Max Adler

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Adler, Max


Born Jan. 15, 1873; died June 18, 1937. Austrian philosopher, representative of Austro-Marxism; professor at the University of Vienna. He published, with R. Hilferding, the research series Marxstudien.

Adler interpreted Kant’s “thing-in-itself” in the spirit of neo-Kantian subjective idealism as a “thing-in-the-mind.” While acknowledging the dialectical method, Adler nonetheless perverted it into a doctrine of the reduction of all existence to functional connections between those phenomena in which “there is simply no place for material substance.” Adler claimed that the Marxist theory of history had no relation to philosophical materialism and that it represented historical positivism (the “theory of social experience”). Adler viewed the “social” as a special form of perception that is characteristic of cognition. Relations of production became in his interpretation “phenomena of spiritual life.”

Adler actively participated in the political activity of the Austrian Social Democratic Party. During World War I, as one of the leaders of the left opposition (O. Bauer’s group), he sharply criticized the social-patriotic policy of the party leadership. During the Austrian Revolution of 1918, he defended the policy of the Social Democrats’ participation in the bourgeois government. Subsequently, while remaining in the left wing of the Social Democratic Party, he demanded intensification of the struggle against fascism and pointed out the “distastrous consequences” of opportunist tactics.


Marxistische Probleme. Stuttgart, 1913.
Kant und der Marxismus. Berlin, 1925.
Lehrbuch der materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung, vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1930–32.
Die Solidarische Gesellschaft. Vienna, 1964.
Natur und Gesellschaft. Vienna, 1964.
In Russian translation:
Marksizm kak proletarskoe uchenie o zhizne. Petrograd, 1923.
Marks kak myslitel’. Foreword by M. Serebriakov. Leningrad-Moscow, 1924.
Engels kak myslitel’. Foreword by M. Serebriakov. Leningrad-Moscow, 1924.


Heintel, P. System und Ideologie: Der Austromarxismus im Spiegel der Philosophie M. Adlers. Munich, 1967.


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