The author champions the belief that Karl Marx offered a theory of capitalism, and not a theory of socialism. This explains, she argues, why we cannot find a detailed and well-constructed conception of human society that will exist in the future. Marx continued, however, to draw prognostic conclusions from his diagnosis of the capitalist status quo, and his numerous manuscripts are replete with social predictions. They were different at different times, and as the capitalist system tended to change in his lifetime, so changed Marx’s expectations about the future course of events. One thing remained unchanged, however. He always proclaimed the coming of a classless community based on the principle that a free development of each is a necessary prerequisite of a free development of all.
The aim of this paper is to consider the not so well investigated problem of the role that language has played in Karl Marx’s thinking. The first section discusses several examples of Marxist attempts at philosophical or linguistic reflection on language. I propose the thesis that Marxist meaning theory did not seriously evolve due to the domination of the ‛Traditional Meaning Theory’ (TMT) – irrespective of the actual social conditions. In the second section I undertake some adumbrations on the tendencies of contemporary philosophy of language, such as externalism or pragmatism, whose premonitions can be found in Marx. I also point out that combined with historical materialism they can no longer fit TMT. Finally, I argue that the notion of language and the division of linguistic labor may solve some issues of Marx’s conception of ideology.