Marx, Hayek, and Utopia

By Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Subjects: Political Theory
Series: SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Paperback : 9780791426166, 178 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426159, 178 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents



Part One: Hayek and the Critique of Utopianism

1. Hayekian Dialectics

2. Utopian Intentions and Unintended Consequences

3. Constructivism and Human Efficacy

Part Two: Marx and the Epistemic Utopia

4. Capitalism and Dualism

5. Marxian Dialectics

6. The Marxian Utopia

7. The Challenge of a New Left

Epilogue: Utopianism and the Radical Project




Develops a critique of utopianism through a comparison of the works of Karl Marx and F. A. Hayek, challenging conventional views of both Marxian and Hayekian thought.


This book develops a critique of utopianism through a provocative comparison of the works of Karl Marx and F. A. Hayek, thus engaging two vastly different traditions in critical dialogue. By emphasizing the methodological and substantive similarities between Marxian and Hayekian perspectives, it challenges each tradition's most precious assumptions about the other. Through this comparative analysis, the book articulates the crucial distinctions between utopian and radical theorizing.

Sciabarra examines the dialectical method of social inquiry common to both Marxian and Hayekian thought and argues that both Marx and Hayek rejected utopian theorizing because it internalizes an abstract, ahistorical, exaggerated sense of human possibility. The chief disagreement between Marx and Hayek, he shows, is not political but epistemological, reflecting their differing assumptions about the limits of reason.

Chris Matthew Sciabarra is Visiting Scholar in the Department of Politics at New York University. He is the author of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.


"Sciabarra argues that Hayek and Marx shared a dialectic approach, an appreciation for the importance of context, and a disdain for utopian thinking. The major difference between Hayek and Marx is 'epistemic' or rather in the assumptions they make about the possible progress of human knowledge … Few others have … engaged in such a detailed and enlightening comparison." — Karen Vaughn, author of Austrian Economics in America

"This is a shockingly original piece of work, closely and cleverly argued, skillfully organized, and scholarly in the extreme … It is a very tolerant work, open to and looking for the strengths in both traditions." — Bertell Ollman, author of Dialectical Investigations

"Sciabarra's work is interesting and challenging and ultimately an important source for thinking about the nature of political radicalism." — Radical Philosophy Review of Books

"This intriguing book crosses a gulf between two camps in social philosophy that rarely address one another … Sciabarra should be praised for forcing us to give up our comfortable caricatures of Marx and Hayek as figures in absolute 'dualistic' opposition." — Canadian Philosophical Reviews

"…with Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, as well as Marx, Hayek, and Utopia now under his belt, Sciabarra has emerged as one of the most provocative, and enjoyable, writers on the history of ideas of the twentieth century." — Reason Papers

"Sciabarra's book … makes a valuable contribution by presenting [Hayek's] ideas in an anti-utopian context." — Choice

"We are not apt to speak of Marx and Hayek in the same breath … Sciabarra's insights into the similarities and differences between these two thinkers are surprisingly original." — Liberty