo as the suggestion that “one withstands the invasion of armies [ but] one does not withstand the invasion of ideas.”195 The idea of freedom is a motivating force in many revolutionary movements in the twentieth century. Hegel’s conception of the relation of philosophy to experience offers a corrective to those who, like Plato, Fichte, Lukács, Heidegger, and others believe a philosopher can “seamlessly” replace a politician in guiding the state. We are familiar with the difficulties in which the philosopher becomes entangled in leaving the library to go into the streets. According to Hegel, “When philosophy paints its grey in grey, a shape of life has grown old, and it cannot be rejuvenated, but only recognized, by the grey in grey of philosophy; the owl of Minerva begins its flight only with the onset of dusk.”196 This passage is sometimes read as indicating that a given culture understands itself only when it has already passed its peak and begun to decline. Another, more interesting point is suggested by Hegel’s conviction that “the age has at present nothing to do except to cognize what is at hand, and thus to make it accord with thought. This is the path of philosophy.”197 If this is Hegel’s view, then in anticipating Marx he intends philosophy to change the world in taking the measure of the difference between what happens and what could or ought to happen, or between the idea and the ideal. Unlike Kant, Hegel is clearly concerned about existential difficulties of capitalism and aware of modern political economy. Kant’s moral theory is not concerned with what is practically possible. It also does not consider the status of finite human being in the modern social context. It rather focuses on what one ought to do in order to be moral. Hegel, like Aristotle, situates ethical dilemmas in the wider political context, in his case in modern industrial society. Marx devotes even more atten212

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tion than Hegel to detailed analysis of modern industrial society. He is especially concerned with formulating an alternative theory of modern industrial capitalism. This effort, which reaches its peak in Capital, is relevant to his concern to change the world through critique. Marx analyzes specific problems of modern industrial society as well as the wider economic framework. Critical theory turns away from such analysis. It simply discards or at least minimizes Marx’s effort to understand the difficulties of modern industrial society against the underlying economic background. This raises questions about what problem or problems it intends to address and how it intends to address them. In different ways this problem affects such first-­generation critical thinkers as Max Horkheimer, Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse and second-­generation critical thinkers such as Habermas and, more recently, Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, and others. None of them undertakes a serious effort to continue the Marxian concern with political economy. Critical Theory, or Critical Social Theory Marx divides philosophy into theories that change or fail to change the world. He rejects the traditional view of philosophy that, like Kantianism, claims to be intrinsically useful for human ends. Yet he is centrally concerned with a form of philosophy that changes the world. According to Marx, a philosophy in the service of human beings will realize and as a result abolish itself. Yet what this means in practice remains unclear. Are there, for instance, criteria that must be satisfied in order to say this has occurred? Was, say, Marx’s theory of modern industrial society realized in, say, the Bolshevik revolution? This and related questions must be answered before we can say that unlike orthodox theories Marx’s theory has already, is now, or later will realize itself. In sum, Marx establishes a direct link between three elements: a novel form of theory, which is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end; then its intrinsic aim, which lies in realizing unrealized human capacities, or more generally in bringing about human flourishing; and finally its self-­abolition. According to this view, philosophy is not and should not be understood as, say, a mere source of wisdom (sophia) but rather as a way to change society for the better. This view of self-­realizing and presumably also self-­abolishing philosophy is later developed in so-­ called critical social theory. Marx is impatient with mere academic philosophy. He prefers a revolutionary solution to the problems of modern industrial society as a 213

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practical alternative to endless academic debate. Critical theory, on the contrary, drops or at least basically modifies the Marxian impulse toward working out a new type of theory that, as he says, not only interprets but also changes the world. This impulse is carried forward but also modified in social theory that, in the wake of such revolutionary thinkers as Lukács and Korsch in the Frankfurt School version of critical social theory, includes dropping the concern with revolution in favor of social criticism, whose precise intent is never clear. The first generation of Frankfurt School critical theorists were in­flu­ enced by Marxist revolutionaries. But since, unlike Marx, they themselves were not revolutionaries in any clear sense, it was not difficult to return to social criticism. The mature Marx is both a revolutionary and a critical social theorist. He is a critical social theorist in at least three main senses: he criticizes other theories, above all Hegel’s, in formulating his own; he criticizes orthodox political economy from the perspective of his own alternative view of political economy; and he criticizes social reality from the perspective of a possible better future. In comparison to Marx, critical social theorists were concerned with theory but less interested in practice, or the relation of theory to practice. In other words, they were mainly concerned with promoting the idea of social change through theory rather than through practice. Those associated with the early Frankfurt School comprise a very wide range of thinkers, including Erich Fromm, a psychoanalyst; Raymond Aron, a sociologist; Otto Kirchheimer, a national economist; Leo Löwenthal, a jurist; Franz Leopold Neumann, a student of National Socialism; Karl Wittfogel, a sinologist; as well as three philosophers: Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse. The philosophers were unfailingly interesting but, perhaps with the exception of Adorno, who is difficult to classify, obviously unconventional, though also in some ways numbingly conventional thinkers. For the most part, they were content to occupy the left side of the German intellectual spectrum—­the left wing, that is, with respect to someone like Heidegger, a member of the German Nazi Party who was accordingly right wing—­but without the kind of political activism often associated with Marxism. This is not an accident. In retrospect, it seems clear that the critical social retreat from social activism was a necessary condition to finding an appropriate place within the German academy when the Institute for Social Research was founded at the University of Frankfurt in 1923 early in the Weimar Republic. In that sense, the critical theorists can be said to follow however distantly the nonrevolutionary reformist approach pioneered by Eduard Bernstein.

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The founders of critical social theory were, as already indicated, in­ fluenced by the two main Hegelian Marxists: Lukács and Korsch. Lukács’s pioneer formulation of Hegelian Marxism breaks with classical Marxism. In Engels’s wake the Second International featured an important struggle between the mechanists led by Lyubov Axelrod and the dialecticians clustered around Abram Deborin. Lukács, who favored a dialectical form of Hegelianism, was closer to the latter. In the theory of class consciousness (Klassenbewusstsein) outlined in History and Class Consciousness, Lukács carries out “a radical break with economism, the dominant interpretation of historical materialism in the Second International, in calling attention to the subjective dimension of revolutionary struggle.”198 In Marxism and Philosophy, Korsch applies Marxism to itself in examining the relation of Marx and Marxism to the classical German idealist tradition, especially Hegel, and, like Lukács, in taking a critical attitude toward the so-­called vulgar Marxism, or economic reductionism of the Second International. Korsch writes that “we must try to understand every change, development and revision of Marxist theory, since its original emergence—­from the philosophy of German Idealism, as a necessary product of its epoch (Hegel). More precisely, we should seek to understand their determination by the totality of the historico-­social process of which they are a general expression (Marx).”199 Critical social theory was initially concerned with the deviation of social reality from its Marxist description. This general orientation changes in the second generation of critical theory, whose central figure is Habermas. Lukács and Korsch, who strongly influence the first-­generation crit­ ical theories, are both critical, the former more than the latter, of the Marxist tendency to suppress philosophy in running together Marx and Marxism. Habermas, on the contrary, returns behind the two main Hegelian Marxists to a more orthodox, recognizably Marxist approach to Marx that in addition maintains standard, non-­Marxist philosophical criteria. He has throughout his career been steadily concerned with respecting philosophical propriety even at the cost of weakening the link of critical social theory to Marx, Marxism, social change, and so on. The result is a complex approach that is both more Marxist than Marxian and more philosophical and less revolutionary than Marxist. In this complex context, Habermas introduces two innovations. First, he assumes without comment the continuity of Marx and Marxism. The result is to suppress any significant philosophical distinction between Marx and Engels, or Marx and Marxism. Second, Habermas simply drops the link between Marx, Engels, and Hegel that was central to the formulation

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of Hegelian Marxism. Hegel plays a central role for both Lukács and Korsch, who independently invented Hegelian Marxism. But he no longer plays any important role in Habermas’s version of critical social theory, which Habermas describes solely in terms of current events, without any specific philosophical references. “Critical Theory was initially developed in Horkheimer’s circle to think through political disappointments at the absence of revolution in the West, the development of Stalinism in Soviet Russia, and the victory of fascism in Germany. It was supposed to explain mistaken Marxist prognoses, but without breaking Marxist intentions.”200 The first-­generation critical theorists present a very broad range of interests situated somewhere on the political left but otherwise undefined. Yet their precise relation to either Marxism or even Marx is also unclear. In two articles from the early 1930s, Horkheimer drew attention to materialism with respect to metaphysics (“Materialism and Metaphysics,” 1933) and to morality (“Materialism and Morality,” 1933). In the modern tradition both metaphysics and morality are associated with Kant and, since Engels, materialism is associated with Marxism. In opposing materialism to both metaphysics and morality, Horkheimer can be read as calling attention less to Marx than to a Marxist alternative, for instance an alternative to Cartesianism and similar theories from the perspective of Marxian political economy. Horkheimer provided the initial orientation of Frankfurt School critical theory. In a seminal article, which later functioned as the intellectual basis of critical theory, Horkheimer replaced “materialism” with “critical theory in drawing attention to a distinction between so-­called traditional and critical theory.”201 According to Horkheimer, traditional theory, which respects traditional criteria of theoretical rigor, is not socially critical, and hence does not, except incidentally, lead to social change. By implication, critical theory, which may or may not respect traditional criteria of theoretical rigor, in principle brings about social change. Understood in this way, Horkheimer’s distinction between traditional and critical theory appears as a revised form of Marx’s canonical distinction between theories that interpret and do not change the world, an approach Horkheimer rejects, and theories that interpret as well as change the world, which he at least in principle accepts. Left unclear is how either in theory or in practice critical theory, as Horkheimer and other critical theorists understand it, is supposed to change the world. Horkheimer’s original formulation of the distinction between traditional and critical theory was unclear and was never later satisfactorily clarified. His overall concern reflects reactions to the rise of National So­ cialism in Germany and Stalinism in the Soviet Union, as well as the 216

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emergence of Hegelian Marxism. It is further rooted in the Young Hegelian reaction to Hegel. Speaking generally, what Marx describes as theory that does not change the world and what Horkheimer designates as traditional theory are both intended to address social problems while remaining within the usual boundaries of the debate. A critical theory, or perhaps better, a critical social theory, aims to meet social concerns at the cost of changing the debate. The difficulty lies in showing that critical theory is critical in more than name only. In other words, it is unclear that critical theory, unlike traditional theory, surpasses mere interpretation, that it is more than just another theory. Hence it is in unclear that critical theory satisfies Marx’s criterion in changing or at least striving, other than in theory only, toward changing the world. Excursus on Pollock and Critical Theory The crucial question of whether social criticism does or even could change the world was influentially posed as critical social theory by Pollock. Pollock was a founding member and former director of the Frankfurt School as well as a lifelong friend of Horkheimer, its éminence grise. Once he turned to political economy, Marx consistently argued for the primacy of the economic over the political, which Pollock simply reverses in his theory of state capitalism, in arguing for the primacy of the political over the economic.202 Pollock’s inversion of this basic Marxian thesis grew out of a debate within the Frankfurt School about the significance of National Socialism. In simple terms “state capitalism” typically refers to a situation in which the state organizes the means of production in view of a financial profit. In Marxism, this term refers to the combination of capitalism with either ownership of, or at least control by, the state. An important contemporary example is provided by the People’s Republic of China, which was until very recently arguably the most successful economy the world has ever known. In his debate with Neumann, Pollock accords the main role to politics over economics in the transformation of a free market economy into a planned, state-­controlled form of capitalism, best illustrated at the time by Nazi Germany. As a result of his studies of National Socialism, Neumann, on the contrary, formulated a theory of “monopolistic economy” to explain the shift toward totalitarian monopoly capitalism under fascism. From its inception critical theory was caught in an obvious contradiction, in fact a kind of conceptual bad faith, which was never later resolved. The contradiction lies in the desire to develop a Marxian (or, if 217

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there is a difference, at least a Marxist) approach to social theory while accepting Pollock’s inversion of Marx’s thesis of the primacy of the economic over the political. Marx’s optimistic view of the long-­term dominance of the economic over the political leading to an economic solution of the transition from capitalism to communism is obviously inverted in Pollock’s pessimistic assessment. Pollock denies the subordination of the political to the economic in rejecting a fundamental pillar of the Marxian view of modern industrial society. Since he further denies that Marxian theory correctly describes contemporary capitalism, he also turns away from the practical possibility of basic social change, which is predicted by the theory, for instance the transformation of capitalism into communism. According to Marx modern society is only the latest in a series of phases of human social development. Marxian long-­ term optimism is based on the conception of capitalism as no more than a transitory social state, which Pollock seems to deny. This theoretical vision, which is a basic pillar of the Marxian theory, is contradicted by Pollock. Pollock thinks that capitalism in practice is not about to founder since what was happening in the 1930s and 1940s when he was active did not then, and parenthetically does not now, at the time of this writing more than three-­quarters of a century later, signal its end but only the end of its liberal phase. Successive waves of Marxists continue to invoke the tendency of the falling rate of profit and the specter of a gigantic economic crisis that will destroy capitalism. Yet it is difficult, perhaps not possible now to find a reason to deny the interest of Pollock’s very different view. What we know about the social world seems to support Pollock against Marx. A single example will suffice here. Despite the occasional dire prediction, the Marxian thesis that the economy determines politics is not, for instance, confirmed by the great recession. Rather, the inverse view, which Pollock represents—­that is, that economic policies are determined by political considerations—­now appears increasingly plausible. Writing in the 1930s and early 1940s, Pollock was less interested in a revolution on Marxian or even Marxist principles than in retaining the values of Western civilization. He was concerned by an economic situation in which the market was wholly or at least partially replaced by the state. He was specifically worried about whether the tendency toward state capitalism could be brought under democratic control. Through the base/superstructure distinction Marx contends that in the final analysis the base determines and perhaps even dominates the superstructure. This contention is neither demonstrated nor refuted but rather inverted

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in Pollock’s revision of Marx’s seminal distinction. Pollock’s thesis of the economic instability of modern industrial society suggests the dominance, however understood, of politics over economics. Marx, who is centrally concerned with practice, and by extension with theories that in fact change the world, not surprisingly objects to theories that fail this test. Pollock’s view of state capitalism, on the contrary, suggests that the basic dialectical contradiction supposedly situated at the epicenter of Marx’s position either never existed or at least no longer pertains. This result indicates that capitalism has not, is not about to, and perhaps may in fact never founder of its own weight. The transformation of capitalism, if indeed it has been transformed, further explains events that Pollock thinks Marx’s position cannot explain. They include the successful rise of National Socialism in the transformation of Germany into a fascist state; the transformation of the Russian Revolution into a communist dictatorship over the proletariat with no visible likelihood of later becoming a dictatorship of the proletariat; and, at least when Pollock was writing, no indication, none at all, that this dictatorship would later wither away or otherwise be replaced by an appropriate realization of the Marxian view of communism. Pollock was thinking primarily of National Socialism, which has since disappeared. Yet the thesis of the state control of a capitalist form of economy is supported by many examples. Perhaps the most striking one is the transformation of the People’s Republic of China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping into the single most successful instance of an at least partially planned economy the world has ever known.203 In following Pollock rather than Marx or Marxism, the first-­generation critical theorists seem to hesitate on this crucial point. Critical social theory falters on the myth of the realization of the Enlightenment ideal in Marxian political economy in a so-­called rational society,204 which is finally revealed as what it really is: no more than a romantic myth. Dialectic of the Enlightenment was written during the Second World War. Here Horkheimer and Adorno clearly acknowledge that historical necessity, which is allegedly intrinsic to the evolution of political economy of modern industrial society, is simply fictitious. They write, “The mythological lies about ‘mission and “fate’ ” which they use instead do not even express a complete untruth: it is no longer the objective laws of the market which govern the actions of industrialists and drive humanity toward catastrophe. Rather, the conscious decisions of the company chairmen execute capitalism’s old law of value, and thus its fate, as resultants no less compulsive than the blindest price mechanisms. The rulers themselves do not

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believe in objective necessity, even if they sometimes call their machinations by that name. They posture as engineers of world history.”205 Pollock, Habermas, and Critical Social Theory Pollock had an enormous but little-­known effect on the evolution of critical social theory.206 His pessimism about the Marxian view of basic social change on economic or at least mainly economic grounds is acknowledged by Horkheimer and Adorno, the main architects of critical social theory. This acknowledgment calls into question the seminal distinction between traditional and critical theory, on which the latter stands or falls. Marx turned to political economy as early as the Paris Manuscripts. In any analysis, political economy, which increasingly assumed a central role within his overall position, is central to his mature view. This radically changes in critical social theory, where the reference to political economy apparently functions only nostalgically. Hence, if not an outright contradiction, there is at least a tension in the effort to draw attention to a basic difference between critical and traditional theory. In appealing to the proletariat, the very young Marx denies that just more or even better interpretation is sufficient to bring about basic social change in slightly later formulating the seminal distinction between theories that leave everything in place or on the contrary realize themselves in bringing about social change. Horkheimer and Adorno, following Pollock, deny we can rely on the self-­development of modern industrial society to initiate social transformation without offering anything other than social criticism. It follows there is finally not much difference between critical theory and, say, Heidegger’s conception of letting be (Gelassenheit), which not only does not exhibit an emancipatory desire for basic social change but further points toward his concern to hide or at least disguise his Nazi turning, in short his political complicity. Habermas, like Horkheimer and Adorno, apparently accepts Pollock’s thesis about the latest stage of modern industrial society. In a passage about reification in the authoritarian state, he reports that “Pollock and Horkheimer,” whose views he significantly does not distinguish, were inclined to the view that the Nazi regime was like the Soviet regime, in that a state-­capitalist order had been established in which private ownership of the means of production retained only a formal character, while the steering of general economic processes passed from the market to planning bureaucracies; in the process the man-

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agement of large concerns seemed to merge with party and administrative elites. In this view, corresponding to a totally administered society, we have a totally administered society. The form of societal integration is determined by a purposive rational—­at least in intention—­exercise of centrally steered, administrative domination.207

The closest Habermas comes to examining Pollock’s thesis in detail is a series of remarks on economic crisis, where he considers different models of social integration under the heading of the so-­called legitimation crisis. This includes, since this study precedes the reunification of the two Germanies, an East German model of state-­monopolistic capitalism. He notes that on empirical grounds one can neither verify centralized economic strategy nor the idea that the state effectively represents capitalist interests. Yet neither objection gets at the deeper problem of the emancipatory role, if any, of the economic organization of society in today’s world.208 Habermas apparently accepts Pollock’s thesis at least in revised form. Perhaps for this reason, he simply turns away from political economy, which is central for Marx’s effort to work out his position over decades, but never discussed in detail by Habermas. In its place, he sketches a model of society in which, by virtue of his distinction between work and interaction, economics no longer has a central role to play. In this way he avoids the tension intrinsic to classical critical theory at the evident price of giving up its emancipatory social potential, a central concern in both Marxian and in Marxist theory. Since economics is central to modern industrial society, he also gives up any effort to formulate an even reasonably accurate view of the modern world. In turning away from a theory that is socially relevant since it focuses on practice, Habermas makes a qualified return to Kant, for whom practice depends on theory and not theory on practice. As noted above, in the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant distinguishes between a scholastic concept of philosophy, which aims only at system, and the cosmopolitan concept he favors. His point is that philosophy is intrinsically relevant to the aims of the good life. In other words, Kant seems to be claiming that theory as such in all its many forms is relevant to practice, which is not detached from, but rather included within theory. Marx, of course, rejects this Kant­ ian view, since he distinguishes between theories that are and are not socially relevant. From his neo-­Kantian perspective Habermas returns be­ yond Marx to the Kantian view that theory itself is relevant on the additional premise that unrestricted debate necessarily leads to socially relevant truth in anticipating the conditions of the good life.

