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Western Political Thought: From the Ancient Greeks to Modern Times, 2nd Edition by Pearson, 2nd Edition by Shefali Jha

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TWELVE

Karl Marx (1818–1883): The State and Class Struggle

The most important idea that I associate with Karl Marx is his critique of capitalism as a system lacking freedom. Taking seriously the Hegelian idea that individual freedom was the result of specific social conditions, Marx concluded that the modern social conditions exemplified by the capitalist mode of production were antithetical to freedom. Marx took his project to be the demonstration of how, as a class society, capitalism not only leads to the subordination of the oppressed class of the proletariat, but that capitalism is a society of systemic ‘unfreedom’ for all its members.

Before we analyse Marx’s theory of the lack of freedom in capitalist societies, let us take a brief biographical ...

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