Karl Marx, Anthropologist

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Karl Marx, Anthropologist

Thomas C. Patterson

Oxford • New York

81 St Clements Street.First published in 2009 by Berg Editorial offices: 1st Floor. Anthropologists—Germany—Biography. Karl Marx. Marx. NY 10010. Patterson. OX4 1AW. Thomas Carl. Porthcawl. ISBN 978 184520 509 6 (Cloth) ISBN 978 184520 511 9 (Paper) Typeset by JS Typesetting Ltd.) ISBN-10: 1-84520-511-1 (pbk. USA © Thomas C. GN21.M2575P38 2009 301. Oxford. Patterson 2009 All rights reserved. Angel Court. Anthropology—Philosophy.com . anthropologist / Thomas C. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of Berg. p. I. 4. Berg is the imprint of Oxford International Publishers Ltd.092—dc22 [B] 2009000314 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Mid Glamorgan Printed in the UK by the MPG Books Group www. Includes bibliographical references and index. New York.bergpublishers. 2.) ISBN-13: 978-1-84520-509-6 (cloth) ISBN-10: 1-84520-509-X (cloth) 1. Anthropology—History. UK 175 Fifth Avenue. 1818–1883. Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Patterson. 3. ISBN-13: 978-1-84520-511-9 (pbk. Title. Karl. cm.

For Friends. and Students . Colleagues.

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Preface Chronology Introduction Polemics, Caveats, and Standpoints Organization of the Book 1 The Enlightenment and Anthropology Early Enlightenment Thought The New Anthropology of the Enlightenment The Institutionalization of Anthropology Marx’s Anthropology What are Human Beings? History Truth and Praxis Human Natural Beings Charles Darwin and the Development of Modern Evolutionary Theory Human Natural Beings: Bodies That Walk, Talk, Make Tools, and Have Culture Marx on the Naturalization of Social Inequality History, Culture, and Social Formation Marx’s Historical-Dialectical Conceptual Framework Pre-Capitalist Societies: Limited, Local, and Vital Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World The Transition to Capitalism and its Development The Articulation of Modes of Production Property, Power, and Capitalist States ix xi 1 3 5 9 10 15 23 39 41 51 57 65 67 74 87 91 93 105 117 119 128 138





viii • Contents 6 Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century Social Relations and the Formation of Social Individuals Anthropology: “The Study of People in Crisis by People in Crisis” 145 147 158 173 181 219

Notes Bibliography Index

This book is an exploration of a form of social theory that has a long history of suppression in the United States. The high points of this were undoubtedly the Palmer Raids of the 1920s and the McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities of the 1950s, although the antipathy of the vast majority of academics to anything but mainstream social thought in the decades that followed has been only slightly less deadening. The red-baiting of scholars who saw Marx only through the lens of anti-communism has gradually been replaced by scholars who assert that Marx is really passé, especially after the dismantling of the Soviet Union. While the sentiments underlying such statements are often conveyed by rolled eyes or kneejerk red-baiting, they are as often backed up by claims that one or another of the latest fads in social theory provide the bases for more textured analyses of what has happened during the last twenty years or even by declarations that history is over since the whole world is now, or should be, on the road to capitalism. What rarely happens, however, is any direct engagement and extended dialogue with what Marx actually said. More common are statements that rely on what someone claimed Marx said or that engage with the commentators on Marx, sympathetic or otherwise, rather than Marx himself. My goal is to engage directly with Marx’s works rather than those of subsequent writers in the Marxist tradition. Nevertheless, I am acutely aware of the difficulty of disengaging from the arguments and insights of subsequent commentators on Marx’s views, both sympathetic and otherwise, since my own thoughts and actions were shaped in part in the same intellectual and social milieu in which they wrote and were read. Keeping in mind Marx’s quip that he was not a Marxist, the book is Marxian rather than Marxist. Hence, it is not a book about Marxism and anthropology or Marxist anthropology; several of those have already been written. While Maurice Godelier’s (1973/1977) Perspectives in Marxist Anthropology, Ángel Palerm’s (1980) Antropología y marxismo, Marc Abélès’s (1976) Anthropologie et Marxisme, and Randall McGuire’s (1992) A Marxist Archaeology are a few that come immediately to mind, there are others as well. My first direct acquaintance with Marx’s writing occurred in 1959 in an introductory course in Western civilization with a selection from The Communist Manifesto. Two years later in Peru, I realized that broadly leftist newspaper writers in Peru provided accounts that better fit with my perceptions than those of their more mainstream contemporaries, and that they gave me a clearer and deeper understanding of what was happening there at the time. Over the next five years in


x • Preface Peru, I would occasionally buy at a kiosk in Lima and read pamphlets containing articles Marx had written about capitalism. I also purchased the English-language edition of his Pre-capitalist Economic Formations shortly after it arrived in a Lima bookstore. The latter provided the inspiration and means for beginning to think in new ways about the societies, past and present, that were the object of inquiry for anthropologists. At various times from the late 1960s or early 1970s onward, I participated rather regularly in reading groups or university courses variously concerned with the writings of Marx, Engels, or their successors. These groups ranged from ones composed entirely of political activists through those with mixtures of activists, anthropologists, and students from different universities to courses and seminars with student and occasionally other faculty participants. Writing is a social rather than a solitary venture for me. I read passages to friends over the telephone and share drafts of manuscripts with them, hoping they have time to comment on them and feeling exceedingly appreciative when they do. I also try out ideas in courses to see if they are expressed clearly in ways that students can understand and use constructively to build and refine their own views. Since I have been doing this for quite a few years at this point in my life, the list of people, living and dead, who have helped me clarify my own ideas is a long one. Instead of attempting to list all of them, and undoubtedly missing a few in the process, let me mention just a few: Karen Spalding and Richard Lee who have been there almost since the beginning; Christine Gailey, John Gledhill, Karen Brodkin, Bob Paynter, Peter Gran, and Kathy Walker who have regularly helped me clarify my ideas and prose since the 1980s; Edna Bonacich, Joseph Childers, Stephen Cullenberg, Michael Kearney, and Juliet McMullin who have helped me to look at Marx through different lenses since I arrived at UCR in 2000; and, most of all, Wendy Ashmore—my colleague, friend, and wife—who sets high standards and has provided instantaneous feedback, constructive criticism, happiness, and contentment for more than a decade.

1818 1820 xi . Marx. marries Jenny von Westphalen. Marx and Engels meet for second time and begin lifelong collaboration. 1838 Engels drops out of high school to work as unsalaried clerk in Bremen. 21 February 1848: German Communist League publishes Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto. England. arguably the first empirical anthropology of an urban community.Chronology 5 May: Karl Marx born in Trier. both devote energies to organizing workers and join the German Communist League. Marx enters the University of Bonn. 1842 November: Marx and Engels meet at Cologne office of the Rheinische Zeitung. Engels begins collecting materials for The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845). 1837 Marx writes about fragmentation of curriculum and begins to grapple with Hegel’s writings. who returns to Cologne and launches the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Marx argues in Theses on Feuerbach (1845) for the importance of the practical activity of corporeal human beings as social individuals bound together by ensembles of social relations. and writes Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844). 1836 Marx transfers to the University of Berlin. the earliest product of which was The Holy Family (1845). 1835 Marx’s essay on choosing a vocation. 1830 Marx enters high school in Trier. 3 March 1848: King of Belgium deports Marx. 1845–8 February 1845: Marx expelled from France by the Minister of the Interior. 1843–4 Marx resigns from the Rheinische Zeitung. 1841 Engels joins Prussian army and attends lectures at the University of Berlin. 28 November: Frederick Engels born in Barmen. in The German Ideology (1845–6). Westphalia in the Rhineland of Prussia. a critique of the Young Hegelians. Engels goes to work at family textile firm in Manchester. emigrates to Paris in search of employment. Westphalia in the Rhineland of Prussia. where he meets Mary Burns who introduces him to English working-class life and with whom he has lifelong relationship. April 1845: Engels arrives in Brussels. Marx and Engels lay foundations of their materialist theory of history and refine the philosophical anthropology Marx sketched earlier. his wife and children move to Brussels.

Formation of the International Workingman’s Association (i. The First International) in which Marx and Engels would play prominent roles until it was disbanded in 1876. Marx historicizes and further refines his views on labor. returns to England. village communities. Marx deported and deprived of citizenship. and notions of pre-capitalist modes of production in Grundrisse (1857–58) and A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859). and the role of competition and monopoly in creating dependence in an increasingly international capitalist economy in his early drafts of the three volumes of Capital. Marx circulates his Critique of the Gotha Program. Marx publishes first volume of Capital (1867). re-enters family firm in Manchester as clerk. Marx’s The Class Struggle in France. including section on the circuits of capital and expanded reproduction of capital. non-capitalist societies in order to understand interconnections of cultural diversity and capitalist expansion. this was buttressed by readings of rural social organization in Russia. Marx synthesizes his philosophical anthropology. Marx and Engels analyze the failed revolutions of 1848–9. a proposal put forward by socialists and communists in the German Democratic Workers Party who advocate social reform rather than revolution. escapes as refugee. Engels writes The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man. Marx writes series of articles for New York Daily Tribune on colonialism and plunder of India.xii • Chronology 1849 The Neue Rheinische Zeitung suppressed by Prussian government. Marx writes large part of second volume of Capital. Social relations and contradictions of the Paris Commune analyzed by Marx in The Civil War in France (1871). which analyzes the simple reproduction of capital and primitive accumulation using anthropological and historical information. Marx circulates Workers’ Questionnaire (1880). critique of political economy. complexity of Indian society. 1848 to 1850 (1850) and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852) and Engels’s Revolution and CounterRevolution in Germany (1851–3). changes in global property resulting from colonialism and intrusion of capitalism into non-Western. and subversion of traditional property relations and creation of new property relations during colonial rule.e. and leave in late August for London. Engels participates in armed uprising in South Germany. the importance and appearance of surplus values. destruction of Indian textile economy. are placed under police surveillance in July. 1851–3 1853–7 1857–9 1861–3 1864 1867 1870 1875 1876 1877–82 . Marx and Engels arrested and subsequently released. June: Marx and family arrive in Paris.

Engels’s book translated into Italian. Morgan (1884). Danish. Second International). 13 March: Marx dies in London. 1895 5 August: Engels dies in London 1880 1883 1884 . 1884–95 Engels prepares the second and third volumes of Capital for publication. 1893 Engels elected honorary president of International Socialist Congress (i. Engels publishes The Origins of the Family Private Property and the State: In Light of the Investigations of Lewis H.Chronology • xiii Engels writes Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. Rumanian.e. which was based partly on Marx’s notes on Morgan’s Ancient Society (1877). and French during next four years.

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knowledge had not yet been divided into the academic disciplines found on college and university campuses today. the activities that define their social lives and relationships. Renaissance 1 . Ryding 1975: 7). In my view. various writers have contributed to this strand of anthropological thought. This may seem an unusual claim. Precisely what does it mean to assert that Marx was an anthropologist? What evidence and lines of argumentation support this contention? Anthropology has a dual heritage. and the material evidence for their history both social and as a species (Diamond 1980: 13). the Enlightenment. and that he attended lectures by the anthropogeographer Carl Ritter (Finkelstein 2001. theologians. historians. to name only a few. since he is more frequently identified as a political radical. and this fact has fueled a number of long-running debates concerned with whether anthropology originated in classical antiquity. and whether there might be non-European traditions of empirical anthropological practice. we also know that taking a course in a subject is not a rite of passage that automatically or necessarily makes students into anthropologists or physicists at the end of the term. or the late nineteenth century. and philosophers. however. courses on anthropology had already been taught in some universities for more than a century by a variety of persons—physicians. which we will call “empirical anthropology” for the moment. even a philosopher. We know that Marx took an anthropology course taught by Henrik Steffens during his first year at the University of Berlin in 1837.Introduction Karl Marx was an anthropologist. an economist. examines both the external characteristics of human beings and their cultural achievements. Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations at Troy. such as those fostered in classical antiquity. Domingo de Santo Tomas’s sixteenth-century grammar and dictionary of the Inca language. it is possible to talk about a number of distinct traditions of empirical anthropological inquiry. or Mary Leakey’s fossil and archaeological discoveries in East Africa. the Renaissance. these include Herodotus’s description of Egyptian society in the fifth century BC. occasionally. Empirical anthropology has had a very discontinuous distribution in time and space. Li Ssu’s analysis of tributary relationships during the Ch’in Dynasty. Thus. While anthropology as an academic discipline and a profession would not appear until the 1870s or 1880s. a journalist and. including how they communicate symbolically. whether it was quintessentially a European activity. When Marx (1818–83) lived in the nineteenth century. One strand. like Immanuel Kant who lectured annually on the subject for more than twenty years beginning in 1772. Over the centuries. 1984. we need to look at the claim more carefully. Kelley 1978.

especially with what its practitioners believe to be the core features. theory. intertwined and interacting strands. The Grundrisse of 1857–8 and Capital. in all cultures. 1864–94/1981. While Marx was undoubtedly aware of both empirical and philosophical anthropology during his student days at Berlin. Marx also continued his explorations of the philosophical underpinnings of a variety of subjects ranging from his critique . at any given moment. In a similar vein. Moreover. empirical inquiries have episodically forced changes in philosophical anthropology. These were followed from the early 1850s onward by the thick descriptions and analyses of The Eighteenth Brumaire and The Civil War in France. in other words. philosophical anthropology operates at a different level from the empirical strand and articulates in different ways with social critiques as well as with other discussions or disciplines. His association with Frederick Engels. or ontological structures. and practice. would soon bring the empirical strand and its ongoing importance into sharp focus. 1871/1986).2 he was seemingly concerned initially at least with the former. which also began that year. Rowe 1964. which has a legitimate claim to being the first urban ethnography (Engels 1845/1975). judging by his 1842 critique of the philosophical underpinnings of influential faculty members. Interspersed with his more empirical studies were theoretically informed. It arguably has a more continuous distribution in time and space. can be viewed as a set of policy recommendations not unlike those made today by applied anthropologists concerned with the well-being of the peoples with whom they work. who constituted the “German historical school of law” and who argued among other things that laws typically develop organically from the community without the interference of authorities (Marx 1842/1975). 1865–85/1981).” is concerned with the presuppositions of the various traditions of empirical anthropology. 1863–7/1977. I would argue that. which he wrote in the mid 1860s (Marx 1857–8/1973. it resembles a cable with multiple. As Michael Landmann (1969/1974: 18) put it: “Are we looking for properties that must be manifested in all men who have ever lived or will live. It was an early effort at anthropological praxis—the merging of data. or.1 The other strand. often called “philosophical anthropology. which depict the dynamics of mid nineteenth-century class struggle in France and the organization of the Paris Commune in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 (Marx 1852/1979.g. England where he worked in a family-owned mill and assembled the information for The Condition of the Working Class in England.2 • Karl Marx. Pagden 1982. which appeared in 1848. Shortly after they met. Wokler 1993). While I am not claiming that there is only a single tradition of philosophical anthropology.e. or the late eighteenth-century Enlightenment (e. 1965. Marx and Engels’s (1848/1976) Communist Manifesto. that constitute human beings. historical analyses of different forms of pre. Engels would spend two years in Manchester. sixteenth-century Spain.or noncapitalist property relations and the development of capitalism—i. Anthropologist Italy. for a criterion enabling us to determine whether or not a being is a man at all?” Since its scope is different.

it is clear from citations and casual references that Marx read more widely than those commentators suggested. German philosophers.g. given what we know about his philosophical anthropology. The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Controversies have swirled around interpretations of Marx and his writings for more than a century. This book has two aims. what might he have said today about such issues of empirical anthropology as the evolution of humankind. There are diverse external critiques of Marx’s thought and that of his successors (e. While trained as a philosopher. However. and French socialists (e. Cullenberg 1996. Engels 1878/1987. which he outlined in his Ethnological Notebooks in the early 1880s just before his death (Marx 1875/1989. the development of personhood. the origins and consequences of symbolic communication with and through language. Caveats. In other words. made of the anthropological discussions that had taken place since the mid eighteenth century and that. Thompson 1978). O’Neill 1982.g. I have a perspective or standpoint on Marx’s writings and their relations with authors who employ and advocate other social theoretical traditions as well as with subsequent writers within the Marxist tradition who have been influenced to varying degrees and in different ways by Marx and his successors. in many ways. the Theories of Surplus Value did not appear until 1911. These result partly from different political and philosophical commitments and partly from disagreements over political tactics in particular concrete situations. and Standpoints This book is a polemic. The first is to examine what one social theorist.Introduction • 3 of the socialists’ Gotha Program to the new ethnology of Lewis Henry Morgan and others. The question here is: What were the sensibilities of his philosophical anthropology and what might it look like today? After contextualizing Marx’s work and elaborating his anthropology. state formation. perhaps most importantly. Cohen 1978. Lenin 1913/1963). For example. had formative or shaping influences on his thought. Rorty 1989) as well as even more numerous and diverse disagreements that are internal to the Marxist tradition (e. the third volume of Capital was not published until 1895. For more than a century. commentators have customarily acknowledged that Marx drew inspiration from the writings of British political economists.g. Polemics. which were published first in German in 1932 and then in Russian in 1956. Marx was also an anthropologist by nineteenth-century standards if not by modern ones. and. Karl Marx. 1880–2/1974). the question of where anthropology goes from here. Giddens 1981. MacGregor 1998. only became . I want to consider what his legacy actually is or could be to the issues of anthropological importance today—not just the obvious or the easy ones such as the transition to or the effects of capitalism but also issues about which he said little if anything directly. Some of the debates reflect the availability of Marx’s writings at the time they were written.

or did he believe that they were mutually constitutive of one another and hence both irreducible to and overdetermined by the other? Were social-class structures expressing domination. situational. A number of things are at stake in the debates. culture.4 • Karl Marx. and impermanent. These include but are not limited to the following questions: Did Marx hold a linear theory of social (r)evolution. or did he believe that human beings possessed agency and had the capacity to change those structures? Did he hold that human beings acted always as economically rational individuals and that the cultural norms of a society were reducible to individual choice. for instance. and the Grundrisse was largely unknown in the West until Martin Nicolaus’s English translation appeared in 1973. In practical terms. or did he think that people make their own history under circumstances not of their own choice but rather under those which they confronted? Did he accept a notion of society that was merely the sum of its individual parts. and teleologically throughout history. or did he have a more nuanced understanding of the mutual interconnections of ensembles of social relations. and ideological structures that shaped their beliefs and actions. and the capacity of people to make their own history on occasion? Did he argue that people were merely the bearers of economic. or did they only come into existence through the interplay of language and power lodged in impersonal institutions? The answers to these and similar questions are not exclusively academic concerns. contradictory subjects? Were they alienated individuals whose subjectivities were partly constituted through the perceptions of others. political-juridical. or did he have more textured appreciation of the possibilities of diverse trajectories of historical development and the importance of historical contingency? Was he an economic determinist who held to a strict base–superstructure model of society and believed in the economic determination of society. since they may have immediate consequences for what you as a human being . emphasis in the original) claimed? Did Marx suppose that thinking and being were distinct from one another and that the latter had an ontological priority over the former. did he adopt a more holistic (Hegelian) notion of society in which neither the parts nor the whole were reducible to the other and whose essence unfolded dialectically. might not even have been aware of the existence of the unpublished works and would certainly not have been able to assess either their content or potential significance at the time. or were they historically constituted under particular circumstances and conditions? Were Marx’s social individuals—defined by their positionality in particular ensembles of social relations—also fragmented. and exploitation universal features of the human condition. or did Marx see the sociohistorical totality as something that lacked a beginning (essence) or end (telos) and was instead “the ever-pre-givenness of a structured complex unity” as Louis Althusser (1963/1970: 199. this means that someone writing in 1910. practical activity. were their subjectivities self-constructed. oppression. culture. Anthropologist available in English in 1960. and history in the last instance. which existed prior to and independent of the totality (a Cartesian totality which could be reduced atomistically to those parts). successively.

These path-breaking works had marked influences on subsequent writers. I will argue that Marx adopted a critical-dialectical perspective that historicized both nature and human society—a perspective that began with Montesquieu. ensembles of social relations. all of which were published around 1750. It is reasonable to say that the Scottish historical philosophers like Adam Smith as well as central European philosophers like Kant.Introduction • 5 believe. and that ultimately had a significant impact on Scottish Enlightenment writers like Adam Smith as well as German critics of Enlightenment liberalism like Herder and Hegel. and Buffon in the mid eighteenth century. These informed the empirical anthropology he developed from the 1840s onward: his studies of the failed revolutions on the European continent in 1848–9. and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality. Organization of the Book Marx was a prodigious reader. More importantly. used to say: “The path to radical social change is like riding the Broadway local from the Staten Island terminal (a subway line that runs from Staten Island to the Bronx). born and bred on the Lower East Side of New York. and the impact of imperialism on societies and cultural practices on the periphery of the capitalist world in the 1870s. As an activist friend. and politics of his day. Since neither were ever monolithic intellectual movements.” This book has a standpoint with regard to these and other issues.” examines how nature and then human society were slowly historicized from the 1670s onward. the relation of the individual to society. production. Buffon’s Natural History. refined. commitments. labor. He was familiar with the writers of both classical antiquity and the Enlightenment. freedom. practical activity. reproduction. and a few will stay all the way to the end of the line. Rousseau. Among other things. Some people get off at the first stop. Herder. Chapter 1. alienation. the critique of capitalism in the 1860s. . and the historicity of dispositions and social relations commonly attributed to human nature. and for the kinds of practical activity. and Hegel engaged in a dialogue with the historical-dialectical and critical anthropology outlined by Montesquieu. this means that he had greater or lesser familiarity with various philosophical perspectives that were developed first in antiquity and then were recycled. traditions. for how you choose to live your life. the Indian mutiny of the 1850s. In the late 1830s and early 1840s. and superseded from the late seventeenth century onward. culminating in Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws. objectification. Marx began to develop a philosophical anthropology that included the corporeal organization of human beings. the diversity and historicity of human societies. he was familiar with the arguments they produced and with the ways in which they were inscribed in the cultural patterns. “The Enlightenment and Anthropology. and political action with which you are able and willing to engage. others will ride to Times Square or even Harlem.

and his view that individual organisms are the consequence of interactions with their environments. and how these might have happened. the human perceptual system. and transformation of those communities. the diversity and historicity of human societies.6 • Karl Marx. it examines the human fossil record in order to discern the interplay of changing dispositions and anatomical structures. the importance of this. The chapter then explores concepts elaborated by Marx in the 1840s. Hegel. reproduction. and the anatomical structures associated with speech. crystallized at the University of Göttingen in the late eighteenth century. “Marx’s Anthropology. which endows all members of the human species with certain potentials—and the sets of social relations that shape everyday life in the worlds in which the social individuals of historically specific communities live and acquire their consciousness. Anthropologist Buffon. “Human Natural Beings. David McNally. the chapter considers Marx’s notion of praxis. Marx did not distinguish between the physical and moral character of human beings and thus separate the human history from the realm of nature. This provides a foundation for considering in more detail real or potential connections between the materialist and naturalist positions put forth by Marx and Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century—a process which has been set in motion by Joseph Fracchia.” outlines the major features of his philosophical anthropology—the corporeal organization of human beings. Chapter 2. Marx’s view of the world was profoundly historicist. and others in recent years. most notably at the University of Berlin where Marx was a student in the late 1830s. Richard Lewontin. Using this conceptual framework as well as Engels’s (1876/1972) essay on the role of labor in the transition from ape to human. which he subsequently honed in later works: the corporeal organization of human beings. his adoption of a notion of historically contingent change. by means of which they establish relations with objects of the external world and with one another. the brain. the significance of ensembles of social relations. and nature itself. . and Rousseau. Unlike Rousseau. These included Darwin’s rejection of teleological arguments in the natural sciences. He saw a dialectical interplay between a biological substrate—the corporeal organization of the body. the most basic and characteristic feature of human beings. was that this perspective served as the model for university reform in Europe and elsewhere. the emergence of practices such as tool-making and language. and history involved the intertwined development of human beings. and dispositions (the capabilities and constraints embedded in those thinking bodies). Chapter 3. objectification (how they came to be aware of the world through sensory experience while living in social groups that transformed given natural and preexisting sociocultural worlds into human worlds). combining both its empirical and philosophical dimensions. and others. An anthropological perspective. human nature is not only historicized but also plural. from our standpoint. and the importance of praxis in the production.” considers the bases for Marx’s agreement with and positive evaluation of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859/1964). his concern with variation. ensembles of social relations (societies). Thus. Labor is an embodied process as are instruments of labor like the hand. Finally.

Culture. and transformed in particular sociohistorical contexts. Here.” explores the alternative Marx developed from the late 1850s onward to the societal evolutionism of the Enlightenment theorists of agrarian capitalism or to Hegel’s teleological views about the actualization of the human mind and the unfolding of free subjectivity. sociality. political fragmentation. “Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World. the rise of nationalist politics and its interconnections with diasporic communities. and the imposition of colonial rule by capitalist national states. language. and the development of new forms of political institutions and practices. or rent or the exploitation of various categories . The story also involved massive emigration. or the allocation of scarce resources (the starting points for classical political economists) but rather with production itself. Chapter 5. uneven development along different trajectories as a result of articulation of capitalist societies with societies with different modes of production that were differentially resistant to change. “History. Marx began his analysis of how societies produced the material conditions for their own reproduction not with exchange. What distinguished them from capitalist societies and from one another were the forms of social property relations and production as well as the specific forms in which goods or labor power were appropriated from the direct producers by the members of non-producing class(es)—e. supply and demand. he developed a commentary on alternative pathways in the development of property relations away from those of the original kinship-based communities. through extra-economic means such as coercion.g. creation of new colonial territories and national states. and the creation of new needs—were neither timeless nor persistent but rather were constituted. culture. Using the concept of a mode of production. Marx focused instead on the historicity of the individual and of social relations rather than a human nature that could be reduced largely to its psychobiological or spiritual dimensions. and Social Formation. reproduced. In effect. While it is a story of the plunder of primitive accumulation and the relentless subordination of ever-increasing numbers of people both at home and abroad into the disciplinary relations of capitalism. laws.Introduction • 7 Chapter 4. Marx was aware that there were state-based societies in which commodity production was not well developed and market exchange had not penetrated into all corners of everyday life. the production of use values (items that satisfy human needs). taxes. he argued that not all historically specific societies developed in the same way or even passed through the same succession of modes of production. the distinctive features of humankind—creative intelligence realized through and manifested in labor. it is also a story of resistance. we examine both the theoretical framework Marx sketched as well as how archaeologists and historians have contributed to the clarification of its implications.” considers what Marx thought about the processes underlying the transition to capitalism and the subsequent development of industrial capitalism on an ever-expanding scale through the formation of domestic and overseas markets. and colonies that supplied not only raw materials but also customers for the commodities produced. In his view.

This raises a number of questions. Anthropologist of unfree labor and wage-workers. and the intolerance of various nationalisms and fundamentalisms). history is experienced phenomenologically in the lives of living individuals. and that. to name only a few. In The German Ideology. Marx also claimed that reality does not reside in the idea of society but rather in the reality of the individual. This recognition underpinned his writings about the state from the 1840s onward both in general works and in accounts of particular cases. discrimination (based on racism. “Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century. xenophobia. like France. Marx might even argue that the celebration of diverse identities in the absence of inequality and discrimination is probably not such a bad idea. Chapter 6. (b) the creation of new needs. he identifies three additional premises: (a) the activities by which the individuals satisfy their needs. He recognized that property was a relation between classes of individuals that was mediated by things. sexism. He also recognized that political power entailed maintaining injustice in and through property relations. and the degradation of the world on which we live. and what constrains their self-actualization? The problems we confront in the twenty-first century have not changed: the need for social justice in its myriad dimensions. he also knew how important it is to understand as accurately and completely as possible the forces involved and in getting political action right. and reproduce themselves? What is involved in the self-realization of these capacities. Germany.” begins with Marx’s first premise of history: the existence of real. He was acutely aware of how unforgiving the consequences of political action can be. The issue is how do we eliminate discrimination in circumstances in which diversity is continually reconstituted in order to perpetuate inequalities? Marx’s political activism and sense of social justice were always combined with continuous critical investigation. some stories or visions of the future have better endings than others! . After all. His views on these topics provide the foundations for a historical and critical-dialectical anthropology for the twenty-first century. while there can be no relation between the individual and society. Moreover. living human individuals. how do personal conditions and experiences become general ones? How do individuals realize needs and desires. create new needs.8 • Karl Marx. and (c) the reproduction of the individual in the family. For example. or the United States. the inequities marked by class struggle. there are relations among individuals.

and Asia established by Holland. More than one aristocrat and preacher of the day lamented that “even the common people were susceptible to new ideas” (Israel 2001: 1. Popkin 1979). because of the desire of the emerging commercial classes for technological innovations and the erosion of barriers separating intellectuals and artisans (Forbes 1968. and (4) the rise of industrial capitalism. the “Age of Reason. Tracy 1990). Spain. Some claim that this “war of the Churches constituted Europe’s prime engine of cultural and educational change” until the mid seventeenth century when “major intellectual turmoil developed first in the Dutch Republic and the Calvinist states of Germany” (Israel 2001: 23). (2) the rise of anti-authoritarian sentiment. according to some. and the growth of cities across northern Europe (Hobsbawm 1968). the Middle 9 . It was marked by a series of processes that mutually shaped and reinforced one another. which involved the appearance of new forms of manufacture from about 1750 onward that were based on the continual adoption of technological innovations. Portugal. and various Protestant fringe movements from the 1520s onward. Africa. Besides the ideological and political strife that formed the backdrop to everyday life. this is not precisely correct. (3) the “scientific revolution”—also characterized as the “conquest of nature” or the “death of nature”—which involved the assimilation of a new understanding of nature into the wider culture and society. Jacob 1988. Enlightenment thought was discussed and deployed in the Americas. These included: (1) the formation of merchant empires and overseas colonies in the Americas.” was a tumultuous period. It was felt by all layers of society. skepticism. The impact of the Enlightenment was not limited to the soldiers and sailors who died in these wars. Merchant 1980. The Enlightenment was also marked by continuous conflicts between Catholics. It persisted. and Russia from the mid fifteenth century onward combined with the creation of increasingly large domestic markets in England and other parts of Europe (McNally 1988. analyzed later by Marx in Capital. France. Zilsel 2003). there were probably no more than a few decades between 1600 and 1830 when peace prevailed and battles or wars were not being waged somewhere in the world. While Europe is often portrayed as its center of gravity. 8–9).–1– The Enlightenment and Anthropology The Enlightenment. the transformation of social relations. England. and the appeal to reason or rationality which challenged and ultimately eroded the divinely ordained authority claimed by the churches and the aristocracy during and after the Reformation (Israel 2001. from the early 1600s to as late as the 1830s. Calvinists. Lutherans. the construction of factories.

The former. At one end were the traditionalists who argued for the divinely inspired authority of the existing aristocratic and ecclesiastical hierarchies. who wrote after that date. This chapter has three goals. boundaries. the French Revolution. the most notable of whom were Baruch Spinoza (1632–77) and Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716). and that human values (e. China. The latter. radical end of the spectrum was occupied by a number of individuals. the eastern Mediterranean (including Egypt and Greece). and the idea of the nation. Anthropologist East. The contents of Mercurio Peruano. What the Enlightenment provided were analytical categories and a conceptual framework—a language. The movement can be described as a spectrum of warring factions engaged in heated debate. including Marx. good and evil) do not exist in nature but are human creations instead (Allison 2005.g. laid the foundations for seeing nature historically as a dynamic world in flux that had . Chatterjee 1986: 54. and Japan to Europe were familiar with the scientific and social-theoretical contributions of the Enlightenment (e. virtually every nationalist movement of the last two centuries has made use of concepts originated by or derived from Enlightenment writers. fixed body of ideas and arguments. Commercial minorities that connected the Ottoman state. that nature creates itself in accordance with rules which govern its operation. Garrett 1995). The other.g. challenged knowledge claims based on revealed religion and argued. included articles ranging from Newtonian science and natural history through commentaries on political economy to discussions of philosophy. centers of gravity. Moreover. the rhetoric of the American Revolution was rooted in the ideas of Enlightenment writers. a German mining engineer and civil servant. whose perspectives. and even membership shifted as they developed through time. Gran 1979. For example. Habib 1990. and Japan used this language from the late eighteenth century onward to express and buttress their plans and goals. Wang 1990). among other things. and Asia. The first is to comment briefly on early Enlightenment thought in order to provide a background to standpoints that appeared around 1750 and affected social commentators. a Dutch lens grinder.10 • Karl Marx. that the creations of nature are produced in a fixed order. Political reformers and leaders of nationalist or revolutionary movements in areas as widely separated as Latin America. The second goal is to examine both the philosophical and empirical foundations of the new anthropology of Enlightenment writers as well as the contexts in which it emerged in the mid eighteenth century. if you will—for discussing issues of the day. India. Early Enlightenment Thought The standpoints of Enlightenment thinkers never constituted a unified. published in Peru during the 1790s. Mauro 1990. Rossabi 1990. The third goal is to examine the subsequent development of anthropology and to consider the various manifestations of anthropological sensibilities in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

living and non-living. regardless of whether it was nature. and philosophical dimensions. and God. They also gave rise to enduring terms like “materialist. Sleigh 1995).” This perspective emphasized the importance of observation and reasoning. I mean that understanding the history of some thing was absolutely necessary for truly knowing that thing. human and animal.” “liberal. “moderate” standpoints—such as Cartesianism (rationalism) and empiricism. political. fueled in significant ways by Spinoza and Leibniz. By this. Arrayed between the traditionalist and radical extremes were a series of intermediate. however. Charles-Louis de Secondat (1689–1755). were arguments about the autonomy of the individual.” and “socialist” not to mention the words “ideology” and “scientist. Glass 1959: 37–8. property. and it transformed God from a creator who intervened directly in nature into an artisan who either acted indirectly or not at all. the debates about nature and history from about 1670 to 1750. like that between mind and body. It is also clear.” “romantic. The arguments among their advocates “rarely referred directly to the political and social conflict but did so in a mediated way. As Jacques Roger (1963/1997: 366) observed. and rather mechanistic views about what nature was like.” The most striking features shared by a majority of the factions of the Enlightenment. which were also widely discussed. history involved the concepts of both process and succession. These conflicts were about the nature of fundamental boundaries.1 The World Historicized Both nature and human society were slowly historicized after the 1670s. and contracts. or a commodity. human society. that they did not always necessarily see or understand the individual. the existence of a natural world constituted outside of human beings. Buffon’s Natural History in 1749. but not always the same ones. and nature in quite the same way. This historicized perspective of the world and its inhabitants crystallized in the mid eighteenth century with the appearance in rapid succession of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws in 1748. the new scientific philosophy was to rest upon a general conception of man. Here. Let us consider each writer in more detail. laid the foundations for the development of a new way of perceiving and understanding nature and the place of human beings in it. This was true as well of their views on the importance of toleration. was an astute social commentator and critic who had read widely in the travel literature .” “conservative. it asserted that mechanistic explanations which viewed nature as a huge machine were too simple to account for its complexity. nature. Each position had theological. and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality in 1755.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 11 the capacity to change continually through time (Garber 2005. the importance of rationality or the use of reason. male and female” (Jordanova 1986: 33). equality. For our immediate purposes here. “Like the thought it was combating. rationality. scientific. The Baron de Montesquieu.

. Montesquieu refined his concept of the underlying causes of development in his third work. He sought instead to discover the particularities of Roman history. Anthropologist of the day and recognized the diversity of manners and customs that existed from one society to another. Each type had its own distinctive nature. . And if by chance of one battle—that is. or hurling it to the ground. the other when there were contradictions between the aims of the state. moral and physical. and an uninterrupted sequence of reverses when they followed another. a particular cause—has brought a state to ruin. constraining him to act and think in certain ways” and that “prevents him from evaluating his position in society with any degree of objectivity. All accidents are controlled by these causes. or fear—that promoted harmony . principles. its motor. who had a continuous sequence of successes when they were guided by a certain plan. each type also had distinctive sentiments—such as morality. Montesquieu rejected theological arguments and began to work out the methodological foundations for a historical standpoint that would neither view human history as one accident or error after another nor see the diversity of manners and customs of peoples around the world as signs of human weakness or irrationality (Althusser 1959/1982: 20–1).e. the main trend draws with it all particular accidents. found in societies around the world could be reduced to a few types—republics. The Spirit of the Laws (1748/1965). in which two imaginary young princes from Persia travel throughout France and comment in letters they send home about the incomprehensibility of French mores and traditional values as they existed in the early eighteenth century around the time of Louis XIV’s death. some general cause made it necessary for that state to perish in a single battle. which act in every monarchy. he wrote: It is not chance that rules the world. monarchies. on the one hand. we must grasp the underlying causes which account for them. With regard to the former. . The earliest was the Persian Letters (Montesquieu 1721/1973). as Raymond Aron (1965/1998: 15) put it: “behind the seemingly accidental course of events. Ask the Romans. In his second work. and values. Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline (1734/1965). Montesquieu saw “society as a reality that was external to the individual.12 • Karl Marx. (Montesquieu 1734/1965: 169) Thus. on the other. He argued that the diversity of laws and manners. honor. forms of government. norms and institutional structures are purely subjective” (Baum 1979: 43). Maintaining it. elevating it. which was shaped by both the number of individuals who possessed sovereignty and the ways in which they exercised it. he wrote three books of note. For our purposes.” Montesquieu distinguished two phases of Roman historical development: one when the government and the society were in harmony or equilibrium. i. and despotisms. There are general causes. or spirit that unified the populace. In a word. [since] his understanding of its values. In this work. . These crises were the dialectic of history.

when there were contradictions between the spirit (sentiments) of the people and the aims of the state. there was a second dialectical relationship between the environment broadly defined and the customs and institutions of people. Buffon’s theories were widely read and critically discussed almost from the moment they appeared (Roger 1989/1997: 68–78. Science was more than the .The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 13 among its citizens. between the incidence of polygamy and warm climates. In other words.2 Buffon covered diverse topics ranging from the history and theory of the earth and the formation of planets through biological reproduction and embryonic development to the natural history of human beings. anatomical dissections. The opening essay in the first volume. and laws of diverse peoples. There is a continuous dialectic throughout The Spirit of the Laws “between absolute values which seem to correspond to the permanent interests of men as such. Montesquieu saw a connection between the form of government. As he had shown earlier. and that the laws and forms of government of nations reflect those material influences. “Discourse on Method. and man’s place in nature (Roger 1989/1997: 81–92). and opportunities to peer at specimens through one of the new. Buffon dealt with three issues: human reason. Montesquieu also considered the material or physical causes—like climate or soil—have on the customs. which was composed of a curious.” established a backdrop. the two dominant views concerning reason were those of Descartes and Locke. the latter claimed that the mind combined ideas derived from sensory experience in new ways. the former argued rational thought would yield truth. which appeared under the imprimatur of the Royal Press in 1749. manners. crises emerged which eroded the form of government. “Buffon made the study of natural history everybody’s pastime” (Mayr 1982: 101). This audience was fascinated with the steady stream of unknown plants and animals from the far reaches of the earth that arrived each year in Amsterdam. powerful microscopes fashioned in the 1670s by Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723). and the other commercial centers of Europe. he argued that social life is shaped by the way in which power is exercised. In the first three volumes of his Natural History. With regard to the first. and politically influential public that wanted to be usefully entertained without having to invest too much effort as well as the savants and natural philosophers of the various royal societies and academies of science. Paris. As a result. for example. sophisticated. Sloan 1979. on the other. and the style of interpersonal relations. Buffon merged the two perspectives. He was also adamant that the spirit or will of the people was determinant in the final instance. He argued that there was a correlation. its members flocked to lectures illustrated with various scientific experiments. The project of Georges-Louis Leclerc. There was a ready audience for his work. and those which depend upon time and place in a concrete situation” (Berlin 1955/2001: 157). Here. 1995). Thus. on the one hand. whether or not there is an order to nature. Comte de Buffon (1707–88)—superintendent of the royal botanical gardens in Paris—was more expansive than that of Montesquieu.

