Marxian political morality: A critical reconstruction

Ronald Charles Faust, Fordham University


Marx's writings on society, history and politics are reconstructed into a political morality committed to the view that participatory democracy is the only fully legitimate form of polity. The claim is that one can field this political morality--i.e. a set of norms, values and meanings which can serve as regulative and critical ideals, and which are themselves open to criticism and further interpretation--in Marx's writings; that it is there in posse. This claim is supported by a textual analysis of the Marxian corpus that shows the existence of current of thought running throughout Marx's works--from early to late, both published and unpublished--that may be reconstructed into a political morality committed to a form of participatory democracy. Marxian political morality as reconstructed in this dissertation consists of a theory of human nature, a philosophy of history, a theory of justice and a utopian vision of a good and just society. The theory of human nature claims that human beings are essentially capable of self-determination. The philosophy of history claims that realizing the human capacity for self-determination, both individually and collectively, constitutes humankind's (political-moral) summum bonum. The theory of justice claims that a society is just if and only if all its members have access to the resources they need to be active citizens of a participatory democracy. Finally, the utopian vision gives concrete form to the idea of a participatory democracy by stipulating the kinds of political and economic arrangements needed to enable and encourage the active participation of all citizens in the collective governnance of the res publica and collective provisioning of the common-wealth. The reconstruction of Marxian political morality presented in this dissertation is 'critical' in the sense that currents in Marx's thought that run counter to the one reconstructed are criticized. Since the resources for this criticism are provided, for the most part, by Marx himself, this critical reconstruction of Marxian political morality is at the same time an immanent critique of (some of) Marx's views.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Social research

Recommended Citation

Faust, Ronald Charles, "Marxian political morality: A critical reconstruction" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8818459.