Marxist humanism is an international body of thought and political action rooted in an interpretation of the works of Karl Marx. It is an investigation into "what human nature consists of and what sort of society would be most conducive to human thriving" from a critical perspective rooted in Marxist philosophy. Marxist humanists argue that Marx himself was concerned with investigating similar questions.
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Marxist humanism was born in 1932 with the publication of Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 and reached a degree of prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Marxist humanists contend that there is continuity between the early philosophical writings of Marx, in which he develops his theory of alienation, and the structural description of capitalist society found in his later works such as Capital. They hold that it is necessary to grasp Marx's philosophical foundations to understand his later works properly.
Contrary to the official dialectical materialism of the Soviet Union and to interpretations of Marx rooted in the structural Marxism of Louis Althusser, Marxist humanists argue that Marx's work was an extension or transcendence of enlightenment humanism. Where other Marxist philosophies see Marxism as a natural science, Marxist humanism reaffirms the doctrine of "man is the measure of all things" - that humans are essentially different to the rest of the natural order and should be treated so by Marxist theory.