Mihailo Marković 1968

Marx and Critical Scientific Thought

Written: 1968;
Source: The Autodidact Project;
First Published: Marx and Contemporary Scientific Thought. Marx et la Pensée Scientifique Contemporaine (The Hague: Mouton, 1970), pp. 155-67. Papers from the Symposium on the Role of Karl Marx in the Development of Contemporary Scientific Thought, 1968, in Paris;
Transcribed: Ralph Dumain.

Marx developed a theory which is both scientific and critical. However, in most interpretations and further developments of his thought either one or the other of these two essential characteristics has invariably been overlooked. Among those who speak in the name of Marx or consider themselves his intellectual followers some accept only his radical criticism of the society of his time, some lay emphasis only on his contribution to positive scientific knowledge about contemporary social structures and processes.

To the former group belong, on the one hand, various apologists of post‑capitalist society who develop Marxism as an ideology, and, on the other hand, those romantic humanists who consider positive knowledge a form of intellectual subordination to the given social framework, and who are ready to accept only the anthropological ideas of the young Marx.

To the latter group belong all those scientists who appreciate Marx’s enormous contribution to modern social science, but who fail to realize that what fundamentally distinguishes Marx’s views from those of Comte, Mill, Ricardo and other classical social scientists, as well as from those of modern positivists, is his constant radical criticism of both existing theory and existing forms of social reality.

The failure of most contemporary interpreters of Marx to grasp one of the basic novelties of his doctrine has very deep roots in the intellectual climate of our time and can be explained only by taking into account some of the fundamental divisions and polarizations in contemporary theoretical thinking.

I. – The development of science and philosophy in the twentieth century has been decisively influenced by the following three factors: (1) the accelerated growth of scientific knowledge, which gave rise to a new technological revolution characterized by automation, use of huge new sources of energy and new exact methods of management; (2) the discovery of the dark irrational side of human nature through psychoanalysis, anthropological investigations of primitive cultures, surrealism and other trends of modern arts, and, above all, through unheard of mass eruptions of brutality from the beginning of World War I up to the present day; (3) the beginning of a process whereby existing forms of class society are destructuralized, and the rapidly increasing role of ideology and politics.

(1) As the result of a rapid technological development and of an increasing division of work in modern industrial society, the rationality of science has gradually been reduced to the narrow technological rationality of experts, interested only in promoting and conveying highly specialized positive knowledge. In an effort to free itself from the domination of theology and mythology, modern science has always tended to dismiss unverifiable theoretical generalizations and value‑judgments. As a consequence, a spiritual vacuum was created, which, under the given historical conditions, could be filled only by faith in power, faith in success of all kinds. This philosophy of success, this obsession with the efficiency of means, followed by an almost total lack of interest in the problem of rationality and humanity of goals, are the essential characteristics of the spiritual climate of contemporary industrial society.

By now it has become quite clear that, while increasing power over nature, material wealth, and control over some blind forces of history, while creating new historical opportunities for human emancipation, the material form of positive science, industry has neglected many essential human needs, and has multiplied the possibilities of human manipulation. The universal penetration of technology into all forms of social life has been followed by the penetration of a routine and uniform life‑style. Growth of material wealth did not make men happier; data on suicide, alcoholism, mental illness, juvenile delinquency, etc., even indicate a positive correlation between the degree of technological development and social pathological phenomena.

Obviously, positive science and technology set off unpredicted and uncontrollable social processes. The scientist who does not care about the broader social context of his inquiry loses all control over the product of his work. The history of the creation and use of nuclear weapons is a drastic example. Another one is the abuse of science for ideological purposes. The most effective and, therefore, most dangerous propaganda is not that which is based on obvious untruths, but that which, in order to rationalize the interests of privileged social groups, uses partial truths established by science.

Science would be helpless against such abuses if it were atomized, unintegrated, uninterested in the problems of wholes, and neutral with regard to such general human values as emancipation, solidarity, development, production according to the “laws of beauty,” disalienation, etc.

