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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)
Classical Horizons won the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award in 2003
Hardbound Cover 2018
by Devin S. McCarthy
Greek goddess of Justice
balancing and integrating the Ancients and the Moderns --
Athenian justice and beauty with modern labor and industry --
as the classical inspiration and imaginative vision of Karl Marx's
(Longing for Ancient Greece)
(Fusion of Horizons and Traditions).
with the purpose of creating a classical
vision of workers' associations, economic
democracy, and self-government
"of the people, by the people"
The Paris Commune
150th anniversary of Marx's Capital (2017) and
200th anniversary of Marx's birth (2018)
NEW PAPERBACK REPRINT EDITION
Paperback Jacket Cover
by Devin S. McCarthy
Historical Materialism Series #147
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 upon creative self-
determination, human need, reciprocal fairness,
equality, and the common good.
Social justice refers to the total restructuring of
society and political economy that allows for
the full development of human potentiality,
economic democracy, and individual freedom.
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 industrial capitalism -- Marx
portrays how the heights of classical
Greece provided the Moderns with
their lost ideals, political vision,
inspiration for social justice.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
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
The Origins of Sociology
in Ancient Greece
Kodai girishia to shakaigaku:
marukusu veba dyurukemu
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
PROF. GEORGE E. MCCARTHY
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
DISTINGUISHED TEACHING PROFESSOR
Professor George E. McCarthy is an American and Irish philosopher/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 refusal 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). Marx and Social Justice:
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, critical rationalism, 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).
Ethics and Natural Law in the Critique of Political Economy
Analytical Marxism and The Tucker-Wood Thesis: There have been a number of social and political theorists within the Analytical Marxist and Anglo-American traditions between 1970 and 1990 who have argued that Marx did not have an ethical or moral philosophy or a theory of social justice, at least comparable to John Rawls and Robert Nozick. There are three distinct groups of thought within this broad theoretical and philosophical tradition that evolved over time. They argued that (1) Marx clearly did not have a theory of justice because of his critical theory of liberalism, labor theory of value, wage labor, historical materialism, and his epistemology and theory of science -- concepts of justice and morality are "outdated verbal trivia" and pure ideology (Tucker and Wood); (2) although he did not have a theory of justice, he did have an ethical philosophy based on clearly articulated moral principles of freedom, equality, fairness, alienation, and economic distribution; and (3) contrary to 1 and 2, Marx did have a limited theory of justice but it was based on a liberal understanding of civil law, individual rights, and distributive justice. This famous thesis, that Marx rejected social justice and moral thought, was originally developed in the writings of Robert Tucker and Allen Wood and continued by D. Allen, A. Collier, A. Buchanan, and A. Skillen. Some of the main arguments in this thesis are as follows:
(1) There is no need for the liberal ideals of justice in socialism since justice is an ideological concept of the capitalist economy
(2) Justice is simply a juridical category and civic principle applicable only within liberalism and capitalism and refers mainly to issues of the state's legal system (historical materialism)
(3) Marx's goal was to leave behind the old ideals of liberalism and, by rejecting natural rights and medieval natural law, he also was rejecting the use of the idea of justice -- in the process, they separated ethics and politics or civic morality from the moral economy and democratic polity
(4) Moral philosophy was viewed as ahistorical and therefore reflective of the principles of relativism and historicism defined in historical materialism
(5) Liberal justice does not refer to issues of worker's self-determination, creative freedom, moral community, the laws of beauty, and human need
(6) The Analytical Marxists reduce justice, rights, and liberties to legal and civil rights of the natural rights tradition
(7) Justice is a form of religious or false consciousness, moral ideology, or useless moralizing that ultimately ends in justifying capitalism
(8) Following the path of neo-classical economics and rational choice theory, they thought that the market was ultimately fair and rational; wage labor was not exploitative or unjust; and that surplus value was necessary for further economic development and expansion (Ricardo) -- in the process they missed the ethical importance of the distinctions among labor, labor power, and surplus labor in Marx's theory of value by maintaining that profits came from the exchange process and not from production and labor exploitation of the social relations of production
(9) By rejecting justice, Marx was simply reduced by some Analytical Marxists to demanding fair wages and fair employment contracts in commodity production, and, thus, fair economic distribution -- others argued that, because of his criticisms of Proudhon and Lassalle, he also rejected the idea of distributive justice
(10) Marx in his later writings focused more on developing a positivistic and naturalistic science of economics and the prediction of economic crises and inevitable structural breakdown and collapse of capitalism -- they also maintained that science in the form of naturalism and nominalism is contradictory to ethics and moral critique thus separating ethics from science, morality from political economy, and Moralität from Sittlichkeit
(11) they denuded Marx of his critical and dialectical theory of capital, his labor theory of value, secular and historical natural law, theory of work, human potentiality, creativity, and self-determination (epistemological and practical constructivism), and human need, historical materialism, theory of exploitation, alienation, and surplus value, and his theory of economic and communal democracy
(12) the Analytical Marxists replaced German Idealism (which they saw as a speculative, superficial, and a false metaphysics), German and British Romanticism, French Socialism, and Classical Economics with neoclassical economics and critical rationalism (Popper). Some even rejected Hegel's dialectic and returned to Rawls and Nozick for insight; according to the methodology of historical materialism, others rejected morals and ethics as pure ideology since they were an historical and social production of modern society. They reduced Marxism to a form of neoliberalism, positivism, and the belief that justice only represents fair wages and payment for labor power and proper distribution -- they, too, reduce justice to abstract moralizing
(13) They thought Marx's ideal was "beyond justice," since in a socialist society there would be no need for justice. Analytical Marxism is Marxism without Marx and without his return to the classical traditions as the former reduced justice to simple legal categories, rights, and liberties, as well as a narrow interpretations of economic distribution based on market exchange and rational self-interest. In the end, justice is not necessary for a social critique, since it was ultimately a moral ideology justifying capitalism and liberalism. They failed to see that Marx integrated the Ancients and the Moderns into a comprehensive critical theory of social justice. The Analytical Marxists fused the method of modern science with neo-classical economics eliminating any need for discussing issues of social justice. The latter group thought Marx was "beyond justice." The Analytical Marxists began to redefined the areas of Ethics, Economics, Politics, Science, and Justice in new ways.
(14) There is another group within this Marxist tradition that, although rejecting a theory of Justice in Marx, argued that he did have a moral philosophy grounded in the ethical principles of equality and freedom. These modern theorists incorporated and retranslated Marx to fit the contemporary ideas in epistemology, politics, science, and the academy. This failure or unwillingness to see that Marx had a broader and more comprehensive theory of social justice is also based on a number of false premises and misunderstandings of the nature of justice itself. The Analytical Marxists defined the concept of justice in the very narrow terms of liberalism, civil rights, and economic distribution thereby limiting its application only to liberal politics and economics. They interpreted the concept mainly through the writings of John Rawls (A Theory of Justice, 1971) and not those of Aristotle. They also saw justice as a form of false consciousness and political ideology that ran counter to modern rationality and science, neo-classical economics, critical rationalism, and the principles of socialism itself. In order to fully appreciate Marx's theory of social justice one must first view his ideas in the context of his appreciation and integration of the history of Western thought and the classical traditions.
Summary of the Tucker-Wood Thesis: Iron Cage of Liberalism and Positivism: Marx from his early to his later writings did not have a theory of ethics or social justice because of the following scientific, epistemological, methodological, and historical reasons:
(a) Scientism and Naturalism: belief that Marx's methodology as an empirical scientific researcher made it impossible for him to undertake a moral or ethical critique of capitalism
(b) Nominalism and Relativism: the epistemological separation of facts from values, empirical research from ethical judgements also made an ethical critique of the industrial and class system of wage slavery impossible
(c) Positivism and Economism: interpreted Marx's view of science as focusing on the explanations, causes, and predictions of the structural contradictions, economic crises, and inevitable historical breakdown of capitalism
(d) Materialism and Historicism: argued that ideas, concepts, and theories are historically grounded and thus the direct product of a particular political economy and society that gave birth to them and cannot be used beyond that concrete historical moment as the basis for future social criticisms or the foundations for future social institutions
(e) Liberalism and Capitalism: argued that issues of legal rights, liberties, and justice in civil society and the state were exclusively products of modern liberal society and are not applicable to a future form of workers' control and democratic socialism.
The problem with the interpretation found in the Tucker-Wood Thesis is that they imprisoned Marx in various theories and traditions of science, knowledge, and history that he did not rely upon. His views of science and history were grounded in different intellectual traditions, both Ancient and Modern, that emphasized historical science, immanent critique, ethics, secular and historical natural law (practical humanism in art, literature, poetry, and philosophy, not religion or metaphysics), and dialectical science. In their analysis of Marx, Tucker and Wood emphasized modern positivism and not German idealism and constructivism; deterministic and mechanical materialism and not historical materialism; and Comtean and analytical philosophy of science and not the philosophy of Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel. They were caught in the logic of Liberalism and Positivism and, thus, were unable to imagine the emancipatory possibilities of social justice that lay within Marx's own critical social theory.