[while] chance alone could create the unique and irreversible event. Porter 1972. he argued that there was indeed an order in nature. had simply failed to capture its complexity. Buffon’s underlying concern in the second volume of Natural History was to change the direction of natural history as a field of inquiry (Roger 1989/1997: 116–50). organic diversity. This argument seemed to combine the materialism of the Epicureans and Leibniz. Rudwick 1985). after which nothing would remain as it was before. Thus. Buffon took human beings as his starting point. The focus of the new natural history would be the study of reproduction. the naturalist of living systems. from nonliving matter—a classification that recognized animal. The conclusions he drew were that the first development. was a production of parts that appeared for the first time. mountains.” The importance of Buffon’s theory was twofold. Buffon tackled the history and theory of the earth and the formation of planets (Roger 1989/1997: 93–115).14 • Karl Marx. stirred some controversy. Second. which was quite similar to the way he wrote about the formation and subsequent history of the earth. whereas subsequent embryonic development was merely growth of those parts. while theory was viewed as an attempt to explain the physical causes or past organization that produced the present distributions (Haber 1959. he also added Leibniz’s recently published views about continuous gradations. Like Aristotle. like Carolus Linnaeus (1707–78). Jacques Roger (1989/1997: 114) described his theory in the following way: “The normal sequence of natural causes only generated an eternal repetition of the present. teleological processes. because it was too complicated for their equations (Sloan 1976). Buffon’s model of the natural historian was Aristotle. a proper theory of natural history had to combine natural causes with accidents. but that the mathematicians and taxonomists. he further argued that it was necessary to start at the simplest level—the living (organic) matter that was shared by both animals and plants. or chains of being. To do so. 3 Buffon observed animal reproduction in a variety of species in order to establish regularities through comparison. since it also involved the use of reason—comparison. the fetus at conception. Anthropologist description of mere facts. With regard to the second question. First it was a theory of transformation and change. In the next two essays. it freed studies of the history and formation of the earth as well as its antiquity from reliance on or even reference to the biblical account. because it seemed to talk about internal molding forces while excluding two forms of creationism—preformationism and pre-existence—that had been popular among religious traditionalists and the mechanists since the late seventeenth century. and mineral. the question in his mind was how rather than why they did so. This materialist formulation of the question. In this discussion. history meant a description of the present distribution of oceans. . Here. animals and plants. however. analogy. vegetable. and strata. and internal. Buffon argued that living beings reproduce. in nature. Rossi 1984. he distinguished living beings. and generalization. Buffon argued that the processes of planetary formation as well as the cyclical ones that operated on the earth’s surface after it formed erased virtually all traces of the original events.

or dynamic role played by customs. and abilities were slowly altered (degenerated in his words) and diversified under the influence of climate into the varieties that are seen today. intellectual activity. puberty.4 Buffon’s third volume of Natural History picked up where the first one began— with man. modes of subsistence. medicoanatomical investigations. to take account of the physiological demands and to consider the disruptive. Since human beings lived in the physical world.g. it was necessary. Its concern was the natural history of the human species (Blanckaert 1993. More importantly. and integrated seemingly disparate ideas and information into a more or less coherent whole. he relied on differences in climate. reproduction. or customs. and creative innovation. customs. His analyses cut across different levels ranging from the molecular to the cosmological. Adam Smith. living matter (organic molecules) was combined and recombined to produce successive generations of individuals of the same species. It put human beings in nature and attempted to account for changes in the species in terms of its concrete interactions and relationships with the rest of the natural world at particular times and places. and old age. While Buffon’s empirical anthropology was rooted in the travel literature. and biases of his day. they had to appropriate the resources of that world in order to cope with the uncertainties of their own cultures and ultimately to survive. Sloan 1979). which underpin the rise of civilization—were also natural. initiating. Reill 2005. adulthood. his philosophical anthropology was materialist. Roger 1989/1997: 151–83).The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 15 In other words. and other commentators of the Scottish Enlightenment to write about the . As Claude Blanckaert (1993: 33) remarked. geography. their physical appearance. dietary regimes. Buffon also argued that the human species had been relatively uniform (and archetypically white-skinned) in its early stages. The long-term impact of Buffon’s work rests on his capacity to integrate studies that ranged from cosmology and the history of the earth to animal reproduction. and education of peoples living in different climatic regions. as its members moved out from their mid-latitude homeland. The New Anthropology of the Enlightenment Montesquieu and Buffon provided a “green light” to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Richards 2002. after Buffon. In the opening chapters. Moreover. he examined the history of the individual and the different stages of human development—childhood. there was an unbridgeable gap between human beings and the rest of the animal kingdom. historicized nature in the process. environment. they influenced later writers (e. diet. This led him to consider in new ways factors like climate. Buffon clearly placed human beings in nature and argued that all of their propensities—their capacities for speech. and that. and Buffon simply refused to humanize the latter as some of his contemporaries did. and nationality to account for the physical and physiological differences noted in travel accounts.

of thinking of themselves not as “passive observers” but rather “as active participants” (Barnard 2003: 162).7 While he declined to speculate on whether the first human beings were “covered with hair. In spite of the fact that they drew from the same ethnographic and historical accounts. civil society. their philosophical anthropologies as well as their views about contemporary commercial society differed in significant ways. 1755/1992a) outlined his critical. (2) the interactions of human beings with one another and with their external (natural) world as shaped by successively different. in his view. and a context of others. The aim of this section is to consider both their differences and some of their shared concerns. he charged that people were morally corrupted both by the civilizing process and by life in the commercial societies that were slowly crystallizing across the globe. (3) a recognition of both the existence and anteriority of social forms other than modern bourgeois society. which was based increasingly on commerce and industry. Rousseau saw human beings as part of nature (Rousseau 1755/1973: 37–8). space. History.16 • Karl Marx. published in 1755. Anthropologist history of human society. Rousseau (1755/1973. It also furthered “people’s reflective self-identification and self-location within time. ours speak of nothing but commerce and money” (Rousseau 1750/1973: 16). He wrote that “the politicians of the ancient world were always talking about morality and virtue. philosophical anthropology in the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality. historically specific sets of social relations. and (4) a historicized conception of “man” as a subject who was not always identical with “bourgeois man” of modern society. provided a corrective to what politicians said by focusing on what they actually did. Rousseau and the Scots historicized discussions about the origins and expansion of property rights and relations after 1750. as their elites steadily severed customary.5 Although Locke and the natural law theorists had written about the origins of the ownership of private property in the late seventeenth century.” or “walked upon all fours.” he was certain that successive transformations in the constitution of the human species had occurred since its inception: “changes . mutually recognized obligations to the members of the lower classes and replaced them with social relations based on market exchange.” and it had the potential of expanding their vision of human possibilities. Some of the distinctive features of his historical-dialectical perspective were: (1) human nature as a historical process associated with the emergence of human beings from nature through the creation of culture and their transformation of nature through social labor. Rousseau’s Historical-Dialectical Anthropology Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) was critical of modern.6 Their accounts were conjectural histories concerned with the development of human nature and the progress of society as reflected by changes in modes of subsistence. In A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences.

as he applied his limbs to new uses. superorganic realm in the social process of labour” (Horowitz 1987: 86–7). In his view. the ape had not “develop[ed] any of its potential faculties. To the extent that proto-humans possessed an inherited repertoire. This “self-constitutive practical activity” involved “the creation of a cultural. from other animals was a capacity to learn from their experiences of and interactions with the external world. Rousseau began his historical account with “savage man” who initially was virtually indistinguishable from other animals. unlike savage and modern man. independent behaviors of animals like ants or bees. the creation of culture—from nature. It also led gradually to what Rousseau called perfectibility or self-transformation: an increased consciousness of desires and needs. Asher Horowitz (1987: 31) described this dimension of Rousseau’s philosophical anthropology in historical-dialectical terms: “As a biological species. 1997b). almost imperceptibly at first. the test for determining whether apes and human beings were varieties of the same species would take more than one generation to answer. and humanity’s biological evolution is a result of its own historical activity. The evolution of the human species is inseparable from the inauguration of its own history. Rousseau 1755/1973: 47–61). These were primitive society. the development of both free agency and perfectibility was part and parcel of the sociohistorical development of human nature and of the transformation or mutilation of nature. Thus. because they had similar biological and psychological dispositions.8 however. and incomplete realization of freedom and happiness. traditional pre-capitalist society modeled after the Greek polis.” He inferred that there might be “a temporal and sequential relation” between apes and human beings. what distinguished them.e. which he viewed as little more than “ingenious machines” whose demands were established and satisfied through “inherited repertoire[s] of instinctual behavior” (Horowitz 1987: 68). Rousseau (1775/1992a: 81–3) also believed that the great apes were a variety of human being.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 17 which must have taken place in the internal as well as external conformation of man. humanity is the product of a process of evolution. which in turn set the stage for the transformation of the external world through labor and the creation of new needs. both of which occurred within historically specific forms of social relations. Wokler 1997a. it involved determining whether they could produce hybrids that could continue to reproduce. internal contradictions.” Let us consider more closely what was involved in emergence of history—i. Rousseau recognized three successive forms of society in the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality. and fed himself on new kinds of food” (Rousseau 1755/1973: 47). This process of free agency slowly released them from the constraints of their behavioral repertoire and laid the foundations for further learning and the development of truly social relations as opposed to the atomized.. they were like other animals. Language and tool-making were early but essential steps in the process of perfectibility (Horowitz 1987: 60–76. one reflecting “genetic continuity” (Frayling and Wokler 1982: 113–14. each with its own distinctive socioeconomic relations. .

who were further bound together by sharing. and reproduction of the . were not citizens. the emergent society was no longer a unity (Rousseau 1755/1973: 76–85. they were midway between primitive society and the kind of commercial society that was emerging in the mid eighteenth century. They were citizens. Rousseau (1755/1973: 72) also believed that “many of the differences between men which are ascribed to nature stem rather from habit and the diverse modes of life of men in society. When new divisions of labor appeared. rather than in nature. Conceptually. by exchange relations rather than generalized reciprocity. What internal differentiation existed in the community reflected a nascent division of labor based on age and sex. by internal social differentiation. Life in primitive society was disrupted when production begins to be based on forms that the community could no longer replicate.9 Thus. In a phrase. and primitive society itself was not entirely based on a system of needs. which. because they fulfilled the obligations required of members of the community. The motors driving this change were the adoption of agricultural and metallurgy as well as the consolidation of new forms of amour propre that increasingly emphasized vanity rather than pride. as the empiricists had claimed. were held privately so long as the beneficiary discharged his duties to the state. The goals of the productive activity of this servile class were neither production for the market nor the accumulation of profit. maintenance. of the bonds that were created by mutual affection. The distinctive feature of Athens and the Roman Republic was that certain individuals had a new relationship with the community. A right of citizenship was access to the productive resources of the community. and the life of the individual as opposed to that of the community. civil society. What emerged in their wake was a society that was simultaneously structured by newly forged sets of needs. Rousseau’s second stage of sociohistorical development was constituted by the city-states of classical antiquity. communal life was an expression of the abilities of its members. they undermined and ultimately dissolved both communal life and the existing social relations of production. Anthropologist and modern. and by the institutionalization of separate spheres of activity. such as serving in the army or as a state official. while owned by the community. The development of functionally differentiated forms of production was always historically contingent rather than necessary from Rousseau’s perspective. Horowitz 1987: 89–107). and self-interest.18 • Karl Marx. self-esteem. competition for public esteem. it was aimed instead at the production. as a result of their status. he called these sentiments amour propre and believed that the development of self-esteem and pride occurred as a result of public recognition of personal qualities of excellence that were valued by the community (Horowitz 1987: 92–4).” The historical development of primitive society rested on the growing importance in society. In his view. These privately held resources were not worked by the citizen himself but rather by slaves or serfs who. dependence. rather than a division in which the members of one or another group enforced order or monopolized the use of force. amour propre played a crucial role in both the formation and control of behavior in primitive society.

and imperious and cruel to others. The road taken for transcendence involved a further metamorphosis of amour propre. Civil society was Rousseau’s third stage of sociohistorical development. Thus he must have been sly and artful in his behaviour to some. the thirst of raising their respective fortunes. on the one hand.” as Horowitz (1987: 109) noted. and defeat in war. to carry its point with greater security. therefore. This relationship was predicated on the organic unity of the citizen and his community. which is the more dangerous. competition. . (Rousseau 1755/1973: 86–7) Rousseau’s conceptualization of the “dynamic of civil society. and with a secret jealousy. and saw no distinction between the universality of their claims and the particularity of their social position. Rousseau 1755/1973: 85–105. if not really. and in making them. Virtue came to be viewed increasingly in terms of “glory and public esteem in directly social endeavors.” This system of social relations constructed as exchange relations promoted a condition characterized by “universal disorder. the further growth of individualism based on the distinction between public and private.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 19 citizen in his new relation to the community. so that communal virtue becomes the condition and occasion for personal virtue” (Horowitz 1987: 105). “compel[ed] all the actors to foster actively the proliferation of the needs of others. He viewed it as a vast system of needs. 1755/1992b). the emergence of despotism. militarism. who cultivated virtue. a form of society in which each man must now. not so much from real want as from the desire to surpass others.” and individuals strived for “the cultivation of personal qualities. use. freedom and equality were realized only by individual citizens in the community. Amour propre was transformed in the process of forging this new relationship. increased individuation. and did not judge it his interest to be useful to them. and by the formation of the state. inspired all men with a vile propensity to injure one another. find their advantage in promoting his own. being under a kind of necessity to ill-use all the persons of whom he stood in need. and disposal) by individuals. when he could not frighten them into compliance. The historically contingent tendencies that underwrote the development of civil society emerged from the increasing conflicts between the individual citizen and the state-based community and the consolidation of individualism. the expansion of commercial relations. The possibilities for destruction included enlightenment (the capacity to think and speak for oneself). In sum. apparently at least. as it puts on the mask of benevolence. These were buttressed by the simultaneous liberation of property from the community and the assertion of exclusive property rights (rights of ownership. These early civilizations were exceedingly fragile and contained the seeds not only for their own destruction but also for their own transcendence. and exploitation” (Horowitz 1987: 116). have been perpetually employed in getting others to interest themselves in his lot. Insatiable ambition. and alienation (Horowitz 1987: 102–7. increasing conflicts between the individual citizen and the state-based community. on the other.

. and. on the other hand. He was also aware of the significant differences that existed between primitive society and modern civil society. . . In civil society. . . its slow creation of nature as a category. and . because it had became a sign of accumulated wealth. toiling and racking his brains to find still more laborious occupations. he wrote the following to the citizens of Geneva: The ancient peoples are no longer a model for the moderns. in consequence all labour incapable of earning money was necessarily neglected” (Rousseau 1765/1986: 309–10). The savage and the civilized man differ so much in the bottom of their hearts and in their inclinations. Civilized man. who have not the honour of sharing it. sweating. “money was the prime necessity. The former breathes only peace and liberty. . . they are too foreign in every respect. . . whom he despises. amour propre had become Hobbes’s “war of all against all. transformation of the individual in society and of the simultaneous.20 • Karl Marx. In civil society. Anthropologist which claimed to guarantee the safety. and equality of property owners— “the constituent elements of their being” (Rousseau 1755/1973: 92). Rousseau’s focus in his historicized account of humanity was its rise in nature. The use of money facilitated exchanges initially between property owners producing different goods and later between property owners and those who lacked property. especially. proud of his slavery. but always historically contingent. He pays court to men in power. Its use was increasingly universalized. which he viewed as the continuous. For Rousseau.” one individual’s quest for power gained at the expense of others. and to the wealthy. and repression of its members. alienation. This impoverished everyday life and underwrote both the erosion of the last vestiges of community as well as the growing objectification. From his perspective. . they do not . The motors driving his account were agency and perfectibility. You. . In 1764. freedom. . the existence of human beings outside of society was simply unthinkable. and its subsequent sociohistorical development. stay in your place. . . he is not ashamed to value himself on his own meanness and their protection. money was one of the characteristic features of civil society. [T]he source of all these differences is . whom he hates. . and thus the immediate object of labour. is always moving. he speaks with disdain of those. You are neither Romans nor Spartans. it was also pursued for itself. Not only was money equated with work itself. (Rousseau 1755/1973: 104) Moreover. he stops at nothing to have the honour of serving them. you are not even Athenians. Leave those great names alone. related transformation of society itself. Rousseau knew that the political life of the city-states of ancient Greece was no longer a model for politicians in modern society. . Genevans. [that the civilized or bourgeois] man only knows how to live in the opinion of others. that what constitutes the supreme happiness for the one would reduce the other to despair. he desires only to live and be free from labour.

The methodology was Newton’s applied to human society rather than inanimate objects. liberty. your work. Their country was less prosperous than England. quoted by Löwy and Sayres 2001: 47) While the presuppositions of Rousseau’s philosophical anthropology were fundamentally different from those of the Scots as well as those of German commentators from the 1770s onward. always occupied with your private interests. For him. 1764/1962: 284. (Rousseau. as Hobbes and Locke had. it was necessary to have accurate empirical information derived from experiment and observation. They argued instead that the formation of society could not be predicated on reason. the Scots were acutely aware of what is now called uneven development. The Scots did not believe. To accomplish this goal. and roving foragers on the margins. backwoods subsistence farmers. in order to protect life. empathy). and awareness of the advantages of life in a community only emerged later.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 21 become you. a social contract among individuals. A sincerely felt moral concern among Scottish intellectuals. bourgeois. you are people for whom freedom itself is only a means toward untrammeled acquisition and secure possession. his influence on them was nonetheless substantial. they knew the act was virtuous. To do so would be a virtuous act that would benefit the nation and meet with the approval of others. The Scottish Historical Philosophers Through their travels. was to determine how they could make a backward country prosper (Waszek 1988: 30–7).e. and there were significant differences within the country between the north and the south or between the Highlands and the Lowlands. commerce. that society was constituted by a rational act. In their view. they could then synthesize the information and use the results to formulate the natural laws of economic development (Forbes 1982). David Hume (1711–76) argued that the sociability of human beings was natural and rested on sexual impulse and desires that linked generations together and shaped their habits regarding the distribution of beneficial but scarce goods. You are merchants. all of whom bartered the goods they owned. they argued. In 1750. artisans. and property. a day’s ride into the countryside from a commercial center like Glasgow with its shops and burgeoning factories must have seemed like a journey into a past era replete with clan chieftains. The concepts of spectatorship and sympathy played prominent roles in Smith’s (1759/1976) Theory of Moral Sentiments and guided the conjectural histories of society that Smith and his contemporaries wrote between 1757 and 1777. comparison and analysis. emotion preceded reason and reflection. protecting property rights to goods was the main condition for society and preceded notions . because it involved sympathy (i. like Adam Smith (1723–90). herders. profits. the capacity to put themselves imaginatively into the situation of others and to intuit what the others instinctively feel (Broackes 1995: 380)..

the idea that society was developing in a desirable direction. Hume. jurisprudence. Anthropologist of justice. The Scots also recognized that the culture and values of a societies were linked to their modes of subsistence. property. exchange. or as Smith (1776/1976: 405) put it. such as “the natural effort of every individual to better his own condition” or “the propensity to truck. but they were also the way in which those individuals were constituted as individuals in the society. More importantly. and environment as well as peculiarities of particular cultures and individuals—there were also stable characteristics. This was followed by a significant advance in the division of labor. foraging societies were different from those whose economies were based on commerce and manufacturing. Besides their views about natural sociability of human beings. contrasted markedly with Rousseau’s. The exchanges that occurred among individuals in the mirroring process were not only the means by which they gained the approval of others and satisfied their mutual needs. which was associated with population growth and changes in their modes of subsistence. motives. and the like—ceased to produce their own food and settled instead in towns to pursue their crafts and to barter or exchange the goods they produced with other members of the community and then with the inhabitants of other nations. and the other Scots had a common perspective on human nature that was intimately linked with their views on sociability. and exchange one thing for another” that distinguish them from other species (Smith 1776/1976: 17). These dispositions were fixed characteristics of the species that were invariant from one society to another or from one individual to the next. those in favorable environments domesticated plants and turned to agriculture. the Scots also believed in progress. astronomy. Smith and the others saw progressive development in areas of society as diverse as language. barter. the first societies were composed of small numbers of individuals who provisioned themselves by hunting and foraging. Smith argued that the progress of society was a natural. of course. Taking a slightly different tack. and customs—reflecting variously the influence of education. and the immutability of human nature. and. this view. the mode of subsistence. most importantly.g. the sequence in which the different forms of society appeared followed from the nature of property. That is. tailors. since individuals serve as mirrors for one another. institutions. as artisans—carpenters. From his perspective. In his Lectures on Jurisprudence (1762–3/1982). they were the foundation of human sociability itself.22 • Karl Marx. When their numbers increased even further. Smith argued that human sociability underpinned the development of morality. and instincts that were shared by all human beings.” . However. As their numbers increased. scarcity. human beings have in common certain predispositions. to better their own circumstances—and to the increasing division of labor. they domesticated animals and became pastoralists. government. law-driven process tied both to the natural dispositions shared by all human beings—e. government. “according to the natural course of things. Despite the diversity of human actions. hence. Smith. weavers.

Instead. with some uneasiness. Rousseau and the Scots were concerned with the development of a new kind of society—commercialized and later industrialized—that came to be called “civil society. perfectibility. even though they manifested themselves variously in societies with different modes of subsistence. even as basic human nature itself remained constant. and promoted. the Scots separated the study of history from the study of social dynamics. and others wrestled with their views about humanity and how the world in which they lived came to be the way it was. nor were they even drawn in the same places as they are today. While they historicized society. as well as their philosophical anthropologies. the growth of civil society as a means to increase the wealth of nations. The views of Rousseau and the Scots on the trajectory of human historical development. Hegel. how did it develop? While the Scots advocated. They described. when a naturalist (Buffon) discussed . of propensities that were common to all human beings. however. While Rousseau blurred the distinction we now make between the human and the natural realms. conjectural histories of society constructed by Smith and his associates in Glasgow and Edinburgh with their emphasis on the natural development of the economy were merely part of a more general system of morality rooted in a discussion of imagination and sympathy. theirs were not the only attempts to historicize discussions of human nature and society in the mid eighteenth century. and the transformation of the external world in contexts shaped by contingent rather than necessary forms of social relations. the Scots highlighted their differences. They realized that manifestations of these natural laws and propensities varied from one time to another. The Institutionalization of Anthropology In the late eighteenth century the lines between disciplines were not as sharply drawn as they would become.” Their questions were: What was it? And. as well as their philosophical anthropologies. and the social relations that structured their interactions. For Smith and the Scots. and the others.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 23 The materialist. The problems addressed by Rousseau. their outlooks on life. Rousseau was openly critical of the effects of modern civil society on individuals. both influenced and provoked successive generations of writers from the late eighteenth century onward. progressive development. They interpreted the variation as a series of gradations that reflected not only continuous and uninterrupted historical change but also the unfolding of some potential or force that was inherent in society itself. the development of commercial society in accordance with natural laws and the natural propensities that were shared by all human beings. also differed significantly. Jefferson. human history reflected the gradual. Herder. Kant. it was a time when a physiologist–comparative anatomist (Blumenbach) wrote about epistemology. in accordance with natural law. the motors driving human history were the interplay of free agency. Smith. For Rousseau. Marx.

his Inquiry into the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural . 2002: 16–35). The first was an extended critique of Cartesian rationalism and the application of mathematical methods to metaphysical questions. Anthropologist mathematics. What inspired them. that Kant launched his annual course in anthropology in 1772. and the Scots.” It was in this context that Kant and his student. began to grapple with Rousseau’s writings at the University of Königsberg in 1762. actively sought to bring the issues of Enlightenment debate to the “center of German cultural discourse” by offering annual prize competitions on subjects selected by the Academy (Zammito 2002: 59).e. Kant] from his dogmatic slumbers” and that “Rousseau set him straight. This was a time of massive foreign influence in Central Europe. when a philosopher (Kant) lectured on anthropology. Kant’s Pragmatic Anthropology Kant’s early writings were concerned mainly with the natural sciences. which he viewed as pedantic and out of touch with the real world. for understanding that world without necessarily having to rely solely or exclusively on the authority of others. when a poet. and drew pictures of Roman ruins. who himself was a longtime friend of Voltaire. among other things. whose writings provoked critical thought and practice. history.” whose members were concerned with education not only as a source of social mobility but more importantly as a sign of social identity (Zammito 2001. and statesman (Goethe) discovered the intermaxillary bone of the human skull. were authors like Montesquieu.24 • Karl Marx. Two additional themes appeared in his writings in the early 1760s. and that anthropology was institutionalized at Göttingen in the 1770s. East Prussia had been incorporated into the Russian Empire during the Seven Years War (1756–63). and the president of the Berlin Academy. French naturalist Pierre-Louis Maupertuis. and laid the foundations for the modern concept of biological species. especially by that newly emerging layer of society. This was part of the cultural and political agenda of King Frederick II. the “bourgeois intelligentsia. Buffon. Testimonials perhaps to the impact of these intellectual exchanges were Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1803) claims that “Hume awoke him [i.. A third aspect of Frederick’s plan was to undermine and displace academic philosophy. collected botanical samples. Another aspect of Frederick’s agenda was to reform the universities and remodel them after the curriculum at the University of Göttingen. The king was supported in his effort to bring the ideas of the French and Scottish Enlightenments to the public. astronomy. novelist. The influence of Rousseau and others was already evident in the German principalities by the late 1750s. and when a political revolutionary (Jefferson) conducted archaeological excavations in Virginia and collected vocabulary lists of American Indian languages. What united them were curiosity about the world and their quest for enlightenment. Johann Gottlieb von Herder (1744–1803). Rousseau.

considered them as ethical beings who acted from principles and reason instead impulse or inclination in social contexts molded by diverse factors. it was apparently paired with an ethics course that he also taught during that period. The former was what nature made of human beings. Stark 2003. Louden 2000: 62–4. that resulted from differences in sex. . and environment (Zammito 2002: 108–9). in another. moral discourse. education. The natural phenomena he had in mind included the diverse experiences of natural and civilized man. he was also forging his own critique of academic philosophy in the German states (Beiser 1992a). emphasis in original) This was one of the building blocks for the anthropology course that Kant taught each winter semester from 1772 to 1796 and for his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Kant 1798/1978. Unless these matters are considered. the condition of the states and nations throughout the world. The comparison of human beings with each other. Terms like “freedom” and “equality” slowly crept into his writings. The second theme dealt with human equality and education. there will be a consideration of . the latter was an individual achievement formed through education. .” but also be useful by helping us distinguish natural from artificial feelings by stressing what human beings share (Louden 2000: 18). (Kant 1765/1992: 289. he wrote: [It] considers man. from the point of view of the variety of his natural properties and the differences in that feature of man which is moral in character. and the comparison of man today with the moral state of man in earlier times. [but] .The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 25 Theology and Ethics (1762). . and the ability to think for oneself (Louden 2000: 76–85). Zammito 2002: 221–307). at the same time. age. . which would not only study “natural phenomena that hinder or contribute to the development of morality in human life. The alternative he proposed in the mid 1760s was a practical philosophy. Kant was already working his way through Rousseau’s comments about human nature. By the time that Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764) appeared. shifted the study of human nature from metaphysics toward the natural world. While the content of the anthropology course varied somewhat from year to year. which was runner-up for the Berlin Academy’s prize. judging by his remark that the proper materials of anthropology were “to be found neither in metaphysics nor in a museum of natural history in which the skeleton of the human being can be compared with that of other animals . the formation of moral character was the more fundamental question. he distinguished the physical character of human beings from their moral character. Thus. It also gained him public recognition. culture. throughout the world. general judgements about man would scarcely be possible. reflection. For Kant. In a course description for the 1765–6 academic year. culture. and the trajectory of history. categories clearly derived from Rousseau. he typically dealt with human beings as sensuous things of nature endowed with natural talents and temperaments in one part and. inequality. furnishes us with a comprehensive map of the human species. Finally. enlightenment.

it was hereditary. which built on Buffon’s work. women played the central role in the formation of moral character. besides ensuring the preservation of the species. Skills allowed individuals to use the products of nature.10 Skill and discipline collectively constituted culture. he believed in progress. mostly non-European. The concepts of races and peoples also played roles in Kant’s philosophical anthropology. customs. In his view. Locke. discipline allowed them to free themselves from the dominance of natural needs and desires. naturalistic. of course. the two were not the same. The moralization of civilization represented another. Like the Scots. culture could only unfold and progress in the context of social relations and could begin to achieve its full potential in a civil society (civilization). From his perspective. Races reflected the effects of environment. By a people. 1786/1991) began to develop his theory of history in the mid 1780s. because they lacked culture and civilization. His concept of race. had developed their natural predispositions. In sum. could only emerge in civil society. and the Scots. some peoples were racially mixed. Anthropologist rather these materials can be found only in human actions. building on Rousseau and on the liberal political thought of Hobbes. rather than economic progress. higher stage of historical development as yet unachieved (Louden 2000: 79–87. which. while others. While the process of enculturation was apparently asocial in Kant’s mind. 1785/1991. he meant the inhabitants of a region who viewed themselves as a civic whole because of their common descent. in which the human character is revealed” (Kant 1785/1991: 211–12.26 • Karl Marx. was simultaneously historical. For Kant. mostly Europeans. He posited psychological differences between men and women and argued that these were rooted in nature. there was a linkage between the emotional temperaments and physical states of the human species. some peoples. they were a moralizing force in society that influenced men. which was composed of free individuals whose actions were constrained by the lawful authority of the whole. had yet to do so. however. Kant viewed race exclusively as skin color. whereas peoples reflected culture and history. because. Kant (1784/1986). and established how social intercourse should be structured. he saw it as moral progress. Kant historicized the development of the human species and human society. legislated customs. emphasis in original). and races often included numerous peoples. It was achieved through legal and political means and the “unsociable sociability” of individuals who simultaneously entered into social relations and fought with one another (Louden 2000: 146–53). and language (Kant 1798/1978: 225). and involved the transmission of a latent set of natural predispositions manifest in all human beings that were activated differentially as human beings moved into different environmental settings. It was the natural duty of women to provide individuals with the skills and discipline required to become rational and ethical human beings. 143–4). Moreover. For Kant. and teleological. his essays were also responses to Herder’s Reflections .11 These predispositions helped the human species achieve its “collective destiny” (Louden 2000: 97).

then let it make the human being its center. Herder’s (1765/2002) essay. as motion toward a goal. Kant understood history teleologically. for the universality of Reason manifests itself in concrete human affairs. The content of morality is therefore everchanging.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 27 on the Philosophy of History of Mankind (1784/1968). however. The threat of a war of all against all not only drove human beings into civil society with coercive laws but also promoted education. Rousseau. Herder also acknowledged the influence of Montesquieu.” As you will recall. Kant’s inspiration was apparent both in the question itself and in how the essay was conceptualized. As William Galston (1975: 265) noted. Kant’s student at Königsberg only two years earlier. freedom. Kant distinguished between pure reason. He argued that “if philosophy is to become useful for human beings. and commerce. Herder’s Historical-Dialectical Anthropology In 1765. but Reason progresses. also began to write about the question of how philosophy could be made more universal and useful. In the latter. Nevertheless. was the kind of empirical information that the study of history would reveal and that could inform the enlightened peoples of his day: the advances of each civilization. with freedom. this change corresponds to the actuality of history. which was independent of experience. Johann Gottfried von Herder. 27). he suggested the “restriction of philosophy to anthropology” (Herder 1765/2002: 21. “Restless reason” induced by the constant tendency of human beings to move toward and away from one another was the initial impetus for movement away from animality (Galston 1975: 236). hence. Moreover. Implicit in Kant’s notion of the perfectibility of reason were the ideas that someday. and the Scots. Robert Louden (2000) described Kant’s pragmatic anthropology as the study of the “impure ethics” that result when purely “rational beings” become “human beings” embedded in society. the underlying force was the increasing perfectibility of the natural capacity of human beings to reason. the “end of history”—ideas whose actualization he thought were a long way off.” dealt with a theme that concerned his teacher as well. This movement was characteristic not only of the natural world viewed as lifeless matter in motion but also of humanity. he set forth an agenda whose developmental trajectory would increasingly diverge from the one pursued by his mentor. the laws of nature were the motor driving change.” later in the same essay. and practical reason. there would be universal agreement and. Herder was critical of the views of Hume and Voltaire who saw humankind as pretty much the same in all times and places and who asserted that history has not . In light of this distinction. which used empirical data in relation to particular bodies of experience. “How Can Philosophy Become More Universal and Useful for the Benefit of People. the evils that led to their destruction. “morality participates in the universality of Reason. and the mechanisms of enlightenment that remained. What he did sketch. In the former.

For Herder. each age and people had its own distinctive customs. he wished to focus on two crucial qualities: functional inter-relatedness and self-generated activity. The “more” is not contained in the parts considered in isolation. history. is something more than a mere sum total or aggregate. Anthropologist provided us with any new insights. A whole. the cultural whole was not necessarily in “a state of blissful harmony” but rather was . First. Herder would elaborate these themes for the rest of his life. There were two reasons for this perspective. manners of thought. by comparing the former to an organism.. which could disturb its internal cohesion and lead to conflicts and contradictions within the whole. and what was considered true and useful for one might be false and useless for another. he stated this cultural relativism somewhat differently: “Human nature under diverse climates [i. and their interconnections. From his perspective. Herder laid the foundations for a philosophical anthropology concerned with language. human nature was both malleable and variable.28 • Karl Marx. and forms of government. but rather arises from their inter-relation and the varying degree of their integration. In doing so. tastes. Moreover. The first is his essay “Treatise on the Origin of Language. on the other hand. For our purposes. the first volume of which appeared in 1784 (Herder 1784/1968). cultural milieus] is never wholly the same” (quoted by Barnard 1969: 382). Moreover. these changed. the total physical.e. and their number can be increased or reduced without having this affect the nature of the total but merely the size.” which won the Berlin Academy prize in 1771 and established him as a major intellectual force (Herder 1772/2002). In 1769. The second is “This Too a Philosophy of the History for the Formation of Humanity” which appeared in 1774 (Herder 1774/2002). organic. culture. In an aggregate the parts are separate and unrelated. (Barnard 1969: 385) Herder viewed the culture of a community as a complex of interacting organisms. emphasis in original). culture was an integrated whole a composite or complex configuration which. Briefly. the latter acknowledged the diversity that existed between communities that were separated from one another in time and space. by virtue of its inherent relational characteristics. and humanly constituted. he believed that the different parts or segments of culture might develop at different rates. What Herder proposed instead was to allow history and philosophy to interact and mutually enliven each other in order to learn “about the spirit of the changes in various ages” (1766/2002: 255. ways of life. is something more than the sum of its constituent parts. Thus. In them. and behavior that were characteristic of a particular community in time and space. Herder used the word “culture” in both the singular and the plural. there was less pronounced diversity among the individuals of the same age or people (culture). Herder contrasted the holism characterizing culture with the atomism characterizing an aggregate. the former referred to the patterns of language. The third is Reflections on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind. thought. three of Herder’s works are important.

a shared or common language was the cement that held together the members of a community. Bildung was a non-repetitive process that entailed the assimilation. Language. Tradition was an ongoing. there was teleology in history. Herder’s views about teleology derived inspiration from both Spinoza and Leibniz. Herder. and addition of new materials to the distinctive heritage of the community. it was clear to Herder that a historical. This provided a synchronic view of culture. for example. at any given moment. For Herder. but beings whose energies had developed in an entirely different direction. Kant. Second. however. in contrast to Rousseau. saw language as a uniquely human attribute that separated human beings from animals. analysis was also needed in order to describe content or the purpose of particular cultural segments. they were not simply animals with reason added. marked the possession of a reflective mind. incorporated it into the core of his anthropological thought. there was a relationship. in other words. the diversity existing within the social and political culture of a community also had the capacity to produce the kinds of tensions that were characteristic of the human condition. was an interactive. In his essay on the origins of language. which was situational and functional. Herder. intergenerational process that entailed sifting through the stock of institutionalized beliefs and so forth in order to update them and to resolve the tensions and contradictions created by Bildung. among the language shared by the members of a community and the habits of thought and modes of life of its members. dialectical one that involved the interplay of two processes: Bildung and tradition. did not . At the time Herder was formulating his philosophical anthropology.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 29 “a field of tension” (Barnard 1969: 385–6). Herder was less concerned with the antecedents of particular cultural segments or configurations than he was with their significance once they had been integrated into the heritage of the community (Barnard 1969: 389–90). the idea of race was being discussed increasingly by Enlightenment writers. In his view. it also allowed them to enrich and perpetuate those views for future generations through the processes of Bildung and tradition. or diachronic. Herder’s notion of history. on the relations that existed among the reciprocally interacting processes that constituted the whole and on the intrinsic capacity of the whole to forge new features and integrate them into the fabric of everyday life. evaluation. however. the coherence of a culture was contingent and dependent. in his view. He thought of historical development as motion in which what was already latent in a culture was actualized or made manifest. To paraphrase Barnard (1965: 57). which involved both persistence and change. Language not only linked them to the past by revealing the thoughts and sentiments of past generations. an interaction. This diversity and the tensions it produced were consequences of the fact that Herder viewed politics as human activity rather than a set of practices and institutions that were associated exclusively with the state. It was the means by which they became conscious of themselves as individuals and of their social relations with other individuals both inside and outside of the community. Thus. human beings were fundamentally different from animals.

stamps on each its mark. extending through all ages. I could wish the distinction between the human species. but I see no reason for this appellation. (Herder 1784/1968: 7) Herder’s historical-dialectical and critical anthropology built on Rousseau’s and consequently resembled it in important ways. was organic. as well as its own language: the climate it is true.e. What bothered Herder about the arguments of many of his contemporaries was their ethnocentrism. Kant] have thought fit. and he was openly critical of those that did not. nor exclusive varieties. He argued instead that the state should take responsibility for the humanization of its subjects. and over all parts of the earth. Herder agreed with the Scots who also argued that history was an unconscious process rather than a consequence of great leaders or the result of “restless reason” as Kant would have it. whose members had the same mode of subsistence. all are at last but shades of the same great picture. and he situated it in activities and reflective thought of people who shared a language and resided in relatively unstratified communities. They belong not. to proper systematic natural history. Herder was by no means an anarchist who advocated the end of the state. Complexions run into each other: forms follow the genetic character: and upon the whole.. therefore. In short. Culture emerged not from activities of intellectuals and officials supported by the state but rather from the creativity and spontaneity of people dealing with everyday issues in the worlds in which they lived. Race refers to a difference of origin. Culture. that have been made from a laudable zeal for discriminating sciences. but not sufficient to destroy the original national character. This originality of character extends even to families. having its own national form. and for providing education so that they might achieve their full potential. In 1784. .. distinguished culture from civilization—Herder explicitly and Rousseau more tentatively. which in this case either does not exist. in Herder’s view. to employ the term races for four or five divisions. their claims that the commercial society emerging in Europe represented the highest stage of sociohistorical development. anthropological] history of man. he described his thoughts and reservations about its use in the following way: Lastly. Some for instance [i. originally made in consequence of country or complexion. or spreads over it a slight veil. civilization was something mechanical that was associated with the state. and its transitions are as variable as imperceptible. Anthropologist find any utility in the concept. or in each of these countries.e. there are neither four or five races. not be carried beyond due bounds. For every nation is one people. and their concomitant obfuscation of the cultural diversity that existed among communities in different regions. and under each of these complexions. for ensuring that they enjoyed a certain level of welfare. For both. as to the physico-geographical [i. for example. comprise the most different races. Both. and the civilizing process was one that muted or erased altogether people’s knowledge and experience of everyday life.30 • Karl Marx. on this Earth.

for it gave no indication that new ideas about the significance of historical understanding. reciprocal interactions with that world. In a phrase. made human history part of nature: Buffon by looking primarily at the human species as a biological organism. the Scots by considering the historical development of humanity as the consequence of natural laws that were analogous to those of Newtonian physics. Zammito 2002: 237–53). Montesquieu had linked the historical development of human society with nature (i. Kant. Unlike Descartes who viewed mind and body as independent substances—the former concerned with the principles of thought or consciousness and the latter possessing bulk and physical properties—Platner emphasized the mutual interdependence of mind and body and the natural forces involved in the process (Allert 1991. and each era. Herder and others recognized the diversity of human societies and argued that the nature of individuals was shaped by the sociocultural and natural milieus of which they were a part. While Hume strove to develop a “science of human nature” that was applicable in all circumstances. and that the latter could not be reduced to the former. and of cultural and physical diversity were already crystallizing and becoming conjoined with one another. human nature was the result of socialization under historically specific and contingent social relations and circumstances. and Aesthetics. and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) were noting that sociohistorical and cultural development as well as the development of the human species itself was genetic in the sense that they involved both mechanical and teleological processes. there was uneven culture-historical development. each society had its own unique configuration of elements that underwrote its distinctive “spirit” or appearance..e. The new historical understanding involved explanations of both the individual and individuality as well as of the development of society (Reill 1998).12 Their “fascinat[ion] about the idea of genetic . published in 1772. in the process of emerging from nature. of change through time. or that anthropology would be infused with these new perspectives by the end of the century. Moral Philosophy. Their contemporaries and successors embroidered the fabric they had woven. Buffon. marked the acceptance of new ideas about the linkages between the human and natural realms that were proposed earlier in the century. The title also signaled the end of an era. of the contexts in which things occurred. By the 1780s. in different ways. Košenina 1989. Rousseau by seeing people. the environments in which different peoples lived). Herder. New Anthropology for Doctors and Philosophers: With Special Consideration to Physiology. and it was imperative to take account of and to explain the diversity of both present and past societies.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 31 Göttingen: Beyond “Anthropology for Doctors and Philosophers” The title of Ernst Platner’s (1744–1818) book. of organized systems as opposed to aggregates of individuals. Pathology. As Herder and others—like Johann Winckelmann (1717–68)—noted. and the Scots. as making their own history and transforming both themselves and the natural world through ongoing. Rousseau.

and the individual human being. and a colleague of August Schlözer (1735–1809) who wrote extensively about the history. like Harvard and the Andover Theological Seminary in the United States. and diversity to their own experiences and to the sociocultural milieus in which they lived and worked. Marx was also exposed to the critical-historical anthropology of Georg F. and ethnology of peoples on the margins of Europe and used statistics to develop the comparative study of states. Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854). as you recall. History was no longer the chronicles of kings. Denby 2005. It also required a new form of explanation.32 • Karl Marx. who is hailed as a founder of comparative philology and as the educational reformer who modeled the curriculum of the newly opened University of Berlin after that of Göttingen. human society. comparative anthropology when he attended the university in the late 1830s (Bunzl 1996. classical philologist and archaeologist Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729–1812) was Blumenbach’s teacher. Flavell 1979. Marx. One of Heyne’s students in the seminar was Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767– 1835). and diversity at various levels: the natural world. The comparisons. Instead. was exposed to that curriculum and to Humboldt’s plan for a historically informed. Vermeulen 1992. Beiser 1992b. 1995). Anthropologist development was that it assumed the dual existence of individuality and regular order. Moreover. individuals with diverse interests rubbed shoulders with one another on virtually a daily basis. they allowed commentators to articulate issues related to human organization. Through the courses he took. lists of dates. the distinctive features of such totalities were more than the sum of their parts and were constituted by the organization of those parts. For example. Here. both synchronically and diachronically. Unlike aggregates.” while other Romantic writers were fascinated with the diversity manifested in tropical rainforests or the tangled banks beside English streams (Richards 2002: 295–306). Hegel. viewed “nature as a dynamically shifting balance of forces. Stagl 1995. Herder’s close friend. analogies. An increasingly prevalent idea in the late eighteenth century was the notion that both the natural and human realms were constituted by more than mere aggregates of individual parts. . the philological seminar that Heyne taught for many years had shaping effects on the curricula of other universities. growth or change over time. linguistics. Leroux 1958). they were organized wholes that resembled an organism. and metaphors employed by Herder and others underwrote and supported new ways of conceptualizing organization. for example. Leventhal 1986. Fink 1993. change. More importantly. Writers began to think of nature and human society. The University of Göttingen was a focal point for the convergence of these ideas in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (e. without collapsing one upon the other” (Reill 1998: 119). W. or the highways traversed by generals and armies but rather the byways where everyday folk wandered silently. as internally differentiated structures that not only developed through time but also metamorphosed in the process. who was the most prominent philosopher and social theorist on the continent until his death in 1831.g. one that relied on narrative rather than reference to some universally applicable law.