However, the most influential philosophy in contemporary science is positivism, according to which the sole function of science is to describe and explain what there is and, if at least some laws are known, to extrapolate what there will probably be. All evaluation in terms of needs, feelings, ideals, in terms of ethical, aesthetic and other standards, are considered basically irrational and, from the scientific point of view, pointless. The only function of science, then, is to investigate the most adequate means for the ends which have been determined by others. In this way, science loses its power to supersede the existing forms of historical reality and to project new, essentially different and more humane historical possibilities. By its indifference towards goals it only leads to an abstract growth of power, and to a better adjustment within a given framework of social life. The framework itself remains unchallenged. Thus, behind this apparent neutrality and absence of any value orientation one discovers an implicit conservative orientation. Even a passive resistance to the reduction of science to a mere servant of ideology and politics is acceptable to the ruling elite, because pure, positive, unintegrated knowledge can always be interpreted and used in some profitable way: ultimately society would become devoid of its critical self‑consciousness.

(2) Nowadays, positivism and other variants of philosophical intellectualism, conformism and utilitarianism are facing strong opposition from all those philosophers, writers and artists who prefer “the logic of heart” to “the logic of reason,” and who rebel against the prospect of an impersonal inauthentic life in an affluent mass society of the future. They see that power and material wealth in themselves do not help man to overcome his anxiety, his loneliness, his perplexity, boredom, uprootedness, his spiritual and emotional poverty. They see that new experiences in political life, modern art, and science are signs of a general lack of order and stability in the world, and of a basic human irrationality. Thus they reinforce the feeling that from all the successes of positive sciences and technology has emerged a fragile, unreasonable and suicidal society.

As a reaction against the spirit of the Enlightenment (which has to some extent survived in the form of positivism), a powerful anti‑Enlightenment attitude is gaining ground among intellectuals. The world does not make sense, there is no rational pattern by which the individual can hope to master it, no causal explanation which would allow him to predict the future. There is no determination and progress in history; the history of civilization is only the history of growing human estrangement and self-deception. Human existence is absurd. Man, who is confronted with a universe in which there is pure contingency, and who lacks any stable internal structure, lives a meaningless life filled with dread, guilt, and despair. There are no reasons to believe that man is basically good; evil is a permanent possibility in his existence.

Such an anti‑positivist and anti‑Enlightenment philosophy (which has been most consistently expressed in Lebensphilosophie and various forms of existentialism) is clearly critical, and concerned with the problems of individual existence. However, this kind of rebellion against “given” and “existing” tends to be as immediate as possible and to avoid any mediation by positive knowledge and logic. The basic idea of this obviously anti-rationalist form of criticism is the following: to rely on empirical science already means to be caught up within the framework of the given present reality. On the other hand, as neither the historical process nor the human being has any definite structure preceding existence, all general knowledge is pointless. Nothing about the present can be inferred from the past, nor can the future be determined on the basis of knowledge of the present. All possibilities are open. Freedom of projection is unlimited.

This kind of romantic rebellious criticism is entirely powerless. Postulated absolute freedom is only freedom of thought; as Hegel already showed in Phenomenologie des Geistes, it is the imagined freedom of a slave. Real criticism must start with the discovery of concrete practical forms of slavery, with the examination of human bonds and real, practical possibilities of liberation. Without such concrete and practical examination (which requires the use of all relevant social knowledge and the application of scientific methods), criticism is only an alienated form of disalienation.

(3) In an historical epoch of fundamental social transformation a theory which expresses the needs and acceptable programs of action of powerful social forces becomes a decisive historical determinant.

The theory of Marx has been playing such a revolutionary role throughout the historical epoch of human emancipation from alienated labor. It has been and still is the theoretical basis for every contemporary form of active and militant humanism.