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Habermas on Historical Materialism Marx forges a link between social theory and political economy that is later broken in critical theory, which in all its forms focuses on social criticism to change modern industrial society.209 This effort reaches a high point in Habermas’s critical examination of Marx and Marxism. Habermas is a complicated writer. His theory emerges through a typically complex, fourfold interaction with Marx and Marxism. We recall that the initial stage of critical social theory was intended to make a qualified return to Marx’s position without clearly distinguishing it from Marxism. This suggests that the first generation of critical social theorists intended not to substitute for, but rather to build in quasi-­Hegelian fashion on, Marx, or on Marx and Marxism as suitably understood. This intention changes in Habermas’s position, which seems to respond simultaneously to at least three related concerns: first, to restate the distinction between traditional and critical theory influentially adumbrated by Horkheimer as the basis of critical theory; second, to provide a revised form of Marx’s theory, in finally reaching its intended goal, which at least for Marx is clearly emancipatory not only in theory but also in practice; and third, to formulate an original theory that in overcoming the defects he identifies in Marx and Marxism simply leaves Marx and Marxism behind. Habermas, who makes no effort to grasp Marx on the latter’s own terms, provides a Marxist interpretation of Marx. His critique appears to depend on a misinterpretation eventually leading to his own rival theory of so-­called communicative action in which social emancipation is either wholly absent or plays only a minor role. Following standard Marxist practice since Engels, he simply runs together Marx and Marxism without justifying this approach or even examining this relation. His critique of historical materialism attributes what he describes as a reductionist reading to the relation of superstructure to economic base, or of thought to political economy. The economic reductionism that Habermas attributes to historical materialism, and which, as noted above, is featured by so-­called vulgar Marxism of the Second International, is not defended by either Marx or Engels. Habermas, in attributing, or perhaps more precisely misattributing, economic reductionism to Marx, criticizes the latter’s view on classical antisubjectivist philosophical grounds. The first two general characteristics of Habermas’s reading of historical materialism are his insistence on the seamless continuity between Marx and Marxism and his critical attitude toward Marx. The third characteristic is his stress on the slippery Marxist distinction between materialism 222

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and idealism. This distinction is, as noted above, crucial for various forms of Marxism, but apparently neither central to, nor perhaps even important in, Marx’s position. The fourth characteristic is Habermas’s suggestion that, in restoring the quasi-­Kantian idea of the wholly unconstrained subject, his theory of communicative rationality can effectively replace historical materialism. Marx, following Fichte, understands the subject as always already in a humanly constructed social context. Habermas, on the contrary, is attracted to the widespread modern philosophical view of the subject as wholly unconstrained. In the modern tradition this view is adumbrated by Descartes and later worked out in more detail in Kant’s transcendental deduction. It is further assumed in Kant’s theory of morality, which culminates in his admitted inability to deduce the freedom of the moral subject. Husserl later calls attention to psychologism, that is, an anthropological or, perhaps better, psychological approach that supposedly undermines truth claims. Kant, to avoid this difficulty, proposes a wholly abstract conception of the cognitive subject, which he later presupposes in his deontological moral theory. As concerns the concept of the subject, Habermas is in some respects a neo-­Kantian. In Kant’s wake, he formulates a neo-­Kantian approach to the subject. He objects that historical materialism is self-­referentially inconsistent in that a subject constrained in any way whatsoever cannot make claims to truth. At this point, Habermas understood historical materialism as a theory of history with what he describes as “practical intent.” For Habermas, the term “practical intent” indicates a concern with the relation of theory and practice to which Marx alludes in many places. Habermas, during the period when he was interested in historical materialism, often referred to “practical intent” as indicating an interest in human emancipation, which he did not further define. In the initial, interpretive phase of his discussion, Habermas was critical of traditional philosophy, from which, distantly following Horkheimer’s canonical distinction between traditional and critical theory, he distinguished historical materialism. He was not, however, critical of historical materialism as such. He immediately widened his critical attitude to encompass the views of Marx and Marxism as well in the next, or critical, stage of the discussion. At this point, he elaborated an epistemological critique of Marx, which was later extended in subsequent writings as the basis of his theory of communicative action. Habermas later criticized historical materialism, the view he uncritically attributed without qualification to Marx, in the process of formulating his post-­Marxist theory of communicative action. The critical phase, 223

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in which he raised objections against historical materialism, features, in a way similar to Engels’s view of Marx and Marxism, an attempt to situate historical materialism between philosophy and science. The obvious difficulty consists in classifying historical materialism as either philosophy or science. Habermas circumvents this difficulty in tacitly following Korsch. The latter describes historical materialism as a falsifiable theory of history with practical intent. In the historical context “falsifiable” presumably refers to empirical falsification, for instance in disclosing as false a claim about an event that did not take place. This criterion seems difficult to apply to a theory like historical materialism, whose status is unclear, even ambiguous. If it were philosophy, it would not be falsifiable. Philosophical theories can be refuted through argument of various kinds, but cannot be empirically falsified. If, on the contrary, historical materialism were either science or social science, it would possibly be falsifiable, depending on what “science” and “falsifiable” mean in this context. But it might not be a theory in the Habermasian sense, since, if it were philosophy, it would lie beyond the reach of empirical falsification. Habermas, who did not pursue this theme, instead introduced an epistemological criticism of historical materialism, which he continually modified and restated in later writings. According to Habermas, who seems to conflate Marx and Kant, the former failed to examine the general possibility of his philosophy of history with practical intent. In a later formulation of this objection, Habermas suggests Marx adopted a goal-­oriented model of work or labor, hence was unable to separate work and interaction. In other words, Marx’s very approach obliged him in leveling down as it were to assimilate the reflective dimension to physical labor, or in another formulation, to reduce the entire cultural sphere to the underlying economic dimension. This objection raises significant questions. In Engels’s wake Marxists often object to what they call “bourgeois philosophical standards” in favor of exaggerated claims for historical materialism. Korsch, Lukács, and many other Marxists either simply decline or at least question usual philosophical criteria through special pleading. If this were allowed, then clearly “philosophy” would not be independent of, but rather based on, or at least include, political considerations. Korsch, for instance, decries the so-­ called bourgeois philosophical concern with presuppositionless theory. Lukács insists that at present there are no problems, which do not lead back to the riddle of commodity-­structure. Both claims are questionable. The concern with presuppositionless theory voiced, for instance, by Descartes, Husserl, and their followers relates to a particular conception of philosophical rigor as indispensable for a certain kind of philosophical 224

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theory. It further seems incredible that one could otherwise than in jest suggest that all difficulties whatsoever might yield to Marxian theory. At this early stage, Habermas’s critique of historical materialism can be summarized as a two-­step argument: An acceptable theory must have a reflective dimension, which is lacking in Marx’s position, since it assimilates interaction, or communication, to work. Further, Marx’s position cannot have a reflective dimension since it does not permit the necessary distinction in kind of work and interaction. In effect, this is a negative form of transcendental argument. Kant typically examines the general possibility of a form of cognition. Habermas states what he depicts as the impossibility of a satisfactory epistemological analysis from the Marxian angle of vision. In terms more closely related to the critical philosophy, we can describe this as a transcendental analysis of the supposedly unavoidable epistemological defi­ cit in historical materialism. The problem, then, if we are not merely to reject the theory as self-­referentially inconsistent, hence as hopelessly inadequate, is how to correct this epistemological deficiency. Habermas turns to this problem in the third, or reconstructive, phase of his reading of historical materialism. This brief moment, to which he alludes, but which he does not work out in any detail, includes two parts: a meta-­theoretical reflection on the idea of theory reconstruction in general and a note, but no more than that, on how to reconstruct historical materialism. The meta-­theoretical reflection, which covers no more than a single paragraph in the introduction to a volume entitled On the Reconstruction of Historical Materialism, is intended to ground the possibility in question. Habermas here very briefly differentiates be­tween “renaissance,” “restoration,” and “reconstruction.” He understands the latter term to mean that in some unspecified way one takes a particular theory apart, for instance historical materialism, and puts it back together in order better to reach its intrinsic goal. Habermas seems to have in mind an analogy between theory in general and a set of children’s building blocks. If a theory is like a set of building blocks, then in the same way as we can take apart what we build, we can take apart the blocks that compose the theory to put them together in a different way. Habermas maintains that this is the “normal” procedure to follow for a theory that requires revision but whose potential is not exhausted. Yet, since he gives no examples, it is difficult to see how this would work in practice. Suffice it to say that it is not obvious that theories consist of parts similar to building blocks that we can take apart and put together in a limitless number of ways. His view of theory reconstruction is further problematic for another reason. He makes the supposition, which is obviously related to Kant’s claim 225

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to know Plato’s theory better than its author, that the intrinsic goal of a theory is identifiable. Habermas clearly assumes that he can unambiguously identify Marx’s intention in formulating his theory. Yet this implicit suggestion is tacitly denied by the enormous range of interpretation of Marx’s position. Habermas undertakes to reformulate Marx’s position, which he continues not to distinguish from, hence to conflate with, Marxism in an article appropriately called “Towards a Reconstruction of Historical Materialism.”210 At this point he regards historical materialism as a theory of the evolution of society whose limitation lies in an “over-­investment” in the economic perspective. This point is doubly important since, like most other critical theorists, Habermas simply turns away from political economy that is arguably central to Marx’s position. Following Hegel, Marx thinks that the modern world turns on its economic dimension, which is accordingly central for any theory about it and central as well for any serious effort to change it. Habermas further justifies his neglect of the economic dimension of the modern world in suggesting that, since the economic dimension of society is not central, it need not be taken into account to provide a theory of modern industrial society. In this way he simply abandons what at least for Marx is the indispensable means for effecting a basic change in modern industrial capitalism. From Habermas’s angle of vision Marx errs in taking the economic dimension of modern industrial society as central, hence as central to any acceptable theory about it. This observation enables Habermas to turn away without argument from Marxian political economy. In Marxian terms he substitutes a theory that interprets the world but does not change it for a theory that supposedly interprets but also changes the world. Though he does not discuss Pollock here, there is nonetheless a distant echo of the latter’s view that by virtue of the dependence of economics on politics, basic social change as well as attention to the economic dimension of the modern world both lose their point. If this is correct, then it becomes more important to reconstruct orthodox philosophy that merely interprets rather than changes the world than like Marx in formulating a theory that does both. The result is a qualified retreat to a quasi-­Kantian view that, supposedly like cosmopolitan philosophy, is useful as such, though perhaps not useful in changing the world, which does not seem to be Habermas’s objective. Since he objects to Marx’s alleged reduction of communication to work, he is primarily concerned to reconstruct what he later describes as a trivial superstructure/base distinction.

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The proposed reconstruction is controversial since Marxism traditionally identifies historical materialism with Marx. It is not obvious why we must accept a characterization of historical materialism as a theory of social evolution in place of Marx’s declared intention through his research into modern industrial society to lay bare the anatomy of capitalism that in his view both impedes and eventually renders possible human development. Habermas’s effort to provide an acceptable theory of social evolution is perhaps an interesting project. Yet its possibility as well as its relation to Marx’s project of social revolution both remain unclear. However, it appears more plausible than the prospect of revolutionary social transformation in the wake of Pollock’s view that economics depends on politics, which apparently suppresses the economic potential of society for bringing about fundamental social change. In part the difficulty lies in clarifying the meaning of “theory reconstruction.” It is plausible to suggest that a reconstructed theory should do everything the original theory does as well as at least one thing it ought but fails to do. Habermas is interested in avoiding a supposedly crucial difficulty in historical materialism, more precisely the epistemological deficit he associates with self-­referential inconsistency. The transition from capitalism to communism, which is central to Marx, is unrelated to self-­referential inconsistency, which is central for Habermas. Since Habermas neither demonstrates nor even argues that his own reconstruction of what he calls the superstructure theorem succeeds better than Marx at Marx’s intended task, we must infer that it fails as a better version of Marx’s position. Habermas later seemed to realize that his and Marx’s projects are hopelessly dissimilar. In the fourth and final stage of his reading of historical materialism, he simply abandons his effort to reconstruct it. He now maintains, again without argument, that historical materialism is flawed and incapable of further development. This suggests that he has come to the conclusion that his effort to carry Marx’s position further than where Marx left it is hopelessly flawed. It is unclear if this should be taken to mean that the theory cannot be further developed, an inference for which he would need to present a reason, or, on the contrary, that he is unable to do so. Be that as it may, this phase, which represents the outer reaches of his effort to come to grips with historical materialism, is mainly devoted to a critique intended to show that historical materialism must be abandoned in favor of his own emerging position. The young Lukács famously attempted in the first edition of History and Class Consciousness, as he later said, to out-­Hegel Hegel. In the same way, Habermas seems to suggest in

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his view of theory reconstruction that his own position does everything Marx’s theory does plus at least one other thing it ought to do but fails to do. An example from the history of natural science might be the explanation of the perihelion of Mercury, which Newtonian mechanics should but fails to explain but general relativity explains. Habermas expounds his position in a gigantic treatise of more than eleven hundred pages entitled Theory of Communicative Action. His position here is apparently intended to succeed in the socially relevant task of human emancipation where Marx and Marxism have putatively failed. Obviously what one thinks a given theory is intended to accomplish bears on how to evaluate it. The difficulty about how to classify historical materialism if one denies it is philosophy, or at least basically philosophical, has been noted above. When he began to engage with historical materialism, in distantly following Korsch, Habermas understood it as empirically falsifiable. Habermas, who changed his mind, later began to regard as well as to criticize historical materialism as an economic theory. For that reason, his attack here centers on the Marxian theory of surplus value, or Marxian value theory, which many observers take as central to the Marxian position. Marxian value theory, which is controversial, is hotly debated in a broad literature, which apparently does not interest Habermas. At this point, Habermas, who never analyzes Marx’s theory of value in the course of criticizing the overall position, appears to approach historical materialism from the vantage point of his own emerging rival position, hence from an angle of vision simply external to either Marx or Marxism. In the Theory of Communicative Action, he offers three criticisms of Mar­x­ ian value theory. First, Marx, who is supposedly indebted to Hegel’s Logik, fails to presuppose the separation of system and lifeworld, or work and interaction. The positive aspect of this criticism is the acknowledgment, which contradicts frequent classical Marxist claims that Marx simply leaves Hegel behind, that Marx is in many ways influenced by Hegel from the beginning to the end of his career. According to Habermas, such influences include, for instance, concepts borrowed from the Science of Logic. This point, which obviously conflicts with the view that Marx simply left Hegel and philosophy behind, is often suggested in the debate. Yet it is utterly unclear why Marx’s interest in Hegelian logic, which is clear as early as the Paris Manuscripts, prevents, or at least impedes, him from drawing distinctions that interest Habermas, above all the distinction between work and interaction, or why this is relevant to historical materialism. Second, Habermas objects that Marx lacks criteria to differentiate the destruction of traditional forms of life from the objectification (Verding­ 228

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lichung) of posttraditional forms of life. This criticism conflates two different Marxian themes. First, there is the evolution of social relations, above all the existing property relations, under the pressure of the development of the material forces of production. At least in theory this evolution leads to basic social changes, even social revolution. Second, there is objectification and alienation, which both routinely occur in the process of production. These two elements are very different and should not be conflated. According to Marx, objectification as well as alienation both belong to the normal functioning of modern industrial capitalism. The so-­called destruction of traditional forms of life that interests Habermas is, on the contrary, reserved for the transition for economic reasons to a different social framework. Third, Habermas objects that Marx mistakenly generalizes a special case of the subsumption of the lifeworld under so-­called system imperatives. Here again Habermas presupposes his own rival theory as an “external” objection to historical materialism. In “Work and Interaction,” Habermas contends that interaction must be free or unconstrained. He later formulated a so-­called system/lifeworld distinction, where the former relates to the “realm of necessity” and the latter to the “realm of freedom.”211 Habermas presumably thinks that in the modern world what he refers to as “communicative rationality” is freed from cultural or ideological fetters in so-­called undistorted communication. This view is consistent with Habermas’s interest in the Enlightenment project of wholly unconstrained rationality, which in turn presupposes complete self-­transparency. In this respect his model, as indicated above, seems to be an updated form of Kantianism. Yet suggestions that ideology has in the meantime somehow disappeared, or that in the contemporary world economic imperatives have no effect on what we think and do, are difficult to take seriously. In other words, while unfettered communication can be a regulative idea, it can never be constitutive. Habermas implicitly concedes that his objections are of unequal value. Only the first among them even directly concerns the Marxian theory of surplus value. This Marxian view is obviously controversial. At this late date it is perhaps no longer plausible to calculate exchange value as a function of labor-­time. But it does not follow that the value theory is less useful as an indication of how the market economy affects the individual worker. The more general problem is why Habermas thinks historical materialism depends on the validity of the labor theory of value. Habermas’s critique of historical materialism, as well as his distinction between system and lifeworld, both presuppose a conception of truth that is unaffected by constraint of any kind. We can distinguish two 229

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different concepts of truth in his writings: what he calls the consensus theory of truth, which emerged in a paper (1973) long ago and has never been translated into English,212 and which Habermas later abandoned, and what he calls the discourse theory of truth, which Habermas later adopted. The consensus theory of truth suggests that truth claims can be justified through an unconstrained, rational consensus. The central insight seems to be that if there is wholly unfettered discussion, and if agreement is reached, then the result is true. This view began to appear in Habermas’s writings very early. In Knowledge and Human Interests, he remarks that at least in principle in an emancipated society autonomy would be realized, which would in turn allow for true statements, whose truth “is based on anticipating the realization of the good life.”213 This approach seems to conflate truth and usefulness. A statement is not true because it is existentially useful but rather because it meets certain identifiable epistemic conditions. Habermas only confuses things further in linking truth claims to dialogue. Habermas is obviously aware that it is not the case that the conditions of Socratic dialogue are always possible. Though he warns against the illusion of pure theory, he apparently succumbs to this temptation. In fact the suggestion that the conditions of dialogue do not always exist agrees with Socrates’s view as depicted by Plato.214 It is accordingly controversial to assert that from the beginning philosophy has always assumed that the conditions for mature discussion are actual and not merely virtual. Habermas clearly surpasses, for instance, Socrates’s hypothesis of the utility of dialogue in his controversial claim that the under the proper conditions discussion does produce truth. Both the idea of consensus and its link to truth require comment. Nich­ olas Rescher, for instance, notes that, from the angle of vision of democratic pluralism, consensus is at best one factor in determining how to act.215 Certainly political consensus at any cost opens the door to forced consensus, even totalitarianism. The alternative is consensus freely obtained, or as much as possible unconstrained. Yet it may be illusory to hope that informed consensus can in practice be obtained other than in very limited circumstances. To see this point we need look no further than the intellectual tradition. Intellectual inquiry unfolds in a process of debate that, reputedly like psychoanalytic treatment, is interminable. There is no reason, other than the simple optimism of the current spate of dreams of a final theory, to hold that intellectual debate will either soon or even ever lead to a final conclusion acceptable to all parties. It is not irrational but rational, not an illustration of bad faith but an illustration of good faith, to continue to disagree even on the basis of Socratic dialogical practice. In 230

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fact, Socrates’s precise view remains ambiguous. It is unclear if he simply presupposes that through unconstrained discussion the discussants can, do, or perhaps will someday arrive at truth or if he thinks the best we can do is to arrive at agreement through discussion whose results remain indexed to it. The claim that through unlimited and unfettered discussion we in fact arrive at truth is the basis of Habermas’s theory of communicative action. There is clearly no substitute for free and fair discussion. We may choose to take discussion that is as unconstrained as practically possible as a precondition for arriving at truth. But it is a significant error to equate agreement or consensus, forced or unforced, or in any other way with truth. It is often the case that a consensus temporarily forms about a particular view only later to dissolve. At one time there was a large consensus about the American intervention in Vietnam as there was later about the American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The familiar phenomenon of the emergence and then later disappearance of consensus should alert us to the peril of conflating certainty or mere agreement arising from debate of whatever kind with truth. Since there can be consensus without truth and truth without consensus, consensus and truth are unrelated. Habermas later arrived at a similar conclusion. In the preface to Truth and Justification, he simply abandons the consensus theory of truth. This is the positive thesis underlying his rejection of historical materialism for allegedly reducing interaction to work in now adopting a discourse approach to truth. Though he now takes the position that we cannot isolate truth from justification, he no longer holds that consensus provides justification.216

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Marx’s Dream On November 10, 1619, the young Descartes had three dreams that over time led to his mature theories.1 Slightly more than two centuries later the young Marx formulated his dream of a better world to be realized through a nonstandard theory that interprets as well as changes the modern world. Marx’s dream turns in part on the proposed transition from capitalism to communism. At stake is a solution to the modern version of the age-­old Western philosophical concern with the theme of human flourishing. Marx, who thinks human beings do not and cannot flourish in the modern industrial world, believes they can and will be able to flourish as fully realized human individuals after the transition from capitalism to communism. Yet, since he was un­ able to work out his position, important details in his argument, including his understanding of the crucial transition from capitalism to communism as well as the precise nature of human freedom in a future postcapitalist environment, remain unclear. This study has sought to answer the central question Marx raises: can his dream be realized not only in theory but also in practice, or is it only a dream, that is, a cherished ambition, fantasy, or ideal, and in that way like so many other dreams that litter the philosophical debate, or even, as some observers think, only a nightmare? Marx’s aim in formulating an alternative theory of modern industrial capitalism is obviously not, like so much philosophy, an end in itself. It is rather by almost any standard a Promethean effort to realize the capacities of finite human beings as fully human individuals in order to solve, resolve, 232

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or otherwise overcome Rousseau’s problem through the transition from capitalism to communism. Marx’s proposed transformation of the situation of human beings in the modern world depends for its realization on the suggested unity of theory and practice, in this case the theory of practice and the practice of the theory, which, if they could be unified, would result in the transition from modern industrial capitalism to communism, in theory the succeeding social stage. Is Marx, like others before him, merely painting gray in gray? Or has he discerned a viable way in theory as well as in practice to change the world in solving the modern form of the enigma of human well-­being? After examination many aspects of the Marxian dream remain unclear, hence difficult to construe. Yet those that are at least reasonably clear suggest that, though many still continue to speak in Marx’s name, it is unlikely that Marx’s dream will ever be realized as he understood it. For his dream apparently fails the crucial test of practice intrinsic to his theories. Marx’s position, like the enigma for which it was formulated, can be interpreted in many ways. This book has examined four main ways to understand the proposed Marxian transition from capitalism to communism. They include reliance on the revolutionary proletariat, a universal economic crisis, a political solution, and social critique. Each of these approaches is problematic. It is, to begin with, unclear that now or earlier the proletariat was ever capable of playing its assigned revolutionary role as the motor of the revolution. It has further been argued that Marx’s theory of a universal economic crisis leading to the destruction of modern capitalism is neither clear nor supported by the available economic data. Further, if not in theory at least in practice Lenin’s political solution of the party as the vanguard of the revolution has invariably led to a permanent dictatorship over the proletariat, hence has never led to human freedom as Marx understands it in the modern social context. There is, finally, no reason to believe that mere social critique in a period in which the domination of advanced industrial capitalism has never been stronger is likely either in theory or practice to bring about a basic social change, much less to realize the transition from capitalism to communism. The concern with the social relevance of philosophy, which runs throughout the entire Western tradition, was already important in the time of Socrates, who holds that the unexamined life is not worth living. The main German idealists divide on the social role of philosophy. Kant, who thinks that philosophy as such is relevant to human concerns, does not go beyond mere hope for future happiness. Fichte believes philosophy 233

