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MARX TODAY / Vol. 45, No. 4 (Winter 1978)

Andrew Arato, Guest Editor
Arien Mack, Journal Editor

This is the second Marx issue of Social Research. The first (Summer 1976) focused on the current reception of Marx within the different intellectual disciplines. The focus is on the state of Marxian social theory as a whole.

The unity of the human drama centered around the class conflict; the continuity of the historical process; the formation, with the capitalist mode of production, of a society in which the antagonisms are simplified, the activities rigorously interdependent, the evolution free of the weight of tradition, a society which becomes, for the first time, intelligible to itself—there is not a term in this descriptions which is not contradicted by Marx himself. To note this however, is not enough. For the contradiction is not introduced by means of digressions; it does not appear here and there in the margins of what would be considered the main discourse; rather, it is the result of a different way of perceiving history and social life.

The “secret” of the value of expression of value: Marx is certain, we know, of having deciphered its truth. He is certain of having found “that which is equal” at the bases of the quantitative proportions of the exchange of objects, and also of not having been restrained by the historical limitation of society.

This essay is an attempt to outline a reinterpretation of central aspects of Marx’s analysis of the essence of capitalism and its historical development and, therefore, of his notion of socialism. His analysis of social labor and its implications for a consideration of needs and forms of consciousness which point to the possible overcoming of capitalism will be the focus of the paper.

It should be clear to the contemporary reader of Capital that Marx’s critique of political economy analyzes and unfolds economic categories in abstraction from cultural, political, and private determinations. But those who argue that this abstraction is a methodological device to consider the general system logic of capitalist accumulation in its ideological purity avoid the real issue. For behind the far-from-innocent methodology is the presupposition that, unlike past social formations, capitalism systematically incorporates a reproductive logic that could be grasped in terms of an historically new phenomenon: a unified, socialized economy.

The author wishes to discuss the socialist theory of the state. Accordingly, I must emphasize at the start: I am of the opinion that the theory of the state, and of politics in general, was not—or, more accurately, was falsely—solved by Marx. However, the author does not hold Marx or his theory responsible for the fact that socialism stands before us not as a free community but as a totalitarian state.

Democracy is by definition the rule of the people, a type of state in which it is both the right and duty of all citizens to create and enforce laws and to judge. Inseparable from the above is the citizen's’ right and duty to obey the laws they have established. It was on the basis of that concept and also taking into consideration the reality of huge state bodies that Rousseau called in question the raison d’etre of democracies. At that time was also the publication of The Declaration of Independence, the model and fundamental text for all modern democracies—the document of which one of the most eminent revolutionaries of the third world, Ho Chi Minh, stated that it entails all the requirements and fundamental principles of socialism.

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