Marx concluded his famous work Capital not with an analysis of the historical and economic inevitability of the breakdown of capitalism as is generally believed, but with the recognition of the structural, logical, and ethical contradictions (Widersprüche) of the capitalist system that cannot be negated or overcome. His writings ended where they began in the mid-1840s with an emphasis on Aristotle and Hegel and an ethical critique of the moral and political failures of modern society -- the economic system is alienating and exploitative, irrational and immoral. In the final analysis, the analytical tradition mistook his rejection of isolated and ahistorical moral philosophy and their separation of Ethics and Politics for a critique of social justice. They eliminated any theory of justice in Marx by misreading and misinterpreting his critique of ideology and moralism and his theories of science, dialectics of ideals and economic structures, the logic of history, historical materialism, and political economy. Finally, and perhaps their most serious error, was to forget the Ancient and Modern traditions upon which Marx developed his theory of modern industrial society. And in so doing, they lost the soul (Ancient Hebrews and Early Christians), the heart (Ancient Greeks), and the spirit (Modern French and Germans) of his social theory, ideals, and vision -- they lost his ability to imagine and dream. As an alternative to this analytical perspective, Professor McCarthy recently published a book outlining Marx's six-point theory of social justice (see below) while integrating the latter's early and later writings into an ethical and political whole.
Ethics, Politics, and Social Justice in Aristotle and Marx: Over the course of his early and later writings, Marx defined justice in terms of the following principles and institutions:
(1) Civil Law and Human Rights
(2) Politics and Democracy
(3) Industrial Production and Workers' Control
(4) Economic Distribution and Reciprocity
(5) Classical Humanism, Natural Law, and Species-Being.
By framing justice in this manner, Marx integrated the following traditions in Western society:
(1) Liberalism: highest political ideals of liberalism found in individual rights and political freedoms
(2) Classical Democracy and Public Virtue: Athenian democracy and political participation
(3) Socialism and Political Wisdom: French socialism of the Paris Commune of 1871 and the American democracy of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations of 1451
(4) Ethics, Need, and Economic Distribution: Greek and French theories of moral economy and just distribution of social wealth
(5) Classical Humanism and Constructive Idealism and Praxis: Athenian moral and intellectual virtue and the self-determination and self-creativity in the moral philosophy and epistemology of German Idealism applied to Marx's understanding of species-being and natural law
(6) Romanticism and Creative Beauty in Species-Being and Work: the creativity, imagination, beauty, and art of German romantic poetry applied to praxis, production, and aesthetic labor.
These traditions were melded into his theory of praxis, work, workers' control, democracy, and the self-realization of workers in production. Marx's understanding of the nature and breadth of social justice includes the Politics of political and economic democracy, human rights of the citizen, and a moral economy and the communal good based on the Ethics of human needs and intellectual and moral virtue, reciprocal fairness in production and income distribution (fairness in the production and distribution of the proceeds of labor), and the realization of individual equality and freedom, creative artisanship and productive beauty, and self-determination and human dignity in work and politics, as well as the elimination of the Structures of class oppression, social alienation, economic exploitation, and the structural contradictions of unnatural wealth acquisition in capitalism. Marx was updating the ethical ideals of Athenian and Aristotelian democracy for modern industrial society; he was creating an entirely new idea of justice defined by the vision of Aristötle with an Umlaut, thereby making Aristotle's legal (rectificatory), political (wisdom, participation, and democracy), and economic (reciprocal and distributive) theory of justice relevant for a new and oppressed audience seeking emancipation and freedom of self-expression. Liberalism views justice, rights, and law as means of ensuring and protecting the personal accomplishments, merits, and property of a market economy and individual success based on class, privilege, and power, whereas Marx sees social justice as a means to critically examine and transform those deep structures of power and privilege in Social Production, Wage Slavery, Market Exchange, Economic Distribution, Civil Law and the Rights of Man, State and Politics, Possessive Individualism (crude materialism, mind-numbing consumerism, destructive individuality, and distorted class freedoms and chrematistic rights), Race and Colonialism, and the Environment leading to an immoral, irrational, and contradictory society. These Structural and Historical Conditions of Capital in Marx's later writings are always being judged by his earlier theory of Ethics -- secular or humanistic natural law based on the historical development of species-being, virtue (community, love, friendship, citizenship, and political wisdom), freedom, and human needs (Aristotle's "function of man), human potentiality, worker productivity and creativity, the rights of the citizen, and justice in (1) Law, (2) Politics, (3) Production, and (4) Distribution. A more systematic outline of the various Forms of Justice in Marx's writings includes 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 Political and Human Rights: Critique of Political Alienation: human emancipation and the political "rights of the citizen" 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. At the same time that Marx accepts these political freedoms and human "rights of the citizen," he rejects the corresponding economic and bourgeois "rights of man" found in these same French documents which included the narrow and egoistic rights of property, liberty, equality, and security of civil society and a market economy (On the Jewish Question, 1843). Some of the political ideals and human rights of socialism arise from within liberalism itself in dialectical fashion as these very principles push beyond the contradictions and limits of the old social system to call for greater freedom and human emancipation. The "rights of man" and the "rights of the citizen" -- the economic and political rights of the French Revolution -- are incompatible with each other leading Marx to move beyond them to a greater understanding of the political potential of humanity. The economic "rights of man" are chrematistic rights of a market economy, whereas the "rights of the citizen" provide us with the beginnings of the foundation for the political institutions of a moral economy (oikonomike). This critical social theory at the early stage of his philosophical development represents a dialectic of culture and ideas as Marx rejects central elements of the French Declaration of Rights in order to reveal the internal ethical contradictions between market rights and democratic rights. Later he will apply this same method to the empirical and historical study of industrial and class production to reveal the internal, structural contradictions of capitalism leading to the irrationalities of economic exploitation, overproduction of capital, unemployment, and economic crises in an expanding economy. Marx's focus is on the ethical and rational conditions of economic development.
(2) Workplace Justice, Workers' Control, and Civic Virtue: Ethical Praxis, Aesthetic Labor, and the Critique of Economic Alienation: worker ownership of private property and the means of production along with revised and inclusive economic and human rights, equality and freedom, and the civic and moral virtues of a species-being (Gattungswesen) which include concern for the common good, general welfare, individual human dignity, self-determination, and worker creativity and beauty in a moral community of artisanship and industrial production. These ethical principles and political ideals were derived from the traditions of Aristotle to Kant, Schiller, and Hegel in his early writings (listen to the 5-H lecture from the course "Social Justice"). The epistemological constructivism of German Idealism, the British labor theory of value, and German Romanticism are integrated into the primacy of human labor within a communal democracy. 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: Critique of the Alienation of Nature: non-exploitative, non-alienated, organic, and ethical view of nature based on Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics. Marx views the physical environment as a reflection of the deeper problems of capitalist production and class oppression requiring a radical transformation of society to overcome the alienation of nature and its corresponding ecological crisis.
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: from the Paris Manuscripts of 1844 to the Critique of the Gotha Program of 1875, Marx responds to the French socialists' call for distributive justice with his own theory of wealth distribution, economic reciprocity, fairness, and redistribution based on human needs within a moral economy. This view of justice based on human need is also found in Greek philosophy and the New Testament (Aristotle's The Politics and Luke, Acts 4: 32-37).
(5) Political and Economic Justice and Democracy: decentralized politics, federal government, workers' communes, producer cooperatives, economic democracy, and self-government "of the people, by the people" expressed in the following historical forms of participatory democracy:
(a) Classical Athenian Polity of the 4th Century BC
(b) Iroquois Confederacy of Nations and the Iroquois Constitution or the Great Law of Peace of 1451 (Ethnological Notebooks of 1879--1882)
(c) the Gettysburg Address of 1863 (Civil War in France, 1871)
(d) the Paris Commune of 1871 (Civil War in France, 1871).
(6) Economic Justice, Dialectics, and the Irrationality and Immorality 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 (critical 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: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Happiness, Familial and Political Love, Practical Wisdom, and the Virtuous Life (Books 1 vii, 2 i and vi, 5, 6, and 8)
(1) Rectificatory Justice: Civil Law and Politics
(2) Social Ethics and Natural Law: Virtue, Happiness, Love, Friendship, and Practical Wisdom
(3) Environmental Justice: Physics and Metaphysics of Organic Nature
PART II: Aristotle's The Politics: Moral Economy, Political Deliberation, and the Democratic Polity (Books 1, 3, 4 and 6 ii)
(4) Particular Justice: Economic or Corrective Justice, Distributive Justice, and Reciprocal Justice based on
Grace, Need, Love, and Fair Distribution in a Moral Economy (Oikonomike) grounded
within the Family and Community of Citizens
(5) Universal Justice: Political Justice of the Best Constitution in a Democratic Polity
(6) Critique of a Market Economy: Critique of Destructive, Unnatural Wealth Acquisition (Chrematistike)
Summary of Marx's Theory of Social Justice: Ethical and Classical Humanism and Natural Law in a Democratic Polity: 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. Comparing Marx and Aristotle using a hermeneutical mapping system from a distance (compare to archaeological mapping and terrestrial laser scanning using LiDAR) provides the analyst with a broad survey and outline of the general landscape and depth structures of their views of social justice that are not immediately visible on the surface -- Outline of the Various Forms of Justice. The historical and social content of Marx's theory of social justice comes from a critical understanding of the history of the Western intellectual traditions from the Ancients to the Moderns. By this means the broader outlines of the various Forms of Justice are integrated into the historical and political economic Content and Substance of Justice. However, 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 classical humanism and ancient theory of ethics (happiness, wisdom, and virtue), and politics (rectificatory, particular, and universal justice) into his modern theory of socialism and social justice. A number of secondary interpreters of Marx's ideas in the past, including Friedrich Engels, Lenin, and Analytical Marxists have focused their attention on issues of mechanical, deterministic, and 'dialectical materialism' which represents a misreading of his theory of "historical materialism"; one-dimensional economism which is a misreading of his integrative, holistic, and critical political economy and historical consciousness; and positivism, naturalism, and scientism of natural science which is, in turn, a misreading of his Hegelian dialectic of science and Aristotelian ethics. These views only distort a true understanding of his 'critical method of applied philosophy' which was grounded in German Idealism, Classical Humanism, and the ancient and medieval theories of natural law and social justice. (See Norman Levine's works, especially The Tragic Deception: Marx contra Engels and Marx's Resurrection of Aristotle and Alvin Gouldner, The Two Marxisms.) According to Marx, 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 and historical 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; possessive individualism based on a distorted notion of meritocracy, legal ownership, and individual effort and freedom of choice, work, and accomplishment; 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, property, power, or consumption.
