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Marxism. Michael Lacewing [email protected] co.uk. On ideology. Political ideologies Provide plan of action for creating political institutions Seek to justify political arrangements Bind individuals to society

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marxism

Marxism

Michael Lacewing

[email protected] co.uk

on ideology
On ideology
  • Political ideologies
    • Provide plan of action for creating political institutions
    • Seek to justify political arrangements
    • Bind individuals to society
  • Freeden: ideologies are structured interpretations of political concepts
political concepts
Political concepts
  • Political concepts are ‘essentially contestable’
    • E.g. liberty: absence of coercion, absence of interference, opportunity, autonomy, rational choice, self-determination…
  • Two reasons for disagreement
    • Political concepts are evaluative
    • Component structure
  • Different ideologies start from different key concepts, ‘decontesting’ them
marxist theory of history
Marxist theory of history
  • We are alive
    • We produce our ‘means of subsistence’
  • Satisfying original needs leads to new needs, e.g. tools
  • We reproduce
  • Both production and reproduction are not only natural, but social, involving particular ‘modes’ of cooperating with others
marxist theory of history1
Marxist theory of history
  • Economic sub-structure (= modes of production + modes of cooperation) determines nature of society
  • Modes change as society develops, esp. involving division of labour
    • Within the family
    • Mental v. physical
    • Agriculture v. commercial v. industrial
  • Superstructure (= customs, laws, education, religion, culture, state institutions) evolves out of substructure
marxist theory of history2
Marxist theory of history
  • The state is based on power relations between classes
    • Modern state based on capitalism: capitalists own the means of production, and take profit, workers get salaries
  • Power of dominant class supported by the state and by an ‘ideology’
    • State is biased, not neutral
    • Ideas are product of sub-structure
alienation
Alienation
  • Alienation: estrangement resulting in loss
    • From products of labour
    • From meaningful, creative work
    • From ‘species-being’
    • From other people
  • Alienation need not be conscious or felt, but life is objectively less fulfilling
emancipation
Emancipation
  • Liberal ideas of rights and justice are not emancipating, but alienating
    • Emphasis on individual rights (as basis for justice) in conflict with communal nature of human beings
    • Illusion of equality glosses over power differences between classes
  • Genuine equality would abolish the state: a communist revolution
five core concepts
Five core concepts
  • Equality: needs are met
  • Welfare: fulfilment of species-being
  • Importance of meaningful, creative work
  • Community
  • History: of sub-structure and super-structure
marx on justice
Marx on justice
  • Marx does not call capitalism ‘unjust’
    • Conflict not described in ‘liberal’ terms; communism is beyond justice
    • Capitalism is a necessary stage of human development
    • Argument is not primarily moral, but historical – social change will be driven by developments in sub-structure, not ideas
objections
Objections
  • Super-structure is not determined by sub-structure
    • State is partly independent of capitalism
  • Prediction of communism turned out false, ‘welfare state’ developed, and classes evolved
    • But has this led to emancipation?
  • Theory of human nature is wrong
    • What is necessary for human happiness to increase?
  • Communism is impossible
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