[i] The title and individual section headings follow the Introduction to the Critique of Hegels’ Philosophy of Right by Marx. The subtitle shares the need identified by George Maniates (“Marx and morality-a reappraisal” in Marxism-A reappraisal, a Scientific Symposium organized by the Society for Studies in Modern Greek Civilization and General Education 1997, p. 131) albeit in a different direction. The article discusses the concept of justice not from the viewpoint of positive law, of legal rules, but in the broader context of morality. That is, we discuss the possibility of formulating judgments to question the justice of any law (and, by extension, to raise issues of redefinition of legal interpretation and implementation). The construction of a moral theory can proceed either from a number of general rules which are binding for all (imperatives emanating from religion or reason) or from commonly accepted perceptions about the good/s whose pursuit is seen as binding by the members of a given community – see, on this point, G. Maniates, “Issues of Marxist personal ethics”, Utopia, vol. 32, 1998, pp. 39 sqq.
[ii] Although, typically, the two major contributions in the relevant contemporary debate – neo-Aristotelianism and the neo-Kantian-derived discourse ethics – were developed by left-wing theorists (Alasdair MacIntyre and Jürgen Habermas).
[iii] Critique of the Gotha Programme, Syghroni Epochi eds., 1983, p. 11, adding that “Are economic relations regulated by legal concepts or the other way round, is it legal concepts that emanate from economic ones?”
[iv] Eugene Kamenka, Τhe ethical foundations of Marxism, Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972, pp. 1-2, Allen W. Wood, «The Marxian Critique of Justice», A Philosophy & Public Affairs Reader 1972 p. 3, Ζiyad I. Husami, «Marx on Distributive Justice», A Philosophy & Public Affairs Reader 1978, pp. 43-4, Richard W. Miller, Analyzing Marx: Morality, Power and History, Princeton University Press 1987, p. 12. According to Kostas Douzinas and Ronnie Warrington, The Word of Law (interpretation, aesthetics and ethics in law), Alexandria, 1996, pp. 270 sqq., it is the open-critical concept of justice which is missing and at the same time emerging from the Marxian system that actually deconstructs its alleged cohesion as a scientific theory.
[v] From the neo-Kantians of the School of Marburg (Κarl Vorländer, Karl und Marx. Εin Beitrag zur Philosophie des Sozialismus, J.C.B. Mohr 1911) and Edward Bernstein (Τhe preconditions of socialism (1899), Cambrigde University Press 1993, p. 209; by the same author, “How is Scientific Socialism possible?” in Μ. Steger (ed.) Selected Writings of E. Bernstein 1901-1921, Humanities Press 1996 p. 95) to the Austro-Marxists (see Max Adler, “The relation of Marxism to classical German Philosophy” in Tom Bottomore-Patrick Goode (eds), Austro-Marxism, Oxford University Press 1978, p. 63) and Struve, Bulgakov, Berdyayev in Russia (see Trotsky, «Their Morals and Ours», The New International vol IV no 6 1938; Κamenka, op. cit. pp. 168 sqq.). Similar contemporary attempts include, among many others, Husami, op. cit. p. 46, especially 56 sqq., Υvon Quiniou, «The dialectics between necessity, the feasible and value in the idea of revolution”, Utopia vol. 71, pp. 129 sqq., and Norman Geras, «The Controversy about Marx and Justice», New Left Review March/April 1985, pp. 58 sqq. (republished in A. Callinicos (ed), Marxian Theory, OUP 1989) according to whom Marx’s ethics is based on a natural right of social control over the means of production; therefore, Marx does assume a concept of justice against his contentions to the contrary (for a critique to this argument, see Daniel Bensaid, «Class struggle is not a game» in Marx for our times: adventures and misadventures of a critique, Verso 2002, pp.124 sqq.). In Greece, Philippos Vassiloiannis in his article “Justice in Marx” (a historical-material, antiskeptical and anti-relativist argument)”, Theseis, vol. 56 (1996) pp. 103 sqq., attempted to argue that Marx adopts as a premised value the distribution principle “from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs” (for a criticism of this attempt, see George Stamates, “On a pseudo-Kantian scrutiny of Marx. A note”, Theseis vol. 58 (1997), pp. 59 sqq.).
