The Marxist System: Economic, Political, and Social Perspectives

The Marxist System: Economic, Political, and Social Perspectives

The Marxist System: Economic, Political, and Social Perspectives

The Marxist System: Economic, Political, and Social Perspectives


"Freedman effectively integrates the economic, philosophical, and historical dimensions of Marx's thought. The book is clear but not simplistic, succinct yet comprehensive, and thoroughly reliable. One will not find a better or more balanced survey on the subject." - Edward B. Portis Texas A:&M University


More than 140 years ago, Europe was aflame with revolt. The year 1848 saw uprisings, sporadic and generally ineffectual, in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and elsewhere, but not in England.

That year was also the date of the publication of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Manifesto, one of the most influential political documents ever written, declared war upon the emergent bourgeoisie in the name of the industrial proletariat.

Marx believed that the revolutions in Europe were the second phase of the revolt of humankind against economic exploitation and tyranny. The first had been the American and French revolutions of 1775 and 1789, both led by the bourgeoisie and undertaken to establish the political and economic ascendancy of capitalism. The "Rights of Man" proclaimed by these uprisings seemed to Marx to be in truth the rights of property. But in 1848, so Marxist analysis ran, the proletariat was in revolt against the consequences of the industrial revolution, against the slavery of capitalism.

Contrary to Marx's views, only in England, and to a lesser extent in France, was there a significant industrial proletariat. Yet there was no revolt in England, and where it broke out on the Continent, it was antiauthoritarian, antimonarchical, and antifeudal, largely middle class in origin. In England the landed aristocracy gave way or merged with the bourgeoisie. Political and economic reform kept revolution at bay.

Between the middle of the nineteenth century and World War I, Marxism and dozens of more or less coherent reformist and radical protest movements rose in response to the social upheaval brought by the industrial revolution. Marx's argument was that the central institutions of capitalism, which were private property, market-determined prices of nonhuman resources, and wage labor, threatened existing social arrangements, the power and wealth of landed aristocracy and the subservience and mere subsistence of peasants. Increasing . . .

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