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is a theoretical means to deal with basically practical concerns. Hegel holds that ideas realize themselves. Yet according to Marx he neither changes nor seeks to change the world. In reacting primarily against Hegel, perhaps with Fichte in mind, Marx formulates a theory that not only interprets but also intends to change the world. If Marx’s theory succeeded in this task, then it would break with a long succession of thinkers who in his opinion merely interpret the world in leaving everything in place. If, on the contrary, as seems likely, Marx’s theory fails in practice, then it is only another in a long series of philosophical theories that interpret but fail to change the world in Marx’s sense. For they do not realize the minimally necessary conditions for the development of finite human beings as fully individual. Clearly communism as Marx understands it has not so far ever been realized other than in name. As understood here, Marx has in mind a theory of practice that must not ignore practice based on that theory. If that is correct, then the results have not so far been encouraging. It has, for instance, been claimed that Marx’s theory cannot be realized since it must lead to Stalinism, its equivalent, or even worse, as the source of a persistent nightmare for human beings everywhere. Though his theory is more than that, it would certainly be a mistake to deny or otherwise minimize the importance of atrocities committed in Marx’s name. This book has argued in detail that Marx’s solution to his version of Rousseau’s problem, or the modern form of human flourishing, requires the transformation of capitalism into communism as the prerequisite to the fully individual development of human beings. It is tempting to respond that it cannot be known a priori but can only be known in the fullness of time, if Marx’s dream can be realized in a meaningful way. Yet it is not excessive to make a stronger claim, that is, that Marx’s dream of the transition from capitalism to communism to realize human flour­ ishing after modern capitalism has not yet, and is unlikely ever to be realized in recognizably Marxian form. Though his theory turns on practice, in the final analysis it is not practical. One could object that the theory is being realized in practice every day, above all in the People’s Republic of China, which, since the Chinese Revolution, has become the largest and in some ways most successful Marxist state the world has ever known. Marx’s position remains central in the People’s Republic of China. China is officially Marxist, hence committed to realizing a version of Marx’s vision of a better life. Chinese Marxism is based on the Russian form of Marxism-­Leninism.2 The Chinese Communist Party adheres to socialism (or communism) with so-­called Chinese or local characteristics that 234

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function as the official Chinese ideology. Chinese Marxism, like Marxism-­ Leninism, features the dictatorship of the party, as well as two other central elements. These include, first, a residual Confucian component that is still widespread in China and that the political leadership cultivates for ideological reasons in presenting Chinese Marxism, which is unrelated to the long Chinese intellectual tradition, as the legitimate successor of Confucianism; and, second, what is routinely known as Mao’s thought (mao sixiang). The latter, which is explicitly described in the Chi­nese Constitution as the guide for contemporary China, was over many years mainly regarded as beyond criticism. In Mao’s wake, a series of general secretaries of the Chinese Communist Party have sought to orient China, in recent years through formulating slogans in lieu of a more detailed account. Marx’s vision of a better world is routinely interpreted in many different ways. Yet at least three factors intrinsic to the Chinese situation point to the inability on even a charitable interpretation to realize a recognizable version of Marx’s vision in contemporary China. They include the dictatorship of the CCP, the patent asymmetry between the Western and Eastern views of the individual, and the Chinese failure to surpass capitalism for communism. The problem posed by the so-­called dictatorship of the proletariat re­ mains an unsolved basic difficulty in every attempt to realize Marx’s vi­ sion. The dictatorship of the proletariat, in fact the seamless control of the warp and woof of contemporary China on all levels, is inscribed in the Chinese Constitution. This strongly suggests that the transformation of capitalism into communism in order to realize democracy, however understood, is not possible in practice. A second difficulty lies in the evident dissymmetry between the Marx­ ian and the Chinese conceptions of the individual. China frequently reminds others to respect the specificity of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese tradition. Yet it is insufficient to respect traditional Confucian moral values. Marx is a Westerner and not surprisingly his ideas often reflect his Western education and values. If Marx is the guide, then we need to see how Western ideas can be adapted to the spe­ cific Chinese situation. Yet even if current Chinese president Xi or his successors succeeds in solving one or more of the often gigantic problems currently facing China, it is highly unlikely the result will correspond to Marx’s intention. Marx’s focus on the development of each person’s capacities in a postcapitalist environment presupposes that those who today are subjected to what Max Weber calls the “iron cage” of modern industrial 235

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capitalism will in a future postcapitalist world develop their individual capacities, hence develop as individuals. In other words, Marx’s vision for human flourishing presupposes significant individual freedom in modern industrial society in a space beyond all forms of dictatorship, including modern capitalism, the so-­called dictatorship of the proletariat that in practice has always been the dictatorship of a political avant-­ garde, and so on. The concept of the human individual is a Western concept that arose early in the Middle Ages. It is the result of the effort to forge a conception of the human individual to understand individual responsibility in the context of the Christian theme of original sin. Moral responsibility can only be assigned responsibility if there is a conception of the morally responsible individual. As concerns the human individual and in other ways, Marx is in this respect a Western thinker. His position is directed toward the realization of the Western conception of the human individual that does not exist in this sense in Chinese thought. The Western conception of the human individual is incompatible with traditional and contemporary Chinese thought, including Chinese Marxism, which lacks such a conception.3 It would, then, be an elementary mistake to conflate, say, the Confucian fivefold series of basic relationships with anything like a Western idea of the individual as in some sense made in the image of God, as worthy of infinite respect, or in any other formulation. Dictatorship of any kind is incompatible with human freedom, incompatible with Marx’s vision of human flourishing in modern industrial society. What is called the people’s democratic dictatorship (renmin minzhu zhuanzheng) is explicitly mentioned in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. In China, this term is perhaps best known through a speech by Mao on June 30, 1949, in celebration of the twenty-­ eighth anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. In his speech, “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship,” Mao, in echoing Lenin’s view in The State and Revolution, argued that the Chinese Com­ munist Party represents the welfare of the Chinese people, which it protects through dictatorial powers against so-­called reactionary forces.4 In other words, and according to Mao, dictatorship, or unfreedom, is the price of freedom. Yet a social context in which unfreedom is the price of freedom is a social context in which freedom cannot be realized in practice. Further, a political view based on dictatorship is incompatible with Marx’s concern to realize real freedom in the modern social context. The modern concept of the individual who possesses inalienable rights is a Western concept that emerged from the French Revolution. This view 236

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is controversial in the Chinese context, where the idea of basic human rights has never been central. Marx’s position turns on the full development of the human individual as the basic value to be realized everywhere, including contemporary China. If this is correct, then the effort to realize Marx’s conception of human flourishing is based on a Western conception of the human individual unlike and incompatible with the ancient Chinese conception of human being. The final difficulty concerns the economic consequences of the failure of the People’s Republic of China to achieve communism. Marx rejects Hegel’s conception of human freedom in capitalism for a conception of human flourishing in a future communist society. Numerous observers think that the Chinese market economy is a form of state capitalism that began to emerge under Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and that has since continued to develop. There are many examples of Deng’s efforts to create a market economy, such as the reform and opening up ( gaige kaifang) that refers to the program of economic reforms known as “socialism with Chinese characteristics” started in December 1978 by reformers, the so-­called four modernizations (economy, agriculture, scientific and technological development, and national defense) announced in 1981, the socialist market economic model, and so on. China is confronted with economic, political, and social problems that in many cases are relevantly similar to or the same as the problems Marx faced in the middle of the nineteenth century and that led him to turn toward communism as the replacement for capitalism. On the other hand, it seems unlikely, judging by its performance to date, that the performance of the Chinese economy will over time lift, rather than as now seems increasingly likely, further sink the Chinese boat. To understand the performance of the Chinese economy, it is useful to say a word about the economic situation after the political damage wrought by Mao in the great leap forward and the cultural revolution. Mao is widely viewed as having nearly destroyed the Chinese economy, which was only saved through Deng Xiaoping’s pragmatic return to capitalism.5 Deng’s famous statement—­“It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, if it catches mice it is a good cat”—­is understood as indicating a Chinese form of nondoctrinal pragmatism, including economic pragmatism. The pragmatic Chinese interest in results over doctrinal faithfulness is reflected in the views of a series of Chinese presidents in Deng Xiaoping’s wake. Hu Jintao’s evocation of harmony (hexie) recalls traditional Chinese Confucianism as well as pointing toward a specific social model. As this book was being written, the secretary general of the Chinese Communist 237

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Party was Xi Jinping. In a visit to the Chinese National Museum in 2012, Xi introduced the term “Chinese dream” (zhong guo meng), which is now widely used on all levels throughout China to refer to the aims and goals of the Chinese nation. Xi apparently has in mind such goals as the improvement of people’s living standards, prosperity, the construction of a better society, a strengthened military, and so on. At a minimum he is also and above all concerned to maintain the preeminent role of the Chinese Communist Party while simultaneously fostering the creation of a modern country. The economic situation in what is despite the enormous economic progress still a third-­world country like China is a central factor in the CCP’s effort to realize Marx’s concern with human flourishing. Human flourishing, or as the CCP likes to say, human thriving, was understood in a different way in ancient Greece, where it referred to happiness and virtue, and in the modern social context, where, as has been repeatedly said, at least since Rousseau, it concerns freedom in all its dimensions in modern industrial society. What we mean by “poverty” and “being well­off” is relative to a given society. To be poor or to be well-­off are very different, say, in today’s China, which is still on the whole very poor, accord­ ing to some estimates one of the five poorest countries in the world, than, say, in the West. China’s contribution to overcoming Chinese and world poverty is ob­ viously immense. In the last thirty years, China has raised some 600 mil­ lion people, 70 percent of the world’s poor, above the poverty line of one dollar a day, the standard currently set by the World Bank. But that is very little, surely not enough, since at the present time one in ten Chi­ n­ese is still poor if judged by this standard. Since 2013, the percentage of Chinese living below the poverty line has been cut nearly in half. Yet two hundred thousand Chinese do not have access to electricity and close to 70 million earn an annual income of 2,300 yuan ($376). The Chinese government says it will eradicate poverty no later than 2020. What does that mean? Certainly reaching the level of a dollar a day points to economic progress in eradicating poverty. But a dollar a day is very little, not enough to cry victory, not enough for a comprehensive well-­ off society—­its own cited aim—­not enough to do more than meet one’s basic subsistence needs. A further problem concerns the relation between economics and poverty. The quantitative economic approach tied to increasing the average income level suggests that poverty is either basically economic or can be overcome and even eliminated by raising the living standard.

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This is obviously a contentious issue. The view of what it means to live in a comprehensive well-­off society continues to evolve. Former president Hu Jintao suggested the idea of a moderately well-­off society in referring to the Confucian term xiao kang shehui. This term, which is used to describe a society composed of a functional middle class, suggests more equal distribution. In order to understand “a moderately prosperous society,” we need to know what it would mean to be well-­off in today’s world. “Poverty” and its polar opposite, the “well-­off society,” cannot be measured only quantitatively, hence cannot be measured only in economic terms. To be well-­ off in the contemporary world implies more than merely economics. Though China is a very old country, the People’s Republic of China is still very young. The victory of the Chinese communists over the nationalists in the Chinese Civil War was only achieved in 1949. In the very short period since it came to power, the Chinese Communist Party has enormously expanded the economy in a way that apparently has no historical precedent. In the process China has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. Yet these tremendous successes in practice do not accord with, in fact run against, Marx’s analysis of capitalism. Marx’s theory of the transformation of modern industrial society crucially depends not on the success but rather on the final, utter, and irrevocable failure of capitalism in practice. In this respect, the Chinese dream is not Marxian but rather anti-­Marxian. Its realization depends not on abolishing capitalism but rather on the success of capitalism in practice. There is truth in the observation that the transition to capitalism did not create socialism (or communism) with Chinese characteristics but rather created capitalism with Chinese characteristics.6 The new China that emerged after the Chinese Revolution is still in its infancy. Whether China will be successful in creating a modern country depends on whether it can, in relying on capitalism, solve such typical capitalist problems as rampant pollution, deforestation, massive poverty, lack of unemployment insurance, restricted access to health care, rampant pollution, and so on, goals in part already mentioned more than a century and a half earlier in The Communist Manifesto. Yet a possible Chi­ nese success in meeting the very real contemporary Chinese problems through the Chinese form of capitalism will not be Marxian but anti-­ Marxian, in conflict with the basic Marxian intent to surpass capitalism. It should further be noted that the main difficulty is not the corruption that in a one-­party country is not surprisingly omnipresent on all levels of Chinese society.7 It is rather the evolution of the Chinese form

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Conclusion

of state capitalism in a way that in the main repeats the development of capitalism everywhere. Instead of decreasing inequality, the already largely unequal distribution of income in China has already surpassed European levels to at least equal and perhaps even surpass the even higher level of inequality in the United States. The Chinese economy has performed heroically in the past. Yet it is increasingly likely that despite the mighty political interference of Mao and others, the future will not only be unlike the past. We can anticipate that in the future development of the Chinese economy will possibly, perhaps even probably, continue to aggravate the steadily increasing urban/rural income gap, which is already greater than that in the United States and already one of the worst in the world.8 For these and other reasons, it seems that Marx’s dream is not being and cannot be realized either in contemporary China in the short or even the long run. For as concerns the Chinese economy, practice apparently falls short of theory. Chinese Marxism is for the most part based on Soviet Marxism that arose in the Soviet Union after the October Revolution. Marxism, which differs often in important ways from Marx’s own position, apparently failed in the Soviet Union and has, depending on the criteria, arguably not succeeded in modern China. The Chinese situation is the most important contemporary illustration of the inability to realize Marx’s theory. The practical possibility of such a theory, which is not evident, has been examined in this study. It has argued that Marx’s theory of the unity of theory and practice is not itself practical. Though it perhaps solves the problems in theory, it does not do so in practice. Despite his enormous contribution to understanding modern industrial society, despite Engels’s conviction that Marx had discovered the law of history, and despite Marx’s own claim to have discovered the solution to the riddle of history, an enduring problem remains. Marx’s effort turns on focusing the relation at least in theory of theory and practice in realizing communism as the necessary precondition of human flourishing. Yet this aim that may or may not have been, is being, or will be realized in theory has not been, is apparently not being, and in all likelihood will not later be realized in practice. It is then difficult to infer that the future will be unlike the past or that, as Marx thinks, in reality the future belongs to the proletariat. Marx’s strength lies more in the description and diagnosis of the ills of modern industrial society in penetrating, rarely equaled and never surpassed analyses than in their solution in practice. Yet that does not mean that we should now turn away from Marx, a gigantic figure, whose contribution to our understanding of the modern world is unsurpassed 240

Marx’s Dream

and, with the obvious exception of Smith and Hegel, perhaps unequaled by anyone. We owe to Marx perhaps even more than to Smith an account of how capitalism functions, including enormously enlightening accounts of objectification, alienation, and fetishism, as well as a dynamic model of modern industrial society. Though he does not overcome either capitalism or the problems of capitalism, he has for perhaps the first time described its secret in legible form. Marx’s Promethean effort to realize his theory of the beginning of real human history beyond the limits of modern industrial society is based on his conviction, in fact a persistent dream of a young German philosopher in the middle of the nineteenth century about the real possibility of mobilizing philosophical insights in the service of human flourishing. This dream is not the nightmare that some believe it to be. It is also more than a fantasy or a theory unrelated to practice. And above all, it is not and perhaps will never be dreamed out, so to speak. A literary allusion may be helpful to close this discussion. We recall Marx’s lifelong interest in Shakespeare, who wrote: “We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep.”9 This statement calls attention to two points. On the one hand, there is the obvious tendency of human beings in all times and places to dream of what might be possible. On the other, there is the inability on other than unusual occasions to go beyond dreaming. In the present context, this does not suggest the incapacity to awaken to the reality of the human situation in modern industrial society. It rather points to an inability to basically change the situation in modern industrial society. In short, Marx’s dream is not the outcome of history, not a panacea, nor even a vade mecum that somehow overcomes the problems of finite human beings who seek a better future while being confronted with the reality of the present.

241

Notes Introduction

1.

2.

3.

4. 5. 6.

Others sometimes hold a form of this view as well. See, e.g., Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism: Its Rise, Growth and Dissolution, 3 vols., trans. P. S. Falla (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 1:1. See, for an exception, Klaus Hartmann, Die Marxsche Theorie: Eine philosophische Untersuchung zu den Hauptschriften (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1970). Plato, “Seventh Letter,” 324b–­326b, in Plato: Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper, assoc. ed. D. S. Hutchinson (Indianapo­ lis: Hackett, 1997), 1647. The initial form of this struggle took place in Sophist, 246–­ 248, in Plato: Complete Works, 267–­270. See Michel Henry, Marx: A Philosophy of Human Reality (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993). See Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works of Marx and Engels, 50 vols. (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1975–­ 2005), 3:3–­129, hereafter cited as CW with volume and page number. Marx wrote two early texts concerning Hegel in the period from May 1843 to June 1844: “Critique of the Hegel’s Philosophy of Law” also known in English as “Cri­ tique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” and “Critique of Hegel’s Philoso­phy of Law: Introduction,” also known in English as “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction.” In the meantime a new translation of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right has come out under the title Elements of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. In order to avoid confusion, in this book Hegel’s study will be referred to under the name Elements of the Phi­losophy of Right and Marx’s two early texts on Hegel will be referred

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to respectively as “Critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right” and “Critique of Hegel’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right: Introduction.” Pa r t O n e

1.

This narrower question, narrower than the wider, traditional question of the nature and conditions of human flourishing, interests later critical the­ orists, including Habermas, Honneth, and more recently Jaeggi. See Rahel Jaeggi, Kritik von Lebensformen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2014). 2. According to Hegel, Rousseau’s achievement lies in putting forward the will as the principle of the state. Yet he erred in considering the will, as Fichte later did, only as the individual will, in hence pointing toward con­ tract and not toward rationality. See G. W. F. Hegel, Elements of the Philos­ ophy of Right, trans. H. B. Nisbet, ed. Allen Wood (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), §258, p. 277. 3. According to the Marx Engels CW, Marx’s study, which was written in 1843, was initially published in the Marx-­Engels Gesamtausgabe as follows: Abt. 1, Bd. 1, Hb. 1, 1927. See CW, 3:5. 4. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §40, p. 70. 5. Marx typically is concerned with the role of private property in human flourishing. He never pauses to consider the justification of the institution of private property. See, on this question, Christopher Pierson, Just Property: A History in the Latin West, vol. 1, Wealth, Virtue, and the Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013–­2016). 6. See, e.g., St. Augustine, Concerning the City of God against the Pagans, trans. Henry Bettenson (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986). 7. See Øyvind Rabbås, Eyjólfur K. Emilsson, Hallvard Fossheim, and Miira Tuominen, eds., The Quest for the Good Life: Ancient Philosophers on Happi­ ness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 8. See J. S. Mill, On Liberty (New York: Dover, 2002), 11, where in the epigraph he cites Wilhelm von Humboldt concerning “the grand, leading principle, towards which every argument unfolded in these pages directly converges: the absolute and essential importance of human development in its riches diversity.” 9. The problem of the good life, which runs from ancient times up to the present, has of often been discussed but has never been solved. The link be­ tween the good life and economics is drawn more clearly in modern times. Smith, the founder of modern economics, was acutely aware of this link. Marx seems to think that the link must be undone in order for people to develop as individuals. Later observers react to the economic dimension of the modern world in different ways. Becker, an important proponent of ra­ tional choice theory, thinks that every quality is quantifiable in economic terms. More recently, in reaction Sandel has called attention to the moral

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problems evoked by the failure to maintain a sufficient tension, even a separation, between economics and other facets of life. See Michael San­ del, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012). 10. Plato, Republic, 369B–­C, in Plato: Complete Works, 1008. 11. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 20, 21. 12. See Tom Rockmore, “The Nazi Turning and the Rectoral Address,” in On Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 28–­73. 13. See Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1944; repr., Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976). 14. Plato, Republic, 252D, in Plato: Complete Works, 996. 15. Aristotle’s conception of eudaimonia remains influential. For a recent account, which ignores its Aristotelian origin, see Lorraine Besser-­Jones, Eudaimonic Eth­ ics: The Philosophy and Psychology of Living Well (New York: Routledge, 2014). 16. For a justification of this translation, see Daniel N. Robinson, Aristotle’s Psychology (New York: Columbia, 1999). 17. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1981), 38. 18. For a recent generic approach, see James Tabery, Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014). 19. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck (New York: Cambridge Uni­ versity Press, 2002), 89. 20. Jean-­Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality among Mankind, ed. with an introduction by Lester G. Crocker (New York: Washington Square Press, 1971), 7. 21. Immanuel Kant, “Speculative Beginnings of Human History” (1786), in Kant, Perpetual Peace and other Essays on Politics, History, and Morals, trans. Ted Humphrey (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983), 54. 22. Immanuel Kant, Handschriftlicher Nachlass, in Kants gesammelte Schriften, Deutsche/Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin, De Gruyter), vol. 15, part 2. 23. See Shlomo Avineri, Hegel’s Theory of the Modern State (New York: Cam­ bridge University Press, 1972), x. 24. Georg Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981), 136. 25. Hobbes, Leviathan, 90. 26. John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (New York: Cam­ bridge University Press, 1988), §7, p. 271. 27. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §194, pp. 230–­231. 28. See ibid., §18, Addition 1, p. 51. 29. See ibid., §194, pp. 230–­231.