Praxis as Aesthetic and Poetic Creativity, Freedom, and Self-Determination in ETHICS--WORK--POLITICS: Human Rights of the Citizen Protecting Workers' Control, Communal Democracy and a Moral Economy: The traditional view of Marx's writings in the secondary literature is that he evolved over time from his philosophical and humanistic writings to his more dialectical, economic, and scientific works. On the other hand, there are those who have argued that, if Marx did have a theory of justice, it focused on the economy and the proper and fair distribution of property and social wealth for the benefit of all members of society. That latter position, however, is only one aspect of his broader and more comprehensive theory of social justice. His ultimate goal was to restructure the political economy in such a fashion as to realize the natural law or distinctive essence and historical potentiality of humanity as a free, creative, and social being -- make ethics and social philosophy applicable, practical, and real. The above interpretation was intended to show that, rather than a one-dimensional linear evolution of his works from his early to his later period, he was developing his own social theory based on the ideals of classical antiquity. That is, he was explicating and expanding upon the various themes and components in Aristotle's theory of social justice and applying them to the modern industrial world, thereby fusing the Ancients and the Moderns into a comprehensive critical theory of liberalism and capitalism. Marx, like Aristotle, moved from his early Ethics and humanistic writings on social ideals, happiness, and self-determination and creativity to his later Economics and political economy, that is, from his abstract humanistic philosophy to concrete institutional sociology. However, between Aristotle's Ethics and Politics, Marx added the primacy of Work or Praxis of the aesthetic artisan and creative worker within a democratic polity and moral community. Aristotle connected ethics and politics by joining together his analysis of the good life of moral virtue (courage, moderation, nobility, honor, love, compassion, goodness, friendship, and justice) and intellectual virtue (episteme, phronesis, and techne) in the Nicomachean Ethics with the best political constitution of the democratic polity in The Politics which would make concrete and real the virtuous life of happiness within the economic and political community. Marx took this analysis and added his understanding of the creative and constitutive potential of human labor which constructed the social, cultural, economic, and political institutions that made the integration of ethics and politics possible -- it is physical, spiritual, and political work which creates the good life and makes the dreams of Aristotle relevant for the modern age. It is communal work which creates the existential meaning and social purpose in life, and provides the foundation for natural law, secular and classical humanism, and the social critique of political economy. Marx expanded the classical views of a democratic polity to include the economic democracy of workers' associations and workers' control over the process and means of production. He also expanded Aristotle's ideals of moral and intellectual virtue, the good and happy life of political deliberation and citizenship, practical wisdom, and moral economy to incorporate the social values of species-being, human creativity, beauty, harmony, friendship, and self-determination in work, communal democracy, and socialism.
The Critical Method of Applied Philosophy from the Ancients to the Moderns: Distortion of these ideals led to Chrematistike -- the unnatural wealth acquisition of a trading or commercial market that destroyed the moral economy and democratic polity -- and Entfremdung -- workers' alienation and loss of control over production, politics, and the possibilities of humanity's future. Both Marx and Aristotle grounded their views of ethics and democracy in the highest moral ideals of virtue and happiness. In opposition to liberalism, Marx defined freedom, not in limited economic and materialistic terms of free market choices, wealth acquisition, and individual liberty to do what each wanted with their person and property (Locke). Rather, freedom is an expression of each individual's humanity as a moral- and species-being -- as a universal creator of the social community. In this way, he blended Aristotle with German and French idealism, romanticism, and political and economic socialism, along with Left-Hegelian materialism and British economic theory of labor and structural crises, thereby dialectically and synthetically re-configuring and re-conceptualizing the various elements of the classical traditions into a modern theory of justice. In the end, Marx recognized the inner structural and cultural Dialectic of Capitalism -- the possibilities of species-being and democratic socialism were incompatible and irreconcilable with the class irrationalities and oppression of material production; a virtuous life incompatible with incoherent commercialism and unrestrained consumerism; social ethics and collective morality with crude materialism and indifferent market self-interest; species-being with possessive individualism and economic competition; communal democracy with class, inequality, poverty, and human misery; and industrial and market rationality with the social irrationality, structural contradictions (Wiedersprüche) of capital, and the constant material waste and economic and ecological crises of industrial society. Finally, capitalism is incompatible with the whole of Western ethical, political, and classical ideals and values from the Ancient Greeks and Hebrews to the Moderns. This is the unfortunate irony of intellectual and social history since modern liberalism and capitalism are not pro-life, or pro-ethical community, or pro-moral economy, or pro-democracy; instead, they are pro-private property, militarism, economic and racial colonialism, and destructive class power. Marx's early writings used the Dialectic in the form of immanent, humanistic, and political critiques of capitalism, whereas his later writings relied on a dialectical critique of the Structures and Contradictions of political economy. Marx combined the following traditions into his critique of modern society and formulation of social justice:
(1) Aristotle's theory of Ethics with his Politics, virtue and happiness with political wisdom and the democratic polity, and friendship and compassion with a moral economy
(2) Kant's theory of morality and human dignity with Hegel's theory of social ethics and the political community
(3) Kant's notions of epistemological constructivism of pure reason, moral creativity of practical reason, and the self-definition and self-realization of the categorical imperative with European art, poetry, and beauty
(4) British and German Romantic poetry, literature, and their creative artistry and dreams of the Ancients with the French ideals of Socialism, equality, and freedom.
(5) Hegel's dialectical theory of reason, freedom, and the modern state with a materialist critique of religion and conservative right-wing politics by the Left Hegelians Bruno Bauer, Arnold Ruge, Max Stirner, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Moses Hess and with the German Idealist critique of art, dialectics, and Hegel's abstract idealism by Friedrich Schelling
(6) British political economy with French theory of distributive and social justice, British labor theory of value with Hegel's theory of praxis, and Marx's political economy with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
On Praxis as the Aesthetic and Practical Education of Humanity: By pulling together these different traditions into a coherent theory of justice, Marx concludes that the essence of humanity lies in its ability to aesthetically and ethically create through praxis -- work and communal democracy -- the material and political worlds according to the laws of beauty and human dignity. The moral imperative and drive of the artistic imagination toward beauty inspires social justice, just as justice moves us to a world without contradictions and conflicts as it nurtures balance, harmony, and elegance of the mind and the body, the senses and reason, along with the integration of the real and the ideal, and the communal integrity and ethical wholeness of the individual and the collective spirit. Modern political and ethical issues of freedom, liberty, equality, and natural rights are now interpreted through the prism of Romantic and Classical dreams. These political and ethical categories are viewed by Marx in terms of praxis as poetry and art -- they are re-translated in terms of human creativity, self-determination, compassion, love, friendship, and beauty in the workplace, moral economy, and communal democracy. Humanity is now viewed through the primacy of the ethical and political community in which humans define and create their own worlds for the purpose of individual meaning and wisdom, self-fulfillment of human potentiality, and the expansion of the ethical community of familial love and communal identity for public wisdom and democracy. Marx's theory of aesthetic labor becomes the key to his understanding of social justice, communal democracy, individual freedom and fulfillment, and his critique of alienation, exploitation, and the structural contradictions of class labor and surplus value; The Early Philosophical Manuscripts remain the heart of his later Critique of Political Economy.
