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Why Marx Still Matters

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  • Jon D. Wisman

Abstract

This article explores why a deep understanding of Marx's project is essential for developing an adequate science of society. The imperative to re-examine Marx's project has been made evident not only by the incapacity of the fragmented contemporary social sciences to grasp the causes and necessary responses to capitalism's current crises, but more urgently what is arguably humanity's greatest challenge -- avoiding ecological devastation and perhaps even ecocide. Due to space limitations, this article cannot address these pressing issues directly. Instead, it focuses on how Marx's approach offers the most promising scope and method for addressing challenges such as these. Marx viewed humanity's struggle to overcome nature's scarcity as causally and dynamically related to social organization and social consciousness. Critical to this breadth, and what is yet more alien to the Anglo-American social science tradition, Marx unfolded a theory of our self-creation, the manner in which products of our manual and intellectual labor act back upon us to create us socially and intellectually. To the extent that we lose consciousness of this authorship, we are unfree. We are controlled by our own creations, frequently in harmful manners. Our full freedom, and therefore our capacity to come to terms with contemporary challenges requires a social science with the breadth of Marx's that enables us to recover awareness of our authorship of our social creations and thereby be empowered to control them, as opposed to being their victims.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon D. Wisman, 2013. "Why Marx Still Matters," Working Papers 2013-06, American University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2013-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jon D. Wisman & James F. Smith, 2011. "Legitimating Inequality: Fooling Most of the People All of the Time," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(4), pages 974-1013, October.
    2. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
    3. Jon Wisman, 2003. "The Scope and Promising Future of Social Economics," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 61(4), pages 425-445.
    4. Yew-Kwang Ng, 1996. "Happiness surveys: Some comparability issues and an exploratory survey based on just perceivable increments," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 1-27, May.
    5. Knight, Frank H., 2000. "Selected Essays by Frank H. Knight, Volume 1," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226446950 edited by Emmett, Ross B..
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    freedom; dialectics; materialist history; methodology;

    JEL classification:

    • B3 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian

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