Lamentation in the Face of Historical Necessity
ARGUING ABOUT JUSTICE: ESSAYS FOR PHILIPPE VAN PARIJS, A. Gosseries, Yannick Vanderborght, eds., Presses Universitaires de Louvain, 2011
9 Pages Posted: 13 May 2011 Last revised: 14 Feb 2013
Date Written: May 13, 2011
Marxists are committed to the elimination of exploitation of man by man. But they also believe that, for long stretches of history, exploitation is historically necessary. These two claims are in practical tension. As Engels would have it, this tension causes 'the leader of an extreme party' attempting premature revolution to be 'irrevocably lost'. This brief note argues against a Marxist attempt to alleviate this tension and sketches the moral predicament of revolutionists faced with it. Historical materialism entails a pantragic view of history.
Keywords: exploitation, injustice, Marxism, equality, historical materialism, historical inevitability
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