Unity and development: Social homogeneity, the totalitarian imaginary, and the classical marxist tradition

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 27 (2):180-205 (1997)
Abstract
This article examines the relationship between the classical Marxist tradition and the conceptual roots of totalitarianism. Here totalitarianism is understood to entail the attempt to frame the developmental impulses of modernity within the logic of a premodern political imaginary—defined as internally homogenous and transparent to itself. In the first part, we take issue with those who try to distinguish between the thought of Marx and Engels, and who insist that it is only in Engels's thought that the traces of a totalitarian politics might be found. In the second section, we outline briefly the context within which Marx's thought was developed, after which we argue that Marx's vision of communism is dependent on the three-phase vision of historical process which he inherited from Hegel. Without denying the historical peculiarities of the imposition of communism in Russia, we conclude that it is out of this latter vision of history that the conceptual roots of totalitarianism must be located.
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