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Marx & Engels

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  1. Marx & Engels Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 The German Ideology The Communist Manifesto

  2. Marx & Engels • Biographical Background • Dialectical Materialism • The Critique of Capitalism • The Critique of Liberalism • The Communist Future

  3. Karl Marx 1818 - 1883 Freidrich Engels 1820 - 1895 Biographical Background

  4. Marx Born in Trier, Prussia, large Jewish family who converted to Lutheranism Entered U of Bonn (1835) drops out Entered U of Berlin (1836) for Law Degree Engels Born in Barmen, Germany Father owned textile company with connections in England Sent to England (1840 or so) to work as unpaid clerk in family firm Biographical Background

  5. Marx Gets doctoral degree (1841) Becomes editor of left-wing newspaper Leaves paper to protest censorship and heads to Paris (1844) Engels Starts writing On the Condition of the working class in England (1840) Meets Marx briefly in Paris Biographical Background

  6. Biographical Background • Begin life long collaboration writing in 1845 • Engels returns to England (1850) to run family business and supports Marx and his family while Marx writes and conducts research

  7. Biographical Background researching Das Kapital Marx spends most of his life writing (including a 10 year stint with the New York Tribune) and engaging in radical politics

  8. Biographical Background • Marx dies in 1883, buried in Highgate Cemetery, London • Engels continues to write and publish both original material and edited versions of Marx’s work until his death in 1895

  9. I. Dialectical Materialism “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…” The Communist Manifesto

  10. I. Dialectical Materialism • Marx and Engels try to distinguish their approach to socialism from More and the “utopian” tradition by grounding their insights in a scientific methodology • In order to come to a “scientific” as opposed to a “philosophical” or “ideological” understanding of human life, we need to examine how people actually live and produce the means of that existence Marxist Methodology

  11. I. Dialectical Materialism “Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organization. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.” -- The German Ideology

  12. I. Dialectical Materialism • But in addition to assembling the “facts” of existence, we need to understand how to arrange and interpret those facts. • They propose that we need a “dialectical” understanding of the world.

  13. I. Dialectical Materialism Thesis

  14. I. Dialectical Materialism Thesis Antithesis

  15. I. Dialectical Materialism Thesis Antithesis Synthesis

  16. I. Dialectical Materialism Thesis Antithesis Synthesis Becomes the new thesis…

  17. I. Dialectical Materialism Process repeats with a new antithesis emerging to challenge the thesis, reaching a new synthesis, which becomes the next thesis… and so on How does this help us understand human social life?

  18. I. Dialectical Materialism • The dialectical method provides us with a powerful tool for both organizing and understanding social life. • Marx and Engels’ real insight is that this dialectical method, whose roots go all the way back to Plato, can be put to good use only when we strip it of its “ideological” trappings to focus on the realities of the physical world (hence the “materialism”)

  19. I. Dialectical Materialism • We need to focus on the real material conditions of existence; the factors/forces which shape and drive human social interaction:

  20. I. Dialectical Materialism “The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity…” -- The German Ideology

  21. I. Dialectical Materialism • These “real premises” then include the way we make a living (that is, how we keep ourselves alive as biological beings). • These are the “means of production”

  22. I. Dialectical Materialism • Marx & Engels claim that it is these material factors which shape the ideas we have and hold: “Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life.” -- The German Ideology

  23. I. Dialectical Materialism Or, as they’ll claim in the Manifesto: “What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes its character in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”

  24. I. Dialectical Materialism • We also need to examine how these means of production are mobilized and organized to actually produce the means of subsistence • They refer to these as the “forces of production”

  25. I. Dialectical Materialism • Finally, we need to know how the various members of the society stand in relation to the means of production. • Class – defined as one’s position vis-à-vis the means of production • Broadly, you either own the means of production or you labor on the means of production

  26. I. Dialectical Materialism Proletariat Bourgeoisie (Capitalists) (Workers)

  27. I. Dialectical Materialism “The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living individuals.” -- The German Ideology

  28. I. Dialectical Materialism “The various stages of development in the division of labor are just so many different forms of ownership, ie., the existing stage in the division of labor determines also the relations of individuals to one another with reference to the material instrument, and product of labor.” -- The German Ideology

  29. I. Dialectical Materialism • When we look back at history we see certain patterns emerge. • Primitive Communism • Slave Labor • Feudalism • Capitalism

  30. I. Dialectical Materialism • But remember the connection between the material conditions of existence and the ideas of “the age.” • As they note in the German Ideology…

  31. I. Dialectical Materialism “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: ie., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production”

  32. I. Dialectical Materialism • In other words, in capitalism, we shouldn’t be surprised to find media and other institutions extolling the virtues of the market and the factors that contribute to its existence • For example, “Freedom” in capitalism means we are all “free” to say or print anything, but that means whoever has more money has more freedom

  33. II. Critique of Capitalism 1 • In capitalism, the 2 main classes are: Workers Capitalists (proletariat) (bourgeoisie)

  34. Critique of Capitalism Workers Capitalist Labor time Wages During the work day, the above exchange seems to occur

  35. Critique of Capitalism Workers Capitalist Labor time Wages

  36. II. Critique of Capitalism Labor time = 8 hours Workers Capitalist Wages = $/hour worked

  37. II. Critique of Capitalism Labor time = 8 hours Workers Capitalist Wages = $/hour worked Where does the capitalist’s profit come from?

  38. II. Critique of Capitalism “If one day’s work were necessary in order to keep one worker alive for one day, then capital would not exist, because the working day would then exchange for its own product, so that capital could not realize itself and hence could not maintain itself as capital…”

  39. II. Critique of Capitalism “If, however, only half a working day is necessary in order to keep one worker alive one whole day, then the surplus value of the product is self-evident, because the capitalist has paid the price of only half a working day but has obtained a whole day objectified in the product; thus has exchanged nothing for the second half of the work day.

  40. II. Critique of Capitalism “The only thing which can make him into a capitalist is not exchange, but rather a process through which he obtains objectified labour time, i.e., value, without exchange.” -- The Grundrisse (1857/58)

  41. II. Critique of Capitalism Labor time = 8 hours Workers Capitalist Wages = $/hour worked

  42. II. Critique of Capitalism Worker labors 8 hours… But produces value worth 12 hours Workers Capitalist The worker is exploited by the capitalist Capitalist pays for 8 hours, gets 4 hours free!

  43. II. Critique of Capitalism 1 “The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men.” -- 1844 Manuscripts

  44. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 • Alienation • By alienation, Marx & Engels mean that we feel estranged from ourselves, that we no longer feel any connection to the basics of our life

  45. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 “…[T]he object which labor produces – labor’s product – confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor which has been congealed in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor.” -- 1844 Manuscripts

  46. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 “It is true that labor produces for the rich wonderful things – but for the worker it produces privation. It produces palaces– but for the worker, hovels. It produces beauty– but for the worker, deformity. It replaces labor by machines– but some of the workers it throws back to a barbarous type of labor, and the other workers it turns into machines. It produces intelligence– but for the worker idiocy, cretinism.” -- 1844 Manuscripts

  47. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 • Recall the earlier point about the importance of labor in the evolution of the human species. • It is labor which helped separate human beings from nature; it is a creative, essential part of our being

  48. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 • But in capitalism, the nature of the work day experience makes us hate and detest this essential human activity; such that…

  49. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 “As a result, therefore, man (the worker) no longer feels himself to be freely active in any but his animal functions – eating, drinking, procreating, or at most in his dwelling and in dressing-up, etc....”

  50. II. Critique of Capitalism 2 Or, as Marx & Engels note in the Manifesto: “Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and consequently, all charm for the workman…