The Legacy Of Karl Marx

The Legacy Of Karl Marx

Marx has had a profound influence on the twentieth century, and it is a testi­monial to his far-ranging intellect that this influence has surpassed the bound­aries of economics alone. Even within the discipline of economics, however, Marx's influence has reached far beyond the small group of economists who are Marxist in the strict sense—people such as Paul Sweezy, Maurice Dobb, Paul Baran, and Ernest Mandel, to name a few. Any economist who reasons from the primacy of production in explaining economic relations may be said to have felt the influence of Marx. The same can be said for those who em­brace the dialectical method, whether or not they accept the ultimate conclu­sions of Marx's analysis.

In Marx's time, the dialectical method of thought, especially Hegelian, per­meated the Continent, whereas the English-speaking world was more influ­enced by the empiricism of Locke and Hume. The consequence is that scien­tific thought in general has been empirical in nature while social, political, and theological thought, especially with its roots on the Continent, has tended to be dialectical in nature. This has led to very different perspectives, which explains the observed lack of understanding and tolerance between the different bodies of thought.

Modern Marxists have ostensibly rallied around the essential core of hu­manism in Marx's thought. The complexities of mass production and the "third world" deprivation of various groups and nations have made the kind of alienation Marx described seem very real to a large segment of society. Even those who decry the necessity of violent revolution for meaningful social change are often spurred by a Marx-like humanism to seek alternative forms of social reform. In the end, this may prove to be the most durable part of Marx's legacy to the world.