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The Marxist Theory of Justice

The Marxist Theory of Justice

  • The Marxist theory of justice is an example of social justice theories, where justice is seen as a feature of society. Marx discusses the concept of justice in his book, Critique of the Gotha Programme.
  • He advances 2 kinds of concepts: one for the transitional socialist society and the other for the communist society.
  • In the transitional socialist society, justice mandates that each individual should receive in accordance with one’s labour contribution. But, Marx was dissatisfied with the contribution principle because it did not incorporate the crucial factor of needs.
  • In communist society, the principle would be from each according to one’s ability, to each according to one’s needs.
  • This means that people would produce goods and services without the need for differential rewards and they would be unaffected by what others get. But material abundance is a prerequisite for this principle.
  • For Rawls, justice is the first virtue of social institution but for Marx a truly good community does not need the concept of justice. Marx admits the significance of justice as a principle for operation of society flawed by conflict and scarcity.
  • Marx advocates the abolition of private property as an essential step towards the creation of a cooperative and harmonious community.  The Marxist Theory of Justice
  • Private property is unjust, since it is exploitative and alienating. It is the worker who creates wealth in a capitalist society but gets only a fraction of it as wage.
  • Marx proposes socialization of the production process, where workers would have an effective say in production. Such an arrangement would generate satisfaction for the workers and fulfil genuine human needs.
  • Thus, in a communist society, justice means a just society. And just rules, where there is no coercion, no repressive state machinery and people obey laws as a matter of habit rather than any theory of punishment.
  • In the capitalist justice, rights have an edge over the duties whereas in the Marxian justice, duties override the rights.
  • The capitalist notion of justice is more close to liberty than equality while the Marxian idea of justice is more close to the idea of equality than that of liberty. The Marxist Theory of Justice



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