Marxism, Determination, and Freedom

Socialism 2016

July 01, 2016
With Bill Keach

Marx devoted his writing and his life as a revolutionary to the liberation of humanity from the oppression and exploitation of capitalism--to creating a society "in which the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all." At the same time, Marx argued that humanity cannot liberate itself through the power of thought alone: "it is not the consciousness of [human beings] that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness." This talk will explore the relationship between these two aspects of Marx's thinking. It will address assertions that Marxism is "deterministic" and assess Marx's claim that "human beings make their own history" but not under conditions and circumstances of their own choosing. It will emphasize the relevance of Marx's theoretical analysis to today's political struggles.

Suggested Reading:
Marx, "The German Ideology,"

Marx, "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts: Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy"

Paul D'Amato, "The Meaning of Marxism," chapters 2 and 3

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