Hegel agreed with Herder and the Scots.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 33 Hegel’s Critical-Historical Anthropology Georg F. Knox and Pelczynski 1964. Like Rousseau and Herder. The clearest embodiment of this goal. had been dismantled and replaced by rampant individualism. His empirical anthropology was rooted in his concern with history and with the formation of civil society (e. that human beings had the freedom to actualize themselves as rational. notably Adam Ferguson. moreover. Herder. Hegel’s (1770–1831) philosophical anthropology sought to account for the actual (concrete) conditions of human existence and to explain how that social reality had been transformed by the collective (social) activity of human beings. he gained an appreciation of the importance of historical understanding and the significance of varied cultural configurations of different historical epochs and civilizations. and that social change was the product of human activity. Thus. which was inchoate in earlier stages of human history. he was at the same time critical of some of the conclusions they had drawn. Berry 1982. Dickey and Nisbet 1999. For example. From Herder. according to Hegel. While he addressed themes that they had already discussed. he viewed change from the standpoint of the community rather than the individual. a development. Rockmore 1992/1993). Hegel’s philosophical anthropology shared important features with those of his predecessors and diverged in significant ways from them (Lukács 1966/1976. Hegel was deeply concerned with the development of both modern civil society and the state as well as with the kinds of transformations they wrought on human beings. like Kant. History. which limited freedom and the capacity of reason. history was teleological. Hegel believed that philosophy should be critical as well as systematic (scientific). From the late 1790s onward. moral individuals. he wrote with the ideas of Kant. What emerged in the wake of the revolution was an era in which the institutions and practices of the old regime. and the Scots as almost continual points of reference. would change the attitude of people toward their social environment” (Plant 1983: 57. that the social problems of the day were ultimately ethical or moral. there was “a rationally discernible development in history. he viewed history in terms of uneven development and the resolution of conflicts and contradictions. unlike Kant. was manifested most clearly in the latest historical stage—modern civil society—which was ushered in by the French Revolution.g. Rousseau. simultaneously involved the interconnected development of the individual and the community in relation to the realization of a goal—the actualization of the human mind in all its potential and free subjectivity (Geist) in both. however. once comprehended. they could also . that the members of a society were bound together by shared cultural practices and beliefs as well as by the political institutions under which these habits manifested themselves. Waszek 1988). through their individuality. W. emphasis in original). which. This was the first time. in Hegel’s (1822–30/1975: 11–151) view. Like Rousseau and the Scots. As a result. he also developed concepts of history and the primacy of collective social activity that were inchoate in Herder’s writings.

embodying the positive values of earlier states. had evolved. Human labor is just such a manifestation of the power of Spirit. and social dimensions of human beings interpenetrated and articulated with one another. Anthropologist actualize themselves as social members of a community. practices. by giving meaning to its world. to ensure the actualization of the individuals and to promote the good of the community as opposed to the particular interests of its members (Hegel 1817–30/1978. they developed their minds. and that how the whole individual was actualized varied in important ways from one historical stage to the next and even within the same historical-cultural people. social. Most importantly. and cultural needs in society and actualized their distinctly human capacities— thought. Culture or Spirit is precisely the objectification of this teleology or mediation. Since what is conditioning humanity is the externalization of its own purposive activity. and civil society and in their roles as citizens of a political state. . human beings were social beings. it is conditioned by its own product and . Spirit is ultimately the reason inherent in history as a teleological process. Hegel’s theory of history is based on self-production [in which] Spirit (Geist) manifests itself . and the capacity to make moral judgments that were distinct from those of other individuals in the community. creates a “second nature” which conditions humanity. Hegel stresses two aspects of the role of labor as objectification. and subjective spirit in the context of the social institutions. They not only determined how biologically given drives and desires were satisfied but also how individuals expressed and developed their interests. and roles—the cultural configurations—that shaped everyday life in those communities and formed the backdrop to the processes of socialization and education that took place in them.e. language. psychic. By the term mediation Hegel means that the human world becomes transformed (mediated by activity and purpose and therefore is no longer a world of natural objects. Hegel calls objectification a power of negativity because the objectifications of Spirit transform and therefore negate what is given in reality [i. externalizations. Labor modifies its world and thereby allows man to know it and free itself from the bonds of natural necessity. self-determining individuals who possessed rights as well as interests. They realized themselves as individuals in their social roles in the family. in objectifications. intellect. talents. and skills. In this particular form of society. . labor is defined as that which mediates the world.34 • Karl Marx. and alienations that represent forms of consciousness. They satisfied biological. First. . Second. practical activity.. cultural. they could step back from their social roles in the community and conceive of themselves as autonomous. Hegel saw history as the progressive unfolding of reason and consciousness and the development of Spirit. States. Spirit comes to understand itself through the history of these objectifications. external nature]. in Hegel’s view. the market. ideas. and reason—by virtue of their membership in historically specific communities (Hardimon 1994: 153–6). For Hegel. . Another way of saying this is that the physical. . As Robert D’Amico has noted. 1821/1967).

The modern state not only reaffirmed the unity of the nation. objectification is characterized exclusively by consciousness. In civil society. 241–2). It accounted for the cultural configuration of modern civil society as well as the modern state. . History progressed unevenly through fits and starts as the people of a historical era succeeded in resolving the contradictions of their time. which.. for Hegel. His contemporary. wars. declines. (1981: 5–6) As Hegel put it. The male citizens of the Greek city-states were able to overcome this kind of estrangement even though they did not see themselves as independent individuals in the modern sense—i. “After the creation of the natural universe. he is the being who raises himself up into a second world. as distinct from the customs of the city-state or as participants in the market exchange relations that characterized modern civil society. SaintSimon was concerned with the appearance of industrial society. For example. The separation of the individual from the community only occurred during the Protestant Reformation (Plant 1983: 55–75). . natural object. Hegel was not the only theorist to comment on civil society and the state during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. because it explained the present and ended in the present. they felt a sense of profound estrangement from those societies. Thus. . revolutions.” these did not give rise to history (Hegel 1822–30/1975: 134–7). man appears on the scene as the antithesis of nature.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 35 not by an external. where the purchase and sale of goods and services made them interdependent and connected them in an increasingly dense web of social relations. law and morality condition and form human beings through a process of cultivation (Bildungsweise) or civilizing influence. which has nothing whatsoever to do with the kinds of determination that occur in the natural world. For example. marked the both the internationalization of society and the end of the nation state. For Hegel. cf. which was weakened as individuals pursued their own goals. but also provided the system of ethical life and social substance that would allow them to reconcile and overcome the conflicts and contradictions of civil society and thereby ensure that they could achieve their humanity (Rose 1981).e. in his view. that of nature and that of the spirit. individuals satisfied their needs by pursing their private interests in the market. “the rational end of man is life in the state” (1817–30/1978: 242). . History began with the rise of states and ended with the present. While Hegel acknowledged the existence of pre-state societies in the prehistoric period that had achieved “a significant development in certain directions” or even experienced “complications. History was important. The general consciousness of man includes two distinct provinces. 1837/1956: 52–3. consequently. Hegel argued that neither Abraham nor Jesus was able to reconcile his vision of the independence and freedom of the individual with those of the wider communities of which they were members. The province of the spirit is created by man himself” (1822–30/1975: 44. Henri Saint-Simon (1760–1825) made a slightly different argument about their connection.

The conversation was fueled by the conquest of nature. The conversation was often acrimonious. After Rousseau. Herder. At times. while many of Marx’s predecessors believed in progress (Smith) or the dialectical unfolding of history (Hegel). Marx’s predecessors were collectively concerned with the . human nature was culturally determined (Herder and Hegel) and progress. Let us dwell for a moment on some of the issues and lessons that Marx’s predecessors raised for him. Saint-Simon had a vision of what society could become in the future. their relations with one another. for others.36 • Karl Marx. In one sense. we have viewed the Enlightenment as an ongoing conversation among individuals who held distinct. resulted from the resolution of contradictions. theoretically informed views about the world. Second. exploration. At other times. and human society had been historicized and their diversity acknowledged. however. it was more private—an exchange of words between friends (Spinoza) or a university lecture published only posthumously (Hegel). Hegel six years later in 1831. and the difference between faith and reason. human nature was fixed and immutable and progress was a consequence of the passage of time. nature. when the young Karl Marx had barely entered his teens. Kant. In the 1830s. Third. He would also absorb the importance of enlightenment. and their place in the world. colonization. and Hegel responded in different ways to Rousseau and to one another. a point with which Hegel would have agreed. the conversation was public as when the Scots. human beings. For some of them. commerce. which provided the grist for the development of an empirical anthropology that increasingly took cognizance of the history and diversity of human beings as well as the world in which they lived. Unlike the Scots and Hegel who viewed the present as the end of history. and about their place in that world. Marx would absorb the ideas of both writers as well as those of Montesquieu and Rousseau among others. others did not. it was becoming increasingly difficult to argue that human beings were ontologically prior to human society. Anthropologist While industrial society was built around the institutions of civil society. moreover. critical thought. and it was always threatening to those whose privileged positions in society rested on the maintenance of tradition and the active repression of critical inquiry. and later industrialization. it was no longer possible to argue effectively that individual human beings living in a state of nature entered into a social contract with the sovereign (Hobbes) or with one another (Locke) thereby creating society in the process. First. if it occurred at all. In this chapter. Saint-Simon viewed the state as opposed to the development of civil society because of the domination of society by incapable bureaucrats who were out of touch with the times. the conversation that ensued can be viewed as a work in progress. This realization paved the way for the development of new philosophical anthropologies that were distinguished from one another by the (ontological) beliefs that their advocates held about the nature of human beings. about human beings. In another sense. the Enlightenment provided a set of questions that the proponents of different philosophical anthropologies felt they needed to address. Saint-Simon died in 1825.

. associated with the state. Fifth. were described as mechanical. In the chapters that follow. Saint-Simon). there also was a growing clamor about the meaning of freedom and the autonomous individual in the context of the class structure of modern civil society and the state (Hegel). Fourth. Marx certainly learned from their writings and carried many of their arguments into his own work.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 37 inequalities and individualism that were characteristic of the commercial-industrial societies that shaped their everyday lives (Rousseau. we will consider what he retained of their views and where he broke with them. Hegel. it was increasingly difficult to maintain that the profound individualism and kinds of unequal social relations developing in modern civil society were characteristic of all societies. and limited or muted the knowledge acquired in the course of everyday life in the community (Herder). These civilizations. Herder. to use a term coined in response to Rousseau. from the time of Rousseau onward.

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whose effects and unfulfilled promises still defined the politics of the time” (Davidson 2005: 39 . which had been published in 1762 (Hillmann 1966: 33–48). Marx. therefore.–2– Marx’s Anthropology Marx was a child of the Enlightenment. when he was seventeen and still a student in Trier. as well as commentaries on those works by later authors (DeGolyer 1992: 115. The writers ranged from Homer and Shakespeare. to Rousseau. Seigel 1978: 28–64). For Marx. Winckelmann. which was occupied by the French from 1794 to 1814. and contemporary writers with considerable care (e. Kant. to name only a few. The discussions had a significant impact on the young man. as Nigel Davidson (2005: 8–9) perceptively remarked. Marx was also a bookworm. .000 pages—by the time he died (Prawer 1978: 348). he discussed various writers with his father. the centrality of the problem of freedom. and Saint-Simon. on the other. 418). Kaiser 1967). and the director of the local high school that he attended (McLellan 1973: 1–16. it was also a historical experience only recently past. 267. His library would eventually include nearly a hundred volumes by Greek and Roman writers. He read classical. Goethe. it was the region in Europe “where the influence of the French Revolution was most directly experienced. many in the original language. and others and his commentaries on those passages would come to fill fifty notebooks—more than 30. was raised in the Prussian Rhineland. and the separation of the real world from representations of that world. The excerpts he copied from Aeschylus. Enlightenment. First. There are two obvious reasons for this. his future father-in-law. on the one hand. However. 22. the historicity of things including forms of society. 113.g. he quoted long passages from favorite authors like Shakespeare and Homer and easily found quotations in the works of Aristotle and other writers of classical antiquity. From early onward. Voltaire. did not come exclusively from books. who was born in 1818. their influence. he made the first German translation of Aristotle’s De Anima and apparently intended to publish it (Meikle 1985: 58). . Marx (1835/1975) wrote an essay on choosing a vocation which contained arguments that paralleled those of Rousseau’s Émile. . McLellan 1973: 15. for example. As a teenager in Trier during the early 1830s. In fact. the denial of knowledge claims based on authority. the French Revolution was not simply absorbed from the works of French liberals. Marx owed an intellectual debt to Enlightenment writers: the importance of reason.

Greece (1821). The July Revolution in France (1830). bodily or corporeal] organisation” (Marx 1844/1975a: 276. Spain (1820). and. a step which is conditioned by their physical [i. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31. present. Human beings are determined by their history. Marx’s participation in this debate as well as in the revolutionary politics of the nineteenth century was continuous from his days as a student at the University of Berlin in the late 1830s.. and what has made them human? Some writers (e. Simply put. they chart the course of that history through their actions. Petrović 1991). Second. The failure of the revolutions of 1848 and 1870 forced him to further hone and refine his analyses and understanding of the world. emphasis in original). and history. Praxis is the creative and self-creative activity by which human beings shape their world and themselves. Holland (1830). the English Reform Act (1832). These productive activities or practices always occur in the context of associated individuals living in specific “ensembles of social relations” that have varied in space and time (Marx 1845/1976: 4). it involves work. This process of continual critique and re-examination persisted until his death in 1883. and future—affords us not only the opportunity to confront the burden of the past but also. and formation of the human individual as a subject and social being (Kosík 1963/1976: 133–7. With respect to these categories. Gould 1978. “There was going to be some sort of revolution—everybody but the dullest Prussian bureaucrat knew that—but what kind of revolution?” (Davidson 2005: 9). . a decade later. The temporal dimensions to these processes are fundamental. Henry 1976/1983: 12. and Andrew Jackson’s presidency (1829–37) enabled mass politics and extended voting rights (Hobsbawm 1962: 138–40). human beings are born into communities and formed as social individuals through the intersubjectivity (the shared meanings and activities) of the persons who participate in those sets of relations. within the constraints imposed by their bodies and the societies of which they are members. Schaff 1965/1970: 50) have argued that the central categories of answers to these questions are the social individual. the human condition has an irreducibly historical character. at the same time. The debate about revolution was not an abstract one. Spanish America (1808–22).40 • Karl Marx. The goal of this chapter is to explore Marx’s historical-dialectical anthropological theory. revolutions elsewhere formed an almost continuous backdrop to his childhood and adolescence: Naples (1820). praxis. This is the milieu in which Marx honed his philosophical anthropology—his answers to the questions: Who or what are human beings. Marx insisted that human beings are “a part of nature” and that they “begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence. Anthropologist 8–9). the Irish Rebellion (1829). to set off on new courses for the future.e. the mastering of nature. and Poland (1830–1). under some circumstances.g. In this sense. This historical understanding—which has the capacity to make clear the interconnections of the past.

capabilities. which endows all members of the species with certain potentials. While Rousseau and Hegel viewed the relationship as one of emergence—the creation of culture for the former and the actualization of free subjectivity for the latter—Marx believed instead that The first premise of all human history is. climatic. . needs. let us now look in more detail at how he characterized human beings simultaneously as natural beings and as social and conscious natural beings. human sensuous activity. Marx did not. in the “Theses on Feuerbach. the existence of living human individuals. While his predecessors distinguished between the physical and moral characters of human beings and thus separated nature from the realm of human history. consciousness. of course. there is a dialectical interplay between the biological substrate. of socio-cultural forms. as he discussed the specifically human features. and the ensemble of social relations that shape everyday life in the worlds in which they live and which they themselves produce. he never systematically developed the idea. That is. change. Of course. For example. as Joseph Fracchia (2005: 40) has argued. Keeping in mind that Marx was averse to both biological reductionist and culturehistorical relativist perspectives. underlie and make possible the infinite though not unlimited range of those changing manifestations of human being—that is. bodily or corporeal] organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature. and so on.” On the other hand.Marx’s Anthropology • 41 What Are Human Beings? Marx.” he mentions “practical. All historical writing must set out from these natural bases and their modification in the course of history through the action of men. and. saw a relationship between human beings and nature. on occasion. oro-hydrographical. On the one hand. Marx rejected the notion of a fixed human nature or essence in the singular and adopted instead a historicized notion of human natures in the plural..1 The Corporeal Organization of Human Beings While Marx made numerous references to the corporeal organization of human beings throughout his writings. like Rousseau and Hegel before him. we cannot here go either into the actual physical nature of man. (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31) Thus. . the “transhistorical attributes of human corporeal organisation . and behaviors that are characteristic of each historical epoch (Fracchia 1991: 159–60). or into the natural conditions in which man finds himself—geological. the importance of the concept is evident in his remarks. and dispositions shared generically by all members of the species. reproduce. The first fact to be established is of the physical [i.e. Nonetheless.” in . the ensembles of social relations not only condition how human beings live but also shape their relations of production as well as the personalities.

it therefore needs a nature outside itself. in order to satisfy itself. as a natural. conditioned and limited creature. smelling. Marx wrote: Man is directly a natural being. looking. This system provides sensations of the world. is one and the same thing. human beings are active. nature and sense for a third party. they are active mechanisms for exploring nature—for moving. Hunger is an acknowledged need of my body for an object existing outside it. natural and sensuous. as objects independent of him. As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand endowed with natural powers. Let us begin to unpack what he meant. sensuous objects. like animals and plants. sensuous creatures that perceive the world around them. 341–416). objective being he is a suffering. nature. Fracchia (2005: 41ff. and understandings of the ambient conditions as well as the animate and cultural elements of the environments the human beings inhabit. indispensable to the manifestation and confirmation of his essential powers. mouth. It provides perceptions. more importantly. the objects of his instincts exist outside him. nose. constitute an interrelated perceptual system. which he wrote early in his career to begin sorting out his theoretical differences with other writers— especially Hegel. corporeal. the political economists. and the socialists. an object outside itself. and touching the various external objects in the world around them. That is to say. including the sensory organs. First. 276–7. emphasis in the original) Marx made several points in this passage. he discusses the corporeal foundations of use values (they satisfy the needs of human individuals) and the immiserating effects or costs on the human body that result from lengthening the duration of the work day and thereby diminishing the time for rest and recuperation (Marx 1845/1976: 4. the organization of the human body is for Marx more than merely “a simple prerequisite” for being human. or oneself to be object. referential language of the day. objective being full of natural vigour is to say that he has real. ears.” In the gendered.42 • Karl Marx. It permits human beings to feel by providing both passive and active sensations of the external world. listening. The foundations for Marx’s view that human beings were a part of nature first appeared in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. vital powers—he is an active natural being. sensuous.) suggests that enough can be gleaned from these scattered passages to see the “systematic and foundational logic” underpinning the remarks. The adjustments resulting from movement of parts of the perceptual . (1844/1975a: 336. skin—combined with motor skills that allow them to move their bodies or various parts of them. tasting. Marx agreed with Hegel’s view that human beings were part of nature and that they had produced a “second world. or that he can only express his life in real. These forces exist within him as tendencies and abilities—as instincts. sensuous objects as the object of his being or of his life. 1863–7/1977: 125–6. in his view. Their sense organs—their eyes. yet these objects are objects that he needs—essential objects. living. To say that man is a corporeal. sensuous. and sense outside oneself. On the other hand. Anthropologist Capital. real. assessments. and at the same time to have object. to be stilled. To be objective. Hunger is a natural need.

the individual’s engagement with its surroundings may range from minimal (out of awareness or consciousness). feeling “is an inherent structural part of acting and thinking rather than their mere ‘accompaniment. it is during the process of acting and thinking. The human perceptual system also provides a basis for communication (Gibson 1966/1983). Some features of the human perceptual system and the anatomical correlates associated with them are: upright posture.e. The system imposes limitations. joy. immaturity). reduced amounts of bodily hair and increased number of sweat glands. labor or purposive activity—and . ability to discern intensity and direction of middle-range sounds.. thinking. and feeling. As Agnes Heller (1979: 11) has noted. They experience a range of feelings and emotions: fear. to name only a few. tool-use. to say that human beings are part of nature means that they are also feeling organisms that are actively involved with the world in which they live. on the other. some of which have been overcome in recent years as a result of enormous amounts of cultural intervention. Everest or use night-vision goggles to see in the dark. emphasis on vision including the related brain centers: stereoscopic color vision. The world provides the objects and others that the human individual internalizes and objectifies. and hunger. prolonged life history stages (gestation. that the individual’s capacity for feeling also has the potential to expand. Third. human beings distinguish themselves from the worlds in which they live through a process of self-objectification—i. head. evolved through time over the past 60 or so million years. to form conceptions of those externalities. or see very well at night. infancy. hands with opposable thumbs and enhanced dexterity. to the center of conscious attention.’” At any moment. and habitual speech including the vocal apparatus and related brain centers (Langdon 2005). or hand movements—constitute modes of attention that allow human individuals to explore the available information. relatively small deciduous and permanent teeth. The human perceptual system. human beings carrying oxygen and other essentials with them regularly climb to the top of Mt. Parts of the human perceptual system are shared to varying degrees and in different ways with those of their non-human primate relatives and shared ancestors. The structure and organization of the system and their anatomical correlates. increased brain size. eye. reside on high mountain peaks. Second. of developing new capacities and reintegrating them into more meaningful wholes. For example. on the one hand. bipedal locomotion. they typically do not inhabit ocean floors.Marx’s Anthropology • 43 system—e. This is the process of subjectification—the formation and development of the self (Ego)—which underpins the self-expression of the individual. broadly conceived. as well as the externalities of their environments dispose human beings to interact with the worlds around them in particular ways. to orient themselves and move in relation to them. for example. Nevertheless. human individuals are terrestrial and diurnal—that is. menstrual as opposed to estrus cycles in reproductive females. Subjectification is an active process that involves action.g. This engagement begins at the moment of birth and starts from the individual. diminished sense of smell and taste relative to other animal species. love.

man proves himself a conscious species-being. Anthropologist thereby constitute themselves in a world of externalized objects that they have not only created but also that condition their lives in turn. Marx’s notions of objectification and labor were broader than those of his predecessor. . . not the negative side of labour.” Thus. But an animal only produces what it immediately needs for itself or its young. is characteristic of the specifically human labour process. etc. and [Benjamin] Franklin therefore defines man as “a tool-making animal. like hunger. or as alienated man.44 • Karl Marx. It produces one-sidedly. Fourth. what is distinctive. whilst man reproduces the whole of nature. . . Just as head and hand belong together in the system of nature. dwelling. in Marx’s (and Fracchia’s) view. Hegel “grasps labour as the essence of man—as man’s essence which stands the test: he sees only the positive. In other words. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 643) The use and construction of instruments of labour. although present in the germ among certain species of animals. . whilst man produces universally. [being] worlds of artifacts—material. labor in its essential form. [being] as many as human capacities and practices and the results . the perceptual system. beavers. brain. Marx argued that Hegel’s views about labor were abstract and philosophical. and ends” (D’Amico 1981: 3) with the “modes of objectification . arms.” (Marx 1863– 7/1977: 286) In creating a world of objects by his practical activity. and that his standpoint was that of political economy. Admittedly animals also produce. ants. social. They build themselves nests. objects are subjected to human purposive activity. . so in the labour process mental and physical labour are united. The only labour which Hegel knows and recognizes is abstractly mental labour. hands. about human corporeal organization are the bodily organs that were transformed into instruments of production: most notably. has been described as “the embodiment of human motivation. An animal’s product belongs immediately to its . whilst man produces even when he is free from physical need and only truly produces in freedom therefrom. like the bees. Labour is man’s coming-to-be himself within alienation. that are experienced subjectively and whose satisfaction requires an object outside the self. and the subject who is objectified in a world of objects. For Marx The solitary man cannot operate upon nature without calling his own muscles into play under the control of his own brain. legs. Human beings deploy them and the objects they created as extensions of their corporeal organization to mediate. is transformed in the process. Objectification. regulate. . They were tied not to thought or the movement of Spirit but rather to human activity and history as these were shaped by specific forms of alienation. For Marx (1844/1975a: 333). An animal process only itself. and semiotic” (Fracchia 2005: 44). in his work upon inorganic nature. It produces only under the dominion of immediate physical need. purpose. and control the metabolism that exists between them and nature. These externalized objects satisfy needs. and the vocal tract.

purposive activity . More important. A spider conducts operations which resemble those of a weaver. 655) rather systematically distinguished between physiological and necessary needs. Fifth. the latter were “habitually required” in a given society. . and a bee would put many human architects to shame by the construction of its honeycomb cells. whilst man knows how to produce in accordance with the standard of every species. however. “the creation of man through human labour and the emergence of nature for man” (1844/1975a: 304). or the exquisite taste of a carefully prepared meal in contrast to fast food. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 283–4) Marx referred repeatedly over the years to the centrality of labor as the condition for human existence and the self-realization of human beings. Labor. It is the way human beings mediate and regulate the metabolism that exists between them and nature. with the development of the productive forces—i. the splendor of a poem. At the end of every labour process. in his view. Marx saw this as a process of emergence. the motor for the developmental and directional change in human corporeal organization was labor which he described as “the living. We presuppose labour in a form in which it is an exclusively human characteristic. . It is a mode of objectification involving intentionality rather than instinct. (Marx 1844/1975a: 276–7) We are not dealing here with those first instinctive forms of labour which remain on the animal level.Marx’s Anthropology • 45 physical body. for Marx. Marx (1863–7/1977: 276–7. it determines the mode of his activity with the rigidity of a law. While the objects made by human beings may be utilitarian in the broad sense of the word. while man freely confronts his product.e. involved the articulation of physical and mental activities directly or indirectly through thought and language. Man not only effects a change of form in the materials of nature. The former were indispensable for the production and reproduction of the individual. Man therefore also forms objects in accordance with the laws of beauty. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is that the architect builds the cell in his mind before he constructs it in wax. the beauty of a finely chipped stone knife. As a result. It is the way they appropriate and alter external objects and transform them into things that satisfy their needs. form-giving fire” (1857–8/1973: 361). this development of all the human productive forces is a process of both self-creation and self-affirmation. and knows how to apply everywhere the inherent standard of the object. An animal forms objects only in accordance with the standard and the need of the species to which it belongs. And this is a purpose he is conscious of. they may more importantly be aesthetic expressions—for example. a result emerges which had already been conceived by the worker at the beginning. it makes the life activity of the individual an object of will and self-consciousness. human beings work to satisfy existing needs and to create new ones in the process. hence already existed ideally. The needs of human beings developed. one that entails aesthetic as well as utilitarian attitudes toward human activity. and he must subordinate his will to it. he also realizes his own purpose in those materials.. . is the fact that all labor or work involves physical activity as well as thinking and other mental activities.

play. in their participation in historically specific communities. social intercourse. rest from exertion. 1863–7/1977: 341. variation of activity. like adequate health care or rest. 612. actualized in their relations with other individuals. Marx recognized the sociality of human beings and that being human was. and that these later generations inherit the productive forces and forms of intercourse accumulated by their predecessors. Social needs are the genuine needs of every individual in a given society. or their biological features. and the objects upon which work is performed (Marx 1857–8/1973: 494. growth. While Marx never systematically elaborated a theory of social needs. aesthetic stimulation. and habitation.g. drink. their personalities. “Ensembles of Social Relations” and Human Beings as Social Individuals Human beings are distinguished as much by their sociocultural and historical characteristics as they are by their need to work. in fact. 54–118. Negt 1988: 228–33: Schaff . 417). time for intellectual development. clothing. their corporeal organization. their identities. 611. who. 375–6. their ambivalences. . He wrote . their own mutual relations being determined thereby. portray themselves as representatives of the masses. their subjectivities. and meaningful interpersonal and sexual relationships (Marx 1844/1975a: 295–6. these are typically available only to the privileged layers of that society. 762–802. that the development of the individual is determined by the development of all the others with whom he is directly or indirectly associated. . fresh air and sunlight. development. In short. Henry 1976/1983. adequate living and working space. healthy maintenance of the body. free play of the vital forces of the body and mind. but is determined by this history (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 438). the instruments of work. human individuals—their consciousnesses.46 • Karl Marx. Another way of saying this is that these webs of social relations are the foundation on which intersubjectivity is possible. Marx also alluded to social needs—“the level of needs of the worker as a socially developed human being at a given point” (Lebowitz 2003: 40). cleanliness of person and surroundings. 1863–7/1977: 284). it is clear that development takes place and that the history of a single individual cannot possibly be separated from the history of preceding or contemporary individuals. and that the different generations of individuals entering into relation with one another are connected with one another. their individualities. Anthropologist (work). 362. These included adequate food. like congressmen in the United States today. and their cultures—have a profoundly social character (e. that the physical existence of the later generations is determined by that of their predecessors. Márkus 1978: 15–35. As a result. fulfillment of social functions. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 38. he and Engels made passing references to the needs of human beings in general (McMurtry 1978: 33–4).

and form new wants and desires—are all cast in this forge. For what he becomes in ontogenesis is fully determined socially. modes of behavior and of ethics. which embodies a certain type of thinking. It is a repeated moment in the life activity of the individual. which changes very slowly. “the specific character of human beings in a given era cannot be determined a priori but only in reference to the [particular] ensembles of social relations” (Fracchia 1991: 160). man—in the sense of his attitudes. concrete individuals who live at particular times and in particular places or. consciousness itself is a social phenomenon. In a phrase. By consciousness. value-judgments. Human beings are shaped by the sets of relations into which they are born and which they help to actualize. a wholly determined social product. other human beings. It exists between the appearance. but how did human social individuals come into being? For Marx. or rejected by the individuals involved. persons. This socially and historically determined activity is. sociality permeates all aspects of the individual’s life. “Conscious life activity distinguishes man immediately from the life activity of the animal. As a result. The kinds of work they do—the ways in which they satisfy their needs. It entails increasing awareness of the objects of the natural world. etc. which imparts certain customs. and this in a way that is quite beyond his control—through language.—is a product of ontogenesis. an expression of those circumstances. opinions. It involves intentionality. It also includes “cognizance of the surrounding world” as well as the “mental production” of the whole sphere of presuppositions. and education. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 36). Consciousness was another. as Marx would say. (1965/1970: 66) For Marx. reproduce. The spheres of activity founded on these relations are internalized. and occasionally even transform during their lives. Human beings are clearly social individuals. etc. he meant the mental outlook (1) that is formed under particular social conditions. and their relations with them. even when he or she is seemingly alone. 70n31a. instead. in given historical epochs. and so forth that are handed down by tradition and accepted in an unreflective manner (Márkus 1978: 26. feelings. Thus. sense was one distinctive feature. recognition. these ensembles are not natural relations that exist among generalized or universal human individuals but rather are the particular relations that exist among specific. dispositions. a “creative and formative factor in all social activity” (Márkus 1978: 28). and subjectification of those objects.Marx’s Anthropology • 47 1965/1970: 49–102). While consciousness is ultimately based on the possibilities for development in the corporeal organization of the species. Adam Schaff describes this in the following way: at a certain level of biological evolution. not exclusively utilitarian. consciousness is not the passive reception of stimuli from the natural and sociohistorical world in which the human individual lives.” wrote Marx (1844/1975a: 294). express their identities. at the same time. and relations and the . and (2) that is. accepted. His view of consciousness was broader than the one we typically employ today. work in the broad.

Anthropologist potentials they have for satisfying or creating new needs. ultimately. which are independent of their will. Consciousness “is a particular type of activity directed toward the ‘appropriation’ of reality in a specific way” (Márkus 1978: 29). (Marx 1859/1970: 20) This passage is often read not as a shorthand or summary statement of complex relations but rather as claims for (1) the separation of the economic from the cultural and other realms of society and. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 110) The mode of production must not be considered simply as being the reproduction of the physical existence of the individual. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society. Marx portrayed the linkages of consciousness in his famous base–superstructure architectural metaphor: In the social production of their existence. In the case of the arts. or invert reality and of whose existence the subjects are unaware.48 • Karl Marx. “culture [consciousness] constitutes a mode of expression of life conditioned by the form of production or form of life activity” (D’Amico 1981: 11). so they are. the appropriation of these “objects of social practice. which are the expression of particular ensembles of social . coincides with their production. namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. distort. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social. (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31–2) In this view. (2) the economic determination of society and history.” and “the activation of human actuality” (Márkus 1978: 29). the skeletal structure. therefore. political and intellectual life. both with what they produce and how they produce. Such claims also overlook passages Marx wrote earlier that are hard to square with models of economic determination. What they are. hence also to the material foundation. As individuals express their life. of its organization. cultures. the real foundation. or political dimensions. It does not say that the culture is not economic or that the economic lacks significant cultural. legal. hence. as it were. on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. men inevitably enter into definite relations. Thus. a definite mode of life on their part. For example. it is well known that certain periods of their flowering are all out of proportion to the general development of society. a definite form of expressing their life. Thus. Social consciousness never exists in a general or abstract sense but rather always is a manifestation of particular ensembles of social relations and sociohistorical conditions. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals. it also includes “false consciousness”— mistaken ideas that conceal. consciousness is also related to Marx’s concepts of objectification and labor—the transformation of exterior objects to satisfy needs.

of course. it is also a condition for transforming them (McMurtry 1978: 145–56. however. Each individual is an experiencing nodule or terminus of the ensemble of relations that constitutes the social system. and the structure of relationships between these distinct but reciprocal realms. human individuals acquired their consciousness in historically specific communities and could develop as individuals only in those societies. Marx was aware that “the development of the individual is conditioned by the development of all other individuals with whom he stands in a direct or indirect intercourse. his . and Marx realized this. and transformed by particular historical individuals. . . Consciousness renders those relations intelligible and reproducible. Gyorgy Márkus describes individuality and the constituents of personality in the following way: The material and ideal “elements” of his objective world become transformed into constituents of his own personality .Marx’s Anthropology • 49 relations. and the social whole has itself no existence separate from the fact of its being experienced in the lives of individuals. structural relationships among the aspects of nature. . which plays no part in Marx’s system—the structure of the repressed unconscious. Outhwaite 1991: 128). [that is] due to his own selective activity. But even more significant is the fact that how this experience is itself structured is also a dialectical consequence and cause of the particular form of individualism in a historical epoch. For what the individual experiences is primarily the structure of social relations in dialectical polarity with the world of nature. which enter into relations with each other have an interconnection” (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 438). Each concrete individual finds a more or less strictly circumscribed scope of historically possible forms of behavior and activity as something set by. (Lichtman 1982: 220) This does not mean. and with. Though joined. there is that part of the human psyche. Their consciousness. As social beings. In short. is re-created daily. This is not to reduce society to the sum of individual experiences. the specific conscious experience of individuals occurs in the context of the totality of structural relationships among individuals. And. that all of the individuals of particular communities share some monolithic form of consciousness that is imposed externally or by tradition and that homogenized their views of the world. . and that the various generations of the individuals. only through a process of appropriation . their mode of experience does not coincide. Richard Lichtman writes that Like other dialectically related notions. reworked. irreducible individuality of every human being. Marx (1844/1975a: 299) was acutely aware of the dialectical relation between the individual and species-life (the community). passed from one generation to the next. are scaffoldings for human activity in historically particular circumstances. Individual life is the mode of “experience” of the social whole. individual life and species (communal) life can neither be separated from each other nor identified. And it is first of all this activity and its social consequences that directly form the specific.

