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Marx and Marxism
Transcript of Marx and Marxism
AN INTRODUCTION TO MARX & MARXISM
A hugely influential revolutionary thinker and philosopher (economist, sociologist, journalist), Marx did not live to see his ideas carried out in his own lifetime, but his writings formed the theoretical base for modern international communism.
Karl Heinrich Marx was born on 5 May 1818 in Trier in western German.
In 1841, he received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Jena.
In 1843, Marx & his wife Jena moved to Paris.
Expelled in France, he moved to Brussels where he met Friedrich Engels - his co-author in the pamphlet
"The Communist Manifesto"
In 1849, Marx moved to London, where he was to spend the remainder of his life.
He died on 14 March 1883 and was buried at Highgate Cemetery in London.
What is Marxism?
Marx discusses our modern experience of 'alienation' (do we live in order to work? or do we work in order to live?)
Some beliefs bear fundamental ideas that oppresses people and prevent them from reaching their full potential. (Ideology)
Ideas are rooted on our experience of the natural environment. Man makes his own history - he is his own creator. (Humanism & Naturalism)
Marx gave us an insight to see the patterns of conflict ('dialectical materialism') revolving around systems of inequality.
Marx told us to examine the economy and the state particularly how the social elite use power and ideology.
What Marxism 'is' ...
Major theme is 'alienation' & ideology
Enquiry is humanistic
Focuses on the complexity of 'culture' (superstructure)
major theme is 'class struggle' & the 'capitalist system'
Enquiry is positivistic (scientific)
Focuses on the determinism of the economic base (substructure) in all social life
System = Exploitation
"You can be a good employee but not necessarily a fulfilled one."
The Hegelian Marx
What is our 'human nature'?
What is 'alienation'? How do we experience it?
How does 'ideology' work to prevent us from reaching self-realization?
The concept of 'Species-Being'
Our active engagement with the world via labor (production) allows us to achieve 'self-realization'. Human history is the process of reconciling man's "existence" and his "essence". It is through work or production that allows the expression of our creative energies & reveal our human potentials.
what makes us 'human' is ...
PRODUCTION = we are able to produce/reproduce the necessities for life.
CREATIVE REFLECTION = the things we produce (object/product) serves as a reflection of our human potential & selfhood.
ALTRUISM = our communitarian ethics (intersubjective thinking)
Man's 'self-activity' constitutes his consciousness and whole 'being'.
Only in being productively active can man make sense of his life. Every person's relation to man and to nature is a specific expression corresponding to the object of his will - his real individual life.
"In this natural species relationship man's relation to nature is directly his relation to man, and his relation to man is directly his relation to nature, to his own 'natural' function."
Alienation (estrangement) means, for Marx, that man does not experience himself as the acting agent in his grasp of the world, but that the world (nature, others, and himself) remain 'alien' to him. They stand above and against him as objects, even though they may be objects of his creation.
[ALIENATION] is essentially experiencing the world and oneself passively, receptively, as the subject separated from the object - his existence does not reflect his essence.
Labor is alienated because the work has ceased to be a part of the worker's nature and he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery rather than well-being, does not develop freely his mentl and physical energies but is physically exhausted and mentally debased.
What is "IDEOLOGY"?
(beliefs, morality, law, media)
(Environment, Production, Relations)
'Ideology' is a system of ideas which systematically misrepresents reality.
Salvation is achieved in the 'here & now' rather than the 'hereafter'.
[Ideology] works in ways which serve the interest of the ruling strata - the 'bourgeois'.
conceal unacceptable aspects of it.
glorify things which are of themselves less glorious.
make things that are neither natural nor necessary.
it misrepresents reality by ...
The Cocoa & Coffee Farmers of Africa
... refers to the process in which the necessities of life are turned into products which are bought & sold in the market.
Commodification in capitalism creates an ethos of consumersim which leads to
It is a condition in which man is estranged from his own powers. This estranged condition occures when the objects of his own work become alien things which eventually rule over him - they become a powerful force independent of the producer.
Marx's analysis on human alienation touches a significant feature of modern life - our excessive consumerism and egoism.
Marx's analysis on human alienation has the humanistic depth. Together with Engels, the work of Marx later developed an analysis on how the 'system' perpetuate such condition. This shift became the central focus of political Marxism which involves the discussion of class struggle, oppression, and revolution.
How did Marx see human history?
How does oppression work in the economic system of Capitalism?
What are the developments in Marxist thought?
Eastern Marxism interprets human history as a 'class struggle' - a power struggle between the upper classes (who owns the
means of production
) and the lower classes (which are the
). In capitalism, they are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Society changes because of the social tension between classes. The reason for such tension is the exploitation of the working class. This triggers the call for social change. The means for such change is through revolution.
Human history is the progression towards communism which reflects the struggle of classes in the ownership of material production and the distribution of resources.
"Workers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose except our chains." - Marx
Marx's wrong prediction - Revolution started in less industrialized nations. (Russia/China)
Socialist states beame totalitarian.
The fall of the Berlin wall.
Against 'Grand narratives'
Independent sphere of culture from substructure.
Marx analyzed how the socio-economic system involves oppression of the lower classes and how human individuals experience a condition of alienation.
The tradition of Marxism is divided into two: 1) a humanistic interpretation, and 2) revolutionary Marxism.
Orthodox Marxism is criticized for it became totalitarian or authoritarian.
The tradition of Critical Theory which were comprised of exiled intellectuals from Nazi Germany aimed to rescue Marxism from the straightjacket dogmatism of Eastern versions of Marxism.
Marx' Criticisms of Capitalism
1. Modern work is alienated.
2. Modern work is insecure.
3. Workers get paid very little while
capitalists get rich.
4. Capitalism is very unstable.
5. Capitalism is bad for the capitalist.