Department of Sociology
Kenyon College
Treleaven House
105 West Brooklyn Street
Room 202
Gambier,  Ohio   43022

Office:  (740) 427-5849    
Department Office Manager: 
 (740) 427-5855 (morning)
 (740) 427-5809 (afternoon)
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(Click on the jacket cover image for more information about the Table of Contents and Introduction)




(Click on the jacket cover image for more information about the Table of Contents and Introduction)




Hardbound Cover                     2018                           Frontispiece
                                                                                      by Devin S. McCarthy

Greek goddess of Justice
balancing and integrating the Ancients and the Moderns
as the classical inspiration and creative vision of Karl Marx's
(Longing for Ancient Greece)
(Fusion of Horizons and Traditions)
as he creates a classical vision of workers' associations,
economic democracy, and self-government
"of the people, by the people"
The Paris Commune
of 1871

150th anniversary of Marx's Capital (2017) and
200th anniversary of Marx's birth (2018)



Reprint Paperback Cover                       2019                          B&W Frontispiece
                                                                                                     by Devin S. McCarthy

Following closely Aristotle's definition of social justice based on universal and particular justice,
human needs and economic reciprocity, and a critique of the structures and contradictions
of a trade economy (chrematistike), Marx's theories of abstract labor, surplus value,
exchange value, economic crisis theory, overproduction of capital, tendential fall
in the rate of profit, and high unemployment in the Grundrisse and Capital
are an essential part of his modern theory of ethics and social justice.
Marx rewrites and reconfigures Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
(morality and virtue) and Politics (political economy and democracy)
into the language of German Idealism of Kant and Hegel, classical political
economy of Smith and Ricardo, and French socialism of Fourier,
Saint-Simon, and Proudhon. Both Aristotle and Marx argue for
the beauty and dignity of a rational and virtuous life -- moral
and intellectual virtue -- within a democratic polity and
moral economy based on self-determination, human need,
reciprocal fairness, equality, and the common good.
This new book on Marx's theory of social justice
attempts to show how he applies and makes
relevant Aristotle's ethics and economics
to an understanding and transformation
of the class institutions and structures
of modern society and industrial capitalism --
Marx portrays how classical Greece provided
the Moderns with their lost ideals, vision,
and inspiration for social justice.


Chinese Translation

Marx and the Ancients:
Classical Ethics, Social Justice, and
Nineteenth-Century Political Economy
Ma ke si yu gu ren:
Gu dian lun li xue, She hui zheng yi he
19 shi ji zheng zhi jing ji xue

Japanese Translation

Classical Horizons:
The Origins of Sociology
in Ancient Greece
Kodai girishia to shakaigaku:
marukusu veba dyurukemu

Chinese Translation

Marx and Aristotle:
Nineteenth-Century German Social Theory
and Classical Antiquity
Ma ke si yu ya li shi duo de:
Shi jiu shi ji de guo she hui li lun yu gu dian de gu dai





           Professor George E. McCarthy is an American and Irish philosopher and sociologist who teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century European philosophy, classical and contemporary social theory, ethics and social justice, philosophy and sociology of science, and critical political economy at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Manhattan College (1968), an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College (1972), and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the Graduate Faculty, New School for Social Research (1979). At a particular stage early in his academic career, there was a time when he was enrolled simultaneously in two different universities, in two different graduate programs, in two different academic disciplines -- Philosophy and Sociology -- in two different cities, in two different states, while he was also under federal indictment, prosecution, and trial at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York City for draft evasion and moral resistance to the Vietnam War. And, in between these two American graduate school experiences, he spent two years studying the critical social and political theory of the Frankfurt School at the University of Frankfurt and the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt/Main, Germany (1973-1975).

           Academic Experience, Study, and Research in Germany: McCarthy has been a DAAD Research Fellow (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität (University of Frankfurt) and the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt am Main. He has also been a guest research professor at the Geschwister-Scholl-Institut für Politikwissenschaft at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the Katholische Sozialwissenschaftliche Zentralstelle in Mönchengladbach, and the department of Philosophie und Erziehungswissenschaft-Humanwissenschaften at the Gesamthochschule, Universität Kassel, Germany. In 1994-1995, he was a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow in Germany.

          In the spring of 2000 he received the National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professorship in Sociology at Kenyon College. More recently, he has been the recipient of a twelve-month National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship (2006-2007) for his project, "Aristotle and Kant in Classical Social Theory," which examined the relationship between nineteenth-century European social theory and Greek and German philosophy.