Praxis as Aesthetic Labor, Poetry, and Politics: The Integration of Art, Beauty, and Social Justice: Praxis is thus a form of art (poiesis), critical poetry, and imaginative dreams through which the world is formed. Poetry can be an expression of the rhythm and intuition of the heart or a critical social theory of the mind as both use a new vocabulary to reach beyond the immediate to the truth of human existence. And the highest form of modern art and poetry is Marx's theory of social justice as it is made real in the workplace and politics, history and society. By integrating Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and Schiller, the foundations are set for a new vision of humanity as Marx looks upon the darkness and despair of the capitalist factories in Manchester, Leeds, and London from the heights of the classical beauty and spiritual vision of the Acropolis. What is distinctively and disruptively ironic in all this analysis is that Marx's theory of social justice is inherently and organically part of the history of Western thought, whereas the values and institutions of liberalism and capitalism are antithetical to these ancient and medieval traditions. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Marx's theory of social justice is broader and more comprehensive than the Ancient Greeks with his emphasis on political, ethical, and communal themes, more Christian and moral than modern Christianity with his emphasis on collective beneficence, social responsibility, and civic virtue; these ancient and medieval traditions eventually lost their social and religious ideals -- moral community and social sin -- as they were incorporated into the prevailing social systems of their times. By using a variety of methods, including philosophical anthropology, hermeneutics, historical analysis, Hegelian phenomenology, British economic theory, historical materialism, immanent critique of political and ethical ideals, and dialectics of economic structures, Marx was able to show that modern industrial society was inherently contradictory to the modern and ancient ideals of species-being and human potentiality. Corresponding to each dimension of social justice, there is a specific social and historical method of scientific inquiry which runs counter to the epistemology and methodology of the natural sciences. For more on these issues, see McCarthy, Marx and the Ancients, note 2, pp. 303-304 (1990), Marx and Aristotle, ed. (1992), and Marx and Social Justice (2018). Also see the works of N. Levine, P. Springborg, H. Mewes, D. Depew, S. Smith, M. DeGolyer, L. Baronovitch, M. Nussbaum, P. Kain, J. Pike, W. J. Booth, R. Miller, A. Gilbert, J. Margolis, T. Rockmore, D. Leopold, J. Pocock, I. Hont, N. Geras, and others.
Marx's Expansion of his Theory of Social Justice in his Later Writings to Include Racial Justice: While acting as the European foreign correspondent in exile for Horace Greeley's New York Daily Tribune between 1852-1862, Marx broadened his understanding of justice by writing news dispatches on issues of racial justice with his various articles and expanding positions on race, ethnicity, colonialism, imperialism. labor exploitation, inequality, and slavery in India, Indonesia, China, Algeria, Middle East, Poland, Ireland, and America during the Civil War. He continued to write about these subjects in his even lesser known Ethnological Notebooks from 1879-1882. See, McCarthy, Marx and Social Justice, note 57, pp. 307-308, Shlomo Avineri, Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization, and Kevin Anderson, Marx at the Margins.)
A new and expanded work on the theme of social justice would involve moving beyond Marx's nineteenth-century theory to incorporate the fundamental structural, institutional, and cultural changes in contemporary society that would closely examine the nature of twenty-first century American monopoly capitalism, neo-liberalism, class inequality, poverty, fiscal policy, taxation, militarism, racism, sexism, and prejudice against the LGBTQ community in light of his ethical and political theory of virtue, human dignity, freedom, moral economy, and democratic socialism. Today, these issues of class, inequality, and oppressive wealth and power distribution are difficult to examine directly and publicly because they are hidden behind the phenomena of "cultural issues" and public policies of anti-abortion and birth control; pro-life, gun rights, and critique of welfare queens and the welfare system; race, Southern strategy, gerrymandering, and voter suppression; and global warming, climate change, and the ecological crisis. But, the underlying structural and institutional foundations of Western capitalism -- and thus the basis for any critical theory of social justice -- continue to be ignored and unexplored.
Marx and the Classical Traditions:
Social Justice and the Politics of the Ancient Hebrews,
Hellenes, Hellenists, Medieval Scholastics, and the Moderns
The invaluable hermeneutical insight of Hans-Georg Gadamer in his Truth and Method is that in order to examine and understand an important text, whether that is an historical or theoretical/philosophical text, requires that we appreciate the dialectic or dialogue of interpretation between the subject and object of inquiry and the past and present of the event. Toward that end, to fully understand Marx's critical social theory requires an appreciation of the cultural, religious, philosophical, and economic writings within the various classical traditions that influenced the development of his ideas as they evolved from the Ancients to the Moderns. Marx used the method of applied philosophy that he borrowed from Aristotle who had applied his Politics to his Ethics or his critical political economy and social theory to his moral philosophy -- his sociology to his philosophy.
Karl Marx creates a theory of social justice grounded in an historical and secular natural law that evolves over time by reconstructing a materialist theory of the phenomenology of spirit in which the Ancient Hebrews (Old and New Testaments), Hellenes, and Hellenists, Medieval Scholastics, and Modern German Romantics and Idealists, along with the Classical French and British political economists and socialists, are integrated into a critical theory of history, society, and the spirit. To this list of classical traditions should be added Marx's interest in the classical literature of Shakespeare, Dickens, Fielding, Goethe, Heine, Cervantes, Balzac, Dante, Chernyshevsky, and Dobrolyubov. 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 and integrated into a search for the moral principles of social justice and the social institutions of the good life and ideal community (Objective Spirit). Further developing his theory of ethics and politics, Marx received inspiration for his concrete and historical ideas about political economy and democracy from a variety of sources including elements of participatory democracy, primitive communism, and moral economy found in the Hebrew Torah and New Testament, Ancient Greek polis, the Paris Commune of 1871, and the Iroquois Indian Confederacy and Constitution in New York State.
(1) Ancient Hebrews, Moses, and the Prophets of the Old Testament: The Covenant, Tzedakah, and Mishpat in the Torah, Jubilee, and the Sabbath of the Mosaic Code (Deuteronomic and Leviticus Codes) express the ideals of love, kindness, and compassion for the poor and weak espoused by Moses and the Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament or TaNaKh which is an anagram for the Masoretic Text's three traditional divisions of Torah (Law), Navi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). Their principal ethical goal was to maintain the integrity and institutions of an egalitarian and moral community based on the economic and social principles of helping the poor and the stranger, mercy and loving kindness (hesed), equality and primacy of the community, care of people and stewardship of nature, righteousness, 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); The Holiness Code: Leviticus 25: 8-13 (Jubilee Year) and 25: 25, 27, and 28 (Jubilee Year and Priestly Code); Deuteronomic Code: Deuteronomy, 12-26, 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 Genesis 18-19 and Ezekiel 16: 48 (sin of Sodom -- lack of compassion for the stranger, the poor, and the needy -- lack of social justice). The Sabbatical Year (very seventh year) was a form of Poor Legislation found in Exodus 23: 10-11 and Deuteronomy 15: 1-6, 12-18 that required (1) all land lie fallow; (2) all debts remitted; and (3) all slaves released. The Jubilee Year is another form of poor legislation found in the Holiness Code of Leviticus 25: 10ff. The Jubilee, in a fashion similar to the Deuteronomic Code, required that every 49th year land lies fallow, slaves freed, and debts remitted, but also added a new radical addition to the Hebrew Law Code which required that ancestral land and possessions be returned to their original family owner since all land ultimately belongs to God. The main intention behind these Biblical passages was an attempt to restore a balance and harmony within the Hebrew community that had been disturbed by growing class inequality, unequal wealth distribution, and rising economic debt. In the 11th century, the traditional interpretation of sodomy as a lack of friendship, compassion and kindness for strangers and the weak found in Genesis and Ezekiel is transformed into a clerical sin of masturbation, anal sex, and homosexuality by a number of Catholic theologians, the most prominent of whom was Peter Damian. [Extraneous Note: The "issue of homosexuality," which apparently seems to be mentioned only 3 times in the Old Testament and 3 times in the New Testament, and actually refers not to sexual issues but to issues of cultic prostitution, wasting male semen and procreative possibilities, maintaining the army, violence to slaves, idolatry, lack of hospitality, kindness, and compassion to others, oppression, gang rape, and abuse; the issue of homosexuality is reinvented for political reasons in the 1960s and 1970s with Evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics. See the writings of Randall Balmer, Peter Gomes, and Robin Scroggs. On the other hand, questions of social justice -- concern for the poor, foreigners, and the oppressed -- occur over 2000 times in the Bible. See Jim Wallis, God's Politics (Harper San Francisco, 2005), p. 22]. Marx took a final course at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin in the summer of 1839 on the Old Testament prophet Isaiah from Bruno Bauer, a radical New Testament and synoptic Gospels scholar and Young Hegelian whose only work on the Hebrew Bible, Critique of the History of Revelation: The Religion of the Old Testament, was published in 1838; he also answered one question on Biblical interpretations on his final qualifying examination for his doctoral certificate. The book of Isaiah stresses the ethical ideals of ethical monotheism, social justice, the Covenant, and the Law of Moses found in Deuteronomy and Leviticus with a focus on the Sabbath and Jubilee, love and kindness, and the critique of idolatry, oppression of the poor, and unjust and exploitative economic practices. It was through the Bible that ethical and political issues in Germany were discussed. See John Doherty, "Karl Marx: Seed of the Prophets," Philippine Studies, vol. 9, no. 4 (October 1961), pp. 611-626; Andrew Kirk, "Marx and the Bible," Sojourners (January 1977); Zvi Rose, Bruno Bauer and Karl Marx (The Hague, NL: Martinus Nijhoff, 1977); and George McCarthy, "Storming Heaven and Liberating History: Marx and the Hebrew Prophets," pp. 125-154 and a summary of the secondary literature on Marx and Jewish emancipation, chapter 3, note 3, pp. 337-338 in Dialectics and Decadence: Echoes of Antiquity in Marx and Nietzsche (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994). It is interesting to note that in On the Jewish Question (1843), Marx distinguishes between the economic "Rights of Man" and the political "Rights of the Citizen. The former represent the natural rights to private property, class oppression, and worker exploitation, whereas the latter are the human rights to political participation, public assembly, and self-determination; the former are forms of wage slavery, whereas the latter represent the ideals of human emancipation and political freedom which Marx wanted to provide to the Jewish population living in Germany who were not allowed citizenship under the prevailing Prussian law. In this manner, Marx is able to integrate the political ideals of the French Revolution and Constitutions of the eighteenth century with the ethical ideals of the Mosaic law and covenant of the Ancient Hebrews.
