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Marx's InfernoThe Political Theory of Capital$
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William Clare Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180816

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180816.001.0001

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Taenarus: The Road to Hell

Taenarus: The Road to Hell

(p.20) Chapter 2 Taenarus: The Road to Hell
Marx's Inferno

William Clare Roberts

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that Karl Marx composed Capital as a modern, secular Inferno. It first considers the similarities between Capital and Dante's Inferno before discussing the history of socialists comparing modern society to a “social Hell.” It then examines how Marx's nemesis, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, developed this trope in two texts with which Marx was well acquainted and how Marx appropriated the same trope for his own critique of political economy. Finally, it analyzes the notion that modernity amounts to “a social Hell,” tracing its origin to the works of Charles Fourier. The chapter contends that Marx is not trying to convince some ideal-typical bourgeois economist to come over to the side of socialism. Rather, he is trying to convince his fellow socialists to cast aside their reliance upon ideas and arguments derived from or typified by Proudhon and other has-been and would-be leaders and theorists of the movement against capitalism.

Keywords:   socialism, Karl Marx, Capital, Inferno, Dante, social Hell, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, political economy, Charles Fourier, capitalism

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