          His main educational goals are: (1) to investigate the philosophical foundations of nineteenth- and twentieth-century European social theory with a special focus on the integration of the Ancients (ancient Hebrews, Hellenes, and Hellenists) and the Moderns (German Romantics, Idealists, Historians, and Critical Materialists); (2) to help rediscover the nature of sociology as an empirical/historical and practical/ethical science; (3) to reintegrate Philosophy, History, and Political Economy back into a Critical Social Theory; (4) to expand the nature of 'social science' beyond traditional quantitative and qualitative methods to include the full range of critical social science, including interpretive and hermeneutical science ( Hermeneutische Wissenschaft or verstehende Soziologie), cultural science (Kulturwissenschaft), historical science (Geschichtswissenschaft or sociology of social institutions and structures), human or moral science (Geisteswissenschaft), historical materialism (political economy), dialectical or critical science (Kritische Wissenschaft: immanent critic of the values, logic, and dialectic of capital), and depth hermeneutics (Tiefenhermeneutik: neo-Freudian analysis), while rejecting the methodology of the natural sciences: positivism, empiricism, naturalism, and nominalism; (5) to develop a critical social theory that incorporates classical and contemporary European social theory -- philosophy, history, and political economy -- into a comprehensive theory of social justice; (6) to integrate the vision and ideals of philosophy with the structures and historical reality of economic and social theory; (7) to expand quantitative and qualitative methods while liberating them from the narrowness of analytic philosophy and positivism (scientism and naturalism); and (8) to interpret Marx's labor theory of value, abstract labor, surplus value, and exchange value, as well as his theory of the structural contradictions (Widersprüche) and economic crises of capitalism in his later writings, not as part of a theory predicting the inevitable breakdown of the economic system, but as a critical theory of ethics and social justice. The main goal of these eight points in education and scholarship is to revive the spirit of nineteenth-century and twentieth-century European social theory and their classical horizons at a time of the decline and "eclipse of reason" in the American academy.

          More specifically, his goal is to draw the connections between Ancient philosophy and the Greek polis and Modern social theory and political economy in order to reconfigure and reinterpret Aristotle's major works Nicomachean Ethics (Philosophy: happiness and the good life of moral and intellectual virtue from courage, moderation, and wisdom to friendship and citizenship) and The Politics (Sociology: institutions and structures of political economy, moral economy, and political democracy) for the modern age. This rewrite will take the form of joining together Ethics, Social Theory, and Social Justice. The main academic goal behind this effort is to fuse the intellectual horizons (Horizontverschmelzung) of Philosophy and Sociology, Ethics and Social Theory, Virtue & Natural Law and Political & Economic Democracy, and Social Justice and Social Science, thereby creating a critical and dialectical discipline or Science with Heart (Herz: ethics, virtue, and moral/social principles) and Spirit (Geist: politics, reason, social institutions, and empirical/historical research). The future of a democratic, egalitarian, and just society within a moral economy is open to those who can dream with critical insight and practical vision, while also looking back to the Ancients for inspiration, compassion, and hope (Griechensehnsucht). Professor McCarthy recently published a book outlining Marx's six-point theory of social justice while integrating the latter's early and later writings into an ethical and political whole. An outline of the various Forms of Justice in Marx's writings include the following:

PART I: Marx's Theory of Social Justice Based on Aristotle's Ethics and Theory of Happiness, Practical Wisdom, and Moral and Intellectual Virtue:

(1) Civil and Legal Justice and Human Rights: emancipation and human rights of free speech, assembly, public participation, and political democracy as articulated in the French Constitution and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was originally drafted by Abbé Sieyès and the Marquis de Lafayette in consultation with Thomas Jefferson in 1789 and then expanded in 1791, 1793, and 1795 (On the Jewish Question, 1843).
(2) Workplace Justice and Workers' Control: worker ownership of private property and the means of production along with the economic rights to equality, freedom, human dignity, beauty, self-determination, and worker creativity in a moral community of artisanship and industrial production. These ethical and political ideals were derived from the traditions of Aristotle to Kant, Schiller, and Hegel in his early writings. Marx's early philosophical writings continue where Hegel's Objective Spirit in the Phenomenology of Spirit left off -- with the French Revolution and Kantian philosophy but within a new and expansive interpretation of historical materialism and a new theory of legal and workplace justice (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844).
(3) Ecological Justice and Nature: non-exploitative, non-alienated, organic, and ethical view of nature based on Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics.

PART II: Marx's Theory of Social Justice Based on Aristotle's Politics, Economics, and Theory of Democracy and Political Wisdom:

(4) Distributive Justice and Human Needs: economic reciprocity, fairness, and redistribution based on human needs within a moral economy from the Critique of the Gotha Program (1875).
(5) Political Justice and Democracy: decentralized politics, workers' communes, producer cooperatives, economic democracy, and self-government "of the people, by the people" expressed in the Paris Commune of 1871 (Civil War in France, 1871).
(6) Economic Justice and the Critique of Unnatural Wealth Acquisition and Capitalist Production: critique of the structures of political economy, the logic of capital, and the political incoherence, ethical immorality, and economic contradictions of the alienation, class exploitation, and human misery of a market economy and capitalist production in his later writings of the Grundrisse (1857), A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), and Capital (1867, 1885, and 1894). Traditionally, these later economic writings have been misinterpreted through the positivist prism of naturalism and scientism that predict economic crises and the historically inevitable breakdown of the capitalist system. However, on closer investigation, these writings reveal that, when viewed from within the framework of the German Idealism of Hegel and Schelling and the political and economic theory of Aristotle, they expose the structural irrationality, social immorality, and dialectical contradictions of capitalism. For Marx, the logic, structures, and contradictions of capital or unnatural wealth acquisition, as with Aristotle, are incompatible with a society based on virtue, practical wisdom, freedom, equality, self-determination, and democracy, that is, they are morally incompatible with Ethics and Politics.

