The Ethics of Marxism

Nicholas Rengger

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


The Ethics of Marxism

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This article focuses on the ethics of Marxism in international relations. Given that Marxism's relationship to ethics is much more complex than it appears on the surface, the article seeks to lay out the character of that relationship, to emphasize certain key features of Marxist thinking in relation to the ethics of international relations — not all of which are necessarily congruent with one another — and then, finally, to point to the fundamental problem with the Marxist tradition in thinking about the ethics of international relations in particular and indeed, the social world in general. It explores whether it is likely that Marxism, as an independent tradition of thought, has, can, or will offer serious points of departure for ethical reflection on international relations — and later suggests that it cannot. Nonetheless, as a contributor to ethical reflection on international relations, Marxism indeed offers some important and arresting insights.

Keywords: Marxist thinking; international relations; ethics; ethical reflection

Article.  5956 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Theory

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