[vi] Typically, according to Lawrence Wilde, Ethical Marxism and its Radical Critics, MacMillan Press 1998, Marx starts from a conception of human nature as creative social activity, goes on to discuss how it is alienated in the CMP, and strives for the realisation of this potential in the communist society. He points out that Marx does not perceive human nature as historically changing but his work contains a theory about human essence in general, about the essence of the human species (which he assimilates with social creativity). Naturally, every moral philosopher holds a different view about the notion of good which Marx’s moral theory hinges on (just as every philosopher holds a different view about the content of justice and morality). For Michael DeGolyer, «The Greek Accent of the Marxian Matrix» in Georg E. McCarthy (ed), Marx and Aristotle, Rowman and Littlefield 1992, p. 140, the notion of good permeating Marxian work which Marxian moral theory tends to is the fulfilled human community (the “just” community). For Steven Lukes, Μarxism and Morality, Oxford Clarendon Press 1985, the work of Marx constructs a morality of emancipation which subordinates the individual to the pursuit of the common goal (p. 164). This concept, however, reflects the ideas of Georg Lukazs in History and Class Conscience, Odysseus 2001, pp. 95, 118, and not the ideas of Marx. For Β. Ricardo Brown, “Marx and the Foundations of the Critical Theory of Morality and Ethics”, Cultural Logic Spring 1999, clogic.eserver.org/2-2/brown.html, the grounds for Marx’s theory of emancipation are to be found in pleasure and the lived experiences of everyday life: in love and work. For George G. Brenkert, Μarx’s ethics of freedom, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983, pp. 85 sqq. (see also, by the same author, “Freedom and private property in Marx”, A Philosophy & Public Affairs Reader, 1979, pp. 82-84) Marx’s work develops a theory of freedom. See, in part, also Allen W. Wood, “Μarx on right and justice. A reply to Husami”, A Philosophy & Public Affairs Reader 1979 p. 122; also by the same author, Karl Marx, Routledge 2004 pp. 127 sqq.; despite his criticism against attempts for a neo-Aristotelian reading of Marx the author believes that according to Marx, freedom, community and self-fulfilment are innate in human nature and constitute goods, though not moral goods! To give credibility to this distinction, Wood restricts morality to the rules of overriding moral law and not our own perceptions of what is good for us. The problem, of course, is that if we consider these perceptions as binding for us (since they are innate in our nature) we are obviously adopting a moral theory about good/s (singular or plural, it does not matter here). And the big problem with that is, of course, that in contemporary capitalism common ideas about good can arise only within communities with common characteristics (especially intellectual). Even within the working class which is primarily held together by common ideological practices like the class instinct of exploitation, common perceptions about good develop only through the mediation of mechanisms (parties, trade-unions) and constitute aspects of proletarian moral ideology in constant confrontation and interaction with the dominant moral ideology. The field of morality is inherently conflictual, as will be argued below.
[vii] “The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that man is the highest being for man – hence, with the categoric imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved, abandoned, despicable being” (Introduction to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of State and Right – written in 1843 and published in the German-French annals in 1844, Papazisi 1978, p.25). The influence of Feuerbach’s critique of religion is obvious (the non-emancipated individual is not a real human being, does not belong to the human species) although, of course, the division of people in classes already illustrates the Marxian breakthrough. Anyway, for young Marx, political emancipation means nothing else than making people members of the community of private individuals, selfish independent persons, on the one hand, and citizens, moral persons, on the other hand. Only when real individual persons re-integrate the abstract citizen into their individual existence, their everyday empirical life, work, and relationships, do human beings become species-beings (again a loan from Feuerbach); only then is human emancipation accomplished (The Jewish question – written in 1843 and published in the German-French annals in 1844, Odysseus 1978, p. 101). Engels, respectively, in a juvenile work (Outlines of a Critique of political economy, also published in the same issue of the German-French annals) unremittingly condemns capitalism and Malthus’ theory of overpopulation as immoral www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/df-jahrbucher/outlines.htm.
[viii] Where communism is understood in Feuerbachian terms as the real reappropriation of human essence and a complete return of man to himself as a social being (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts – Private Property and Communism www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm).
