Marxism between ethics and utopia
Christoph Henning: Karl Marx: Perfectionist? The Ethics of Flourishing in Marxian Theory / Paul Blackledge: Concrete and Abstract Utopias: Marxism’s Ethical Alternative to Capitalism / Mauro Farnesi Camellone: The Science of Hope: Ernst Bloch’s Marxism
Karl Marx: Perfectionist? The Ethics of Flourishing in Marxian Theoryby Christoph Henning
In recent years moral and political theory have seen a "new" approach: perfectionism. It assumes that the moral good is the development of human abilities. Whereas most authors draw rather non- or even anti-egalitarian consequences, I will argue that perfectionism, properly understood, is egalitarian. Karl Marx himself was a "perfectionist". I want to show in which way he was, from where he took this ideas (e.g. from William Thompson), and what this means for contemporary political philosophy.
Concrete and Abstract Utopias: Marxism’s Ethical Alternative to Capitalismby Paul Blackledge
Utopianism is a characteristic both of the dominant tendencies within academic Marxism and of modern leftist anti-capitalism. This paper argues that in this context the distinction most powerfully articulated by Ernst Bloch between concrete and abstract utopias is more pertinent than ever. For concrete utopianism is not only a distinguishing characteristic of Marxist politics but also can potentially be deployed as a critical resource to refocus theory to the problems of practice. In this paper I argue that this concept shares an affinity with Gramsci’s conception of revolutionary political practice and suggest that when taken together insights from these two thinkers point to a powerful and compelling ethical Marxism that escapes the label of ethical emotivism.
The Science of Hope: Ernst Bloch’s Marxismby Mauro Farnesi Camellone
At first sight, it seems strange a thinker like Ernst Bloch, calling himself a Marxist, goes back from scientific socialism to utopian one, giving a positive judgement to the notion of utopia. But looking carefully at this apparent regression, one can find some totally new aspects. Originally, the Blochian notion of utopia, with deep Chialistic roots, is connected with the expectations caused by the October Revolution, with the theory and praxis of Leninism, with the Lenin’s capability in developing latent not yet explicit possibilities: the instauration of Socialism in a country traditionally judged not fit for it. The birth of Blochian ‘utopian Marxism’ clashes with the realisation of the first Socialist State. In analogy with Engels’ consideration of utopian Socialists in front of bourgeois society, one can say Bloch discovers the unripe contradictions of the Twenty Century Socialism, not sensing immediate solutions, but looking at a future to come, at the hope in a Socialismus absconditus that has not yet shown his true face.
For Bloch, utopia has not an independent absolute value; rather, it’s an essential element of Marxism, to underline proportionally to its lack. Bloch thinks the necessity of utopia looking at the lowering of the Socialism’s horizon to its immediate targets. Actually, he complains about the too big distance between utopia and science, that the ‘hot stream’ of Marxism is silenced by the ‘cold’ one, i.e. by the Stalin’s ''Realpolitik'' and by the economicism. Bloch looks for the reconciling of the two streams to avoid the exaltation of abstract Jacobinism and to not forget the sense of direction and sacrifice the destination, at the same time. So, by Bloch, Marxism is first of all ‘science of hope’, utopia that becomes concrete and tends to redeem what in man has been humiliated, mutilated and repressed. Marxism has to reactivate and recover fragments not absorbed and functionalized for a particular class or epoch, the wide underground world of desires, of ‘daily dreams’, of hopes about a better life that have not found adequate recognition: all the past that, not being satisfied in its present, urges in our time showing a future chance.