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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Karl Marx

At the start of our HCJ lecture, we were provided with a quote from Karl Marx -

'Capitalism comes into the world dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt'.

Marx was born in 1818 in Germany, and more specifically he was born into a Jewish family. This could have some significance as some of his relatives were Rabbi's. Marx could have seen himself as a 'modern day' profit. However, his Jewish parents lated converted to Lutheranism, which follows the theology ofan old testemant prophet - Martin Luther.

On his tomstone it reads "Workers of the world unite" and a quote that can be considered to differentiate him from other philosophers - "The philosophers have only interpreted the world - the point however is to change it".

Karl studied law, then philosophy, but then had a revelaition which lead him into the field of journalism. Marx became both a journalist and an editor for radical newspapers in Europe. What he preached was considered 'dangerous talk' and inflamatory. Governments didn't like it and he was pushed out of many countries, eventually, he fled to London where he lived until he died in 1887.

He met Fredrich Engles in 1844 in Paris who he worked with to write 'The Communist Manifesto' in 1848.

During 1848, rebellion spread across Europe, while some cases had short term success, generally they failed. Although, Marx gave philosophical backing to all these changes. He saw philosophy as a way to change the world.

Karl Marx believed that you could explain everything about a society by analysing the way economic forces in shape - social, religious, legal and political processes.

For Aristotle, man is the rational animal, for Kant the moral animal, for Hegel the historic animal. For Marx man is the productive animal.

He saw that mankind creates the environment it inhabits - 'not a figure in the landscape, but the shaper of the lanscape'. He felt that man dominated the world because of its ability to build tools and cooperate.

Marx believed that everything you do is for economics.

Marx achieved(according to Engels):-

1 - Hegelian philosophy (especially the philosophy of history and dialects)

2 - British Empiricism (especially he economics of Adam Smith)

3 - French revolutionary politics, especially social politics (man is born free but everywhere is in chains)

His method was scientific, he believed he was using the same methods as Darwin - researching every aspect of society n der to understand it.

He worked for years in the reading room of the Britih Museum. He managed to work his way through a vast amount of material. This included census(1801), tax records, commodity prices(growing empire).

Marx attacks Hegel's dialectic idealism/mysticism - Geist battle between good and evil - the real dialectic was rotted in the real world, in money and class struggle.

Marx sought the explanation of the historical process between man and the material conditions of his existence. His theory of history is therfore called 'dialectic materialism'.


The subject of this historical process is Spirit and through history it is seeking self-understanding.

History end when Spirit will achieve full self-knowledge and become the 'absolute spirit'. The process works through the dialectic.
-Thesis (proposition)
-Antithesis (counter - proposition - contradicting - negation)
-Synthesis (combination of refuting on propositin)
-Dialectic is a dialogue between two opposing points.

Marx see's the class struggle through history. Eg - master and slave, lord and serg etc...
The property - less working class - proletarial - have nothing to lose and everything to gain. "Nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win".
Other groups stand to lose private property and social status, and so cannot be relied on to act a selfless way.
Marx is interested in the proletarial as he feels these are the people that can make a change.

Marx's theory of alienation rests first on his theory of human nature. He proposes the triparlite self theory, which is shared with Plato. It is the belief of 3 parts to a person.
It is a set of needs. They are the following -

- The natural self with the subsistence needs - it is with us always not just the distant past.
- Alienated self - these natural needs are perverted - need for clothes, shelter are not met.
- Species self understands we are all part of one another - this will only eerge in the communist state.

Capitalism alienates men from themselves and from each other. People then begin to value 'things' over each other and encourages competition and inequality - the cash nexus becomes the criterium of all value.

Work is the loss of the self - it belongs to another - it does not develop the body or the mind. We are all alienated from our need for satisfying work.
We are also alienated from our higher species needs, as yet to be fully known or realised.

Communist society is characterized by equality and true justice and the evolution of a truly fe individual,.
Revolution = society will be equal and evolve(another link to Darwin?).
Marx likes the idea of evolving, a historical progression.

Communism(Marx's view)
Thesis - Free market capitalism, liberal state, individual rights. (very similar to Locke when exploring the idea of property and liberty)
Antithesis- The proletariat - Every time you have a proposition, a contradiction will come. Often people are worried they're going to be exploited.
Synthesis - Socialism
Capitalism has been described as 'Seeds of its own destruction'.

Factory production.
Market(links to Adam Smith and his 'hidden hand of the market').
Workers cannot afford the product of thier labours. Leads to unemployment and market crash.
The goods sold on the market would have had intense competition.

Capitalism will try to survive by investing in better technology, and exporting products(competition and imperialism). Then state expenditure focuses on education and military. However, Marx did see that these were onl temporary, and not the best of solutions. He was a historicaly determinant - he believes that the fall of capitalism and the rise of the prolatarials are equally inevitable.
The proletarians would rise up and dispossess the bourgeoisie - dictatorship of the proltarial would lead to socialism. Workers would sieze the means of production and produce goods to meet the needs of society instead of the market. They can then distribute the wealth equally across the state. People would work together for the common good and the state would wither away.
Communism would be a garden of 'eden'.

He see's there being difference between mental and physical labour. A person would be a fisherman in the morning, a factory worker in the afternoon and a musician and philosopher in the evning, and all these activities would have equal worth.

"From each according to ability. To each accordin to need"


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