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Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy$
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Jonathan Wolff and G. A. Cohen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149004

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149004.001.0001

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The Workers and the Word: Why Marx Had the Right to Think He Was Right

The Workers and the Word: Why Marx Had the Right to Think He Was Right

(p.268) Chapter 9 The Workers and the Word: Why Marx Had the Right to Think He Was Right
Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy

G. A. Cohen

, Jonathan Wolff
Princeton University Press

This chapter defends Karl Marx against the criticism that he lacks the right to regard his theory as true, insisting that he had the right to think that he was right. To this end, it advances four arguments intended to show that if Marx's theory serves and represents the working class, then it is reasonable to think that it is correct. The first argument relates to Marx's thinking that every class which makes a revolution does so in order to advance its own material interests; the second deals with the suffering of the proletariat in capitalist society; the third concerns the workers' revolutionary struggle, a socialist revolution; and the fourth argument is based on the premise that when a class is secure in its position it needs no illusions. The chapter also considers Reinhold Niebuhr's views on how the proletariat can effect its revolution.

Keywords:   working class, Karl Marx, suffering, proletariat, capitalist society, socialist revolution, Reinhold Niebuhr

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