The claim of this article is to argue that the main thrust of Karl Marx’s philosophy was neither a critique of political economy, nor a critique of the bourgeois political system, but an anti-theistic raid of a metaphysical nature, and that this drive gave him the impetus that motivated his intellectual activity from the time when he had not yet had any economic theory and when the proletariat had not yet played a major role within the purview of his interests. Marx’ rebellion led him to a condemnation of the entire creation as a product of an evil Demiurge, who – to exacerbate the situation even further – was nothing else than a product of human false consciousness, manifesting itself politically as a division of any populace into friends and foes, who were subsequently conglomerated into antagonistic social classes but could be transformed in appropriate conditions into stateless community of friends.
The leading purpose of this paper is to provide an answer to the question whether Karl Marx belongs to philosophy and history of philosophy, and whether placing him in these categories gives a fair picture of what he really intended to achieve. When analyzing Marx’s thought, one should remember that is his own eyes he was not a philosopher but a researcher who goes beyond the horizon of philosophy in order to undertake scientific and not ideological work aimed at organizing political battles of that time. Of course, what a particular thinker believes of himself cannot be an ultimate criterion for interpreting his/her academic output. The doubts are augmented when we consult Leszek Kołakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism – a book that is based on the assumption that “Karl Marx was a German philosopher”, and this starting point supports the critique of Marx’s thought. The problem arises from the fact that Leszek Kołakowski, who was a post-Marxist, despises science and philosophy, and sees myth as the basis of thought dynamics. Thus the question of the adequacy of his presentation of Marx aris es and strengthens the suspicion that Kołakowski did not present the real Marx’s philosophy but rather a myth of Marx’s theory centered on the idea of making people happy against their will and nature.
The article discusses little-known facts from the lives of two great representatives of the Silver Age of Russian philosophy – Nikolai Berdyaev and Sergei Bulgakov – referring to the period when both were ardent Marxists. It discusses the beginning of the academic career of both thinkers, the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the archives of Karl and Luise Kautsky in Amsterdam (International Institute of Social History) there are two Berdyaev’s letters to Kautsky regarding polemics about Marx and Marxism, which unfolded between them after Kautsky’s decision to publish in the pages of Die Neue Zeit an article by Berdyaev “F.A. Lange and Critical Philosophy in Its Relation to Socialism” (1900). This correspondence has probably become the catalyst for Berdyaev’s transition from ‛orthodox’ to ‛critical’ Marxism. On the other hand, Bulgakov’s letters to Kautsky (and those of his wife, Helena Tokmakova, to Luisa Kautsky) refer to the time of a research internship of Bulgakov in Berlin in the years 1898–1900. He then met Kautsky and Bernstein families, and engulfed himself in theoretical problems of Marxism. The text of the speech is accompanied by a translation into Polish and provided with comments on two Berdyaev’s letters to Kautsky (February and May 1900).
In his philosophical commentary to the thought of Karl Marx, Leszek Kołakowski refers to his assimilation of G.W.F. Hegel’s philosophy. He pays particular attention to the swinging of Hegel’s theory ‘the right side up’ and standing him on a pair of feet instead of the head. Marx undertook the difficult task of ensuring a unity of man in a way quite different from the attempts made by either Kant or Hegel. They all wanted to abolish the contingency in human life, but in Marx’s thought the abolishing of the contingency is nothing else but a subjecting of a human being to his/her own existence. A man is no longer dependent on alienated forces that he has created himself, neither is he dependent on an anonymous society. Taking clue from Kołakowski we can say that exteriorisation of natural forces has replaced exteriorisation of consciousness and the Absolute Being of man is realized in his/her actual being.
In the 21th century we can observe a return to Marx, particularly in the circles of New Left. A critical approach to the legacy of Karl Marx implies a readiness to revise or even reject the false or no longer valid propositions of Marx in order to be able to confront his legacy with the current state of contemporary science. Some of his views have already been definitely rejected (particularly the theory of revolution and of the dictatorship of proletariat). But a part of his contribution remains valid: (1) the philosophy of praxis, i.e. a theory oriented toward a social change, and (2) the sociological theory that interprets politics in terms of class interests.
The article offers a presentation of one of the most influential currents in contemporary Marxism. The author claims that the vitality of Marxism comes from its ability to conceptualize ongoing transformations of capitalism, mainly the new forms of productions and appropriation of social wealth. The latter day Marxists propose a materialistic theory of common good. Its main concepts (primitive accumulation, enclosure of the common fields, productive labor and re-productive labor) are of Marxian origin, but they acquire a new sense in the new context. These reinterpretations are inspired by three basic philosophical and political sources: post-operaism, radical geography and bottom-to-top history. The article analyzes the connections between these concepts and the Marxism of common good.
The article is an attempt to evaluate accuracy of Marx’s predictions and to present some reasons for Marx’s ineffectiveness as a forecaster. The article discusses contemporary research on forecasting, uses the results to Marx, and analyses the dialectic aspect of laws in order to explain forecasting weaknesses of Marx. The author of Capital turns out to be – in P.E. Tetlock’s typology – a ‘hedgehog’, i.e.: a bad forecaster, who uses questionable methods to defend his predictions at all costs.