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Karl Marx 1818-1838

Karl Marx 1818-1838

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Karl Marx 1818-1838

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  1. Karl Marx1818-1838

  2. Karl Marx (1818-1838) • Born in southeastern Germany, to middle class family • Family converted from Judaism to Lutheranism due to institutional anti-Semitism • Studied law, history and philosophy at the University of Berlin, then University of Jena • joined the Young Hegelians, a group of radical thinkers • Blacklisted from teaching, worked as a journalist in Paris, Brussels, then London, moving around Europe to flee political repression • theory was empirically based, informed by historical events • aimed for praxis, union of theory and practice

  3. Intellectual influences • Three strands of European influence on his work: • French socialism • German philosophy • British political economy

  4. Core ideas • “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Marx and Engels, 1848) • i.e., struggles shaped by the relations of production • class: a group of individuals who share a common position in relation to the means or forces of production • forces of production: the raw materials, technology, machines, factories, and land that are necessary in the production of goods • Each class is distinguished by what it owns with regard to the forces of production

  5. “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Marx, Theses on Feuerbach …Marx’s ideas, including his philosophical ideas, are for working people. They can be grasped by working people if they are explained clearly. Marx was the first philosopher in history to look at the world from the point of view of working people rather than one or other section of the ruling classes. He was able to do this because he came at a time when the modern working class were first appearing as a force in history. This “proletariat” lived by selling their labor power.

  6. Capitalism: key features • Wealth takes the form of commodities, goods produced for the market and exchanged for money • The instruments of production are capital, machines and factories owned by capitalists who use them not only to produce goods but profit, or rather to produce goods only in so far as they bring profit • it’s a profit-driven system • Workers are forced to sell their labor power for a wage and become wage workers

  7. Capitalism: key features (cont’d) • This mode of production requires a range of conditions, institutions and behavior in every area of social life that facilitates, stabilizes and promotes these processes • These changes in the economy and throughout the rest of society give rise to and require a set of beliefs and a way of thinking–ideology—that make production of commodities, accumulation of capital, and sale of labor power both possible and necessary

  8. Capitalism tends toward crisis • Capitalism is inherently exploitative • It is the labor power of workers that produces the products sold by the owners of businesses, who take the profits for themselves, while workers’ wages hover near subsistence levels • Thebourgeoisie, that owns the forces of production, exploits the proletariat, who, lacking its own capital, is forced to work for wages • Tends toward crisis • It takes money to make money, and the more you have, the greater ability you have to generate profit-making schemes • “While competition may lead to greater levels of productivity, it also results in a concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands” • monopolies • more and more bourgeoisie fall into proletariat over time • Ongoing crises fuel class struggle and sharpen class consciousness, awareness on the part of the working class of its common relation to the means of production

  9. The German Ideology Karl Marx (1845-46)

  10. “The German Ideology” • Presents Marx’s theory of history, historical materialism and reflects his debt to and break from Hegel’s philosophy • In contrast to previous philosophers who focused on explaining stability, Hegel was interested in social change • Change was driven by a dialectical process in which a given state of being or idea contains within it the seeds of an opposing state or idea • Marx turns Hegel’s theory on its head, insisting it is material existence–not consciousness–that fuels historical change • Opposes Hegel’s idealism with materialism • “Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life”

  11. “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” • The forces and relations of production make up our material life– classes and property relations – are established independent of our will • From this economic base emerges a superstructure, or the social, political, and intellectual life processes in general • The superstructure consists of everything noneconomic in nature such as a society’s legal, political and educational systems, as well as its stock of commensense knowledge

  12. Marx’s materialist conception of history ‘For each new class which puts itself in the place of the one ruling before it, is compelled...to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society, that is, expressed in ideal form: it has to give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones…Every new class, therefore, achieves its hegemony only on a broader basis than that of the class ruling previously, whereas the opposition of the non-ruling class against the new ruling class later develops all the more sharply and profoundly…’

  13. Dialecticalmaterialism ‘…This whole semblance, that the rule of a certain class is only the rule of certain ideas, comes to a natural end, of course, as soon as class rule in general ceases to be the form of in which society is organized, that is to say, as soon as it is no longer necessary to represent a particular interest as general or the “general interest” as ruling.’

  14. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

  15. Alienation • Alienation (estrangement), loss of self, is characteristic of work under capitalism • Instead of labor being an end in itself—an activity that expresses our capacity to shape our lives and our relationships with others—private ownership of the means of production reduces the role of the worker to that of a cog in a machine • Working for money—and not for the creative potential of labor itself—is akin to selling your soul

  16. What constitutes the alienation of labor? “Firstly, the fact that labor is external to the worker – i.e., does not belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. Hence, the worker feels himself only when he is not working; when he is working, he does not feel himself. He is at home when he is not working, and not at home when he is working. His labor is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is forced labor. It is, therefore, not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, it is shunned like the plague.” (p. 44, 2nd col; p. 3 on PDF)

  17. Four aspects of alienation In capitalism, workers become alienated or separated from: • labor product • Product becomes “an alien object exercising power over him" • labor process • themselves (their “species being” or own human essence) • Estranged labor turns “man's species being, both nature and his spiritual species property, into a being alien to him, into a means to his individual existence. It estranges man's own body from him, as it does external nature and his spiritual essence, his humanbeing.” • other people • “An immediate consequence of the fact that man is estranged from the product of his labor, from his life-activity, from his species being is the estrangement of man from man.”

  18. “The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society” • “Money is the alienated ability of mankind” that binds us to life itself and to our relationships with others, not through our innate qualities, but through what we have the power to buy • “Money is the pimp between man’s need and the object, between his life and his means of life”

  19. Money is a universal medium • The universality of money is what makes it so powerful • Anything and everything has its price – beauty, talent, honesty, etc. “The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my properties and essential powers…Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality…I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and therefore so is its possessor.” (p. 49, col. 2)