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Marxism

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Marxism

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  1. Marxism

  2. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels(1818-1883) (1820-1895) • Intellectual parents of Marxism • Two main strands of thought • Centralized strand = Communism • Decentralized strand = socialism

  3. Why is Marxism still Relevant? • Think about the movie “The Corporation”. • The corporation as a legal “person”. • The profit motive • Productivity • Efficiency • Critique of Capitalism

  4. Marx’s Critique of Capitalism (114-118) • Compared to past economic forms, Marx thought that capitalism was…? • The best yet. • But things could be even better. • Capitalism is a necessary stepping stone to a better future. • Communism.

  5. First element of the critique: Alienation • In capitalism people are treated like property. • They are used, treated as tools. • They are means and not ends. • Menial, meaningless, repetitive jobs result in three-fold alienation from self, from job, and from fellow human beings.

  6. Material Production (114-116) • Economic Relationships basic to human life. • Three components: • Labor Theory of Value • Subsistence Wages • Surplus Value

  7. Capitalist Exploitation (115) • Capitalists (Bourgeoisie) exploit workers (proletariat). • Marx’s fundamental interest and motivation: how to end exploitation? • Major obstacle: workers denied education, kept ignorant of their condition: “false consciousness” through ideology.

  8. Materialism (118-120) • The way people think is greatly affected by the way they live (socialization). • “Material” for Marx meant the economic foundation, the bedrock of social relationships.

  9. Economic Base—Structure (116-117) • The economic structure or “base” greatly effects every other element of society. • Also referred to as the “mode of production.”

  10. Ideological Superstructure (117, 119) • The economic base greatly effects: religion, politics, the state, culture, art, the family.

  11. Religion (116-117) • Used to justify exploitative economic system. • Tells workers to suffer in this life for greater rewards in the next. • Meanwhile, the fat cats are living the good life today. • But, Marx also knew that religion in its best form was empowering for people: Marx argued that the religion contains the highest expression of human ethics.

  12. The State (115-116) • = officials: police, army, bureaucrats and others used to keep the workers down. • The state is a violent tool wielded by the minority under capitalism.

  13. Politics • Think about the movie “the Corporation.” • Corporation is something granted by the public which was distorted after the civil war. • If the economic base prizes profit, productivity, and efficiency over all else then no matter how hard we try the ideological superstructure will reflect those interests.

  14. The Family (117) • Husband tells wife what to do. • Wife acts as an extension of the husband. • Wife stays at home, does not become educated, does not discover her interests—only those of the husband.

  15. Culture • Consumerism shapes our identity under capitalism. • “Shop till you drop”. • Product logos become more than simply signs, they become symbols telling us how to feel about the products we buy.

  16. Art • Music: Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll, Punk, and Hip Hop. • All are critical of the dominant culture but all have become “coopted” by the dominant culture. They become just another product, feeding our identity as good consumers.

  17. Base—Superstructure relationship

  18. Progress (120) • Like liberalism, Marx believed in progress • Why?

  19. Dialectical Materialism (120-122) • Marx believed in progress because he believed that every dominant structure contained within it the seeds of its future destruction, and evolution.

  20. Dialectical Materialism as a Tool • To analyze the structure of the system within which we live. • Assumes that flaws exist. • Uses those flaws to transform, and make better.

  21. The Dialectic

  22. Key concepts for the Marx’s Dialectic • Thesis • Antithesis • synthesis

  23. Example: Feudalism (thesis) • Economic system • Serfs work the land and give everything they make except what they need to live to the Lord. • Everything belongs to the King, granted by God (divine right).

  24. Antithesis • Feudalism is inefficient. • Property, if held privately, will encourage productivity because of self-interest.

  25. Synthesis (capitalism) • The clash between feudalism and its antithesis (“unity of opposites”) results in capitalism. • An economic system based upon private property.

  26. Historical Materialism (122-124) • Marx: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” • The flaws in society provide the opportunity for change. • Many Marxists believe that this change is inevitable and will occur no matter what.

  27. Marx as theorist vs. revolutionary • If the revolution is inevitable, why organize? • “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”

  28. The Class Struggle (124-125) • Bourgeoisie • Proletariat

  29. Revolution • Two types • Political workers seize power. • Social  if the base (structure) changes, then ideological superstructure changes. • Both are “revolutionary” in the sense that they completely change the relationships regarding who rules and how society is ruled.

  30. Need a revolution be violent? • A complete or marked change in something. • A radical or pervasive change in society and the social structure; especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.

  31. Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) (p. 126-127) • Leader of the Russian “Bolshevik” Revolution (October 1917) • Contributed to Marxism by developing the concept of the “vanguard.” • Articulated the notion of “democratic centralism.”

  32. Mao Zedong (1893-1976) (p. 128) • Leader of the Chinese revolution (April 1949) • Most famous for developing guerilla warfare • Hit and run • Fight only when certain of winning • Constant pressure on the enemy • Requires: support of the people.

  33. Dictatorship of the Proletariat (128-130) • Marx did very little theorizing about this. • Lenin and Mao are main examples because they lead successful revolutions. • We do know that when Marx talked about it, he said it should be short. • It was meant to be the stage between capitalism and communism (see list on 128-129).

  34. Full Communism (130-131) • Compare list on 130 with one on 128-129. • Main difference is the role of the state.

  35. Again: Why is communism still worth studying? • Tool of analysis • Vision of a better world

  36. Alternative Marxist Traditions • Eduard Bernstein • Rosa Luxemburg • Antonio Gramsci • George Lukacs • Anton Pannekoek • The Frankfurt School • Ernst Bloch

  37. Current Trends • Critique of modern capitalism: remaining relevance of exploitation. • Some debate exists over whether capitalism has truly “won” or if capitalists have simply gotten better at convincing people that they’ve won. • How is this ideological?

  38. Today • Post-Marxism • Analytical Marxism • Ecological Marxism