Voegelin, Marx, and the "Evils" of Capitalism
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Karl Marx
Eric Voegelin

How to Cite

Voegelin, Marx, and the "Evils" of Capitalism. (2023). The Political Science Reviewer, 47(1), 179-209. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/745


No one can mistake Eric Voegelin for being a sympathetic reader of Marxism, an ideology that he condemned as one of the most dangerous versions of gnostic tyranny in modernity. Yet Voegelin’s critique of Marx’s historical determinism, atheistic eschatology, and the “murder of God” did not discourage him from occasionally praising Marx’s critique of economic theory, particularly the lack of interest that this discipline displays towards the destructive effects of capitalism. In my paper, I mainly focus on Voegelin’s extensive discussion of Marx’s thought in the last two chapters of From Enlightenment to Revolution. Specifically, I explain why Voegelin in this context believed that there was considerable value in Marx’s insights on the “overwhelming influence” of economic institutions as well as the profound alienation and powerlessness of the working class that persist as features of “modern industrial society.” Although these insights do not save Marxism from its numerous errors, what Voegelin called Marx’s “diagnosis of the evil” resulting from capitalism serves as a warning that this system still suffers from fatal defects that may bring about its demise.

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