In what is the first sustained analysis of Marx’s attitude to the puzzle of the individual in history and society, this book, first published in 1990, challenges received views on the importance of class analysis and the place of a theory of human nature in Marx’s thought. The radical possibilities of individual agency in society are explored within a Marxian framework, and without recourse to the current fashions of methodological individualism or rational choice theory. In the context of the apparent antagonism between collectivist and individualist approaches to political explanation and social change, the author establishes that a ‘New Individual’, of singular importance for the understanding of contemporary society, can be identified. For the first time, the Grundrisse provides the basis of a major analysis of Marx’s thoughts on the individual. By illustrating the nature of the connections between collective existence and individual experience, Ian Forbes makes an important contribution towards the revitalization of socialist thought. He also develops a valuable counterpoint to rational actor models of politics and liberal theories of justice alike, by establishing the importance of a political theory that values human agency as much as it understands social and historical processes.
Part 1. The Individual, Political Theory and Marx’s Thought 1.1. The Individual in Humanism and Theoretical Anti-humanism 1.2. Individualism and Social Theory 1.3. Marx and Modes of Individualism 1.4. Human Nature, Autonomy and History Part 2. The Individual and Marx’s Theory of Change 2.1. Sources of Social Change 2.2. Human Nature and History 2.3. Thinking About Human Nature 2.4. Social Change and Individuality Part 3. Pre-Capitalist Societies and the Absence of Individualism and Individuality 3.1. Feudalism and the Individual 3.2. Feudalism and Change 3.3. The Feudal Individual Part 4. Individuality in Capitalist Society 4.1. The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism 4.2. History, Nature, and Early Capitalism 4.3. The Placement of Marx’s Critique 4.4. Development: Human Nature and Capitalism 4.5. Production 4.6. Social Relations 4.7. Capitalism, Individualism and Individuality 4.8. Bourgeois Individuality 4.9. Proletarian Individuality 4.10. Individuality and Change Through Capitalism Part 5. The Individual Under Communism 5.1. Method in Communism 5.2. Communism as the End of Classes 5.3. Individuals and Nature in Communism 5.4. The Character of Communist Individuality 5.5. Exchange, Production and the Universal Individual 5.6. On Being an Individual 5.7. Wealth and Communist Individuality