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ES2301 Wk 11: Essay Workshop. How did Marx and Hobbes see the role of the State in relation to the human condition? 2000-2500 words Wednesday, week 13 , January 20 th. The Natural State of Man: The perils of subjectivity.

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ES2301 Wk 11: Essay Workshop

How did Marx and Hobbes see the role of the State in relation to the human condition?

2000-2500 words

Wednesday, week 13 , January 20th


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The Natural State of Man: The perils of subjectivity

  • A spectre forever haunts humanity, it is the threat that we will descend into our natural state.

  • Persons, ‘during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called Warre; and such a warre as is of every man against every man’ (Hobbes, 1651/1985: 185-86)

  • Man outside of society, follows the Right of Nature – he seeks ‘the preservation of his … own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing which, in his own Judgement and Reason, hee shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto’ (189)

  • But in ‘the condition of meer Nature’ all ‘are judges of the justnesse of their own fears’ (196).

  • Hobbes does not make a judgement about the nature of human beings; rather he understands the inability of human beings to make judgements when they are alone.

  • 3 consequences of subjectivity: ‘First, Competition; Secondly, Diffidence; Thirdly, Glory’ (185).

  • Life for natural man is ‘solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short’ (186).


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MARX: PROBLEM

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  • “The fact is that the state issues from the multitude… Speculative philosophy expresses this fact as the idea’s deed, not as the idea of the multitude”(Marx, [1843] 1978 p.17)

  • “The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (Marx & Engels, [1848] 1978, p.475)

  • If power is taken as the basis of right, as Hobbes, etc., do, then right, law, etc., are merely the symptom, the expression of other relations upon which state power rests. The material life of individuals, … their mode of production and form of intercourse, which mutually determine each other — this is the real basis of the state and remains so at all the stages at which division of labour and private property are still necessary, quite independently of the will of individuals.” (Marx, [1846] 1976, p.329)

  • “The division of labour within the society brings into contact independent commodity-producers, who acknowledge no other authority but that of competition, of the coercion exerted by the pressure of their mutual interests; just as in the animal kingdom, the bellum omnium contra omnes [war of all against all – Hobbes] more or less preserves the conditions of existence of every species. The same bourgeois mind which praises division of labour in the workshop, life-long annexation of the labourer to a partial operation, and his complete subjection to capital, as being an organisation of labour that increases its productiveness that same bourgeois mind denounces with equal vigour every conscious attempt to socially control and regulate the process of production, as an inroad upon such sacred things as the rights of property, freedom and unrestricted play for the bent of the individual capitalist.” (Marx, [1867] 1978, p.395)


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The Artificial State of Man: An education in the universal

  • How are persons to save themselves from the perils of subjectivity, from ‘the confusion of a disunited Multitude’ (229)?

  • 1. An education in the Laws of Nature,

  • Each Law ‘is a precept, or generall rule, found out by Reason …’ (189). Hobbes sums up the nineteen Laws of Nature as ‘doing to others, as wee would be done to’ (original emphasis, 223)

  • These Laws offer us an education that will takes us from the particular to the universal. But man must invent a force that will move him to the universal.

  • ‘The only way to erect such a Common Power … is to conferre all their power and strength upon one Man, or upon one Assembly of Men … to submit their Wills … to his Will, and their Judgements to his Judgement ...’ (227)

  • Of all teachers, the sovereign is the primary educator: ‘[I]t is annexed to the Soveraignty, to be Judge of what Opinions and Doctrines are averse, and what conducing to Peace …’ (233)

  • 2. Formal education: putting the Universal into Universities


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MARX: SOLUTION

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  • “A class must be formed which has radical chains, a class in civil society that is not of civil society, a class which is the dissolution of all classes, a sphere of society which has a universal character… a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without…emancipating all the other spheres… This dissolution of society as a particular class, is the proletariat.” (Marx [1844] 1978, p.64)

  • “The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class” (Marx & Engels, [1848] 1978, p.490)

  • Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Marx, [1875], 1978, pp.537-8)

  • “The working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.” (Marx, [1877] 1978, p. 629)

  • “The whole of the educational institutions were opened to the people gratuitously, and at the same time cleared of all interference of church and state. Thus, not only was education made accessible to all, but science itself freed from the fetters which class prejudice and governmental force had imposed upon it.” (Marx, [1877] 1978, p.632)

  • “The State is not ‘abolished’: it withers away.” (Engels, in Lenin, [1918] 1992, p.16)


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Marx references

Lenin, [1918] (1992) The State and Revolution, London: Penguin

Marx, K. [1843](1978) ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’, in Tucker, R. (Ed.) The Marx Engels Reader, London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Marx, K. [1846] (1976) ‘The German Ideology’ in Marx, K. & Engels, F. Collected Works, Volume 5, London: Lawrence & Wishart

Marx, K. & Engels, F.[1848](1978) ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in Tucker, R. (Ed.) The Marx Engels Reader, London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Marx, K. [1867] (1978) ‘Capital, Volume One’, in Tucker, R. (Ed.) The Marx Engels Reader, London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Marx, K. [1875] (1978) ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’, in Tucker, R. (Ed.) The Marx Engels Reader, London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Marx, K. [1877] (1978) ‘The Civil War in France’, in Tucker, R. (Ed.) The Marx Engels Reader, London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Hobbes references


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