Marxism & Scientific Socialism: From Engels to Althusser (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought)

By Paul Thomas

Engels declared at Marx’s funeral in Highgate Cemetery that "just as Darwin came upon the legislation of improvement of natural nature, so Marx came upon the legislation of improvement of human history". medical socialism was once the time period Engels used to explain Marx's socio-economic philosophy and lots of later theorists sought to augment Marxist concept with a supposedly clinical foundation.

This ebook explains the advance of the belief of clinical socialism during the nineteenth and twentieth century from its origins in Engels to its final manifestation within the paintings of Althusser. It offers a close research of Engel's personal conceptualisation, the influence of Darwin, the connection to the 'official' old materialism of the Soviet states and later reformulations via Althusser and others. In so doing it offers a brilliant highbrow background of Marxist and socialist notion, exploring its major insights in addition its appear disasters.

Marxism and clinical Socialism may be of specific curiosity to these with an curiosity within the improvement of Marxism and socialism, political ideologies and the historical past of Western political thought.

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It stayed the place Engels positioned it – ready of prominence – from the period of evolutionary socialism within the overdue 19th century correct up in the course of the interval of the chilly warfare. Engels’s realizing of clinical socialism, and with it Engels’s realizing of Marxism itself, was once seized upon with a few alacrity by way of each side in the course of the chilly struggle. during this means, the idea that of medical socialism, which had by no means made a lot experience in Engels’s formula of it, and which, if judged through its highbrow advantages, must have died a common dying lengthy ahead of the irruption of the chilly conflict, was once as a substitute given a man-made rent of existence through the chilly conflict, by means of either side, albeit for various purposes. In Terrell Carver’s welljudged phrases, “commentators, adherents and critics weren't sluggish to grab the big merits provided by means of this view . . . the fashion and content material of Marx’s works have been more challenging, relatively within the severe works on political economic system, than Engels’s extra readable efforts; certainly Engels’s topics – philosophy and historical past – have been much less distant than political financial system. there have been a few features of Engels’s paintings that have been more uncomplicated to demolish than Marx’s extra complex arguments, so adversarial critics have clung to the view that Marx and Engels could be learn interchangeably. Political and educational existence within the reliable associations of the Soviet Union, in contrast, involve(d) a good dedication to dialectical and historic materialism that derives from Engels’s paintings yet require(d) the posthumous imprimatur of Marx, the senior associate. The Marx-Engels dating is as a result sacrosanct5 – five Terrell Carver, Engels, Oxford, Oxford collage Press, 1981, p. seventy four. advent five as sacrosanct, we'd upload, as a view of Marxism as clinical socialism that used to be (at first) Engels’s and Engels’s on my own. it isn't adequate right here basically to point that neither facet within the chilly battle monopolized the identify of precise believer. My erstwhile colleague, the past due Michael Rogin, gave memorable expression to a extra substantial paradox: that the chilly struggle used to be the type of clash within which both sides, because it combats its (often demonized) antagonist, mirrors that antagonist’s worst positive factors. I freely admit, certainly have a good time, the effect of Michael Rogin’s insights in and on what follows. This point of my argument is taken up and built in bankruptcy five. yet what's at stake in advancing it may be illustrated extra instantly. a few years in the past, in dialog, Sir Isaiah Berlin acknowledged to me: “This distinction” – if reminiscence serves, “this trendy distinction” – “between Marx, the nice and cozy humanist, and Engels, the dreary positivist, won’t paintings in any respect. ” He used to be in a feeling really correct. Engels was once the least dreary of writers – until, that's, he grew to become his cognizance to technology. neither is there whatever unavoidably “dreary” approximately positivism as such. Maurice Mandelbaum convincingly amended Lezsek Kolakowski’s characterization of positivism due to the fact, although the latter looks capacious adequate – no actual positivist, now not even Auguste Comte himself, might meet all Kolakowski’s standards – it makes no allowance for the opportunity of a serious positivism.

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