(2) Ancient Hellenes and the Classical Athenian Ideals of Democracy (Polis), Virtue, Happiness, Need, and a Moral Economy (Oikonomike): Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, The Politics, and The Constitution of Athens (discovered 1879 and published 1891) -- his moral philosophy, political economy, and social theory -- outline the heart of Athenian justice of virtue, love, wisdom, happiness, the household economy, grace, reciprocity, and democratic polity. Also examine the beginnings of democratic reform in Solon's debt relief laws which cancelled all debts and mortgages and banned loans based on the security of land or person. This was a response to growing agrarian discontent, class inequalities in Athens, and fear that peasants would fall into debt slavery; it also had the function of stabilizing the population base, undermining the old aristocracy, and securing the foundation for the creation of the hoplite army. See also Pericles' Funeral Oration in Thucydides', The Peloponnesian War (Book 2.34-46) and his summary of Athenian democracy, personal freedom, autarkeia (self-sufficiency and independence), and citizenship. Whereas the Hebrew tradition, through its debt, stabilization, and redistribution laws, supported an egalitarian and moral community in the Torah, these ideas were expanded by the Ancient Greeks to include a moral economy, egalitarian politics, and participatory democracy in classical Athens. To some extent these ideas continued into the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages and the social philosophy of Thomas Aquinas and his theories of natural law, property, community, ethics, and the value of human labor. Also see George Grote's enlightened and transformative interpretation of Athenian democracy in "On the Athenian Government" (1821) and A History of Greece (1846), which influenced such a diverse field of authors such as F. Nietzsche, J. S. Mill, and K. Marx. For an introduction to an analysis of Marx and Classical Greece, see George McCarthy, "German Social Ethics and the Return to Greek Philosophy: Marx and Aristotle," in Karl Marx's Social and Political Thought: Critical Assessments, vol. 1: Marx's Life and Theoretical Development, ed. Bob Jessop with Charlie Malcolm-Brown (New York; London, England: Routledge, 1990), chapter 23, pp. 347-369; "Karl Marx and Classical Antiquity: A Bibliographic Introduction," Helios, on Marx and Antiquity, ed. Neville Morley, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 165-173 (September 1999); "In Praise of Classical Democracy: The Funeral Orations of Pericles and Marx," in Expression in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century German Philosophy, ed. Rocio Zambrana, Special Issue, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, vol. 27, no. 2 (November 2006), pp. 205-227 (New School for Social Research); and "Last of the Schoolmen: Natural Law and Social Justice in Karl Marx," in Constructing Marxist Ethics: Critique, Normativity, Praxis, ed. by Michael Thompson (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2015). For a listing of readings on Aristotle and Athenian democracy see George McCarthy, Marx and the Ancients (Savage, MD: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, 1990), chapter 2, note 2, pp.303-304 and Dialectics and Decadence, chapter 2, note 8, p.329-330.
(3) Ancient Hellenists and the Early Disciples of Jesus Called "Followers of the Way" and "Hearers of the Word" (Jesus as the Fulfilment of Torah) and the Ethics of Primitive Communism in the New Testament: The Hebrew tradition was followed by the Early Christians (the Nazarenes) of the Hellenistic period in the New Testament. These first century "Followers of the Way" of the Synoptic Gospels (Jewish community for Matthew and Gentile community for Luke) continued the Jewish ethical ideals of the Old Testament in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who taught "the good news to the poor" found in the Torah, Jubilee, and Sabbatical Year. Jesus was self-consciously continuing the tradition of the Mosaic Code and Jewish principles of social justice: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them" (Matt. 5: 17-18). This ethical directive became the central moral and social doctrine of early Christianity that maintained that the ultimate and most important criterion for the Final Judgment and salvation rested in a form of "primitive communism" based on "feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and protecting the most vulnerable" (Matt. 25: 31-46) that is accomplished by providing for common property and economic redistribution based on basic human needs for the universal good and the general welfare of the community (Acts 4: 32-37). They focused their attention on the following issues of political economy: giving up wealth, providing for the poor, fair distribution of wealth and power, wealth distribution based on human needs, 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; Acts 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; Luke 19: 28-38, 22: 35-38 and Matt. 21: 1-16 and 10: 34-39; and James 5: 1-6. By the end of the fourth century under the influence of Platonism, the Constantinian Revolution, and the creation of an Imperial Church, Christianity had changed from its early emphasis on social justice, political economy, and helping the weak, poor, and dispossessed into an institutional religion with a focus on spiritual and ritual sin, metaphysics, salvation, and a heavenly kingdom of God. In the process, it lost its earlier focus on justice, wealth redistribution, and the kingdom of God within us on earth (story of Lazarus and the rich man, Luke 17:21). These ideas of "primitive communism" of the "Followers of the Way" from the New Testament are picked up by the Radical Protestant Reformers of the 17th century. [See Richard Schlatter, Private Property: The History of an Idea (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1951), pp. 124-150) and George Huntston Williams, The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia: Penn State University Press, 1962).] In his understanding of these ancient traditions, Marx separates Biblical social ethics from Christian metaphysics, whereas in the modern era Christianity has separated social ethics from metaphysics; in fact with notable exceptions, Christianity has lost the classical spirit of the primacy of the community, the common good, and moral economy by replacing social sin with the values of modern liberalism and its reliance on the moral, ritual, sacramental, and sexual transgressions of the individual. For a comprehensive overview of these issues, see the works of Georg F. Hegel, Early Theological Writings, Friedrich Schleiermacher, David Strauss, The Life of Jesus (1835), Bruno Bauer, and Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity (1841) who integrated Hegel, Bauer, and Strauss. In turn, Liberation Theologians also make the connection between Marx and the New Testament, including Jose Miranda, Marx and the Bible (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1974), "The Gospel Roots of Marx's Thought" and "Marx's Thought as a Conscious Continuation of Early Christianity" in Marx Against the Marxists (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1980), and Communism in the Bible (1981). See also J. Emmette, Weir, "The Bible and Marx," Scottish Journal of Theology, volume 35 , issue 4 (August 1982), pp. 337-350; Brian McCarthy, "The Biblical Tradition, The Church, and Marx's Critique of Religion," Cross Currents, vol. 34, no. 1 (Spring 1984), pp. 43-64; Alasdair MacIntyre, Marxism and Christianity (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984); David McLellan, Marxism and Religion: A Description and Assessment of the Marxist Critique of Christianity (New York: Harper & Row, 1987); Shlomo Avineri, Moses Hess: Prophet of Communism and Zionism (New York: NYU Press, 1987; H. Mark Roelofs. "Liberation Theology: The Recovery of Biblical Radicalism," The American Political Science Review, vol. 82, no. 2 (June 1988), pp. 549-566; Michael Lowy, ""Friedrich Engels on Religion and Class Struggle," Science and Society, vol. 62, no. 1 (Spring 1998), pp. 79-87; John Raines, Marx on Religion (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002); James Luchte, "Marx and the Sacred," Journal of Church and State, volume 51, issue 3 (Summer 2009), pp. 413-437; and Roland Boer, "Western Marxism and the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (1998), pp. 3-21, "Marxism and Eschatology Reconsideration," Meditations (2007), "The Full Story: On Marxism and Religion," International Socialism (June 2009); "Marx's Revolutionary Reading of the Bible," Culture Matters (May 2016), Marx, Engels and Theology: Roland Boer," Historical Materialism (bibliography of Marx's writings on religion), and Boer ed., Marxist Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (London, ENG: T&T Clark, Bloomsbury Collection, 2015). For primary sources, see Karl Marx, On Religion (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2002); Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, On Religion (Garden City, NY: Dover Publications, 2008); and Friedrich Engels, "On the History of Early Christianity" Die Neue Zeit (1894-1895).
