John Paul II's Labor on Marx

Traditionally, the “liberal arts” were so named because they liberate, make free. But the liberal arts do not directly effect political liberation. Rather, they liberate the interior person from slavery to compulsions, falsehoods, and vices by forming him in truth. In this regard, Alasdair MacIntyre is instructive:

Ever since I first taught in American universities in 1970 I have found myself interrogated by parents whose children have disappointed them by becoming philosophy majors. What such parents ask—and it is not so much a question as an expression of pain—is “What is the good of philosophy?” What I have replied is “Philosophy is the discipline that teaches us how to answer questions of the form ‘What is the good of such and such?’” [1]

The ultimate goal of the liberal arts is not professional competence nor external revolution, but the knowledge of the good that enables ethical choices: i.e., the interior freedom to be virtuous. Analogously the liberal arts ought to form culture as a leaven from within that creates conditions conducive to virtue.

Karol Wojtyła was confronted with a radically different ideology of education and culture in the decades during which he lived under officially atheistic Marxism. [2] This ideology substitutes “liberty,” as a fundamentally interior state, with “liberation,” which is reduced to a socio-economic reality. Hence, as in Marx’s Second Thesis on Feuerbach: “Man must prove the truth—i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice.”[3] Marx resolutely displaces the center of human reality from interiority to exteriority. In contrast, Wojtyła locates the key to culture not in material praxis but in virtuous self-formation. Given that this formation of free persons is also the goal of the liberal arts, the latter dovetail with the pedagogy of Wojtyła, while the Marxist vision promotes a pedagogy of techne.

1. Philosophy and Praxis

For Marx, philosophy is Hegel. And Hegelian philosophy is an ideology—the German ideology, in fact—that cannot recognize that the division of labor and capital itself generates the ideas (including Hegel’s own) supporting the capitalist system. The Young Hegelians of Marx’s day did not understand this and erroneously pursued social change by means of ideas. But this, Marx believed, was backward. Social change will change ideas.

Materialist praxis, according to Marx, recognizes “that definite individuals who are productively active in a definite way enter into these definite social and political relations.”[4] The being of individuals is only an abstraction if it is removed from how individuals “actually are, i.e., as they act, produce materially, and hence as they work under definite material limits, presuppositions and conditions independent of their will.”[5] Out of these material conditions come ideas, not the other way around. “It is a matter of ascending from earth to heaven,” that is, recognizing that ideas have their origins in material life-process, not vice versa. As The Communist Manifesto puts it, “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”[6]

Of course, Marx’s relationship to Hegel is not one of mere dismissal. Marx recognized Hegel’s “outstanding achievement,” namely, the latter’s dialectic, which underlined that man is self-created through alienation and its overcoming. Despite this key insight, Hegel neutralized what he gained by reducing alienation to a purely intra-mental process, such that, Marx complains, “All estrangement of the human being [in Hegel’s philosophy] is therefore nothing but estrangement of self-consciousness.[7] A spiritual problem requires a spiritual solution. Hegel’s philosophy can only be conservative and quietistic, because it believes that the problem of alienation has been solved when the philosopher becomes self-conscious.[8]

Discontent with this solution, Marx proposes a material problem with a material solution. “It is not consciousness that determines life, but life that determines consciousness.”[9] As we have seen, the Second Thesis on Feuerbach from 1845 summarizes the rejection of Hegelian speculation: “The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth—i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice.”[10] Even more pointedly, the famous Eleventh and final Thesis proclaims: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”[11]

2. Labor as the Embodiment of the Person

This primacy of praxis over theory was the backdrop of Wojtyła’s intellectual endeavors. We know that he thematized the problem in those terms because of two pieces he wrote, among the very last of his pre-papal writings, in 1976 and 1977. Both of them were on the relationship of theory and praxis, as well as an essay on “The Problem of the Constitution of Culture through Human Praxis” in 1977. Finally, a key late essay entitled “Participation and Alienation?” addresses the Marxist-inspired question of the nature of alienation (presented in 1975 and published in 1978).[12] Given the precarious situation of operating within official Soviet-Marxism, even with the relatively greater freedom in Poland, it is not surprising that Wojtyła did not write more explicitly about the question. But I would propose that much of his philosophy of action was inspired by his engagement with the pervasive official dialectical materialism.[13]

That being said, one must not over-emphasize the opposition between Marx and Wojtyła. The latter by nature was a sympathetic reader, and he granted much more to Marx than many of his fellow Catholic philosophers did. Or, at least, he agreed with Marx on some key points.

