Murdoch and Politics

In Silvia Caprioglio Panizza & Mark Hopwood (eds.), The Murdochian Mind. New York, NY: Routledge (2022)
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Abstract

Politics never became a central intellectual interest of Murdoch’s, but she produced one important and visionary political essay in the ‘50’s, several popular writings on political matters, and a significant chapter in Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals that echoes throughout that book. In the 1958 “House of Theory,” she sees the welfare state as having almost entirely failed to address the deeper problems of capitalist society, including a failure to create the conditions for values she saw as central to the socialist tradition—equality, absence of exploitation, meaningful work, and a sense of community. In Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, Murdoch abandons the idea that moral ideals provide a guide to constructing a good society. She retains from her earlier work that the individual-moral domain is governed by perfectionism, but society cannot be. ‘Society must be thought of as a bad job to be made the best of’, for example, through the liberal idea of rights. Murdoch had a lifelong engagement with Marxism as a philosophy, introduced to her as a member of the Communist Party in the late ‘30’s and ‘40’s, and continuing through her subsequent long Labour period, and even when she moved to the Right in the Thatcher era. Marx and Marxism were always part of her mental universe, and she continued to work out what she agreed and disagreed with in it.

Author's Profile

Lawrence Blum
University of Massachusetts, Boston

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