The critical thought of Marx is the fullest and, historically, the most developed expression of human rationality. It contains, in a dialectically superseded form, the essence of ancient Greek theoria: a rational knowledge of the world’s structure, with which man can change the world and determine his own life. Hegel’s dialectical reasoning is already a creative negation of the Greek notion of ratio and theory, in which the contradictions between static, rational thinking and irrational dynamics, between positive assertion and abstract negation are superseded (aufgehoben). The theory and method of Marx is a decisive step further in the process of totalization and concretization of dialectical reasoning: it embraces not only change in general but also, in particular, the human, historical form of change: praxis. The dialectic of Marx raises the question of rationality, and not only the rationality of the individual, but also that of society as a whole, not only rationality within a given closed system, but also that of the system’s very limits, not only rationality of praxis as thinking but also of praxis as material activity, as a mode of real life, in space and time. There is dialectical reasoning in history only in the extent to which it creates a reasonable reality.

This theoretico‑practical conception of man and human history has not been further developed by Marx’s followers in its totality; rather it has been divided up into its component parts: various branches of social science, philosophical anthropology, dialectics, philosophy of history, conception of proletarian revolution and socialism as a concrete program of practical action, etc.

In socialist society, as in capitalist society, science that had no dialectic and humanist philosophy incorporated in its telos, in all its assumptions, criteria and methods of inquiry, developed as partial, positive, expert knowledge, which informs about the given but does not seek to discover its essential inner limitations and overcome them. The connection with philosophy remained doubly external: first, because this science assimilated the principles of Marxism in a fixed, completed form as something given, obligatory, imposed by authority, abstract, torn out of context, simplified, vulgarized; second, because these principles externally applied do not live the life of science, are not subject to the process of normal critical testing, reexamining, revising, but become dogmas of a fixed doctrine.

That is why Marxist philosophy became increasingly abstract, powerless, conservative. That part of it which pretended to be a Weltanschauung looked more and more like a boring, old‑fashioned, primitive Naturphilosophie, and the other part, which was supposed to state the general principles for interpreting social phenomena and revolutionary action, assumed increasingly the character of pragmatic apologetics, expected to serve as a foundation for ideology, and for the justification of past and present policies.

This temporary degeneration was the consequence of several important circumstances:

– Marxist theory became the official ideological doctrine of victorious labor movements;

– revolutions had unexpected success just in those underdeveloped countries of East Europe and Asia where, in addition to socialist objectives, the tasks of a previous primitive accumulation, industrialization, and urbanization had to be accomplished;

– it was necessary, under such conditions, to give priority to accelerated technological development, to establish a centralized system and to impose an authoritarian structure on all thinking and social behavior.

Thus a return to and reinterpretation of Marx’s thought is needed, in order to restore and to further develop his critical method.

II. – The essential theoretical and methodological novelty of Marx’s conception of science is constituted by the following features:

1) By moving in the research process from unanalyzed concrete phenomena (population, wealth, etc.) to abstract universals (commodity, labor, money, capital, surplus‑value, etc.) and from these back to analyzed empirico-theoretical concrete phenomena, Marx succeeds in overcoming the traditional dualism between the empirical and the rational (speculative) approach. There is no doubt that he tries to support each of his contentions by as ample evidence as possible; all his major works have been preceded by years of studying data and establishing facts. But, in sharp contrast to empiricism, Marx’s science neither begins with brute facts nor remains satisfied with simple inductive generalizations from them. His real starting position is a philosophical vision and a thorough critical study of all preceding relevant knowledge. Initial evidence is only a necessary part of the background against which he builds up a whole network of abstract scientific concepts, endowed with an impressive explanatory power. This elaboration of a new conceptual apparatus (new not so much in the sense of introducing new terminology as in the sense of giving new meanings to already existing terms) is the most important and most creative part of Marx’s scientific work.