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30. Jean-­Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and the First and Second Dis­ courses, ed. Susan Dunn (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002), 144. 31. See Ernst Cassirer, Über Rousseau, ed. by Guido Kreis (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012). In discussing Cassirer’s view of Rousseau, I am following Guido Kreis, “Cassirer über Rousseau,” Information-­Philosophie 4 (December 2014): 68–­72. 32. I leave to one side the origin and use of this concept in other writers. See James Farr and David Lay Williams, eds., The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). 33. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §§257–­258, pp. 275–­281. 34. Ibid., §188, p. 199. 35. See Denis Diderot, “Droit naturel,” in the Encyclopédie, in Political Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, ed. John Hope Mason and Robert Walker (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 20. 36. See Jean-­Jacques Rousseau, Du Contrat social (Paris: Garnier, 1962), 4:308. 37. See Plato, Republic, 417A, in Plato: Complete Works, 1052. 38. See ibid., 423D, p. 1056. 39. Ibid., 415D–­417B, pp. 1051–­1052. 40. Ibid., 421C, p. 1054. 41. See Plato, Laws, 742E–­743A, in Plato: Complete Works, 1423. 42. See, e.g., Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §41, p. 73. 43. See also ibid., §41, Addition, p. 78. 44. See ibid., §51, p. 81. 45. Richard Kraut, Aristotle: Political Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 347. 46. See E. D. Miller, Nature, Justice and Rights in Aristotle’s Politics (Oxford: Ox­ ford University Press, 1995), 328. 47. See Aristotle, Politics, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, 2 vols., ed. Jona­ than Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), vol. 1, 1281a11–­38, pp. 58–­61. 48. See, for a detailed account, Pierson, Just Property, 2:68. 49. Jean-­Jacques Rousseau, Second Discourse, in Rousseau, The Social Contract and First and Second Discourses, 113. 50. See Pierson, Just Property, vol. 1. 51. Samuel Pufendorf, On the Law of Nature and Nations in Eight Books, trans. C. H. Oldfather and W. A. Oldfather (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934), 546. 52. Hugo Grotius, The Problem of the Seas, trans. R. van Deman Magoffin (Kitch­ ener, ON: Batoche Books, 2000), 8. 53. John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 2:27. 54. Ibid., 2:40. 55. Ibid., 2:44.

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56. Ibid., 2:27, 288. 57. Hegel’s distinction between ideas and ideals points to the difference be­ tween a mere concept and its concrete realization. In the Aesthetics, for instance, he calls attention to “the actuality of the Idea of the beautiful as the Ideal of art.” G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, 2 vols., trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 1:299. 58. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 21. 59. See Georg Lukács, “Class Consciousness,” in Lukács, History and Class Con­ sciousness, 46–­82. 60. For a classic discussion of Hegel’s view of recognition, see Robert R. Wil­ liams, Hegel’s Ethics of Recognition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). 61. See Plato, Parmenides, 133E, in Plato: Complete Works, 168. 62. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 22. 63. See ibid., §1, p. 14. 64. Ibid., §2, p. 14. 65. Ibid., §4, p. 20. 66. See ibid., §33, pp. 35–­36. 67. For an extensive recent study, see Frederick Neuhouser, Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory: Actualizing Freedom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univer­ sity Press, 2000). 68. See Christopher Yeomans, The Expansion of Autonomy: Hegel’s Pluralistic Philosophy of  Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 69. See Michael Quante, Hegel’s Concept of Action, trans. Dean Moyar (Cam­ bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), esp. 92–­98, for a summary of the view. 70. See Robert B. Pippin, Hegel’s Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 4. 71. See Pippin, Hegel’s Practical Philosophy, 28. 72. See, for discussion, Georg Lukács, The Young Hegel: Studies in the Relations between Dialectics and Economics, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976). 73. In the Groundwork, he writes: “In the kingdom of ends everything has either a price or a dignity. What has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent, what on the other hand is raised above all price and therefore admits of no equivalent has a dignity.” Immanuel Kant, Ground­ work of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 42. 74. See G. W. F. Hegel, “The German Constitution,” in Hegel’s Political Writings, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 143–­242. 75. See G. W. F. Hegel, “Beurteilung der im Druck erschienenen Verhandlun­ gen in der Versammlung der Landstände des Königsreichs Würtemberg im Jahr 1815 und 1816,” in Heidelbergerischer Jahrbücher der Literatur (Munich: Brockhaus Leipzig 1817).

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76. According to Rosenkranz, Hegel worked on this commentary from Febru­ ary 19 until May 16, 1799. See Karl Rosenkranz, G. W. F. Hegels Leben (Darm­ stadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1972). 77. According to Hamann, Steuart, in his profound discussion of the politi­ cal, surpassed others such as Ferguson. See Briefwechsel, ed. Ziesemer and Henkel (Wiesbaden, 1956), 2:418, cited in Joachim Ritter, Hegel and the French Revolution: Essays on the Philosophy of Right, trans. R. D. Winfield (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1982), 88n33. 78. See Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, in CW, 29:297. 79. See Lukács, The Young Hegel. 80. See Norbert Waszek, The Scottish Enlightenment and Hegel’s Account of “Civil Society” (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1988). 81. A typical early instance lies in his remark that Jesus’s commandments form the first foundation for the legal code of civil society. See G. W. F. Hegel, “Fragmente über Volksreligion und Christentum” (1793–­1795), in Werke in zwanzig Bänden, ed. Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Rinus Michel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1971), 1:61. 82. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §§59–­64, pp. 49–­52, esp. §59, p. 49. 83. See ibid., §261, Addition, p. 285. 84. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §189, p. 126. 85. This approach is dominant but not universal. For a more socially respon­ sive approach, see, e.g., Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 1999. 86. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §192, p. 127. 87. See ibid., §193, pp. 127–­128. 88. See ibid., §194, p. 128. 89. See Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, §50, pp. 343–­344. 90. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §196, pp. 128–­129. 91. See ibid., §198, p. 129. 92. See ibid., §199, pp. 129–­130. 93. See ibid., §170, p. 116. 94. See ibid., §199, pp. 129–­130. 95. See ibid., §202, p. 231. 96. See ibid., §206, pp. 132–­133. 97. See ibid., §207, pp. 133–­134. 98. See ibid., §§41–­72. 99. Ibid., §45, p. 42. 100. See ibid., §46, p. 45. 101. See ibid., §58, p. 48. 102. See ibid., §27, p. 57. 103. See ibid., §29, p. 58. 104. See ibid., §4, p. 35; see also ibid., §30, p. 59, on the link between right and freedom.

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105. Ibid., §67, p. 54. 106. Note the link between objectification in Hegel, Marx, and others and Herder’s conception of expressivism, as developed by Taylor in his Hegel. See Charles Taylor, Hegel (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 13. 107. See Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). 108. Allen Wood, introduction to Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, xxvii. 109. “Proceeding from the Hegelian philosophy of law, Marx came to the con­ clusion that it was not the state, which Hegel had described as the ‘top of the edifice,’ but ‘civil society,’ which Hegel had regarded with disdain, that was the sphere in which a key to the understanding of the process of the historical development of mankind should be looked for.” Frederick [Fried­ rich] Engels, “Marx,” in CW, 3:60–­61. 110. See, for a study of the Hegelian view of religion, Emil Fackenheim, The Religious Dimension in Hegel’s Thought (Boston: Beacon, 1970). 111. This critique is frequently raised in Marxism to differentiate Marx from He­ gel on the grounds that Hegel’s conception of the historical subject is finally theological, hence fictitious. See, e.g., Georg Lukács, “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” in History and Class Consciousness, 83–­222. 112. See his letter to Arnold Ruge, March 5, 1842, in CW, 1:382. 113. See, for discussion of this range of meanings of this term, Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, xxxviii. 114. See CW, 29:261. 115. Marx, who initially strongly admired Feuerbach, speaks in this letter of a form of love for the latter’s work. Engels suggests Marx follows Feuerbach in leaving philosophy. But Marx credits Feuerbach with providing a philo­ sophical basis for socialism. He wrote to Feuerbach, in Bruckberg, from Paris, August 11, 1844: Since I just have the opportunity, I take the liberty of sending you an article of mine in which some elements of my critical philosophy of law [“Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduc­ tion”] are outlined. I had already finished it once but have since revised it in order to make it more generally comprehensible. I don’t attribute any exceptional value to this essay but I am glad to have an opportu­ nity of assuring you of the great respect and—­if I may use the word—­ love, which I feel for you. Your Philosophie der Zukunft, and your Wesen des Glaubens, in spite of their small size, are certainly of greater weight than the whole of contemporary German literature put together. In these writings you have provided—­I don’t know whether intentionally—­ a philosophical basis for socialism and the Communists have immedi­ ately understood them in this way. The unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences between men, the concept of the human species brought down from the heaven of abstraction to the real earth, what is this but the concept of society! (CW, 3:354–­360) 249

N o t e s t o pa g e s 3 0 – 3 6

116. See Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, trans. George Eliot (New York: Harper and Row, 1957). 117. See Sigmund Freud, “The Future of an Illusion,” in The Freud Reader, ed. Peter Gay (New York: Norton, 1989), 685–­721. 118. Ludwig Feuerbach, Principles of the Philosophy of the Future, trans. Manfred Vogel (Indianapolis: LLA, 1966). 119. See ibid., §§19, 20, p. 31. 120. See Carl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law,” in CW, 3:5. 121. CW, 3:6. 122. CW, 3:7. 123. CW, 3:8. 124. The difficulty of Marx’s anti-­anthropological reading of Hegel has been seen, for instance by Kojève, whose rereading of the Phenomenology from a resolutely anthropological point of view obviously counters Marx’s anti-­ anthropological reading of Hegel. Kojève further suggests that Hegel, who features a realist approach, rejects Fichte’s idealism or antirealism. See Al­ exander Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. James H. Nichols, ed. Allen Bloom (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980). 125. CW, 3:8–­9. 126. CW, 3:9. 127. See “Who Thinks Abstractly?,” in Walter Kaufmann, Hegel: Texts and Com­ mentary (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1966), 113–­118. 128. CW, 3:12. 129. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §5, p. 38. 130. See Hegel, The Encyclopedia Logic with the Zusätze, part 1 of The Encyclope­ dia of Philosophical Sciences with the Zusätze, trans. Klaus Brinkmann and Daniel Dahlstrom (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1991), §25, pp. 66–­67. 131. CW, 3:18. 132. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §34, p. 67. 133. CW, 3:23. 134. CW, 3:49. 135. CW, 3:56. 136. CW, 3:58. 137. CW, 3:62. 138. CW, 3:63. 139. CW, 3:74. 140. CW, 3:92. 141. CW, 3:100. 142. CW, 3:102. 143. CW, 3:108. 144. CW, 3:116. 145. CW, 3:123.

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146. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §189, p. 126. 147. Ibid., 21. 148. See ibid., 23. 149. Ibid., 22. 150. See Nicholas Lobkowicz, Theory and Practice: History of a Concept from Aris­ totle to Marx (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1967). 151. See Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), B867, p. 694. 152. See Immanuel Kant, “The Saying: That a Thing May Be True in Theory, but It Does Not Apply in Practice,” in Kant’s Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 61–­92. 153. See Augustine, “On the Free Choice of the Will,” in On the Free Choice of the Will, On Grace and Free Choice, and Other Writings, ed. Peter King (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 154. See Aristotle, Politics, vol. 2, 5, pp. 24–­27. 155. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 26–­27. 156. J. S. Mill, “On the Definition of Political Economy, and on the Method of Investigation Proper to It,” London and Westminster Review, October 1836, repr. in J. S. Mill, Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy (London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1874). 157. CW, 3:342. 158. CW, 3:329. 159. CW, 3:343. 160. CW, 24:459. 161. See CW, 3:327. 162. CW, 3:328. 163. See, e.g., Dieter Henrich, “Substantivierte und doppelte Negation,” in Posi­ tionen der Negativität (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1975), 481–­485. 164. CW, 3:328. 165. See Alexis Philonenko, La Jeunesse de Feuerbach, 1828–­1841: Introduction à ses positions fondamentales (Paris: Vrin, 1990), 53. 166. “The rejection of philosophy, conceived in the context [Horizont] of the controversy with Hegel, initiated a new, nonmetaphysical and nonidealis­ tic anthropology.” Johann Mader, Zwischen Hegel und Marx: Zur Verwirklic­ hung der Philosophie (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1968), 94. 167. See Horst Stuke, Philosophie der Tat. Studien zur Verwerklichung der Philosophie bei den Junghegelianern und den wahren Sozialisten (Stuttgart: E. Kletta, 1963). 168. René Descartes, The Philosophical Works of Descartes, trans. E. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 1:99. 169. “Earlier, however, Machiavelli and Campanella, and later Hobbes, Spinoza, Hugo Grotius, right down to Rousseau, Fichte and Hegel, began to regard the state through human eyes and to deduce its natural laws from reason an experience, and not from theology. In so doing, they were as little de­ terred as Copernicus was by the fact that Joshua bade the sun still over

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Gideon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon.” Karl Marx, “The Leading Article in No. 179 of the Kölnische Zeitung,” in CW, 1:201. 170. CW, 3:337. 171. “According to Fichte’s verbal statements . . . the self creates through its rep­ resentations; and all reality is only the self.” Letter from Schiller to Goethe of October 28, 1794, in Johann Christian Friedrich von Schiller, Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller und Goethe, 2 vols., ed. H. Hauff (Stuttgart: Cotta’sche Buchhandlung, 1856), 1:26. 172. CW, 3:336. See also Marx-­Engels-­Werke Ergänzungsband, in Marx-­Engels Werke part 1, pp. 577, 578 (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1973)., 1:577: Wenn der wirkliche, leibliche, auf der festen wohlgerundeten Erde stehende, alle Naturkräfte aus-­und ein-­atmende Mensch seine wirkli­ chen, gegenständlichen Wesenskräfte durch seine Entäußerung als fremde Gegenstände setzt, so ist nicht das Setzen Subjekt; [A*] es ist die Subjektivität gegenständlicher Wesenskräfte, deren Aktion daher auch eine gegenständliche sein muß. Das gegenständliche Wesen wirkt gegen­ ständlich, und es wurde nicht gegenständlich wirken, wenn nicht das Gegenständliche in seinen Wesensbestimmungsläge. Es schafft, setzt nun Gegenstände, weil es durch Gegenstände gesetzt ist, weil es von Haus aus Natur ist. In dem Akt des Setzens fällt es also nicht aus seiner “reinen Tätigkeit” in ein Schaffen des Gegenstandes, sondern sein gegen­ ständliches Produkt bestätigt nur seine gegenständliche Tätigkeit, seine Tätigkeit als die Tätigkeit eines gegenständlichen natürlichen Wesens. 173. CW, 3:336–­337. See also Marx-­Engels-­Werke Ergänzungsband, 1:578: Der Mensch ist unmittelbar Naturwesen. Als Natur-­wesen und als leben­ diges Naturwesen ist er teils mit natürlichen Kräften, mit Lebenskräften ausgerüstet, ein tätiges Naturwesen; diese Kräfte existieren in ihm als Anlagen und Fähigkeiten, als Triebe; teils ist er als natürliches, leibli­ ches, sinnliches, gegenständliches Wesen ein leidendes, bedingtes und beschränktes Wesen, wie es auch das Tier und die Pflanze ist, d.h. die Gegenstände seiner Triebe existieren außer ihm, als von ihm unabhängige Gegenstände; aber diese Gegenstände sind Gegenstände seines Bed­ürfnisses, zur Betätigung und Bestä-­tigung seiner Wesenskräfte unen­tbehrliche, wesentliche Gegenstände. Daß der Mensch ein leibliches, naturkräftiges, lebendiges, wirkliches, sinnliches, gegenständliches Wesen ist, heißt, daß er wirkliche, sinnliche Gegenstände zum Gegenstand seines Wesens, seinen Lebensäußerung hat oder daß er nun an wirklichen, sinnlichen Gegen­ ständen sein Leben äußern kann. Gegenständlich, natürlich, sinnlich sein und sowohl Gegenstand, Natur, Sinn außer sich haben oder selbst Gegenstand, Natur, Sinn für ein drittes sein ist identisch. Der Hunger ist ein natürliches Bedürfnis; er bedarf also einer Natur außer sich, eines Gegenstandes außer sich, um sich zu befriedigen, um sich zu stillen. Der Hunger ist das gestandne Bedürfnis meines Leibes nach einem außer 252

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ihm seienden, zu seinen Integrierung und Wesensäußerung unentbeh­ rlichen Gegenstande. Die Sonne ist der Gegenstand der Pflanze, ein ihr unentbehrlicher, ihr Leben bestätigender Gegenstand, wie die Pflanze Gegenstand der Sonne ist, als Äußerung von der lebenserweckenden Kraft der Sonne, von der gegenständlichen Wesenskraft der Sonne. 174. See, e.g., Adam Schaff, Marxism and the Human Individual (New York: McGraw-­Hill, 1970). 175. See Lucien Goldmann, Lukács et Heidegger (Paris: Denoël-­Gonthier, 1973). 176. See Ernest Barker, Greek Political Theory: Plato and His Predecessors (London: Methuen, 1961), 190–­192. 177. Locke’s view still has many defenders. A recent example is Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984). 178. Locke’s idea that the right to property is absolute contradicts the ancient Greek view that the right to property is merely a social creation, but nei­ ther absolute nor inherent. See Ernest Barker, Greek Political Theory: Plato and His Predecessors (London: Methuen, 1918), 371. 179. “Whatsoever he . . . removes . . . he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned it to something that is his own. . . . thereby making it his Property.” Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, §27, p. 329. This can be read as the claim that when he makes something part of himself, he makes it his own, or “properly” his, where “proper” is the root of “property.” See also ibid., §44, pp. 340–­341; §28, p. 330; §27, p. 329; and §45, p. 341. 180. See, e.g., Smith, Wealth of Nations, 4:456. 181. See Pauline Kleingeld, “Nature or Providence? On the Theoretical and Moral Importance of Kant’s Philosophy of History,” American Catholic Phi­l­ osophical Quarterly 74, no. 2 (2001): 201–­219. 182. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §187, p. 124. 183. See Amélie Rorty and James Schmitt, eds., Kant’s Idea for a Universal History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 2. 184. Smith, Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, part 4, p. 456. 185. See Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, also called Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms (1763) (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976). 186. See CW, 35:375. 187. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §110, p. 138. 188. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §112, p. 139. 189. See István Meszárós, Marx’s Theory of Alienation (London: Merlin, 2006). 190. CW, 35:750. 191. See Karl Marx, “Communism and the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung,” in CW, 1:215–­221. 192. See Jonathan Sperber, Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-­Century Life (New York: Nor­ ton, 2013), 99. 193. CW, 3:141–­145. 194. CW, 3:294. 195. CW, 3:294. 253

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196. CW, 3:296–­297. 197. CW, 3:301. 198. CW, 3:306. 199. CW, 3:227–­228. 200. See Terrell Carver and Daniel Blank, A Political History of the Editions of Marx and Engels’ German Ideology Manuscripts (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 81. Carver and Blank point out that the original manuscript contains neither the title “German Ideology” nor the terms “materialist conception of his­ tory” or “historical materialism.” See ibid., 1. See also Terrell Carver and Dan­ iel Blank, Marx and Engels’s “German Ideology” Manuscripts: Presentation and Analysis of the “Feuerbach Chapter” (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). 201. CW, 5:49. 202. CW, 3:306. 203. The question of Marx’s view of equality and ethics in general as well as its relation to bourgeois thought is controversial. See Allen W. Wood, Karl Marx (New York: Routledge, 2004), chapters 9–­10, pp. 127–­162. 204. CW, 6:504. 205. “For Marx was someone whose intellectual achievements, in economics, history and social theory surely deserve to be called ‘philosophical’ in the most honorific sense of the term.” Wood, Karl Marx, xi. 206. See Alexander Zinoviev, The Radiant Future, trans. Gordon Clough (New York: Random House, 1981). 207. CW, 5:52. 208. “For to declare it once and for all, Man plays only when he is in the full sense of the word a man, and he is only wholly Man when he is playing.” Johann Christian Friedrich von Schiller, Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, trans. Reginald Snell (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press), fifteenth letter, p. 63. 209. See, for an approach to human being in terms of play, Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-­Element in Culture (Boston: Beacon, 1955). 210. Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Foundations of Political Economy, trans. Martin Nico­ laus (Marmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), 488. 211. See Milan Machovec, A Marxist Looks at Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976). 212. CW, 28:411–­412. 213. CW, 3:418–­444. 214. CW, 37:807. 215. For a reformist approach to socialism, see Eduard Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism: A Criticism and Affirmation (New York: Schocken, 1961). 216. Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, CW, 2:117–­118. 217. See, for this argument, C. P. Ragland, The Will to Reason: Theodicy and Free­ dom in Descartes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). 218. Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), 183.