First, like Marx, Wojtyła believes that human action (“praxis”) is not a mere epiphenomenon to human thinking. Rather, action forms the person, and in some way praxis forms theory, in the sense that we come to a knowledge of reality through our concrete experience. The latter is the actual reality of praxis. He argues that theory and praxis together comprise a “bilateral system,” each forming the other. Hence, Wojtyła  shares Marx’s distrust of speculation disconnected from reality.[14] Further, act signifies a perfection, and for the human actor, praxis in accord with the truth perfects him.[15] In fact, echoing the “self-creation” of Marx’s dialectics, he will go so far as to label the human person and even his body a “task”: “in masculinity and femininity [the Creator] assigned to [man] in some way his own humanity as a task.”[16] In acting I am “in some sense the ‘creator of myself.’”[17]

Further, both Marx and Wojtyła agree that the human person extends and expresses himself in the objective world through his labor. Work should be, as Marx puts it in Hegelian language, the free making-objective of my subjectivity. Through this work, my subjectivity becomes “a power beyond all doubt.”[18] Or, as Wojtyła says in a poetic key, speaking of a quarry worker, “Your will strikes a deep bell in stone.”[19] For Wojtyła, although less so for Marx, as the body expresses the interior person in the sensible world, so too does their labor.[20] As a result, both thinkers insist that the human person cannot simply be viewed as a means to the end of the accumulation of capital. John Paul II will say that “work is ‘for man’ and not man ‘for work,’” a pithy summary of the cri du coeur of Marxists against exploitation (Laborem Exercens, §6).

For Marx, however, the work of man necessarily expresses the material conditions of his mode of production. Marx reduces personal reality to production: “As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. Hence what individuals are depends on the material conditions of their production.”[21] Man’s labor is a process of self-creation, and it is labor—not rationality—distinguishes men from animals.[22]

Hence, labor is so significant for Marx that it replaces the centrality accorded to human interiority—knowing and willing—in classical anthropologies. In fact, he is suspicious of the very category of interiority, because he equates it with the hoarding to oneself that marks private property. As Del Noce puts it, “The critique of private property and its consequent communism depends in Marx on the critique of the category of the private (of interiority).”[23] The alienation intrinsic to private property encompasses interiority as well, such that the use of the category “mine” is alienating and selfish. It implies, as Marx says, that “I have produced for myself and not for you, just as you have produced for yourself and not for me.”[24] And, yet, because of the division of labor and private property, I must surrender what I made and sell it to you in order to meet my basic needs. Through this process, I am alienated from my work and the products of my work. Under the regime of alienating private property, work can only ever be an expression of alienation: “Presupposing private property, my individuality is alienated to such a degree that this activity becomes hateful to me . . . [labor] appears only as the expression of my loss of self […].”[25] As we will see, for Wojtyła, in labor man retains personal interiority; this leads to a much more positive view of labor.

One last similarity first: both Marx and Wojtyła believe work is necessary. Their reading of this necessity, however, differs.[26] To understand this, we must make a brief excursus into Marx’s understanding of alienation.[27] The objects created by my labor in capitalism are alienating, because I must give them away—my goods—in order to fulfill my needs, while the consumer must surrender something in return. Thus, the social relationship between the laborer-producer and the consumer is reduced to a relationship of simultaneous alienation.[28] I become a slave of my needs and must submit to “labor to earn a living” to meet my needs.[29] Further, needs are tied to the body because these needs exist only to further bodily life. Marx gives the examples of “eating and drinking, housing, clothing and various other things.”[30] Thus, the purpose of labor, for Marx, is to meet bodily needs, and the whole dynamic of labor-need occurs within relations of alienation. He concludes, “If then the product of labor is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation.”[31]

Buttiglione observes, “For Marx, human work creates values, but work itself does not, properly speaking, have a value.”[32] In Marxist terms, labor has an exchange value for the worker—he can exchange it for, e.g., a salary to buy what he needs—but labor for basic needs has no use value—it does not fulfill a particular human need on its own, but only as a means for something else that fulfills human needs. Necessity tarnishes the labor directed to the fulfillment of basic needs and eliminates such labor’s use value. As Marx writes in Capital, “The realm of freedom actually begins only where labor which is determined by necessity and mundane considerations ceases.”[33] Even in Communism, the goal is not to make labor meaningful for the laborer. It is, rather, to eliminate the time the worker must spend producing surplus-value for capital but not for himself. Ultimately communism enables not more meaningful labor but rather less labor that is directed to fulfilling basic needs—hence the basic prescription for a shorter working day.[34] The prospect for necessary yet meaningful labor within a Marxist framework is not bright.[35]

In contrast to this, Wojtyła does not divide work into what is necessary to meet basic needs, on the one hand, and what is free and fulfilling, on the other. As the encyclical Laborem Exercens says,

Even though it bears the mark of a bonum arduum, in the terminology of Saint Thomas, this does not take away the fact that, as such, it is a good thing for man. It is not only good in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man's dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it.