[ix] Already from the times of Bernstein (“Τhe core issue of the dispute: A final reply to the question How is Scientific Socialism possible?” in Μ.Steger (ed.) op. cit. p. 117) and the Austro-Marxists: Οtto Bauer, “Marxism and Ethics” in Tom Bottomore-Patrick Goode (eds.), op. cit. p. 81. See also Alasdair MacIntyre, A short history of ethics, Routledge&Kegan Paul 1967 (2nd ed. Routledge 1998 p. 206); by the same author, «The theses on Feuerbach: A road not taken» in Κ.Knight (ed), The MacIntyre Reader, Cambridge University Press 1998 p. 232; Allen E. Buchanan, Marx and Justice: The radical critique of liberalism, Rowman and Littlefield 1982. pp. 87 sqq.
[x] See Hugh Collins, Marxism and law, Paratiritis 1991, pp. 224 sqq., especially p. 229.
[xi] For a critique of Proundon and the ideal of eternal justice which draws from the legal relations corresponding to commodity production see, Capital vol.I, Syghroni Epochi 1978, p. 98, fn. 38. On Lassallists and the concept of fair distribution (incorporated in the Gotha Programme), see Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 10 sqq. (vulgar, petty bourgeois and Philistines are the terms usually reserved by Marx to “moralists”). In a letter to Sorge dated 19/10/1877, Marx mentions the rotten atmosphere imbuing the party after the compromises with Lassalle, Dühring and the handful of half-ignorant students and super-wise professors wishing to give socialism a “higher, idealistic” orientation, that is, to replace its materialist basis (calling for serious impartial study) by modern mythology and its goddesses of Justice, Freedom, Equality and Fraternity (www2.cddc.vt.edu/marxists/archive/marx/works/1877/letters/77_10_19.htm).
[xii] It is not the consciousness of individuals that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness (“Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence (…) men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life”,German Ideology vol. Ι, Gutenberg p.68). Marx himself characterizes this conclusion of his as the leading thread of his work (Preface to the Critique of Political Economy 1859/www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/preface.htm) and goes on to say: “The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness”.
[xiii] See also Wood, “The Marxian Critique of Justice”, op. cit. pp. 19-20.
[xiv] “The owner of the money has paid the value of a day’s labour-power; his, therefore, is the use of it for a day; a day’s labour belongs to him. The circumstance, that on the one hand the daily sustenance of labour-power costs only half a day’s labour, while on the other hand the very same labour-power can work during a whole day, that consequently the value which its use during one day creates, is double what he pays for that use, this circumstance is, without doubt, a piece of good luck for the buyer, but by no means an injury to the seller. (…) Every condition of the problem is satisfied, while the laws that regulate the exchange of commodities, have been in no way violated. Equivalent has been exchanged for equivalent. For the capitalist as buyer paid for each commodity, for the cotton, the spindle and the labour-power, its full value. He then did what is done by every purchaser of commodities; he consumed their use-value. The consumption of the labour-power, which was also the process of producing commodities, resulted in 20 lbs. of yarn, having a value of 30 shillings. The capitalist, formerly a buyer, now returns to market as a seller, of commodities. He sells his yarn at eighteenpence a pound, which is its exact value. Yet for all that he withdraws 3 shillings more from circulation than he originally threw into it.” Marx, Capital vol.Ι, op. cit. pp. 206-7. See also G. Stamates, op. cit. pp. 76, 84: All commodities, hence also the commodity “use of labour-power”, are exchanged not at the value they generate but at the value they have. The latter does not always equal the value generated by the commodity itself but the total sum of the values of the commodities that were consumed plus the value of the live labour used in its production.
[xv] Examples abound: “To speak here of natural justice, as Gilbart does (on loan interest), is nonsense. The justice of the transactions between agents of production rests on the fact that these arise as natural consequences out of the production relationships. The juristic forms in which these economic transactions appear as wilful acts of the parties concerned, as expressions of their common will and as contracts that may be enforced by law against some individual party, cannot, being mere forms, determine this content. They merely express it. This content is just whenever it corresponds, is appropriate, to the mode of production. It is unjust whenever it contradicts that mode. Slavery on the basis of capitalist production is unjust; likewise fraud in the quality of commodities”, Marx, Capital vol.ΙΙΙ, Syghroni Epochi, 1978 p. 429 (on the argument that contemporary civilization would not have existed without slavery in Antiquity – which alllowed the development of the then production forces, see also F. Engels, Anti-Düring, Anagnostides, 1963, p. 267; Wood, «A reply to Husami» op. cit. pp. 109-110). “I depict the capitalist as the necessary functionary of capitalist production and demonstrate at great length that he not only “subtracts” or “robs” but enforces the production of surplus value, thus first helping to create what is to be subtracted; what is more, I demonstrate in detail that even if only equivalents were exchanged in the exchange of commodities, the capitalist—as soon as he pays the worker the real value of his labour-power—would have every right, i.e. such right as corresponds to this mode of production, to surplus-value”, Marx, Marginal notes on Αdolph Wagner’s Lehrbuch der Politischer Oekonomie, Critique, 1993, pp. 52 sqq. (see also Wood, “A reply to Husami” op. cit. pp. 115,117). According to G. Stamates, op. cit. pp. 69, 94, the term gerecht has a dual meaning in Marx: just and corresponding, corresponding well. On this basis he points out that an equivalent exchange of commodities is neither just nor unjust.
