Scientific socialism and democracy: A response to Femia

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):345-353 (1986)
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Abstract

In a recent article, ?Marxism and Radical Democracy?,1 Femia argues that Marxism is incompatible with radical democracy. In so doing he specifically reiterates2 a now common claim that the notion of scientific socialism defended by Marx and Engels and prevalent in the Second International is anti?democratic. This claim has not only been made by critics of Marxism.3 It has been a major criticism of classical Marxism within the Western Marxist tradition, in particular? in the work of the Frankfurt School.4 It is one of the main reasons why the classical Marxism of Engels and the Second International has been rejected as positivist and vulgar: no modern sophisticated Marxist admits to either positivism or vulgarity. In this paper I examine and reject Femia's arguments for the claim that the notion of scientific socialism is undemocratic. I argue that the orthodox view of Marxism as a scientific theory is compatible with democracy, and indeed encourages a democratic understanding of socialism. A thoroughly vulgar Marxism is thoroughly democratic

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