(4) Medieval Scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas, and the Rediscovery of Aristotle in the 13th Century: Another chapter in this volume on the classics would be centered around Aristotle, Medieval Scholasticism, and Thomas Aquinas. The works by Aristotle in the original Greek language were mainly lost to the Western world in the early middle ages before the eleventh century. They were then rediscovered and transmitted to the West by Muslim scholars. This chapter would examine the Arabic influence from Egypt, Syria, North Africa, and the Middle East with their translations of and commentaries on Aristotle's works starting in the twelfth. However, it is in the thirteenth century when Greek texts were eventually translated into Latin, especially by William of Moerbeke at the request of Thomas Aquinas. This would transform forever Western Europe's understanding of ancient Greek philosophy and the importance of Aristotle's concrete theories of physics, perception, state, natural law, virtue, moral economy, moral philosophy, ethics, justice, practical (ethics, economics, and politics) and theoretical (mathematics and physics) science, and his break with Plato's spiritualism, metaphysics, and rationalism. In the dozen commentaries on Aristotle, Aquinas continued to expand our understanding of the Ancient Hellenes. Aquinas himself was a product of and influence upon a long list of medieval scholars and theologians that included Boethius, Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, and William of Ockham, while Duns Scotus and Peter Abelard took a different turn toward neo-Platonism. If Aquinas "baptized Aristotle" with Christian doctrine, then Marx will dialectically rethink Aristotle with a German Umlaut and historical materialism. Richard Tawney once referred to Marx as "the last of the Schoolmen" because he saw Marx as continuing in the tradition of Aquinas' theory of natural law, condemnation of economic materialism, usury, and unlimited wealth accumulation, and his ethical views on the common good, labor theory of value, economic and distributive justice, and fair wages (Richard Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, pp. 39-55 and McCarthy, "Last of the Schoolmen," pp. 192-232, especially footnotes 1-3, 11-15, and 25). Also see Fernand van Steenberghen, Thomas Aquinas and Radical Aristotelianism and Aristotle in the West: The Origins of Latin Aristotelianism. Aquinas provided new insights into the area of social justice that would be important for Marx in the nineteenth century. Natural law theory continued to evolve in the seventeenth century with the major works of John Locke, Samuel Pufendorf, Richard Cumberland, and Benedict Spinoza. For readings on Marx and natural law, see Ernst Block, Natural Law and Human Dignity (MIT Press, 1986), pp. 63, 177-178, and 187-188; C. B. MacPherson, "The Maximization of Democracy" in Democratic Theory (Clarendon Press, 1973), pp. 3-23; and Philip Kain, Marx and Ethics (Clarendon Press, 1988), pp. 29-33.
(5) The German Idealism of Kant and Hegel, German Romanticism of Goethe, Schiller, and Hölderlin, and the German Existentialism of Kant and Schopenhauer: They create a new Copernican Revolution and transform our understanding of knowledge and the physical universe as subjectivity -- subjectivity (consciousness) creates the objectivity of the external world in perception and experience for Kant and self-consciousness and reason create the social world as the Objective and Absolute Spirit for Hegel. Just as in epistemology, moral philosophy is defined by the subjectivity of the categorical imperative for Kant, whereas, for Hegel, the social ethics of the System der Sittlichkeit is defined by the ethical community and public virtue of the family, civil society, and the state. German Idealism stressed the importance of consciousness and human creativity in knowledge, ethics, and society which Marx then joins together with the art, poetry, and literature of German Romanticism in the writings of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Heinrich Heine to form his ideas of the centrality of aesthetic beauty, harmony, self-determination, and ethical dignity in the creativity of human labor. Further building upon German Idealism, Marx creates his own theory of consciousness. ideology, historical materialism, dialectics and critical science, and the structural and logical contradictions of industry, private property, and capitalism. Marx borrows Hegel's method of dialectics and immanent critique from his early philosophical writings in the Paris Manuscripts to his developed economic theory in Capital when he juxtaposes the contradictory elements in ethics, politics, and economics throughout his writings. These contradictions (Widersprüche) are expressed within capitalism and liberalism between natural and human rights, economic and political rights, alienation/exploitation and human creativity/self-determination in the workplace, market economy and moral economy, labor power and labor, value and surplus value in production, and industrial expansion and economic crisis and system breakdown. Also part of these modern traditions is the German Existentialism of Kant (subjective, transcendental consciousness and epistemological constructivism of pure and practical reason), Feuerbach and Schelling (emphasis on concrete existence, sensuous life, and the creation of meaning), and Schopenhauer (moral illusions, dreams, and the nothingness of reality) that strongly influenced Marx with his theory of false consciousness, political ideology, and loss of ethics and moral philosophy (alienation). [Note: Existentialism will also play an important role in the formation of classical social theory with its ideas about the rise of moral relativism and the loss of substantive meaning and purpose in human life (disenchantment) and the loss of collective moral consciousness, religion, and critical cultural traditions (anomie) that resulted in moral disorder, chaos, and madness (dereglement). Existentialism is the product of meaningless work, economic exploitation, and the replacement of aesthetic labor by wage labor (Marx), the rise of the Enlightenment, formal reason, and technical science (Weber), and the loss of a moral community and collective values (Durkheim).]
(6) Modern French Socialism of Rousseau, Fourier, Saint-Simon, and Proudhon: This was a working class movement which rejected the abuse, exploitation, inequality, and poverty of human labor and workers under capitalism. Its representatives called for a more egalitarian society based on the ethical principles of communalism, fairness, the common good, and the economic redistribution of wealth, power, and production based on workers contribution, workers control over production, and the end to private property. The fundamental values of equality, community, fairness, and economic justice are found throughout the Ancient and Modern worlds in the shared principles of economic distribution based on human caring, dignity and need embedded in the Old Testament: Genesis 1:26-27 (imago Dei), Exodus, and Deuteronomy (Jubilee) and the New Testament: Luke 18 and Acts 2 and 4.
(7) Modern British Classical Economic Theory of Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus in the 18th and 19th Century: The nineteenth-century French socialists provide an important counterbalance to the classical British economics of Adam Smith and David Ricardo with the latter's understanding of the Industrial Revolution and capitalism articulated in the relationship between production and distribution; the rational balance among industrial production, individual consumer choice, and market price; the new mechanization of factory production and the technical division of labor; and the labor theory of value which some have argued has its origins in Aquinas' Summa Theologica. Marx will integrate these two modern economic traditions with the Ancients and German Idealism to develop a critical and ethical analysis of the inherent possibilities and social and economic contradictions (Widersprüche) contained within the labor theory of value and capitalist production itself -- alienation, exploitation, dehumanization, and the existential meaningless of human life all framed within the structural, ideological, and logical incoherence of capitalism itself. It is here that Marx is using Hegel's dialectic, adjusted in view of Friedrich Schelling's criticisms, and applying it to reveal the moral bankruptcy of capitalism (Aristotle's Ethics) and the structural and historical limits along with the internal and logical barriers of capitalist production to stability, expansion, and rationality itself (Aristotle's theory of household and moral economy [Oikonomike] and the rejection of immoral, irrational, and unnatural wealth acquisition [ Chrematistike]).
(8) Marx, Critical Social Theory, and the Phenomenology of the Social Spirit: The Ancient Hebrews, Hellenes, Hellenists, and Medieval Scholastics (Aquinas: Summa Theologica, especially in Second Part and Prologue to Pt. II) all played a central role in the development of Marx's critical social theory from his early Paris Manuscripts of 1844 to his later Grundrisse, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, and Capital. Both Hegel and Marx reject the alienation of modern liberalism, utilitarianism, and the Enlightenment, but it is 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 supplies the missing elements in Hegel's alienation of the Objective Spirit -- Ethics, Social Consciousness, and Politics -- by replacing his 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. Marx retranslates and restructures Greek political and moral philosophy into German critical social theory, thereby creating the modern Germanic form of Aristötle with an Umlaut. In the process, metaphysics and idealism are replaced by historical materialism and critical science. The end product of this imaginative synthesis of historical and intellectual movements is a theory of social justice which integrates the classical ideals of the Ancient and Modern traditions by fusing together ethics, politics, and political economy in order to help the poor, weak, and dispossessed within a communal economy. This is accomplished by building the institutional framework for a moral economy and political democracy, workers control and economic democracy, the working conditions that respect the dignity, creativity, and beauty of human labor, a balanced social and natural ecology of production and nature, and a critical and ethical science. In the final analysis, liberalism, as a modern political and economic ideology, is fundamentally at odds with the central themes, principles, and traditions of social justice in the whole of Western thought. Finally, to this list of profound and influential authors of the classical traditions, who had such an important impact on the development of Marx's ideas, may be added the nineteenth-century historians of classical Greece representative of the Altertumswissenschaft (George Grote, Theodor Mommsen, Barthold Georg Niebuhr, Johann Jakob Bachofen, August Böckh, Georg Schömann, Carl Hermann, Fustel de Coulanges, and Connop Thirlwall) and anthropologists (Henry Lewis Morgan, John Budd Phear, Henry Summer Maine, and John Lubbock).
It is only after his sociology is integrated with his philosophy, his Politics is integrated with his Ethics, that Aristotle truly comes alive; it is only when his Phenomenology of the Spirit is integrated with his Philosophy of Right that Hegel also takes on a new life. The theoretical and methodological fragmentation of the great minds of the past by the American academy makes understanding critical social theory more and more difficult in today's world. In the same way, it is only after all these classical traditions have been re-integrated into Marx's social and economic theory that his historical and dialectical method, as well as his critical theory of capitalism and political economy, begins to be seen anew. In each of these historical cases, the social ideals of virtue, happiness, and the good life in Aristotle, political freedom and natural rights of the state in Hegel, and human dignity, aesthetic beauty, and self-determination within the workplace in Marx are integrated into the institutional and structural foundations of the ancient Athenian polis, modern German state, and ideal communal democracy, respectively. These connections are lost with the rise of positivism, the specialization of science, and the fragmentation of reason in the social sciences.
