Marx as evolutionary and some “revisionist” implications

Samuel Hollander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The view of Karl Marx as “revolutionary” endorsing a violent overturn of the capitalist system is not only standard textbook fare filtering through to popular opinion, but also often found in professional accounts. The perspective on Marx as “revolutionary” is unconvincing. Marx’s evolutionism, insofar as it relates to prominent features of advanced capitalism, implies a powerful laissez-faire bias reflecting primarily concern lest reformist measures to correct perceived injustices in the capitalist-exchange system assure its permanence, but also price-theoretic arguments for non-intervention. Secondly, Marx’s evolutionism extends to the stage following a proletarian political takeover, and includes allowance for a residual capitalist sector, for income inequality, and even for compensation of expropriated property owners. And, thirdly, the proletarian takeover itself might, for Marx, occur by way of democratic voting enabled by extensions of the franchise accorded by the capitalist state itself responding to pressures generated by capitalist development. These three themes render the evolutionist perspective overwhelming.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarx, Engels, and Marxisms
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameMarx, Engels, and Marxisms
ISSN (Print)2524-7123
ISSN (Electronic)2524-7131


  • Historical materialism
  • Marxian conservatism
  • Marxian evolutionism
  • Marxian revisionism
  • Proletarian revolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy


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