Anthropologist historical situation. fishing in the afternoon. A concrete walk of life. they are increasingly estranged from nature. Marx’s focus on “ensembles of social relations” emphasizes the connection between the human individual who is growing self-conscious of other persons and of things that are external to him. Human personality evolves . a producer and consumer situated in historically specific social worlds that vary in time and space. they too are manifestations of historically particular ensembles of social relations. . from others. and from themselves. fisherman. from hunting in the morning. . leads to the reformation of personality characteristics and individuality. or alienation. as Marx and Engels (1845–6/1976: 47) phrased it. As Marx put it. real individuals are “individualized through the process of history” (1857–8/1973: 496). their autonomy and independence are diminished. etc. . The historical development of these variable social worlds provides the real conditions for individualization and human individuality. In the example cited above. . It underscores the sociohistorical character of work and consciousness. His aim is to understand the human social being as a worker and thinker. . This is a consequence of the ongoing dialogue between human beings. Accidents are not the only way in which individualization and the emergence of individuality occur. or critic. herding in the evening. are linked dialectically to the corporeal organization of human beings. They are simultaneously universalized and depersonalized. individuals are no longer persons but rather have become hunters. from the products they produce. This estrangement. the personal history of an individual is determined in the incessant interplay. However. resulting from forces that occur behind the backs of individuals.. This does not prevent them. both of which. (Márkus 1978: 23) Marx referred to this as “the difference between the individual as a person and what is extraneous [accidental] to him” (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 81). . In these historicized processes. fisherman. between subjective activity and objective social reality. class position. they have greater possibilities of learning from the experiences of those with whom they have ties. On the other hand. shepherd.e. which are two sides of the same coin. As the production and reproduction of everyday life acquire an increasingly social character and individuals begin to produce for each other through cooperation. Some individuals begin to pursue their own interests and to exploit others—i. when and if a social division of labor develops and the interests of the individual conflict with those of the community.50 • Karl Marx. or philosophers through the exchange relations and rules of distribution that have been forged. their dependence on others means that they can potentially draw on the knowledge and experience of an ever-widening circle of human beings. and criticizing after dinner without ever becoming a hunter. Social differentiation and specialization follow in their wake. appropriate their objects and labor. in turn. give-and-take if his own actions and the “reactions” of his social environment. shepherds. social relations are transformed. in a constant dialogue between man and world. On the one hand.

In his view. Mészáros 1991). 278–85. neurons. with the unity itself. 1845–6/1976: 28). Thus.Marx’s Anthropology • 51 History Marx’s view of the world is profoundly historicist in the sense that he believed it impossible to understand something fully unless one knew how it came to be the way it is. and of nature itself. Marx (1840–1/1975) laid the foundations for his rejection of atomist reductionism in his doctoral dissertation and developed the argument throughout his career. inseparable. connections. Marx’s theory of history builds on the notion of a totality that includes both natural history and human history. on the one hand. (2) these units are homogeneous at least with regard to the whole of which they are parts. Early on. the history of nature and the history of men are dependent on each other so long as men exist” (Marx and Engels. history involved the inextricably intertwined development of human beings. and dialectically structured unity that exists in and through the diverse interpenetrations. Marx’s materialist science of history has a number of distinctive features. and contradictions that shape the interactions of the parts with one another. genes. Basically. First. and their behavior in terms of their constituent parts—e. For Marx. however. Wilson 1991: 120–30). which reduced the source of knowledge to appearances (cf.g. Reductionism. As Marx (1864–94/1981: 956) put it: “All science would be superfluous if the form of appearance of things directly coincided with their essence. the science of history. (3) the building blocks exist prior to the whole and hence have properties that are distinct and independent from those of the whole. Levins and Lewontin 1985: 269. The proponents of atomist reductionism are committed to five ontological principles: (1) each system has a set of natural building blocks which they seek to identify. The historicity of things was important for understanding both process and succession. on the other. he and Engels wrote that “we know only a single science. and with the greater whole of which they are a part (Kosík 1963/1976: 18–9. he challenged the validity of each of its ontological premises and resisted reductionist epistemologies. or the molecular sequences on chromosomes. (1) reality is structured by processes and . and (5) causes are active subjects (agents) whereas effects are the properties of objects that have been acted upon. The two are. attempts to explain complex organisms. like human beings. and the adoption of a dialectical holism. One can look at history from two sides and divide it into the history of nature and the history of men. of ensembles of social relations (societies).” Second. which is still a prominent mode of analysis of the natural and social worlds today. Meikle 1985: 10–15. Levins and Lewontin 1985: 133–42. Let us look at these in more detail. (4) the whole may be nothing more than the sum of its parts. a totality is a multileveled. perhaps the most significant features of his historical science are the rejection of nineteenth-century atomist (Cartesian) reductionism. or the interactions of the building blocks may produce additional or emergent properties. historically contingent.

the consequence of such environmental variation is that even slight differences of emphasis in what is taken from nature or in how tools and labor power are employed. can yield significant variations in the details of how labor is organized. He wrote approvingly that the historical geologists had shown that the formation of the earth was a process. (5) the whole is in continual flux though the parts and levels of the totality may be changing at different rates. He appreciated the significance of variation in both time and space. 42). He referred repeatedly over the years to the diverse “natural conditions in which man finds himself”—a multiplicity of worlds shaped subtly or not by their geology. reproduces it as the concrete in mind.g. and (7) these transformations create possibilities for new historically contingent structures that have not existed previously. He also knew that the tempo and mode of such changes varied from region to region and from epoch to another. (2) the constituents of the totality are not identical with each other or in their relations to the whole. hydrology. the unpredictability or impossibility altogether of agricultural production in high-elevation or high-latitude environments. Marx 1863–7/1977: 637–8. Third. Marx’s ontology and epistemology have different foundations from those of atomist reductionism. Consequently. It was impossible in his view to speak of either nature or society in general or in some abstract sense. a “self-generation” (Marx 1844/1975a: 304–5). Marx was acutely aware of the fact that particular physical conditions. like the alpine grasslands of the Andes mountains or the tundra of northern Canada. As he put it: “The method of rising from the abstract to the concrete is only the way in which thought appropriates the concrete. Moreover. (6) this flux means that they may destroy the conditions that brought the totality into being in the first place.52 • Karl Marx. it was necessary instead to think of the spatial and temporal particularities of both. (4) the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. (3) the parts do not exist prior to the whole but rather acquire their characteristic properties in the interactions that constitute the whole. eloquently captured Marx’s sentiments in this regard when he wrote: . could impose limitations on human communities with particular means of production—for instance. and it is impossible to understand the whole merely by studying its constituent elements. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31. climate. Frederick Engels. Other changes—such as those produced by earthquakes or floods—were less obviously or less directly the result of human activity. of human production. or material worlds. But all of this is by no means the process by which the concrete itself comes into being” (Marx 1857–8/1973: 101). 2 This historical. like agriculture or the domestication of animals (Marx 1863–7/1977: 287–8). Marx’s theory is firmly rooted in an appreciation of variation. Anthropologist relations that are not always apparent on the surface. and of human society in its myriad forms. he was aware that environments changed with the passage of time. and soil fertility exhaustion to name only a few of the factors he mentioned (e. I believe. material world was a precondition for the existence of human beings. For human communities with similar modes of production. Some changes were due to the impact of new forms of human activity.

Marx’s Anthropology • 53
There is damned little left of “nature” as it was in Germany at the time when the Germanic peoples immigrated into it. The earth’s surface, climate, vegetation, fauna, and the human beings themselves have continually changed, and all this owing to human activity, while the changes of nature in Germany which have occurred in the process without human interference are incalculably small. (Engels 1873–82/1987: 511)

Fourth, although he often employed the language of essentialism and reductive materialism in his writing, Marx did not view historical change exclusively as either the unfolding of some potential inherent in the totality that revealed a necessary and regular succession of development stages or the outcome of forces or events that accidentally impinged upon the totality from the outside.3 Yet, there are elements of both developmental necessity (directionality) and chance (accident) in his historical arguments. For example, Marx (1863–7/1977: 772–80) described the developmental logic of capital accumulation in terms of concentration (reproduction on an extended scale) and centralization (regrouping capital into fewer units)—a logic that played itself out historically in England, albeit with fits and starts, in the nineteenth century. But, he also noticed that the development of capitalism in Russia in the 1870s was seemingly following a different pathway from that of England (Marx 1881/1983: 123–4). Moreover, when considering the structure of capitalist production in the 1860s, Marx (1864–94/1981: 567–72) suggested that there were several potential routes of its development in the immediate future given the then-existing property relations and balance of force—the formation of monopolies in certain spheres of production that would provoke both state intervention and the emergence of a new financial aristocracy. An alternative was the development of factories or companies run by workers. Both, in fact, have occurred since he wrote. “Developmental contingency,” a concept elaborated in another context by Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin (1985: 94–6), affords us a useful, shorthand description of Marx’s views about historical change. The concept captures the interplay of structure and process, of necessity and accident. To paraphrase their description of the concept and its implications, development is a historical process in which the effects of a force cannot be specified in a general or abstract way; they can only be specified in the singularity of the conditions and relations that exist at a particular time and place. One consequence of this is that the historical formation of ensembles of relations and their associated environments appear as “as a temporal sequence of events in which the exact order is critical” (Levins and Lewontin 1985: 95). Another consequence is that subtle variations among local communities have the potential to affect what happens or does not happen next; in other words, further development always involves confronting the existing structures and following, or not, one of several alternative pathways. Still another consequence is that the transition from one historical formation to another depends more on the conditions that prevailed at the time of the transition than on how those conditions and relations of the totality emerged. Finally, in some instances (labor strikes, for example),

54 • Karl Marx, Anthropologist the possible outcomes for particular communities are often quite constrained but perhaps not completely controlled; as a result, the driving forces involved appear to play themselves out with almost law-like regularity. At other moments, when the balance of forces are more nearly equal, people do have a real potential or capacity to make their own histories; whether they have chosen to do so or succeeded in doing so are other issues. Fifth, Marx’s science of history is not a philosophy of world history that attempts to describe humanity or the flow of history in some general or abstract sense. This is an impossibility. He is concerned instead with examining what is happening or what has taken place in communities that have particular locations in time and space. As a result, the histories of communities are not internally monolithic because the different subjectivities that emerge are inseparable from the ensembles of relations that make them possible. Nor is history homogeneous, either within a given historical epoch or when different communities are compared. While the ensembles of relations that produce and reproduce history are empirically rich in detail and specificity, they do not create or constitute an infinite diversity. There are limits. Marx recognized them. They underpin his concept of a mode of production, which acknowledges the forms of cooperation, the commonalities, of different types of societies. In the Grundrisse, Marx (1857–8/1973: 459–514) distinguished two broad categories: capitalist and pre-capitalist modes of production. There were two major differences between them, as Jason Read (2003: 38) notes. Capitalist societies separated propertyless workers from the means of production and subsistence and freed up the flow of money within the community. In pre-capitalist communities, the workers retained control over their means of production, and wealth was integrated into the community. In addition, Marx made further distinctions within the category of pre-capitalist modes of production, which he labeled the primitive communal, ancient, Asiatic, Germanic, Slavonic, and feudal. The names Marx chose designated different forms of cooperation and social structure rather than either presumed geographically based identities or presumed inferiority resulting from some “chain of being” placement on a social evolutionary ladder whose top rung was occupied by Western capitalism. For example, the Inca and Aztec states of the Americas have been described in terms of the Asiatic mode of production; the Maasai and other pastoral peoples of East Africa have been described in terms of the Germanic mode of production; and the forms of cooperation and social relations of the primitive communal mode of production figure prominently in the everyday lives of numerous American Indian peoples, including many of those whose communities now own casinos. Eric Hobsbawm (1964: 36) is correct, I believe, when he interprets the various pre-capitalist modes of production identified by Marx not as an evolutionary succession or progression but rather as different forms of individuation and property relations, as alternative steps away from or pathways out of historically specific forms of primitive communal society.

Marx’s Anthropology • 55 Marx was struck by the observation that communities manifesting pre-capitalist modes of production tended to reproduce existing social relations. He described this in various ways:
In all these forms—in which landed property and agriculture form the basis of the economic order, and where the economic aim is hence the production of use-values, i.e., the reproduction of the individual within the specific relation of the commune in which he is its basis—there is to be found: (1) Appropriation not through labour, but presupposed to labour; appropriation of the natural condition of labour, of the earth as the original instrument of labour as well as its workshop and repository of raw materials. The individual relates simply to the objective conditions of labour as being his; [he relates] to them as the inorganic nature of his subjectivity, in which the latter realizes itself; the chief objective condition of labour does itself appear as a product of labour, but is already there as nature; on one side the living individual, on the other the earth, as the objective condition of his reproduction; (2) but this relation to land and soil, to the earth, as the property of the labouring individual—who thus appears from the outset not merely as labouring individual, in this abstraction, but who has an objective mode of existence in his ownership of land, an existence presupposed to his activity, and not merely a result of it, a presupposition of his activity just like his skin, his sense organs, which of courses he also reproduces and develops etc. in the life process, but which are nevertheless presuppositions of this process of his reproduction—is instantly mediated by the naturally arisen, spontaneous, more or less historically developed and modified presence of the individual as member of a commune—His naturally arisen presence as a member of a tribe etc. [i.e., an ensemble of relations]. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 485)

With particular reference to communities manifesting the Asiatic mode of production, he wrote that
The simplicity of the productive organism in these self-sufficing communities which constantly reproduce themselves in the same form and, when accidentally destroyed, spring up again on the same spot with the same name—this simplicity is the key to the riddle of the unchangeability of Asiatic societies, which is in such striking contrast with the constant dissolution and refounding of Asiatic states, and their never-ceasing changes of dynasty. The structure of the fundamental economic elements of society remain untouched by the storms which blow up in the cloudy regime of politics. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 479)

In the back of Marx’s mind as he wrote these passages was the dynamism of capitalism—the continuous reinvention of the subject and transformation of the productive forces. As Read (2003: 10) points out, capitalism was no longer fettered by the need to reproduce “any particular structure of belief, desire, or tradition.” One issue to be explained was that the different forms of consciousness, subjectivity, and social practice—as refracted by the modes of production manifested in particular

56 • Karl Marx, Anthropologist communities—directly affected and shaped the tempo and form of historical change. At the same time, Marx was acutely aware that historical changes had already happened, that they were taking place at an increasing pace in the present, and that, given the existing webs of social relations, they would continue to take place in the future. He portrayed the conditions that laid the foundations for the appearance of new forms of cooperation and subjectivity with the advent of capitalism:
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of that continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of blackskins, are all things which characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production. . . . Hard on their heels follows the commercial war of the European nations, which has the globe as its battlefield. . . . These different moments are systematically combined together at the end of the seventeenth century in England; the combination embraces the colonies, the national debt, the modern tax system, and the system of protection. These methods depend on brute force, for instance the colonial system. But they all employ the power of the state, the concentrated and organized force of society to hasten, as in a hothouse, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode and to shorten the transition. Force is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 915–16)

In this passage, Marx identifies the motors that are driving the expansion of the capitalist mode of production as well as the complexities of the transition from the dominance of one mode of production to the dominance of another. Read (2003: 5) described the historicity of transition as the tension between reproduction (determination) of traditional forms of cooperation and subjectivity, on the one hand, and their dissolution (underdetermination), on the other. The new conditions forged during moments of transition were apparent not only to the peoples of the traditional societies in the colonies but also to those of the metropole and its satellites or internal colonies. Importantly, transitions are processes rather than single events; they are spread over both time and space. For example, the cotton fabrics produced by English wage-workers in the textile mills of Manchester in the late eighteenth century were made from cotton that was grown by African slaves in South Carolina; much of the cotton cloth produced in northern England was ultimately sold in India where the British had destroyed the local textile industry earlier in the century. In sum, Marx’s theory of history contains notions of structure, transformation, and directionality (Callinicos 1995: 95–110, 141–65). The structure is forged by particular ensembles of social relations and the connections of those communities with the environments that they continually use and re-create anew. Marx used the concept of a mode of production to distinguish one kind or type of society from another. These types were different from actually existing communities. Historically

Marx’s Anthropology • 57 specific communities, like the one in Atlantic Canada around 1750, manifested either a particular mode of production or some combination of modes of production, one of which was dominant over the others. Marx’s notion of history was based on the contradictions, tensions, and conflicts that develop within the realm of social production in its myriad manifestations; these were the motors of historical change. It recognizes changes in tempo—moments of acceleration, moments of stasis—as well as alternative pathways of development. It also acknowledges that sometimes changes, which were possible, did not happen; they were blocked for one reason or another. Finally, Marx’s theory of history contains a notion of non-teleological directionality, what we referred to above as contingent determinism.

Truth and Praxis
Praxis extends Marx’s answers to the questions: What are human beings? What is their reality? How was that reality formed? Praxis is the most basic characteristic of human beings and their most distinctive feature.4 It is not an attribute of either animals or machines. As you will recall from earlier in the chapter, something essential happens when the sphere of human being becomes established in opposition to the “givenness” of nature, when human being becomes distinct from what is not human. Praxis is the active process by which human beings establish a relation with objects of the external world and with one another. It is the way they renew those relations, create new relations, and gain a more profound understanding of what they have made. Most importantly, praxis is not something that exists outside of human beings; instead, it permeates the very core of their existence. As Karel Kosík (1963/1976: 139) noted: “Praxis is both the objectification of man and the mastering of nature, and the realization of human freedom.” Let us look in more detail at how Marx conceptualized and employed the idea of praxis. The first dimension of Marx’s notion of praxis is that it involves human activity and production; it also involves consciousness of self and other. As Marx put it:
Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of us would have in two different ways affirmed himself and the other person. (1) In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt. (2) In you enjoyment or use of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man’s essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man’s essential nature. (3) I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species, and therefore would become recognized as felt by you yourself as a completion of your own essential nature and as a necessary part of your yourself, and consequently would

58 • Karl Marx, Anthropologist
know myself to be confirmed both in your thought and your love. (4) In the individual expression of your life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have directly confirmed and realized my true nature, my human nature, my communal nature. (Marx 1844/1975b: 227–8; emphasis in the original)

Marx makes several points in this passage. The objects produced by the individuals entail the transformation of raw materials provided by the natural world through the mental and physical activity of those persons. The objects are a manifestation of their activity in a congealed or crystallized form; as a result, the person and object are viewed as belonging to the same ontological category rather than to separate, distinct categories of person and thing (Bernstein 1971: 44). The object produced by one individual satisfies a need perceived by the other; thus, in Marx’s terms, the objects are use values. During the process of producing the object, the individual imagines the object in its finished form and subordinates his will to the task at hand. As Marx (1863–7/1977: 284) would put it later: “Besides the exertion of bodily organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, the workman’s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose.” The way human beings apprehend the world with their bodies, how they interact with the natural and social worlds in which they live, and how they relate to each other in these processes are all aspects of objectification. In the process of objectification, human beings have not only made themselves; they also portray themselves as having dissolved the unity of nature and as having a separate existence from the material world. This is Marx’s theory of alienation, which is ultimately concerned with the separation of human beings from their practical activity, from the products they create, from one another, and from the realization of their own potential. Thus, the questions of how and what human beings produce are especially important, because Marx tied them to the question of freedom, which ultimately involves removing impediments to the development of the human capacity. Marx (e.g. 1844/1975a: 270–82; 1857–8/1973: 831–3) is clear that objectification takes different forms in different sociohistorical settings. In modern capitalist society, for instance, it involves alienation or estrangement of the worker from the product of his labor because of social relations that based on wage labor, private property in the means of production, and market exchange. Marx describes the process by which alienation emerges historically in capitalist society from a certain point of departure:
The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labour produces not only commodities: it produces itself and the worker as a commodity. . . . This fact expresses merely that the object which labour produces—labour’s product—confronts it as something alien, as

Marx’s Anthropology • 59
a power independent of the producer. The product of labour is labour which has been embodied in an object: it is the objectification of labour. Labour’s realisation is its objectification. Under these economic conditions this realization of labour appears as loss of realization for the workers; objectification as loss of the object and bondage [subservience] to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation [and as externalization] . . . (1844/1975a: 271–3; emphasis in the original)

Marx proceeds to point out that “Political economy conceals the estrangement inherent in the nature of labour by not considering the direct relationship between the worker (labour) and production” (1844/1975a: 274; emphasis in the original). In other words, because they posit the categories and conditions that are historically specific to capitalist production as transhistorical and hence universally applicable, the political economists have only a partial understanding of this historically contingent reality. They have created instead an ideology and continue to portray their representation of the world as real. Consciousness, the second dimension of Marx’s theory of praxis, is intimately related to objectification. For Marx, consciousness of nature is always a social product conditioned by the level of development of the forces of production and the ensembles of social relations and cultural forms associated with them. Consciousness originates in a new relation between the subject and self; it is a reflective moment in which the unity of humanity (subject) and nature (object) is negated, and a new understanding of what the relationship could be is initiated through human activity. Consciousness is an integral part of activity—consciousness not only of the properties of the raw materials given by nature, what potentially can be done with them, and the processes for transforming them, but also, and more importantly, awareness of the needs, feelings, and sentiments of other persons. For Marx, consciousness is simultaneously an element of human experience, a moment in its historical development, and the understandings that result from the sociohistorical development under historically specific ensembles of social relations. Thus, consciousness combines both real (true) understandings of the world and other human beings with misperceptions and misunderstandings of both. This leads us to a third dimension of Marx’s idea of praxis: the “relentless criticism of all existing conditions.” This aspect of Marx’s work was already crystallizing when, as a student, he was first beginning to grapple with Hegel’s thought and writings. The criticism of the writings of Hegel, Feuerbach, the political economists, and others as well as of his own thoughts would continue for the rest of his life. The kinds of questions he posed in his critiques were: What is the argument? What is implicit and explicit in the argument? What are the presuppositions? Where is the argument persuasive and why? What are the weaknesses and fallacies of the argument? Where is it ambiguous or vague? What empirical evidence supports or refutes the claim? How might we move from misleading or inadequate arguments to ones that provide new insights and fuller explanations or representations of

given the conditions at any particular time. praxis as the determination of reality begins with an accurate. The criticism of religion is thus in embryo a criticism of the vale of tears whose halo is religion. These. or philosophy and the contradictions inherent in them would yield understanding of the institutions. Anthropologist human reality? What are the implications for action? What kinds of action have the arguments supported or sustained? In some instances. they were the bases for working out new hypotheses (e. he observed repeatedly. as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions.g. Marx 1857–8/1973). they were detailed analyses and assessments of the balance of forces at particular historical moments. and practices involved (Bernstein 1971: 53). whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form. in Marx’s view. Marx 1843/1975a. he did not accept arguments based on authority or divine inspiration or rely on the eloquence of arguments themselves. to speak to truth and to let the chips fall where they might. however. Marx’s relentless criticism of institutions and beliefs. His “relentless criticism” did mean. they do tell us something about the reality at that moment in time. but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself. beliefs. theoretical understanding of existing institutions and the contradictions inherent in them. . like the Paris Commune.60 • Karl Marx. that he devoted considerable time and energy to examining the ideas that people had about the world.g. It is the opium of the people. as Richard Bernstein (1971: 52) notes. emphasis in the original) The goal of this dimension of praxis. the real possibilities that exist for the future. religion. They are representations or reflections of reality rather than reality itself. 1880–2/1974). In still others. the heart of a heartless world. In other instances. For example. should be the “reform of consciousness not through dogmas. then. and why the particular courses of action that unfolded ultimately failed with regard to the realization of human freedom (e. Consequently. how it came to be the way it is and. He argued instead that there is empirical evidence and that an argument should mirror the facts. in Marx’s (1843/1975b: 144) view. Marx 1871/1986).g. did not always conform to ways things really were. political economy. is ultimately concerned with understanding them rather than condemning them outright. The abolition of religion as a people’s illusory happiness is a demand for their real happiness. although. for Marx. his critiques involved sentenceby-sentence analyses of the arguments he was examining (e. 1875/1989. The demand to abandon illusions about their condition is a demand to abandon a condition which requires illusions. Thus. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. It was essential.” A correct theoretical analysis of politics. Marx (1843–4/1975: 175–6) wrote that Religious suffering is the expression of real suffering and at the same time the protest against real suffering. Marx was not particularly concerned with speculating about what the future might be like. (as translated by Easton and Guddat 1967: 250. He realized the importance and significance of empirical evidence in the process of developing such an understanding of the world—that is. in a famous passage.

1844/1975a: 281–2. As the slave begins to realize that he is more than the things he produces. and his consciousness is expressed in the things he produces. In 1845.. he realizes that he has a consciousness in his own right as well as a self-existence and freedom outside of the things he produces. entailed by. Increasingly. which are externalized from himself. with regards to the criterion of praxis. the Communist League). voluntarist. the standpoint of the slave provides a fuller. “philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. the more he fails. but he does not do against himself what he does to the worker” (Marx 1844/1975a: 282). Clearly. This was revolutionary practice. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 493–6). the deteriorating political . as he slowly realizes his dependent consciousness.g.e. or as he put it. a third dimension of Marx’s notion of praxis crystallized. the more the master succeeds in his lordship. As you will recall in this vignette. Both master and slave are aware of their divided nature and contradictory being (Bernstein 1971: 24–8. the point is. to change it” (Marx 1845/1976: 5. he realizes that he can no longer be reduced to the things he makes. For Marx. in order to be a lord. §178–96). or whether an argument was consistent with. who produces things for the master to consume and is dependent upon him.Marx’s Anthropology • 61 In other words. conscious working class. 91). Marx 1843–4/1975: 184–7. must possess a slave.. From early onward in his writings about capitalist society. his essential nature is his labor. However. to become a free human being. the slave has every reason to emancipate himself. 1844/1975c: 202–6. the master and the slave have different perceptions and understandings of reality. Thus.g. One reason for this stance harkens back to the master–slave relationship that Hegel described in his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807/1977: 111–19. all of which were resurrected by one or another subsequent writers in the Marxist tradition. emphasis in the original). In his view. divine inspiration. or coherence theories of truth. The slave initially takes the master to be his reality and lives in fear of him. While there is no impetus for the master to alter his relation with the slave.e. the master. “the non-worker does everything against the worker which the worker does himself. more accurate image of reality than does that of the lord. Marx was committed to a correspondence theory of truth whose criterion involves praxis—i. or contingent upon another statement—i. this means that truth must be explanatory rather than predictive (Bhaskar 1991b). The incompleteness of the master’s understanding as well as the perversity of his actions is another reason why Marx privileged the perspective of an engaged. what philosophers call subjective. consensus. an unmediated representation of reality of both the immediate forms and the underlying structures that are reflected in them. as his consciousness grows more independent. Marx privileged the standpoint of politically engaged and socially conscious working classes that are capable of exposing and potentially transcending the inhumanity of their real existing relations (e. he has in fact achieved his position by virtue of the slave who is his essential reality. Marx rejected claims based on authority. This coincided roughly with his growing involvement in workingclass political movements (e.

his steadily increasing involvement in political activism made him aware of what was happening in the world. Draper 1978. who simultaneously was critically assessing the balance of forces in European society. In his view. then Russia’s peasant-communal landownership may serve as the point of departure for a communist development” (Marx and Engels 1882/1989: 426). he suggested that there were at least two alternative possibilities for capitalist development in the 1860s (Marx 1864–94/1981: 567–73). the concentration and centralization of production into steadily fewer and. the balance of forces. as you will recall from the preceding section. Marx read widely and thoughtfully. In this chapter. larger enterprises. increased rates of technological innovation. He did not have an elaborate theory about the form an ensemble of social relations would take as a people’s genuine needs were recognized and satisfied and as their freedom was actualized. From Personal Observation and Authentic Sources. Instead. and periodic economic and financial crises that result from the impossibility of a smooth. the possibility for revolution was a dialectical one that built on the contingency of relations. and. unite!” Marx did not elaborate a theory of revolutionary practice. At the same time. His declining economic circumstances from the early . He did not argue for a set trajectory of historical change. and trying to devise tactics and strategies for altering the balance of force and the circumstances of workers (e. McLellan 1973: 137–225). For instance. he contemplated the potential impact of the ongoing class struggles in Russia and cautiously suggested: “If the Russian revolution becomes the signal for proletarian revolution in the West. The appearance of Marx’s “revolutionary practice” involved a shift in perspective from that of the sympathetic philosopher looking at society from the outside to that of an empathetic participant in working-class everyday life and struggles—a participant scrambling to provide for his family and their survival. and the appearance of Frederick Engels’s (1845/1975) The Condition of the Working-Class in England. As a backdrop for the contingency of revolutionary practice were conditions of capitalist development that unfolded with almost lawlike predictability: the constant formation of new markets for commodities. later. given the balance of forces at particular moments. continuous process of capital accumulation. he thought of pre-capitalist modes of production as alternative pathways out of a primitive communal condition. so that the two complement each other. for example. and contradictions that existed at a particular moment. we have sketched the outlines of Marx’s anthropology. As we have seen. the increased importance of technology relative to human labor power in developing economic sectors. at the same time. Perhaps the most famous manifestation of this dimension of praxis is Marx and Engels’s (1848/1976: 519) call: “working men of all countries. he pointed out the potential for revolutionary practice that might exist. his interpersonal relationships and experiences while growing up in the Rhineland and.g.62 • Karl Marx. Anthropologist situation in Europe. together with Engels in 1882. his steadily more difficult economic circumstances. the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.

Marx’s Anthropology • 63 1840s onward thrust him into the working classes and helped to forge an awareness and consciousness of the fact that he could learn much from the experiences and understanding that the masses of workers had of the world in which they lived. perceptive individuals with vast funds of knowledge from whom the world could learn. they were instead thoughtful. we have focused on the corporeal organization of human beings. In this sketch of Marx’s anthropology. the significance of ensembles of social relations. and transformation of those communities. reproduction. the historicity and diversity of human societies and their propensities to change. . and the importance of praxis in the production. The workers were not the objects of inquiry to be described and reported to the world. We have seen how Marx interwove the corporeal organization of human beings and their sociality with the diversity of their social relations as they engaged in practical activity to transform the raw materials of the environments to satisfy needs and to create new ones.

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which he completed in 1841. more importantly. argued that mind and body were united. Two years later. and emphasized that men and women were active agents in the acquisition of knowledge and that they were capable of forging their own happiness (Foster 2000: 21–65). These were important issues in his materialist account of history. Marx’s doctoral dissertation. divine powers.–3– Human Natural Beings Marx was a materialist. denied the influence of distant. Thomas Hobbes. noted the emergence and finite duration of living forms. the Epicureans who had influenced early Enlightenment writers—like Francis Bacon. Parts of his theoretical perspective were already supported by empirical evidence while other parts were suppositions based on the limited evidence available. His attempt to bring the arts and sciences together in a single system involved studies in natural science. dealt with the differences between ancient Greek philosophies of nature (Marx 1840–1/1975). which were divorced from one another in the university (Marx 1837/1975: 18). While many writers have focused on Marx’s intellectual debt to Hegel. He framed his argument in terms of changes in human corporeal organization. during his second year at the University of Berlin. claimed that there were more worlds than this one and that the present one will change. ensembles of social relations. This combination 65 . Marx (1839/1975) took extensive notes on the non-deterministic materialism of Epicurus (341–271 BC) and the school he established. and the romantic philosophy of Friedrich Schelling (1755–1854) who sought the common basis of nature and self. fewer have examined his connections with traditions of materialist thought. and their metabolism with nature. history. Marx was concerned with questions about the emergence and development of human natural beings. In his view. and activities and practices that varied because of the different metabolisms that existed between human social individuals and the particular natural and social worlds (environments) in which they lived. their creation of human and natural history. describing his efforts to bring together art and science. the Epicureans believed that life rose up from the earth rather than descending from the heavens. he wrote to his father mentioning his struggle to understand Hegel’s system of philosophy and. and Isaac Newton—were also the key that would unlock understanding of the present. In 1837. He saw these changes in non-teleological. historical terms. Briefly. Marx thought of Epicurus as “the greatest representative of Greek Enlightenment” (Marx 1840–1/1975: 73). As we saw in the last chapter. stressed the importance of contingency or chance as opposed to necessity or teleology.

“Marx was already not only taking for granted the principle of the historical evolution of animal species and of nature in general. but [he was] also tending to exclude from that evolution any finalist [teleological] assumption. The fourth is to examine briefly Marx’s and Engels’s critique of the naturalization of explanations of the social relations of capitalist society and how this critique played out in the historical development of anthropology both here and abroad. he was definitely not bothered by them. he was also critical of the way in which Darwin and others naturalized explanations of social inequality and other culturally constructed categories. Perhaps Marx’s (1857–8/1973: 105) most directly germane comment about human evolution before the appearance of Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 was that “human anatomy contains a key to the anatomy of the ape. in fact.66 • Karl Marx. The intimations of higher development among the subordinate animal species. (2) the close taxonomic and presumably historical relationship of human beings and non-human primates postulated by Carolus Linnaeus in the 1735 and subsequent editions of his Systema Naturae. Thus. Thus. Anthropologist included (1) the anatomical similarities of human beings and chimpanzees recognized by Edward Tyson in 1699. when Marx was formulating his materialist conception of history. The first is to review the bases for Marx’s agreement and positive valuation of Darwin’s arguments in The Origin of Species and to survey subsequent developments of evolutionary theory. this chapter has four goals. Charles Lyell. his slightly older contemporary—a young Englishman named Charles Darwin (1809–82)—was also working out his own materialist views about the historical evolution of plants and animals (Ospovat 1981). and there was a transition from ape to human). James Hutton.” His later remark—“since Darwin demonstrated that we are all descended from apes. As we shall see.” From the late 1830s onward. in fact. which found little favour in the sciences of the time. and Abraham Gottlob Werner that the earth was significantly older than commonly believed. can be understood only after the higher development is already known. . (3) the diverse arguments proposed from 1750 onward by the Comte de Buffon. The third is to consider the implications of this biocultural nature for population structures.e. a succession of past worlds on earth. while Marx (1864/1985) was amused at the public outcry over the implications of Darwin’s ideas (i. had the highest regard for Darwin’s insights.. there is scarcely any shock whatever that could shake ‘our ancestral pride’”—suggests that. while Marx. as Valentino Gerratana (1973: 64) put it. however. The second is to use the lens provided by Engels’s (1876/1972) “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man” and by Marx’s own theoretical framework to examine relevant data derived from paleoanthropology and the natural sciences in order to discern the interplay of the changing dispositions and anatomical structures of human beings and their primate relatives as well as the emergence of practices such as tool-making and language. human beings and apes shared a common ancestor. and (4) the view expounded by Georges Cuvier in 1812 that there was.

