Does Marx Hold that Capitalism is Unjust? Reply to Duan Zhonqiao

I’ve just been sent a paper by Professor Duan Zhongqiao from the School of Philosophy at Renmin University in Beijing. Its title asks whether Marx considers capitalism just, and argues against the thesis, which I have defended a number of times since my first article on it over forty-five years ago, that Marx does not criticize capitalism for injustice. From my point of view, this is a very old dispute. In more recent writings I have moved on from it. I think the Marxian texts make it absolutely clear that Marx does not criticize capitalism on grounds of injustice. Marx holds a view about the nature of justice, and the way concepts of justice and right fit into social life, according to which it is necessarily ideological nonsense to criticize any mode of production on grounds of justice. For Marx, justice is not the right standard to use in social criticism. To think it is, you must have succumbed to ideological confusions and not recognize the real basis of all social life in the material mode of production. In challenging my claims on this topic, Duan’s paper takes me back to the original issue of what Marx thought and wrote on the topic of justice and the justice or injustice of capitalism.

Publication Date:
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Jul 10 2019
Social Science in China

Note: The file is under embargo until: 2020-12-31

 Record created 2019-07-10, last modified 2019-07-12

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