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Über dieses Buch

This book responds to the need for a retrieval and renewal of the work of Karl Marx through close philosophical analysis of his publications, manuscripts, and letters — especially those relevant to politics, morality, and the future. This philosophical study stands out because of its two principal features. First, it reviews and develops ideas about the future, though often only briefly discussed by Marx and his commentators, drawn from Marx's work. Second, it focuses on collective matters that are critical for Marx's ideas but rarely investigated and still problematic.

Part One introduces Marx with a discussion of emancipation and freedom in community. It then discusses the importance of retrieval and the methodology for promoting it. Part Two is about misunderstandings of Marx's ideas about productive development, division of labour, and organisations. Part Three discusses nations, morality, and democracy, all of which Marx supported. Part Four takes up Marx's significant, but misunderstood, ideas about the future and his relation to the anarchists.



Goals and Methodology


Chapter 1. Emancipation and Retrievals

Karl Marx and his family are introduced with comments about his university life and early years and his first contacts and collaboration with Frederick Engels. Engels was an early positive influence. The focus, however, is on Marx and his goal of the self-emancipation of workers to be organized through an international association. The complexities of emancipation and freedom are explored in Marx and in contemporary studies.
This chapter draws together the themes of the book about methodology, social relations, organizations, and possible futures with cooperative work and free association. Marx thought deeply about worker emancipation and human emancipation. What he observed was different, but how he observed and analysed the social world and his emphasis on “conquering political power” stands out as clear and relevant.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 2. Methodological Beginnings

Karl Marx wanted to understand how the world works—especially with regard to the economic nature of societies and their history—the goal of the understanding being to change the world. Understanding for him could come only through scientific investigations with the best methodology available. This chapter argues that he advocated for social sciences with new methods of analysis as against unscientific approaches and speculation. Claims that his work is anachronistic or rigid in various ways are rebutted. The chapter argues, instead, for the plausibility of retrieving a scientific methodology for the twenty-first century with guidance from forms of analytical Marxism, especially with regard to philosophical matters.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 3. Coquetting with Dialectics

Many have attributed a unique and uniquely successful methodology of dialectics to Marx. Others regard dialectics as a disaster of obscurity and confusion, if not meaninglessness. Many now hold that Engels foisted a rigid “formalization” of dialectics on Marx’s work, and yet Marx coquetted with dialectics making positive references here and there. Analytical Marxists have almost universally rejected dialectics in Marxism, turning to clear analyses instead. This chapter, from a perspective of analytical philosophy, begins with an analysis of Marx’s own methodology and then contests some core claims about methodology by analytical Marxists, with primary focus on philosophical questions about methodological individualism and about mechanisms. With a more open understanding, one can see the plausibility for Marx, and Marxists, to coquette with dialectics.
Robert X. Ware

Social Relations and Organizations


Chapter 4. Fettered Forces and New Found Freedom

This chapter discusses the idea that post-capitalist societies will out-produce capitalist societies through the development of greater forces of production, an idea that obscures the centrality of issues of freedom for Marx. It also infects ideas about the future inspired by Marx’s work. The mistake comes mostly from neglect and misinterpretations of what Marx actually said. The claim is that the emphasis on development and distribution has corrupted socialist practice and hobbled our imaginations about the future. It is more sympathetic to, and accurate about, Marx to see possibilities of emancipation in socialism because of the way that people in associated labour would use the means of production and disposable time.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 5. Marx on the Division of Labour

The division of labour was a central concern throughout Marx’s writings from the earliest to the latest writings. It has also been the focus of opposition and abuse because of Marx’s supposedly unrealistic, and allegedly utopian, views. Subtleties in Marx’s texts have been ignored, thus allowing interpreters to think that Marx foresaw the abolition of all division of labour, rather than seeing him as making trenchant criticisms of capitalist forms of division of labour with plausible judgements about future cooperation. As in many cases, it is claimed that Marx can be seen as practical and plausible, with positive ideas for the future.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 6. Marx on Class Consciousness and Organization

