The Marxian critique of justice

Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):244-282 (1972)
Authors
Allen Wood
Indiana University, Bloomington
Abstract
When we read Karl M&IX,S descriptions of the capitalist mode of production in Capital amd other writings, all our instincts tell us that these are descriptions of an unjust social system. Marx describes a. society in which one small class of persons lives in comfort and idleness while another class, in ever-increasing numbers, lives in want and vvrctchedncss, laboring to produce thc Wealth enjoyed by the fixst. Marx speaks constantly of capitalist "exploitation" of the worker, and refers to the creation of surplus value as the appropriation of his "unpaid 1abor" by capital. Not 0nly docs capitalist society, as Marx describes it, strike us as unjust, but his own descriptions of it themselves seem to connote injustice. When we look in the writings of Marx and Engels for a detailed account 0f the injustices of capitalism, however, We discover at once that not only is there no attempt at all in their writings to provide an argument that capitalism is unjust, but there is not even the explicit claim that capitalism is unjust 01* incquitablc, 01* that it violatcs anyonds rights. We find, in fact, explicit denunciations and sustained criticisms of social thinkers (such as Pierre P:roudhon and Ferdinand Lassalle) who did condemn capitalism for its injustices or advocated some form of socialism as a. means of securing justice, equality, or the rights of man. We even find, perhaps to our surprise, some faixly explicit statements to the effect that capitalism, with all its manifold defects, cannot be faultcd as far as justice is concerned. Whatever else capitalism may be for Marx, it docs not seem that it is unjust.
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What’s New in the New Ideology Critique?Kirun Sankaran - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-22.
More Open Borders and Deep Structural Transformation.Adam James Tebble - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-22.
G. A. Cohen on Exploitation.Nicholas Vrousalis - 2014 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (2):151-164.
Unjust Exploitation.Wood Allen - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (S1):92-108.
Exploitation: A Primer.Nicholas Vrousalis - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.

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