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1.

See J. G. Fichte, “The First Introduction to the Science of Knowledge,” in Fichte: Science of Knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre) with First and Second Introduc­ tions, trans. Peter Heath and John Lachs, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 3–­28. 2. For the view that idealism denies the existence of the external world, see G. E. Moore, “The Refutation of Idealism,” in Selected Writings, ed. Thomas Baldwin (New York: Routledge, 1993), 23–­44. 3. Frederick [Friedrich] Engels, “Karl Marx’s Funeral,” in CW, 24:468. 4. Ernest Mandel, introduction to Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, trans. Ben Fowkes (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982), 11. 5. See Gareth Stedman Jones, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), 566. 6. See Bertrand Russell, The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (1920; repr., New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972). 7. See Albert Lange, History of Materialism and Criticism of Its Present Importance (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1925), v–­xix. 8. Hobbes, Leviathan, 13. 9. See Lange, History of Materialism, xii. 10. G. W. Leibniz, Philosophische Schriften, ed. C. I. Gerhardt (Berlin: Weid­ mann, 1875–­1890), 4:559–­560. 11. See Ward Blanton, A Materialism for the Masses: Saint Paul and the Philoso­ phy of Undying Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). 12. See Lange, History of Materialism, book 1, p. 295, n. 37. 13. See ibid., book 2, p. 163. 14. See Perry Anderson, Considerations on Western Marxism (London: Verso, 1989). 15. See Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 35. 16. See Joseph Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism (New York: Interna­ tional, 1940). 17. See Osnovy Marksistskoi Filosofii Uchebnik, ed. by a team under the direction of F. V. Konstantinov (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Politicheskoi Literatury, 1963). 18. See ibid., 4. 19. See Louis Althusser, “La Querelle de l’humanisme,” in Ecrits philosophiques et politiques (Paris: Libraire générale française, 1997), 2:470. 20. See A. M. Deborin, “Spinoza’s Worldview,” originally published as “Benedikt Spinoza,” in Pod znamenem marksizma 2–­3 (February–­March 1927): 5–­21. 21. See, e.g., Bas van Fraassen, The Scientific Image (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980). 22. Lange, History of Materialism, cited in Noam Chomsky, What Kind of Crea­ tures Are We? (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 99. 23. George Coyne, “The Scientific Venture and Materialism: False Premises,” in Space or Spaces as Paradigms of Mental Categories (Milan: Fondazione Carlo Erba, 2000), 7–­19.

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24. See Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 1. 25. See George L. Kline, “The Myth of Marx’s Materialism,” appendix 1, in Philosophical Sovietology: The Pursuit of a Science, ed. Helmut Dahm, Thomas Blakely, and George L. Kline (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1988), 183–­197. 26. According to Strawson, idealism qualifies as materialism. See Galen Straw­ son, Real Materialism and Other Essays (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 23. 27. “The name [i.e., the materialistic conception of history] does not convey at all accurately what is meant by the theory. It means that all the mass phenomena of history of history are determined by economic motives. This view has no essential connection with materialism in the philosophic sense. Materialism in the philosophical sense may be defined as the theory that all apparently mental occurrences either are really physical, or at any rate have purely physical causes.” Bertrand Russell, The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, 75. 28. See G. W. F. Hegel, The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy, trans. H. S. Harris and Walter Cerf (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1977), hereafter cited as Differenzschrift. 29. See “Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature,” in CW, 1:38. Differenzschrift. 30. See CW, 1:45. 31. See G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Ox­ ford University Press, 1977), §202, p. 123. 32. CW, 1:73. 33. CW, 3:45. 34. CW, 3:47. 35. CW, 3:302. 36. See Hegel, Differenzschrift, 98–­103. 37. CW, 3:328. 38. CW, 3:333. 39. Ibid. 40. Ibid. 41. Ibid. 42. See “ ‘Entäusserung’ (“Externalization”) as the Central Philosophical Con­ cept of the Phenomenology of Spirit,” in Lukács, The Young Hegel, 537–­568. 43. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §67, p. 97. 44. Ibid., §67, p. 97. 45. CW, 3:333. 46. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §67, remark, pp. 97–­98. 47. CW, 3:336. 48. Ibid. 49. See, e.g., W. V. O. Quine, “Epistemology Naturalized,” in Ontological Relativ­ ity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press), 69–­90.

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50. It is sometimes argued that Hegel is a philosophical naturalist. From this angle of vision, if Marx is a philosophical naturalist, then Marxian philo­ sophical naturalism does not break with but rather extends Hegelian natu­ ralism. See, e.g., Terry Pinkard, Hegel’s Naturalism: Mind, Nature, and the Final Ends of Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 51. CW, 3:297. 52. Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 186, 189, 194. 53. See ibid., xxi. 54. See, for a recent sympathetic assessment, Kevin Anderson, Lenin, Hegel, and Western Marxism: A Critical Study (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995). 55. Among those who discuss this relation, one can cite Karl Schwarz, V. P. Gumposch, C. L. Michelet, J. E. Erdmann, Julius Duboc, Adolph Cornhill, and Rudolph Haym. See, for a detailed review of the influence of Fichte on Feuerbach, Simon Rawidowicz, Ludwig Feuerbachs Philosophie: Ursprung und Schicksal (Berlin: Reuther und Reichard, 1931), especially “Feuerbachs Stel­ lung zu Fichte.” 56. See Friedrich Engels, Anti-­Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science, in CW, vol. 25, part 1, chapter 13, pp. 120–­132. 57. Friedrich Engels, Rapid Progress of Communism in Germany, March 8th, 1854, CW, 4: 261. See also CW, 4:235. 58. CW, 26:364. 59. Ibid. 60. See CW, 26:366. 61. CW, 26:359. 62. CW, 26:362. 63. Heinrich Heine, Religion and Philosophy in Germany (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1986), 156. 64. See CW, 26:365. 65. See CW, 26:369. 66. See CW, 26:382. 67. CW, 26:382–­383. 68. CW, 26:383. 69. See CW, 26:375. 70. See CW, 26:381. 71. See, for a recent general account, Jeremy Dunham, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Sean Watson, Idealism: The History of a Philosophy (Montreal: McGill, 2011). 72. “In its whole foundation the contrary to the Hegelian philosophy has no other principle than the principle of subjectivity, which in its whole energy and most perfect form has been realized in Fichte.” Ludwig Feuerbach, Sämtliche Werke (Stuttgart: Frommann-­Holzboog, 1903–­1911), 2:147. 73. According to Mader, this new anthropology is nonidealist. “The rejection of philosophy, conceived in the context [Horizont] of the controversy with

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Hegel, initiated a new, nonmetaphysical and nonidealistic anthropology.” Johann Mader, Zwischen Hegel und Marx: Zur Verwirklichung der Philosophie (Munich: Oldenburg, 1975), 54. 74. See introduction, part 3, “The Method of Political Economy,” in CW, 38:37–­45. 75. CW, 29:264. 76. CW, 3:180. 77. CW, 3:180. 78. CW, 3:180. 79. See Jorge Larrain, The Concept of Ideology (Athens: University of Georgia Press; London: Hutchinson, 1979). 80. CW, 5:29. 81. CW, 5:30. 82. CW, 5:30. 83. CW, 29:264. 84. CW, 5:30. 85. CW, 5:31. 86. CW, 5:36. 87. CW, 5:36. 88. CW, 5:39. 89. CW, 5:38 90. CW, 5:41. 91. See Marx to Schweitzer, London, January 16, 1865, in CW, 42:64. 92. See Marx to Engels, Hanover, April 24, 1867, in CW, 42:359. 93. See Marx’s to Engels, January 11, 1868, in CW, 42:519. 94. See, on this point, Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 119. 95. See G. W. F. Hegel, Phänomenologie des Geistes, in Werke in zwanzig Bänden, ed. Eva Moldenhauer and K. R. Michel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp), 3:79. 96. See Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §100, p. 61. 97. CW, 3:327. 98. See Frederick Gregory, Scientific Materialism in Nineteenth Century Germany (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1977); see also Andreas Arndt and Walter Jaeschke, eds., Materialismus und Spiritualismus: Philosophie und Wissenschaften nach 1848 (Hamburg: Meiner, 2000). 99. See Alfred Schmidt, Emanzipatorische Sinnlichkeit: Ludwig Feuerbachs anthro­ pologischer Materialismus (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1973). 100.  John G. Wright, “What We Owe to Him: Feuerbach—­Philosopher of Ma­ terialism,” International Socialist Review 17, no. 4 (Fall 1956): 123–­126, at 136–­137. 101. See Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §208, pp. 126–­127. 102. See, e.g., Karl Kautsky, Foundations of Christianity: A Study in Christian Ori­ gins (1925; repr., New York: Routledge, 2014). 103. CW, 35:242.

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104. CW, 3:317. 105. Herbert Marcuse, Studies in Critical Philosophy, trans. Joris De Bres (Boston: Beacon, 1973), 9. 106. See Kosik, Dialectics of the Concrete, trans. Karel Kovanda with James Schmidt (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1976), 112–­118. 107. CW, 5:5. 108. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §182, p. 220. 109. Ibid., §188, p. 226. 110. Marx to Arnold Ruge, September 1843, in CW, 3:144. 111. CW, 35:375. 112. CW, 35:375n2. 113. Marx to Lassalle, London, April 28, 1862, in CW, 41:355. 114. Marx to Engels, April 28, 1862, in CW, 41:354; translation modified. 115. See Thomas Hobbes, Concerning Body (De Corpore), in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, ed. Sir William Molesworth, (London: John Bohn, 1839–­1845), 3.10.6, p. 310. See further Thomas Hobbes, Six Lessons to the Professors of the Mathematics . . . , epistle dedicatory in The English Works of  Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, ed. Sir William Molesworth (Lon­ don: John Bohn, 1839–­1845), 5:183–­84. 116. See, for the relation of Hobbes and Vico, Franco Ratto, Materiali per un confronto: Hobbes-­Vico (Rome: Edizioni Guerra, 2000). 117. Giambattista Vico, On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians, trans. L. M. Palmer (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998), 48. 118. Ibid., 100. 119. The New Science of Giambattista Vico, trans. T. G. Bergin and M. H. Fisch (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1970), 52–­53. 120. Vico, On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians, 106. 121. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Bxvi, p. 110. 122. See Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Bvii, p. 106. 123. See Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Bxvi, p. 110. 124. See Robert Paul Wolf, Kant’s Theory of Mental Activity: A Commentary on the Transcendental Analytic of the Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge, MA: Har­ vard University Press, 1969). 125. Berlin summarizes as follows: “According to Vico we begin with certum—­ acquaintance with and beliefs about particular matters of fact—­a pre-­ condition of all thought and action; and are capable of attaining to ve­ rum—­knowledge of universal truths.” Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder: Two Studies in the History of Ideas (London: Chatto and Windus, 1976), 99. 126. See ibid., 130–­131. 127. Pompa sums up Vico’s cognitive view as follows: The first is his striking endorsement, as an alternative to the Cartesian theory of knowledge, of the verum-­factum theory: that the true and the made are identical. At this point, however, the only example that he could offer of human, as distinct from divine, knowledge, on this 259

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conception, was geometry. The second is the consequence that he drew from this theory: that to know something requires knowledge of all that is required to make it, i.e. of all its causes. With regard to the verum-­ factum theory itself, Vico never again formulated it specifically in these terms. It is plausible, however, to see a version of it re-­appearing in his later claim that the knowledge afforded in The First New Science was grounded in ‘the unique truth . . . that the world of the gentile nation was certainly made by men . . . and that its principles must therefore be discovered within the nature of the human mind . . . by means of a meta-­physics of the human mind’, a mind now considered, however, as the commonsense of the nations or of mankind and not merely of intellectuals.

Introduction to Vico Giambattista The First New Science, ed. and trans. Leon Pompa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), xx–­xxi. 128. Vico, The First New Science: “The necessity to seek the principles of the na­ ture of nations by means of a metaphysics raised to contemplate a certain common mind of all the peoples” (§ 11, p. 30); see also ibid., §331, p. 96. 129. CW, 35:375. 130. CW, 35:374. 131. CW, 5:28; this passage is crossed out in the manuscript. 132. CW, 35:19. 133. According to Zarembka, “Marx’s mature work in political economy is not dependent upon Hegel and dialectics.” P. Zarembka, “Accumulation of Capital, Its Definition: A Century After Lenin and Luxemburg,” in Research in Political Economy: Value, Capitalist Dynamics and Money (Amsterdam: El­ sevier Science, 2000), 18:200. 134. CW, 35:19. 135. CW, 35:19. 136. CW, 35:19. 137. See, e.g., Jakob Leth Fink, ed., The Development of Dialectic from Plato to Aristotle (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012). 138. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B86, pp. 198–­199. 139. G. W. F. Hegel, The Science of Logic, trans. George di Giovanni (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 35. 140. Ibid., 35. 141. See, e.g., J. N. Findlay, Hegel: A Re-­examination (New York: Collier, 1962). 142. See G. E. Mueller, “The Hegel Legend of Thesis-­Antithesis-­Synthesis,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 19, no. 3 (June 1958): 411–­414; see also Henrich Moritz Chalybäus, Historical Development of Speculative Philosophy from Kant to Hegel, trans. Alfred Edersheim (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1854). 143. See “The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Ex­ istence of God,” in Immanuel Kant, Theoretical Philosophy, 1755–­1770, ed. and trans David Walford, in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1992), 116. 260

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144. See Immanuel Kant, “Dohna-­Wundlacken Logic” (April 1792), in Kant, Lectures on Metaphysics, trans. K. Ameriks (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), §10, p. 27. 145. See, for discussion, Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis: Hackett). 146. G. W. F. Hegel, The Encyclopedia Logic, part 1 of the Encyclopedia of Philo­ sophical Sciences, trans. T. F. Geraets, W. A. Suchting, and H. S. Harris (India­ napolis: Hackett, 1991), §79, 125. 147. Hegel, The Encyclopedia Logic, §81, p. 128. 148. Ibid., §81, p. 128. 149. Ibid., §82, p. 131. 150. CW, 3:312. 151. See, for a reconstruction of the reflection theory of knowledge based on a sympathetic reading of the views of Engels and Lenin, Sean Sayers, Reality and Reason: Dialectic and the Theory of Knowledge (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985). This excellent book-length study of the twin Marxist concepts of material­ism and historical materialism very usefully seeks “to show that such a the­ory provides a viable and instructive approach to epistemology in certain key areas” (xii). 152. CW, 26:360. 153. CW, 26:374. 154. CW, 25:89. 155. CW, 25:89. 156. Francis Bacon, The New Organon, ed. Lisa Jardine and Michael Silverthorne (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), Aphorism 38, p. 41. 157. Ibid., Aphorism 41, p. 71. 158. CW, 25:89. 159. CW, 25:89. 160. See CW, 5:36. 161. CW, 25:24; translation modified. 162. See Engels to Ruge, dated July 26, 1842, in CW, 2:545. 163. Vladimir Lenin, “Preface to the First Edition,” in Materialism and Empirio-­ Criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, in Lenin Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), 14:333. 164. See, for recent detailed discussion, Marina Bykova, “Lenin and Political Philosophy,” in Handbook of Leninist Political Philosophy, ed. Tom Rockmore and Norman Levine (London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). 165. On Lenin’s arguments, see Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, 2:449. 166. Vladimir Lenin, Materialism and Empiriocriticism, trans. A. Fineberg (Mos­ cow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1947), 160. 167. See E. V. Ilyenkov, Dialectical Logic: Essays on Its History and Theory, trans. H. Campbell Creighton (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1974), 7. 168. CW, 35:19. 169. CW, 35:19.

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170. CW, 26:360–­361. 171. CW, 26:361. 172. See Hegel to Victor Cousin, July 1, 1827, in G. W. F. Hegel: The Letters, ed. Clark Butler and Christiane Seiler (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 340. 173. Hegel, Differenzschrift, 180. 174. DK 28 B 3, Clem. Alex. strom. 440, 12; Plot. Enn. 5, 1, 8. 175. CW, 3:187. 176. Hegel, Differenzschrift, 80. 177. Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth and History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 216. 178. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §84, pp. 53–­54. 179. See ibid., §86, p. 55. 180. See Putnam, Reason, Truth and History. 181. Putnam later adopted a similar view. See Hilary Putnam, The Three-­Fold Cord: Mind, Body and World (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999). 182. For a correlationist approach, see Quentin Meillasoux, After Finitude: An Essay on Contingency, trans. Ray Brassier (London: Continuum), 2010. See further Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman, eds., The Specula­ tive Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism (Melbourne: re.press, 2009). “Correlationism” is described in the latter work as the view that the only reality we have access to is reality as a “correlate” of thought. 183. Reinhold’s basic claim about Fichte’s interpretation is that representations are related both to subject and object, but distinguished from both. Aene­ sidemus, according to Fichte, objects that the relation of the representation to subject and object is different in each case. Fichte reformulates the same objection in different language as the claim that “the representation is related to the object as the effect to the cause, and to the subject as the accident to substance.” J. G. Fichte, Fichtes-­Werke (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1981), 1:18. But he disagrees with, in fact finds unthinkable, Aenesidemus’s assumption that the critical philosophy depends on a mind-­independent thing in itself, that is, on something independent from a capacity for representation. 184. See Wilfrid Sellars, “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind,” in Science, Perception and Reality (1963; rprt., Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview, 1991), 127. 185. See Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §§85–­86, pp. 54–­55. 186. See ibid., §§86–­87, pp. 55–­56. 187. See John McDowell, Mind and World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), 83. 188. See Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §86, p. 55. 189. Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 117. 190. Hegel, Aesthetics, 1:74. 191. Ibid., 1:75.

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192. Ibid., 1:237. 193. CW, 35:19. 194. See G. W. F. Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie, ed. Eva Moldenhauer and Karl Rinus Michel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1971), 18:320. 195. CW, 35:19. 196. CW, 35:20. 197. Ibid.; translation modified. 198. Ibid. 199. See “dialectic,” in Michael Inwood, A Hegel Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 81–­83; see also Stanley Rosen, The Idea of Hegel’s Science of Logic (Chi­ cago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 67. 200. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §85, p. 54. 201. See F. W. J. Schelling, On the History of Modern Philosophy, trans. Andrew Bowie (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 135: “The proposi­ tion: the movement of the concept is the universal absolute activity leaves nothing left for God than the movement of the concept, i.e. than for him­ self to be only the concept. The concept does not have the meaning here of just the concept (Hegel protests most vigorously against this), but in­ stead the meaning of the thing itself [die Sache selbst], and in the same way as the Zoroastrians say that the true creator is time, one admittedly cannot re­ proach Hegel with holding the opinion that God is just a concept; his opinion is rather: the true creator is the concept; with the concept one has the creator and needs no other outside this creator.” 202. In a footnote in the introduction to the Concept of Dread, he writes: Exempli gratia: Wesen ist was ist gewesen, ist gewesen is the preterite tense of “to be,” ergo Wesen is das aufgehoben being “the being which has been.” This is a logical movement! If in the Hegelian logic (such as it is in itself and through the contributions of the School) one were to take the trouble to pick out and make a collection of all the fabulous hob­ goblins and kobolds which like busy swains help the logical movement along, a later age would perhaps be astonished to discover that witti­ cisms which then will appear superannuated once played a great role in logic, not as incidental explanations and brilliant observations, but as masters of movement which made Hegel’s logic a miracle and gave the logical thoughts feet to walk on, without anybody noticing it, since the long cloak of admiration concealed the performer who trained the animals, just as Lulu [in a play] comes running without anybody seeing the machinery. Movement in logic is the meritorious service of Hegel, in comparison with which it is hardly worth the trouble of mentioning the never-­to-­be-­forgotten merits which Hegel has, and has disdained in order to run after the uncertain—­I mean the merit of having in mani­ fold ways enriched the categorical definitions and their arrangement.

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Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety, trans. Alastair Hannay (New York: Norton, 2014), 17. 203. Hegel, The Science of Logic, 39. 204. Putnam, Reason, Truth and History, 49. 205. Ibid., 49. 206. This is the basis of Brandom’s inferentialism. See Robert B. Brandom, Ar­ ticulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 27. Pa r t T h r e e

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

12. 13.

14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.

264

CW, 6:519. Karl Marx, preface to a proposed Enquête ouvrière, Revue socialiste4 (1880). CW, 6:482. CW, 6:516. CW, 6:490. CW, 6:494. CW, 6:496. See, e.g., CW, 3:149. See Pierson, Just Property, 2:164. CW, 6:506. Sartre analyzes revolutionary action under the heading of what he calls the group in fusion. See Jean-­Paul Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason, 2 vols., trans. Quintin Hoare (London: Verso, 2010). See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §67, Addition, pp. 97–­98. See Alexander Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. James H. Nichols Jr. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980). See “What Is Orthodox Marxism?,” in Lukács, History and Class Conscious­ ness, 1–­26. See Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §208, pp. 126–­127. CW, 3:182. CW, 3:186. Karl Marx, “Enquête Ouvrière,” cited in A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, ed Tom Bottomore et al. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), 526. See, e.g., Karl Kautsky, Foundations of Christianity: A Study of Christian Ori­ gins (New York: International, 1925). See Milan Machovec, A Marxist Looks at Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976). CW, 3:187. See J. G. Fichte, Addresses to the German Nation, ed. George A. Kelly (New York: Harper and Row, 1968). See Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 149. Ibid., 209.

