Human Nature and Socialism in Karl Marx


The measure of self-centeredness with which political actors operate at the international level is the primary motivation for this research.

The research explores Karl Marx’s conception of human nature within the context of his conception of socialism as an alternative to the excessive self-centeredness with which actors operate at the international level.

Marx regards the human person as a unique, productive and natural being. In addition, he conceives the human individual as social, universal, free and creative by nature.

Marx claims that the conditions of life which are common to human persons, their inward nature and their consciousness of it are all historical products.

However, it should be noted that the human person has two fundamental natures. One is the individualistic, egoistic, avaricious nature.

The other is the social, egalitarian and altruistic nature. Based on this, the aim of this research is to examine the Marxian concept of human nature as the ideal for the operations of men in a heavily dominated capitalist world.

Specifically, the following objectives guides the research: (a) examine critically, the concept of human nature in Marxian socialism; b) draw attention to debates in Marxian scholarship on the dimensions of human nature;

c) explain the need for the harmonization of the individual and social dimensions of human nature; d) clarify the distinction between Marxian socialism and other varieties of socialism.


Background of Study

Undoing the idea of self interest as the sole motivation for political actors at the international level is the motivation for this research. There is no doubt today we live in a capitalist world where individual self interest constantly guides human actions.

This capitalist mindset and outlook is manifested nationally within avowed capitalist nations like the United States and countries in Europe.

In contrast to these capitalist nations, there are those who are socialist in outlook like Russia and China and their consequent concept of human nature as collective and therefore stands in opposition to the capitalist outlook.

But the depressing reality is the fact that there is a point where these blocs of countries meet; at the international level, all these countries act primarily from selfish interest, whether capitalist or socialist.

At this level, the model for intercultural dialogue is described as pragmatic-strategic communication by Fred Dallmayr.


Leslie Stevenson and David Haberman, Ten Theories of Human Nature, Third Edition(Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1998), 131.

Leslie Stevenson and David Haberman, Ten Theories of Human Nature, 133.

Allen Wood, Karl Marx, (London: Routledge and Kegan, 1981),

Allen Wood, Karl Marx,

Hook Sydney, From Hegel to Marx, (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1985),

Hook Sydney, From Hegel to Marx,

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