(2) According to Marx, science should be primarily concerned not with the description of details and explanation of isolated phenomena, but with the study of whole structures, of social situations taken in their totality. That is why Marx’s new science does not know any sharp division into branches and disciplines. Das Kapital belongs not only to economics but also to sociology, law, political science, history, and philosophy. However, although the notion of totality plays an overwhelming role in the methodology of Marx, his approach is not purely synthetical. Marx knew that any attempt to grasp totalities directly, without analytical mediation, leads to myth and ideology. Therefore, a necessary phase of his method is the analytic breakdown of initial, directly grasped wholes into their components, which in the final stages of inquiry have to be brought back into various relations with other components, and conceived only as moments within a complex structure.

(3) Those variants of contemporary Marxist humanism which are mainly interested in the diachronic aspects of social formations, and structuralism, which pays attention only to their synchronic aspects, are degenerated and one‑sided developments of certain essential moments of Marx’s method. In Marx’s new science these moments are inseparable. A totality cannot be fully understood without taking into account the place it occupies in history. A system is meaningful only as a crystallization of the past forms of human practice and with respect to historically possible futures. On the other hand, what is historically possible cannot be grasped without taking into account determining structural characteristics of the whole given situation. Marx discovered self‑destructive forces within the very structure of the capitalist system; without establishing the law of decreasing average rate of profit and other laws of capitalist economy, he would not have been able to point out the historical possibility that capitalist society will disappear. But on the other hand, had he not had a profound sense of history, had he approached capitalist society in the same ahistorical way as Smith, Ricardo and other bourgeois economists – as the permanent, natural structure of human society, he would hardly have been able to look for and find all those structural features which determine both the relative stability and ultimate transformation of the whole system.

(4) A true sense of history implies a critical attitude, not only towards all rival theories but also towards the examined society. Marx’s dialectics is essentially a method of critique and of revolutionary practice. He himself had expressed this fundamental characteristic of his method by saying that dialectics arouses the anger and horror of the bourgeoisie, because it introduces into a positive understanding of existing states, the understanding of the negation of the bourgeoisie, of its necessary destruction; because it con­ceives every existing form in its change, therefore as something in transition; because it does not let anything be imposed upon it, and because it is fundamentally critical and revolutionary. [1] This thought was expressed much earlier in Theses on Feuerbach: the basic weakness of traditional materialism was to construe reality only as object, not as praxis. This praxis is critical and revolutionary; man is not just the product of social conditions, but the being who can change these conditions. He lives in a world full of contradictions, but he can resolve and practically remove them. The main objective of philosophical criticism should be the “real essence” of man; however, this essence is not something ahistorical and unchangea­ble, but the totality of social relationships. In short, what really matters is not just the explanation of, but also the change of the world.

What must follow from such activistic assumptions is a new conception of the function of science. According to this conception, science does not only provide positive knowledge but also develops critical self‑consciousness. It does not only describe and explain the historical situation but also evaluates it and shows the way out. It does not only discover laws and establish what are the possibilities and probabilities of the future, it also indicates which possibilities best correspond to certain basic human needs. Thus critical scientific thought is not satisfied by showing how man can best adjust to the prevailing trends of a situation and to the whole social framework; it expresses a higher level idea of rationality by showing how man can change the whole framework and adapt it to himself.

Two examples would suffice to illustrate this conception of critical science.

In his economic writings Marx thoroughly examines structural and functional characteristics of capitalistic society. He does that in an objective way, in accordance with all requirements of the scientific method of his time. But a critical anthropological standpoint is always present: man is a “generic being,” a potentially free, creative, rational, social being. In relation to what man could already be, how he could already live in a highly productive and integrated industrialized society, Marx shows how utterly limited and crippled man in fact is in a system in which he is reduced to his working power, in which his working power is being bought as a thing, and regarded not as creative power, but as a mere quantity of energy which can be efficiently objectified and marketed with a good profit. The message of Marx’s theory is not that the worker could better adjust to the situation by demanding a higher price for his labor power – insofar as his labor power is a mere commodity, he already receives the equivalent for it. The implication of Marx’s theory is that the worker should reject the status of a thing, of a commodity, and change the whole social framework in which his labor is so alienated.

