Trotsky's "Their Morals and Ours", Revisited


  • Giulio Di Basilio Socialist Workers Network


What is the attitude of Marxists to morality? ‘Morality’ ishere understood, roughly, as a set of principles of conduct, however implicitly accepted, which should act as a compass for people to make practical decisions, solve situations of conflict, and more generally orient themselves in their lives. On the one hand, one might think that since Marxists tend to emphasise those systemic aspects of our society that prevent people from realising themselves as free individuals, they are unlikely to encourage people to put abstract moral pronouncements into practice. On the other hand, it is hard to deny that, behind Marxists’ rejection of workers’ exploitation, racism and other forms of discrimination, as well as imperialistic wars, there seems to lie a genuine form of moral outrage. Thus, one would expect Marxists to be able to make explicit the core moral ideas underlying their considered views on these issues and underpinning their political practice