Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels(1818-1883) (1820-1895) • Intellectual parents of Marxism • Two main strands of thought • Centralized strand = Communism • Decentralized strand = socialism
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
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.
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.
Material Production (114-116) • Economic Relationships basic to human life. • Three components: • Labor Theory of Value • Subsistence Wages • Surplus Value
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.
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.
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.”
Ideological Superstructure (117, 119) • The economic base greatly effects: religion, politics, the state, culture, art, the family.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Progress (120) • Like liberalism, Marx believed in progress • Why?
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.
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.
Key concepts for the Marx’s Dialectic • Thesis • Antithesis • synthesis
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).
Antithesis • Feudalism is inefficient. • Property, if held privately, will encourage productivity because of self-interest.
Synthesis (capitalism) • The clash between feudalism and its antithesis (“unity of opposites”) results in capitalism. • An economic system based upon private property.
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.
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.”
The Class Struggle (124-125) • Bourgeoisie • Proletariat
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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).
Full Communism (130-131) • Compare list on 130 with one on 128-129. • Main difference is the role of the state.
Again: Why is communism still worth studying? • Tool of analysis • Vision of a better world
Alternative Marxist Traditions • Eduard Bernstein • Rosa Luxemburg • Antonio Gramsci • George Lukacs • Anton Pannekoek • The Frankfurt School • Ernst Bloch
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?
Today • Post-Marxism • Analytical Marxism • Ecological Marxism