Abstract
The principles of historical materialism involve Marx in making two crucial claims about freedom. The first is that the revolutionary proletariat is, in an important sense, more free than its class antagonist the bourgeoisie. The second is that the beneficiaries of a successful proletarian revolution—the members of a solidly established communist society—enjoy a greater freedom than even proletarians engaged in revolutionary praxis. It is perhaps natural to take Marx to be operating here with what might be called a logically continuous notion of freedom, established communists enjoying to perfection what revolutionary proletarians merely imperfectly experience and what the bourgeoisie entirely misses. But whatever one's views might be about what Marx in fact says about freedom this cannot be what he ought to say for his theory of freedom to work. The kind of line Marx need to take finds a significant precedent in his economics where we find a theory implying two quite distinct logical dimensions in that the principles and concepts designed to apply to the transactions of capitalism necessarily lack descriptive purchase on communist economic reality. The existence of these two dimensions, and particularly Marx's comparative silence as to the nature of the second, reflect his conviction that the transition between the two systems must be marked by a profound conceptual as well as material break. Consequently it is not unreasonable, perhaps, to look for an analogous discontinuity in his metaphysics and to expect to find two distinct varieties of freedom, the one reflecting the nature of class society, the other of human community.
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246100001831
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