Fusion of the Classical Horizons of the Ancients and the Moderns: Aristotle Expanded by German Idealism and Romanticism, British Political Economy, and French Socialism: When viewed from a distance, it becomes all the more clear that the emphasis of the Ancient and Modern traditions mentioned above focused on the deep structures of community, social responsibility, the common good, political economy, and social justice: (1) the Ancient Hebrews in the Deuteronomic and Leviticus Legal Codes stressed the primacy of the family, human dignity, relative equality, and helping the poor and dispossessed since humans are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1: 27); (2) the Ancient Greeks placed their emphasis on freedom, equality, communal solidarity, human needs, moral economy, political democracy, and social justice; (3) the early "Followers of the Way" outlined a form of primitive communism, common ownership of property, and original natural rights that provided all members of the community with the satisfaction of the basic needs and physical necessities of human life -- food, drink, clothing, health care, and property (Matthew 25: 31-46 and Acts 3: 43- 47 and 4: 32-37); and (4) the Modern German and French Romantics, Idealists, and Socialists concentrated their attention on issues of equality, freedom, moral dignity, self-determination, creativity, beauty, fair distributive of wealth, and communal democracy as human beings construct their own social worlds based on the principles of social justice. It is important to notice that all these traditions are antithetical to the values, institutions, and traditions of modern capitalism and liberalism which degrade humanity into market and consumer products as they re-define the traditional ethical and cultural values in terms of market rights, crude materialism, possessive individualism, self-interest, business success, unnatural accumulation of wealth and property, and the physical and spiritual degradations of class, inequality, racism, and poverty. The social ideals of community, democracy, equality, freedom, and human dignity are historically and logically incompatible with the economic structures and moral principles of a market economy, capitalist industry, and class society.
Silence of Reason and the Flight of Theory from the Academy:
Transition from Social Theory to the Primacy of Positivism,
Research Methods, and Technical Reason
By the end of the twentieth century, classical and contemporary social theory in the American academy had been replaced by the scientific methods of natural science (Naturwissenschaft) and formal rationality (Zweckrationalität) as theory became a convenient and conventional afterthought and a rationalized research tool. It now serves as a technical utility and validation for the questions and problems to be resolved in research designs and techniques, hypothesis creation, deductive and causal analysis, and the formation of intervening variables and predictive inferences in empirical research as it supports a particular naturalistic logic, theory, and methodology of science, its narrow and specialized questions, and its limited conclusions. This is the method of quantitative research and deductive logic which specializes in mathematics, data collection, social surveys, questionnaires, statistics, and patterns of behavior for the creation or confirmation of predictive, explanatory, and universal laws of human behavior. The second method utilized by the social sciences applies qualitative or interpretive methods and inductive logic to undertake research designs which focus on issues participatory observation, interviews, field research, focus groups, content analysis, ethnography, history, etc.
Theory can frame a particular problem or issue under scientific investigation; it can confirm and legitimate the problem; it can provide an overview of similar investigations within the history of sociological thought; it can expand the variables and our understanding of the constructed hypothesis; it can actually help create, articulate, and validate the objects of investigation; and it can make the history of social concepts and traditions operational and functional in order to explain contemporary issues and problems. Theory is used to justify and validate a particular research question or problem. But this is deceptive because, in the final analysis, the central questions and issues in utilitarian sociology and research design are ultimately framed by the applied technical method. According to Jürgen Habermas and C. Wright Mills, methods define theory in contemporary American sociology; theory has become reflexive rather than reflective in both quantitative and qualitative research. Methods, in both forms of positivism -- abstract or theoryless empiricism of qualitative methods (critiques of Peter Berger, C. Wright Mills, Alvin Gouldner, and Joel Best) and critical rationalism of quantitative methods (critiques of Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, and Habermas) -- define the nature of objectivity, research design, logic of inquiry, verification, truth, and science. By so defining the methodology of inquiry, it also defines the issues, problems, objects, and ultimately the theory of inquiry. A key result of this approach is that quantitative and qualitative methods in American sociology defines out of existence questions of history, political economy, structure, functions, ethics, and critique (immanent and dialectical); it defines out of existence classical and contemporary European social theory as it never challenges the underlying assumptions of scientific positivism, political liberalism, or economic capitalism. And an unanswered question remains -- from where does theory itself originally come if the research design and research methods cannot produce broad historical or critical social theory itself? The classical social theories of Marx, Weber, Freud, and Durkheim were not generated from positivism or technical, formal scientistic methods but are now used to justify this alternative approach to science. Classical theory was based on a holistic, critical (Kantian or Hegelian tradition), historical, and structural analysis of the modern social system and lifeworld. However, in the end, theory disappears as the traditional and classical European methods and views of science are not reducible to a naturalistic and positivistic perspective. The end result of this type of empirical sociological research is knowledge arranged for conformity, adaptation, and adjustment (Mill, The Sociological Imagination, p. 90).
The focus now is on the present and not the past. The central and crucial point here is that social theory helps create the objects of inquiry but is itself not the object of inquiry. The goal of social theory is not historical, exegetical, hermeneutical, or interpretive, but rather, its goal is the illumination and application of social traditions to the explanation and clarification of contemporary problems. Social theory is no longer based on Understanding, Hermeneutics, and Critique, but now rests upon Explanation, Utility, and Application. It is no longer part of the neo-Kantian and neo-Hegelian philosophical tradition, but the Anglo-American tradition of naturalistic science. The emphasis is not on the understanding of ideas of the past or their explication, but on its technical and utilitarian application to contemporary social problems and issues. Theory creates social objects and questions within the paradigm of positivism. That is, it doesn't expand theory or our understanding of social theory. It only uses theory for the purposes of creating or articulating a problem or the variable of an hypothesis. Its ultimate goal is the justification of positivism; theory has limited value in itself because its true worth lies in aiding the scientistic and naturalistic method. Theory is only an introduction or prelude to Method. It is a way of stating a problem in order to construct an hypothesis based on a universal law and particular circumstances that can empirically test the problem in order to confirm or falsify the original thesis and universal law. Theory has lost its broad and comprehensive critique of modern society; it has lost its dreams, imagination, and critical traditions to initiate a movement toward social justice.
What is rarely done is to investigate the historical and hermeneutical context of the theory itself as a way of understanding and broadening it. Although much of social theory lies beneath the surface and takes an enormous amount of time and energy to reconstruct its archaeological foundations in the intellectual history of Western thought, this is rarely undertaken. It is a forgotten art form since the traditions that feed into the theory are unknown and lost. European social theory, in particular, has a complex integrated web of different theories, methods, epistemologies, traditions, and approaches that are not recognized or viewed as legitimate from the naturalistic perspective. In reality, theory has little value in itself since it real contribution is to validate and aid the positivist method of inquiry. Since theory is only used as a mechanism of justification for particular methods and research. The history of theory, the content of theory, and its application for social critique and social justice are lost. Even when taught, European social theory is reduced to a formal, mechanical, and uninspiring history of isolated and particular ideas, literature review, or simple content analysis which act only as a prelude or introduction to the perceived legitimate questions and methods of an explanatory and deductive science. Ideas and issues are cherry picked from traditional theories for those concepts helpful in expanding research problems and technical methods; the alternative and critical substance and methods of the theories themselves are ignored and forgotten. In the process, the history of social theory's varied and distinctive methods, different approaches to epistemology and science, connections to ethics and philosophy, and its comprehensive critique of the values, culture, and institutions of modern society are lost and forgotten. And, in the end, there is only silence. We live in a post-theoretical, voiceless universe unable and unwilling to conceptualize or understand the grand traditions from the Ancients to the Moderns. And without theory, there are no dreams; without dreams, there is no justice; and without justice, there is no future -- no way to think about or act against injustice in the world or to reflect upon the possibilities of alternative forms of political economy and social systems. Unfortunately, theory is rarely taught and understood in the American university system today because philosophy has been replaced by observation, theory by methods, reflective thought by science, and ideas by the accumulation of empirical data. And because sociology is so tied to observation, data collection, prediction, and natural science, it cannot generate the social theory that is holistic, integrative, historical, and critical that could generate ideas for social change and social justice.
Now into the third decade of the twenty-first century, theory is no longer a serious consideration or intellectual focus in the lecture halls of our academic institutions resulting in the loss of reason, collective consciousness, and the ancient ideals of Western society. One can only sadly recall Max Horkheimer's fears in his lecturers at Columbia University in the spring of 1944 about the eclipse of reason, the fragmentation of the academy, the decline of the critical traditions, the rise of fascism in the United States, and the inability to recognize or resist these dramatic changes. Due to its acceptance of this positivism, scientific naturalism, and cultural nominalism resulting in the disenchantment of reason and moral nihilism, sociology as a discipline is in a precariously existential crisis and visionless state -- a concern anticipated by the classical social theorists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. And even more problematically, it is only the latest of the disciplines to go down this self-destructive, dark, and perilous path of a "contempt for theory." This is the contemporary social variant of Dante's and Camus' Inferno -- silence in the face of unspeakable political and economic oppression with its corresponding abuse, degradation, and exploitation of humanity -- silence in the face of an infinite and impenetrable void of moral, spiritual, and theoretical emptiness creating an unimaginable intellectual wasteland with no focus or future. These are the academic conditions that provided the fertile ground for Horkheimer's reasonable and terrifying fears years ago that have only intensified and become more real and more dangerous today.