John Paul II continues, “Work is a good thing for man—a good thing for his humanity—because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfilment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being’” (LE, §9). To utilize the Marxist language: Wojtyła believes all labor has “use value.”

This conviction underlines his key disagreement with Marx: the fact that the laborer is and expresses not his material conditions but rather his person, which is an interior reality. In what could be a direct riposte to Marx, the theology of the body puts it succinctly: “the ‘invisible’ determines man more than the ‘visible.’”[36] The personally expressive function of labor ultimately derives from the primordial reality of the body as a quasi-sacrament, which is capable of expressing the triune God: his body “has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.”[37] From this expressive power of the body comes the expressive ability of work done by the embodied person. Hence work not only expresses the person but also expresses God the Creator: “man ought to imitate God, his Creator, in working, because man alone has the unique characteristic of likeness to God” (LE, §25).

Because both the body and labor express precisely the interior reality of the person as well as the transcendent God, it follows that Wojtyła cannot accept Marx’s portrayal of philosophy as “ideology,” that is, as an avoidance strategy obscuring the need for revolution. Rather, philosophy as the pursuit of truth is necessary to form the interior person who then expresses himself in action.[38] Wojtyła returns action to its place within the full, rich reality of the knowing and loving person who acts. Hence he states in Laborem Exercens that “the primary basis of the value of work is man himself, who is its subject” (LE, §6). This is, as Wojtyła says, the “intransitive” (as opposed to the “transitive”) basis for work.[39] Marx also grasped that work was intransitive, in that it creates and expresses the worker, but Marx had no words to say what precisely work creates, beyond vague gestures such as “my personality” or “individuality.”[40] But what does this mean, given his mistrust of the “private” nature of human interiority? Further, what is personality within a materialistic framework? If, under capitalism, labor creates surplus-value for the capitalist instead of the “personality” of the laborer, what does labor create in communism? Marx’s eschatology falters precisely here. Having so resolutely tied man to his socioeconomic state, he does not have the imagination to present a vision of freedom that is not shackled to material unfreedom. The freedom of communism is ultimately negative, a freedom from alienation rather than a freedom for the good.[41] For someone who has inspired so much utopianism, Marx’s explication of the good life is surprisingly thin.[42]

Wojtyła, on the other hand, sees freedom as always primarily interior freedom—no doubt an insight encouraged precisely by his experience of living under Nazi and Marxist dictatorships. He emphasizes in his early book Love and Responsibility that “the person is an “interior” being, i.e. that he possesses an interior proper only to him.”[43] In fact, it is precisely from this interior reality that the need for sexual shame is felt after the Fall. If the person is a solely exterior or material reality, not only economic but also sexual revolution (as shamelessness) makes good sense, because there is no interiority to protect. There is only sensible pleasure and well-being to accumulate. In contrast, shame is a protective mechanism that safeguards the interior richness of the person.[44]

This last insight emphasizes the continuity between Wojtyła’s vision of labor and his theology of the body. Interestingly, here too there is an analogous similarity with Marx: the latter argues that the division of labor in economic production has its origins in the sexual division of labor in reproduction; and we have seen that he ties labor to the realm of bodily necessity.[45] Rather than this negative and external connection, Wojtyła believes that the harmony between the body and work is rooted in the personal expressivity of both. John Paul II insists, “The structure of [Adam’s] body is such that it permits him to be the author of genuinely human activity. In this activity, the body expresses the person.”[46] The body expresses visibly and materially the spiritual reality that is the person. Likewise, work originates in the interior reality of the heart—“the greatness of work is inside man”—before being externalized in the world.[47] “Work starts within, outside it takes such space / that it soon seizes hands, then the limits of breath.”[48]

3. Culture, Pedagogy, and Love

This genuinely human activity forms culture, while simultaneously being formed by it; here Wojtyła shows some awareness of the Marxist category of “ideology,” especially in his reflections on a “culture of death.” Yet, as Buttiglione incisively notes, for Wojtyła (and unlike Marx), “Culture is not a secondary epiphenomenon of work but its emergent meaning, inasmuch as the person realizes himself in work . . . Culture is the capacity to love, respect, and make use of all things, each according to its proper dignity.”[49] Culture is “transitive”—e.g., cultural “products”—but even more importantly “intransitive”—the realization of man.