Liberalism and capitalism are incompatible and inconsistent with the ethical values and political ideals of the Ancients and the Moderns. With its materialism, consumerism, market morality, class oppression, workplace alienation and exploitation, political authoritarianism, global colonization and militarism, and racism, modern industrial society offends the heart, soul, spirit, and reason of humanity and democracy. Marx used his early and later ethical, political, and economic theories, along with his historical and empirical research, in a manner similar to Aristotle -- they were to provide the foundations for his theory of social justice, and not the foundations for a positivistic, Enlightenment, and economic science. Note: Corresponding to each chapter and aspect of social justice, there is a different understanding of the nature of social science and social research methods -- historical science, hermeneutical or interpretive science, human or moral science (universal humanism), phenomenological science (historical materialism and the history of Western consciousness and ideas), critical science (immanent critique), dialectical science (contradictions in the structures, logic, and ethics of political economy), etc. -- that goes beyond the boundaries, questions, and methods of modern positivism and contemporary American sociology and that integrates Science and Social Justice.

Marx's theory of justice follows closely Aristotle's broad theory of social justice found in his Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics:

PART I: Nicomachean Ethics, Happiness, and the Virtuous Life

(1) Rectificatory Justice: Civil Law and Politics
(2) Ethics, Virtue, Love, Friendship, and Practical Wisdom
(3) Environmental Justice: Physics and Metaphysics of Organic Nature

PART II: The Politics, Political Economy, and the Democratic Polity

(4) Particular Justice: Economic Reciprocity and Fair Distribution in the Oikonomike
(5) Universal Justice: Politics and Democracy
(6) Chrematistike and Critique: Critique of a Market Economy of Private and Unnatural Wealth Acquisition

Summary: Marx was a nineteenth-century critical social theorist who redefined and retranslated Aristotle's theory of virtue, natural law, moral economy, democracy, and social justice for the modern age. From this perspective, we can characterize Marx as Aristotle with an umlaut -- Aristötle. But with the alienation, disenchantment, repression, and eclipse of reason, these traditions and connections (Horizontverschmelzung) have been lost and must be imaginatively and systematically reconstructed for the modern audience. In order to accomplish this task, Marx integrates and expands Aristotle's ancient theory of ethics (happiness and virtue), and politics (rectificatory, particular, and universal justice) into his modern theory of socialism and social justice. Socialism is an economic and political democracy characterized by the following: a democratic and egalitarian social system grounded in the ethical principles of a moral economy and secular natural law that was to be based on universal human and political rights; productive worker creativity and spirituality, individual freedom and self-determination, respect for the dignity and productive contributions of each person as a species being, and individual fulfillment of sovereign artisanship and the aesthetic laws of beauty in the workplace; political and economic democracy grounded in workers' associations, and the self-government of the people, by the people, political decentralization, and general participation in public, rational discourse; fair economic redistribution, reciprocity, equality, and the realization and satisfaction of fundamental human needs and the common good; and, finally, respect for the integrity and being of the natural environment.

Socialism represented a critique and rejection of the isolated, lonely, and lost individualism of liberal society; the existential crisis of a disenchanted and meaningless world based on alienated, powerless, and exploited labor, and the free choice of consumer goods and personal utility in a market economy; limited market legal rights protecting class and corporate power and privilege; false liberal democracy which only hides, represses, and protects the irrationality, waste, dehumanization, and poverty of capitalism; the logical (dialectical) and structural contradictions and continuous crises of capitalist production; consumer economy based on false consciousness, distorted human needs, and corporate advertisement; centralized and authoritarian state that undermines true democracy; state militarism, war, and colonialism; and the further abuse and exploitation of nature, class and racial differences, foreign populations, and the human potential for true political and economic freedom and self-realization. The rights of life and liberty in a moral economy are reduced to the market rights of property, wealth, self-interested competition, mindless consumption, and the limitless acquisition of political and economic power (Bellum omnium contra omnes). True democracy is fundamentally contradictory to the principles, values, ideals, and institutions of modern liberalism; natural law and natural rights are incompatible ethical and political doctrines, just as a moral economy and market economy are incompatible social systems; and individual freedom within a market economy is impossible and ultimately destructive of the potentialities of human life. According to the ethics of socialism, human life should mean more than price, profits, power, and consumption.

Marx and the Traditions: Social Justice and the Critique of Capitalism from the Ancients to the Moderns