The universe had evolved according to Kant. Marx commented explicitly about certain points of agreement or conclusions he drew from Darwin’s arguments. the formation of the organs of plants and animals. (5) a refutation of Malthus in Darwin’s discussion of the extinction of animal species (Marx 1861–3/1989: 350–1). one thing that emerges from Marx’s comments is that he saw Darwin. The other source of . ongoing process (Marx 1867/1987: 494. (3) evolution involves both the continued preservation of what has been inherited and the assimilation of new traits (Marx 1861–3/1989: 427–8). are also a unity with nature (Marx 1864/1985: 581. hence. except for a minor complaint about the style of the argument. (4) acknowledgement of Darwin’s “history of natural technology. life on earth had evolved according to Lamarck and Geoffrey St. The former include: (1) a short quote from Darwin’s chapter on variation describing how natural selection acts on variations of form under different conditions (Marx 1861–3/1991: 387–8. 1868/1987a: 558–9). and (10) nonreductive forms of argumentation. and (8) a rejection of teleological arguments in natural science and. the adoption of a notion of historically contingent change (Marx 1861/1985: 246–7). there was a good deal of resistance to the idea of evolution. (7) Darwin’s “struggle for existence” in natural history is analogous to class struggle in human history (Marx 1860/1985: 232). Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 39–41). and even human beings had evolved according to Buffon and Rousseau—from apes no less. 1863–7/1977: 461). In my view. the earth had evolved gradually according to Hutton. (2) the notion that evolution is a gradual. Part of it arose from the fact that none of Darwin’s predecessors had satisfactorily explained how one species actually evolved into another. there must have been other points of agreement between Marx and Darwin because of the materialist perspective they shared. which serve as the instruments of production for sustaining their life” (Marx 1863–7/1977: 493). he had nothing but praise for the volume.Human Natural Beings • 67 Charles Darwin and the Development of Modern Evolutionary Theory Marx (1860/1985) first read The Origin of Species in 1860. He immediately recognized its significance. like himself. Moreover. as more concerned with explaining processes of change rather than origins or events. In the latter category of inferences that may be drawn from Marx’s other writings or from his materialist perspective. Nevertheless. these can be inferred either from Marx’s other writings or from the implications of his materialist theoretical perspective. we should include at least: (9) a notion of internal motors of formation and change as opposed to external engines of development. by extension. Darwin’s Metaphors and Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection The idea of evolution was “in the air” by the beginning of the nineteenth century. (6) human natural beings are descended from apes and. and. Hilaire.

analogies. He built on the language and imagery of German romanticism. religious and otherwise. Darwin used four powerful metaphors in The Origin of Species to frame and express his new ideas about nature. political economy. fumbling and often opaque attempts to say what he actually meant.” His metaphors were used singularly or more frequently in combination to produce powerful. Darwin focused his attention on that variation and made it the object of his study. paintings. At the same time. Richards 1992. emphasis in the original) Darwin. variation. Thus.68 • Karl Marx. and poems he was familiar with before his journey on the Beagle. Anyone who has ever written even a term paper will understand and hopefully be sympathetic with the notion that the language and imagery in which arguments are initially conceived are often quite different from those that clearly explain ideas and their implications. initially framed his ideas in terms of already existing metaphors. about the world and man’s place in it (Desmond 1989). Schweber 1980. The dual sources of inspiration were the engravings. this might account for Marx’s two comments in letters about Darwin’s “clumsy English style of argumentation” as well as his own. and natural science as he struggled to explain his new understandings of the natural world and the evolution of species (e. Amazonian rainforests of Brazil. Darwin’s revolutionary theory was that the differences between organisms within a species are converted to the differences between species in space and time. at times. Anthropologist discontent among the public and a few natural historians was that it threatened their beliefs. perhaps. Kohn 1996. His singularly stunning insight. who saw “the real objects of the world as imperfect reflections of underlying ideals or essences” and “that the real variations between real objects only confuse us in our attempts to see the essential nature of the universe” (Lewontin 1974: 168). Instead of sweeping away the real variations among individuals of the same species in order to focus on the type. 1985). Darwin described the interrelatedness of all nature in the following way: . He employed the phrase “an entangled bank” to express the complexity of organization of nature. it marked a radical departure from the teleological worldviews of his predecessors.” and “wedging. as Richard Lewontin put it. the differences between species are already latent within them. and all that is required is a motive force for the conversion of variation. In The Origin.g. They are “an entangled bank. animal breeding. and the luxuriant. evocative images rich in meaning. and the motor force driving evolution. was that individual variation and the differences between species were causally related. and analytical categories. In a more self-reflexive moment. on the other (Kohn 1996). That force is natural selection. (1974: 170.” “natural selection. The publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 fuelled the discontent. on the one hand.” “the struggle for existence. like Marx.

also. or persistence. have all been produced by laws acting around us. with various insects flitting about. though more properly it should be said to be dependent on moisture. if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species. A plant which annually produces a thousand seeds. but a small number can survive. In these several senses which pass into each other. I have called this principle. I use for convenience the general term of struggle for existence. But several seedling mistletoes. and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms. will tend to the preservation of that individual. The mistletoe is dependent on the apple and a few other trees. for if too many of these parasites grow on the same tree. will thus have a better chance of surviving. any variation. He relates it to his second metaphor. emphasis added) Darwin’s third metaphor. by which each slight variation. (1859/1964: 489. in order to tempt birds to devour and thus disseminate its seeds rather than those of other plants. of which on average only one comes to maturity. it will languish and die. used the metaphor to mean interdependence. in . Two canine animals in a time of dearth. may be truly said to struggle with each other over which shall get food and live. emphasis added) Darwin’s second metaphor was “the struggle for existence. and will generally be inherited by its offspring. growing close together on the same branch.” It too was not a new idea. is preserved by the term Natural Selection.Human Natural Beings • 69 It is interesting to contemplate the entangled bank. its existence depends on birds. may more truly be said to struggle with each other. in its infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to external nature. of the many individuals of any species which are born. if useful. so different from each other. however slight and from whatever cause proceeding. and with worms crawling through the damp earth. in contrast. however. and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual but success in leaving progeny. and it may metaphorically be said to struggle with other fruit-bearing plants. there was no sense of the potential for transformation in his view (Lovejoy 1959b: 211–2). endurance. and dependent on each other in so complex a manner.” was used to describe both how variation is maintained and how descent with modification occurs. The offspring. may be said be more or less truly said to struggle with plants of the same and other kinds which already clothe the ground. had remarked on crowding as well as the struggle between individuals and between species for survival. but can only in a far-fetched way be said to struggle with these trees. the struggle for existence: Owing to this struggle for life. clothed with many plants of many kinds with birds singing on the bushes. Darwin. Herder. As the mistletoe is disseminated by birds. as well as contest. including dependence of one being on another. for. He wrote that: I should premise that I use the term Struggle for Existence in a large and metaphorical sense. for example. chance. “natural selection. But a plant on the edge of the desert is said to struggle for life against the drought. (Darwin (1859/1964: 62–3.

a contemporary of both Marx and Darwin—would provide answers to these questions. The imagery refers specifically to the activities of quarrymen and the implement they used at the Salisbury Craigs in Scotland to cut stone from the cliff faces. First. Second. how they transformed a beautiful natural landscape into an ugly monument (Kohn 1996: 36). and the inheritance (heritability) of characteristics from one generation to the next. He could account for the way these happened. with ten thousand sharp wedges packed close together and driven by incessant blow. and. (Darwin 1859/1964: 67) Let us describe Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection in slightly different terms. While Mendel published the results of his experiments with plant hybrids in 1866. Although Mendel’s work was finally recognized in the early 1900s. in one of Darwin’s plant breeding experiments only about one seed of a thousand actually germinated. exceeds the number that survive to the reproductive stage and that can potentially contribute hereditary material to the next generation. “wedging. on the other. sometimes one wedge being struck. It is based on a series of observations he made about differences between individuals and on breeding experiments that he and other breeders conducted. Thus. this advantageous material has a greater likelihood of being passed on to succeeding generations. heredity. on the one hand. . This. as a result of differential survival. in turn. or seeds produced by an individual vastly exceeds the number of individuals born. the number of eggs. was the connection between individual variation. if he were aware of it. hereditary variation exists between individuals of the same species and between different species. He could assert with certainty that the kinds of plants and animals that exist today are the modified descendents of different kinds of organisms that lived in the past. Third. did not understand its importance. Marx was completely unaware of his work and Darwin. sperm. An Augustinian monk—Gregor Mendel (1822–84). because the hereditary material they possess is advantageous for some reason in the environments in which they live. He could declare with equal certainty that whatever happened in the future would be based on the organisms and conditions of the present. however. its significance was still being hotly debated into the 1930s (Allen 1978).70 • Karl Marx. Darwin could explain how both descent with modification and the formation of new species (speciation) occurred.” to represent in mechanical terms how natural selection actually operates on the hereditary variation that exists between individuals and between species. (Darwin 1859/1964: 61. in the process. The fact of nature may be compared to a yielding surface. some individuals have a greater likelihood of becoming adults and reproducing than others. and selection. Anthropologist order to mark its relation to man’s power of selection. What he could not explain. and then another with greater force. Fourth. emphasis added) Darwin used his fourth metaphor. Darwin’s great insights were the principles of variation.

their ancestors. However. he concluded. Mendel’s studies buttressed a later flurry of activity from the 1920s onward that was concerned with the genetic variation of populations and with how genetics related to the process of selection. the significance of Mendel’s work was. they resembled one of their parents. all of whose genes constitute the gene pool of the population. when he bred the hybrids of the first generation with one another. that it showed that variation and inheritance were manifestations of the same underlying phenomena but that they required two different kinds of causal explanation. short plants and smooth vs. when tall plants were bred with tall plants. their offspring were also tall. On the basis of this experiment. (2) that the expression of the gene for tallness was dominant over the other. The effects of this were: (1) they saw the variation existing between individuals within the same species as different from the variation that exists between species. and even species. This involved conceptualizing a local population of individuals. he noted that their offspring resembled one or the other of the original parental types—roughly three-quarters were tall and one quarter was short. Mendel bred varieties of garden peas that differed from one another in a few traits—that is. Darwin and the other plant and animal breeders of his day were aware that offspring tend to resemble their parents (like produces like) but yet are different from them and that these differences are also inherited to some extent. In other words. Many . if any of the hybrids produced were fertile. he distinguished between the individual and the group. and saw that. and (3) that these particles re-assorted themselves in the offspring of the first-generation hybrids in such a way that there were both tall and short individuals in the second generation. Because the breeders focused on the differences rather than on the similarities. They attempted to cross organisms from different varieties. in this trait. they tended to revert to one or the other of the original parental type over a number of generations. wrinkled pods—he observed that the gene pairs associated with different physical characteristics—let us say height and seed color—were inherited independently from one another. Let us consider briefly what Mendel did in his experiments and what he actually showed. As Richard Lewontin (1974: 173–8) notes. and their progeny. with regard to the characteristic being studied (1) that the hybrid individuals inherited a discrete particle (gene) from each of the parents. When he bred individuals that were hybrids for two traits—such as tall vs. and (2) they focused their attention on the group or variety rather than on the individual. its reservoir of hereditary material that is passed from one generation to the next.Human Natural Beings • 71 The Problems of Variation and Inheritance If Darwin made variation the proper study of biology. they viewed variation and inheritance as ontologically distinct categories. Mendel then bred a tall plant with a short one and noted that each of the hybrid offspring was tall and. What Mendel did that was different from his contemporaries was that he focused on individuals. then Mendel was responsible for clarifying the mechanisms by which hereditary variation is created and transmitted. to paraphrase Lewontin (1974: 177–8). In other words.

they had no way to prove it (Allen 1978: 126–40. The pool may be stable through time or change from one generation to the next depending on the particular conditions that prevail or appear. Third. that would come to be called the Modern Synthesis or the New Synthesis in the 1940s. The first generation of population geneticists—Ronald A. First. continuous variability in characteristics. unfortunately. that small-scale. paleontology. The Modern Synthesis and Beyond The heyday of the Modern Synthesis may have been in 1959 at the time of various centennial celebrations of the publication of The Origin of Species. This fusion was launched with the publication of Theodosius Dobzhansky’s (1900–75) Genetics and the Origin of Species in 1937. Gould (2002: . S. The other source of variation is mutation. As a result. identifying recombination. they made it clear that no two individuals in a population have exactly the same combination of genes—including identical siblings who were born with the identical genetic systems but were subjected to different environmental and historical circumstances so that different genes mutated. they integrated and synthesized the views of Mendel and Darwin. Fisher (1890–1962). 198). John B. and Sewall Wright (1889–1988)—recognized that Mendel’s principles operated in all organisms. While many but not all of the mutations that appear in the gene pool of a population are variants that are already known and that already exist in the population. Haldane (1892–1964). Gene flow occurs when an individual from outside the population breeds with an individual from the population.72 • Karl Marx. They established the foundations for linking the traditional subfields of biology—genetics. then the continual reshuffling from one generation to the next becomes a major source of the genetic variation that occurs in a population. ecology. and mutation as important sources.000 gene pairs. they clarified the nature of the genetic variation that exists within a population. systematics. gene flow. some are not. These investigations had three important consequences. and that even small selection pressures acting on minor genetic differences can result in evolutionary change (Gould 2002: 504). to name only a few—into a more holistic biology. these researchers began to examine how selection. alter frequencies of particular genes in a population They also suggested that genes acted in ways that controlled the metabolism of cells which in turn controlled the expression of particular characteristics. like height. and new genetic material is potentially introduced into the gene pool. If the organism has about 30. given the technology of the time. Anthropologist individuals or only a few may contribute to and share in the gene pool. mutation is the ultimate source of new genetic material in a population. also had a genetic basis. or developmental physiology. In a phrase. Second. Recombination is what occurs when two individuals mate and their offspring receive half of their genetic complement from each parent. as well as mutation and migration. as each human being seems to have.

in spite of the challenges. the sequence of DNA molecules on chromosomes. hence. X-ray crystallography. This development was accompanied by number of new technologies and techniques—computers. and the sufficiency of microevolutionary theory to explain change as it is refracted in the fossil record—began to be challenged. England. the three-dimensional arrays of DNA molecules on chromosomes. DNA sequencers. as you recall. while selection operates at the level of the individual. The arguments they raised in the 1960s and 1970s continue to the present. they are neither advantageous nor deleterious. the individual organism as the unit of selection. The challengers disagreed. they have no selective significance with regard to increasing or decreasing the fitness of individuals living in a particular environment. to the one that is refracted in the paleontological record. and so forth—that afforded opportunities to examine for the first time the molecular structure of cell nuclei. or behavioral features that enable individuals to survive and produce offspring. The second manifestation of the hardening and the challenge revolved around the question: At what level or levels does selection operate—the gene. adaptations take many different forms and may involve morphological. the population. That is. the three central tenets of the synthesis—adaptation. the individual. including even that of human beings. Adaptations. as Gould describes it. However. that the genomes of human beings and chimpanzees are virtually identical (99 percent). By the early 1960s. Appel 2000). change is steady and slow. Gould (2002: 558) called this the “principle of extrapolation. the structure of genes. for instance. and the entire genomes of a number of species. and. the regulation and development of genes. physiological. but identical. that the rates of change in the proteins produced by the DNA code vary . We now know. Gould concludes his discussion of the Modern Synthesis by noting how well it has endured. are the products of natural selection modifying the gene pool of population in such a way that it increases the harmony between the population and its environment. was an increased emphasis on adaptation: Every gene or gene complex was somehow adaptive.Human Natural Beings • 73 503–84) described the Modern Synthesis as “a limited consensus. powerful mathematical and statistical methods. Any hereditary characteristic that increases this congruity and promotes survival is an adaptation. however. evidence was beginning to accumulate which indicated that some genes may be neutral—that is. or whether it proceeds by fits and starts with moments of rapid change preceded or followed by periods of relative stasis (punctuated equilibrium). or the species? Advocates of the new synthesis argued that. One manifestation of the hardening.” One challenge to the uniformitarianism embodied in this tenet has been over the issue of whether the evolutionary process is always gradual.” that had “hardened” in the 1940s and 1950s in time for those celebrations. Molecular biology has been a major growth field in the United States. The third tenet is that the explanation used to account for small changes in the gene pool of a contemporary population is merely writ large. the adaptations that result might be beneficial to the group as well. and France since 1945 (Allen 1978: 187–228.

. and they talked. “influenced in their development by their circumstances. modify. Richard Levins (1935–). Lewontin (2000: jacket).” Marx would have appreciated how Lewontin and Levins have conceptualized and framed issues concerned with human natural beings and how we came to be the way we are. 272–85). because of the non-reductive and dialectically interactive aspects of their argument. and that individual organisms. as we saw in the last chapter. the organism. There seem to be two counter-tendencies in biology today. and Have Culture The title of this section derives from David McNally’s (2001) insightful essay. at any given moment. Scandinavia. Marks 2002). and choose the environments in which they live. and their associates—views nature as a totality. which then adapts to its environment. that human beings and chimpanzees had a common ancestor 5 to 7 million years ago. The anatomists and physicians of that era had a fourth characteristic: they walked upright. Language. organisms. They were part of Marx’s intellectual inheritance as well. consequently. We saw in the preceding chapters the three distinctive markers Enlightenment writers used to characterize human beings: they reasoned. He argues instead that the individual organism is a unique consequence of the interaction of genes and the environment. one element might appear to be fixed in relation to another (Levins and Lewontin 1985: 133–42. a multi-leveled whole. rejects the idea that genes determine the organism. The various elements of the whole—the parts and the levels—as well as the whole itself are continually changing. These are legacies from the Enlightenment. “Bodies that Talk: Sex. or Japan—than there is between them (Lewontin 1995. active creatures. The research of many biologists is reductionist in the sense that they are concerned with breaking down their objects of inquiry—the cell. a historically contingent and ever-changing structure. for example. Tools. However.” in his Bodies of Meaning. that the 6 billion or so human beings in the world today fundamentally have. positive and negative feedback. characterized by spontaneous activity. in their perspective. He emphasized instead that human beings were sensuous. and the coexistence of opposing principles that shape interaction. they made tools. though at different rates. Make Tools. the interpenetration and interaction of categories from different levels of the whole.74 • Karl Marx. or that there is more variation within human populations—let us say from Africa. a unity of contradictions. he did not frame his answer to the question of what human beings are precisely in these terms. Nature is. Human Natural Beings: Bodies That Walk. in turn create. Another group—notably Richard Lewontin (1929–). Talk. or the environment—into their constituent parts. The importance of this dialectical world is that it helps us think of genes. and environments as interacting parts of a whole rather than distinct entities with their own roles to play. with few exceptions. Anthropologist little from species to species. and Human Culture. the same genotype. the gene.

and that their conscious life activity in contrast to that of animals was increasingly determined by social relations and culture. but rather how do or might Marx’s views articulate with contemporary perspectives and practices. For our purposes here. “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from . tool-making. but rather sequentially over a period of time that spanned 5–7 million years for some scholars or 2–3 million years for others. modern human beings and their ancestors) established in the late 1940s and early 1950s—e. some paleoanthropologists have argued that the genus contains both “animal” hominids and “human” hominids. it was possible to believe that these traits appeared roughly at the same time.Human Natural Beings • 75 that there was a dialectical interplay between their corporeal organization and the ensembles of social relations that shaped their activities. A relatively unknown essay by Frederick Engels. or rapid expansion of cranial capacity associated with craniofacial remodeling and reduction in jaw size—often incorporate or imply philosophical understandings of humanness. As Raymond Corbey (2005: 93) correctly observes. to a lesser extent. occasionally use tools. We now know that they did not appear simultaneously. communicate. and culture. erect bipedalism. The result of this is that the biological definition of Homo clashes with popular and philosophical views of what it means to be human. This refracts in some complex way the criterion or criteria that particular individuals select to define “human. large brains. such as upright gait.g. gorillas are the closest living animal relatives of human beings. It is useful to keep in mind a few facts about the context in which Engels wrote his essay. The primatologists who study these apes often stress their similarities with human beings rather than their differences. provides additional clues for contemplating the linkages. and have distinctive personalities. that their bodily organs were transformed into instruments of labor and production. Engels’s “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man” The publication of Darwin’s The Descent of Man in 1871 was the impetus for Engels (1876/1972) to set down his own views on the transition from non-human primate to human natural being. the question is not whether the answers provided by present-day scientists are fundamentally different from and thus incommensurate with those of Marx. In the 1950s. active. language. when they talk about ape language and culture. Thus. they portray the apes as conscious. that they objectified the world and the resources it provides to satisfy established needs and to create new ones. a well-developed thumb. and social creatures who vocalize. scientific definitions of the genus Homo (that is. Marx’s friend and collaborator for more than forty years. and that the transition from ape to human occurred some time since the late Tertiary. the discussion becomes murkier and the audience more skeptical.” Another potential complicating factor results from the fact that geneticists have found that chimpanzees and. Consequently.

and importantly with the development of language. Woolfson 1982). However. an erect gait. This change in the locomotor behavior and structures was accompanied by other changes. the basic timeline—erect posture. especially since the late 1950s. as were those of his contemporaries (Trigger 1967/2003). These changes involved the development of greater dexterity and of a precision grip involving an opposable thumb long before the first flints were fashioned into knives and these early humans began to manufacture tools. Engels argued that the ancestors of human beings were social. The latter was facilitated by changes in the hand. in none of these. The development of the hand and all that this entailed were linked. arboreal apes who lived in the Old World tropics toward the end of the Tertiary period. He was clear that both human and non-human primates were behaviorally highly complex. most notably in the hand. it consisted of stone tools and fossil animal bones sealed beneath an unbroken stalagmitic deposit in Brixham Cave in southern England.76 • Karl Marx. On this basis. he was also clear that a change in one behavior would ultimately be linked with changes in other organs (sensory and anatomical structures) and behaviors. their significance was neither recognized nor appreciated until the early years of the twentieth century (Delisle 2007: 70–124). it was adopted by paleoanthropologists. which we now know occurred between about 2 and 23 million years ago. with increased dependence on others and the formation of new ensembles of social relations. with the development of the brain and other sensory organs. Anthropologist Ape to Man. tool-making. the first incontrovertible evidence was only uncovered in 1859. most prominently Sherwood Washburn (1911–2002) in the late 1950s (e. Moreover. Washburn 1960. While parts of Engels’s argument could be stated with more precision today in light of the vast quantities of information that have been gathered. Marx and Engels often forged and refined ideas in their letters. to my knowledge. While writers speculated about whether human beings had lived at the same time as extinct animals. Engels’s argument was a deductive one. speech organs. he suggested that the decisive first step in the transition from ape to human involved upright walking. Washburn and Howell 1963. Through reading and possibly even trips to the zoo.g. there is no evidence that Marx disagreed in any way whatsoever with Engels’s conclusions in this regard. and language— is still correct. Even though he had no conception of the microevolutionary processes described above. The issues debated today are not whether the steps outlined by Engels occurred. . and brain—a combination that enabled these early humans to undertake more complex activities and to change the environments in which they lived in planned. with new relations to the objects of nature. in turn. did they discuss Engels’s essay about the transition from ape to human. and structurally integrated organisms. conscious ways.” While the first remains of “Neanderthal man” had been found in 1856. he argued that the arboreal primates of the present day used their forelimbs and hindlimbs differently when they climb. but rather where and when they took place. even though they may have done so in conversation. As a result. In fact.

Thus. it seems that human natural beings appeared first in the tropics. Together with earlier discoveries of fossil hominids in South Africa. Richter.Human Natural Beings • 77 Fossils and Proteins In Marx’s day. Marx would have been . Gibbons 2006)? Besides the fact that ancestral ape and hominid species resided in tropical Africa 5 to 10 million years ago. Gnerre. and gorillas diverged from that group around 11 to 9 million years ago (Patterson. especially those east of the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. to name only a few. ankles. by the similarities and differences of DNA or protein sequences that exist among different species. According to molecular anthropologists. Lander. and Tanzania. at the present time. and Reich 2006). and South Africa. the Pliocene Era. toolmaking. carrying food and other objects. this finding helped to focus attention since the 1960s on the tropical regions of Africa. what were the circumstances in which quadrupedal. shoulders. where the extant species live today. treeclimbing primates became bipedal? Paleoanthropologists have described a number of potential advantages of upright walking that might have served them well: visual surveillance against predators. In the mid 1990s. keeping in mind that anatomical clues for this form of locomotion are scattered over the body: toes. and hands. Here. Today. the terrain of the debates has shifted in the last fifty or so years because of the vast quantities of new information. which occurred roughly 5 to 2 million years ago. and even display (Delisle 2007: 327). In Chad. however. hips. knees.5 million years ago. they found a number of fossil hominids in late Miocene and early Pliocene deposits that ranged in age from about 7 to 3. language. our closest relative in the animal kingdom. and reducing the energy costs of traveling long distances because of scarcity of resources. paleoanthropologists began to look for ancestral chimpanzees and gorillas on the west side of the Rift Valley. there were fossil-bearing deposits that dated to the end of the Tertiary—that is. The fossil evidence has raised a number of questions: Did all of them share the same locomotor pattern? Were they bipedal all of the time or only part of the time? Are some individuals ancestral chimpanzees instead of precursors to the genus Homo? Did some of the earlier individuals belong to one of the later ancestral species shared by chimpanzees and early hominids? Did any of these individuals belong to species that stand in the direct ancestral line of modern human beings (Delisle 2007: 326–8. No one questions that the various early hominid species on both sides of the Rift Valley were bipedal walkers. The issues that paleoanthropologists explore and resolve are still upright walking. hunting. the last common ancestor shared by modern human beings and chimpanzees. the empirical evidence for the evolution of human beings was provided by the comparative anatomy of living species. lived 10 to 5 million years ago. perhaps in the triangle formed by Chad. that evidence is provided by fossilized bones and their associated environments. Kenya. and culture. and by the molecular clock that the various sequences provide (Marks 2002: 7–31). feeding on low branches. neck. Ethiopia.

g. Chimpanzees and other apes cannot do either easily. environmental mosaics with their diverse and variable resources were the primary habitats of the early hominids rather than the emerging savannas that were inhabited by new kinds of ungulates and a rapidly expanding diversity of terrestrial monkeys—the ancestors of modern baboons and macaques.7 million years ago. hilly country created by the formation of the Rift Valley. Let us look briefly at two recent works. Engels’s second inferred step in the gradual appearance of human natural beings involved changes in the anatomy and manual dexterity of the hand. wrists. This was closely associated with upright posture and gait. First. Anthropologist fascinated. opposable thumbs relative to the length of the other digits and the ability to rotate the index finger toward the thumb. made by Geoffrey King and Geoff Bailey (2006). which have a restricted range of motion of the thumb. While all primates manipulate objects to varying degrees with their hands (as do raccoons and squirrels). The reorganized atmospheric circulations brought less moisture to the region. they can open a jar lid or thread a needle. they are the oldest ones we know about. Moreover. and powerful grasping muscles in both their hands and wrists (Trinkhaus 1992). a sign that “man the tool-maker” has arrived on the scene. which brought moisture and precipitation to the interiors of Kenya and Ethiopia. and we can safely presume.5-million-year-old deposits in Ethiopia. hill country. These are probably not the oldest tools in the world. the environmental conditions were beginning to shift from woodland to savanna grassland habitats and species. the hands of modern human beings are quite distinctive in several respects—e. The relation of these changes to the evolution of human beings will become apparent in the next few pages. is that the ancestral apes and hominids of tropical Africa lived in the broken. and shoulders than do nonhuman primates. These features contrast with those of modern chimpanzees. A second argument. Pierre Sepulchre and his associates (2006) argued that the 6000-km-long escarpment created 12 to 10 million years ago by tectonic uplift associated with the formation of the Rift Valley in East Africa altered the prevailing patterns of atmospheric circulation. continued to be the preferred habitat for human beings along their entire dispersal route of dispersal as they then began to move into the Eurasian landmass about 2 million years ago. this transition occurred between 5 and 3. forearms. they include long. I suspect. The earliest stone tools now known are chipped cobbles and flakes from 2. This broken. however. by the changing circumstances in which this fundamental change occurred. We know that modern chimpanzees will break off twigs and use them to fish for termites. by 8 to 6 million years ago. they argue. if at all. curved digits that are relatively long with respect to the length of the thumb. These capacities are reflected in both anatomical structures and the ranges of motion they exhibit. Modern human beings have power and precision grips and a much greater range of motion and rotation in their fingers.78 • Karl Marx. The manufacture and use of stone tools has been taken as an indication of manual dexterity. these complex. and. I . right now.

increased hunting.5 million years ago. of course. consequently. or was it punctuated with episodes of growth followed by periods of relative stasis (Delisle 2007: 328–30)? The development of the brain was. Engels’s third step in the evolution of human corporeal organization (Schoenemann 2006). The brain volumes of modern human beings are roughly three times larger than those of their Plio-Pleistocene ancestors. There are three facts about the brain that it is useful to keep in mind. it is linked with the development of the brain. because the configuration of the fingers. hand. The third is that brains consume enormous amounts of energy. for example. that at least some hominids used sticks or rocks. earlier than 2. in the habitats in which the early hominids lived 7 to 2 million years ago. by examining the endocasts of the imprints left on the skulls. a third group claims that stone tool-making was restricted to the genus Homo. use about 20 percent of the metabolic energy they have to regulate the temperature of their brains. There were two genera of early hominids in Ethiopia between about 2. The australopithecines had hands with long curved fingers. Dean Falk (2004: 161) has suggested that the vascular system of the hominid brain was reorganized to deal simultaneously with “the changed hydrostatic pressures associated with erect posture” and with the changes mentioned earlier in this section that were taking place in the habitats of the African tropics in general and. The second fact is that the endocasts of human and nonhuman primates—that is. of course.Human Natural Beings • 79 believe.000 years ago. wrists.0 million years ago in the genus Homo and continued until about 100. First. chimpanzees and modern human beings—are different from one another. is a marker for something else.5 and 1. what is the relationship between increased brain size and the structural organization of the brain itself? Second. was this increase in brain size gradual and continuous. and forearms more closely resemble those of modern human beings. In this instance. more specifically. What we do not know about the tools from Ethiopia is who made them. A significant increase in brain volume began to appear about 2.5 million years ago had brain volumes that resembled those of chimpanzees. Tool-making. Two issues emerge. thumbs and little fingers with a restricted range of rotation. Heat regulation is accomplished by the circulation of blood through a complex network of arteries and veins that crisscross their brains. Some paleoanthropologists argue that both genera manufactured and used stone tools. Paleoanthropologists have suggested a number of reasons for the expansion of brain size: the need for increased brain power to facilitate complex manipulative tasks like making stone tools. food sharing. language. and heat stress. . social cooperation. as Engels indicated. and heavily muscled fingers and wrists adapted for grasping. it is possible to learn about the surface organization of the brain. others suggest that only some australopithecines had the manual dexterity to make tools. The convolutions on the brain’s surface leave their imprint on the interior surface of the skull. for example.0 million years ago: Australopithecus and Homo. We suspect that the latter made the tools. human adults. All of the early hominids that lived before 2.

where winter temperatures occasionally plunge below 0 °F (–17.80 • Karl Marx. cooling mechanism is that human beings are relatively hairless in comparison to the living apes. This process became apparent in the remains of H. brain volumes remained low—that is. Cohn (1988: 404) note that “hair retention on the head is probably important in protecting the scalp from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and may assist in stabilizing the temperature of the brain.” One inference that might be drawn from this extended argument is that even the earliest of our big-brained ancestors probably appeared relatively hairless in comparison to their primate contemporaries. So. hominid populations began to move out of the African tropics and onto the Eurasian landmass about 2 million years ago. A. roughly similar to those of apes. possibly savannas. and (2) that they were different from those of the later. and water dotted the landscape.8 million years old at Dmanisi.8 °C). grasslands. The reason for their appearance is that their hair shafts are much smaller than those of apes. As you will recall. It seems to have been a fairly continuous process until about 100. More important. both of which had features resembling the brain surfaces of modern human beings. which is located north of the Caspian Sea. What makes sweating an effective evaporative. The vascular system is not the only organ of the human body involved in heat regulation. Their remains have been found at deposits that are about 1. but as likely the environmental mosaics described earlier in which patches of trees. the dentition of the large australopithecines. The heat stress induced by spending more time in open country created another set of selection pressures along with gravity and the changes in hydrostatic pressures that accompanied bipedal locomotion.000 years ago. others include sweat glands. the distribution of hair.5 million years ago. and skin. small australopithecines and early species of Homo. as well as associated paleoenvironmental evidence. In contrast. Anthropologist Examining the endocasts of apes. when the growth curve flattened out (Lee and Wolpoff 2003). This inference has some additional implications. brain volumes increased. and early members of the genus Homo. what does this imply for a relatively hairless hominid? Brian Fagan suggests an answer: . hence they appear hairless except for the tops of the heads. In this regard. even though they have about the same number of hair follicles as chimpanzees. Falk learned (1) that the surface organization of the brains of large australopithecines resembled those of modern chimpanzees. the large and small species of australopithecines. Once the vascular system of the brain became more efficient. In her view. Two of the truly distinctive features of modern human beings are that they have about 2 million more eccrine sweat glands than non-human primates. and that these glands are distributed over the entire surface of their bodies. the teeth and paleoenvironmental data indicated that the small australopithecines and early species of Homo moved into more open country. Adrienne Zihlman and B. indicated that they continued to live in wooded habitats. until the vascular system of the brain was able to regulate temperature more efficiently in those hominids that had moved into more open habitats. habilis about 2.

tongue and larynx and the areas that are in front of it. and (3) symbolic reference involves both the arbitrariness of the utterance with regard to what is being represented and the ability to refer to things that are not immediately present or exist only in some abstract sense (Deacon 1992a). Stimulation of the vocalization areas in a monkey brain often produce other signs of arousal—such as hair standing on end. involve mimicry. Terrence Deacon describes them in the following manner: [Non-human] primate calls are controlled by neural circuits in the forebrain and midbrain that are also responsible for emotion and physiological arousal. especially chimpanzees. facial gestures and even ejaculation. The ability to combine a larger number of . are quite vocal. has three central features: (1) basic sound units produced in the oral cavity. (2) rules for combining and recombining these sounds into larger units. like words (morphology) and sentences (syntax). but not the motor cortex. Language. or the calls of monkeys—which. have the capacity to communicate enormous ranges of information and meaning (semantics). are referential but not symbolic. which is unique to the human species. Homo erectus probably survived the winters by maintaining permanent fires. is not unrelated to the development of the brain and other sensory organs. the vocalizations and gestures of non-human primates are not the same as language. It also involved extending the body’s instruments of production and objectifying the world around them in new ways as they appropriated new kinds of external objects to satisfy new needs that were essential for their survival and reproduction in their new circumstances. Both modern human beings and non-human primates. respectively. display postures. The final step mentioned by Engels was the development of language. The unique skill in learning to speak suggests that this facility may reflect some critical neurological difference. These features distinguish human language from other forms or systems of communication—such as the dances of honeybees. which lack innate or intrinsic meaning. seasonal whale songs. and express ranges of immediate feelings like fear. (Fagan 1990: 76) Thus. the elaboration of culture.Human Natural Beings • 81 For Homo erectus to be able to adapt to the more temperate climates of Europe and Asia. Nevertheless. There are important neuroanatomical differences between the vocalizations of non-human primates and the speech of modern human beings. Both use vocalizations and gestures to communicate information. Repeated efforts to train primates to mimic even simple speech sounds have had little success. and by storing dried meat and other foods for use in the lean months. Human speech uses a very different set of neural circuits. even though this area can control the muscles of the larynx and mouth. it was necessary not only to tame fire but to have both effective shelter and clothing to protect against heat loss. which suggest that our common ancestors 10–5 million years ago probably did the same. as you know. It depends on the region of the motor cortex that controls the mouth. Engels’s fourth step in the transition from ape to human being. or pleasure. anger.

africanus (c. particularly in the frontal area. the varied positions of the tongue. both appear on endocasts of H. the appearance of stone tool making (culture in the broadest sense). The former is a motor speech area associated not only with sensorimotor control of the structures of the oral cavity. An endocast from a late. Anthropologist component sounds to form larger units. toward the end of that period. a set of complex. Since they are located on the surface of the brain. Thus.2. A. there is not a single structure that is concerned exclusively with language and speech production. Common brain areas may be involved in speech production and grammatical processes because defects in grammar and speech production caused by brain damage often occur together. (Deacon 1992b: 119) Two regions of the human brain involved in speech production are Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. rather than one that was built on a pre-existing structure or structures shared with other primates.82 • Karl Marx. the volume of the brain itself expanded. This development coincided in time with the initial expansion of brain volume. All normally developed human brains have Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. hearing. the faculty seems to have been an emergent phenomenon that was a byproduct of other developments. and feeling (Gibson and Jessee 1999: 205. asymmetric hemispherical specialization of the brain appeared.3.1 to 2. Between 7 million and 2 million years ago.5 million years ago). small australopithecine. In other words. interrelated changes occurred in the heads of our human and pre-human ancestors. has an ape-like pattern but shows evidence of Broca’s area. it is typically located on the left hemisphere of the cortex and also seems to be associated with right-handedness—the tendency shared by about 90 percent of the human population today (non-human primates typically do not show a preference for left. which controls understanding and formulating coherent speech. and their coordination with movements of the respiratory system.6 million years ago). A few of these were: the brain was reorganized as both the vascular and neural systems evolved. That is to say. While there are no endocasts currently available for hominids that lived before about 3 million years ago. and. words and phrases. The latter. Wernicke’s area. habilis (c. makes possible to syntactic complexity of speech. and preceded by a half million or so years the initial movements of hominids out of the African tropics (Tobias 1998). they leave imprints on the interior surface of the skull and thus appear on endocasts. the brains of our ancestors who lived 2 million years ago were quite different from the brains of their ancestors who lived 5 million years earlier. is located on the cortex amid areas that are associated with seeing. the earliest representatives of the genus Homo seem to have had the neural capacity for spoken language. the anatomy of the craniofacial region was significantly shortened. but also with manipulative and gestural abilities. Tobias 1998: 72). the surface topography of the cerebral cortex became more folded and complex. With regard to the evolution of language. instead . The configurations of their brain surfaces resembled those of modern human beings rather than apes.or right-handedness).

In a phrase. these studies showed (1) that the practical behavior of apes is independent of any speechsymbolic activity. and 95 percent in their tenth year. (4) this prolonged period of maturation coincides with growth and developmental stages that witness not only the formation . The interconnections between the faculties of language and tool use in human natural beings were confirmed more than seventy years ago. practical activity and speech are increasingly interconnected as the child matures. Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria (1930/1994) assessed studies that compared the development of speech and practical intelligence in individuals. As the human child matures. and their brains typically grow to roughly the same size as the adults by the end of their first year of life. 90 percent by age five. there are significant differences in the growth and development patterns of non-human primates and human beings. The egocentric. human infants are born with brain volumes that are about 25 percent of the size of those of adults. While practical intelligence (tool-use) operates independently of speech in young children. and (2) that tool-use by apes was analogous to that of human beings who were either pre-verbal children or deprived of the ability to speak (aphasics). (2) the growth rate in brain volume extends beyond well beyond the first year of life in human beings. (3) human infants are relatively helpless in comparison to ape infants during the first years of life. that is. This protracted process of growth and development of humans has a number of implications: (1) brain development occurs much more rapidly in apes and through a seemingly smaller number of developmental stages. interconnected by neural circuitry that was evolving simultaneously in response to selection pressures that had nothing to do with the development of language and only a little to do with other systems of communication more broadly defined. both apes and human children. inner speech of four-year-olds becomes increasingly communicative as they turn to peers and adults for information and insight about the issues they confront. speech increasingly moves from solving the problems that are immediately at hand to a planning function that precedes their actions. especially after they began to talk. are about 75 percent the size of adults by two and a half. For example. another with sensation and motor control—that have become. their brains double in size during the first six months. In contrast. those that children manifested at different stages of psychological development changed dramatically. in the course of the last 5 million or so years. practical activity (tool-use in this case) and language began to be linked increasingly in the development of human natural beings.Human Natural Beings • 83 there seem to be several areas—one associated with emotions. ape neonatal infants have about 50 percent of the brain volume of adults of the same species. It is part of the complex process by which natural beings became human natural beings. As we have just seen. speech and interpersonal relations begin to guide and dominate what they will do in future. not only in their evolution over the past 7 million years but also in the maturation process of the each individual human being. While the tool-using abilities of apes remained essentially unchanged throughout their lives. first to themselves and then increasingly to others when they were confronted with a problem to solve.

associated with the elaboration of practical activity and speech. in fact. For example. An important limiting factor with regard to brain volume at the time of birth is the cross-section of the mother’s birth canal. Demography and Population Structure Neither Marx nor Engels ever wrote systematically about the relation between population and political economy (Seccombe 1983). Paleoanthropologists have discerned the ape and human patterns of brain growth and development in the fossil remains of early hominids. which are historically valid only within that particular sphere. As Engels (1876/1972: 251) put it. our primate ancestors “lived in bands. provided that cranial and pelvic bones are present in their sample. the accumulation of diverse sorts of empirical evidence during that period has added unimaginable detail and enriched our understanding of the process. These traits coincided in time with the appearance of tool-making and language. they infer that the human rather than the ape pattern of growth and development was already in existence at that time. This implied that the infants also exhibited the same pattern of prolonged maturation and dependence that exist in modern human beings. His comment is part of a larger discussion about the relation between the capitalist mode of production and the formation of a reserve army of labor. Marx was certainly aware of differences in mortality and fertility. fertility. and (5) the changes in the neural circuitry of human infants and children are. and mortality patterns of the early hominids might have on the demography and population structures of those groups. and even then only in the absence of any historical intervention by man. it appears that “Engels got it right!” The broad outlines of his argument have stood the test of time. With more than 130 years of hindsight.” He refused to abstract population from historically specific social structures or ensembles of social relations. rudolfensis that lived about 2. An abstract law of population exists only for plants and animals. they also coincided with the expansion of those stages of brain growth and psychological development when new neural connections are being formed as tool-use and speech become increasingly social activities embedded in ensembles of social relations. Marx (1863–7/1977: 784) suggested that “every particular historical mode of production has its own special laws of population. Nonetheless. Thus.5 million years ago—had a brain volume of 800–900 cc but a birth canal that was only able of passing a fetal head with brain size of about 200 cc (Stanley 1998: 160–3). Anthropologist of new neural connections but also the related elaboration of practical activity and speech.84 • Karl Marx. neither Marx nor Engels ever questioned that human natural beings were also social beings. the effects of the movement of workers from . The size and shape of the neonate’s head cannot be greater than the width and height of the birth canal.” On the other hand. On the one hand. they never considered in any extended manner the implications that the life histories. an early hominid—H.

which resulted in different dispositions and activity patterns. Biodeterminists. drawing on liberal social theory (notably John Locke). and the deleterious effects of industries. As you will recall from earlier discussions in the last chapter and this one. The larger body size of adult males gave them a greater chance for survival outside a social group. as we construe them today. distinguished human natural beings from natural beings. developed out of “bands. which was essential for survival. The males and females of sexually dimorphic primates have roughly the same growth rates until puberty. including chimpanzees. more aggressive males hunted for meat. however. while the females stop. Marx (1863–7/1977: 471) certainly recognized that age and sex were important factors structuring the division of labor in capitalism. fertility. there are three problems with this perspective: (1) most non-human primates. adult males were larger than adult females—but these differences were not as great as the sexual dimorphism found in non-human primates. like pottery-making. 1986) argued that the larger body size of adult males was not related to dominance and sex roles.Human Natural Beings • 85 the countryside to industrial cities. Not surprisingly. and that they were potentially implicated in structuring discontinuities from one mode of production to another. other writers have thought about these issues. they did not speculate about the demographic aspects of the transition from social natural beings to human natural beings. it was correlated with either solitary existence (orangutans) or transient group membership (chimpanzees and gorillas). sharing or exchange occurred because of the biological differences between males and females. labor and thus the division of labor were characteristics that. on the health and life expectancies of the individuals engaged in those activities. while larger. and age structure in that transition. However. (2) the perspective does not explain how individuals of both sexes transformed themselves from self-feeders to producers. . Lila Leibowitz (1985. The early hominids were sexually dimorphic—that is. and that “population forces will periodically come into contradiction with themselves and with other elements of any given socio-economic system. whose mobility was periodically constrained by infant care. and will tend to make their own contribution of time to the developmental propulsion of particular modes through time and space” (Seccombe 1983: 33). nor did they ever comment on the potential implications of mortality. but rather to reproductive and foraging advantages. rooted the division of labor and the nuclear family in biology. Females.g. forage individually most of the time. and (3) Engels (1884/1972) argued that families. Washburn and Lancaster 1968). in their view. such as chimpanzees or gorillas. it also meant that both males and females engaged in the same foraging activities but in different places. He also implied that the determination of population dynamics is situated in the inner workings of particular modes of production. the males continue to grow for several years after reaching this stage. remained in close proximity to home bases and foraged for vegetable foods. and shared this prize both with their offspring and with the mothers of those offspring (e.” Marx and Engels never doubted that our primate ancestors were social beings. in Marx’s view.

