Marx Myths & Legends

Lawrence Wilde

‘The creatures, too, must become free’: Marx and the Animal/Human Distinction

It has been claimed that Marx completely lacked respect for animals, thinking of them as inferior beings. Lawrence Wilde argues that, on the contrary, Marx had a respectful attitude towards animals and non-human nature in general. Marx’s attitude to the non-human is intrinsic to his humanistic outlook, grounded in an understanding of the human essence, for which maltreatment of animals is contrary to a communistic vision. Wilde approaches the question of Marx’s attitude to animals and nature within the wider context of Marx’s ethics.

Source: This article was originally published in Capital & Class, Issue no.72, Autumn '00 , and is reproduced here with the author's permission as per Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives Licence 2.0.

Biographical information

Lawrence Wilde is Professor of Political Theory at Nottingham Trent University, and Chair of the Political Studies Association Marxism Specialist Group, amongst many other bodies. He has published widely on Marx, ethics and radical politics and is widely recognised as an authority on ethical problems of Marxism. His published works include Ethical Marxism and its Radical Critics (1998), Erich Fromm and the Quest For Solidarity (2004), Modern European Socialism (1994) and Marx and Contradiction (1989).

See also: Ethical Marxism and its Radical Critics, Logic: Dialectic and contradiction, Lawrence Wilde's profile at Nottingham Trent University