Choice and Marx

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Purporting to challenge my interpretation of Marx, Chris Morrison (Letters, 14 October) shows no acquaintance whatsoever with what Marx wrote and makes the common mistake of attributing to Marx advocacy of the sorts of dreadful regimes and practices of those countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere which called themselves communist or socialist.

It seems not to occur to him that to do this might be akin to interpreting the Sermon on the Mount as licensing the burning of so-called heretics in the fires of Smithfield under Mary Tudor of England.

Mr Morrison takes his stand on the choices which he says people have in a free-market society.

It is to be noted that he offers no scrutiny of the notion of choice, nor does he consider whether the choices that it makes available conform to the nature and dignity of man.

After all, the clerk in a bank hold-up is given a choice – namely, to hand over the money or be shot – but no sane person would sing hallelujahs to the sort of choice offered there.

If Mr Morrison cares to read Marx, he will find a good deal consistent with upholding the value of choice without unhooking choice from consideration of what is consistent with the ­nature and dignity of man as ­capable of achieving fulfilment via an intelligent and creative engagement with the world.

Oh, and Mr Morrison’s regard for evidence is shown by the fact that he calls me a Marxist solely on the basis that I suggested a common view of Marx is wrong. That does not make me a Marxist.

Paul Brownsey

Department of Philosophy

Glasgow University