In the final analysis, liberalism, as a political and economic ideology, is fundamentally at odds with the central themes, principles, and traditions of social justice in Western thought, including the Ancient Hebrews in the Old Testament whose main ethical goal was to maintain the integrity and institutions of a moral community based on the economic and social principles of helping the poor and the stranger, compassion for the weak and needy, adherence to fair price and fallow land, the call for the timely redistribution of wealth and property, the right of release, redemption, and return of property to the original owner, freeing of slaves, and the forgiveness of debts [Genesis 1:26-27, Exodus: 22: 19-27 and 23: 10-11 (Sabbath Year); Leviticus 25: 8-13 (Jubilee Year) and 25: 25, 27, and 28 (Jubilee Year and Priestly Code); Deuteronomy 15: 1-4 (release of debts), 24: 14-15 (fair wages and against oppression of workers); Proverbs 22: 22-23 and 29-7 (rights of the poor); Amos 2: 6-8 and 5: 21-24; Jeremiah 7: 4-7 and 22: 15-16; and Ezekiel 16: 48 (sin of Sodom -- lack of compassion for the stranger, the poor, and the needy). This tradition was followed by the Early Christians of the Hellenistic period in the New Testament who focused on issues of political economy, the fair distribution of wealth and power, the rejection of foreign oppression and military occupation by the legions of the Roman Empire, and the return to the ethical principles of the Torah and the Jubilee and Sabbath Year as they were reinterpreted in early Christian socialism and "the kingdom of God on earth" with its denunciation of idolatry and the worship of the god of money: Luke 2: 1-20 and Matthew 2: 1-2; Luke 6:17-26 and Matt. 5:1-10; Luke 8: 26 and Matt. 8:28; Luke 6: 26 and Matt. 8:28; Luke 12-16 and Matt. 10:1-4; Luke 11:2-4 and Matt. 6: 7-15; Luke 12:49-53, 22:35-38, and 47-51 and Matt. 10:34 and 27::27-31; Luke 16: 19-31, 18:18-27, and 20: 19-26 and Matt. 22:15 and 19:16; Matt. 25:31-46; and Luke 19:28-38, 22: 35-38 and Matt. 21: 1-16 and 10: 34-39)]. Also part of the influential traditions antithetical to the values of liberalism and capitalism, and influencing the development of Marx's social theory, are the Ancient Greeks (Aristotle) and the Medieval Christians (Thomas Aquinas and Scholasticism).

Marx creates a theory of social justice grounded in a secular natural law by reconstructing a materialist theory of the phenomenology of spirit in which the Ancient Hebrews, Hellenes, and Hellenists, Medieval Scholastics, and Modern German Romantics and Idealists, along with the Classical French and British political economists, are integrated into a critical theory of history, society, and the spirit. The goal of this social ethics and phenomenology is a dialectical understanding, moral critique, and political emancipation of human work, political economy, and economic democracy. Thus, Marx's theories of Natural Law and Ethics are framed within the history of Western consciousness and reason in search of the moral principles of social justice and the social institutions of the good life and ideal community (Objective Spirit) from the Covenant, Tzedakah, and Mishpat in Torah, Jubilee, and the Sabbath with its ideals of love, kindness, and compassion espoused by Moses and the Hebrew prophets (Old Testament) and by Jesus Christ (New Testament); the Polis and Oikonomike at the heart of Athenian virtue, happiness, and the democratic polity (Aristotle); and the System der Sittlichkeit as the ethical community and public virtue of the family, civil society, and the state (Hegel). Both Hegel and Marx rejected the alienation of modern liberalism, utilitarianism, and the Enlightenment, but it was only Marx who creatively blends together classical ethics, political economy, and critical science in his moral critique of modern capitalism to create a new theory of social justice for modern society. In order to accomplish this Herculean task, he supplied the missing element in Hegel's alienation of the Objective Spirit -- Ethics, Social Consciousness, and Politics -- by replacing the false idealism and second unhappy consciousness of the Absolute Spirit of philosophy, religion, and art with Aristotle's objective materialism and social theory of classical ethics and politics. In the process, metaphysics and idealism are replaced by historical materialism and critical science.

More recently, Professor McCarthy has turned his attention to the interaction among science, nature, and society as he attempts to integrate issues of ecological justice with social justice. To date, he has published ten books mainly in the area of 19th- and 20th-century German social theory. Three of these books have been translated into foreign languages -- Chinese and Japanese.




Manhattan College
4513 Manhattan College Parkway
Riverdale, New York  10471
B.A. in Philosophy, honors
June 1968

Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts  02467
M.A. in Philosophy, August 1969
Ph.D. in Philosophy, June 1972
Dissertation: The Social Anthropology of Hegel and Marx

Summer 1972  
U. S. Department of Justice
United States District Court
Southern District of New York
Foley Square, Manhattan, NY 10007
Indictment, Arrest Warrant, and Federal Trial
for Resistance to Vietnam War and Draft Evasion
Felony Indictment: Failure to Report for Armed Services Induction

Summer 1973  
Goethe Institute in Language Study
Blaubeuren, Baden-Württemberg, near Ulm
(2 months)
Brannenburg-Degerndorf, Bavaria, near Munich
(2 months)
West Germany
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst
(DAAD) Language Fellowship

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität
Universität Frankfurt am Main
Institut für Sozialforschung
(The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory)
Bockenheim, Frankfurt am Main, West Germany
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst
Research Fellowship (DAAD)
in Philosophy and Sociology

Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science
The New School for Social Research
66 West 12th Street
New York, New York  10011
M.A. in Sociology, June 1973
Ph.D. in Sociology, June 1979
Dissertation: Systems Theory and the Engineering of Utopia:
Urban Technology and Planning in the Post-Industrial City


Marx' Critique of Science and Positivism:
The Methodological Foundations of Political Economy

"Sovietica Series," vol. 53
Institute of East-European Studies
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
edited by T. J. Blakeley, Guido Küng, and Nikolaus Lobkowicz
(Dordrecht, Netherlands; Boston, Massachusetts; and
London, England: Kluwer Academic Publications, 1988)

