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On Karl Marx’s Evolutionary Credentials and the Marx–Mill Intellectual Relationship

Samuel Hollander

A chapter in Including a Symposium on Robert Heilbroner at 100, 2019, vol. 37C, pp 73-97 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract The view of Karl Marx as “revolutionary” endorsing violent overturn of the capitalist system is standard textbook fare filtering through to popular and professional opinion. John Stuart Mill specialists frequently contrast their subject with Marx in this regard. The perspective on Marx as “revolutionary” is unconvincing, for Marx was no less “evolutionary” than Mill, his version of evolution reflecting concern that reformist measures to correct perceived injustices in the capitalist-exchange system might assure its permanence, and extending to the stage following a proletarian political takeover which might itself occur by way of democratic voting enabled by extensions of the franchise accorded by the capitalist state itself. Our demonstration prefaces a speculative evaluation of Mill’s stance regarding Marx – “speculative” since Mill apparently never read Capital. In particular, Mill would doubtless have welcomed Marx’s position, for to differentiate him from the continental “revolutionaries” makes excellent sense considering his principle that when it comes to prediction all depends on ruling circumstances coupled with his evolutionism including allowance after a proletarian takeover of a residual capitalist sector, income inequality, and compensation of expropriated property owners. By the same token he would have found unpalatable Marx’s vision for a more distant communism of a central-controlled system.

Keywords: Historical materialism; Marxian conservatism; Marxian evolutionism; Marxian revisionism; Millian evolutionism; proletarian revolution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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