Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution

Norman Geras


In this essay I shall be concerned with what can be termed, broadly, the etfiics of revolution. I consider by what normative principles socialists might be guided, whether in judgement or in action, when it comes to revolutionary change. A comprehensive treatment of the issue would require more space than I have here. It would involve not only a theory - be it of needs or of rights or of justice - for the comparative assessment of social and political institutions, a large enough desideratum, evidently, in itself; but also, with it, the resolution of some deep questions in moral philosophy. I shall have some things to say about all this. But I cannot deal with it, so to speak, from the bottom up. In much, I have to proceed instead assertively, relying where I can on the advocacy of others, or on the belief simply that a needed argument could be supplied. The procedure allows me to use what space I have for concentration upon a narrower purpose.

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