Such a demographic profile has several implications. prepubescent males and females of the same age were roughly similar in size. when there was more than any one of them could consume. self-feeding is the rule in the core and allmale groups. Her observations and arguments suggest a model of early hominid society. Paleodemographic studies indicate that infant and juvenile mortality was high. The core members of chimpanzee social groups are adult females and their juvenile and infant offspring. those where resources are dispersed. that about half of the individuals died or were killed before they reached reproductive age. few. Within these groups. they were exposed to prolonged learning in a social group that was composed largely of other prepubescent individuals. They shared information about the world around them through language. It is an attribute that involves cooperation among individuals as well as new levels of understanding. Anthropologist There is a great deal of variability not only in male and female roles but also in the relations between the sexes with groups of non-human primates (Leibowitz 1985. before wandering off to forage in other localities. The social groups were small and composed mainly of individuals who had not yet reached reproductive age. their second infant would have been born when they were fifteen or sixteen years old. Chimpanzees probably show the greatest flexibility and diversity of relations. They reached reproductive age at about the same rate as we do. they foraged for themselves from a young age and shared food with other individuals. and their third when they were eighteen or nineteen. Adult males join these core groups temporarily for greater or lesser periods of time. and . many of the juveniles were orphans who had to fend for themselves in order to survive. As we have seen. 1986). and that the average life span of the survivors was about twenty years. either alone or in all-male groups. Assuming that females had their first infants shortly after reaching puberty. Fourth. most of the members of a social group were prepubescent individuals who had not reached reproductive age. Second. In the process of growing up in a small group. when they were twelve or thirteen years old. the successes and failures of everyday life. females were alive when their offspring reached puberty. except on the most limited bases. First. except at those rare times when a small animal is killed and the meat is shared with individuals foraging nearby. Food sharing involves a degree of cooperation that does not exist in contemporary non-human primates and presumably did not exist among their ancestors.86 • Karl Marx.g. The conclusion that Leibowitz drew from this evidence is that age or stage of maturation may have been more important than sex in structuring the social relations of early human populations. Third. trust. if any. the maturation pattern of our primate ancestors who lived 3 million years ago was essentially the same as that of modern human beings. There is even variation between social groups of the same species—e. baboon troops in which food resources and concentrated vs. and that they did not ovulate for the three or so years when they were lactating and nursing. Their understanding of their world was gained through practical activities and experiences. Thus. they learned to use and make simple wooden and stone tools from their peers.

Leibowitz suggests that adult males may have been integrated into the juvenile. whom I’ve been taking another look. If this change refracts new relations based in some complicated manner on sex differences. (Marx 1859/1983: 551) I’m amused that Darwin. Marx on the Naturalization of Social Inequality Compare the following statements made by Marx about Darwin’s The Origin of Species.Human Natural Beings • 87 confidence in the motivations of others. There were so few individuals in these early groups that new ways of seeing and understanding the world or making new tools were often not validated because of the absence of an appreciative audience. hunting and hearth-centered activities that were carried out more or less simultaneously in different places. suggest that diminished sexual dimorphism was likely associated with new forms of social organization. The second was made two and a half years later. repositories of practical knowledge. However. One does.000 years or so. and that has been done. In practical terms. The first was made less than a month after its publication. should say that he also applies the “Malthusian” theory to plants and animals. it means that there were then grandmothers and grandfathers. coupled with their movement into new landscapes in Eurasia and the changes that had already been taking place and that were continuing to occur in Africa. Their integration coincided with two other changes that facilitated both new forms of cooperation and further development of human natural beings themselves: (1) systematic hunting and hence the increased consumption of meat (a high energy. is absolutely splendid. as though in Mr. and (2) appearance of spatially organized. cultural understandings and ways of doing things changed slowly. This change.. the ratio of older to younger individuals in a population—did not occur until the last 50. and certainly never to such good effect. whom I’m reading just now. This evidence. protein-rich food source). Never before has so grandiose an attempt been made to demonstrate historical evolution in Nature. adult female. they argued. Rachel Caspari and Sang-Hee Lee (2006) have argued that significant changes in the numbers of individuals surviving to adulthood—i. erectus populations living between 2 million and 500.e. and infant groups on a full-time basis. the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals. There was one aspect of teleology that had yet to be demolished. It appears that H. then shifts in the ensembles of social relations refracting changes in the age structure of human populations occurred much more recently. but—only with . by the way. who could share that information with the younger generations of the social groups.000 years ago may have exhibited less sexual dimorphism than their immediate ancestors. Malthus’s case. have to put up with the crude English method. was not a biological one but rather one rooted in culture and social relations. Darwin. of course.

(Marx 1862/1985: 381) What stands out in both quotations is Marx’s critique of the naturalization of social inequalities. that poverty was a natural outcome of social relations. and Malthus who viewed struggle in terms of limitations imposed on society as a whole by its environment (Bowler 1976: 639.e. and their reappropriation into capitalist society as “natural” relations. One target was Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). they should submit their own individual wills to. A second target was Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) who also assumed that self-interest and competition were the foundations of modern society. opening up of new markets. and that the tendency to over-reproduce far outstripped the capacity of society to produce food. It is important to note here that Marx believed that “human nature” was not fixed but varied from one historical epoch to another. and that. Anthropologist its geometric progression—to humans as against plants and animals. and that his concept of class struggle was different from those of Darwin who viewed struggle between different individuals of the same species in terms of differential reproduction and survival. the seventeenth-century materialist and political theorist who had argued that human individuals always act out of self-interest to satisfy their appetites and avoid their aversions. or at least not resist. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). Having accomplished this feat .” whereas. and then claim to have proved their validity as eternal laws of human society. Frederick Engels made a similar point with regard to “bourgeois Darwinians” who saw only struggle for existence in nature where only a few years earlier they “laid emphasis on co-operation”:1 All that the Darwinian theory of the struggle for existence boils down to is an extrapolation from society to animate nature of Hobbes’ theory of the bellum omnium contra omnes and of bourgeois-economic theory together with the Malthusian theory of population. 647–50). which led to a limited food supply and a “struggle for existence” among its members. among the beasts and plants. . competition. that of the sovereign in exchange for self-preservation and avoiding death (Wood and Wood 1997: 94–111).88 • Karl Marx. in order to avoid being thrust back into a state of nature during the time of the English Civil War.” It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes [i. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers. In 1875. (Engels 1875/1991: 107–8) The questions are: What happened in the thirteen years that intervened between Marx’s letter and that of Engels? What were the relationships of the liberals and socialists that Engels called bourgeois Darwinians to the development of anthropology? . the animal kingdom figures as civil society. . in Darwin. war of all against all] and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology in which civil society figures as an “intellectual animal kingdom.. the society of England with its division of labour. “inventions” and Malthusian “struggle for existence. these people proceed to re-extrapolate the same theories from organic nature to history. the transposition of capitalist social relations to nature.

human diversity. and societal evolution and made use of the same analogies and metaphors as Darwin and his followers. As a result. like “the struggle for existence” or “nature red in tooth and claw. many features and metaphors. Twelve years later. Anthropology—an emerging discipline concerned with human variation. however.g. Darwin (1874/1998) published his views about the human species and the development of the intellectual and moral faculties of primitive and civilized peoples in The Descent of Man. the evolution of human societies. What many but not all of the advocates of this standpoint attempted to do was replace the notion of divine intervention with the “laws of nature. While they were liberal reactions against entrenched aristocratic and conservative understandings of the world. Some early figures in the history of anthropology—like Franz Boas (1858–1942) or Robert H.g. The advocates of this reductionist standpoint were attempting to explain the development of human society as well as human psychology and social organization in terms of natural laws that were derived from biology or even physics. their perspective frequently emphasized the naturalness of hierarchy.Human Natural Beings • 89 When Darwin was composing The Origin of Species in the 1840s and 1850s. Stocking 1987. In a real sense.” associated with Social Darwinism were in use before Darwin wrote either The Origin of Species or The Descent of Man. Weikart 1999. evolution) and metaphors (e. it is also clear that some of his followers were socialists and others were not. Glick 1988). However. and scientific racism that came to be called Social Darwinism after 1879. it was not uncommon by the 1850s for writers to slip between claims that human beings had a nature. Its early practitioners often had the same understandings of human beings. “struggle for existence” or “survival of the fittest”) that he would eventually use had already been employed by others. their efforts were facilitated by the fact that they also used the same conceptual frameworks and drew on the same analogies and metaphors to describe the human and natural realms. While it is possible to argue that Darwin was a Social Darwinist. and that nature had a moral economy (Jones 1980: 1–9). meritocracy. These tendencies became increasingly common in many countries after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 (e. they also became part of emerging discourses about individualism. with the evolution of the human psyche and intelligence. or equilibrium. political economists. many of the concepts (e. gradualism. the struggle for existence.g. Lowie (1883–1957) in the United States—were socialists who rejected the positivism of the . Kelly 1981. Hammond 1980.” Moreover. anthropology was never a politically homogeneous discipline even at its inception. and social commentators at a time when the popularity of reductive materialist arguments was on the rise in some circles and challenged in others. especially in those with strong religious convictions. and the cultural practices and beliefs of marginal peoples—also began to coalesce rapidly in the 1860s and 1870s (e. Weindling 1989: 11–59).g. Darwinism and evolutionism were concerned with the individual. they had entered into the public domain and were being deployed by naturalists. and with the evolution of human social and social organization. Harvey 1983.

90 • Karl Marx. he praised the writings of Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921). Lowie was highly critical of Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society and of Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). Yanagisako and Delaney 1995).g. Anthropologist social evolutionary perspectives and replaced them instead with empiricist-inspired and grounded studies of the cultural practices of particular communities. populations rather than types of individuals. . Patterson and Spencer 1995. another set of linkages between Marx. at the same time. although the kinds of detailed information available today are infinitely richer than when he wrote. We then moved to an examination of Engels’s essay on the role of labor in the transition from non-human primate to human natural being and suggested that Marx agreed with the views of his longtime friend. Ssorin-Chaikov 2003. For our purposes in this book. expansion and reorganization of the brain. to address questions concerned with the emergence and development of human natural beings and their relationship with the worlds in which they lived. it is worth noting that discourses which naturalize social hierarchy and power relations have been and continue to be pervasive and influential in anthropological practice and theory and their appropriations by states including socialist ones (e. life expectancy. the weaknesses of scientific racist arguments. Darwin. or the politics of science (Pittenger 1993). and how issues of mortality. while others came from paleoanthropological inquiries in African and Eurasia. changes in the anatomy and dexterity of the hand. We also saw that the broad outlines of Engels’s argument have stood the test of time. and life history might have effected and produced diverse social structures. Engels linked the emergence of human natural beings with a series of interconnected changes in the corporeal organization of our ancestors that involved bipedalism. It is also clear. and their successors that we explored: the naturalization of social inequalities through the use of folk categories that are understood as the biological categories of Western modernity. and the elaboration of culture. we examined how Marx’s materialism was an outcome of his efforts as a student to bring together the arts and sciences and then. especially his Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (Kropotkin 1904/1989) and of the socialist Alfred Russel Wallace. some of the data derived from the investigations of neuroanatomists. a few years later. For example. There is. In this chapter. who was one of the leading exponents of Darwin’s thought in Germany. that Marx and Engels were early opponents of the naturalization of cultural categories. we raised questions about the kinds of social relations that might have existed in these early communities. language. the attraction of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was precisely its materialist foundations. One can only presume that Marx would have applauded subsequent clarifications of the underlying mechanisms of descent with modification and speciation as well as of the historically contingent and ever-changing structure of the world in which these mechanisms operate. tool-making. however. fertility. Finally. as the letters quoted above indicate. We then examined data clarifying these developments. For Marx.

at this point. family and gender in Roman society. In volume one. Marx (1863–7/1976: 711– 61) discussed the “simple reproduction of capital” and drew most of his examples from the British Isles. the earlier one occurred between 1853 and 1859 when he wrote articles about India. Smith writes that. as you will recall. a diversion from the really important project. what 91 . Only about a third of the notes were transcribed and published by Lawrence Krader in The Ethnological Notebooks (Marx 1880–2/1974). Dutch colonialism. Now he needed to know concretely. in exact detail. it was alternatively a grander project. David Smith (2002: 78–9) has argued that it is difficult to sustain either the presupposition or the conclusions drawn from it. Culture. Smith 2002). and. was preparing a new edition of the first volume as well as a French translation which combined elements of the first and second German editions of that volume (Anderson 2002: 87). Marx’s interest in anthropology and history raises two interrelated questions: If his overriding concern was capitalist society. . and Social Formation Marx read widely in anthropology and history in the 1870s. he would discuss the “accumulation and reproduction of capital on an expanded scale” (Marx 1865–1885/1981: 565–99). and even an indication of encroaching senility. a sign of depression over the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871. took more than 450 pages of notes interspersed with commentaries on topics as diverse as prehistoric Europe. China. and the Ottoman Empire for the New York Tribune (Avineri 1968). since Marx was still actively working on the second and third volumes of Capital in the 1870s. the history of India. He filled fifty notebooks about Russia and. In contrast. at the same time. between 1879 and 1882. Marx needed to delve further into the multicultural specificity of the world that capitalism was seeking to conquer. .– 4– History. as some have claimed. In the second volume. It was the second time in his career that Marx read extensively about non-Western societies. pedantry. For later commentators. Smith further suggests that Marx’s turn to anthropology and history had a lot to do with the subject matter that the latter was planning to discuss in the second volume. then why did he read so extensively about non-capitalist and pre-capitalist societies? Did his theoretical standpoint and understanding of these societies change in significant way between the 1850s and the 1870s? The presupposition underlying the first question is that Marx saw the study of non-capitalist or pre-capitalist societies in the 1870s as distinct from and unrelated to that of capitalism. and American Indian societies (Anderson 2002. .

he continually clarified and refined his argument about transition. Thus. the motor driving the evolution of class and property relations was set in motion by the growth of trade and competition and involved the structural differentiation of roles within the labor process (Brenner 1989). the image of its own future. to those which follow it on the industrial path [échelle]. Marx needed to know as much as possible about noncapitalist social structures. Marx (1863–7/1977: 91) wrote: “The country that is more developed industrially only shows. 1880–2/1974). Euro-American capital was speeding into a world dense with cultural difference. Anthropologist capital could expect to confront in its global extension. made the concept of modes of production the centerpiece of his analysis. (Smith 2002: 79) In other words. This explanation was elaborated in works written from that date onward—notably the Grundrisse. Krader 1975). 1863–7/1977.” When the French edition was published eight years later. With regard to the second question. Capital. The changes are perhaps most apparent in his discussions of transition. Marx’s theoretical standpoint and understanding of pre-capitalist and non-capitalist societies did change during his career (e. Marx’s turn to anthropology and history was not distinct from his concern with capitalism but rather was an integral part of that project. suggested that the various modes of production were differentially or variably resistant to change. . In these. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 482–5). and the difference it makes for capital.92 • Karl Marx. he had modified the passage and made the implications of his analysis of capitalist development more transparent: “The country that is more developed industrially only shows. it suggests that human society had developed through a progression of stages from primitive communism through feudalism to capitalism (e. For example.g. Marx was already explicitly clear about the possibility of alternative pathways of development for capitalist societies by the 1870s and for non-industrial and non-Western societies more than a decade earlier. in the 1867 English edition of Capital. He paid more attention to the variability of pre-capitalist and non-capitalist communal societies. In this perspective. However. as Kevin Anderson (2002: 86) notes. Marx developed one explanation in the 1840s. to the less developed.g. Marx’s “references to [European] colonialism as a source of civilization and progress had largely disappeared” by 1857. and implied that not all societies formed in the same way or passed through the same succession of modes of production. 1. Moreover. the image of its own future” (Marx 1875/1963: 549 quoted by Anderson 2002: 88 with emphasis added). This has frequently been characterized and criticized as a unilinear and Eurocentric perspective. and The Ethnological Notebooks (Marx 1857–8/1973. So it should not be surprising that Marx chose to investigate non-Western societies precisely at this point. especially the transition from feudalism to capitalism. when he began to develop a second explanation of transition. he abandoned the earlier model and viewed social change in historical-dialectical terms. vol. To understand this difference. which relied heavily on Adam Smith’s writings.

g. the “thing-in-itself. cultural beliefs. Marx was also indebted to Hegel’s critique of the distinction that Kant drew between appearance and reality. he claimed that appearance and essence belong together. in contrast. and the constitutional monarchies of the early nineteenth century. and how. . and historians have gathered in the last 150 years.History. 1852/1979) to consider factors such as contradiction. Both saw human society as a process of becoming. Hegel did not think that there were limits to the application of human knowledge. Kant. given this standpoint. the realm of individual freedom. and historical contingency in his empirical studies of particular societies.g. In Hegel’s view. and Social Formation • 93 The goals of this chapter are to look at Marx’s conceptual framework especially with regards to the diversity of human societies and of the modes of production that constitute them (including those that might be residual. or emergent in any given society). and that the real essence of the thing. The . . In this regard. the dialectical progression of human history and society toward emancipation culminated in Christianity. In Marx’s view. as you will recall. Marx’s Historical-Dialectical Conceptual Framework Marx’s empirical anthropology was underpinned by a historical-dialectical notion of society. he might have dealt with the enormous amount of information about pre-capitalist and non-capitalist societies that archaeologists. 1861–3/1971: 536–7) addressed the relation between appearances and reality in the Grundrisse and Theories of Surplus Value.” was unknowable. dominant. his views bore a generic resemblance to those of Hegel. The dialectic of the productive forces and productive relations which effects [sic] historical progress offers in contrast to Hegel’s dialectic of world spirit no guarantee that the realm of freedom will be realized. it presents only the objective possibility of such a development. Should the historically possible revolutionizing of society not come about. Marx (1857–8/1973: 100–8. (Fetscher 1991: 228) This led Marx (e. his notions of historical trajectories and the historically determined contingency of transitions. in the future as a real possibility of the present” (Fetscher 1991: 228) As Iring Fetscher put it. the French Revolution. actually “lies . Culture. which Hegel claimed had already been fully realized in the Prussian state. Hartnack 1992). and that unfolding of consciousness or knowledge of the thing-in-itself is a dialectical process that self-corrects its own claims (e. the Reformation. where he provided a framework—a point of departure—for clarifying problems in order to gain practical understanding of everyday life in capitalist society. then a relapse into barbarism (Luxemburg) or the “common ruin of the contending classes” (Marx) is also possible. the balance of force among opposed groups. sociocultural anthropologists (ethnologists). had claimed that human beings only know things by their appearance.

men inevitably enter into definite relations. often-cited passage. he described a mode of production in terms of an architectural metaphor: In the social production of their existence. In his view. on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. revealing its internal structure with each successive layer until reaching its core. the four most distinctive features of industrial capitalist societies were commodity production. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure (Marx (1859/1970: 20). My goal in this section is to consider the conceptual underpinnings of his dialectical anthropology and some of its implications for anthropology today. Marx distinguished and contrasted the capitalist mode of production from a series of pre-capitalist modes of production. Anthropologist method he developed was analogous to peeling an onion layer by layer. and then reassembling the whole. The technique involved looking behind and beneath superficial appearances. private ownership of the means of production. Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production Marx recognized the significance of the diversity of human societies.94 • Karl Marx. . political and intellectual life. moving from the perceived concrete appearances by a process of abstraction (breaking the whole into mental constructs) and then back to the newly appreciated concrete whole with a greater understanding both of the unity of parts and whole and of the inner dynamics. the social division of labor between a class whose . and contradictions of that totality. He also recognized the significance of the similarities and differences among them and attributed these to underlying structures that constituted an inner core beneath their surface appearances. Marx’s ongoing historical analyses of particular societies underwrote a general conception of society which provided both a framework and a set of questions for further detailed. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into fetters. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social. At a certain stage of their development. or—this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms—with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. . structure. namely relations of production appropriate to a definite stage in development of their material forces of production. In a famous. the real foundation. the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production. He called these underlying structures modes of production. which are independent of their will. Then begins an era of social revolution. empirical sociohistorical studies of those and other historically specific societies. . The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society.

“this form. . and consumption of goods. and kinship—combined with various external factors— such as environmental conditions and the circumstances in which they lived—to shape their character. and his relations with his kind. Another feature of these original communities—i. all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. ancient. Due to these features. culture and nature itself provide the bases for the appropriation of the objective conditions of life for their members as well as foundations for their activity. fast-frozen relations. the emergence of industrial capitalism ushered in a whole new rhythm of history—an accelerated history—that was a consequence of continual innovations in the productive forces and the organization of production as well as continual disruption of social institutions and practices. and Social Formation • 95 members owned the means of production and the direct producers who sold their labor power in order to produce and reproduce the conditions of their existence. He phrased these developments in terms of the dissolution of communal property and the consequent development of new forms of property relationships and social divisions of labor. portraying the last five as alternative pathways away from the conditions of the original primitive community. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 22–3). emphasis in the original). with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions. and practices. Marx and Engels had already described this in the Communist Manifesto: All fixed.1 He sketched in varying detail the structural features of each.History. and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses. beliefs. Culture. distribution. Another way of saying this is that all members of the community participate in the production. 1859/1970: 21) mentioned six precapitalist modes of production—communal (original). are swept away. Marx (1858–8/1973: 471–514. feudal. (Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 486–7) Both in the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and in the Grundrisse. Thus. the community ceases to exist (Leacock 1982: 159). his real conditions of life. All that is solid melts into air. This meant that “each individual has the status of proprietor or possessor only as a member of the community” (Lefort 1978/1986: 143). and Slavonic. with the same land-relation as its foundation. exchange. Germanic. The communality of these groups—their shared customs. As Marx (1857–8/1973: 472) put it. Asiatic. all that is holy is profaned. and the appropriation by the owners of the surplus value created by the wage-workers. He would elaborate this in subsequent works. language. These communities were “a presupposition for the communal appropriation (temporary) and utilization of the land” (Marx 1857– 8/1973: 472. most notably The Ethnological Notebooks. primitive communities in a temporal rather than developmental sense—was that they were diverse (Patterson 1988). can realize itself in very different ways” (cf.e. Primitive communism Natural communities of human beings were essential for the original form of landed property. and that if sharing breaks down.

.e. its own emergence. however.e. These institutions and the community itself are transformed in the process.96 • Karl Marx. where the opposition between the private and the public is non-existent or very poorly developed. in Krader’s (1976: 223) view. on the one hand. Read has observed that The presuppositions of any mode of production are the conditions that constitute a mode of production but are not produced from them. on the other. when men begin to pursue individual or individual-class interests in the context of the continuing public institutions of the communal society.. socially and culturally meaningful categories. familiar ideological clothes—i. This focuses attention on the dual character of the relations of production and how they are transformed. In a phrase. Anthropologist The common thread of human society. distribution. In some instances. . Anthropologist Stanley Diamond (1951/1996) referred to these tensions as kin/civil conflict and pointed to the fact that their resolution was potentially always a two-way street. civilized.2 they retain ownership or control of the land and do not develop distinctions between food production and manufacture or between town and countryside. This thread is broken. It forces us. and beliefs (Marx 1852/1979: 103–4. Their original appearances are unimaginable or unexplainable according to the particular protocols and practices of that mode of production. through emigration by part of the community. the dissolution of the primitive community involves either internal differentiation within the group and the formation of the state. to consider how the society was organized for the production.” or the manner in which a particular mode of production justifies itself by rewriting. is life in the community. knowledge. Thus. they were resolved by the simultaneous dissolution of the old social relations and the emergence of new ones. The members of a community have access to its resources by virtue of their membership in the community and participation in its activities (Marx . whose appearance was often obscured or disguised by the fact that they were dressed up in old. or over-coding. circulation. and human beings took place was itself reproduced or transformed. as the structures of the old mode of production are displaced by those of the new. practices. . . and even through murder. with the appearance of social classes. 329–30). It also focuses attention on the contradictions that emerged within the relations of production and how these were resolved. the very question of these presuppositions is concerned with the question of what could be called “ideology. or alternatively encapsulation by and enmeshment in societies that were already classstratified and state-based—i. and consumption of goods. It compels us. 1880–2/1974: 164. In other instances. the contradictions were resolved through leveling mechanisms that inhibited social differentiation within the community. to examine how the organization in which the production of goods. (Read 2003: 39–40) The Asiatic mode of production and the Slavonic transition As small communities pass from one or another variant of primitive communism to societies manifesting the Asiatic mode of production.

Cities. its officials were supported by tribute in the form of surplus goods and labor appropriated from those rural communities. to the extent that they appeared at all. Culture. there were perhaps a dozen or so individuals who were maintained at the expense of the community as a whole—the headman. Marx described the resiliency of communal property in Asiatic communities when he wrote: In the oriental form. developed in areas favorable to external trade. since the individual member of the commune never enters into the relation of freedom towards it in which he could lose his (objective. the teacher. There was oscillation between the democratic and . economic) bond with it. ingrown. In the more democratic form. The structure of the fundamental economic units of society remains untouched by the storms which blow up in the cloudy regions of politics. Besides the mass of the members of each community who were occupied in much the same way. when accidentally destroyed. a few artisans. takes place along the borders with other communities and is limited to surplus goods or labor that ultimately satisfy the collective needs of its members (Lefort 1978/1986: 152). and a prayer leader were only a few of the specialists mentioned by Marx (1863–7/1977: 478–9). a poet. In the more despotic form of the Asiatic mode of production. the loss [of property] is hardly possible. which is in such striking contrast with the constant dissolution and refounding of Asiatic states. and their neverceasing changes of dynasty. He is rooted to the spot. several of the independent villages were enmeshed in a larger state-based society that claimed ownership of the land and resources of which the village communities were merely the possessors. which. when it occurs. except by means of altogether external influences. and Social Formation • 97 1857–8/1973: 472–4. The state. rural village communities existed independently side by side. was an excrescence on the village communities. This also has to do with the combination of manufacture and agriculture. Marx typically characterized societies manifesting the Asiatic mode of production as relatively impervious to change. of town (village) and countryside. 1880–2/1974: 329). (Marx 1863–7/1977: 479) Marx discerned two variants of the Asiatic mode of production. emphasis in the original) The simplicity of the productive organism in these self-sufficing communities which constantly reproduce themselves in the same form and. 1863–7/1977: 477–9). 494. where the heads of state or their representatives could exchange the goods and services they had appropriated from the communities for goods or services that were not produced locally (Marx 1857–8/1973: 472–4. which represented the unity of the wider society. spring up again on the same spot and with the same name—this simplicity supplies the key to the riddle of the unchangeability of Asiatic societies. Because of its self-sufficiency. (Marx (1857–8/1973: 494. they were based on an amalgamation of food production and handicraft production and a fixed division of labor. the community is relatively impervious to the effects of exchange. the scribe.History.

Ste Croix 1981). . Social-class distinctions between direct producers and nonproducers in the ancient communities were defined in terms legal statuses. place of residence within the city-state. were compelled by extra-economic means to transfer goods. the relation of these free and equal private proprietors to one another. labor. and their own labour as the condition for the survival of their property. . however. and resistance by the autonomous communities that had become enmeshed in their webs of tributary relations. or historical circumstances (Marx 1857–8/1973: 478). waging war with neighboring groups. Marx put it in the following way: The commune—the state—is. Hilton 1991. However. the independent peasant-citizens cooperated not as direct producers but rather as citizens with particular obligations to the state and rights that derived from their citizenship. he also portrayed the Slavonic mode of production as a transitional form resulting in serfdom. the work of war etc. it occurred in those circumstances where the headmen of Asiatic societies were able to modify the communal property of the villages and appropriate it for their own. but rather cooperation in labour for communal interests (imaginary and real) for the upholding of the association inwardly and outwardly. Community was once again the precondition for their existence. it was a community composed of independent. such as slave or citizen.98 • Karl Marx. because they could also intersect with groups that were defined either by kinship. in these instances. and that in turn by surplus labor in the form of military service etc by the commune members. citizens were obliged to protect state property or wage war. but only they had the right to appropriate surplus labor or goods resulting from plunder or tribute. . 497. Finley 1973. 210–11). on the other (Gailey 2003). Anthropologist despotic forms because of the relative instability of the state forms. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 33. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 475–6) In other words. The survival of the commune is the reproduction of all its members as self-sustaining peasants whose surplus time belongs precisely to the commune. . or both to the lords (Marx 1857–8/1973: 472–4. Hindess and Hirst 1975: 80–108. These statuses were often further complicated. guaranteed in turn by the existence of the commune. their bond against the outside. The presupposition of the survival of the community is the preservation of equality among its free self-sustaining peasants. The property in one’s own labour is mediated by property in the condition of labour—the hide of the land. while they had effective possession of the land. 1991. It is not cooperation in wealth-producing labour by means of which the commune member reproduces himself. on one side. . potentially creating serfs who. . The ancient mode of production A second form of property was that found in many of the diverse societies that constituted the social mosaic of the classical Greek and Roman worlds (Marx 1857–8/1973: 474–6. self-sufficient landowners who maintained their equality as citizens by participating in the activities of their city-states. such as the protection of its public (state) lands. and managing relations with the outside world. . For example. Ste Croix 1981: 135–6. on the one hand. and is at the same time their safeguard.

already from outward observation. emphasis in the original) The difficulties which the commune encounters can only arise from other communes. the great communal labor which is require either to occupy the objective conditions of being there alive. or which disturb the commune in its own occupation. War is therefore the great comprehensive task. The individual was a private proprietor of the land and had access to the commons through participation in periodic gatherings of the community. the commune exists. the growth of foreign (overseas) trade. plunder. increased reliance on slave production on state lands. which have either previously occupied the land and soil. Culture. although their .. long distances apart. and this is one of the conditions of its being there as a proprietor. at times. is the presupposition of property in land and soil—i. Germanic society manifested a communal form of production in which the social and political-economic relationships that joined its members together had to be continuously renewed (Bonte 1977: 174–6). and even the appearance of wage-workers which created contradictions that resulted. where the individual family chiefs settled in the forests. The concentration of the residences in town [is the] basis of this bellicose organization. Marx considered a third route away from primitive communism. possibilities for the concentration of property ownership by some citizens at the expense of other citizens. the relations of production are based in the household. Marx conceptualized this mode production in the following way: Among the Germanic tribes. although already a product of history here.e. the monetization of the economy. or to protect and perpetuate the occupation. In his view. only in periodic gatherings-together (Vereinigung) of the commune members. Here. Hence the commune consisting of families initially organized in a warlike way—as a system of war and army. the fragmentation of estates.History. in the restructuring of social relations even in circumstances where the forces of production were poorly developed (Banaji 2001). (Marx 1857–8/1973: 475. Social continuity as well as the use of common lands and other resources depended on the household’s participation in larger community structures and activities. and Social Formation • 99 Marx was acutely aware of historical contingency and the specificity of the sociopolitical dynamics that shaped these ancient communities: The commune. of the relation of the working subject to the natural presuppositions of labour as belonging to him—but this belonging [is] mediated by his being a member of the state—hence by a presupposition regarded as divine etc. and therefore possessing an origin. not only in fact but also known as such. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 474) The expanded reproduction of these communities involved wars of conquest. The Germanic mode of production In an effort to understand the Germanic tribes on the periphery of the Roman State.

landed proprietors.” It is important to keep in mind. Among the Germanic tribes. in Rome it exists even apart from these assemblies in the existence of the city itself and of the officials presiding over it.g. Marx (1881/1983: 108. language.. that Marx’s comments on the historic specificity of Germanic societies have been placed in a different context by societal evolutionists who. The commune thus appears as the coming-together (Vereinigung) not as a being-together (Verein). emphasis in the original) would later add that “the agricultural rural commune therefore emerged in Germania from a more archaic type. True the ager publicus. of Asiatic societies which exhibited a unity of town and countryside. as a unification made up of independent subjects. also occurs among the Germanic tribes. when they mention it at all. from using the ager publicus. as Pierre Bonte (1977: 176) remarked.100 • Karl Marx. Eric Hobsbawm (1964: . It takes the form of hunting land. as Perry Anderson (1974a: 411–28). see this mode of production as a developmental stage between primitive communism and feudalism. timber land. deprived. as with the Romans e. as in classical antiquity. The commune therefore does not in fact exist as a state or a political body. But this ager publicus does not appear. like the plebians. the free landed proprietors have to hold a meeting. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 483. This contrasted with the emphasis of ancient societies on the city. Anthropologist unity-in-itself is posited in their ancestry. as distinct from individual property. it was the product of spontaneous development rather than being imported ready-made from Asia. emphasis in the original) Thus. of feudal societies which began with land as “seat of history [and] whose further development then moves forward in the contradiction between town and countryside. and history. grazing land. as the particular economic presence of the state as against the private proprietors. so that these latter are actually private proprietors as such. [and of] the modern [age which] is the urbanization of the countryside. It may also be found in Asia—in the East Indies— always as the final term or last period of the archaic formation. and not as a unit. etc. etc.g. The feudal mode of production Marx’s discussion of feudalism was neither straightforward nor systematic. the part of the land which cannot be divided if it to serve as means of production in this specific form. These notions have also been questioned by Carole Crumley (1987) and Christine Gailey (1987) who respectively emphasized the importance of heterarchy and ambiguity in kin-stratified. and figures as property only to the extent that it is defended militarily as the common property of one tribe against a hostile tribe. Antonio Gilman (1996) has also contrasted Marx’s view of Germanic societies with conceptualizations of hierarchically organized chiefdoms that have tended to dominate anthropological and archaeological discussions of social stratification from the 1960s onward. because it does not exist as a city. in so far as they are excluded. the ager publicus appears rather merely as a complement to individual property. the diverse forms of Germanic society were focused on the land. not the ruralization of the city as in classical antiquity” (Marx 1857–8/1973: 479). For the commune to come into real existence. the communal or people’s land. whereas e. communal societies.

and the decrease of both urban and rural populations. was a combination of smallscale individual production and “the seigneurial levy secured by a constraint of political (or extra-economic) origin.” Agricultural production was predominant in the total economy. just as just as much as the ancient communal property. led to the development of feudal property. Feudalism. In their words. thus. emphasis in the original) Marx and Engels often linked feudalism with serfdom. 751–4. 917–38. investments in agriculture rested on the shoulders of the peasant producers. As soon as feudalism is developed. the artisans and merchants in the towns were also organized into communities . the collapse of industry and trade. 1884/1972: 213–5) stressed the importance of smallscale agriculture in feudal society as well as the internal stratification that existed in rural communities during the European Middle Ages with freeholders at one end and serfs at the other. Marx and Engels (1845–6/1976: 33–5) described feudalism as starting during the Middle Ages in the countryside. it is also based on a community. This feudal structure of landownership had its counterpart in the towns in the shape of corporative property. The hierarchical structure of landownership. gave the nobility power over the serfs. Like tribal and communal property. as in the case of the ancient community. its genesis involved the transformation of structures that occurred with the barbarian conquest of the Roman Empire—the deterioration of agricultural production. Here property consisted chiefly in the labour of each individual [organized into guilds].g. In addition. and others have observed. This feudal organisation was. The various layers of the village community were joined together by the shared possession of pastures. the feudal organisation of the trades. and the armed bodies of retainers associated with it. and other resources. for historian Guy Bois (1976/1984: 398). These conditions and the mode of organisation of the conquest determined by them. Marx 1864–94/1981: 443–52.” Engels (1876–8/1987: 164–6. an association against a subjected producing class. (Marx and Engels 1845– 6/1976: 34. There was social stratification within the village community between those peasant production units that owned ploughs and those smallholders who eked out a livelihood with their inadequate landholdings and labor.History. but the directly producing class standing over against it is not. Marx (1868/1987a: 557) portrayed feudal society as a “struggle between the free peasantry and serfdom. 3 In The German Ideology. the slaves. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 484–9). both saw small-scale craft production and trade in the towns as developments that would eventually erode the feudal class structure and pave the way for capitalism (e. but the form of association and the relation to the direct producers were different because of the different conditions of production. woodlands. and Social Formation • 101 41–9). there also arises antagonism to the towns. together with the influence of the Germanic military constitution. It was small-scale production because of the constraints imposed by the limited development of agricultural technology. Culture. but the enserfed small peasantry.

the capitalist regime has either directly subordinated to itself the whole of the nation’s production. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 931) . In posing the question. In this regard. . (Marx 1857–8/1973: 105–7) In Western Europe. or even travestied. and the other pre-capitalist modes of production discussed above. which he called the “tribute-paying” mode of production.102 • Karl Marx. In this regard. the growth of trade. In the mid 1970s. which involved not only the disintegration of an earlier mode of production still rooted to some extent in the productive activity of slaves but also the adoption of more productive agricultural techniques and technology. The levy imposed on the peasant producers by the lords provided the former with rent and had a constant but varied indirect impact on the activities of the latter. on the one hand. . where economic relations are less developed. He grouped the latter into a single category. . Anthropologist (guilds) that strived to protect the interests and knowledge of their members from the exactions of the lords. on the other. In Bois’s view. when the possibilities for expansion were exhausted. and the appearance of a market for land. or. Marx had written that Since bourgeois society is itself only a contradictory form of development. and the relations of production were reorganized (Bois 1976/1984: 393–408). one that was based on interdependence and inequality with new forms of surplus extraction (Bois 1989/1992: 88–93). Amin then asked whether the feudal mode of production was merely a “borderline” case that was peripheral to a more “central” tributary mode of production. he was attempting to deal with the historic specificity of the European case. It involved a new dynamic. although they belong to the antiquated mode of production. relations derived from earlier forms will often be found within it only in an entirely stunted form. “The levy was the principal aspect of the lord’s economic role” (Bois 1976/1984: 396). its decline entailed a reduction in the number of production units. the decline of the feudal mode of production in Europe mirrored its crystallization in the tenth century. The manorial estates of the nobility were worked with the same agricultural implements and techniques as those of the peasant landholders and sat like an excrescence on the whole system of rural production. the contradictions that had accumulated during the process of growth were honed. Since the agricultural technology and techniques were relatively stable. for example. the existing forms of exploitation disintegrated. still continue to exist side by side with it in a state of decay. In all forms of society there is one specific kind of production which predominates over the rest. His standpoint implies the coexistence or articulation of the feudal and other modes of production as it is manifested in historically specific societies. . economist Samir Amin (1973/1976: 13–16) drew a distinction between the primitive communal mode of production. whose relations thus assign rank and influence to the others. . it has at least indirect control of those social layers which. . the growth of feudal society involved the addition of new production units in the countryside.

and dynamic sets of relationships and contradictions. of each historically specific society as a combination of residual (antiquated). culture—is intertwined with praxis and social relations as these are manifested in particular societies. skin. Marx wrote about the “the economic structure of society. is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men—the language of real life. the real foundation. . and as “the base of our understanding of the variety of human societies and their interaction. Societies and Cultures Modes of production have been described as the “bare bones of a Marxist analysis of historical process” (Hilton 1985: 6). Another way of saying this is that historically particular societies are totalities that exist at different levels.History. of consciousness. and even warts. this perspective was subsequently adopted by anthropologist Eric Wolf (1982: 79–88) and historian John Haldon (1993: 63–9) among others. as you will recall. where Marx and Engels wrote The production of ideas. as literary critic Raymond Williams (1977: 121–8) has done. as well as of their historical dynamics” (Hobsbawm 1984: 46). Culture. This view also derives from The German Ideology. This passage has been interpreted in three ways. whose parts are not only continually changing but are also linked to one another by constantly shifting. emphasis in the original). on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which corresponds definite forms of social consciousness” (1859/1970: 20). Marx and Engels (1845–6/1976: 36) developed the base–superstructure model of a mode of production in The German Ideology in the mid 1840s. a model that Marx made famous in the passage from the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy cited earlier in this chapter. One is that the associated forms of social consciousness are mere reflections of the economic base. They are the “bare bones” or the inner layers of historically specific societies that are covered by muscle. conceptions. as anything but epiphenomena of the economy or the state. changing. They consist of the unobservable processes and relations that are simultaneously revealed in the everyday life of a given society and obscured or concealed by that phenomenal world of appearances. A second interpretation is that the forms of social consciousness constitute a superstructure parallel to the legal and political superstructure. dominant. A third interpretation is that the associated form of social consciousness—that is. they are structured and historically determined complexes. societies are “concrete combinations of different modes of production organized under the dominance of one of them” (Anderson 1974b: 22n6. and Social Formation • 103 This has two implications. flesh. The second implication is that it is possible to speak. and emergent cultures or modes of production. First. These are reductive arguments that make it difficult to consider art and philosophy. for example. Here.

