Monday, 1 September 2008

From "Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence"

By G. A. Cohen.

Why, then, do workers not elect revolutionary candidates? […] A “Marcusean” reply was popular in the 1960s. Bourgeois ideology, it went, has so captured the minds of the workers that they are hooked on capitalism and virtually unaware of a socialist alternative. This answer no doubt gives a part of the truth, in exaggerated form. But it is important to realize that it is not the whole truth. For it neglects the costs and difficulties of carrying through a socialist transformation. Workers are not so benighted as to be helpless dupes of bourgeois ideology, nor all so uninformed as to be unaware of the size of the socialist project. Marxist tradition expects revolution only in crisis, not because then alone will workers realize what burden capitalism puts upon them, but because when the crisis is bad enough the dangers of embarking on a socialist alternative become comparatively tolerable.

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