Marx' Critique of Science and Positivism:
The Methodological Foundations of Political Economy

"Sovietica Series," vol. 53
edited by T. J. Blakeley, Guido Küng, and Nikolaus Lobkowicz
new publisher and reprint paperback edition
(Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Publishing, 2012)

Marx and the Ancients:
Classical Ethics, Social Justice, and Nineteenth-Century Political Economy

(Savage, Maryland; London, England: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1990)

Marx and the Ancients
Chinese translation
Ma ke si yu gu ren:
Gu dian lun li xue, She hui zheng yi he 19 shi ji zheng zhi jing ji xue

translated by Wennan Wang
"Western Tradition: Classics and Interpretation -
Marx and the Western Tradition Series"
edited by Liu Forest
paperback edition
(Shanghai, China: East China Normal University Press, 2011)

Eclipse of Justice:
Ethics, Economics, and the Lost Traditions of American Catholicism

with Royal W. Rhodes
hardcover edition
(Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1992)

Eclipse of Justice:
Ethics, Economics, and the Lost Traditions of American Catholicism

with Royal W. Rhodes
new publisher & reprint paperback edition
(Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2009)

Marx and Aristotle:
Nineteenth-Century German Social Theory and Classical Antiquity

collection of essays
edited by George E. McCarthy
"Perspectives on Classical Political and Social Thought Series"
(Savage, Maryland; London, England: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1992)

Marx and Aristotle
Chinese translation
Ma ke si yu ya li shi duo de:
Shi jiu shi ji de guo she hui li lun yu gu dian de gu dai

translated by Hao Yichun, Deng Xianzhen, and Wen Guiquan
"Western Tradition: Classics and Interpretation -
Marx and the Western Tradition Series"
edited by Liu Senlin
commentary by Chen Kaihua
paperback edition
(Shanghai, China: East China Normal University Press, 2015)

Dialectics and Decadence:
Echoes of Antiquity in Marx and Nietzsche

(Lanham, Maryland; London, England: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994)

Romancing Antiquity:
German Critique of the Enlightenment from Weber to Habermas

(Lanham, Maryland; Oxford, England: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997)

Objectivity and the Silence of Reason:
Weber, Habermas, and the Methodological Disputes in German Sociology

(New Brunswick, New Jersey; London, England: Transaction Publishers, 2001)

Classical Horizons:
The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece

Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award, January 2004
(Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2003)

Classical Horizons:
The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
(Princeton, NJ: Audiobook on Compact Disk, 2003)

Classical Horizons:
The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece

Japanese translation
Kodai girishia to shakaigaku:
marukusu veba dyurukemu

(Japanese title)
Ancient Greece and Sociology:
Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
translated by Tatsuo Higuchi & Daisuke Tagami
paperback edition
(Tokyo, Japan: Shogakusya Publishers, 2017)

Dreams in Exile:
Rediscovering Science and Ethics in Nineteenth-Century Social Theory

(Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2009)

Marx and Social Justice:
Ethics and Natural Law in the Critique of Political Economy

"The Historical Materialism Book Series," vol. 147
hardcover edition
(Leiden, The Netherlands; Boston, Massachusetts:
Brill Publishers, 2018)

Marx and Social Justice:
Ethics and Natural Law in the Critique of Political Economy

"The Historical Materialism Book Series," vol. 147
new publisher & reprint paperback edition
Haymarket Books at the
Center for Economic Research and Social Change
(Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books, 2019)

Shadows of the Enlightenment:
Critical Theory of Science, Technology, and Nature

(New York, New York: Monthly Review Press,


Justice Beyond Heaven:
Natural Law and Economic Democracy in U.S., German, and Irish Catholic Social Thought

co-authored with Royal W. Rhodes
(Amherst, New York: Humanity Books,

Classical Antiquity and Social Theory:
The Greek Inspiration for Marx, Weber, and Durkheim

edited collection of essays
(future project)

Existentialism and Classical Social Theory:
The Foundations of Sociology in the European Crisis of Meaning

(future project)

Prose Poem Meditations on the
Dreams of Reason

Sociology as the Wings of Philosophy
Dreams of Ithaca and Social Justice

Sociology, when at its best, is philosophy with wings in search of Ithaka,
theory with praxis, ideas with application, values with facts,
ethics with politics, virtue with political economy, and justice with social science;
that is, it makes ideas and ethics historically and empirically concrete and relevant
to understanding and resolving today's complex social and environmental problems.
Philosophy without Sociology is theoretically speculative, meaningless, and empty --
without Content and Spirit,
whereas Sociology without Philosophy is overwhelmingly factual, visionless, and blind --
without Concepts and Heart.
However, together they offer unlimited horizons, creative visions, and hopeful futures.
(Durkheim regarded both Plato and Aristotle as the first sociologists
in his essay, "Sociology in France in the Nineteenth Century," 1900)

Social Theory, when integrating sociology and philosophy, is the poetry of the mind and
soulful yearning for human dignity, beauty, and justice
articulated in the political, economic and cultural institutions of society
that, unfortunately today, is lost in a positivist world of
disciplinary fragmentation, surface phenomena, and alienated consciousness.

