Introduction: Marx, Ethics and Ethical Marxism

  • Lawrence Wilde


Least of all must a philosophy be accepted as a philosophy by virtue of an authority or of good faith, be the authority even that of a people and the faith that of centuries. The proof can be provided only by expounding its essence (Karl Marx).1


Human Nature Human Freedom Political Ecology Class Consciousness Capitalist Mode 
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  1. 1.
    Karl Marx, ‘Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy’ in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 1 (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1975), p. 506. Further references throughout the book will be to CW followed by the volume number.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Harry van der Linden, Kantian Ethics and Socialism (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1988). Tom Bottomore and Patrick Goode (eds), AustroMarxism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), Introduction and Part One.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    For a short review of the progress of ethical debate within Marxism see Agnes Heller, ‘The Legacy of Marxian Ethics Today’, in Praxis International 1 (4), 1982. Heller’s own position is a fusion of Marx and Kant, although she acknowledges that this approach was specifically rejected by Marx (p. 362); also Steven Lukes, Marxism and Morality (New York: Oxford University Press and Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), pp. 14–26.Google Scholar
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  10. 17.
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  12. 18.
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  41. 30.
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  47. 31.
    Marx makes this distinction in Capital, Vol. 1 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), pp. 758–9n. I have argued elsewhere that Marx’s concept of human essence is at the heart of his social theory — Lawrence Wilde, The Concept of Contradiction in the Works of Karl Marx (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, 1982), pp. 60–76; Lawrence Wilde, Marx and Contradiction (Aldershot: Avebury, 1989), pp. 20–35.Google Scholar
  48. 33.
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  49. Michel Vadée, Marx: Penseur du Possible (Paris: Meridiens Kilncksieck, 1992), particularly ch. 7Google Scholar
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  51. 34.
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  53. 36.
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  54. see also Agnes Heller, Beyond Justice (New York: Basic Books, 1987).Google Scholar
  55. 37.
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  56. 43.
    Lawrence Wilde, Modern European Socialism (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1994), pp. 117–19; I am in agreement with David Lovell’s conclusion that Marx’s project has no direct and necessary association with Soviet authoritarianism-From Marx to Lenin: An Evaluation of Marx’s Responsibility for Soviet Authoritarianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  57. In The Civil War in France Marx wrote that ‘nothing could be more foreign to the spirit of the Commune than to supersede universal suffrage by hierarchic investiture’. CW 22, p. 333; for a convincing defence of Marx’s democratic credentials, see Daniel Doveton, ‘Marx and Engels on Democracy’ in History of Political Thought XV (4), 1994.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lawrence Wilde 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Wilde
    • 1
  1. 1.The Nottingham Trent UniversityUK

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