Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Marxist History-writing for the Twenty-first Century$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Chris Wickham

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264034

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264034.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: A Theory of History or a Theory of Communism?

Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: A Theory of History or a Theory of Communism?

(p.140) 6. Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: A Theory of History or a Theory of Communism?
Marxist History-writing for the Twenty-first Century

Gareth Stedman Jones

British Academy

This chapter examines the aim of Marx's theory and whether he succeeded in establishing what he was set out to prove. In 1883, at the graveside of Marx, Engels wrote of Marx's achievement as the discovery of ‘laws’ of history. Engel's depiction of Marx has been followed by Marx's disciples and opponents. After the First World War, Marx's writings were subjected to distorted views and interpretations that turned Marx into a remote and opaque figure. In the 1950s, attempts to capture the true thoughts of Marx were made. These attempts disclosed his difficulty in applying a socially determinist approach to the explanation of the republicanism and the constitutional character of the struggle between the elected president and the elected assembly. His basic assumption of the ‘forces of production’ as a means for the proletariat to advance and the bourgeoisie to rescind failed to interpret the transition from Second Empire to Third Republic. Forced to abandon this evolutionary scenario of capitalist development, Marx developed his Critique of Political Economy, wherein his prime objective was not to construct a theory of history, but to discover the path of man to communism.

Keywords:   Marx's theory, Engels, socially determinist approach, republicanism, forces of production, Political Economy, theory of history, communism

British Academy Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.