Marxist Imagination

Transcending English empiricism, neither Disraeli nor Newman was afraid of ideas; they understood the power of the imagination, and its role in history, and so, in an inferior sense, did Marx. Despite Marx’s formal adherence to Utilitarian concepts and arguments of proof, despite his belligerent determination to be scientific, his influence has been that of a man of imagination—an imagination begrimed and fettered, true, but still participating in the world of ideas, superior to the tyranny of particular facts. “To consider whether Marx was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; to dredge Volumes I and III of Capital for inconsistencies or logical flaws, to ‘refute’ the Marxian system is, in the last resort, sheer waste of time,” says Professor Alexander Gray; “for when we consort with Marx we are no longer in the world of reason or logic. He saw visions—clear visions of the passing of all things, much more nebulous visions of how all things may be made new. And his visions, or some of them, awoke a responsive chord in the hearts of many men.” Though assertedly a materialist, in truth Marx was an idealist, indoctrinated by Hegel; and this aspect of his character, which he endeavored to strip from himself as if it were Nessus’ shirt, accounts nevertheless for his victory over Utilitarians whose method he imitated. He dealt, however mistakenly, with ends; the Liberals, with means and particulars; and the mass of men being governed by imagination more than reason, in such a struggle the odds favor the visionary (The Conservative Mind 263)



  1. unknowing said,

    July 31, 2009 at 10:26 am


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