(Marx 1852/1979: 128) Men [and women] make their own history. modes of thought and views of life. up to its furthest forms. . . and all the rest of ideology as well as the forms of consciousness corresponding to these. thus no longer the retain semblance of independence. Consider the following: Upon the different forms of property [i. Anthropologist Conceiving. the mental intercourse of men at this stage still appear as the direct efflux of their material behaviour. in creating something that has never yet existed. The entire class [both the aristocratic and capitalist fractions] creates and forms them out of its material foundations and out of the corresponding social relations. alter. that is. . ideas. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things. They have no history. illusions. The same applies to mental production as expressed in the language of politics. or in the Grundrisse. along with their actual world. as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these. Men [and women] are the producers of their conceptions. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 110–11) . The single individual. laws. big landed property and capital]. which refer to French social structure in the mid nineteenth century.104 • Karl Marx. they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves. But the difficulty lies not in understanding that the Greek arts and epic are bound up with certain forms of social development. as it were. morality. but under circumstances directly encountered. . but men [and women] developing their material production and their material intercourse. it is well known that certain periods of their flowering are all out of proportion to the general development of the society.. metaphysics. religion. of its organization. rises an entire superstructure of different and distinctly formed sentiments. etc. . the skeletal structure.. those in The Eighteenth Brumaire. real. The difficulty is that they still afford us artistic pleasure and that in a certain respect they count as a norm and as an unattainable model. hence also to the material foundation. may imagine that they are the real motives and starting-point of his activity. upon the social conditions of existence.e. . Morality. which are concerned with Greek art and myth in classical antiquity and the fascination of the German bourgeoisie with those forms. battle-cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and borrowed language. thinking. (Marx 1852/1979: 103–4) In the case of the arts. emphasis added) This third interpretation allows us to make sense of passages that do not employ a reductive base–superstructure model: for example. precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names. but they do not make it just as they please. no development. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. metaphysics. to whom they are transmitted through tradition and upbringing. religion. active men [and women]. etc. (Marx and Engels 1845– 6/1976: 36–7. given and transmitted from the past. of a people. also their thinking and the products of their thinking.

. past and present. It is “bound up with an existing state of affairs and . (Marx 1861–3/1963: 285) Here. there is a whole series of primary. and contradictions of everyday life are expressed. and Social Formation • 105 In these passages there are not only correspondences between culture. representing alternative pathways out of the archaic or primitive communal forms of society. it is impossible to understand what is specific in the spiritual production corresponding to it and the reciprocal influence of one on the other. . . and the economy or the state. These older types all rest upon natural kinship relations between members of the commune. the archaic formation of society exhibits a series of different types. It involves both objectification (the process of rendering human needs into material objects that satisfy needs) and materialization (the embodiment within those objects of social relations) (Jones 2002: 12). Culture is the expression of life as it is shaped by historically specific forms of production and ensembles of social relations (Williams 1983/1989). In order to examine the connection between spiritual [i. reproduced. tertiary. is complex not simple and multi-directional rather than a one-way street. . and other types). (Marx 1881/1983: 107) Moreover. As Marx put it. .History.e. the relation between culture. but also reciprocal interactions between them. in historical as in geological formations. on the other. Culture. on the one hand. (Marx 1881/1983: 103) The history of the decline of the primitive communities has still to be written (it would be wrong to put them all on the same plane.. He suggested that a relatively small number of modes of production. and occasionally resolved. the one superimposed on the other. The archaic or primary formation of our globe itself contains a series of layers from various ages. intellectual] production and material production. and the forms of production and social relations. is a condition which makes it possible to change that state of affairs” (Outhwaite 1991: 128). underpinned this diversity. on the one hand. secondary. Similarly. Pre-Capitalist Societies: Limited. Thus for example different kinds of spiritual production correspond to the capitalist mode of production and to the mode of production of the Middle Ages. culture is the arena in which the ambiguities. Local. In a phrase. and Vital Marx was struck by the diversity of human societies. on the other. societies manifesting one or another of the pre-capitalist modes of production were only “limited” and “local developments of humanity” (Marx 1857–8/ . antagonisms. it is above all necessary to grasp the latter not as a general category but in definite historical form. If material production itself is not conceived in its specific historical form. In his words.

and the theoretical discovery of its autonomous laws appears merely as a ruse so as to subjugate it under human needs. and hence will drive towards its own suspension. encrusted satisfactions of present needs. since. it does not by any means follow that it has really overcome it. its continual creation of new needs. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 409–10. the development of capitalist society was fraught with contradictions that were concrete and historically specific (context-dependent) to the capitalist mode of . and its reworking of old ways of life. For the first time. but they possessed “an incomparably greater [natural] vitality than the Semitic. at a certain stage of development. He also pointed to the contradictions reproduced in capitalist society and to the resistance they provoked. He wrote that capital creates the bourgeois society. and. complacent. the expansion of needs. the all-sided development of production. tearing down all barriers which hem in the development of the forces of production. In accord with this tendency. Marx characterized the difference between capitalist and pre-capitalist societies in terms of the relentless drive of the former toward universality. and the universal appropriation of nature as well as of the social bond itself by the members of society. First. every such barrier contradicts its character. the diversity of these articulations provided alternative snapshots into what potentially could happen in the future. Roman. and a fortiori the modern capitalist societies” (Marx 1881/1983: 107). It is destructive toward all of this. its production of a stage of society in comparison to which all earlier ones appear as mere local developments of humanity and as nature-idolatry. He believed that “we should be thoroughly acquainted with all the historical twists and turns” of the archaic formations (Marx 1881/1983: 106–7). and constantly revolutionizes it. capital drives beyond national barriers and prejudices as much as beyond nature worship. Africa. The universality towards which it irresistibly strives encounters barriers in its own nature. But from the fact that capital posits every such limit as a barrier and hence gets ideally beyond it. its exploitation of both workers and nature. as well as all traditional. ceases to be recognized as a power for itself. and reproduction of old ways of life. nature becomes purely an object for humankind. and the exploitation and exchange of natural and mental forces. allow it to be recognized as being itself the greatest barrier to this tendency. its constant development of the forces of production. Furthermore. Anthropologist 1973: 409–10). whether as an object of consumption or as a means of production. Let us briefly consider two points that are relevant to this discussion of pre-capitalist societies and cultures.106 • Karl Marx. and the Americas. One reason for his interest was the spread of capitalism from the mid nineteenth century onward and its articulation with various kinds of pre-capitalist societies in Asia. Hence the great civilizing influence of capital. its continual destruction of local or national barriers and traditions. emphasis in the original) Thus. purely a matter of utility. its production moves in contradictions which are constantly overcome but just as constantly posited. Greek. which will. confined.

They were historical. especially those that ignored the ordinary peoples of society (Engels and Marx 1844–5/1975: 83–4). On the one hand. (Haldon 2006: 193. emphasis in the original) This is why Marx (1863–7/1977: 479. which are particularly important for understanding the internal dynamic of a given historical social formation. Culture. Marx used abstractions that operated at different scales and levels of generality in his discussions of sociohistorical change. It also accounts for Marx’s comments about the “continual retrogressions and circular movements” of history and the low regard he had for ideas of progress. on the other hand. but it can generate at times the conditions that may lead to its break up or transformation. In some instances. Whether or not change occurs depends on the balance of forces that exist at a particular moment in the production and reproduction of a given society. the use value of commodities vs. structural. their exchange value. they do not always do so. they have contributed to the universal development of the forces of production and the productive power of labor. on the one hand. and other societies around it. transform. wage-laborer vs. he seems to have been using a telescope to capture the “big picture” in a sentence or two—e. or resolve the antagonisms over time. . these internal antagonisms had the capacity to erode and dissolve old social forms and to underwrite the crystallization of new ones (Bhaskar 1991a.g. Godelier 1966/1972: 345–61). they have done so at a tremendous cost to the members of the societies experiencing that development. Different modes of production place different constraints upon the possibilities for change. dialectical contradictions were the motors of historical movement. As historian John Haldon notes. (Haldon 1993: 57) A mode of production cannot of itself give rise to a different mode of production. For Marx. itself. on the other. hinder. While the interactions of these countervailing structures and relations with one another and with other parts of the social whole in particular historical contexts can reinforce.g. They appear under historically specific circumstances and obscure the conditions in which they were formed. Marx (1868/1987b: 552) saw the development of large-scale industry and all that it implies as “the mother of the antagonism. subvert. his highly abstract claim that “changes in the economic foundation lead soon or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure” (Marx 1859/1970: 21). capitalist. but also as the producer of the material and intellectual conditions for resolving these antagonisms. and upon the structures of political power. and context specific.” Second. or the clash between capitalist and small peasant property). Third. and Social Formation • 107 production (e. 1881/1983: 107) spoke not only about the vitality and resilience of primitive communal societies—their apparent unchangeability and tendency to reproduce existing social relations—but also about the relentless drive of capitalism to transform nature.History.

108 • Karl Marx. Once we move beyond the specificities of the kinds of evidence and methods they use. Each perspective allowed him to organize information and to grasp the particularities of society in a different manner. they have confirmed that kin-communal societies both preceded and were contemporary with pre-capitalist states. all of them are concerned with the kinds of society and the varieties of social relations. and to develop more general arguments about the significance of the insights he gained. and traditions—recovered from the archaeological and historical records. which is often glossed as the rise of civilization or the appearance of cities. Human History is Messy Archaeologists. 1871/1986). of the evidence for human history well into the twenty-first century. It has only been in the last century or so that literacy spread to many other parts of the world.4 At the most general level of abstraction. texts. both of which were particularly volatile moments in its history (Marx 1852/1979. While archaeologists rely on material remains and spatial associations that have survived to the present to reconstruct the tempo and mode of everyday life in some past society. processes. which is typically viewed in relation to the development of tool-making. historians use written records and historical anthropologists use interviews of living peoples combined with traditions and documents to accomplish that goal.000 years. As a result. During the twentieth century. (2) the origins of pastoral and agricultural economies. when writing systems appeared in isolated parts of the world. and (3) the origins of states. Each allowed him to open up a distinctive line of inquiry. and that avoid altogether the issue of contingency. he seems to have employed binoculars or even a microscope to examine and depict almost day-to-day changes in the balance of force in France in 1848–51 and again in 1870–1. and historically minded anthropologists study past societies. which involves both the transformation and the development of the productive forces and the appearance of sedentism. These areas of limited literacy were like small islands in a vast sea. many archaeologists have focused their efforts on three questions: (1) the origins of early human societies. but not all. and contexts that produced those particular patterns of objects—including artifacts. Shifting from one level of abstraction to another allowed him to explore the sociohistorical dynamics of various societies. The archaeological record provides virtually all of the evidence of human history until the last 5. to compare their similarities and differences to examine the conditions in which they were produced and reproduced. Studying these dynamics at local or regional levels also yields a much more complicated picture of sociohistorical development than ones that project them either as a unilinear succession of stages leading from barbarism to civilization or as the unfolding of some natural potential for internal differentiation and the formation of structure. archaeologists continue to provide much. and that . Anthropologist In other instances. historians.

History. land in a general sense and its resources were held in common with complex rules of access and equally complex and strict obligations to share with others written into the ethical fabric of everyday life (Barnard and Woodburn 1988). clothing. Food was consumed immediately. trapped. only during the last 500 or so years. and the diversity of the trajectories of sociohistorical development in different parts of the world. They have found evidence that suggests the existence of social inequality in some societies and not in others. Such a distinction would exist for only a moment in time. Let us highlight a few of the more salient ones. They have demonstrated rather convincingly the diversity of societies across time and space. conditions. contemporary apes do not share with other members of their bands. and even sharing prey with other participants and bystanders. there was conceivably a period in human history when our ancestors made stone tools. hunted. At a more concrete level. there were both ecological and social reasons for this pattern of aggregation and dispersion. everyday occurrences (Ichikawa 2005: 151–7). these are significant contributions to our understanding of what happened in the past. which are neither integrated into a cultural system nor are they regular. Their mode of production was based on sharing the foods they foraged. For the most part. and there was no structural difference between producers and non-producers. The advent of sharing dissolved this proto-mode of production. cooperating during hunting. precisely when that occurred. sharing seems to be a distinctly human feature. they have examined the internal dynamics and external relationships of some of these developmental trajectories. While movable property—like carrying bags. each individual was dependent on the group as a whole. is still hotly debated by archaeologists with estimates ranging from about 2 million to 50. Isaac 1979). or historical moments in some but not all of them. and have identified similar processes. and even harvested or scavenged food side by side but did not share the products of their labor with one another. perhaps talked with one another. For example. or fished. and presumably our common ancestors 3–5 million years ago also did not share food regularly with one another either. Given the messiness of human history. These bands ranged from a couple of hundred individuals during those parts of the year when they concentrated in particular localities to a dozen or so individuals when they dispersed. there are published examples of modern chimpanzees making tools. however. the diversity of their relationships with the natural world they inhabited. or spears—might have been individually owned. distribution. human beings lived in small groups of individuals with whom they interacted on a regular basis for most of their lives. circulation. and only . and consumption of socially produced goods. While there are some broad similarities between humans and modern chimpanzees. Thus. either on the spot or shortly thereafter. and Social Formation • 109 industrial capitalism appeared rather late on the world stage. What distinguishes these behaviors from human sharing is that they are independent or separate events. Culture. For most of history.000 years ago (Binford 1985. Because of the unity of the production process and the direct participation of all members in the band in the production.

110 • Karl Marx. their relative importance in terms of the amount of time and energy devoted to them increased relative to other subsistence practices in their communities (Flannery 1968). subsistence activities that were once important now became minor activities or were dropped altogether as steadily more time was devoted to the preparation of fields. females. foods that were acquired at one time of the year were processed and stored in order to be shared. new modes of subsistence—pastoralism and plant cultivation—were grafted onto existing economies in various parts of both the old and new worlds (Balter 2007). in some instances.” It is likely that there were probably also status distinctions in these communities reflecting age. and that. to tending the crops.000 years ago. gender. Between 20. . .000 and 10. The leader of a band could persuade but not command. or the particular work activity. membership in these mobile bands was likely to have been fairly flexible as males. . Anthropologist from the perspective of an individual who was too young for. the construction and repair of walls and canals. and life experience among other things. planting the crop. During that period.g. and cultivation were only a few of a number of subsistence strategies during their initial phases of development. Moreover. The capacity to . Thus. Leadership. the particular individual. consumed. they may even have begun to specialize in certain activities at the expense of others creating new spatially organized. intraregional technical divisions of labor as a result of the new forms of cooperation which were emerging (e. as Richard Lee (2005: 19) noted for a different context. other modes of subsistence must be productive enough to sustain the incipient herders and farmers. The distinction disappeared when the focus extended beyond the particular moment. Patterson 1999). or to moving herds from one seasonal pasture to another. One of the most important is the delay between labor investments—e. or exchanged at a later time. these efforts were likely tolerated briefly in some instances and resisted in others. was likely “subject to the constraints of popular opinion. including interpersonal ones. In a phrase.g. It is also possible that the members of these ideologically egalitarian societies occasionally experienced individuals or groups among them who attempted to forge hierarchically ordered social relations. preparing the land. their members reorganized and rescheduled the time they devoted to particular subsistence particular practices. This important aspect of their way of life allowed for a degree of freedom unheard of in more hierarchically organized societies. too old for. herding. as they grew more productive. kin relations. It is likely that agriculture. These communities elaborated delayed-return economies that relied increasingly on the further development of food preservation and storage techniques (Testart 1982). Following herd animals and cultivating plants involve new relations between human communities and their natural environments. or both moved into and away from the core group during the course of their lives for various reasons. and tending it—and the time at which they are actually consumed. it was inverted as a direct producer in one activity became a consumer in the next. In the process. or not a participant in a particular labor process.

like those described above. status differences. By 1000 BC. movable property. The emergent community-level relations linked a new. and irrigation systems—that were well beyond the capacities of a single or even a small number of cooperating households. Mesopotamia was an area where two forms of egalitarian. and consumption of the social product.” They point out that the kinds of property rights that might have been elaborated include those over certain bodies and practices of knowledge. that were corporate landholding groups whose members placed new emphases on property rights and shared only with close kin or affines. and that constituted the conditions for the reproduction of the society.History. In the fishing-foraging and early farming communities on the central Peruvian coast of the fourth to the end of the first millennia BC. (2) that all adults participated directly but differently in the production. the appearance of sedentary villages was closely associated with the development of food production technologies such as plant cultivation in Mesopotamia or highland Mexico or net-fishing in coastal Peru (Moseley 1975). where the real appropriation of raw materials continued to take place. these social relations were “usually but not always linked with delayed yields on labour. They also underwrote labor processes and activities—such as the construction of fish-drying terraces. and the labor or reproductive capacities of particular categories of individuals (such as unmarried women). More importantly. and Social Formation • 111 store food and other resources for long periods underwrote formation of permanent settlements—that is. Archaeologists have shown that societies with these concerns regarding property. spatially organized technical division of labor with traditional age. these communities seem to have elaborated practices that involved the actualization of extra-domestic forms of social groups. distribution. villages that were occupied on a year-round basis. As Alan Barnard and James Woodburn (1988: 11) note. monumental platform mounds. that exhibited little internal differentiation. such as clans or lineages. The reproduction of these societies depended on the continued participation of households in community-level structures and activities. The results of this were (1) that each member of the community was dependent on the group as a whole. the relations of production that developed involved the elaboration of community-level relations and their articulation with the domestic level. the societies on the central Peruvian coast were also linked with nearby communities that had similar but not necessarily identical forms of sociopolitical organization and with more distant societies in the Andes that potentially had quite different forms of surplus appropriation (Burger 1992). In many but not all parts of the world. and some degree of centralized decision-making existed side by side with ones. Frangipane 2007: 153). . foodstoring agricultural societies with different spatial distributions coexisted during the sixth and fifth millennia BC (Flannery 2002. land and water sources. and (3) that it is difficult to discern status or wealth differences from the goods associated with human burials (Patterson 1991: 14–20).and genderbased activities. circulation. Their relations with each other and with contemporary pastoral peoples living around them were complex and shifting as social conditions changed. Culture.

where the lands of the temples were sequestered from the community and became in effect the property of the temples. and retainers to extract tribute in the form of labor or goods from the direct producers in the society. archaeologists have placed this original extortion of the community in the political realm of Early Dynastic society in Mesopotamia in the late third millennium BC. both of which require records (the origins of writing systems). which simultaneously represent the interests of the dominant class and afford an arena of struggle for fractions within the ruling class. conquest. and as insurance for the community in times of emergency. Diakonoff 1972). their families. They are often linked with violence. as a fund of goods for exchange with other communities. They involve the simultaneous dissolution of old community-level relations of production and their reconstitution along lines that facilitate the extraction of the labor or goods of one group by the members of another group. repression. Anthropologist The formation of social-class structures and state-based institutions never appear in isolation from one another or from other changes in a society. cf. political authority that was granted for a limited period of time was usurped and transformed into power (Jacobsen 1943. and even occasionally that new distinctions are created between town dwellers and their rural kinfolk. one lane of a two-lane street—the other being the state/non-state transition or the disintegration of class structures as well as the institutions and practices of the states they support. especially from the standpoint of peoples that become enmeshed in their relations. that production is reorganized to satisfy new patterns of distribution and exchange. A third trajectory has been discerned by Michael Blake and . which used surplus variously as a source of income. is often transformed into the exploitative exercise of power. and legal codes of the state. that stationary or moving capitals are established. close kin. A second trajectory. exercised in the context of these processes. practices. Customary authority. outlined for a slightly earlier period in Mesopotamian history. The appearance of exploitative social relations is related to other changes in the society and to the creation of new sociohistorical circumstances and balances of force within the society. that bureaucracies are formed and overseers are selected. and cooption. the original extortion resided in the custodians of the shrines who arrogated or were granted privileges. The appearance of social-class structures is always linked to the institutions. Drawing on different bodies of evidence. Hierarchical social relations. they were “able to exploit their position crystallizing differences in rank and privileges between themselves and the rest of the population and adding political elements to their ritual offices” (Southall 1988: 75. argues that ad hoc and provisional.112 • Karl Marx. Class and state formation are always contingent processes. powers. 1957. have undoubtedly appeared in a variety of ways. Gearing 1961). and restrictions that distinguished them from the rest of the population. States ensure that bodies are counted for taxation and conscription. that facilitate the exploitation of one group by the members of another. All involved the ability of rulers. that internal dissent is suppressed or deflected outward toward other communities. In this view.

to gain control over the production of others. As a result. since these were the bases from which their incomes are derived. In other words. Thus. state-based societies continue to be the dominant units of production even though their survival is continually threatened by the claims and exactions of states that are unwilling or unable to reorganize production on a non-kin basis (Patterson 2005). rents. and they supported part-time craft specialists in their households. These big men manipulated social relations to create personal followings. based on the economic order of the society—the unequal accumulation of surplus product by the various social categories that make up the hierarchy. especially exotic ones. the true nature of the economic is obscured. while the hierarchical social categories of the class structure appear as “natural” relations. the social classes that emerge will be defined largely in ideological terms. This hierarchy of non-economic social categories disguises both the real economic class relations and the real contradictions that emerge from them. The formation of the class structure is the condition for the formation of economic class relations to the extent that this process determines the place of the different social categories in the production process and the reorganization of the labor processes to incorporate exploitation and extortion by one or more of these categories. As a result. the social categories that regulate the relations of production are cultural or superstructural rather than ones formed in the economic base. The ruling classes of pre-capitalist states live on the tribute in the form of labor. the economic aspect of the society is concealed or masked by these structures. While the state can intervene in the production and reproduction of the local kin communities. The reorganization of the labor processes. They suggest that the appearance of internal social differentiation toward the end of the third millennium BC was linked with the appearance of big men—individuals whose social position did not rest on traditional kinship and the customary rights and obligations that were moored in kin relations—during conditions that were shaped by the increased exchange of goods. Since the cultural or superstructural moments are dominant during the process of class formation. and to appropriate goods that enhanced their own position as well of those of their followers. In such a situation. the kin-organized communities of class-stratified. the emergent class structure consists of a hierarchy of social categories that cannot be reduced directly to economic class relations. The formation of the class structures is. Culture. goods. which involves the progressive differentiation of the activities of these categories. its survival depends on their continued .History. They redistributed the exotic goods they obtained during village feasts. provides the conditions for the further development of the contradictions based on the appearance of exploitation and extortion. archaeologists working on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico. with other communities. or taxes that they are able to extract from the direct producers. From the perspective of Marx’s base–superstructure metaphor. and Social Formation • 113 John Clark (1999). they have little interest in changing property relations. in the last analysis. the economic class relations appear different from their real nature.

on the other (e. In his view. The ruling classes of mercantile states exploited the direct producers of other societies rather than their own. Different consumption patterns occur between the city and the villages and hamlets of the surrounding countryside (Brumfiel 1991). the development of full-time craft specialization was linked with increasing social structural differentiation. (2) the ruling classes of lowland Mesopotamia used part of this surplus to support full-time craft specialists. and artisans engaged in the production of goods for exchange. notably metalsmiths who relied on ores obtained from the periphery. Their cities are inhabited by the ruling class. By itself. In these societies. Merchants are the intermediate agents in the process of surplus extraction. and the items and goods kept by the direct producers as well as those appropriated by the state and the dominant classes are also used or consumed although some portion of the tribute may enter into market exchange networks as it did in Aztec Mexico (Hicks 1987. most notably those based on extracting tribute from subject farming communities. Gordon Childe’s (1950/2004) historically contingent thesis of combined and uneven development. like the Aztecs. production is organized for use rather than exchange. and farming communities retain a great deal of autonomy and are only weakly linked with the state.g. Elizabeth Brumfiel and Tim Earle (1987) drew a distinction between independent artisans and those attached to patrons.114 • Karl Marx. pastoral. “monopolies over imported prestige goods can play an important role in the growth of social stratification and centralization of political-economic control” (Gledhill 1978: 241). on the one hand. the emerging interdependency of food-producers and artisans. and the processes of social differentiation associated with class and state formation. Costin 1991. various state officials. 2001. and mercantile states. Since subsistence production is not a major source of state revenues. Joan Gero and Cristina Scattolin (2002: 69) pointed out that the . trade does not cause state formation. Building on Marx’s (1857–8/1973: 472–4) notion that exchange occurs on the borders between societies. Childe argued that (1) agriculture facilitated surplus production and underwrote both technical and social divisions of labor. merchants. and the growth of market exchange. Anthropologist existence. Patterson 2005). however. development occurred on the margins of civilization with significant local investments. archaeologists have pointed to differences among tributary states. and (3) since the initial costs were born by the lowland elites. local peasant. One of the earliest was V. they transfer to their own state and ruling class the surplus goods appropriated by the ruling classes of other societies or goods that they themselves extracted directly from the producers. that were organized to exert military control over trade routes and administrative control over those groups involved in the production and circulation of goods (Amin 1973/1976: 37–52. Thapar 1981). Mercantile states are often urban-based. like the Inca Empire of Peru. 1999). Archaeologists have long been concerned with the interconnections of craft production and specialization. Craft production was linked with production for exchange and the activities of individuals who were removed at least spatially from their natal communities.

we saw that Marx drew a sharp distinction between pre-capitalist and capitalist societies. They had to be generous and concerned with the well-being of their communities at the same time that they appropriated goods and labor from its members as representatives of the state. These local authorities were caught on the horns of a dilemma. different societies were organized on the basis of different modes of production and forms of property relations. and for what is often seen as repeated cycles of growth and collapse. and the apparent resiliency of those societies under historically specific conditions.” Edward Harris (2002: 86) raises the issue of whether specialized production was intended for local consumption or for export. on the one hand. The contradictions and their resolutions were often violent as in the case of Teotihuacán in central Mexico during the seventh century AD. Culture. These local leaders simultaneously had rights and obligations toward the members of the communities they represented and toward the state. alternatively. the historical-dialectical dynamics of those structures. We also saw that Marx had a more textured appreciation of culture than is commonly assumed. and Social Formation • 115 distinction frequently drawn between domestic and specialized production makes the two incomparable and relegates household divisions of labor to “background work. They could pit their kin against other the members of other communities. Marx was emphatic about the importance of understanding the structures underpinning the precapitalist forms. and vital and the latter as universalizing and ridden with antagonisms. other groups. He also realized the importance of sociohistorical and cultural differences—that is. culture—the associated forms of social consciousness—were . and the rights and obligations that community leaders have to their kin and neighbors. the processes that underwrote change in those societies. in his view. he viewed the former as limited. In this chapter. These antagonisms and the alliances they could engender constitute the historical contingency of the formation and collapse of precapitalist states. their own kin and neighbors. At the same time. which Stanley Diamond (1951/1996) has called kin/civil conflict. They could find themselves pitted against the state or. for their tendency to reproduce existing social relations. They could find themselves opposed by their kin. and the state. the history of pre-capitalist societies was marked by “continual retrogressions and circular movements” (Engels and Marx 1844–5/1975: 83–4). when 95 percent of the public buildings and its civic center were burned and the inhabitants of the palace were slaughtered by the residents of the city (Millon 1988). Other archaeologists—Edward Schortman and Patricia Urban (2004) among others—have examined how craft production was organized in particular socioeconomic settings in Central America on the southeastern periphery of the Maya states. progress and retrogression. Their positions were fraught with contradictions. This resistance accounts for the apparent stability of pre-capitalist societies. The processes of class and state formation generate contradictions and conflicts between the demands of the ruling class and the state on the community. on the other (Zagarell 1986: 157–60). local. in ancient civilizations.History. As Marx put it.

historically contingent societies. Anthropologist intimately intertwined with praxis and the social relations manifest in historically specific. In the next chapter. we looked at the messiness of history—the fragmentary nature of the evidence as well as the complexity and the diversity of the sociohistorical record itself—to see what archaeologists and historians have discerned about human historical development. Finally.116 • Karl Marx. . we examine in more detail Marx’s views about capitalism and the historicity of the modern world.

Patnaik 2006). these snapshots would inform his analyses of various moments or stages in the development of capitalism. within the same field of enterprise. Over the years. For a long time there were branches of manufacture virtually untouched by mechanization.1 The research for the Tribune articles provided him with 117 . They ranged from the collapse of rural cottage industry in Trier during his teenage years through the explosive growth of Berlin’s population and burgeoning construction industry in the early 1840s or the fragmentation of the French peasantry and the presence of 85. which had a weekly circulation of about 200. with disseminating this knowledge both to the workers themselves and to the wider public through venues like the Tribune. Husain 2006. though time was clearly on the side of innovation. Marx (1880/1989) was not only concerned with collecting information about actual social conditions—as evidenced. .000 German workers in Paris (roughly an eighth of the city’s 650. (Hamerow 1969: 16) Marx’s understanding of the subtleties of capitalist development in different areas would deepen in the years to come. including Engels’s (1845/1975) The Condition of the Working Class in England and the sources he used for a series of articles about British colonial rule in India and local reactions to it that appeared in the New York Daily Tribune between 1852 and 1862 (Habib 2006.000 residents) by the mid 1840s to the enormous pools of skilled and unskilled workers employed in the gradually changing industries of London after 1849. and more importantly. by the 100 questions in his “Enquête Ouvrière.–5– Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World Marx’s lifelong fascination with history and how it merges with the present has its roots in first-hand observations about and experiences of the places he lived.000 workers in 1880—but also. . old and new methods of production often coexisted.000.” which was sent via labor unions and political groups to 25. was not a clear-cut process. This was partly due to his own historical anthropological research and partly to his acquaintance with the work of others. neither strong enough to overcome the other. The transition to the factory system . for example. Weiss 1936/1973). while others were experiencing a revolutionary transformation. More than that. making it the most widely read paper in the United States at the time (Husain 2006: xiii.

While they may have been necessary conditions for the formation of capitalist society. but the social powers and interconnecting form of this labour also confront them as properties of their product. cultural beliefs. This is the capitalist mode of production with its economic base. The appearance of industrial capital provided these conditions. It is the means of production monopolized by a particular section of society. it describes “a society. It is not only the workers’ products which are transformed into independent powers. Usurers’ capital involves individuals lending a sum of money to others with the expectation that the latter will return a greater sum at some predetermined point of time in the future. employing the labor-power of wage-workers (also a commodity) to manufacture the good. . Anthropologist a window on colonial rule. it refers to a set of economic institutions—such as private ownership of the means of production. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 953–4) Marx distinguished three forms of capital—usurers’. the products and conditions of activity of labour-power which are rendered autonomous vis-à-vis this living labour-power. Capital is not the sum of the material and produced means of production. superstructure. In the first. by extension. Capital. both usurers’ and merchants’ capital antedated the development of capitalist society and the capitalist mode of production. in Marx’s view. . capitalist development. the profit motive. the products as masters and buyers of their producers. merchants’. and are personified in capital through this antithesis. and then selling the items produced by the workers for a price that is greater than the total cost of the inputs. taken as a whole. free enterprise. the employment of wage labor. 744–5). which simply takes the form of a thing and gives this thing a specific social character.118 • Karl Marx. in which institutions or a mentality described as capitalist are predominant” (Rodinson 1966/1978: 4–5). and associated forms of social consciousness. 1864–94/1981: 442. Industrial capital involves individuals (or firms) purchasing the raw materials and tools required to make a commodity. the other part is used by them to . and competition between firms—and. He wrote that Capital is not a thing. it is a definite social relation of production pertaining to a particular historical social formation. In the second usage. In Marx’s view. is a social relation that takes the form of a thing and ensures both “making a profit” as well as reproducing the property relations that underwrite the process. production for the market. to those political institutions. The term “capitalist” is typically used in two different ways. and practices that accompany or promote the activities carried out within this institutional framework. Merchants’ capital involves the process in which individuals purchase a good for one sum of money and then sell it for a larger sum of money. and industrial (Marx 1863–7/1973: 914–26. Part of the money received by the employers after the sale is reinvested to purchase materials and labor-power for the next cycle of production and circuit of capital. they were not sufficient conditions by themselves. . and local resistance to those processes in South Asia and in other parts of the world.

The third is to consider what he might have thought about the structures of contemporary capitalism and their relations to the modern nation-state. Another way of saying this is that they were subject to different internal constraints. while the latter continually transformed the forces of production. he argued that there were significant differences between pre-capitalist and capitalist societies. what was potentially an opportunity for development in one society may well have been an impossibility given the constraints for another. and dissolved or reworked traditional ways of life as peoples on the margins were incorporated into capitalist relations of production. theoretical and practical. Therefore. The Transition to Capitalism and Its Development Industrial capitalist societies and the capitalist mode of production developed out of earlier social formations and tributary modes of production of which the feudal mode of production is one variant. external linkages. As a consequence. Marx was well aware of both broad similarities and differences within and between the tributary societies of Asia and the Americas as well as their resemblances to the feudal societies of Northwestern Europe and the Slavonic societies of Eastern Europe. As you will recall from the last chapter. These have important implications.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 119 satisfy their own personal needs or those of the firm. The first is to outline Marx’s views about the transition to capitalism and its subsequent development. it should not be surprising that Marx presented two different accounts of the origins of industrial capitalism and hence of capitalist societies. The goals of this chapter are threefold. and historical contingency. and dissolved the natural economy that dominated the countryside by restructuring labor processes and organizing rural putting-out . created new markets for the commodities they produced. there is a social-class structure based on distinction between those who own the means of production and wage-workers who sell their labor-power. Marx recognized multiple pathways of historical development in both pre-capitalist and capitalist forms that involved internal developments. This truism is not a trivial statement.2 One viewed it as the fruit of merchant capitalists who forged commercial networks. for his anthropology. The question it raises is: What processes were involved in the transition? As we saw in the second chapter as well as the preceding one. production is geared to exchange rather than immediate use by the producers. and exploitation occurs at the point of production where the owners appropriate the surplus value created by the workers. Marx (1857–8/1973: 409–10) argued that there were differences among pre-capitalist societies and variations within the pre-capitalist modes of production. in addition. The former were local and limited. The second is to explore in more detail the notions of articulation and combined and uneven development that are implicit in his later writings. In industrial capitalist societies. promoted commodity production.

e. does not depend on trade. communities of direct producers retained control of their means of . those in which the owners of small production units were able to create markets for the commodities they produced had the capacity to dissolve and transform the socialclass relations of the existing feudal or tributary social orders. or. the shift of commodity production from the town to the countryside. i. the influence of trade and the development of commercial capital always produced the result of a slave economy. which in all their various forms are principally oriented to use value. what new mode of production arises in place of the old. expanding its scope. developing money into world money. tributary or feudal modes of production. its outcome is the capitalist mode of production. 1864–94/1981: 449–55. given a different point of departure. In the modern world. on the other hand. And what comes out of this process of dissolution. but rather on the character of the old mode of production itself. this removed production from the control of the town-based guilds (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31–4. But how far it leads to the dissolution of the old mode of production depends first and foremost on the solidity and inner articulation of this mode of production itself. in all of the pre-capitalist forms of society where production was geared toward use rather than exchange. The other saw the rise of industrial capitalism in terms of the technical development of small owner-operated establishments that became merchants themselves and produced directly for the market. the second was concerned with the internal dynamics of change (Marx 1859/1970: 21. While the two perspectives were not necessarily mutually exclusive. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 449–50) Marx came to see that. It follows that this result is itself conditioned by quite other circumstances than the development of commercial capital. Trade always has. and the development of the division of labor in terms of both specialization and cooperation were the motors of change. a solvent effect on the pre-existing relations of production. since the merchants themselves were typically fractions allied with the ruling classes and the money they accumulated through trade or usury remained largely in the sphere of circulation. diversifies it and renders it cosmopolitan. expanding commerce. the engines were class struggle and technical changes in the productive forces. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 485).120 • Karl Marx. Marx grew increasingly skeptical by the late 1850s about the capacity of the development of trade and merchant capital by themselves to effect the breakdown and reorganization of the old. to a greater or less degree. The first focused on the role of external relationships.. In the first account. unlike the paths dominated by merchant capitalists. In the second account. Anthropologist industries as well as altering the division of labor. 1848/1976: 485). In the ancient world. As noted earlier. 66– 74. In Capital. he wrote that The development of trade and commercial capital always gives production a growing orientation towards exchange value. it also meant the transformation of a patriarchal slave system oriented towards the production of the direct means of subsistence into one oriented towards the production of surplusvalue.