N o t e s t o pa g e s 1 5 6 – 1 5 9

25. Herbert Marcuse, One-­Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon, 1964), 9. 26. See Daniel Brudney, Marx’s Attempt to Leave Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998). 27. CW, 35:20. 28. Rosa Luxemburg, Anti-­Kritik: The Accumulation of Capital or What the Ep­ igones Have Done to Marxian Theory (London: Allen Lane / Penguin, 1972), 37. 29. “The moment the Marxian scheme of expanded reproduction corresponds to reality it points to the end, the historical limits of the movement of accumulation and therewith to the end of capital production. If accumu­ lation is impossible then further growth in the forces of production is im­ possible too. And this means that the destruction of capitalism becomes an objective historical necessity. From this there follow the contradictory movements of the last, imperialist phase, which is the terminal phase in the historical career of capital.” Rosa Luxemburg, Die Akkumulation des Kapitals: Ein Beitrag zur ökonomischen Erklärung des Imperialismus (Berlin: GMBH Verlag, 1913), 393, cited in Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 36–­37. 30. “Capital accumulation progresses and expands at the expense of non-­ capitalist strata and countries, squeezing them out at an ever-­faster rate. The general tendency and final result of this process is the exclusive world rule of capitalist production. Once this is reached, Marx’s model becomes valid: accumulation, i.e. further expansion of capitalism, becomes impos­ sible. Capitalism comes to a dead end. . . . Can this ever really happen? That is, of course, theoretical fiction, precisely because capital accumula­ tion is not just an economic but also a political process.” Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital—­an Anti-­Critique, trans. Rudolf Wichman (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972), 145–­146. 31. Mattick, for instance, defends Lenin against Luxemburg: “This theory of Rosa Luxemburg’s stands in direct contradiction to Lenin’s view of the mat­ ter, as may be seen from all his works dealing with economics. In complete accord with Marx, he looked for the contradictions which pointed to the historical limitations of capitalism, not like Rosa Luxemburg in the sphere of circulation, but in that of production. Lenin took his stand uncritically and unreservedly on the Marxian economic theories, because he regarded them as incapable of being supplemented.” Paul Mattick, “Luxemburg ver­ sus Lenin?” (1935), in Paul Mattick, ed., Anti-­Bolshevik Communism (Mon­ mouth: Merlin, 1978), 34. 32. See Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 105. 33. See David Harvey, A Companion to Marx’s “Capital” (New York: Verso, 2010). 34. CW, 32:258. 35. See CW, 32:294–­298. 36. CW, 32:359, 446. 37. See CW, 32:170.

265

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38. 39. 40. 41.

CW, 29:263. See Engels to Joseph Bloch, September 21–­22, 1890, in CW, 49:33–­37. CW, 29:262. Marxian crisis theory has been criticized by many observers, especially the Austrian School, e.g. Eugen Böhm-­Bawerk, Rudolf Hilferding, and others. Some observers regard Böhm-­Bawerk’s criticisms as definitive. 42. CW, 37:248. 43. CW, 5:74; translation modified. 44. CW, 6:496. 45. See CW, 25:748–­751. 46. CW, 35:749. 47. CW, 35:749. 48. CW, 35:750. 49. CW, 35:750. 50. CW, 35:750. 51. CW, 35:750. 52. G. V. Plekhanov, Our Differences, in Selected Philosophical Works (Moscow: Progress 1974), 1:274. 53. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §2, Addition, p. 27. 54. See ibid., §261. 55. CW, 3:270. 56. CW, 35:9. 57. See Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §79, pp. 50–­51. 58. See Hegel, Philosophy of Right, §189, Addition, p. 228. 59. See Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, 101. 60. CW, 11:103. 61. See Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, §189 A, p. 228. See also ibid., §229, Addition, p. 259. 62. CW, 35:751. 63. For an analysis of the great recession in terms of capital flow, see David Harvey, The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). Harvey thinks that what occurred within the financial sector leading up to the great recession was due to the falling rate of profit, leading to a new type of so-­called finance capitalism. For a study of the great recession and democracy, see Richard Posner, The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). For a comparative study of the Great Depression and the great recession, see Paul Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 (New York: Norton, 2009). 64. “Examine the records of history, what has been the conduct of almost all the great unfortunate, either in private or public life, whom you may have either read of, or heard of, or remember; and you will find that the misfor­ tunes of by far the greater part of them have arisen from their not knowing when they were well, when it was proper for them to sit still and be con­ tented.” Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1150.

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65. Charles Kindleberger, Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 10. 66. “The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit.” CW, 37:483. 67. Posner, who resists this type of explanation, prefers to approach the great recession on monetarist grounds. See Richard A. Posner, A Failure of Capi­ talism: The Crisis of ’08 and the Descent into Depression (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009). 68. CW, 32:131. 69. CW, 32:248. 70. CW, 35:123. 71. CW, 32:131. 72. CW, 32:135. 73. Jean-­Baptiste Say, A Treatise of Political Economy, or the Production, Distri­ bution and Consumption of Wealth (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1971), 135. 74. Ibid., 134–­135. 75. See “Law of the Diminishing Rate of Profit,” in CW, 32:72–­102. 76. See CW, 32:73. 77. CW, 3:231. 78. Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff, This Time Is Different: Eight Centu­ ries of Financial Folly (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). 79. See Thomas Piketty, Le capital au XXIe siècle (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2013), 33. 80. CW, 32:124–­125. 81. For his account of economic exchange, see Nicomachean Ethics, 5:1129a—­ 1133b, in Aristotle, Complete Works, 2 vols., ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 2:1781–­1789. 82. CW, 32:129. 83. CW, 32:131. 84. CW, 32:130ff. 85. CW, 32:140. 86. CW, 32:142. 87. See CW, 32:148. 88. CW, 32:158. 89. CW, 32:162. 90. See, e.g., Robert Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence: The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Long Boom to Long Downturn, 1945–­2005 (London: Verso, 2006). 91. See Posner, A Failure of Capitalism. 92. Joan Robinson, An Essay on Marxian Economics (1941; rprt., London: Mac­ millan, 1974), 15.

267

N o t e s t o pa g e s 1 7 8 – 1 8 3

93. See Peter Hudis, Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism (Chicago: Hay­ market, 2012), 1. 94. See H. D. Kurz, “The Surplus Interpretation of the Classical Economists,” in A Companion to the History of Economic Thought, ed. Warren J. Samuels, Jeff E. Biddle, and John B. Davis (Malden: Blackwell, 2003), 178. 95. Smith, Wealth of Nations, book 1, chapter 4. 96. Ibid., book 1, chapter 5. 97. Ibid. 98. CW, 29:299. 99. See Eugen von Böhm-­Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System, ed. Paul Sweezy (New York: Kelley, 1949). 100. Rudolf Hilferding, “Böhm-­Bawerk’s Criticism of Marx,” in Böhm-­Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System, 186. 101. See Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz, “On the Correction of Marx’s Fundamen­ tal Theoretical Construction in the Third Volume of Capital,” in Böhm-­ Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System, 199–­222. 102. See Robinson, An Essay on Marxian Economics, 4, 22, 36. 103. See Paul Sweezy, Theory of Capitalist Development (New York: Oxford Uni­ versity Press, 1942), 123. 104. See Paul Samuelson, “Understanding the Marxian Notion of Exploitation: A Summary of the So-­Called Transformation Problem between Marxian Values and Competitive Prices,” Journal of Economic Literature 9, no. 2 (1971): 399–­431, at 414–­415. 105. See Andrew Kliman, Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital”: A Refutation of the Myth of Inconsistency (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007). 106. See, e.g., “The Rate of Profit Cycle and the Opposition between Managerial and Finance Capital: A Discussion of Capital III, Parts Three to Five,” in The Culmination of Capital: Essays on Volume III of Marx’s Capital ed. Martha Campbell and Geert Reuten (London: Palgrave, 2002), 174. 107. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 106. 108. Ibid., 105. 109. See ibid., 105. 110. See CW, 32:154. 111. CW, 32:169. 112. See CW, 32:175–­177. 113. CW, 32:206–­211. 114. CW, 32:216–­222. 115. CW, 29:133. 116. Ibid. 117. CW, 29:134. 118. Ibid. 119. Ibid. 120. CW, 37:211. 121. CW, 37:240.

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N o t e s t o pa g e s 1 8 4 – 1 8 9

122. CW, 37:248. 123. CW, 37:260. 124. See Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, 2:69. 125. See, for a critical account of Luxemburg’s theory of capital accumulation, Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, 2:65–­76. 126. Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital, 2:445. 127. See Benedetto Croce, Historical Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx: A Critical Look at the Relationship between Reality and Marxist Economic Theory, trans. C. M. Meredith, with an introduction by A. D. Lindsay (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1914). 128. Ibid., 88. 129. Ibid. 130. Ibid., 90. 131. Ibid., 94. 132. Ibid., 89. 133. Ibid., 90. 134. Ibid., 92. 135. Nobuo Okishio, “Technical Change and the Rate of Profit,” Kobe University Economic Review 7 (1961): 92. 136. Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-­First Century, trans. Arthur Goldham­ mer (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014), 571. 137. See Thomas Piketty, “Back to Marx and the Falling Rate of Profit,” in ibid., 227–­230. 138. See Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-­First Century, 233. 139. See CW, 3:367. 140. According to Brenner, as a result of severe international competition, profit­ ability was eroded in a recent downturn. “During the brief period between 1965 and 1973, the advanced capitalist world was suddenly projected from boom to crisis. Profitability for the G-­7 economies, taken individually and in aggregate, fell sharply, especially in manufacturing, initiating a long epoch of reduced rates of profit on capital stock. With some lag, investment growth fell sharply and in secular fashion, leading to severe reductions in the growth of output, of productivity, and of real wages, as well as sharply higher rates of unemployment and much more severe recessions.” Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence, 99. 141. “Almost eight years have passed since the original publication of The Eco­ nomics of Global Turbulence. Written at the height of the ‘New Economy’ boom, it questioned the foundations of the upswing of the late 1990s, sug­ gesting that the persistence of chronic overcapacity in the international manufacturing sector would continue to prevent the advanced capitalist economies from transcending the long downturn.” Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence, 267. 142. See Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-­First Century, 27. 143. See, e.g., CW, 3:368.

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144. See Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), xiv. 145. Rudolf Hilferding, Finance Capital: A Study of the Latest Phase of Capital­ ist Development, ed. Tom Bottomore (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981). 146. Ibid., 368. 147. See, for Lenin’s five-­fold definition of imperialism, Vladimir Lenin, Imperi­ alism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism (Sydney: Resistance Books, 1999), 92. 148. See ibid., 43. 149. Ibid., 57. 150. Ibid., 46. 151. Ibid., 91. 152. See ibid., 122. 153. See ibid., 112. 154. See, e.g., Robin Blackburn, “Marxism: Theory of Proletarian Revolution,” New Left Review 1 (May–­June 1976): 97. 155. See Engels, Anti-­Dühring, part 3, chapter 2, CW, 25:254–­270. 156. CW, 6:504. 157. CW, 6:299. 158. See Hal Draper, “Marx and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” New Poli­ tics 1, no. 4 (Summer 1962): 93. 159. See, for details, ibid. 160. CW, 29:58. 161. See, e.g., Lucien Sève, Marxisme et théorie de la personnalité (Paris: Éditions Sociales, 1969). 162. CW, 22:355. 163. CW, 46:16. 164. See Frederick [Friedrich] Engels, introduction to Karl Marx, Class Struggles in France (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1898), 27. 165. Karl Marx, Class Struggles in France, in CW, 13:127. 166. CW, 24:95. 167. See Mao Zedong, “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship,” in Selected Works of Mao Tse-­Tung, vol. 4 (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press). 168. CW, 25:268. 169. Frederick [Friedrich] Engels, The Origin of the Family, in CW, 26:272. 170. “But it seems to us too perverse to think that the as yet unrealizable rule of the majority of conscious workers within their own party organization may be ‘temporarily’ replaced by the ‘delegated’ sole power of the central power authority, and that the absence of public control by the working masses over what the party organs do and do not do might equally well be replaced by the inverse control by a Central Committee over the activity of the revolutionary workers.” Rosa Luxemburg, Rosa Luxemburg Reader, ed. Peter Hudis and Kevin Anderson (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004), 254.

270

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171. “We felt obliged to stand up decisively against the organizational central­ ism of Lenin and his friends because they wanted to secure a revolutionary direction for the proletarian movement by swaddling the party, in a purely mechanistic fashion, with an intellectual dictator from the central party Executive.” Luxemburg, Rosa Luxemburg Reader, 271. 172. Rosa Luxemburg, “The Russian Revolution,” in Rosa Luxemburg Reader, 281–­312. 173. Luxemburg, Rosa Luxemburg Reader, 307. For Lukács’s Leninist view, see Georg Lukács, “Critical Observations on Rosa Luxemburg’s ‘Critique of the Russian Revolution,’ ” in History and Class Consciousness, 272–­295. 174. See Tom Rockmore, On Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy (Berkeley: Univer­ sity of California Press, 1992), 54–­73. 175. His view is ambiguous in History and Class Consciousness, where he also praises a Leninist organizational approach. See Georg Lukács, “Towards a Methodology of the Problem of Organization,” in History and Class Con­ sciousness, 295–­342. This ambiguity is at least publicly quickly clarified in his study of Lenin. See Georg Lukács, Lenin: A Study of the Unity of His Thought (1924; rprt., London: NLB, 1971). 176. Vladimir Lenin, “Two Tactics of Social-­Democracy in the Democratic Rev­ olution” (1905), in Lenin’s Collected Works (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1962), 9:15–­140. 177. Vladimir Lenin, The State and Revolution, in Lenin’s Collected Works, 25:409. 178. Ibid. 179. Ibid., 25:465. 180. Ibid., 25:461–­479. 181. Karl Korsch, “Revolutionary Commune,” in Revolutionary Theory, ed. Doug­ las Kellner (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977), part 2, p. 211. 182. See Lenin, The State and Revolution, 25:400–­406. 183. Lenin, The State and Revolution, 25:402. 184. Ibid. 185. Thomas Carlyle, A Carlyle Reader, ed. G. B. Tennyson (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 425. 186. Karl Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Program,” in CW, 24:87. 187. Bertrand Russell, The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (1920; rprt., New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), 75. 188. Lenin, Lenin’s Collected Works, 25:417. 189. See, e.g., for this thesis, Alain Besançon, Les Origines intellectuelles du lénin­ isme (Paris: Calmann-­Lévy, 1977). 190. See Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, 3:523. 191. Karl Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy, trans. Fred Halliday (London: Verso, 2012), 115. 192. “The purpose of a theoretical discipline is the pursuit of truth through con­ templation; its telos is the attainment of knowledge for its own sake. The purpose of the productive sciences is to make something; their telos is the

271

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production of some artefact. The practical disciplines are those sciences which deal with ethical and political life; their telos is practical wisdom and knowledge.” Wilfred Carr and Stephen Kemmis, Becoming Critical: Educa­ tion, Knowledge and Action Research (London: Falmer, 1986), 32. 193. For instance, according to Haym, an important commentator, Hegel was a pillar of Prussian reaction. “As far as I can see, in comparison with the famous saying about the rationality of the actual in the sense of Hegel’s Preface, everything Hobbes and Filmer, Haller or Stahl have taught is rela­ tively liberal doctrine. The theory of God’s grace and the theory of abso­ lute obedience are innocent and harmless in comparison with that fright­ ful dogma pronouncing the existing as existing to be holy.” Rudolf Haym, Hegel und seine Zeit (Berlin: Rudolf Gaertner, 1857), 367–­368. 194. Hegel refers to the self-­realizing concept as the “Idea” (Idée) in both the lesser and greater Logics. In the latter, he states that “the Idea is what is true in and for itself, the absolute unity of the concept and objectivity.” G. W. F. Hegel, The Encyclopedia Logic, §213, p. 286. 195. Victor Hugo, The History of a Crime, trans. T. H. Joyce and Arthur Locker (New York: Hurst, 1900), 526. 196. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, 23. 197. Hegel, Rechtsphilosophie: Die Vorlesung von 1819/1820, ed. Dieter Henrich, (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983), 290. 198. Rüdiger Dannemann and Michel Löwy, “Die Lukács-­Schule,” in Historisch-­ kritisches Wörterbuch des Marxismus, ed. W. F. Haug (Berlin, Argument Verlag) vol. 8, part 2, p. 1355. 199. Korsch, Marxism and Philosophy, 22. 200.  Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), 116. 201. See Max Horkheimer, “Traditional and Critical Theory,” in Critical Theory, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell and others (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), 188–­252. 202. See Friedrich Pollock, “State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations,” in Studies in Philosophy and Social Sciences, vol. 9 (1941), rprt. in The Frank­ furt School Reader, ed. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhardt (New York: Contin­ uum, 1982), 71–­94. 203. See, for a recent account, Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transforma­ tion of China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). 204. See Jürgen Habermas, Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science and Politics (Boston: Beacon, 1971). 205. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of the Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), 30. 206. See, e.g., Manfred Gangl, “The Controversy over Friedrich Pollock’s State Capitalism,” History of the Human Sciences 29, no. 2 (2016): 23–­41. 207. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas Mc­ Carthy, (Boston: Beacon, 1984, 1987), 2:379.

272

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208. See Jürgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis, trans. Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon, 1975), 59–­60. 209. This section is based on Tom Rockmore, Habermas and Historical Materialism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987). 210. Jürgen Habermas, “Towards a Reconstruction of Historical Materialism,” Theory and Society 2, no. 3 (Autumn 1975): 287–­300. 211. See Jürgen Habermas, Theories of Communicative Action (Boston: Beacon, 1981), 2:340. 212. See Jürgen Habermas, “Wahrheitstheorien,” in Wirklichkeit und Reflexion, ed. H. Fahrenbach (Pfüllingen: Neske, 1973), 211–­265, rprt. in Jürgen Habermas, Vorstudien und Ergänzungen zur Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984), chapter 2. 213. Jürgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests, trans. Jeremy J. Shapiro (Boston: Beacon, 1971), 314. 214. See Republic, 327C, in Plato: Complete Works, 972. 215. See Nicholas Rescher, Pluralism: Against the Demand for Consensus (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). 216. See introduction to Jürgen Habermas, Truth and Justification (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 36–­42. Conclusion

1. 2. 3. 4.

5. 6. 7. 8.

9.

See, for an account, A. Baillet, La Vie de Monsieur Des-­Cartes (Paris, 1691), 80–­86. See, for a useful recent study, Xu Changfu, Marxism, China and Globaliza­ tion (Berlin: Parados Verlag, 2016). See Bai Tongdong, The Political Philosophy of the Middle Kingdom (London: Zed Books, 2012). See Roderick MacFarquhar and John King Fairbank, Cambridge History of China: The People’s Republic, part 2, Revolutions within the Chinese Revolution, 1966–­1981 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 6. See, for a recent study, Ezra Vogel, Deng and the Transformation of China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). See Yasheng Huang, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). See Minxin Pei, China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). See, e.g., Ravi Kanbur and Zhang Xiaobo, “Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: A Journey through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness,” Review of Development Economics 9, no. 1 (February 2005): 87–­106. See also Yu Xie and Yang Zhou, “Income Inequality in Today’s China,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, no. 19: 6928–­6933. William Shakespeare, The Tempest (New York: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2015), act 4, scene 1.