[xvi] See also Wood, “The Marxian Critique of Justice”, op. cit. pp. 15-16.
[xvii] Hence it would revert to a juridico-political reading of society Marx was fighting against already from the time of the Preface to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of the State and Right (op. cit. p. 27), the Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of State and Right (Papazisi 1978 pp.36, 64-65,142) and the Jewish question (op. cit., especially pp. 74 sqq.). See also Wood, “The Marxian Critique of Justice”, op. cit. p. 5.
[xviii] On the historical relativism of Marx see, among others, Karl Popper, The poverty of historicism, Routledge and Kegan Paul 1974, pp. 50 sqq.; Francis Fukuyama, “The end of history?”, Νational Interest, Summer 1989; J.W.Harris, Legal Philosophies, Butterworths 1980 pp. 254-5. For Wilde, op. cit., according to Marx (and Hegel) morality is relativist insofar as essence evolves by (historical) stages; and it is absolute insofar as each stage realizes human essence (even if imperfectly).
[xix] In this sense, Marx’s anti-relativism does not consist in that, thanks to the science of materialism, we are able to make judgments about the justice or injustice of social institutions in a given mode of production, as Wood seems to suggest, “The Marxian Critique of Justice”, op. cit. p. 18. Such a view would presume that each mode of production creates its own valid criterion of justice and, in this sense, would clearly lead to historical relativism. As we argue, the transformation brought by historical materialism runs much deeper than what is accepted by Wood and extends not only to the notion of justice and equality but to the conceptions of autonomy and freedom as well.
[xx] As Husami believes, op. cit. pp. 48 sqq. For the opposite, see G. Stamates, op. cit. pp. 60-1.
[xxi] As early as in 1843 (Letter to Ruge www.Marxians.org/archive/marx/works/1843/letters/ 43_09.htm), Marx points out that we have no business constructing the future and settling everything once and for all. He will remain faithful to this position to the end. Respectively, Engels in Anti-Düring, op. cit. pp. 143-5, expressly denies that proletarian morality is truer as compared to its predecessors: “Morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed (…) A really human morality which stands above class antagonisms and above any recollection of them becomes possible only at a stage of society which has not only overcome class antagonisms but has even forgotten them in practical life”. Engels held a similar view on family and sexual relationships (The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Syghroni Epochi 1984 p.84): “What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear. But what will there be new? That will be answered when a new generation has grown up (…).When these people are in the world, they will care precious little what anybody today thinks they ought to do; they will make their own practice and their corresponding public opinion about the practice of each individual – and that will be the end of it”. Let us note also that according to a stricken passage from the manuscript of German Ideology the issue of which “wishes” will simply change and which will disappear in a communist society can only be settled by practical means through a modification of real actual “wishes” (German Ideology, vol. I., p. 356, footnote – the term wish is used as a criticism to Stirner instead of “need”, for example, and is surely very unsuitable, as the above passage proclaims). See also Wood, “The Marxian Critique of Justice”, op. cit. p. 29.
[xxii] See, by way of indication, Grundrisse (Outline of the critique of political economy) vol. B, Stochastis 1990, pp. 176 sqq, where it is pointed out that equality and freedom to this extent are the exact opposite of equality and freedom in Antiquity where they were not based on a developed exchange value but were destroyed with its development. As typically mentioned in Capital vol. I., op. cit. pp. 188-9, “the sphere of circulation, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham”. For the historical evolution of the concept of equality, see also Anti-Düring, op. cit. pp. 156 sqq.
