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New Left Review I/220, November-December 1996


Jeffrey Vogel

The Tragedy of History

Modern social and political thought has inherited two fundamental values from the Enlightenment: a belief in human rights or human dignity, and a belief in human progress or human destiny. [1] I wish to thank Gopal Balakrishnan, Robin Blackburn, Richard Boyd, and Allen Wood for conversations and comments on earlier versions of this article. Marx’s theory of history emphasizes that these fundamental values of modern political consciousness historically have been and still are in irreconcilable conflict. Marxism is noted among Enlightenment theories of human progress for emphasizing that this progress is unavoidably painful and conflict-ridden.

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