MacIntyre's thesis begins with the assertion that "Only one secular doctrine retains the scope of traditional religion in offering an interpretation of human existence by means of which men may situate themselves in the world and direct their actions to ends that transcend those offered by their immediate situation: Marxism" but that Marxism aphoria in relationship to predictive and/or normative capacities leads it to deify secular elements in lieu of answering the question. MacIntyre traces this problem back into Marxism left-Hegelian origins, noticing that the attempt to secularize the eschatology of Christianity was strong in both traditional Hegelianisms and in the left-Hegelian critiques of Hegel, particularly in that of Feuerbach.
Before we get into the particulars of MacIntyre's critique of Marxism and his admiration, it is important to know that MacIntyre, before fully adopting the Thomistic framework of his mature works, was an active Marxist both in the traditional (Marxist-Leninist) CPGB of the 1950s and in several Trotskyist groups in the early 1960s. Traditional Christians, particularly Protestants, will be frustrated with the lack explicit theological critiques of Marxism, even of the Catholic variety, and the reduction of Christianity to its ethical tradition.
In MacIntyre's view, Marx’s revaluation of Hegel incidentally traces of his metaphysics into social science. But Marx cannot be clear if he is transcribing a normative transcendence or predicting the iron laws that will end capitalism. This tension is also in Engel's where the iron laws are stated more clearly but never contradicted by Marx despite his private letters on some of the hesitation. IN the gap, a clear aphoria arises and the liberalized metaphysics of Christian re-emerge and show up as idols when the two dominant modes of reconciling the aphoria on Marxism as a science start to show problems: first, Kautsky's model with makes predictions about capitalism which do not actually happen (particularly agianst Bernstein's whose predictives seem more immediately accurate). Then in Lukacs, which removes not just the predictive elements but also most hard category distinctions, placing in Marxism a methodology and a party which represents the methodology. When the parties refute Lukacs, his theories appear to be self-refuted (even to himself).
MacIntyre critiques Marxism failure to fix this problem and the emergent deifications of history, or party, or Stalin that emerges but also points out, albeit briefly, that liberalism and Christianity criticize Marxism on grounds that they themselves are guilty. Particularly interesting is when MacIntyre walks through the attempts of Trotsky, Bernstein, and Kautsky where moral logic of Marxism is explored and notes that most attempts devolve into modified positions of Kantian deontology (for Bernstein) and utilitarianism but a for a singular class (Trotsky and Kautsky) and both failing prey to the liberal assumptions already existing in those systems.
One flaw many will find in the book is that for the explication of Hegelianism and the development of the problems around Marxism, the discussion of Christianity OR of the content economics is largely missing. The arguments about Christianity are implied mostly because of the early Hegelian relationship to liberalizing Christianity after Protestantism encounter with the Enlightenment, but not entirely stated. The arguments about Marxism are largely about the predictive status of some of the claims and it's the relationship to secularized Christianity more than a political program or economic critique. Yet MacIntyre clearly has a detailed knowledge of both and almost expects the reader to know it already and to read specifics themselves. Thus while I find this to be a clarifying book even if I don't agree with MacIntyre's implied conclusions, without significant prior knowledge one may be frustrated.
- Paperback: 156 pages
- Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 1 edition (15 March 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0268013586
- ISBN-13: 978-0268013585
- Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 15.3 x 1.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 222 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)