It is a puzzle that Marx did not write about class consciousness. His emphasis, in The Communist Manifesto and elsewhere, is about organizations and communication. To understand Marx’s views about the proletariat as a revolutionary agent, it is necessary to understand his views about class, about consciousness, and about unity. The discussion raises subtle but critical questions about individual and collective interpretations. It also leads to important questions about organization.
Robert X. Ware

Nations, Morality, and Democracy


Chapter 7. Nationalism and Internationalism

Marx was an internationalist, who believed in the primacy of the productive forces and the centrality of class struggle. He wrote little directly on nations and nationality, but what he did write was with clarity and common sense. His most widely quoted passages, unfortunately, have been mistranslated and misinterpreted. Interpreters’ confusions about internationalism, universalism, the state, and globalization continue to affect the understanding of nationalism in Marx’s work and elsewhere.
For Marx, nations were important in capitalism and in transitional societies and would be in future communism. Some aspects of nations were made explicit by Marx, while others clearly fit his developed ideas. There is no reason to think that Marx would expect people to abandon their nation and nationality in seeking communism.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 8. Marx’s Morality for All

Marx was a moralist. He held moral principles and condemned those who disregarded what was right and good. His materialist conception of history was an explanation of a world that had gone wrong, with support from political laws, but could be set right. He appealed to “the simple laws of morals and justice, which ought to govern the relations of private individuals” (Inaugural Address to the International). Some think that moralities are relative to the times and culture, but there are pitfalls in attempts at establishing different moralities.
Marx did not have a theory of morality, but he took moral positions that he applied universally, even where others might apply them differently. For Marx the International would have one morality for all.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 9. Emancipatory Democracy

Whatever democracy is, and there is a lot of confusion about that, it still comes as a surprise that throughout his career Marx was a strong advocate of democracy, in politics and, we can now say, in the economy.
First we must remove layers of misconception about Marx on the state and then pursue ideas about emancipation, society, and the state to see that democracy was both a tactic and a goal for him. Marx calls for workers to win the battle of democracy and then provides the beginnings of an emancipatory democracy for the future. This chapter ends with illusions revealed and challenges for retrievals.
Robert X. Ware

Reflecting on Transitions and Futures


Chapter 10. Marx on State and Society in the Future

A crucial distinction between state and society is found throughout Marx’s writings. For example, on Marx’s view: “Every revolution dissolves the old society and to that extent it is social. Every revolution overthrows the old power and to that extent it is political” (MECW 3, p. 205). This distinction has an interesting role, badly misinterpreted, in his Critique of the Gotha Programme. This chapter clarifies what Marx said about phases of communism and about a transition between capitalism and communism. A crucial point is that, according to Marx, in communist society there would be analogous functions of those of a state. Some things about those functions can be extrapolated and refined from what Marx did say, but there is also much that needs to be developed.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 11. Marx on Some Phases of Communism

Marx showed little interest in creating pictures of the future, but the exigencies of German politics prompted him to write his letter about the future to some leading activists critiquing the Gotha Program. This one letter gives perspectives on the future. Responding to its narrow focus on distribution, Marx wrote about slogans of contribution and distribution that would characterize justice in some phases of communism. His characterization of society in a higher phase of communism is wrongly interpreted as expecting the abolition of scarcity, while the nature of phases, according to him, is misconstrued. Some confusions are corrected, and the slogans are made more specific with attention to individual and collective distinctions.
Robert X. Ware

Chapter 12. Two Projects of Socialism

Any socialism has two important projects: (1) to understand and end present-day oppression and (2) to build, in imagination and reality, a future that realizes socialist society with socialist values. Each form of socialism has its own ways to approach these projects and to understand the attendant issues and aspects. Sometimes the differences seem vast, while in a more cooperative outlook, there are similarities and opportunities for convergence.
Karl Marx and Michael Bakunin and their successors have dealt with various issues in contrasting ways. This chapter attempts to show that the two streams have overlapping perspectives and approaches that when investigated can be enriching and supportive rather than divisive and debilitating, which enriches any retrieval of Marx.
Robert X. Ware


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