Philosophy helps give sociology ethical and social purpose, meaning, and ideals --
it encourages sociologists to dream and hope for a better future,
whereas Sociology helps make philosophy historically and socially
real, alive, and practical --
it encourages philosophers to implement and actualize their thoughts in the modern world.
A clear vision and broad range of classical ideals also help make empirical research possible.
They provide the horizons and focus, the breadth and depth for research and science.
Without the integration of sociology and philosophy into a comprehensive and critical
social theory, one only produces a disenchantment and eclipse of reason -- that is,
an endless spinning of metaphysical ideas and mindless accumulation of
empirical facts accompanied by the loss of ethical reason and the
ideals of social justice. This is then followed by a crippling
inability and political unwillingness to resist the distortions
of public and private language and the rise of fascism.
(G. E. M., April 2019)

"Thoughts without Content are Empty,
Intuitions without Concepts are Blind."
(Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, p. 93)

For of the last man in the iron cage, it may truly be said:
"Specialists without Spirit, sensualists without Heart."
(Weber, The Protestant Ethic, p. 182)

Without Content and Spirit -- Without Science: empirical, interpretive, and historical research
Without Objective Spirit or Justice: reason, beauty, and self-determination expressed
in objective social, economic, and political institutions
(Hegel, Marx, and Durkheim)
Without Concepts and Heart -- Without Ideas: substantive reason and social ideals
Without Morality: virtue, sentiment, compassion, and the common good
(Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Weber)


The true power and grace of nineteenth-century Classical Social Theory
lies in its integration of Social Science with Social Justice --
Political Economy and History with Moral Economy and Ethics
Economic Structures, Contradictions, and Crises
with Virtue, Politics, and Democracy
European Sociology with German Philosophy
Classical Social Theory with Classical Greece
English Factory with the Parthenon and Greek Beauty
Moderns with the Ancients
Marx, Weber, and Durkheim with
Epicurus & Aristotle and
Goethe & Schiller


"As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon -- don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body...
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for..."
(Constantine Cavafy, Ithaka, trans. by
Edmund Keeley, October 1911)

Dramatic reading of Cavafy's full poem "Ithaka"
(poem recited by Sean Connery with music by Vangelis)

Searching for Ithaca--
Learning to Dream with
Aesthetic Creativity and Political Ideals
to realize
Classical Beauty and Social Justice

Descent into Darkness

Crossing the Acheron
into the Silence And Shades
of Modern Liberalism

(Integrating Horkheimer, Dante, and Camus)

American Positivism and Analytic Philosophy
have sadly misunderstood and forgotten the
classical and contemporary dreams of European social theory.
They have fragmented and scientized the disciplines just as
they have repressed the social ideals and classical traditions of the academy
to the point where liberal arts is a lonely and isolated political ideology
incapable of reason, dreams, or theoretical visions of the future.
The academy was once an exalted place of hope and purpose, of dedication and
enlightenment, of intellectual and spiritual exploration, of rebellion and ideals,
and of individual growth and communal moral responsibility.
Now all that remains is a marketplace of ideas, soulless empiricism and
mechanical rationalism, formal and disenchanted science, and a
narcissistic and never-ending search for academic recognition
and power accompanied by the desire for metaphysical
solace and material comfort.

We live in an authoritarian world that still yearns for the
classical ideals and dreams of democracy, equality, and freedom,
but has no understanding of what that means or entails.
We see concentration camps and family separation cages for very young
immigrants on our Southern border, watch Nazis and Nationalists march in
the streets with impunity and arrogance, and are astounded by the kidnapping
and arrest of peaceful anti-racist protesters by paramilitary secret police
as we vaguely remember a time past that echoes throughout the present.
We also see a general imprisonment of Americans in camps of
concentrated inequality, poverty, homelessness, shipping container
housing, debilitating debt, poor education, inadequate health care,
and despondent human misery all over the country, even for
those who believe that hard work will set them free or that
compassionate liberalism and the welfare state will provide
for their economic well-being and personal quality of life.
There is a frightening hollowing out of any remaining ethical
and political values in society in favor of corporate power
by the right-wing judiciary and fawning politicians.
It is another form of economic slavery under
the guise of market freedom and natural rights.
It represents just another form of chattel and
wage slavery in the modern ghettos and iron
cages of monopoly capital and the rule of
the political elite and top 1%. And
beyond that, there is no recognition
of their abuse or even need for
immediate social change.

There is predatory capitalism, corporate lobbying, looting, and tax evasion,
white nationalism, oppressive racism, militarism, maintenance of a
global economic empire as well as homophobia, misogyny, redlining,
gerrymandering, resegregation, dark money, super PACs,
Citizens United, voter intimidation and suppression,
union busting, dehumanizing and mindless work,
massive and pervasive class inequality,
disruptive and distorting income,
wealth, and power distribution,
crushing violence and poverty of
the mind, body, and soul,
misplaced identities, paralyzed potentialities,
and lost futures,
a market economy of rapacious materialism and
consoling consumerism replacing
ethical, spiritual, and human needs,
brutish narcissism and nasty egoism replacing a moral
economy of love, kindness, and friendship,
false imprisonment due to race, ethnicity, and class,
air pollution, global warming, industrialized farming,
ecological crisis, and gross incoherence and
amnesic indifference among the adults, along
with growing psychological fear, anxiety,
clinical depression, self-deprecation,
and intense, inner isolation and
loneliness among the young.