Another example. In his criticism of Hegelian philosophy of law, Marx points out that the general interest of a human community could not be constituted by the abstract concept of an ideal, rational state. Insofar as in “civil society” there is bellum omnium contra omnes and each individual and social group pursues only one or another particular interest, the general interest of a truly human community has not yet been awakened. The Hegelian state, construed as a moment of objective spirit, exists only in abstract thought. What exists in reality is alienated political power beside and above all individual and particular interests. The form of this alienated political power, which treats society as the simple object of its activity, is the state and its bureaucracy. Now, Marx’s explanation of the nature of professional politics, the state and bureaucracy does not lead to the conclusion that man could be freer if he would simply make the state more democratic or increase control over bureaucracy. Without disregarding the temporary importance of such modifications, Marx opens up the prospects of a radical human emancipation by altogether abolishing the state and political bureaucracy as forms of social organization. This, according to Marx, is possible if organized labor, the only class whose ultimate interests coincide with those of mankind as a whole, practically removes the economic and political monopoly of any particular social group. The atomized, disintegrated world of the owners of commodities would, in such a way, be superseded by an integrated community of producers. The state would be replaced by organs of self‑management, i.e. by institutions composed of the true representatives of the people, who have been elected by a general free vote, who are immediately responsible to and replaceable by their voters, and who do not enjoy any privileges for the duties they perform.

III. – The nature of the key concepts in Marx’s anthropology and philosophy of history best shows the character of his theoretical thought. These concepts are not only descriptive and explanatory but also value‑laden and critical.

Thus Marx’s criticism of the fetishism of commodities in Capital can be understood only if we bear in mind his assumption of a truly human production, in which man affirms both himself and the other:

1) by objectifying his individuality and by experiencing his personality as an objective, sensate power by an immediate awareness that through his activity and through the use of his product, the needs of all other human being can be satisfied;

2) by mediating between the other and generic human being (his activity become part of the other’s, whom it has enriched and complemented) so as to allow man to immediately affirm and fulfill his own generic being.[2]

Alienated labor is labor which lacks these qualities.

In a similar way the concepts of social man, human needs, history, freedom, the state, capital, communism, etc. always imply a distinction between actual and possible, between factual and ideal.

Social man is not just the individual who lives together with other individuals, or who conforms to the given norms of a society. Such a person can be very far from reaching the level of a social being. On the other hand, a person may be compelled to live in isolation and still profoundly need others, and carry in his language, thinking, and feeling all the essential characteristics of generic human being.

In this sense, Marx distinguishes, for example, between mail who regards woman as “prey and the handmaid of communal lust,” “who is infinitely degraded in such an existence for himself,” and man whose “natural behavior towards woman has become human” and “whose needs have become human needs.” This “most natural, immediate and necessary relationship” shows to what extent man “is, in his individual existence, at the same time a social being."[3]

Furthermore, history is not just a series of events in time – it presupposes supersession of “the realm of necessity” and full emancipation of man. That is why Marx sometimes labelled history of our time as “prehistory."

Freedom never meant for Marx only choice among several possibilities or “the right to do and perform anything that does not harm others.” Freedom in Marx’s sense is the ability to self‑determine and to rationally control the blind forces of nature and history. “All emancipation is restoration of the human world and the relationships among men themselves.” [4]

The state is not just any social organization which directs social processes and takes care of the order and stability of the society. The typical feature of the state, according to Marx, is its coercive character as an instrument of the ruling class. The state is institutionalized alienated power. Thus Marx very definitely maintained that the labor movement must abolish the state very soon after successful revolution, and replace it by the associations of workers.

Capital is not only objectified labor, stored up in the form of money or any particular commodity. It is the objectified labor which at a given level of material production appropriates surplus value. The objective form of capital conceals and mystifies a social relationship beyond it; the object mediates between those who produce and those who rule.

