Thursday, October 22, 2009

thinking about progress

"Marxism defined a particular social stratum, the modern proletariat, as the historical agent which, thanks to a revolutionary palingesis, would overcome the traumatic structural crisis of the bourgeois-capitalist system and achieve the unification of the human race, guided- in an elitist touch typical of the Enlightenment and positivism- by a conscious minority of communists in possession of revolutionary wisdom. In the end, therefore, the Marxist vision of how history would take shape -an end to class struggles and differences, to conflicts between rich and poor, rulers and ruled, property-owners and propertyless, town and country, intellectual and manual labour, developed and undeveloped countries- formed part of the complex adventure expressed in the Enlightenment idea and the positivist conception of progress, however much it differed from these in relation to the society of the future and the grand reorganization that would lead to it. We might even say that Marxism was the most radical manifestation of that complex adventure. It should be added that not only Engels but also Marx ended up flanking the Hegelian dialectical component of his thought with far from secondary elements of a Darwinian naturalistic evolutionism; and that the theoretical influence of positivism made itself deeply felt in successive generations of Marxists, many of whom blithely combined positivism and Marxism and in reality gave the former precedence over the latter."

Massimo L. Salvadori

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