[xxiii] Needles to say, these attempts are not politically neutral: they mystify production relations and subjugate the labour movement to reformist strategies – see also Wood, “The Marxian Critique of Justice”, op. cit. pp. 27, 30. As Wood correctly points out, op. cit. p. 32, in a criticism against Robert C. Tucker, Marx does not adopt a materialist theory of justice for reasons of political tactics (in order not to downplay the importance of revolutionary action) – on Tucker’s views see Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx 1st ed. Cambridge University Press 1961, 2nd ed. Transaction Publishers 2001 pp. 230 sqq.
[xxiv] Letter to Ruge (1843). op. cit.
[xxv] Typically, despite the intensity and extent of the relevant contemporary debate (which also reflects a remission of class struggle in the realm of moral philosophy) these questions remain without answers. On the questions arisen in the contemporary debate between neo-Artistotelians and Habermasseans, see, among others, Golpho Maggines, Habermans and the neo-Artistotelians, Patakis eds. 2006, pp. 133-148, 271-329, and the Postscript by Stelios Virvidakes in the same, pp. 343 sqq.
[xxvi] Brilliantly illustrating that the world must be changed – not explained (XI Thesis on Feuerbach).
[xxvii] Introduction to the critique of political economy 1859, op. cit. For Wilde, op. cit., human history begins at the moment when what characterizes us as humans (our social creativity) is placed under voluntary cooperative control. In actual fact, however, only then (when all the social barriers placed by class society have been lifted) will a rational discussion on human essence become possible.
[xxviii] On the fact that material scarcity is one of the pillars of modern moral philosophy see MacIntyre, A short history of ethics op. cit. p.74. Marx Horkheimer in his highly significant article “Materialismus und Moral”, Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung 1933, pp. 161 sqq., as reproduced and translated in English with the title “Materialism and Morality” in M.Horkheimer, Between Philosophy and Social Science (Selected Early Writings), MIT Press 1995, pp. 15 sqq., especially pp. 25 sqq., 36 sqq., precisely makes the point that this is how Marx transcends and answers the Enlightenment imperatives. Only for Horkheimer, the proletariat is the heir of Enlightenment values. Consequently, he sees the criticism of morality as morally binding (see op. cit. pp. 43-44 even if he finds that the communist society heralds the death of morality). But such moral commitment cannot be based on a mere critique of moral theories. It presumes the acceptance of the moral imperatives of Enlightenment based on some pre-existent moral theory (if not transcendental, at least communitarianist or relativistic). Horkheimer is perhaps the most intriguing, and at the same time edifying example, of the effects of taking a moral stance: he is forced to move the subject from the working class and class struggle to all “thinking men” (already in 1937 in Traditional and Critical Theory, Ypsilon, 1984, p. 61, he points out that critical theory has no other particular foundations than its own interest in eliminating social injustice; see also Seyla Benhabib, Critique, Norm and Utopia, Columbia University Press 1986, p.156). Thus, the intelligentsia is self-proclaimed as subject and, in this sense, confirms the criticism of Marx on the petty bourgeois nature of moralism.
[xxix] Natural wants, such as food, clothing, heating, housing, etc. vary according to the climatic and other material conditions of every country. On the other hand, the scope of the so-called necessary wants and of the modalities of their satisfaction, are themselves a product of historical development – Capital vol.I, op. cit. 184, pp. 528 sqq. The value of labour force can be a bowl of rice in China, a car or a set of colour TV in the US, etc. Wood, “The Marxian Critique”, op. cit. p.21. See extensively, Marx, The misery of philosophy www.Marxians.org/archive/marx/works/1847/poverty-philosophy/ch01.htm. In this sense, Marxian work transcends the division between distributive and retributive justice.
[xxx] Grundrisse vol. Β’, op. cit. pp. 226 sqq., 342 sqq. Wood, «The Marxian Critique of Justice», op. cit. pp. 36-37. This, of course, undermines all retributive theories of punishment (punishment as the right of the offender – acting in free will) – on this, see Marx, “Capital punishment”, New-York Daily Tribune, February 17-18 1853 www.Marxians.org/archive/marx/works/1853/02/18.htm.
[xxxi] On this point, see Capital vol. Ι op. cit. pp.120, 283 «Free competition brings out the inherent laws of capitalist production, in the shape of external coercive laws having power over every individual capitalist». Respectively, Anti-Düring, op. cit. p.435, Grundrisse vol. B op. cit. p. 499.
