A Fourfold Justification of Marx’s Theory of Justice

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2014


A Fourfold Justification of Marx’s Theory of Justice



Wang Xinsheng


Marx’s discussion of the question of justice takes place in his critique of “national economics.” It assumes the elimination of private ownership, as determined by his theoretical task. Rather than interpreting the relations of distribution using political and legal ideas of fairness and justice, he interprets them from the perspective of the relations of production and then interprets the latter from the perspective of labor. That is the basic logic underlying Marx’s theory of justice. Only by starting with a critique of national economics could he come straight to the point of entitlement theories of justice and the essence of the modern question of justice. The idea of justice in contemporary Western political philosophies such as liberalism is a lower stage concept; in contrast, Marx’s concept of justice is a higher level concept with broader implications. Starting from “human society or social humanity,” Marx’s high-level concept of justice is based on organic social cooperation between “free men” and depicts the highest principle of justice that human society can attain to. This principle is the result of logical and historical self-sublation of various principles of justice in human history. In the construction of theory of justice in contemporary China, Marxism cannot merely play the role of a critic; rather, it shoulders the theoretical responsibility of providing norms for the real world.