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Fugitive DemocracyAnd Other Essays$
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Sheldon S. Wolin and Nicholas Xenos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691133645

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691133645.001.0001

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On Reading Marx Politically

On Reading Marx Politically

(p.173) Chapter 8 On Reading Marx Politically
Fugitive Democracy

Sheldon S. Wolin

, Nicholas Xenos
Princeton University Press

Critics of Karl Marx have long pointed to unfulfilled predictions as evidence of the falsity of his theory. Typically, their criticism rests on a view that a theory which claims to be scientific is seriously defective if its predictions fail to materialize. This chapter argues that although the ideal of science was undeniably important in shaping Marx's theoretical intentions, there were other and conflicting determinants as well. One was a highly developed notion of theoretical activity or, more precisely, of theorizing as action. Another element in the structure of Marx's intentions is action itself. His earliest thoughts on that subject were not primarily concerned with the proletariat but with the theorist-as-actor. The meaning of theoretic failure was not in Marx's unfulfilled predictions but in the complex fact that faces every interpreter of Marx, that Marx failed to complete his theory. This fact is the expression of a conflict that develops between Marx's theoretical findings and his political commitments.

Keywords:   Karl Marx, political theory, science, theoretical activity, political commitment

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