[xxxii] Besides, any system of social production – by requiring a degree of social cooperation – presupposes the Other as element of construction of the identity of the Subject (see also Capital vol. I, op. cit. p.66 fn. 18). The identity thus constructed (members of a community, a guild, a class, etc., even the allegedly free individual) and the degree of self-consciousness vary depending on the conditions created by the mode of production and the social division of labour.
[xxxiii] The free development of every individual becomes the precondition for the free development of all (Marx-Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Themelio p. 73).
[xxxiv] Capital vol. III op. cit. p.1007. In fact, given that the development of production multiplies the needs, the realm of freedom is also a rational confrontation of cooperating producers against their needs.
[xxxv] Critique of the Gotha Programme, op. cit. p. 14.
[xxxvi] There is, perhaps, no other demand that realistically universalizes the particular Other – see also Wood, “A reply to Husami”, op. cit. p. 131.
[xxxvii] In Anti-Düring, op. cit. p. 161.
[xxxviii] Insofar as social content is materialized (that is, in the communist mode of production), it eliminates not only the formal content of legal-political equality and freedom but their very technical form as political rights. Thus, for Marxism, moral commitments cannot be inferred from proposals which maintain their technical formality (and require corresponding state regulation) even if they correctly stress that there is greater internal cohesion between equality and freedom despite the usual inclination to confront them: “…there is not a single example of restriction or abolition of freedoms that is not accompanied by social inequalities nor of inequalities without restriction or abolition of freedoms – something done, if for no other purpose, to curb resistance”, Etienne Balibar, “The proposal of equaliberty”, Theseis, vol. 42, pp. 92 sqq., Dimitris Demoules “Citizenship and political rights. Function and transcending of a differentiating construct”, Theseis, vol. 56, pp. 45 sqq.
[xxxix] This practice, however, provides no solid grounds for a theory of justice. Besides, let us recall what Engels said on this question in Anti-Düring, op. cit. p.223 (admittedly, with a fair dose of deterministic terminology): “Only when the mode of production in question has already described a good part of its descending curve (…) it is only at this stage that the constantly increasing inequality of distribution appears as unjust, it is only then that appeal is made from the facts which have had their day to so-called eternal justice. From a scientific standpoint, this appeal to morality and justice does not help us an inch further; moral indignation, however justifiable, cannot serve economic science as an argument, but only as a symptom. The task of economic science is rather to show that the social abuses which have recently been developing are necessary consequences of the existing mode of production, but at the same time also indications of its approaching dissolution”. So, contrary to the contentions of Kosmas Psychopaedes (“The materialist theory of “fair” appropriation” in N. Alibrantes et. al. (sqq.) Studies for a critical view of law, Sakkoulas 1985 p.134, as re-edited and republished in K. Psychopaedes, Norms and antinomies in politics, Polis 2003 p.358), it cannot be accepted that the concept of justice (and not just the feeling of injustice) is ingrained in the critique of political economy and that the ideal of social justice in the process of appropriation arises critically as a refusal of the correspondence between form and content during the evolutionary transition of the mode of production from the stage corresponding to the law of capitalists and private appropriation (production of absolute surplus-value, formal submission of labour to capital) to the stage of socially developed production (relative surplus-value, real submission of labour to capital). In principle, the development of production forces and the transition from the capitalism of absolute surplus-value to the capitalism of relative surplus-value (which had already occurred in Western capitalism at the time of Marx) does not modify the place of justice in historical materialism (the production of surplus-value and the distribution between capitalists and workers proceeds in exactly the same – just – way). This change produces neither an independent system of distribution nor a moral-legal form able to judge the way the mode of production operates (these forms continue to correspond to the particular content). Anyway, the conversion of moral practices and moral demands (ideals) into binding values (even if considered teleological) still presupposes a moral theory (e.g. on equality, freedom, the requisites of Reason or even human nature). Besides, the forces of production are not the content which corresponds to the form of production relations. The production forces themselves develop within particular production relations. Production relations can prevent the further development of production forces propelling the CMP into crises (whatever this entails for the destruction of capitals and the deterioration of living and reproduction conditions of dominated strata) thus undermining the possibility of the bourgeois class to build its hegemony on an ideology of progress, by fostering and exacerbating the contradictions of capitalism and class struggle.
[xl] Louis Altousser, “The “philosophical manifestos” of Feuerbach”, About Marx, Letters, 1978, pp. 39 sqq.
