The Greek matrix of Marx's critique of political economy

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Marx counted the Greeks among his greatest teachers. The burden of contemporary scholarship is that Marx's debt to antiquity is principally a debt to Aristotle. Studies of the Aristotelian lineages of Marx's political thought have revealed significant aspects of his understanding of justice and the good life. Just as important, scholars have explored the connections between Aristotle's and Marx's writings on economics. On this view, underlying Capital is a normative ideal drawn mainly from Book 1 of Aristotle's Politics. The aim of this essay is to challenge this reading of Marx. Although Marx learned much about the Greeks from Aristotle, his chief theoretical interest lay in the unique accomplishments of the Athenian demos, not in Aristotle's conception of the human good.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept of Political Science, Loyola University, Chicago, IL 60626.

Publication date: January 1, 1994

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