Marx, Science, and Values

Photo source Royal Opera House Covent Garden | CC BY 2.0

That Marx was a great, ground breaking revolutionary thinker is no longer at issue. The more interesting question is why some of his predictions did not come to pass. Many have tried to answer that question from Gramsci to Adorno to Habermas to Wallerstein. The questions are almost always the same: Why hasn’t capitalism collapsed? Why did the Western proletariat attain high levels of affluence rather than fall into an historically explosive pit of immiseration? And finally why didn’t capitalism transform itself into some form of humanly satisfactory communism?

Marx famously stated that “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.” It is my contention that in this crucial sentence Marx basically answered the questions that future thinkers would throw at him and at the totality of his greater theory. Yes; quite simply, the bourgeoisie (or whom we might today call the global elites) cannot survive without revolutionizing social and political relations as well as cultural and philosophical values. This last part is the missing key to Marx today, tentatively provided by Marx himself and later elaborated by sociologists such as Max Weber and others.

Thus, we must try to explain why, while never loosing sight of Marx, after two hundred years modern capitalism has not…

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