Aristotle was the first true social theorist who combined the study of virtue, happiness, wisdom, moral philosophy, and ethics in the Nicomachean Ethics with the historical and empirical analysis of the structures of a moral economy, forms of the best and worst governments, and political democracy in The Politics. Following closely centuries later, Marx combined his early inquiry into philosophical anthropology, social ethics, and human need in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 with the critical examination of industrial production, labor theory of value, economic exploitation, and political economy in his later economic writings in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and Capital. In the twenty-first century this integration of the humanities and social sciences must continue to combine the moral and social values which give meaning and purpose to human life with the social institutions which make them concrete, real, and possible. A failure to integrate classical Greek Politics with Ethics or integrate modern Sociology with Ethics creates real problems for the development of a critical social theory: Sociology without Ethics makes Sociology blind, irrelevant, and meaningless since it is unable to understand or challenge the given reality of the times, whereas Ethics and Philosophy without Sociology are metaphysically speculative, theoretically abstract, and politically empty. In both cases a critical theory of social justice becomes impossible since one has ideals without an historical and economic context to make them alive and relevant or has a detailed empirical and historical understanding of social reality without ethical and political ideals to serve as the basis for an incisive social critique and a call for comprehensive, structural social change.
With the narrow fragmentation and scientization (naturalism, nominalism, and positivism) of the American academy, this integration seems unlikely and difficult in the near future. The academy has truly become an iron cage of thought and imagination; this situation of the closed and abandoned mind is a result of the dark shadows of the Enlightenment. It is not simply a question of interesting and competing theories and ideals of social reality that can be articulated and publicly debated within the academy. Rather, the very ability to articulate and discuss differences are made impossible since many of the concepts, methods, and orientations of classical and contemporary European social theory have been repressed into a social unconsciousness or state of collective amnesia. Those intellectual traditions spanning the ancient and modern thinkers within sociology that are grounded in different epistemologies, philosophies of science, methodologies, and social theories are lost and forgotten because they do not conform to the accepted standards and textbook definitions of social science and research methods today. And if these social traditions cannot be reassembled and incorporated into a naturalistic and positivistic science, they are left behind and forgotten resulting in the loss of a number of critical schools of thought that could help us better understand and explain the world we live in. This specialized and scientific paralysis keeps us publicly and academically speechless as we are unable to ask substantive and informative questions about the structures and morality of contemporary political economy.
Liberal Arts have been transformed into a defense of the given institutions and values of liberalism, resulting in an unfortunate and unavoidable continuation of classical disenchantment, moral nihilism, alienation, and the eclipse of reason, logic, and science. Without these critical traditions, ideas, and concepts and without our moral, ethical, social, and political values, reason is silenced, thought is lost, and reflection remains mechanically and causally reflexive. Horkheimer has insightfully written that the rise of positivism and the displacement of the humanities has resulted in a situation within the academy and the public sphere where "reason has liquidated itself as an agency of ethical, moral, and religious insight." And it is clear from history that the liquidation of reason precedes the liquidation of human beings. Heinrich Heine presciently wrote in 1820-21: "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen" -- "Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people." This is true today even when the idea of "burning of books" becomes more subtle, complex, and metatheoretical as it is transformed into the repression of ideas and the exile of thoughts, theories, and traditions from consciousness. And, with the loss of these principles and ideals, we lose our heart, spirit, and intellect, along with our ability to change history and society for the better. This liquidation of reason has produced both the iron cage and the holocaust of the mind and the body. In the end, silence is an ethical and political betrayal of humanity, our inherent dignity, our ultimate purpose and meaning in life, and, finally, our dreams and future. There is only existential nothingness and the end of our hopes for true enlightenment, justice, and democracy as we descend deeper and deeper into the morass and confusion of authoritarianism and plutocracy. Sociology must begin to redefine itself and recover it lost past intellectual traditions and future possibilities. This includes reconstructing neo-Kantian and neo-Hegelian classical social theory, critical theory (Adorno, Horkheimer, and Marcuse), interpretive theory (Weber), dialectical and immanent critique and ethnological anthropology (L. H. Morgan and Marx), phenomenology (Schutz, Berger, and Luckmann), ethnomethodology (Garfinkel), existentialism (Schopenhauer and Nietzsche), hermeneutics (Dilthey and Gadamer), history (Weber), ethnology, social psychology (Freud and Mead), intersectional social theory (Crenshaw and Collins), queer theory, and feminist theory.
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.
The goal of education is to help students
recall the emancipatory ideals of the
past as they critically think and
imaginatively dream beyond to a new life
of equality, freedom, and human dignity,
not to adapt to an old one of
capitalism, militarism, and racism.
To dream is to join together the beauty
and wisdom of classical horizons
with the critical and historical
visions of modern social theory.
To act morally in history is to
make real the principles and
institutions -- the ethics and
politics -- of social justice.
And to do both should be
the desire and destiny of
The serious problem today is that contemporary
society is being torn apart by the evils of
capitalism and plutocracy, at the same
time we no longer have the critical
concepts, language, and traditions
in the academy or politics to see
and understand it -- this is the
real danger of the eclipse of
reason and social justice.
And, as a result, we are
silent in the face of
"What's Going On?
Oh, what's going on?
There's too many of you crying,
brother, brother, brother
There's too many of you dying..."
(M. Gaye., 1971)
4513 Manhattan College Parkway
Riverdale, New York 10471
B.A. in Philosophy, honors
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467
M.A. in Philosophy, August 1969
Ph.D. in Philosophy, June 1972
Dissertation: The Social Anthropology of Hegel and Marx
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
Goethe Institute in Language Study
Blaubeuren, Baden-Württemberg, near Ulm
Brannenburg-Degerndorf, Bavaria, near Munich
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
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
(Shanghai, China: East China Normal University Press, 2011)
Eclipse of Justice:
Ethics, Economics, and the Lost Traditions of American Catholicism
with Royal W. Rhodes
(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
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
(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)
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
The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece
Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award, January 2004
(Albany, New York: State University of New York Press,
The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
(Princeton, NJ: Audiobook on Compact Disk, 2003)
The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece
Kodai girishia to shakaigaku:
marukusu veba dyurukemu
Ancient Greece and Sociology:
Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
translated by Tatsuo Higuchi & Daisuke Tagami
(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
(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,
forthcoming: the first three chapters on German
Catholic social thought have been completed)
Classical Antiquity and Social Theory:
The Greek Inspiration for Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
edited collection of essays
Existentialism and Classical Social Theory:
The Foundations of Sociology in the European Crisis of Meaning
Prose Poem Meditations
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.
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
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,
dark money, super PACs, gerrymandering, resegregation, voter
intimidation and suppression, attempted legislative overturning
of elections, voter insurrection, and Citizens United; union busting,
dehumanizing and mindless work, massive and pervasive class
inequlity, 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 and unprotected.
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, Iraq, and
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 in the early free markets to
neoliberalism. But no one recognizes
these blatant and soul-crushing,
moral outrages, just as sorrowful
and reflective tears fall upon a
desert floor unheard and
unnoticed by anyone.
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
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
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 --
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
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
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
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
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,
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)
"Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind."
(James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk,
June 17, 1974)
"Silence = Death"
Silence = Death Project
(New York City, 1987)
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,
"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 together...you 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SioVKIPltq0)
"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,
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)
"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.
Your Christian are so unlike your Christ."
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
NEVER AGAIN --
GENOCIDE, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE, OR
ECONOMIC, POLITICAL, AND CLASS OPPRESSION
NEVER AGAIN AGAINST ANY RELIGIOUS, ETHNIC,
RACIAL, GENDER, WORKING-CLASS, POOR,
OR POLITICAL GROUP
NEVER AGAIN AGAINST ANYONE
HERBERT MARCUSE OFFICIAL WEBSITE
DIGITAL KENYON GALLERY
THE ONLINE COMPUTER LIBRARY CENTER (OCLC)
WORLDCAT IDENTITIES: BOOKS
COURSES AT KENYON COLLEGE
(LISTEN TO AUDIO LECTURES OF COURSES)
(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)
Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud
(Introductory Sociology Course)
|| State and Political Economy:
Profits and Poverty in the
|| Communitarianism and Social
Science, Society, and
Integrating Ecological and
(Environmental Studies Program)
|| Social Justice:
The Ancient and Modern
(Legal Studies Program)
|| Modernity and the Ancients
|| Natural Law and Natural Rights
|| Kant, Hegel, and
Modern Social Theory
|| Classical Social Theory:
Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
|| Contemporary Social Theory
German Social Theory:
From Freud to Habermas
|| Western Marxism:
Critical Theory of the
Endowment for the Humanities Project
|| Democracy and Social Justice:
Ancient and Modern
MANY OF THE COURSES LISTED ABOVE ARE ON DIGITAL
AUDIO AND VIDEO EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES
Ancient Corinth and Athens
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
Ho ti kalon philon aei
(A thing of beauty is a joy forever)
"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
Expressed in the form of Art, Ethics,
Economics, Politics, and Ecology --
Human Dignity, Creativity, Self-Determination,
and Social and Economic Democracy
"Dancing Star" & Friend
"Classical Dreams of Justice and Beauty"
Parthenon from the Pnyx
Home of the Athenian Assembly
The True Beauty of Classical Greece lies in
Aristotle and the Athenian Polity
"Modern Impression of Classical Beauty"
WHAT THE PROPHETS SAW
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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