From Point Comfort, Richmond, Colfax, Tulsa
and Birmingham to Selma and Montgomery,
from Wounded Knee, Manzanar, and
Topaz to Charlottesville,
from Haymarket to Kent State,
from Columbine and Newtown,
Ferguson and Parkland to
Minneapolis and Lafayette Square,
from Hamburg and Dresden
to Tokyo and Nagasaki,
from Korea and Vietnam to
Iran and Iraq,
from Chile and Panama to
El Salvador and Nicaragua,
from firebombings, saturation and
carpet bombings to search and
destroy missions against civilians,
from social violence, war crimes,
crimes against humanity, and slavery,
there has been mass intolerance,
oppression, and genocide by the
United States unnoticed and hidden
behind a deceptive and deflective
ideology of expanding international
peace, prosperity, and personal
freedom. But no one recognizes
these blatant and soul-crushing,
moral outrages, just as
sorrowful and reflective
tears fall on a desert
floor unheard and
unnoticed by

And they still call this system a democracy?
Have they not lost their sense of
honor, shame, or decency
or for that matter even their sense of irony?
Or are these social pathologies simply economic
and ethical externalities and inconveniences
out of sight and out of mind as we descend
deeper and deeper down the darkened and
perilous path to the same soulless and
tragic end as the shadows of Weimar --
the rise of fascism, nationalism,
militarism, and the capitalist elite.
And all that remains among these frozen and
treacherous shades in the ninth circle is a
tormenting and unreasonable silence
unrelenting without love, trust, or tears.
Today, in our own distinctive world of
tortured and homeless shadows, there
is a sickness and silence unto death
in our concepts, theories, and
actions that are a direct betrayal
of reason, democracy, and
humanity -- Silence is a
betrayal of the dreams
of romantic Ithaka and
social justice.

This void of silence and social justice in the academy is a
product of the "decadence," "disenchantment," "anomie,"
and "liquidation" of objective reason, and the "alienation"
and loss of the classical horizons of critical social theory
and its European traditions.
Theory has been displaced and forgotten in the academy by
positivism and its critical questions suppressed by
methodological and scientistic narrowness and purity.
A will to methods and power has replaced ethics and
justice along with our ability to imagine and
speak with strength, depth, and vision.
The end product is a naturalization and
abdication of the critical, public voice
of reason and hope resulting in an
existential and spiritual emptiness,
a nihilistic void of meaning and
purpose in human life, and a
continuing and deepening despair
among the morally uncommitted and
despised souls along the shores
of the Acheron lost in the horrid
and blinding darkness, squalor, and
hypocrisy of Western liberal
democracy grounded in
monopoly capital,
class plutocracy,
evolving fascism,
ecological crisis,
structural racism,
workplace slavery,
and caste hatred.

This is a vacuous world of indistinct,
vague shadows among the forgotten
and angry souls of Hades --
people who never stood and
fought at a Thermopylae --
who lived
without meaning and values,
without concepts and ideas,
without hopes and dreams,
without compassion and love.
For them, freedom, liberty,
and individual rights meant
property ownership and
wealth accumulation,
market opportunities,
material self-interest,
and consumer choices,
along with a strong distrust
and fear of others.
The essence of humanity's
potential was measured by
the actualities of the market
and not by the ideals and
institutions of the human
spirit and social justice.
Democracy was calculated as
a free market choice of
political consumption and
not viewed as an expression
of humanity's highest ethical
principles of political virtue,
human dignity, and
the common good.
This is an empty, corrupt
world of the morally displaced
and abandoned shades who
cannot remember the past,
cannot change the present,
have no hope for the future.
The material and class poverty
of liberalism is matched only by the
degrading and dehumanizing poverty
of its spirit, soul, and ideas.
It is a place in which people can't breathe
because this form of democracy
itself is lifeless --
We all can't breathe.

It is here in the deepest and darkest caverns of mindless anger
and promoted aggression that democracy is eternally confused
and conflated with an oppressive corporate oligarchy
engaged in a monopoly control of the economy and
state. How can it be that so few people in politics
or the academy notice the logical inconsistencies,
contradictions, and incoherence of this position?
How can it be that so few people speak out?
And how have we lost our broad cultural
horizons, collective consciousness, and
creative voice to counter this
hellish barbarism?
The notions of liberal democracy and freedom
with their economic rights and liberties are
ideals and realities of false consciousness
and distorted political economy that
could only have been sustained by
the numbing cries and languishing
screams of those forsaken and
compassionless shades
of chrematistike,
who undermined the ideals of
classical Athens and modern
socialism, and whose
terrifying and distant
sounds can still be heard
coming from the inner
circle of deceitful
traitors beyond
the Acheron.

