By Paul Blackledge, Neil Davidson (editors)
Even if Alasdair MacIntyre is better recognized this day because the writer of "After advantage" (1981), he was once, within the Fifties and Sixties, some of the most erudite contributors of Britain's Marxist Left: being a militant inside, first, the Communist get together, after which the recent Left.
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Extra resources for Alasdair MacIntyre's Engagement with Marxism: Selected Writings 1953-1974 (Historical Materialism Book Series)
However, expunged from the text was any suggestion of the practical, Christian-socialist, purpose of the original. Moreover, MacIntyre ironically reduced Marx’s theory of history to the caricature from which he had attempted its rescue in ‘Notes from the Moral Wilderness’. 94 Interestingly, MacIntyre made a similar point in his 1995 introduction to this book, In the first version of this book there was a chapter on philosophy and practice that was omitted when I revised it in 1968. That chapter was originally included because it attempted to pose what I had rightly recognized as the fundamental problem.
71 To label MacIntyre’s wager dogmatic is thus to miss the point: one way or another, we all make the wager, and those who do not bet on the proletariat are compelled to retreat back to the tragic vision: if we reject Marx, then we are doomed, therefore, to fall back into one form or another of the incommensurable ethical perspectives dominant within bourgeois society. To fully comprehend MacIntyre’s later break with Marxism we must consequently ask not what made him drop the dogma, but rather what made him change his bet?
With one exception (‘Notes from the Moral Wilderness’ in The MacIntyre Reader) these are chapters in Against the Self-Images of the Age. In fact, this issue posed considerably less of a problem than the philosophical writings. We took the view that all the relevant essays should be included, as one of our main objectives was to contextualise them through reinsertion into the chronological trajectory of MacIntyre’s work as a whole. An essay like ‘Trotsky in Exile’, for example, which first appeared in Encounter, can be seen as part of a far more consistently revolutionary argument alongside similar pieces from International Socialism than it does when read in comparative isolation in the pages of Against the Self-Images of the Age.