Human nature, revolution, and the state: Marx and Bakunin on socialist society
LccB 3305 M74 J34 1986
Marx, Karl, 1818-1883
Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich, 1814-1876
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AbstractThe debate between Karl Marx and Michael Bakunin over the correct road to socialism turns on their respective views of the state. In this thesis I argue that their disagreement can most fundamentally be cashed out in terms of the divergent conceptions of human nature that each holds. Contra the claims of some philosophers, Marx does indeed have a theory of human nature. This theory is separable into two parts: human nature in general, and human nature as historically conditioned. Against Marx's view, Bakunin believes that certain features of human nature obtain trans-historically. He claims that human beings are characterized by instincts for both revolution and socialism, as well as an instinctual love of power. Flowing from these differing views, I argue, are the varying conceptions of post-revolutionary society that each proffers. The dictatorship of the proletariat presupposes the mutable nature of ideological categories and the development of revolutionary consciousness in response to capitalism's imminent demise. Bakunin's critique of the proletarian state, and his more general critique of the state per se, are each founded on the idea that a lust for power is a human nature based constant. His positive alternative is designed to forestall the activation of this lust. In the end I make two points. First, Bakunin's view of human nature subverts his libertarian program: if love of power is an inviolable feature of humanity, socialism is not a real option. Second, Marx's view is the more perspicuous. If the fledgling society is to survive, a state apparatus will doubtless be necessary immediately following the revolution. And the people at its helm will not be power-lusters.
Bibliography: p. 116-118.
CitationJanowski, J. D. (1985). Human nature, revolution, and the state: Marx and Bakunin on socialist society (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/20116
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