This is not a time for a lack of courage,
fear, resignation, or retreat, but a time
to resist, to dream, and to build --
(G. E. M., July 2020)




"Keep Ithaka always in your mind..."
"Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion..."
(Constantine Cavafy, Thermopylae,
translated by
Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard)

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that
good men should do nothing."
(attributed to Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill)

"Silence is Betrayal,"
(Martin Luther King, Jr., Beyond Vietnam,
Speech on Vietnam War, 1967)

[W]e are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.
There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America
must move toward a democratic socialism.
(MLK, Speech to his Staff, 1966)

The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism
and evils of racism.
(MLK, Speech to Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, March 30, 1967)

"We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation
and militarism are all tied can't really get rid of one
without getting rid of the others...the whole structure of American life
must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our]
own house in order.
(MLK, Report to Southern Christian Leadership
Conference Staff, May 1967)

"Black capitalism won't save us
You can't end racial inequality with consumerism...or opportunity zones."
(Aaron Ross Coleman, The Nation, May 2018)

"'I can't breathe' is a kind of shorthand for all of the ways that policy
violence is suffocating the life out of people & democracy itself" --
including death and strangulation by police violence, poverty,
class and low wealth, poor health insurance, voter suppression, etc.
(Rev. Dr. William Barber, Twitter, June 12, 2020 and his
sermon "America, Accepting Death Is Not an Option Anymore!,"
June 14, 2020 at

"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me."
(Martin Niemöller, Post-War Confession of a
German Lutheran Pastor,

Due to rise of radical Protestantism, nominalism, and positivism (Hume) --
"Reason has liquidated itself as an agency of
ethical, moral, and religious insight,"
(Max Horkheimer, Eclipse of Reason,

Elie Wiesel, noted Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, said he was often asked
the question: "Where was God at Auschwitz?"
His response was, "Where was Man at Auschwitz?"
(Elie Wiesel, Speech at Kenyon College,
February 23, 1983)

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering
and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor,
never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
(Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Speech, 1986)

"Christ led me to Marx...For me, the four gospels are all equally communist."
(Father Ernesto Cardenal, Catholic poet and revolutionary,
1984 interview mentioned in The New York Times Obituary,
March 2, 2020)

Honor to the memory of the German students of the White Rose at the University
of Munich in the early 1940s who did not remain silent but
resisted Hitler and Nazism.
(Richard Hanser, A Noble Treason)
Watch the movies Die Weisse Rose and Sophie Scholl
See the tribute to the members of the White Rose
by Stephan Beneking at
and also see the short award winning 2012 documentary
"The Legacy of the White Rose" at














(Click on the blue course number in the left-hand column for more information about
 the syllabus, course description, required readings, and digital audio recordings for each course)

Socy 102                     Social Dreamers:
          Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud
      (Introductory Sociology Course)
Socy 222           State and Political Economy:
           Profits and Poverty in the
                  Welfare State
Socy 234       Communitarianism and Social
Socy 242               Science, Society, and
                the Environment:
       Integrating Ecological and
                     Social Justice
    (Environmental Studies Program)
Socy 243                     Social Justice:
         The Ancient and Modern
          (Legal Studies Program)
Socy 248          Modernity and the Ancients
Socy 324       Natural Law and Natural Rights
Socy 360                 Kant, Hegel, and
           Modern Social Theory
Socy 361             Classical Social Theory:
      Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
Socy 362         Contemporary Social Theory
Socy 461              German Social Theory:
          From Freud to Habermas
Socy 474                Western Marxism:
            Critical Theory of the
               Frankfurt School
National Endowment for the Humanities Project         Democracy and Social Justice:
              Ancient and Modern





Montage of
Ancient Corinth and Athens



Palme House
Gambier, Ohio



Die Weisse Rose
"Liebe, Freundschaft, und Mut zum Widerstand"
Social Dreams and Classical Ideals

"Beauty will save the world," Fyodor Dostoevsky



"Expanding the Classical Horizons of the
Ancients and the Moderns"

Acropolis and Parthenon
Athens, Greece

Ho ti kalon philon aei
(A thing of beauty is a joy forever)
Euripides, Bakkhai

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know."
John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

And the ultimate Beauty of the World is
Social Justice
Expressed in the form of Art, Ethics,
Economics, Politics, and Ecology --
Human Dignity, Creativity, Self-Determination,
and Social and Economic Democracy


"Dancing Star" & Friend
Eugene, Oregon


"Classical Dreams of Justice and Beauty"

Parthenon from the Pnyx
Athens, Greece
Home of the Athenian Assembly

The True Beauty of Classical Greece lies in
Aristotle and the Athenian Polity


"Modern Impression of Classical Beauty"

April 2015


We shun them, living exiles, labeled mad,
who see the world turned upside down we shrink
by private ownership of all each hand
imprints, and in our iron cage we think

we're free. The mad behold this human treason
and scream against the death of nature's reason.
But dreams reveal to what were blinded eyes
the truth that Justice holds that never dies.

The Commune, like far Ithaka, contains
ideals we journey towards before we die,
when like gods we break our final chains
to boldly face our own Thermopylae.

Life itself is found in simple joy,
in beauty, love, and art the spinning earth
in all the random grace that hearts employ
will see a new creation at its birth.

In dreams an ancient wisdom whispers: Heal
our modern madness, help the heavens move,
seek a newer world and make it real,
with hearts the sun and stars unite in love.

--- Royal Rhodes
Endpiece in Marx and Social Justice






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and electronic video lectures are the personal property of the author
and should not be used without his permission.
Be safe and well.