In his seminal 1980 address to UNESCO, John Paul II argued that culture is the specific way in which human beings exist—and not only produce or consume or act—in the world. “Man lives a really human life thanks to culture.”[50] Furthermore, this living is also an augmentation. Using language that echoes Laborem Exercens 9, he contended, “Culture is that through which man as man, becomes more man, ‘is’ more, has more access to ‘being.’” This is the “intransitive” meaning to culture, which is deeper than culture’s material reality:

All man’s “having” is important for culture, is a factor creative of culture, only to the extent to which man, through his “having,” can at the same time “be” more fully as a man, become more fully a man in all the dimensions of his existence, in everything that characterizes his humanity (LE, §7).

Laborem Exercens points out the role of education in this process: “everyone ‘becomes a human being’ through, among other things, work, and becoming a human being is precisely the main purpose of the whole process of education” (LE, §9). For man to do this, he must engaged in contemplation.[51] Buttiglione argues, “Contemplation actually rests at the center of work . . . The things constantly regenerate wonder in the human heart: an analogous wonder is generated by human relationships, which continually deepen through work.”[52] Here a genuinely liberal education serves human labor and culture. This education must include “theory” (contemplation), because without it, one has no way of identifying and ranking goods: as MacIntyre posed it, answering questions in the form of “what is the good of such and such?”

In contrast, for Marx, education is a political act, in which economic relations reproduce themselves ideologically. “The school is a school of class,” as Del Noce summarized it.[53] Ideas are products like any other, the spiritual products of material processes. As the Third Thesis on Feuerbach proposes, it is man who not only is changed by but also changes circumstances. From this naturally flows the exigency: “educate the educator!”[54] Change the educator, so that the material world will change—this is the goal of revolutionary praxis.

For Wojtyła, instead, education forms not only the material world but the whole person, as the German term Bildung implies. Certainly, the body should be trained as part of education, through the formation of patterns of bodily reactivity that tend to virtue and not to vice. But primarily education focuses on the person’s interiority—his free will—which is inviolable.[55] Education ought to help one to seek true rather than apparent goods.[56] But this means it tends toward “educating love,” which entails the challenge of “transferring the dimensions of love into the ordinary matters of daily life.”[57] This is the genuine human praxis in which most of the drama of human living happens—not so much class struggle as interpersonal love. As work and culture are the exterior expression and development of the interior man, so too should his relationships express bodily the self-gift that originates in his heart.

4. Conclusion

Wojtyła’s late essay on culture and praxis ends with a surprising reflection on death. Work and culture underscore man’s being-toward-death, his finitude and futility. If we reduce work and culture to “the whole of activity between the poles of production and consumption,” then we neglect cultural products that are not merely reducible to consumption.[58] “[A] civilization that is completely focused only on consumption is a civilization of the ‘death of humanity.’”[59] Both Marxism and consumerism share a materialism that leads to death.

This is because, when cultural products become ends in their own right (as in consumerism), the absolute horizon and telos of human life is inner-worldly—secular, properly speaking. The secular is not evil in itself but only limited: it is finite and not immortal. It tends toward death. When this consumerist attitude to culture reigns, death is implicitly or explicitly elevated as the only telos of the human person. The result is a culture of death, literally, in that the absolute horizon of death becomes not only the ideological horizon but also the actual goal of culture in all its forms, in particular of its technological means.

In the face of this, the good, the true, and the beautiful remind us of that which transcends this life. An education for the freedom of virtue accepts yet relativizes death. The finitude of bodily life does not become the last word, the god who must either be placated or defied. Rather it takes its proper place within the greater spiritual realities for which every person hungers. Ultimately it is to meet this hunger, and not merely our material needs, that we learn and labor.

EDITORIAL NOTE: This essay is a substantially shortened version of the essay "A Body of Work: Labor and Culture in Karol Wojtyła and Karl Marx," from the volume Leisure and Labor: Essays on the Liberal Arts in Catholic Higher Education, forthcoming in the fall of 2019 from Lexington Press.

