"The appeal of Marxism is its theoretical synthesis of certain conservative and liberal concepts," Louis Hartz, professor of Government, told an overflow audience in the Lamont Forum Room Thursday.
Hartz spoke on "The Appeal of Marxism" in the fourth of five public lectures scheduled for the Summer School and open to the public.
Hartz said Marxist theory attempted to resolve the conflict between conservative and liberal doctrines arising during the Age of the Enlightenment.
During the modern period liberals such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke developed theories of society which stressed equality and individualism, he said. In their politics, Hartz added, individuals held separate atomistic positions.
Such liberal concepts, Hartz noted, challenged the traditional conservative concepts of the highly structured, ordered and disciplined society which had reached its zenith in the middle ages.
Some conservatives of the period sought to prove that the liberal idea of society was unrealistic, he asserted. Their leaders, Hartz said, men such as Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli, pointed to the permanent character of social coercion and urged a return to the older conservative concepts. But, he continued, the ideals which the liberals had initiated were irradically set in public opinion.
Marxism tried to unite the sociological insights of Conservatism with the egalitarian principle of the Enlightenment, Hartz asserted.
He noted, however, that Marxism failed to synthesize the two in a theory of the present, and was forced to rely on Utopian promises of future achievement to bring the two together.
The last lecture in the Summer School series will be given this afternoon by Jean J. Seznec, Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at Oxford University He will speak on "A French Institution: The Ecole Normale Superieure," at 3 p.m. in the Forum Room.