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How to Do Things with HistoryNew Approaches to Ancient Greece$
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Danielle Allen, Paul Christesen, and Paul Millett

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190649890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190649890.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021

Marx and Antiquity

Marx and Antiquity

(p.185) 7 Marx and Antiquity
How to Do Things with History

Wilfried Nippel

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, Nippel shows that those who think that Marxist materialism and class analysis drew, in the first instance, from a study of antiquity have Marx wrong. After his doctoral dissertation on Democritus and Epicurus, Marx never came back to these questions in his subsequent writings. All further references to antiquity in his work were only asides in quite different contexts and were seldom meant as substantive statements about antiquity. Rather, the historical cases that motivated his analytical frameworks were India and slavery in the United States. In this respect, antiquity was of only marginal interest to Marx. Of course there are a great many “allusions to ancient texts” in Marx’ writings, but they were indeed “allusions.” While Marxists have often grounded their arguments on distinctive pictures of antiquity, or used Marxist concepts to analyze antiquity, Marx himself did neither.

Keywords:   Marx, Marxism, antiquity, India, slavery

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