[1] Alasdair MacIntyre, “Philosophical Education Against Contemporary Culture,” Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Aristotle Then and Now 87 (2013): 47.

[2] For the Polish Catholic situation vis-à-vis Marxism, see: Benjamin Fiore, S.J., “Laborem Exercens,” in The Thought of Pope John Paul II: A Collection of Essays and Studies, ed. John M. McDermott, S.J. (Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1993), 231-236; Christina Manetti, “Catholic Responses to Poland’s ‘New Reality,’ 1945–1953: The Case of Tygodnik Powszechny,” East European Politics and Societies, vol. 26, no. 2 (May 2012). For Polish theoretical engagements with Marxism, see: Polish Perspectives on Communism: An Anthology, ed. Bogdan Szlachta (Lanham, Md.: Lexington, 2004); and Jozef Tischner, Marxism and Christianity: The Quarrel and the Dialogue in Poland (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown, 1987).

[3] Karl Marx, Thesis 1, Theses on Feuerbach, original version [1845], vol. 5 of Marx and Engels Collected Works (NY: International Publishers/Lawrence and Wishart, 1976) 3. Future references to the Collected Works will be abbreviated as MECW.

[4] Marx and Engels, The German Ideology [1846], vol. 5 of MECW, 35. It is the “life-process” of individuals and neither concepts nor consciousness that leads to “the social structure and the state” (ibid.).

[5] Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 35-36, emphasis in the original.

[6] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (online edition of 1848 translation), trans. Samuel Moore (1888).

[7] Marx, Critique of Hegelian Philosophy, 334 [XXIV].

[8] See: Marx, Critique of Hegelian Philosophy, 339 [XXVIII], emphasis in the original.

[9] The German Ideology, 37. And further: “The phantoms formed in the brains of men are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises” (ibid., 36).

[10] Marx, Theses, 3.

[11] Ibid., 5.

[12] For more on alienation and how it pertains to the body, see Angela Franks, “The Body, Alienation, and Gift in Marx and Wojtyła,” Proceedings of “The Heart of Work,” Oct. 19-20, 2017, in Pensando il Lavoro, ed. Giorgio Faro, vol. II/5 (Rome: Edizioni Università Santa Croce, 2017): 223-237.

[13] Buttiglione goes so far as to say that “the problem of a philosophy of praxis is . . . the explanatory key to [Wojtyła’s] work” Rocco Buttiglione, Karol Wojtyła: The Thought of the Man Who Became John Paul II (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987) 270.

[14] On the “bilateral system,” see Karol Wojtyła, “Teoria e Prassi nella Filosofia della Persona Humana,” Sapienza 29 (1977): 377-384.

[15] Ibid., 379.

[16] Pope John Paul II, Man and Woman He Created Them (Boston: Pauline, 2006), 59:2, 360, emphasis in the original. Out of all of the commentators on John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione is perhaps the most sensitive to the implications of John Paul II’s thesis that man participates in the Creator by creating himself. He argues, “[I]n the history of modern philosophy, the only parallel with this position is found in Marx. The rejection of idealism and the return of the concrete man seen in action are elements which link the thought of Wojtyła and that of Marx.” But he continues, “But the fundamental gulf that separates them lies between the implications and development of the Wojtyłian concept of ‘action’ and the Marxian concept of ‘praxis’” (Karol Wojtyla, 121).

[17] Karol Wojtyła, “The Personal Structure of Self-Determination,” in Person and Community (NY: Peter Lang, 1993) 191, emphasis mine.

[18] In communism: “In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt” (Karl Marx, Comments on James Mill [1844], trans. Clemens Dutt, in vol. 3 of MECW, 227 [XXXIII], emphasis in the original).

[19] Karol Wojtyła, “Inspiration” 1, in The Quarry, from Collected Poems (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1981), 83.

[20] The limits of the body in this regard for Marx is developed more in Franks, “The Body, Alienation, and Gift in Marx and Wojtyła.”

[21] Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 31-32, emphasis in the original. With this, the later Capital remains consistent: the individual is the “creature” of social relations, “however much he may subjectively raise himself above them” (Preface to the First German Edition [1867], vol. 1 of Capital [New York: Penguin, 1976], 92).

[22] “They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organization. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their material life” (Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 31, emphasis in the original).