273

Index abnormal crises, 161–­68 absolute knowing, 85–­89, 133, 136–­37 abstract (Hegel’s concept of), 21–­ 22, 34, 82, 87–­88, 99, 110–­11, 211–­12 Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund, 213–­14, 220–­21 Aesthetics (Hegel), 247n57 Akselrod, Lyubov, 130, 215 alienation: Hegel on, 28–­29, 53, 58, 86–­87; Marx’s theory of, 28–­29, 48–­49, 53–­55, 57–­58, 65–­66, 86–­88, 229, 241 Althusser, Louis, 48–­49, 80–­81, 120 American Revolution, 14 Anderson, Kevin, 208 anthropology (in philosophy), 31–­ 32, 40–­49, 62–­63, 89–­95, 103–­ 16, 152, 250n124, 257n73 Anthropology (Kant), 90 Anti-­Dühring (Engels), 126–­27, 200, 205 a priori, the, 39, 76, 106, 116–­17, 121–­22, 126–­27, 131–­38, 143, 211, 234 Aquinas, Thomas, 14, 16, 179 Arab Spring, 20 Aristotle, 7, 10, 14, 16, 20–­21, 37, 41, 62–­63, 83, 110, 112–­13, 132–­33, 157, 174 Arkwright, Richard, 114 Aron, Raymond, 214 art, 10–­11, 139

atomic theory (of matter), 76–­77, 80, 83–­84 Aufhebung (term), 57, 161 Augsburg General News, 56 Augustine, Saint, 10 Austrian School (of economics), 169 autonomy (Hegel’s concept of ), 23 Avenarius, Richard, 129 Avineri, Shlomo, 13 Babeuf, Gracchus, 56 Bachelard, Gaston, 49 Bacon, Francis, 127 bailouts, 169–­70 Bakunin, Mikhail, 200 Bauer, Bruno, 30–­31 Bauer, P. T., 184, 192 Bayle, Pierre, 77 being (thinking and), 74–­82, 99–­ 100, 133–­34, 143–­45 Benjamin, Walter, 51 Berkeley, George, 77, 95 Berlin, Isaiah, 117, 259n125 Bernstein, Eduard, 68, 149, 214 Bloch, Joseph, 160 Bloom, Harold, 29 Böhm-­Bawerk, Eugen, 180 Bortkiewicz, Ladislaus, 178 Brenner, Robert, 177–­78, 188, 269nn140–­41 Brexit, 170 Büchner, Ludwig, 78 Bukharin, Nikolai, 192 Bulgakov, Sergei, 184

275

I n d e x

Cabet, Etienne, 56 Capital (Marx): second afterword to, 119–­ 25, 139–­45; volume 1 of, 3, 53–­55, 65–­ 67, 69, 99, 102, 114–­19, 139–­45, 149, 157–­58, 160–­63, 166, 180, 213; vol­ umes 2 and 3 of, 1–­2, 69, 73–­74, 76, 160–­61, 180–­84 Capital in the Twenty-­First Century (Piketty), 187 capitalism: communist governments and, 207–­9; crises in, 141–­42, 147–­48, 157– ­93; critical theory and, 217–­31; finan­ cial sector of, 168–­72, 177–­78, 189–­93, 266n63; Hegel’s view of, 8–­9, 37, 237; human flourishing and, 64–­66; invisible hand theory and, 49–­55, 71, 206–­7; Marx’s analysis of, 55–­62, 161–­68, 172–­ 89, 191–­92, 212–­13, 240–­41; as precursor to communism, 9, 59–­71, 112, 192–­ 204, 232–­41; proletarian revolution and, 147–­57; property theories and, 26–­29, 193–­94. See also political economy; state capitalism Carlyle, Thomas, 206–­7 Carnap, Rudolf, 128 Cassirer, Ernst, 15 causality, 76, 104–­17, 123–­24, 126–­27, 135, 142, 164, 167–­68. See also cognition; materialism; necessity; science Chalybäus, H. M., 122 Chiang Kai-­shek, 199 Chinese Civil War, 239 Chinese Communist Party, 199–­200, 202, 206–­9, 238. See also People’s Republic of China “Chinese dream,” 238 Chinese Marxism, 234–­41 city-­states, 10–­12, 23–­25, 152, 196. See also Plato civil society: in Hegel, 22, 25–­26, 101, 248n81; Marx’s commentary on, 32–­ 39, 109–­12, 212–­13; political economy and, 160–­61; subjectivity and, 42–­43; Vico and, 116, 118 Civil War in France, The (Marx), 197 class consciousness, 20, 152–­53, 156–­57, 160–­61, 193–­204, 215. See also communism; revolution Class Struggles in France, 1848–­1850, The (Marx), 197 Closed Commercial State (Fichte), 24 276

cognition, 41–­42, 52–­53, 80, 82, 85–­89, 94–­ 95, 104–­16, 122–­39, 142, 223 Coleridge, S. T., 115 Collected Works of Marx and Engels (Marx and Engels), 6 commodities, 67, 176–­78. See also fetishism; objectification Common Market (European), 169–­70 communicative action, 223–­24, 230–­31 communism: capitalism as precursor to, 9, 59–­71, 141–­42; Chinese form of, 3, 64, 79, 199–­200, 202, 206–­9, 217, 219–­20, 234–­41; critical theory and, 147–­48, 209–­31; democracy and, 201–­6; dictatorship of the proletariat and, 147–­48, 194–­200, 205–­10, 236; economic cri­ ses and, 5, 147–­48, 157–­93; Engels on, 56, 67; Hegel and, 8–­9, 36–­37; human flourishing and, 9, 17, 37, 55–­71, 232–­ 41; labor under, 61; Marxism’s view of, 56, 67–­68, 192–­93; morality under, 61–­62; parties and, 5, 147–­48, 150–­51, 155, 193–­209, 270n170; Plato on, 55–­ 56; revolution and, 5, 68, 147–­57, 162, 201–­4; self-­realizing theories and, 112–­ 13, 201, 209–­31; Soviet form of, 3, 64, 79, 198–­206, 216–­17, 234, 240–­41; two phases of, 60–­62, 112, 141–­42, 207. See also People’s Republic of China; political economy; revolution; Soviet Union Communist Manifesto, The (Marx and Eng­ els), 55, 60, 149–­51, 162–­64, 194–­95, 197, 239 “Communists and Karl Heinzin, The” (Eng­ els), 194–­95 Comte, Auguste, 94, 118 Concept of Dread (Kierkegaard), 263n202 concepts, 127, 133–­38, 142, 212–­13, 263n201. See also cognition; epistemology; subjectivity concreteness (Hegel’s concept of), 21– ­22, 34, 82, 87–­88, 99, 110–­11, 153, 211–­12 Confucianism, 234–­35, 237–­39 consensus theory of knowledge, 229–­31 Constant, Benjamin, 15 constructivism, 24, 52–­55, 87, 105–­19, 136, 143. See also epistemology; Fichte, Johann Gottlieb; German idealism; Hegel, G. W. F.; Kant, Immanuel; Marx, Karl; Schelling, F. W. J.

I n d e x

“Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, A” (Marx), 1, 5, 8–­ 9, 41, 55, 59, 63–­64, 84, 97–­98, 105–­6, 134–­35, 152, 167–­68, 211–­12, 243n6 Contribution to the Critique of Political Econ­ omy, A (Marx), 30–­34, 96, 99, 106, 114, 125, 158–­67, 179–­82 Copernican turn, 46, 53, 103–­6, 212 correlationism, 136, 262n182 cost-­price, 181–­82 Coyne, George, 81 “Credo” (Luxemburg), 201 critical social theory, 5, 147–­48, 209–­31 Critique of Judgment (Kant), 31 Critique of Political Economy, A (Marx), 84 Critique of Pure Reason (Kant), 42, 122, 221 “Critique of the Gotha Program” (Marx), 56, 58, 60–­61, 197, 203–­4, 207 Croce, Benedetto, 185–­86 Czolbe, Heinrich, 78 Darwin, Charles, 75–­76, 114 Deborin, Abram Moiseyvich, 81, 215 democracy, 194–­95, 202–­6, 218–­20, 235 democratic dictatorship, 236–­41 Democritus, 77, 83 Deng Xiaoping, 208, 219, 237 De Officiis (Cicero), 52 Descartes, René, 31, 46, 70–­71, 115–­16, 123, 135, 137, 223–­25, 232 Development of the Monist View of History (Plekhanov), 129 Dézamy, Théodore, 56 d’Holbach, Baron (Paul-­Henri Thiry), 80–­81 dialectic: epistemology and, 120–­33; Ha­ bermas on, 229–­31; Hegel’s, 102, 110, 125–­28, 133–­45; Marxism’s understandings of, 73–­74, 119–­25; master-­slave re­ lationship and, 8–­9, 26–­28, 34–­35, 41–­ 42, 85–­89, 103, 123–­25, 135–­37, 151, 156; mysticism of, 140–­41; political economy and, 161–­68; revolution and, 128–­29 “Dialectical and Historical Materialism” (Stalin), 79–­80 dialectical materialism, 78–­80, 129 Dialectic of the Enlightenment (Horkheimer and Adorno), 219 Dialectics of Nature (Engels), 126–­27 dictatorship, 194–­97, 205–­10, 236

“Dictatorship of the Proletariat” (Weydemeyer), 195 Diderot, Denis, 15, 115 Dietzgen, Joseph, 129 Difference in the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature (Marx), 56, 83 Differenzschrift (Hegel), 31, 79, 82–­83, 85, 133–­34, 171 direct realism, 123–­24 Discourse (Rousseau), 13 Discourse on Method (Descartes), 46 “Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind” (Rousseau), 17 discourse theory of truth, 229–­30 Draper, Hal, 195 Dühring, Eugen, 77–­78, 126–­27 Eckstein, Otto, 184 economism, 160 Ego and Its Own (Stirner), 96 egotism, 59. See also invisible hand; profit “Eighteenth Brumaire” (Marx), 166–­67 Elements (Euclid), 117 Elements of the Philosophy of Right (Hegel), 53; Engels’s view of, 74–­75; human flourishing and, 5–­9, 20–­26; Marx’s critiques of, 2–­3, 29–­39, 42–­43, 58, 87, 106–­7, 110–­11; master-­slave relationship and, 20–­21; necessity in, 166; ob­ jectification in, 86–­87; property rights in, 17, 58; the rabble in, 148–­49; the state and, 26; subjectivity in, 41–­42 Emile (Rousseau), 12, 17 Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences (Hegel), 20–­21, 132–­33, 156 Encyclopédie (Rousseau), 17 Engels, Frederick (Friedrich): communism-­ socialism distinction and, 56; Feuerbach and, 43–­44, 58, 91–­96, 102–­5, 160; He­ gel and, 29–­30, 90, 95–­97, 103, 132, 142–­43; Lenin’s readings of, 79, 128–­29; Marxism’s formulation and, 1–­5, 73– ­82, 96–­105, 119, 126, 140–­41, 153, 160, 194, 205, 215–­17, 222–­24, 249n109; as philosopher, 2, 4, 74–­76, 78–­81, 90–­ 94, 97–­99, 107, 126–­28, 130; political economy and, 187–­89; positivism of, 73–­74, 127–­28 Enquête Ouvrière (Marx), 154 Epicurus, 77, 83 277

I n d e x

epistemology: constructivism and, 24, 52–­55, 87, 105–­19, 136, 143; Fichte and, 262n183; Habermas on, 229–­30; Hegel’s, 133–­34, 136–­39; Kantian, 31–­34, 138–­39, 144; Marx on, 118–­19, 224–­25; materialism and, 104–­14; politics and, 10–­11, 201–­3; reflection theory and, 120–­33, 143–­44, 224; Vico and, 116–­19 Essence of Christianity, The (Feuerbach), 30, 89, 103–­4 essentialism, 107–­8 Euclid, 117 eudaimonia, 10–­12, 245n15 “Evaluation of the Printed Negotiations about the Parliament of the Royal States of Würtemberg in the Years 1815–­1816” (Hegel), 25 exchange value, 27, 53–­54, 179 experience, 33–­34, 76, 106, 122–­23, 135–­38, 224. See also constructivism; epistemology; philosophy externalism, 144–­45 Fable of the Bees, The (Mandeville), 51 falsifiability, 224, 228 family, the (as political unit), 14, 21–­22, 35–­36, 42–­43 Federal Reserve Bank, 210 Ferguson, Adam, 25 fetishism, 65, 241 Feuerbach, Ludwig: anthropological ap­ proach of, 89–­90, 93–­94; dialectic and, 126; Engels on, 43–­44, 58, 89–­96, 160; Fichte and, 45–­47, 91, 95, 104–­5; He­ gel’s reading by, 30–­31, 34, 94, 103–­4, 106–­7, 257n72; Marxism’s reading of, 3–­5, 43–­44, 73–­75, 89–­97, 100–­102, 249n115; Marx’s relation to, 30, 32, 35, 41, 60, 102–­14, 154; materialism of, 93; subjectivity and, 43–­49, 108–­9; theology and, 30–­32, 44, 77–­78, 89–­90, 128, 153 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb: Engels and, 78–­ 79; Feuerbach and, 45–­47, 89, 91, 95, 104–­5; finite human subject and, 8–­9, 20, 31–­32, 40–­49, 62–­63, 86, 88, 90, 95, 110–­11, 113–­14, 135, 137, 144, 223, 233–­34; idealism and, 74–­78, 84–­85; Kant’s system and, 82–­83, 106, 262n183; Marx’s relation to, 4, 34, 41, 113–­14; political economy and, 24; 278

Schelling and, 84–­85; triple distinction and, 122 Finance Capital (Hilferding), 190 financial crises, 159, 168–­72, 177–­78, 189–­ 93, 233, 266n63 first Industrial Revolution, 25–­26, 50, 114 Foundations of the Philosophy of the Future (Feuerbach), 104 Fourier, Charles, 56 Frankfurt School, 214, 217–­20. See also specific theorists Franklin, Benjamin, 179 Fraser, Nancy, 213 freedom, 5, 12–­15, 21–­24, 27–­29, 42–­43, 62–­71, 212, 235–­41. See also human flourishing; Rousseau, Jean-­Jacques French Revolution, 14–­15, 151, 236–­37 Freud, Sigmund, 31 Fromm, Erich, 214 “Fundamental Significance of the Russian Revolution, The” (Luxemburg), 201 Furet, François, 208 Galileo Galilei, 13 Gelassenheit (term), 67, 220 general will, 14–­15, 19, 23, 34 “German Constitution, The” (Hegel), 25 German idealism: idealism’s definition and, 93–­95; Marx’s relation to, 1, 215; materialism and, 73–­74, 82–­89, 94–­95, 152; political economy and, 24–­29; theory-­ practice debate in, 39, 88, 133–­34. See also constructivism; Fichte, Johann Gottlieb; Hegel, G. W. F.; Kant, Immanuel; Schelling, F. W. J. German Ideology, The (Marx and Engels), 49, 56–­69, 81, 84, 96–­109, 119, 127–­28, 160, 162 globalization, 158–­59, 168–­72, 177–­78, 190–­93 gluts, 161, 168–­76, 183–­84 Goethe, J. W., 115 Goldmann, Lucien, 49 Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich, 199 Great Depression, 168 great recession, 169–­70 Greece, 169–­70 Grexit, 169–­70 Grotius, Hugo, 18 Grundrisse (Marx), 1–­2, 49, 54, 65, 79, 95–­ 96, 102, 114, 170, 182, 185–­86

I n d e x

Habermas, Jürgen, 142, 210, 215–­17, 220–­31 Hamann, J. G., 25, 115 happiness, 5, 9–­13. See also eudaimonia; virtue Hardt, Michael, 190 harmony, 237–­38 Harvey, David, 158, 266n63 Hayek, Friedrich August, 208 Hegel, G. W. F.: capitalism and, 8–­9, 237, 240–­41; civil society in, 36–­37, 147; critical social theory and, 211–­13, 221–­31; death of, 77, 91, 104; dialectic of, 102, 110, 125–­28, 133–­45; Engels’s dismissal of, 3, 73–­74, 78–­79, 90, 95–­97, 103, 132, 142–­43; epistemology and, 24, 87, 102, 110, 123–­26, 135–­36, 143; Feuerbach and, 30–­31, 34, 89–­90, 94, 103–­4, 106–­7; Fichte and, 8–­9, 45–­47; human flourishing and, 5–­9, 21–­24, 70, 107–­8; ideas and ideals in, 31, 34–­39, 131–­32, 138–­43, 247n57; identity in difference and, 83; Kant and, 32–­33, 82–­83, 93–­94, 122, 133, 135, 212–­13; Lukács and, 156; Marxism’s views of, 4–­5, 19–­20, 22, 43–­46, 74–­75, 78, 91–­98, 170–­71, 228–­29; Marx’s relation to, 3–­4, 8–­9, 21–­39, 53–­55, 57, 63, 74–­75, 84, 86–­89, 95–­96, 99, 101, 105–­6, 113–­14, 119–­25, 130–­31, 133, 138–­45, 147–­48, 151–­52, 167, 196, 203–­4, 228–­29, 237, 250n124, 257n50; neo-­Hegelianism and, 211–­12, 227–­28; political economy and, 24–­29, 36–­37, 50–­52, 86, 272n193; property and, 16–­17, 26–­27, 61; the rabble and, 148–­49; Rousseau and, 244n2; state of nature and, 14, 70; the subject and, 9, 19–­23, 26–­28, 34–­43, 62–­63, 86, 135–­36, 234; theological readings of, 30–­32, 42; thinking vs. being and, 74–­75, 79. See also specific works Hegelian Marxism, 214–­17. See also critical social theory; Frankfurt School Heidegger, Martin, 10, 49, 67, 152, 155, 201, 212, 214, 220 Heine, Heinrich, 93 Helvétius, Claude Adrien, 80 Henry VIII, 149 Heraclitus, 121, 140 Herder, J. G., 115, 249n106 Hess, Moses, 45

Higgs boson, 80 Hilferding, Rudolf, 180, 184, 189–­91, 193 historical materialism, 78–­79, 90, 160, 215, 221–­31 history: capital’s formations and, 189–­93; civil society in, 101, 116–­17; cognition and, 41–­42, 124–­25, 133–­36, 138–­39; critical social theory and, 219–­20; dia­ lectic’s relation to, 140–­45; Marx’s view of, 8–­9, 57–­58; stages of, 13, 94; sub­ jectivity and, 45–­46, 156. See also cap­ italism; Hegel, G. W. F.; Marx, Karl History and Class Consciousness (Lukács), 90, 156, 202, 215, 227–­28 History of Civil Society (Ferguson), 25 History of Materialism (Lange), 76–­78 Hitler, Adolf, 152 Hobbes, Thomas, 12, 14, 50–­53, 76–­77, 115–­16, 196 Hobson, John A., 189–­90 Holy Family, The (Marx and Engels), 80–­81, 84, 99, 104 Holz, Hans Heinz, 208 homo economicus, 9, 41, 46, 109–­10, 244n9 Honneth, Axel, 213 Horkheimer, Max, 213–­14, 216–­17, 220–­22 Hudis, Peter, 178 Hugo, Victor, 212 Hu Jintao, 237, 239 human flourishing: alienation and, 86; communism and, 9, 17, 37, 55–­71, 232–­ 41; Hegel on, 21–­24; labor as, 61, 67–­68; Marx’s dream and, 1, 4, 7–­10, 62–­71, 232–­41, 244n5; nature and, 13; Plato on, 10–­12; political economy and, 49–­ 52, 109–­10; property and, 8–­9, 16–­18, 24–­29; Rousseau on, 5, 12–­15 humanism, 47–­48, 56, 58, 69, 88, 100–­101, 104–­8, 114–­19 Humboldt, Wilhelm von, 244n8 Hume, David, 76, 78 Husserl, Edmund, 152, 224–­25 Ibn Khaldun, 179 idealism: Fichte and, 74–­78; German Ideology and, 96–­102; Marxism’s definitions of, 73–­74; materialism as opposing, 4–­5, 73–­74, 77–­79, 83–­85, 88, 92, 94–­95, 99–­ 100, 105–­14, 141–­43, 152–­53; Plato and, 117, 138–­39, 212–­13. See also German idealism; Hegel, G. W. F.; Plato 279

I n d e x

identity in difference, 135–­36, 143–­45 ideology, 4–­5, 97–­102, 126–­27, 202–­3. See also Lenin, Vladimir; Marxism immaterialism, 77 imperialism, 190–­93 Imperialism (Hobson), 190 Imperialism (Lenin), 192, 201 inequality (social relationship of), 20–­21, 50–­51 Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, An (Steuart), 25 Institute for Social Research. See Frankfurt School internalism, 144–­45 intuition, 97 invisible hand, 50–­55, 71, 206–­7 Ireland, 169–­70 Jacobi, F. H., 115 Jaspers, Karl, 152 Jaurès, Jean, 68 Jevons, Stanley, 181 Jones, Gareth Stedman, 76 Kant, Immanuel: anthropological approach of, 31; Copernican turn of, 46, 53, 103, 105–­6, 212; Engels on, 126–­27; epistemology of, 33–­34, 76, 82, 97, 106, 115– ­17, 121, 123–­25, 127, 136, 138–­39, 144, 160; Hegel and, 32–­33, 82–­83, 93–­94, 122, 133–­35, 212–­13; human flourish­ ing and, 5, 12, 23, 70; Marx and, 224; moral law in, 22–­24, 31, 39, 147, 154–­ 55, 247n73; neo-­Kantianism and, 77–­ 78, 210, 221, 229; philosophy’s intrinsic utility and, 4, 22, 39, 82, 110, 113, 221, 233–­34; Providence and, 50–­51; the state and, 19; subjectivity in, 14–­15, 42, 153–­55; theory-­practice debate and, 39. See also specific works Kant und die Epigonen (Liebmann), 78 Kautsky, Karl, 107, 184, 189–­90, 192, 201 Kepler, Johannes, 13, 117 Kierkegaard, Søren, 83–­85, 92, 142–­43, 263n202 Kilman, Andrew, 181 Kindleberger, Charles, 169 Kirchheimer, Otto, 214 Knowledge and Human Interests (Habermas), 230 Kojève, Alexander, 151, 250n124 280

Kolakowski, Leszek, 184, 208 Korsch, Karl, 205, 209, 211, 214–­17, 224, 228 Kosik, Karel, 109–­10 Kuhn, Thomas, 92 Kurz, H. D., 178 labor theory of value, 18, 27, 53–­54, 86–­87, 125, 178–­84, 229–­30 Laffer curve, 172 La Mettrie, Julien Offray de, 80 Lange, Friedrich Albert, 76–­78, 81, 104 Lassalle, Ferdinand, 115 Law of the Three Stages, 94 Laws (Plato), 16 “Left-­Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder” (Lenin), 199 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 50–­51, 76, 117, 164 Lenin, Vladimir: critical social theory and, 210; democracy and, 203–­6; dialectical theories of, 125; dictatorship of the proletariat and, 195, 198, 200, 206–­9; Engels and, 79, 128–­29; Maoism and, 236–­37; Marxism and, 2, 79, 129–­30, 155–­56, 194, 207–­9; political economy and, 189–­90, 192–­93; revolution and, 148, 150–­51, 155. See also specific works Letter on Humanism (Heidegger), 49 “Letter to His Father” (Marx), 102 Leucippus, 83 Leviathan (Hobbes), 12, 51 Liebmann, Otto, 78 Locke, John, 14, 16–­18, 27, 50, 80, 87, 179, 253nn178–­79 Losurdo, Domenico, 208 Löwenthal, Leo, 214 Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (Engels), 43–­44, 73–­75 Lukács, Georg, 13, 20, 49, 79, 90–­91, 102–­3, 126, 142, 151–­58, 166, 202, 211, 214–­ 17, 224–­28 Luxemburg, Rosa, 157–­58, 184, 194–­95, 198, 201–­2, 265nn29–­31, 270n170 Mach, Ernst, 129 Mader, Johann, 45, 257n73 Mandel, Ernest, 76 Mandeville, Bernard, 50–­52, 78 Mao Zedong, 148, 156, 194, 199, 206, 235–­36