[xli] At least after the VI Position on Feuerbach, which expressly rejects the conception of species-being, of humanity solely as genus, and brings out the historicity of social relationships which is what actually constitutes human “essence”. See also German Ideology vol. I, pp. 70 sqq., especially p. 73. Even the capacity of the human being to produce takes different forms through history and leads to a transformation of human nature itself (needs, ways of life, production methods). “The generation of new needs is the first act of history”, German Ideology, op. cit. vol. I, p. 74. In this sense, we cannot endorse the working hypothesis of G. Maniates, op. cit. p. 51, to the effect that Marx’s emancipatory critical reflection advocates an essential universality emerging as a historical and moral-political ought, and as social condition in the making. See, respectively, by the same author, Politics and Morality, Stachy 1995, pp. 150, 160, where this hypothesis is expounded: despite its historically limited and abstract conception by Kant, human rationality, rational cosmopolitanism is still - in its logical form – a topical demand which, if enriched with the social experience accumulated in the last two centuries and appraised in the light of current reality can become the basis for seeking the criteria and requisites of a moral justification of politics on contemporary conditions. The attempt to transcend the abstract nature of universality underscores the problem of historicity and context as indispensable elements in specifying human nature without denying the possibility of formulating a universally valid prerequisite for it (which will be the yardstick to compare social practices leading to its fulfillment). Thus, for Maniates, “the Marxian argument, the determination of human nature also as (but not only) crystallization of social relationships presumes the recognition of a unified human property with universal effect which is materialized in the dialectics of determination and transcending of these relationships”. However, as typically expounded in the Communist Manifesto, op. cit., p. 70, the only “universality” of human nature so far is exploitation. The common conscious forms of freedom and justice that correspond to the reality of exploitation (either as affirmation – free competition – or as denial – instinct of exploitation) will dissolve upon the complete elimination of class oppositions.
[xlii] According to a, widespread by now, criticism Marx adopts a view of human nature which is limited to production (the appropriation of nature by humans) and underestimates other aspects like communication, intersubjectivity, or even that peculiar aspect of “production” of human beings by woman verging more on the “natural” rather than distinctly human side, etc., see Jürgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interest, Beacon Press 1971 pp. 25 sqq; Wilde, οp. cit., Benhabib, op. cit. pp. 11, 60 sqq., 167, 214-215; Alison Μ.Jaggar, Feminist politics and human nature, Rowman and Littlefield 1983 pp. 69 sqq., especially pp. 76-78, etc.
[xliii] Grundrisse vol. B, op. cit., p. 368. For Benhabib, op. cit. p. 112, here lies the core of Marx’s normative ideal. For Eftichis Bitsakes, respectively, “Can communist ethics be philosophically legitimate and practically operative?”, Utopia, vol. 32, 1998, p. 108, there is a moral normativity in Marxism based on the value of the human person, but in the form of the particular person of the communist society.
[xliv] “Their Morals and Ours”, The New International Vol IV no6 1938.
[xlv] As the title seems to suggest and as Maniates appears to understand it, “Questions of Marxian personal ethics”, op. cit. pp. 44 sqq., especially p. 46.
[xlvi] On this see also Miller, op. cit. pp. 52 sqq.
[xlvii] Even in this sense, Kaoutsky has it wrong, Ethics and the materialistic conception of history (www.Marxians.org/archive/kautsky/1906/ethics/ch05b.htm), when he says that the projection of ideals can only take a negative content arising from the indignation at the conditions of exploitation and the contradictions of dominant ideology. These ideals may not constitute a moral theory but they can suggest ways to settle the puzzlements of the Enlightenment imperative.
[xlviii] That is also why we cannot even compare Marx’s critique of morality to that of Nietzsche’s as Wood attempts in “A reply to Husami”, op. cit. pp. 124-5. Nietzsche uses the means of moral philosophy to rise above moral rules based on a new anthropology (therefore, without foundations) whereas in Marx the critique of morality proceeds through the means of historical materialism (on this, see also Horkheimer, “Materialism and Morality”, op. cit. p. 31). The truth is, of course, that a return to anthropologies undermines the scientific foundations of the critique of morality.
