Justice in the Light of Historical Materialism

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.9, 2017


Justice in the Light of Historical Materialism



FengYanli, Duan Zhongqiao and Wu Zhongmin


On the intellectual spectrum of theories of justice, the question of “Marx and justice” has been a focal point for researchers. As a major component of historical materialism, the intellectual logic of Marx’s theory of justice has opened up a completely new way of thinking, revealing the true nature of Western concepts of justice and the great changes they have undergone. Marx’s view solves the riddle of justice and furthers the progress of its great cause; it is of great theoretical and practical significance for the correct understanding and resolution of the question of equity and justice in the development of socialist modernization and for our comprehensive grasp of equity and justice as inherent requirements of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Feng Yanli, Researcher at the Research Department of Overseas Marxism of the Academy of Marxism of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that justice is rooted in practice and necessarily embodies the principles of justice of particular class interests as well as the unity of real and ideal logic in a de jure state. From the perspective of a holistic analysis of historical materialism, the strong points and the characteristics of Marxian justice are the realization of the unity of production justice and distribution justice, that is, the transcendence of capitalist society by an economic structure and future society unified in the production mode of social history and capitalist surplus value production. Professor Duan Zhongqiao of the School of Philosophy of Renmin University of China argues that the proposition put forth by Alan Woods in the 1970s that Marx does not think that capitalism is unjust is in fact a one-sided understanding of the connotations of Marxs concept of justice,”“the justice of exchanges” under capitalism and “capital’s possession of surplus value.” Not only is Woods’ whole interpretation wrong, but his arguments do not hold water, so the logical conclusion of his proposition is necessarily invalid. Wu Zhongmin, Professor at the Teaching and Research Department of Scientific Socialism at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee believes that the social justice in the modern sense is an organic whole composed of universal justice and differential justice, which together constitute the highest common divisor of the wishes and interest claims of members of the community. Giving excessive weight to either of the two will lead, in different degrees, to their separation, and have a negative effect on the sound operation and healthy development of society. A correct understanding of the logic of the balanced development of universal and differential justice therefore has important real value for theoretical innovation and the formulation of guiding policies.