Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason (Why Marx Rejected Politics and the Market)
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Why did Karl Marx want to exclude politics and the market from his vision of a future socialism? In Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason, Allan Megill begins with this question. Megill's examination of Marx's formative writings casts new light on Marx's relation to philosophy and reveals a hitherto largely unknown 'rationalist' Marx. In demonstrating how Marx's rationalism permeated his attempts to understand politics, economics, and history generally, Megill forces the reader to rethink Marx's entire intellectual project. While Megill writes as an intellectual historian and historian of philosophy, his highly original redescription of the Marxian enterprise has important implications for how we think about the usability of Marx's work today. Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason will be of interest to those who wish to reflect on the fate of Marxism during the era of Soviet Communism. It will also be of interest to those who wish to discern what is living and what is dead, what is adequate and what requires replacement or supplementation, in the work of a figure who, in spite of everything, remains one of the greatest philosophers and social scientists of the modern world.
indication of the seriousness of his thinking. Not every thinker who contradicts him [her] self is worth attending to, but Marx is worth attending to because of the rigor of his thinking and because of his attentiveness to real developments in modem society. As I have suggested, one difficulty that emerges in Marx's work is that of disentangling which elements in any given situation Marx sees as causes and which he sees as effects. Marx has a strong tendency to want to describe the world as ifthe
liberated in itself, turns into practical energy" (MEGA2 1.1: 67/MECW 1: 851MER 9), he means something close to a logical law, not a natural or moral law. A logical contradiction is discovered in the world. It must, and will, be resolved. THE POLITICS OF MARX'S JOURNALISM, 1842-EARLY 1843 I noted at the beginning of this chapter that Marx excluded politics from the future socialist order. He held instead that the socialist state would be completely nonpolitical. The dealings of the socialist
philosophical-scientific project articulated in the interests of greater freedom for human beings should have unintendedly contributed to servitude. But the fact of Marx's commitment to freedom is unequivocal. Already on August 12, 1835, in an examination essay entitled "Reflections of a Young Man on the Choice of a Profession," Marx made the Kantian point that "worth can be assured only by a profession in which we are not servile tools, but in which we act independently in our own sphere" (MEGA2
Chapter Three pher of law Gustav Hugo for holding that "no rational necessity [vemiinftige Nothwendigkeit] pervades [beseelt] positive institutions, e.g., property, the state constitution, marriage, etc." (MEGA2 1.1: 192IMECW 1: 204). This seems to imply that Marx would find a rational necessity in each of those institutions: at any rate, he does not reject the possibility. But in 1843 there seems to be a shift in Marx's position. It was now a matter of seeing all particular institutions as
he saw the different elements in the economic system (as described in the writings of the economists) as aspects of a single unified system. His unitarism meant second that there was no way that he could rely on a conception of countervailing forces in his account of the human world. Within politics, he could not have a conception of political checks and balances (of judiciary vs. executive vs.legislature, of government vs. opposition, of federal vs. state vs. regional government, and so on). The