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Title: Unravelling the 'riddle' : alien politics in the thought of Karl Marx
Author: Moorby, M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 2733
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This dissertation is a conceptual analysis of Marx's critique of the alienated relationship between the citizen and the state. Studies of this relationship, which includes literature on Marx's concept of alienation and on his theory of the state, can be divided into: those who understand political alienation as merely derivative of socio-economic alienation; those who argue that Marx's 1842-3 writings contain a penetrating articulation of the political; and those who identify political alienation with the critique of the state as relatively autonomous and as distinct from the instrumentalist theory of the state. At stake in this debate is what, if any, category of the political Marx's writings contains; whether it has its own distinctive content that is non-reducible to the socio-economic realm; and how we understand his thinking on the political to have changed over his life. Although there has been a great deal of research on alienation and the state in Marx's thought, the tendency has been to focus on the early period of Marx's career only or on political alienation as a sub-topic of a broader study of alienation or the state. This project intervenes in this debate over the meaning, status, and implications of political alienation with a focused study, examining what Marx thought political alienation was an alienation of; how it was related to the other forms of alienation in his thought; and what alien politics reveals about the development of his thought and his theories of the state, revolution, and socialism. My methodology is textual and conceptual analysis, primarily focused on key texts across Marx's career containing references political alienation - the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, On the Jewish Question, The Eighteenth Brumaire, Capital Volume I, and The Civil War in France. To shed light on these connected problems and arguments, I use a dialectical approach to Marx's writings. A dialectical approach treats Marx's concepts as an ensemble comprised of internally related, co-evolving parts rather than as an aggregate of externally related units. To understand Marx's meaning, then, means focusing not on these individual aspects in isolation but on the web of co-evolving internal relations formed by this ensemble. I defend three main conclusions: (1) that political alienation is important in Marx's thought as a distinctive form of alienation, non-reducible to other forms; (2) that political alienation is a recurring, yet changing, thread in his thinking, the development of which is best understood as a complex evolution involving shifts in understanding rather than either clean breaks or unchanging continuity with earlier ideas; and (3) that far from being silent on the subject, Marx was a thinker deeply concerned with politics and the political - with the specific, political conditions and character of the state, revolution, and socialism. This project serves as a prompt to re-read some of Marx's most important texts; reconsider our understanding of the development of his thought; and to reflect on the relationship between economics and politics in his thought.
Supervisor: Castiglione, D. ; Hampsher-Monk, I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available