I n d e x

Marcuse, Herbert, 109, 156, 213–­14 Marx, Karl: alienation concept of, 28, 86–­ 88; anthropological approaches to phi­ losophy and, 32–­43, 90–­91; Aristotle and, 112–­13; civil society and, 110–­12, 212–­13; dialectic of, 119–­33, 139–­45; dictatorship of the proletariat and, 15, 147–­48, 194–­200, 205–­9; Engels’s eu­ logy for, 75, 167; epistemology and, 121–­ 35, 144–­45, 224–­25; Feuerbach and, 3–­5, 30, 32, 35, 41, 60, 73–­75, 85, 89–­90, 92–­ 94, 97, 100–­114, 154, 249n115; Fichte and, 4, 47–­48, 113–­14; Habermas on, 224–­31; Hegel and, 3–­9, 19–­39, 57, 63, 74–­75, 78, 84, 86–­89, 95–­96, 99, 101, 105–­6, 113–­14, 119–­25, 131, 138–­45, 147–­48, 151–­52, 196, 203–­4, 228–­29, 237, 250n124, 257n50; human flour­ ishing and, 1, 4–­5, 21–­24, 47–­48, 55–­71, 106; ideas and ideals in, 131–­32, 139, 142; interpreting vs. changing the world and, 1–­2, 7–­9, 37–­40, 57–­58, 106, 141–­ 45, 194–­97, 210–­20, 224–­25, 232–­41; Kant and, 224; Marxism’s relation to, 1, 4, 19–­20, 48, 62–­63, 73–­74, 139–­41, 215–­17, 222–­23, 225–­27; materialism and, 78, 81–­89, 92, 95–­102, 104–­5, 111, 140–­41, 163; newspaper editor career of, 56–­57; philosophy’s relation to, 1, 3–­4, 12–­13, 29–­39, 43–­49, 74–­83, 85–­89, 105–­14, 134–­35, 144–­45, 170–­71, 193–­ 204, 213–­17, 233–­34; political economy and, 1, 49–­55, 78, 148–­49, 159, 161–­ 87, 191–­92, 210, 218–­21, 226; property and, 9, 17, 27–­28, 74–­75; speculative philosophy and, 144–­45; subjectivity and, 32–­49, 107, 223; value theories of, 18, 27, 53–­55, 178–­84; Vico and, 114–­ 19, 166–­67; writings of, 6, 96; Young Hegelians and, 30, 45–­46, 83, 85, 93, 97–­98, 100, 103, 107, 148, 210–­13, 217. See also capitalism; communism; political economy; and specific works Marxism: antihumanism of, 48; critical social theory and, 5, 209–­31; dictatorship of the proletariat and, 194–­200, 205–­9; as distorting of Marx’s philosophy, 1–­4; Engels and, 1, 4–­5, 73–­82, 89–­102, 119, 126, 140–­41, 153, 160, 200–­201, 204–­5, 215, 222–­24; Feuerbach’s place in, 3–­5, 43–­44, 74–­75, 89–­96; Hegelian Marxism

and, 215–­17; Hegel’s repudiation by, 19–­20, 90–­96, 170–­71, 210, 228–­29; Lenin and, 2, 79–­80, 155–­56, 200–­209, 234–­35; Marx’s relation to, 1–­4, 19–­20, 48, 62–­63, 73–­74, 139–­40, 215–­17, 222–­ 23, 225–­27; materialism’s definitions of, 73–­74, 82, 96–­102, 114–­19, 221–­31; People’s Republic of China and, 234–­41; philosophy and, 62–­63, 119–­25, 194–­97; political economy and, 184–­87; religion and, 107–­15; science and, 75–­76, 78–­80, 90; Soviet versions of, 128–­30; Spinoza and, 80–­81 Marxism and Philosophy (Korsch), 215 master-­slave dichotomy, 8–­9, 20–­21, 28, 151, 156, 196 materialism: critical theory and, 216–­17; definitions of, 74–­82, 104–­5, 255n27; epistemology and, 104–­14; Fichte on, 74–­76, 78; French, 80, 104; German Ideology and, 96–­102; Habermas and, 223–­ 31; historical vs. dialectical versions of, 78–­79, 83, 129, 221–­31; history of, 76–­77, 80, 83, 93, 99; humanism and, 100–­101; idealism as opposing, 78–­79, 83–­85, 88, 92, 94, 99–­100, 105–­14, 141–­ 43, 152–­53; Marxism’s understanding of, 4–­5, 48–­49, 73–­74, 76–­82, 96–­102, 104–­5, 111, 140–­41, 163; Marx’s epistemology and, 131–­32; Marx’s writings and, 82–­89, 96–­102; science’s relation to, 4–­5, 44, 48–­49, 85, 94–­95, 109–­10, 114–­15, 119; spiritualism and, 84, 104; Vico and, 114–­19 Materialism and Empiriocriticism (Lenin), 129–­30 “Materialism and Metaphysics” (Horkheimer), 216 “Materialism and Morality” (Horkheimer), 216 mathematics, 52–­53, 115, 117 McDowell, John, 137–­38 mechanical model (of nature), 13, 76–­77, 80–­81, 228 Meillasoux, Quentin, 136 metaphysical realism, 80–­81, 95, 123, 127, 134, 144–­45 Metaphysics (Aristotle), 46 Mill, J. S., 41, 120, 159, 161, 170, 174, 181 Moleschott, Jacob, 77–­78 Montaigne, Michel de, 31, 137 281

I n d e x

Moore, G. E., 95 morality, 7–­9, 12–­13, 21–­24, 26–­27, 37, 53–­55, 61–­62 Mugnier-­Pollet, Lucien, 81 Mysterium Cosmographicum (Kepler), 117 Nachlass (Hegel), 20 Nachlass (Marx), 69, 73–­74, 96, 188 Narodniks, 165 National Socialism, 10, 49, 152, 208, 214, 216–­17, 219–­20 naturalism, 88–­89, 92, 104, 107–­8, 114–­19, 257n50 natural selection, 76, 114 nature: dialectic and, 127–­28; epistemology and, 116, 130–­31; Feuerbach and, 92–­93, 99; human, 13–­15, 46–­48, 50–­51, 58, 67, 88, 107–­8; mechanical models of, 13, 80, 83–­84, 228; metaphysical realism and, 80–­81; natural right and, 17–­ 18; nurture and, 7, 9–­10, 67, 117, 134, 155; political economy and, 162–­65; property rights and, 18, 87; Schelling on, 24–­25; state of, 12–­15 necessity, 164–­66. See also causality negation, 43–­44, 55, 91, 98, 104, 124–­25, 133–­34. See also dialectic; materialism; theology Negri, Antonio, 190 neo-­Hegelianism, 211–­12, 227–­28 neo-­Kantianism, 77–­78, 210, 221 Neumann, Franz Leopold, 214, 217 Neurath, Otto, 128 New Science (Vico), 115–­16, 259n127 New York Turn-­Zeitung, 195 Nicomachean Ethics (Aristotle), 46 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 83, 92 noble savage myth, 8–­9 normal crises, 161–­68 objectification, 29, 42–­43, 48–­60, 65–­66, 86–­88, 125, 228–­29, 241 Occupy Wall Street, 170 October Revolution, 60, 151, 198, 201, 207, 210, 213 Okishio, Nobuo, 185, 187 Old Hegelians, 100 “Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, The” (Kant), 123–­24 “On the Jewish Question” (Marx), 151 282

On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians (Vico), 116 “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” (Mao), 236 On the Reconstruction of Historical Materialism (Habermas), 225 ontology, 49, 80, 99, 104–­5, 119, 122–­23, 130, 144 Origin of the Family (Engels), 200 Ostwald, Wilhelm, 129 “Outline of a Critique of Political Economy” (Engels), 66 overproduction, 168–­76, 183–­84 Owen, Robert, 106 Pannekoek, Anton, 184 Paris Commune, 164, 193–­94, 196–­97, 205 Paris Manuscripts (Marx): alienation in, 86–­ 87; availability of, 1–­2, 79; communism in, 56, 58–­60, 66–­67, 160–­61, 163–­64; Feuerbach in, 30, 85, 89–­90, 97, 102–­3; Fichte in, 34; Hegel in, 35, 98, 105–­8, 133, 142, 228–­29; materialism in, 84; necessity in, 166; political economy in, 36, 100, 170, 173–­75; subjectivity in, 20–­21, 41–­45, 47–­48, 88 Parmenides, 80, 133–­34 parties (in communism), 147–­48, 193–­204 People’s Republic of China, 36, 64, 199, 202, 204–­9, 217, 219–­20, 234–­41 Petty, William, 179 Phenomenology of Spirit, The (Hegel), 8–­9, 20, 26, 28, 34–­35, 41–­42, 85–­89, 103, 123, 125, 135–­37, 151–­52, 156 Philonenko, Alexis, 45 philosophy: anthropological approaches to, 31–­32, 43–­49, 62–­63, 90–­95, 103–­16, 152, 250n124, 257n73; critical social theory as practice, 209–­31; Engels and, 2, 4, 74–­75, 80–­81, 249n109; Habermas on, 224–­31; Hegel’s definition of, 85–­86; human flourishing and, 4–­9; ideology and, 96–­102, 126–­27; interpreting vs. changing the world and, 1–­2, 4, 7–­9, 22, 37–­39, 57–­58, 84–­85, 97–­98, 101–­3, 105–­14, 136–­37, 141–­45, 147–­48, 194–­ 97, 210–­20, 224–­25, 232–­41; Lenin and, 128–­30; Marx’s relation to, 1–­4, 12–­13, 29–­39, 43–­49, 62–­63, 73–­74, 82–­89, 102–­5, 119–­25, 134–­35, 144–­45, 170–­71, 203, 213–­17, 233–­34; mimesis and, 10–­

I n d e x

11; political rule by, 55, 167–­68, 193–­ 204, 212; science and, 75–­79, 92–­93, 114–­15, 118–­19, 128, 224, 251n169; systems of, 34–­35. See also epistemology; German idealism; idealism; materialism; ontology; political economy; subjectivity; and specific philosophers and works Philosophy of Action (Hess), 45 Philosophy of Nature (Engels), 95 physicalism, 77. See also materialism; naturalism Pierson, Christopher, 151 Piketty, Thomas, 185, 187, 189 Pippin, Robert, 23–­24 Plato, 3–­12, 16–­23, 77, 98, 122, 138, 144, 154–­57, 195–­96, 200 play instinct, 64 Plekhanov, Georgi Valentinovich, 81, 90–­ 91, 129, 165 poiesis, 39 political economy: Austrian School and, 169; crises in, 147–­48, 158–­59, 161–­72, 178–­83, 187–­93, 210, 233; critical social theory and, 217–­21; financial crises and, 177–­78, 189–­93; freedom and, 64–­65; Habermas and, 213–­17, 221; Hegel on, 24–­29, 50–­52, 86; historical material­ ism and, 222–­31; homo economicus and, 9, 41, 46, 109–­10, 244n9; human flour­ ishing and, 68–­71, 244n9; Luxemburg and, 157–­58; Marx and, 1, 36–­37, 49– ­55, 64, 66–­71, 78, 109, 120, 148–­49, 158–­87, 191–­92, 218–­21, 226; morality and, 26–­27; universal laws of, 76–­77, 109–­10, 114–­15, 159, 162–­74, 185–­87, 190, 218; value theories and, 18, 27, 53–­55, 178–­83. See also Marxism; Smith, Adam Politics (Aristotle), 110 Pollock, Friedrich, 211, 217–­21, 226–­27 Popper, K. R., 10, 208 Portugal, 169–­70 positivism, 48, 73–­75, 88–­89, 94, 126–­27, 165–­66 Posner, Richard, 177–­78, 267n67 Poverty of Philosophy (Marx), 99 practice-­theory divide, 1–­9, 22, 37–­40, 57–­ 58, 84–­88, 97–­119, 132–­48, 194–­220, 224–­25, 232–­41 praxis, 39 principle of sufficient reason, 76, 164

Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (Feuerbach), 31 profit, 11–­12, 69–­70, 159, 162, 167, 172–­75, 178–­79, 181–­89, 218 Prolegomena to a Historiosophie (Von Cieszkowski), 45 proletarian revolution. See revolution “Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, The” (Lenin), 201 property: capitalism and, 37, 163–­64; communism and, 55–­62, 193–­204; Engels on, 126–­27; Hegel on, 8–­9, 26–­29, 58; human flourishing and, 8–­9, 16–­18; Locke on, 87; Marx on, 9, 61–­62, 74–­75, 244n5; political economy and, 50–­52; private ownership of the means of production and, 9, 17, 28, 33, 160–­61; the state and, 26–­27 Proudhon, Pierre-­Joseph, 17, 56 Pufendorf, Samuel von, 17–­18 Putin, Vladimir, 199 Putnam, Hilary, 144 Quante, Michael, 23 rabble, the, 148–­49. See also revolution rational choice theory, 244n9 recognition (of the self by the self ), 8–­9, 19–­21, 33–­34 reflection theory of knowledge, 120–­33, 143, 224 Reinhardt, Carmen, 173–­74 Reinhold, Karl Leonhard, 133, 262n183 religion. See theology rents, 172–­75, 181–­82 representation, 104–­5, 123–­33, 135–­37, 144, 262n183 Republic (Plato), 10–­12, 16, 19, 23, 55–­56, 132, 134, 157, 195 Rescher, Nicholas, 230 revolution: communist parties and, 201–­4; conceptual, 97–­98, 141; dictatorship of the proletariat and, 15, 147–­48, 194–­ 200; economic crises and, 162; Lenin and, 128–­29; Marx on, 68, 148–­57, 193–­ 94; in Marx’s theory, 5; philosophers’ role in, 15, 55, 151–­52, 154–­57, 167–­ 68, 201–­4 “Revolutionary Commune” (Korsch), 205 Revolution of 1848, 120, 150 Rhineland News, 56 283

I n d e x

Ricardo, David, 26, 41, 120, 159, 161, 170–­ 77, 179–­82 “Ricardo’s Theory of Accumulation and a Critique of It” (Marx), 170 Robinson, Joan, 178, 180 Rogoff, Kenneth, 173–­74 Rousseau, Jean-­Jacques, 4–­7, 12, 16, 23, 34, 70–­71, 115, 147, 244n2 Rousseau’s problem, 7–­9, 12–­15, 70, 233–­34 Ruge, Arnold, 112, 129 Russell, Bertrand, 76–­77, 144, 207, 255n27 Saint-­Beuve, Charles Augustin, 55 Samuelson, Paul, 180 Sand, George, 55 Sartre, Jean-­Paul, 142, 151, 264n11 satisfaction (Hegel’s concept of ), 26–­27 Say, Jean-­Baptiste, 26, 41, 161, 170, 172, 190 Schelling, F. W. J., 24–­25, 82–­85, 132, 142–­ 43, 263n201 Schiller, J. C. F. von, 13, 47, 64, 90, 254n208 Schleiermacher, F. E. D., 30–­31 Schlick, Moritz, 128 Schumpeter, Joseph, 192–­93 science: Marxism and, 76–­80, 119; materialism’s relation to, 4–­5, 44, 48–­49, 114–­15; philosophy and, 75–­81, 85, 90, 92–­95, 118–­19, 128, 224; political economy and, 162–­74, 185–­87, 190 Science of Knowledge (Fichte), 85 Science of Logic (Hegel), 32, 41–­42, 228 Second Boer War, 190 Second Discourse (Rousseau), 14 Second International, 160, 201, 210, 215 self-­referential issues, 100–­101 Sellars, Wilfried, 81, 137 Shakespeare, William, 241 Sieber, Nikolai, 120 Sismondi, Jean Charles Léonard de, 170 skepticism, 78, 123, 134 Smith, Adam, 11–­12, 15, 25–­26, 41, 50–­55, 59–­60, 71, 168–­69, 179–­82, 185, 240–­41 social classes. See class consciousness Social Contract, The (Rousseau), 12–­13, 17 social contractarianism, 8–­9, 12 socialism. See communism Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (Engels), 56 Socrates, 2–­4, 7, 10–­12, 16, 152, 230–­31 Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, 207 Sophists, 98 284

Soviet Union, 64, 216, 240 special pleading, 2, 224 spectator theory (of the subject), 46 speculative philosophy, 31–­32, 83, 85, 122, 135, 144, 158–­59 Sperber, Jonathan, 56 Spinoza, Benedict de, 80–­81 spiritualism, 84, 104, 110, 154–­55 Stalin, Joseph, 60, 79, 195, 208, 210, 216, 234 Standard & Poor’s, 177 state, the: civil society and, 22, 25–­26; He­ gel’s view of, 19–­21, 26–­29, 32–­33, 70; Marx’s view of, 24–­25, 33–­43, 203–­4; withering away of, 200–­201, 204–­7. See also capitalism; communism; property; recognition (of the self by the self ) State and Revolution, The (Lenin), 203, 206, 236 state capitalism, 217–­20, 235, 239–­41 state of nature, 12–­15 Steuart, James, 25 Stirner, Max, 90, 96 Stoicism, 86 Strauss, David Friedrich, 30–­32, 77–­78, 100, 108, 128 Struve, B. G., 184 subjectivity: civil society and, 42–­43; Descartes and, 46; Feuerbach and, 43–­49, 95, 107; Fichte on, 88, 95, 106–­7, 144, 223, 233; Hegel on, 9, 19–­23, 26, 34–­39, 41–­42, 62–­63, 86, 135–­36; history and, 45–­46; homo economicus and, 41; Kant on, 31, 144, 153–­55, 223, 233; Marx’s theories of, 9, 32–­49, 88, 107–­12, 233; objectification and, 52–­54; political economy and, 49–­52, 109; value theories and, 178–­83. See also being (thinking and); epistemology; and specific philosophers sublation. See Aufhebung (term) Sun Yat-­sen, 199 surplus value, 28, 53–­54, 159, 183–­84, 228 Sweezy, Paul, 180 system/lifeworld distinction, 229–­30 techne, 39 technology, 49, 114 theology: art and, 139; Feuerbach and, 30–­ 32, 44, 77–­78, 103, 106–­15, 118–­19, 128, 153; Hegel and, 8–­9, 30–­32, 42; human

I n d e x

flourishing and, 9–­10; Kant and, 123–­ 24; materialism and, 77–­78; property rights and, 18; speculation and, 122; subjectivity and, 45 Theories of Surplus Value (Marx), 1–­2, 54, 69, 79, 160–­61, 168–­72, 181–­82, 185–­86 Theory of Communicative Action (Habermas), 228 Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith), 71, 266n64 theory-­practice divide, 1–­9, 22, 37–­40, 57–­ 58, 84–­88, 97–­119, 132–­48, 194–­220, 224–­25, 232–­41 “Theses on Feuerbach” (Marx), 30, 43, 45–­ 46, 84–­85, 97, 101–­14, 118–­19, 148 thinking (being and), 74–­82, 99–­100, 133–­ 34, 143–­45 Thiry, Paul-­Henri (Baron d’Holbach), 80–­81 Timaeus (Plato), 117, 132 Tosel, André, 81 Toward a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy (Feuerbach), 89 “Towards a Reconstruction of Historical Materialism” (Habermas), 226 transcendental deduction, 31–­32 transformational criticism, 30–­31, 60 Trotsky, Leon, 60, 194 Truth and Justification (Habermas), 231 Tschernyschewsky, N. G., 120 Tugan-­Baranovsky, Mikhail, 180, 184 tulip crisis, 159 “Two Tactics” (Lenin), 202 United States, 170 use value, 53–­54

value: exchange value and, 27, 53–­54; labor theory of, 18, 27, 53–­54, 86–­87, 125, 178–­84, 229–­30; surplus value and, 28, 53–­54, 159, 183–­84, 228; use value and, 53–­54 Vico, Giambattista, 53, 114–­19, 166–­67, 259n125, 259n127 Vienna Circle, 88–­89, 128 virtue, 5, 9–­11, 16 Vogt, Karl, 77–­78 Von Cieszkowski, August, 45 wealth, 66–­67, 71, 125, 157–­58 Wealth of Nations (Smith), 25, 168–­69, 181 Weber, Max, 235–­36 Weitling, Wilhelm, 56 Weydemeyer, Joseph, 194–­95, 199 “What Is to Be Done?” (Lenin), 201 Wissenschaftslehre (Fichte), 20, 45, 122 Wittfogel, Karl, 214 Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 112 “Work and Interaction” (Habermas), 229 World Bank, 238 Wright, John, 104 Wyatt, John, 114 Xi Jinping, 200, 206, 235, 238 Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich, 199 Yeomans, Christopher, 23 Young Hegelians, 30, 45–­46, 83–­98, 100, 103, 107, 141, 148, 210–­13, 217 Zeno, 121

285