Liberty Matters

Some Final Thoughts

As is true of any genuine conversation, this conversation about Marx's moral critique of markets has gone in several directions that could not have been predicted.
Marx argued that human beings could not reach their full potential in a capitalist system, that because of alienation and exploitation, human beings become less than human, more like animals, not much more than things. 
A number of my dialogical partners have pointed out the weaknesses in Marx's system. These points are well taken. David Hart highlighted some worrisome dead ends in Marx's theories. Pete helpfully applauded Marx for helping us to understand some "sharp objects" we must all confront in commercial society, but argues (persuasively) that Marx does not help us "to creatively find ways to dull the edges and safeguard against deep cuts and fatal wounds." Steve (convincingly) argues that some of Marx's appeal is due to the fact that people simply cannot see the "beautiful vision of a society of free and responsible people slowly improving the lives of all." Dave Prychitko usefully reminds us that the several people working in the tradition of Marx have important "criticisms of capitalism."
Sill, Marx remains a part of our extended present. The worry that markets corrupt us and the concern that the rich have too much power (and are likely to abuse that power) are, in many ways, Marxian fears about life in capitalist society. By describing them as Marxian fears, I mean that the form these fears take in many popular accounts owe a great deal to Marx. Market advocates must speak to these fears, and they can only do so effectively if they pay attention to Marx.