There is no doubt that in both the early and the mature writings the concept of communism does not only express a possible future social state, but also contains an evaluation of that state. In Economic and philosophical manuscripts there are even three different descriptions and evaluations: 1: “crude communism” in which “the domination of material property looms so large that it aims to destroy everything that is incapable of being possessed by everyone as private property"; 2: communism “(a) still political in nature, (b) with the abolition of the state, yet still incomplete and influenced by private property, that is, by the alienation of man"; 3: communism “as the positive abolition of private property, and of human self‑alienation.” [5] But even when, in The German ideology, Marx denies that communism is “an ideal to which reality will have to adjust, he says, we call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of affairs.” [6] Here the adjective “real” clearly is a value term.

Therefore any attempt to determine the nature of Marx’s scientific thought should lead to the conclusion that it is both knowledge and a vision of the future. As knowledge it is vastly different from the idea of knowledge propounded in any variant of empiricist philosophy, because for Marx, our future project determines the sense of everything in the present and the past, and this preliminary vision of the future is more an expression of revolt than it is a simple extrapolation of the present trends determined in an empirical way. And still, no matter how bold and pervaded by passion is this vision of the future, it is not merely an arbitrary dream or a utopian hope. The future is not a logical inference from the present, it is not the result of a prediction made according to the methodological standards of empirical science, nor is it divorced from the present and the past. At the beginning of inquiry, it is a relatively a priori projection (based more on preceding theory than on empirical data). But when, at the end of inquiry, it has been shown that the preliminary vision has been confirmed by all available evidence about actual trends in the present reality, then a posteriori, this vision of the future becomes meaningful knowledge.

This dialectic between the future and the present, the possible and the actual, philosophy and science, value and fact, a priori and a posteriori, criticism and description, is perhaps the essential methodological contribution of Marx to contemporary science – one which so far has not been sufficiently taken into account, even by the followers of Marx themselves.

IV. – In order to clarify and further elaborate our contention about the critical character of Marx’s scientific thought, we should add the following qualifications:

1. Criticism is present in all Marx’s works and at all stages of his intellectual development, To make a sharp distinction between the value‑laden humanist utopia of the young Marx and the value‑free scientific structuralism of the mature Marx would be a grave error, indicating a superficial study of his work. To be sure, there are some important differences in methodology, in richness, and concreteness of the conceptual apparatus used, in the extent to which theory is supported by empirical evidence. However, the fundamental critical position remains the same. There is often only a change of vocabulary, or a substitution of specific terms applicable to capitalistic society for general terms applicable to society in general. For example, what Marx calls “alienated labor” in his early writings (e.g. in Economic and philosophical manuscripts) will, in Capital, be called “the world of commodities.” Or, in his criticism of Hegel’s philosophy of the state Marx says that “the abolition of bureaucracy will be possible when general interest becomes a reality” and “particular interest really becomes general interest"; in Capital and in his analysis of the experience of the Paris Commune, Marx is much more concrete and explicit: associated producers will do away with the state and take the control over exchange with nature into their own hands.

2. Marxist criticism is radical although not destructive in a nihilistic sense. Without understanding the Hegelian concept of aufheben, the nature of this criticism can hardly be grasped.

In spite of the differences between Hegel’s and Marx’s methods, they both maintain that the idea of dialectical negation contains both a moment of discontinuity and a moment of continuity: a moment of discontinuity insofar as the given cannot be accepted as it is (as truth in Hegel’s logic, as satisfactory human reality in Marx’s interpretation of history), a moment of continuity insofar as a component of the given must be conserved as the basis for further development – it is only the inner limitation which must be overcome.