[23] Augusto Del Noce, Lezioni sul marxismo, vol. 1 of I caratteri generali del pensiero politico contemporaneo

(Milano: Giuffrè, 1972) 48, emphasis in the original, my translation; he also notes that, for Marx, “the regime of property is the social consequence of the distinction and priority conferred upon interiority with respect to labor.”

[24] Marx, Comments on James Mill, 225 [XXXI].

[25] Ibid., 228 [XXXIII].

[26] Of course, other similarities and differences could be noted; see especially LE, §12-15, in which John Paul II argues for the priority of labor over capital.

[27] The literature on alienation is voluminous. For recent surveys, see Marcello Musto, “Revisiting Marx’s Concept of Alienation,” Socialism and Democracy 24, no. 3 (2010): 79-101; and Sean Sayers, Marx and Alienation: Essays on Hegelian Themes (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). I treat the subject at more length in “The Body, Alienation, and Gift in Marx and Wojtyła.”

[28] Marx, Comments on James Mill, 218 [XXVIII].

[29] Ibid., 220 [XXIX], emphasis in the original.

[30] Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 41-42.

[31] Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor,” in The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, 274 [XXIII].

[32] Buttiglione, Karol Wojtyla, 302.

[33] Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3, trans. David Fernbach (NY: Penguin, 1981), 959.

[34] This point is contested in Marxist scholarship: does Marx have a vision of “unalienated” labor (to use the terminology of early Marx), of labor that is marked by freedom rather than necessity (the need for bodily survival)? Everyone agrees that Marx has more to say about alienation than about life without it.

[35] Marxists have sensed this insufficiency. See, e.g., G. A. Cohen, “Marx’s Dialectic of Labor,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 3, no. 3 (1974): 235-261.

[36] TOB 7:4, 155-156.

[37] TOB 19:4, 203.

[38] Rocco Buttiglione argues, “Praxis is what remains of the action if one abstracts from it its moral side and its personalistic meaning” (Karol Wojtyla, 121).

[39] Wojtyła, “The Constitution of Culture,” ,” in Person and Community (NY: Peter Lang, 1993) 265-267; Wojtyła, “Teoria e prassi,” 380-81.

[40] Recall Marx, “Comments on James Mill,” 227.

[41] For the connection between truth (in knowledge) and the good (in action) in John Paul II, see Adrian Reimers, Truth about the Good (Ave Maria, Fl.: Sapientia, 2011), relying in particular on Veritatis Splendor.

[42] This state is reflected in Marxist scholarship, which has little to say about interiority. See one valiant attempt by James L. Marsh, “Interiority and Revolution,” Philosophy Today 29, no. 3 (Fall 1985): 191-202. In addition, one should note that Marx himself opposed all utopianism in communism, a conviction not always shared by all his followers.

[43] Karol Wojtyła, Love and Responsibility (Boston: Pauline, 2013), 159. Future references to this work will be abbreviated as L&R.

[44] Ibid., 160-164.

[45] Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 46; cf. 42-43.

[46] TOB 7:2, 154, emphasis in the original.

[47] Wojtyła, “Material,” 1, in The Quarry, 80.

[48] Wojtyła, “Inspiration,” in The Quarry, 83. This poem also makes clear that work is no blissed-out utopia, as his meditation on the death of a fellow quarry-laborer show, as well as the repeated reference to “anger,” e.g.: “your speech must not break at the lever’s tension: / the fulcrum of anger and love” (“Inspiration,” 2, in ibid., 84).

[49]Buttiglione, Karol Wojtyla, 303.

[50] Pope John Paul II, “Address to UNESCO,” June 2, 1980, §6, emphasis in the original. Here he quotes Thomas Aquinas’s commentary on the Posterior Analytics, no. 1: “Genus humanum arte et ratione vivit.”

[51] Cf. Wojtyła, “The Constitution of Culture,” 270-71.

[52]Buttiglione, Karol Wojtyla, 304.

[53] Del Noce’s summary, in Lezioni sul marxismo, 134, my translation.

[54] Marx, Theses, 4.

[55] L&R, 6.

[56] Ibid., 10.

[57] Ibid., 121.

[58] Wojtyła, “The Constitution of Culture,” 267.

[59] Ibid., 272.

Featured Image: Berthold Werner, Simeonstiftplatz with traffic light of Karl Marx, taken on 22 May 2018; Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.


Angela Franks

Angela Franks is Professor of Theology at St. John's Seminary in Boston and a Church Life Journal Life and Dignity Writing Fellow. Her specialties include the theology of the body, the new evangelization, and the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

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