ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Marx’s Concept of Socialism

Although the work of Karl Marx continues to cast an enormous influence on debates concerning the nature of capitalism, one of the least theorised dimensions of his body of thought is his conception of the society that must supplant capitalism. While Marx never devoted a specific work to a discussion of life after capitalism, in large part due to his aversion to indulging in utopian and speculative reflections about the future, his distinctive critique of the central realities of capitalism—such as the dual character of labour, socially necessary labour time, and the law of value and surplus value—intimates a form of future social relations that is far more liberatory than has generally been appreciated.

The discussions and debates that have accompanied the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth since 2018 have provided an important opportunity to re-examine heretofore neglected aspects of his political and philosophical legacy. Foremost among them is the extent to which his body of work provides conceptual resources for developing a viable emancipatory to capitalism in the 21st century.

The need for such an alternative has become all too clear. Capitalism’s commodification of human relations is producing unprecedented levels of social anxiety and distress, at the same time as its destruction of the natural environment raises serious questions about the sustainability of life on this planet. Nevertheless, a viable alternative remains largely out of sight. One reason is the nature of capitalism itself, which centres on augmenting economic value and profit by commodifying ever-more areas of the life-world. As human relations increasingly take on the form of relations between things, this inversion appears normal and even natural. Capital does not only colonise nations, economic resources, and social spaces, but also the human imagination insofar as it presents itself as the ne plus ultra of human existence. At the same time, there is another (and no less important) reason it is proving difficult to develop a viable alternative—the failures of the so-called “socialist” or “communist” regimes.

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Updated On : 30th Dec, 2019

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