Progressives today are united in their hostility towards capitalism and nationalism. The former they’ve got pegged as the primary source of global suffering, while the latter is reviled as a fiction and a scourge. There’s been unanimity on these issues for decades — but that hasn’t always been the case. Progressivism is ultimately about fairness; a commitment to a better world in which there is less injustice and less avoidable suffering. Karl Marx spent a great deal of time and energy on the "science" of dialectical materialism, but his legacy was a simple idea of a classless (and therefore peaceful) society. Economics was the basic driver of all human affairs and it followed, on his reading, that when the "contradictions in the material base of society" were finally eliminated, phenomena such as racial and religious attachments would wither away. Today, 140 years after Marx’s death, his philosophical heirs talk of "social constructs" (rather than "false consciousness"), but the es...

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