Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 15, No 1 (2019)

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On the Two Metamorphoses of Human Activity in Marx

Lachlan Ross

Abstract


Since the 1970s there has been resistance to the ‘reconstruction’ of Marx: putting back together what the fight between the ‘Orthodox/structuralist’ and ‘Western/humanist’ Marxists in the 1950s and 1960s had torn asunder. The main objection is based in the premise that Marx’s core ideas are irreparably flawed, and thus, reconstruction is doomed, in that this work must either ignore or downplay political economy (making the reconstruction irrelevant), or be true to Marx’s contradictory ideas (making the reconstruction a recreation of Marxism-Leninism, and thus, irrelevant). However, this premise is challenged if one takes the position that Marx’s works, though flawed, are not as contradictory as they seem. Marx’s oeuvre is whole, conflicted but not split, communicating something fundamentally simple and coherent: that human beings are free until their own relations become objective and overpower them, i.e., class struggle is driven by material contradictions that are human in origin.

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