chapter  11
22 Pages

Towards a Critical Ethical Economy

ByRussell Keat

About 50 years ago, several previously unavailable or unnoticed texts written by Marx in the early 1840s began to attract the attention of numerous scholars and commentators. The ensuing stream of publications brought to light a distinctively ethical Marx, a very different theoretical figure from the previously familiar one.2 Couched in a philosophical language of alienation, these early writings condemned capitalism for its destructive impact on the development and exercise of human powers and capacities, undermining the possibility of genuinely social relationships and of meaningful work. The humanistic Marxism that emerged from these texts and commentaries was deeply attractive to many (though by no means all) of their readers; Marx’s thought could now be seen as contributing to the broader tradition of ethical socialism, previously a frequent target of Marxist criticism.