The Marxian Tradition

Terrell Carver

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Political Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199238804
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728365 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 The Marxian Tradition

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Social and Political Philosophy


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Karl Marx (1818–1883) and his sometime collaborator and long-term friend, Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), are rightly regarded as the founders of a highly significant tradition in the history of political philosophy. However, this was never their aim at the time of writing. Their relationship to politics as activists, and their broad political orientations as socialists, were both clear from the early stages of their careers. The Marxian tradition, established as such in Marx's later lifetime, was certainly one of political thought and action, but the reception of these ideas and selected texts into the mainstream and canon of the Anglophone history of political philosophy was largely a post-World War II development. The portmanteau term Marxism occludes a number of contextually crucial distinctions that bear on philosophical and other interpretative issues connected with the Marxian tradition. In general terms, the Marxian tradition contributes to the history of political philosophy by highlighting economic activity, social class, exploitation, the state, ideology, historical progress, revolutionary change, and a “good society” that is socialist or communist in character.

Keywords: Karl Marx; Friedrich Engels; Marxian tradition; Marxism; politics; political philosophy; social class; good society; exploitation; ideology

Article.  10281 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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