Most Marxists are not quite clear about the nature of Marxist criticism, but this is not surprising, considering how few have tried to interpret him in the context of the whole intellectual tradition to which he belongs. However, a good deal of misunderstanding is of an ideological character. Thus, in order to develop a militant optimism or to express a natural revolt against market economy tendencies in underdeveloped socialist countries, some Marxists tend to underestimate the importance of those forms of civilization, of political democracy, of educational and welfare institutions which have been developed in Western industrial society. Marx took into account the possibility of such a primitive negation of private property and called it “crude” and “unreflective” communism, which “negates the personality of man in every sphere,” “sets up universal envy and levelling down,” “negates in an abstract way the whole world of culture and civilization,” and constitutes a regression to the “unnatural simplicity of the poor wantless individual who has not only not surpassed private property but has not yet even attained it.” [7] Thus, there can hardly be any doubt that, for Marx, a true negation of class society and alienated labor is possible only at a high level of historical development.

Such a negation presupposes an abundance of material goods, various civilized patterns of human behavior (which arise as scarcity is overcome), and, most important of all, an individual who, among other things, has overcome at least the elementary, rudest forms of greed for material objects.

In this respect, some Marxists are overly‑radical critics, who fail to realize that certain features of advanced capitalism are necessary conditions for any higher forms of society. But these same Marxists, in some other essential respects, give the impression of being reformers; they remain quite satisfied with certain initial changes, and all too soon become interested in preserving the status quo, rather than in persisting in their revolutionary role, and striving for further and deeper structural changes.

What present day socialism offers as a practical solution to the fundamental problems of alienated labor and political alienation is far from constituting truly radical criticism, or from really superseding the alienation of capitalist society.

As we have said, the main source of exploitation and of all other aspects of economic alienation lies in the rule of objectified, stored‑up labor over living labor.[8] The social group disposing of stored‑up labor is able to appropriate surplus value. The specific historical form of this structure in Marx’s time was the disposal of capital on the grounds of private ownership of the means of production: however, private property is not the cause but the effect of alienated labor. Abolition of the private ownership of the means of production is only abolition of one possible specific form of the rule of dead labor over living labor. The general structure remains if there is any other social group such as, for example, bureaucracy, which retains monopoly on decision making concerning the disposal of accumulated and objectified labor. Therefore, only such criticism might be considered radical and truly revolutionary which puts a definitive end to exploitation and which aims at creating conditions in which associate producers themselves will dispose of the products of their labor.

Another example. If the state, as such, is historically a form of alienated political power, the abolition of the bourgeois state is only an important step in the process of disalienation of politics. This step, according to Marx, (and Lenin in State and revolution) must be followed by a transition period of gradually withering away of any coercive state apparatus. Unless such an apparatus is replaced by an entirely different social organization, all the symptoms of political alienation, such as apathy, distrust, lust for power, need for charismatic leadership and for ideological rationalization, use of all available techniques for manipulating masses, etc. will be reproduced.

Insofar as in man there is a profound Faustian need to rebel against any permanent, historically‑determined limitations in nature, in society and in himself, he will strive to supersede such limitations, to develop further his human world and his own nature. Such an activistic attitude towards the world will always need a philosophical and scientific thought which would constitute a bold radical criticism of existing reality.


1. K. Marx, Capital, Afterword to the second German edition.

2. K. Marx and F. Engels, Gesamtausgabe, I, vol. 3, Berlin, Marx‑Engels Verlag, 1929‑1932, p. 546.

3. E. Fromm, Marx’s concept of man, with a translation from Marx’s economic and philosophical manuscripts, New York, Ungar, 1961, pp. 126‑127.

4. K. Marx, “On the Jewish question,” in: L. Easton (ed.), Writings of the young Marx on philosophy and society, New York, Doubleday, 1967.

5. Marx, Economic and philosophical manuscripts, op. cit., p. 127.

6. Marx, “German ideology,” in. Easton (ed.), op. cit., p. 426.

7. Marx, Economic and philosophical manuscripts, op. cit., p. 125.

8. K. Marx and F. Engels, Archiv, Moscow, Marx‑Engels Institute, 1933, p. 68.