Who was it who wrote that, “Nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes”? And that “society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner”? The answer is Karl Marx, the bicentenary of whose birth we celebrate this year, and an author whose imposing body of work offered such an apt description of the struggles that needed pursuing, without however, as Patrice Cailleba highlights, providing many pointers to what a desirable society would look like. And who criticized the socialists of his day for their “fantastic pictures of future society”, condemning these as utopian, if not indeed reactionary.
Karl Marx is a worthy subject for a “Future of Yesteryear” article, as Cailleba’s analysis demonstrates here. Basing himself on Marx’s post-1845 writings, he presents, in summary form, some particularly striking aspects of Marx’s thought with regard to the system of production (in particular, the abolition of private property and its replacement by collective ownership) and his recommendation that, once a sufficient level of production had been achieved, the fruits of that production should be distributed equitably (“from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”). Our readers will undoubtedly be struck by the aptness and topicality of some of the measures he advocated.