Alasdair MacIntyre's Engagement with Marxism: Selected by Paul Blackledge, Neil Davidson

By Paul Blackledge, Neil Davidson

Even though Alasdair MacIntyre is better identified this day because the writer of "After Virtue" (1981), he used to be, within the Fifties and Sixties, the most erudite individuals of Britaina (TM)s Marxist Left: being a militant inside, first, the Communist get together, then the hot Left, and eventually the heterodox Trotskyist foreign Socialism workforce. this option of his essays on Marxism from that interval goals to teach that his younger proposal profoundly knowledgeable his mature ethics, and that, within the wake of the cave in of the state-capitalist regimes in Russia and japanese Europe, the strong and positive progressive Marxist ethics of liberation he articulated in that interval is arguably as salient to anti-capitalist activists this present day because it was once part a century in the past.

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Additional resources for Alasdair MacIntyre's Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings, 1953-1974 (Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 19)

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Indeed, even such cadres as the SLL’s Cliff Slaughter produced fairly anodyne sociology during their day jobs. See, for example, Slaughter 1956. 2 In the end, we did not include essays of this type because they would have diluted the main focus of the book. Our consideration of whether to include ‘Ought’ did however lead on to the more general question of our attitude to the minority of essays which are still in print. With one exception (‘Notes from the Moral Wilderness’ in The MacIntyre Reader) these are chapters in Against the Self-Images of the Age.

Read in this context, MacIntyre’s shift from the SLL to the IS is best conceptualised as a moment in the process through which he deepened his understanding of the concrete implications of his radicalism: first, after his break with the CPGB he moved to the New Left, then towards a form of Trotskyism, and then towards a more vibrant interpretation of Marxism. 66 MacIntyre made explicit his heterodox interpretation of Trotskyism in a review, first published in 1963, of the third volume of Isaac Deutscher’s biography of Trotsky.

At this point, MacIntyre introduced a crucial mediating clause into his argument: while the working class through its struggles against capital might spontaneously generate emancipatory movements, it has proved incapable of spontaneously realising the potential of these struggles. However, if freedom cannot be handed to the working class from above, how then might it be realised from such unpromising material? MacIntyre answered that socialists must join revolutionary parties, whose goal is not freedom itself, but rather to act in such a way so as to aid the proletariat to achieve freedom: the path to freedom must be by means of an organisation which is dedicated not to building freedom but to moving the working class to build it.

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