[xlix] The historically determined development of social wants (epitomized by and reflected in the general state of civilization in each country) is a moral barrier affecting the very development of the mode of production and class struggle (in this sense interacting with the mode of production) – see Marx, Capital vol. I, op. cit. 84, 243: “The labourer needs time for satisfying his intellectual and social wants, the extent and number of which are conditioned by the general state of social advancement. The variation of the working-day fluctuates, therefore, within physical and social bounds”. Hence, the realm of ideology is neither purely imaginary since it stems from absolutely real social wants, interests and practices nor linked to the realm of economy in a relation of linear external causality, as Kautsky seems to hold op. cit. (in whose view, moral rules affect social life by facilitating social cohabitation when they correspond well to the mode of production).
[l] On this, see also Philip J.Kain, Marx and Ethics, Oxford University Press 1988 pp. 176 sqq.
[li] See also Horkheimer, “Μaterialism and Morality” pp.19 sqq., who goes on to explain why the practice of self-reflection itself cannot be materialized in a competitive society based on private property and profit-making (respectively, Benhabib, op. cit. p. 195).
[lii] Naturally, not in the sense of converting proletarian ideology into dominant ideology before the taking over of political power and the effecting of important social transformations but in the sense of ideological organization against the dominant ideology. N. Poulantzas, Political power and social classes, vol. b, Themelio 1982, p. 36.
[liii] This view still represents the prevailing ideology of the communist left in Greece from the Communist Party to segments of Trotskyite hue. This opinion may claim leverage from certain equivocal formulations by Engels in Anti-Dühring, op. cit. p. 144 on proletarian moral theory which coexists with bourgeois and feudal-Christian morality and holds more credentials of duration as the morality of the future. But if these equivocal formulations are combined with what we discussed in fns 21 and 39, it will become clear that even if we perceive proletarian morality as a theory and not as ideology, it has nothing to offer us in terms of scientific tools to appraise the CMP or rational grounds for a “truly human” (to use Engels’ terms) moral theory (precisely for being a class morality itself).
[liv] Thus, any working hypotheses invoking the third version of the 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (Needs, Production and Labour Division) to argue for a moral theory based on the notion of the moral community of revolutionaries and solidarity as the good reproduced within it, are inherently doomed to fail (see on this, Paul Blackledge, «Alasdair MacIntyre’s contribution to Marxism: A road not taken», Analyse & Kritik 2008 p.215; by the same author, , «Μarxism and ethics», International Socialism iss. 120 Oct. 2008 www.isj.org.uk/?id=486#120blackledge_91). On the one hand, the CMP disrupts identities or communitarian traditions based on pre-capitalistic modes of production (thus illustrating the inherent puzzlements of communitarianism). On the other hand, in the context of ideological class struggle, the dominant ideology tries to break down any institutions or practices of the dominated classes that have the potential to challenge its dominance. Besides, the dominant ideology and its mechanisms are present in the forming of aspects of proletarian ideology and try to reduce the latter’s influence either by incorporating certain aspects of it or by disrupting the terms for building mechanisms of ideological anti-hegemony. This, of course, does not reduce (on the contrary, confirms) the importance for the construction of a working-class hegemony of the development of moral practices through working class mechanisms (trade unions, parties, etc.) that will counter-propose the practices of solidarity, mutual assistance, altruism to the dominant bourgeois practices (selfishness, competition, etc.). It does mean, however, that one cannot seek a moral foundation of supremacy or, even more, universal effect in these practices.
[lv] On that, see also Κamenka op. cit. pp. 182 sqq; Bitsakis, op. cit. p. 98.
[lvi] Signaling, of course, an equally real process of subjugating labour to capital – see on this, Marx, Capital vol.Ι p.740. In addition, see D Gravares, “Politics and Economy. The genealogy of a relationship” in M. Aggelides, St. Demetriou, A. Lavranos (editor), Theory Values and Critique. A dedication to K. Psychopaides, Polis 2008 pp. 140 sqq.
[lvii] As argued by Lukacs, “Tactics and Morality” (see G. Lukacs, Political Writings 1919-1929 New Left Books 1972 pp. 6 sqq.) who, of course, illustrates the unresolved tragicity of the moral choice such a view entails (see on this, K. Kavoulakou, “Between the dualism of morality and the holism of the philosophy of history – The turn of Lukacs to revolutionary Marxism”, in M. Aggelides, etc., Dedication to K. Psychopaedes, Polis 2008, op. cit. pp. 264 sqq.).