There were a few wealthy rural producers who had the capacity to produce surplus goods beyond their own subsistence needs and the rents demanded by their communities or local lords. Marx was well aware that tradition played an important role in setting the levels of surplus that were extracted by the ruling classes from the direct producers of the community. there were many who could satisfy their own needs and meet obligations but had little or no capacity to produce regular surpluses. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 471–2. its aim is sustenance of the individual proprietor and of his family. surplus products in exchange—rather. as a result.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 121 production and subsistence. the direct producers—i. These caps effectively regularized demands from one year to the next at least in the short run even though the harvests undoubtedly varied considerably.e. as this grows directly out of production itself and reacts back on it in turn as a determinant. There were also sanctions in the rural communities of some but probably not all tributary societies that served as leveling devices which impeded or limited the accumulation of property and the process of rural social differentiation or at least channeled them in particular directions. Marx believed that. class-stratified societies.. while there may have been marked inequalities in the distribution of wealth among the rural producers of some tributary societies. Marx put it this way. as well as of the total community. The aim of this work is not the creation of [exchange] value—although they may do surplus labour in order to obtain alien. Moreover.. That is. (Marx 1864– 94/1981: 927) Under these conditions. whose very maintenance and reproduction depended on non-economic means of extracting goods and services from them.e. he wrote the following with particular reference to Europe: . Nevertheless. Although he cited no specific historical evidence. there may have been relatively little internal social differentiation among the members of those ruling-producing classes. the owners of small production units— remained marginal to the dominant fractions of the pre-capitalist. it was “in the interest of the dominant section of society to sanctify the existing situation in law and to fix the limits given by custom and tradition as legal ones” (Marx 1864–94/1981: 929). there was no particular incentive or compulsion for either the direct producers or their exploiters to increase productivity beyond subsistence levels. i. while the politically dominant classes whose members lived off the goods and services they appropriated from the direct producers pressed to reproduce those exploitative social relations. the basic social cleavage in the societies was that between the direct producers and the classes that extracted surplus from them. The demands could not be so high that they threatened the well-being and survival of the direct producers themselves. emphasis in the original) The specific economic form in which unpaid surplus labour is pumped out of the direct producers determines the relationship of domination and servitude.

most importantly. Hicks 1987. raw materials. The logic of the former is pre-capitalist. The elements of this dynamic included. local tribal entities.g. and. where (1) the wealthy were those individuals with many kin and the poor were orphans who lacked kin. but probably not primary. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 935–6) Subsequent historical research in the tributary societies of Europe. labor. land. the continual transformation of the instruments of production including the introduction of machines which both made workers appendages of those . as a class. Hence. and money. That the distinction was not always immediately apparent is evident by the formation.122 • Karl Marx. What processes are set in motion? In one of those instances where the direct producers (that is. In this way it gradually becomes possible for them to build up a certain degree of wealth and transform themselves into future capitalists. for example. Anthropologist It is still possible for this villein or serf to develop independent means of production of his own and even become quite wealthy. Markets now exist for subsistence goods. This has also been shown in the tributary Inca state of the central Andes. or other corporate landholding groups in the region (Patterson 1984. An important distinction that Robert Brenner (1997: 38–9) and Ellen Wood (2002) have made is the one between market involvement and market dependence. market dependence means that the direct producers must participate in the market since they no longer have non-market access to all of the subsistence goods they need. especially England and France. differentiation of the labor process. the prolongation and intensification of the work day. and (2) important shrines seemingly possessed property in both land and herds as well as service obligations that were distinct from those of the Inca state. they became increasingly dependent on the market for their own livelihoods as well as for the maintenance and reproduction of their production units. for example. with expanding production and increasing productivity. importance in the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Terence Byres (2006: 18–20) notes that market involvement means voluntary and perhaps irregular participation in the market to sell surpluses either for cash or other goods and to acquire goods that are not produced locally. in the last analysis. 1989/1992. and that. its members were engaged in a long-term struggle with the local lords to reduce their annual exactions (e. has confirmed that there was some degree of internal social differentiation among the rural producers. Market dependence is rooted in the profit motive and requires marketing on a regular basis. Bois 1976/1984. Hilton 1978/1990). 1999). the distinction is of considerable. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 929) in the feudal period the wealthier peasant serfs already kept serfs of their own. whereas the latter is a capitalist logic. Spalding 1984). These circumstances brought a new dynamic into play that was concerned. the development of new forms of cooperation and production. wealthy peasants) were able to create and expand markets for their goods. for example. By contrast. of the market economy of Mughal India or Aztec Mexico (Habib 1968/1995.

Industrial capitalism thrived in some regions. In one of his descriptions of the process. Three intersecting conditions were necessary for the transition to occur: (1) the existence of a rural social structure in which the peasants no longer constituted one or another form of unfree labor. or tributary social relations. and it never occurred in still others even though the social relations among peoples in those areas were inextricably altered as they simultaneously resisted and were enmeshed in emergent capitalist exchange relations. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 570–1) One way of conceptualizing the early stages of the appearance of industrial capitalism is to imagine it as the gradual eruption of a few volcanic islands from a vast sea of societies dominated by kin-communal. and plunder (Hobsbawm 1964: 46–7. . On the other hand. tribal. . This historically contingent structure which steadily spread over the entire planet developed variably or differently from one part of the world to another. even though peoples in other parts of the world—notably Africa. usury. (2) the existence of independent artisans who produced nonagricultural commodities. it is no less certain that the blossoming of English woolen factories. 1962). together with the progressive transformation of arable land into sheep pasture brought about the conversion of the agricultural labourers into “supernumeraries” and drove them in their masses from the land. but also made slave-breeding the chief business of the so-called border slave states. It is also necessary to explain why industrial capitalism emerged first in Northwestern Europe and not elsewhere. . It was a highly uneven process that occurred on a world scale over a period of several centuries. there can be no doubt of the rapid advance of cotton spinning not only promoted as if in a hot house of the growing of cotton in the United States. This continual development of the productive forces and the concomitant reworking of the social relations both at home and abroad constituted the universalizing tendency that Marx (1857–8: 409–10) saw in the rise of industrial capitalism. . it was thwarted or distorted in others. . and with it the African slave trade. and South Asia—played important roles in that development.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 123 machines and eventually displaced human beings from the production process (Marx 1863–7/1977. Marx wrote: The number of men condemned to work in coal and metal mines has been enormously swollen by the progress of machine production in England. and (3) an accumulation of monetary wealth derived from commerce. As to raw materials. . having during the last twenty years reduced its population by nearly one-half. Along with the machine. is at the moment undergoing the process of further reducing the number of its inhabitants to a level corresponding exactly with the requirements of its landlords and the English woolen manufacturers. The transition from feudalism to capitalism took place on a world scale beginning in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. It was firmly set in place by the rise of industrial capitalist in Northwestern Europe toward the end of the eighteenth century. . Ireland. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 487). the Americas. a new type of worker springs into life: the machine-maker. We have already learnt that machinery is seizing control even of this branch of production on an ever-increasing scale.

. which served as his example for analytical purposes.. As Marx noted After the restoration of the Stuarts [1660–88]. has it the classic form. He was aware that serfdom had all but disappeared in England by the end of the fourteenth century and that the majority of the population in the fifteenth century were free peasant proprietors. The Reformation provided an additional impetus for the expropriation of the agricultural population. At the time when the properties of the Catholic Church were seized. and runs through its various phases in different orders of succession. and. manure. established for themselves the rights of modern private property to which they had only a feudal title. The commons provided pasture. they got rid of all its obligations to the state. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 883–4) . The history of this expropriation assumes different aspects in different countries. and firewood to name only a few of its resources. many of whom supplemented their needs by wagework on the large estates and by using the resources of the common lands that were held by the local community. by legal means. transforming both into pastures for sheep which could be tended by a relatively small number of individuals and whose wool could be sold either to Flemish wool manufactures or to local merchants or firms that hoped to gain from the rise in prices. He said that The expropriation of the agricultural producer. finally. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. the landed proprietors carried out. Such communal property was always distinct from both that of the state and the large estate holder (Marx 1863–7/1977: 877–95). of the peasant. The “glorious Revolution” [1688] brought into power. . it held most of the land in England. Anthropologist Marx sketched the rise of industrial capitalism in the famous section in the first volume of Capital that dealt with “primitive accumulation. along with William of Orange. passed those laws of settlement on the English agricultural labourer [which meant that they could be pursued for five years and forcibly returned when caught]. i.e. an act of usurpation which was effected everywhere on the Continent without any legal formality. which we therefore take as our example. “indemnified” the state by imposing taxes on the peasantry and the rest of the people.” He was clear that it involved the separation of rural producers from their means of production. and at different historical epochs. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 876) This process gave rise to both wage-workers and the capitalists who employed them.124 • Karl Marx. the landed and capitalist profit-grubbers. timber. . Only in England. and that it proceeded along developmental pathways that were different from the one that occurred in England. They abolished feudal tenure of land. the feudal lords drove the free peasants from the lands and homes and seized the common lands. from the soil is the basis of the whole process. They inaugurated a new era by practising on a colossal scale the theft of state lands which had hitherto been managed more modestly.

These idyllic proceedings are the chief moments of primitive accumulation. cloth. Some idea of the amount of specie that flowed into Europe can be gleaned from the fact that. He wrote that The discovery of gold and silver in America. and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of blackskins. which were already being set by law. which turned peasants into wage-workers and their means of subsistence into commodities.5 tons of pure gold (estimated value US$83 million in 1990). to purchase weapons. Integral to Marx’s account of the transition during the sixteenth century is the progressive fall in the value of precious metals. Marx (1863–7/1977: 909–13) pointed out that the events of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The capitalist farmers who employed farm workers had incentives to improve the productivity of their lands by adopting new forms of labor organization. the Spanish conquistadors of Peru ransomed a claimant to the Inca throne for 13 tons of silver and more than 6. which was one of the world’s largest merchant houses at the time and had more than 12. the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 915) Enormous quantities of gold and silver poured into the coffers of merchant houses and the Spanish government. clothing. They poured with almost equal rapidity out of the governmental coffers of Spain to pay for an army and colonial administration.000 employees (De Vries 1976: 130–2). 166–7). are all things which characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production. This order of magnitude contrasts markedly with that of the investment of a group of Dutch merchants who put up 6. or to purchase royal and noble titles in Central Europe—all ultimate acts of conspicuous consumption by the monarchy. enslavement and entombment in the mines of the indigenous population of that continent. The rural proletarians now had to purchase the very food. and other commodities in Northern Europe that were not produced in the new Iberian state. also created a home market for both labor power and raw materials. and other necessities of life that their parents and grandparents had produced for themselves only a few decades earlier. and swelled the profits of capitalist farmers (Marx 1863–7/1977: 903–13). and new methods of cultivation. both with regard to the expropriation of peasants from their lands as well as the forcing down of wages and the criminalization of beggars and vagabonds throughout the sixteenth century—processes that Michel Foucault might have called disciplining and punishing the proletariat.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 125 Marx was clear about the role played by the state as an agent of the new landed class.5 million guilders (the equivalent of about 4 tons of gold) in 1602 to form the United East India Company. raised prices. Rural . new regimens of work. in 1535. the extirpation. and this was only an infinitesimally small fraction of 1 percent of the precious metals that reached Europe from Peru alone in the sixteenth century (Patterson 1991: 3. The decline in the value of precious metals and money effectively lowered wages.

to consume conspicuously. In the early stages of industrial capitalism.” . it is clear that some members of the old craft guilds became small capitalists who employed wage-workers to produce particular commodities as did some merchants and some cottage artisans. . Those parts of the rural population that remained in the countryside were transformed into wage-workers on capitalist farms. The total capacity of the Republic was probably greater than that of all the rest of Europe put together. They acquired the flax. The treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting. and human resources. an increasing share of the market. In the period of manufacture it is the reverse: commercial supremacy produces industrial predominance. poorer and more brutally oppressed than those of all the rest of Europe put together. its shipping and its manufactures surpassed those of any other country. The intermittent expulsion of rural producers from their lands created a home market for the subsistence and other goods that they could no longer produce for themselves. they hired the workers. The drive for profits. . and even expanding the market itself underwrote the continual transformation of the machinery and organization of the productive process toward greater productivity. Holland. already stood at the zenith of its commercial greatness in 1648. which first brought the colonial system to its full development. machinery.126 • Karl Marx. . It was “in almost exclusive possession of the East Indies trade and the commerce between the south-east and the north-west of Europe. . keeping the profits for themselves in order to meet their subsistence needs. industrial supremacy brings with it commercial supremacy. Hence the preponderant role played by the colonial system at that time. the woolen manufacturers of England not only competed with one another but also with Irish producers for a share of the market. and a vast increase in accumulation which was guaranteed by the mother country’s monopoly of the market. or to reinvest in the maintenance of their factory and to purchase new inputs of materials. Its fisheries. and then sold the cloth they produced. . Anthropologist industries—such as spinning and weaving—were also destroyed as the peasants were driven from their lands and homes. those parts that were forced out of homes and off their lands became a large reserve army of labor that would be absorbed into the textile factories that were appearing on rivers in the vicinity of the new market places that were beyond the control of the old towns and their guilds. rented or purchased the machines for spinning and weaving thread. It proclaimed the making of profit as the ultimate and sole purpose of mankind. However. Once the feudal constitution and guild organizations of the towns were dissolved. enslavement and murder flow back to the mother-country and were turned into capital there. brought them together in a crowded factory. By 1648 the people of Holland were more over-worked. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 918) . As Marx observed: The colonies provided a market for budding manufactures. it is also clear that some individuals began to bring together or concentrate all of the materials and labor power that was needed to produce a commodity like linen. Today. The formation of overseas colonies facilitated the concentration of capital.

He acknowledges what anthropologists. without the risks inseparable from its employment in industry or even in usury. they were composed of a number of relatively small firms. some of which. and the tax-farmers. colonial production and even inter-colony trade were forbidden. in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.” Marx further argues that the maritime trade and commercial wars which were integral parts of the colonial system promoted a system of national debt and public credit. and quite apart from the class of idle rentiers thus created. What were the manufacturing centers like? Marx’s short answer was that. human bodies. and to speculation: in a word. As with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand. easily negotiable. it has given rise to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy. the improvised wealth of the financiers who play the role of middlemen between the government and the nation. Marx points out that the colonies served not only as sources of raw materials that were exported to the mother countries but also as the ultimate destination of exports for goods that were produced or finished in the metropoles. emphasis in the original) Marx’s discussion of the primitive accumulation of capital is an analysis of the transformation of one kind of tributary society into a capitalist society rooted in industrial capitalism. But furthermore. apart from all of these people.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 127 Thus. which go on functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would. produced cotton textiles . for example. the national debt has given rise to joint-stock companies. What his discussion also shows are the close relationships fueled by commerce and colonial settlement that existed between those parts of the world where industrial capitalism developed and those that provided loot. He remarks that The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. it endows unproductive money with the power of creation and thus turns it into capital. merchants and private manufacturers. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 919. Societies underpinned by the capitalist mode of production exhibit this directionality because of their continual efforts at expanding markets for the commodities they produce and their continual attempts to improve the productivity of the machines and labor processes they employ in the manufacture of those items. for whom a good part of every national loan performs the service of a capital fallen from heaven. have long recognized: “civilization [capitalist in this case] originates with conquest abroad and repression at home. like Stanley Diamond (1974: 1). which is reflective of contradictions in the domain of production as they are manifest in the wider society. frequently. and natural resources which fueled the growth of the manufacturing centers in northern Europe. to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds. The state’s creditors actually give nothing away. for the sum lent is transformed into public bonds. which meant that raw materials were shipped from the colonies to the home country and were processed into commodities that were then shipped back to the colony from which the raw materials originated or to nearby neighboring colonies. This theory of history also embodies a notion of directionality.

however. or by paying them lower wages had the capacity to gain a greater share of the market for their goods and hence to increase their profits. The Articulation of Modes of Production In the preceding section. like bleaching. . printing. The result of this was simultaneously a decline in the number of firms producing a particular good combined with a significant increase in the value of the firms that survived. to sell in order to provide for their subsistence and that of their families. this forced many of them not only to adopt the new machines or practices but also to seek ones that were even more productive. This. Anthropologist while others engaged in more specialized processes or items. Those firms that were able to increase their productivity by adopting more efficient machines. to those that produced steel. By the 1850s. they created a large. together. many of the smaller firms found the cost of continually upgrading the machines they used to be increasingly prohibitive.128 • Karl Marx. locomotives. A third resulted from the combination of increasingly more sophisticated machinery that required fewer and perhaps even less-skilled workers to produce particular goods and the ongoing dispossession of people from their lands. The first process was proletarianization—that is. also threatened the very existence of their competitors who continued to produce in more traditional or less efficient ways. Two processes were involved in primitive accumulation. we examined Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation and the role it played in the dissolution of feudal (tributary) society in England and in its transformation into a social formation based on the production relations of industrial capitalism. and surplus goods that were often produced by various forms of unfree labor—such as indentured servants and slaves in the British colonies or individuals with labor-tax obligations in the Spanish colonies. One was a shift in the relative importance of firms from those that produced goods. for example. Marx (1863–7/1977: 774–81) called these processes the concentration and centralization of capital. which were incredibly expensive and were often the property of joint stock companies with large numbers of investors rather than single owners. Marx viewed this era as one of competitive capital. The second process involved the creation of a system of overseas colonies that yielded plunder. which was essential for the construction of railroad tracks. taxes. A second was the increased wealth available to firms like steel factories. like cotton textiles. unemployed or underemployed reserve army of labor. however. and other machines. the formation of a class of free wageworkers who were systematically denied access to land and who ultimately had only their labor-power. by lengthening the work day of their employees. for example. for example. their capacity to work. dyeing. He also noted other changes in the mid nineteenth century. and they began to close their doors as their shares of the markets declined. or the production of looms. which they sold to one or more of the textile manufacturers in the region. which forced massive migration—from Ireland.

For the unfree workers. the latter must be expected to have had effects upon extant. he was already well aware from his own observations and research that capitalism did not develop everywhere in the same manner that it had in England. this dispossession simultaneously created the conditions for the formation of (1) a class of wage laborers and a labor market. exploitation involved extra-economic forms of compulsion and surplus extraction. and rum to name only a few—were produced by unfree labor—indentured servants and increasingly African slaves after the 1690s. other prized items—such as furs—were produced by indigenous and other peoples who lived on the margins of the colonies and were enmeshed in the colonial system by means of their exchange relations with merchants or their local representatives.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 129 We also saw that the state underwrote both processes of primitive accumulation. Miles (1989: 40) and others observed that primitive accumulation is “a historically continuous process of transformation of relations of production and not a single. The reason was that England was merely one historically specific instance of the transition. For the wage-workers. to drive rural producers from their homes and lands and then to criminalize their poverty. Many of the goods from the North American and Caribbean colonies that were prized by English merchants—tobacco. the forms of surplus extraction were different for the two classes. albeit the earliest one. Because the historical context has been transformed by the emergence of the capitalist mode of production. The subsequent expansion of the capitalist mode of production cannot be considered to have proceeded by a series of transitions in precisely the same way as in England because the particular combination of circumstances that led to this emergence were transcended by it. In England. the privatization of community and state property. unique event in seventeenth-century England. (Miles 1989: 39. In other words.” This process continues to the present day. and sometimes force. emphasis in the original) Primitive accumulation was the connective tissue that linked the various trajectories with each other. cotton. the latter did not participate directly in either wage labor or the labor market. Robert Miles noted that The historic specificity of the transition to capitalism in England must be emphasized. While Marx (1863–7/1977: 873–940) formulated his concept of primitive accumulation largely in relation to the transition to capitalism in England. It used political and legal forms of compulsion. and indentured servants who toiled for varying lengths of time to repay their obligations. as well as (2) a class of unfree workers composed of debtors. side by side with proletarianization (the spread of wage labor relations). sugar. criminals. exploitation occurred at the point of production and involved the appropriation of the surplus value they created by the capitalist. and other . plunder. While the former underwrote the steady expansion of production and hence provided the basis for the continual transformation of the productive forces. non-capitalist modes of production as a result of the inherently expansionary nature of the accumulation process.

915–17. with regard to the interdependence of Manchester textile factories. or Mexico. more or less patriarchal slavery into a system of commercial exploitation. he wrote Direct slavery is as much a pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery. for example. Consequently. slaves in the American South. As we saw earlier. For example. new relations between indigenous elites and the colonial administrators. Russia. . (Marx 1846/1982: 101–2). Marx (e.130 • Karl Marx. In a phrase. 932–4. Anthropologist forms of the appropriation of value from peoples living on the peripheries of the industrial capitalist world at the beginning of the twenty-first century. etc. without cotton no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies. those that occurred elsewhere involved variously the intensification of pre-capitalist forms of surplus extraction. like the United States or Germany. slaves in the American South. slave-raiding. the People’s Republic of China. In fact. it is the colonies which have created world trade. village communities in India.g. 1039–40. and did not noticeably change the face of the world. new forms of unfree labor. prior to the slave trade. the veiled slavery of the wage-labourers in Europe needed the unqualified slavery of the New World as its pedestal. 480. . He had also commented on the interconnections between different parts of the world: for example. 1863–7/1977: 271–2n3. new forms of taxation and other means of indirect exploitation by the colonial and metropolitan states as well as the separation of producers from their means of production and the appearance of new contradictions within the colony and between its residents and the metropolitan state. serfs in Eastern Europe. 1076–80) already had a comparative perspective on the development of capitalism in different countries. that were experiencing the growth of industrial capitalism. While the cotton industry introduced child-slavery into England. Without slavery there would be no cotton. primitive accumulation has been and continues to be a permanent feature of capitalist development. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 925) While the transition to capitalism in England involved primitive accumulation through the dispossession of producers from their lands. and commerce. Here the capitalist regime has either directly subordinated to itself the . the colonies sent very few products to the Old World. Marx described the dynamic forged by the articulation of capitalist country and non-capitalist colony in the following way: In Western Europe . of the factory workers in England. 876n1. and the creation of home markets. during the last twenty years. 570–1. and immigrants to areas. the process of primitive accumulation has more or less been accomplished. and world trade is the necessary condition of large-scale machine industry. credit. in the United States it gave impulse for the transformation of the earlier. proletarianization. one only need consider its predations in the United States. 446. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance.

Let us look briefly at a few of those insights and their implications in order to see directions in which they were or might have been developed. Marx . who. José Mariátegui (1928/1971). His writings on colonialism and nationalism. Marx’s theory of articulation draws on his discussions of colonialism. . which began in the late 1840s and early 1850s. where economic relations are less developed. the Tongan Islands. The contradiction between these two diametrically opposed economic systems has its practical manifestation here in the struggle between them. and Amilcar Cabral (1963) among others—were not only students of history but were also concerned with the lessons it taught. given the balance of forces that existed in a particular society? This was clearly a question he was pondering as he wrote about the Paris Commune and his famous drafts of the letter to Vera Zasulich toward the end of his life (Marx 1871/1986. employs that labour to enrich himself instead of the capitalist. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 931–2) These comments focus attention on Marx’s belief that historically specific societies are totalities manifesting diverse articulated combinations of different modes of production. It is also the reason why political activists he influenced—V. First. or. his formulation of it was inchoate. and he did not elaborate many of his observations in any great detail. the latter two being important concerns in the second and third volumes. respectively. Rosa Luxemburg (1913/2003). nationalism. This task would fall to his successors in the twentieth century.g. and transformation. they bring into awareness his view that capitalism and what lies beyond it were developing and will continue to develop along different historical trajectories. There the capitalist regime constantly comes up against the obstacle presented by the producer. Leon Trotsky (1930/1980: 3–15). .4 While Marx laid the foundations for a theory of articulation. expanded reproduction. he tries to use force to clear out of the way the modes of production and appropriation which rest on the personal labour of the independent producer. The possibility of alternative trajectories of development in the future was one of the reasons why Marx devoted so much of his time and energy to historical anthropological studies in the 1870s. Where the capitalist has behind him the power of the mother country. It is otherwise in the colonies. still continue to exist side by side with it in a state of decay. I. Many anthropologists have shared their concern with the issues of articulation and alternative pathways of sociohistorical development during the twentieth century. as the owner of his own conditions of labour. Antonio Gramsci (1926/1967. . What was conceivable and possible.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 131 whole of the nation’s production. it has at least indirect control of those social layers which.3 They also indicate that the structures of relations between the capitalist and pre-capitalist forms of surplus extraction as well as the contradictions they engender may vary and be reproduced and transformed differently in historically particular societies such as India. or the United States. 1881/1983). although they belong to antiquated mode of production. should be understood as an interconnected project or a “continuum” (e. Lenin (1899/1960). 1933/1971). In other words. Mao Zedong (1930/1990). of Capital.

Marx was impressed with the impact of political fragmentation initially through first-hand experience in Europe.6 In sum. most notably salt and opium which was sold to the Chinese (Marx 1853/1979a. The importance of the English exports to India should not be underestimated. Marx wrote extensively about two British colonies. the dispossession of people from their lands. was inundated with thread and cotton goods made from American cotton in English factories. the development of capitalist. During the same period. that were incorporated into larger political entities. The English merchants in India undersold the local producers. In Europe. In addition. Engels (1849/1977a) distinguished “historic nations. one-twelfth of its national revenue. However. 1853/1979d: 316–17). that were sizable and had already gained some degree of sovereignty and smaller nationalities. especially Germany and Austria. 1853/1979b: 154.” like Poland. In 1813.000. the latter which he characterized once as the “Ireland of the East.5 These can be described briefly as the destruction of local industry. Ahmad 2001: 9). Anthropologist 1848/1976.000 to 20. most noticeably in the interior regions of India. the political unification and independence of nations that were highly fragmented and often dominated by neighboring powers (Ahmad 2001: 4. the development of capitalist agriculture (which in India at least was accompanied by the development of railroads in the early 1850s to move raw cotton to ports where it could be shipped to the home country). the creation of local markets for goods manufactured in England. deteriorating diplomatic relations with the United States combined with a poor harvest in the American South in 1850 led English manufacturers to seek new sources of raw cotton.” because of the similarities he saw in the implementation of English colonial policies in the two countries (Marx 1853/1979a: 125). Ireland and India. like Dacca. cotton-producing farms in these areas during the early 1850s spurred the construction of railroads linking them with coastal cities like Bombay. he and Engels confronted the classic problems of national consolidation—namely. India. cotton goods constituted more than 60 percent of the total value of English goods traded to India and accounted for one-fourth of all of its foreign trade. it was an exploitative relationship based partly on unequal exchange and partly on the ability of the Colonial Office to impose its will.” like the southern Slavs. In 1850. “peoples without history. He also pointed out that conflicts along national lines were relatively unimportant so long as the ruling classes in each .132 • Karl Marx. 1853/1979c: 219–21. the population of traditional textile centers. plummeted from 150. which had exported fabrics manufactured in Dacca and other traditional handloom centers. 10–11). the British government collected taxes from the colony and possessed monopolies over the manufacture or distribution of certain items. and massive emigration within the country as well as to other parts of the world. during the late 1840s and a few years later in India as a result of his investigative journalism for the New York Herald Tribune. and one-eighth of its total employment. the Hapsburg Empire in this case (Rosdolsky 1980). Second. and the volume of imported English cloth grew from about 1 million yards in 1824 to 64 million yards in 1837.

Moreover. Marx (e. 1857/1986c). and aristocratic landowners whose properties had been confiscated—reacted to the exactions of the British in the 1850s did not escape Marx’s attention (e. and the nationalist movements that had swept across Europe a few years earlier. or till the Hindus themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke . in Engels (1857/1986: 392) view. As Ahmad (2001: 19) points out. What the Indian rebels lacked. he was clear enough in his mind that the rebellion was a response of the old classes to the process of pauperization of a large mass of the Indian people and the dissolution of a whole old way of life. 1857/1986b. From the late 1850s onward. his detection of exaggeration in the horror stories of atrocities committed by the rebels and his justifications of these as events inescapable in such revolts anywhere. He admitted in respect of the Mutiny that “It is a curious quid pro quo to expect an Indian revolt to assume the features of a European revolution. the colonial government. Marx was also aware of the consequences of political fragmentation of India. Marx was with the 1857 rebels. the basic features of twentieth-century national liberation movements. when contemplated with regard to India. However sympathetic by natural instinct. it was not the product of the Indian “regeneration” that he himself looked forward to.” but also that “the Indians will not reap the fruits of the new elements of society scattered among them by the British bourgeoisie. ruined artisans. 1857/1986a. his denunciations of the atrocities committed by British officers and troops. till in Great Britain itself the new ruling classes shall have been supplanted by the industrial proletariat. that segments of the traditional classes in India— displaced peasants. any thoughts he might have harbored in the early 1850s about the progressive character of colonialism in India were long dispelled by the time he wrote about the plunder of India and primitive accumulation in Capital.g. centralized political and military leadership or. The groups challenged by the mutineers were the British financiers and mill owners. 1881/1992a: 63–4) was aware of tendencies that might facilitate the development of centralized leadership in Indian society and the threat that this would potentially pose to British rule. but it also cut across caste.” (Habib 2006: xlix) Nonetheless. and social-class divisions. However.g. and their local agents and representatives (Marx 1853/1979c: 218). was “the scientific element”—that is. finally. and. religious. as Ahmad (2001: 19) put it. Not only was it geographically widespread. Marx saw the similarity between the Indian insurrection of 1857–8. which he called a national revolt. as Habib notes: Marx’s sympathy for the rebels shows itself in a number of ways: his scornful skepticism of the claims of an early British capture of Delhi from the mutineers.” in order to maintain their own positions against the emerging bourgeois classes (Engels 1849/1977b: 229). Marx (1853/1979c: 221–2) wrote not only about “the profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization” and “the devastating effects of English industry.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 133 national group continued to share their common goal of “preserving the monarchy.

like the United States. he certainly did not see the Irish as the London Economist did: a “redundant population” whose departure was necessary before any improvement could occur. Thompson 1963: 429–43). occupied the lowest rungs of the social-class structure. Marx frequently mocked the “public-opinion slang of England.” which attributed the plight of dispossessed Irish workers to “aboriginal faults of the Celtic race” or to the “shortcomings of Irish nature” instead of to British misrule. For example. Marx and Engels 1972). In his view. Instead. Robinson 1983: 38–59.134 • Karl Marx. cf. 1853/1979f). where the vast majority of those who were employed worked as unskilled day-laborers in the towns or as day-laborers in the surrounding countryside.g. partly by the policies of capital and the state. and the United States) in the five-year period between 1847 and 1852.” As Ahmad (2001: 20) has noted. He also knew that Irish workers were often paid lower wages than their English counterparts. Marx explored the interconnection of nationalist politics and diasporic communities with an increasingly textured appreciation of their complexities from 1860 onward as a result of his investigations of Ireland and the Irish question and the United States and its civil war (Marx 1972. and all twentieth-century Indian nationalists accepted Marx’s claim that “colonial capitalism did contribute ‘new elements of society’ in India” (emphasis in the original). 15–20 percent of its total population—emigrated elsewhere (to England. he saw their circumstances as historically conditioned. Curtis 1997: 148–80). Foner 1980: 150–200). Engels 1844/1975. and daily confronted increasingly racialized discrimination and the possibility of violence because of their creative maintenance and ethnogenesis of a rural heritage and national identity in the new country and their adherence to Catholicism (e. Marx knew that the rise of industrial capitalism and the linkages spawned by it triggered massive emigration. by the mid 1860s. and that. Third. Curtis 1997. Ashworth 1983: 181–2. 1863–7/1977: 866.5 million persons (Marx 1853/1979e: 528–32. no Indian reformer of the nineteenth century took such a clear position on the question of Indian independence. the English landed aristocracy and the capitalist classes had a shared interest in . 1859/1980: 489. if not millions. Anthropologist altogether. 1853/1979f: 159. its population had fallen by half to about 3. he realized that hundreds of thousands. In addition. and that English linen manufacturers were closing factories in the Midlands and relocating them to towns in Ireland where they could pay lower wages (Marx 1857/1986d: 257. Fourth. and partly by their own efforts to ameliorate those circumstances given the prevailing balance of force at the time (Marx 1853/1979e: 528. mostly from the colonies and the peripheral regions of the home countries. where large numbers had the most menial and undesirable of unskilled jobs. of persons were displaced in India in the 1830s and 1840s. he noted that more than a million of the colony’s roughly 7 million inhabitants— that is. In Ireland. he was sympathetic to the plight of the Irish emigrants who were separated from their natal communities as they settled in distant and often hostile places. He was well aware that Irish farmers driven from the land went to the cities—including London. Australia.

Luxemburg argued that . Irish farms seized earlier in the century by English landlords were turned into pastures that (1) provided English markets with cheap meat and wool. in correspondence and confidential reports. neither Marx nor Engels was especially sympathetic with cultural nationalism in the narrow sense of the term regardless of what either said publicly. he and Engels were critical of them and paid close attention to both the class position and ideologies of their members and to their actions. 1867/1985. notably the Fenian (Irish Republican) Brotherhood and later Charles Steward Parnell (1846–91). publicly at least. this would entail breaking the grip of the landed aristocracy in Ireland. (3) pitted English workers against the Irish immigrants. Marx (1863–7/1977: 711–23.7 As a result. He referred to this as accumulation and reproduction on an expanded scale. 1881/1992b) was sympathetic.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 135 maintaining English domination over Ireland and in promoting emigration. For example. Marx (e.g. minimally. were not only in a constant state of flux but were also incessantly renewed on an ever-increasing scale. The purpose of his analyses was not to idealize or romanticize the various Irish national movements but rather to assess as accurately as possible their strengths and weaknesses. including those associated with the production of the capitalists and workers themselves. The resolution of the Irish question ultimately depended on the political independence of Ireland. and forming coalitions with working classes around the world and most especially with those in England. Marx (e.g. They were particularly critical of the views and tactics of the Fenians. neglected both land and social issues. (2) ensured a reserve army of labor that drove down wages and the morale of the English working class. Engels (1869/1988) described the tactics of the groups as ranging from spontaneous democratic and revolutionary actions of peasants forced from their lands to the liberal-national opposition of the Irish urban bourgeoisie. especially England. His commentary about expanded reproduction provoked a number of subsequent writers to critique or work out its implications. and (4) guaranteed security to some extent by scattering some of the more disgruntled members of Irish society around the world and by insulating others from any radical or revolutionary ideas they might have held (Marx 1869/1988a: 398–9. and condemned the sentences imposed by the English on Irish (Fenian) prisoners in 1867. 1865–85/1981: 468–599) was aware that the extent of capitalist markets and the processes of capitalist production. to the various groups or individuals within the Irish national liberation movement. Nevertheless. linking the struggle over land with social issues. and not only failed to make alliances with democratic working-class groups in other countries. The issue was how to achieve it. were narrowly ethnocentric. who focused almost exclusively on the issue of political independence. 1870/1988). 1870/1985: 118–21) thought. Fifth. This was the question that underwrote his analyses of the goals and class interests expressed by various Irish nationalist groups and partly by the tactics that each advocated to accomplish its aims. but also failed to understand the importance of these contacts.

365–6. 288–98). not only of children’s play. Another commentator. In so far as machinery dispenses with muscular power. . under the direct sway of capital. (Luxemburg 1913/2003: 368) Thus. every member of the worker’s family. and as a reservoir of labour power for its wage system. For example. Anthropologist The existence and development of capitalism requires an environment of non-capitalist forms of production. without distinction of age or sex. That mighty substitute for labour and for workers. with customary limits. both in the capitalist countries and their colonies were continually reworked during the processes of expanded accumulation and reproduction. or whose bodily development is incomplete. since it was consuming the very conditions that ensured its existence (Luxemburg 1913/2003: 350. Compulsory work for the capitalist usurped the place. it becomes a means for employing workers of slight muscular strength. the machine. in her view. . 467). spreads the value of the man’s labour-power over his whole family. the declining rates of profit associated with the increased use of machines relative to human labor. To purchase the labour-power of a family of four workers may perhaps cost more than it . While it repressed its own workers and engulfed non-capitalist societies it also sowed the seeds of economic crises and its own destruction. but not every one of these forms will serve its ends. This is perhaps most apparent in his discussions of how young women and children constituted an enormous reserve army of labor in England that was repeatedly moved into and out of the labor force in order to depress wages and to extend the length of the working day (Marx 1863–7/1977: 340–416).136 • Karl Marx. had already argued that economic crises were always latent in capitalism because of the imbalances or disproportionalities that exist among the various sectors of the capitalist economy. It thus depreciates it. Marx saw that social-class structures were expressions of exploitative social relations. in other words. by throwing every member of the family onto the labour market. was immediately transformed into a means for increasing the number of wage-labourers by enrolling. . Rudolf Hilferding (1910/1981: 228–35. . the capitalist mode of production could not exist in isolation and had to coexist with non-capitalist modes in order for the accumulation and reproduction of the capitalist system to occur. . and the inter-capitalist competition in the market (the anarchy of the market)—all of which contributed to the periodic overproduction and underconsumption of both commodities and capital. but also the independent labour at home. Both Luxemburg and Hilferding realized that Marx’s views about expanded reproduction and economic crises were also parts of his theory of social-class relations. . as a source of supply for its means of production. Machinery. The labour of women and children was therefore the first result of the capitalist application of machinery. capitalism could never become a universal form of society. He was also aware that social-class structures. for the family itself. Capitalism needs non-capitalist social strata as a market for its surplus value.

but also surplus labour.” (Marx 1863–7/1977: 377–8) Marx clearly understood the historicity of social-class structures under conditions of expanded accumulation and reproduction. to the opposition and resistance of peoples in the home countries and of those on the margins who. four people must now provide not only labour for the capitalist. As a result. and the price falls in proportion to the excess of the surplus labour of four over the surplus labour of one. for Africa. Thus we see that machinery. and women for men. ethnicity. Ireland and agricultural districts of Scotland. For slave trade. gender. and Wales. More importantly. for Kentucky and Virginia. while augmenting the human material that forms capital’s most characteristic field of exploitation. improvement in machinery allowed factory owners to substitute at lower wages less skilled workers for those with more skills. 521) also knew that the increased rates of exploitation had deleterious effects on the health of workers both in the capitalist countries and the colonies.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 137 formerly did to purchase the labour-power of the head of the family. but.g. After relating an account of the slave trade. at the same time raises the degree of that exploitation. In order that the family may now live. These included but were not limited to: (1) the high incidence in the 1840s of pulmonary diseases and lower than average life-expectancies of men employed in the potteries. children for adults. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 517–18) In other words. Chakrabarti and Cullenberg 2003: 245–82). Germany. were due. in return. six days a week when they were eight years old. 1863–7/1977: 345. while they might have had contact with capitalist merchants (often on their own terms).g. read labor market. race. he understood how workers were segmented and isolated from one another by servile status. Marx (e. The differences. he perceived similarities in the exploitation of workers in different parts of the world. and their low life expectancies. four days’ labour takes the place of one day’s. They were continually being constituted and reworked—but not always in the same ways or at the same pace—in both the industrial capitalist societies of the West and non-capitalist societies on their peripheries (e. the unremitting toil of slaves on plantations. He described in detail the effects that intensified production for the capitalist market had on human beings. had not yet been enmeshed in capitalist social relations. Marx wrote the following: “Mutato nomine de te fibula narrator [this could be thy story under a different name]. (2) the story of a twenty-year-old woman employed as a dressmaker in one of London’s finest millinery shops who frequently worked twenty to thirty hours without a break with sixty other young women in an overcrowded room that lacked ventilation. (3) the high infant mortality rates in factory and agricultural districts where mothers had to work away from their homes. and nationalism. he knew. 364–5. many of whom had begun working fifteen-hour days. age. 354–5. at least partly. or (4) slaves in the American South who were so overworked that their bodies were effectively used up in seven years. Another way of saying this is that class structures were made historically by peoples who were striving exist under circumstances .

His investigations were provoked by ongoing discussions of land thefts. and often wage-workers that often sought to exclude indigenous peoples or immigrants from entering the labor market. it is not creating it. He also knew that the societies on the margins had their own internal dynamics that were shaped but not entirely formed by their relations with the capitalist countries. these have sometimes been called dual economies. etc. Bourdieu 1980/1990). Macpherson 1971. the modern form of exchange. Property. the political rule of the bourgeois class arises from these modern relations of production. emphasis in the original) . by no means arises from the political rule of the bourgeois class. Marx and Engels 1882/1989). Other regions—Ireland. debates on free trade and protective tariffs. the border states in Antebellum America. which had long-term devastating effects on the local communities in spite of the fact that they often engaged merchant capital on terms shaped by their own social relations. there were small commodity-producing economic sectors geared to export. and civil society in the 1840s. SaintSimon. and Capitalist States Marx began his examination of the interconnections of law. property was also a statement about power viewed variously as agency (the capacity of action). as political relations between classes of persons that were mediated by things. the ability to realize objective interests. but vice versa. He also clearly understood that the inhabitants of some regions—like the poppy fields of Afghanistan. Anthropologist passed down by earlier generations and who occasionally were able to change those conditions.g. that is. economy. concentration. or the cotton plantations of the American South—provided raw materials that could either be exported for direct sale or for processing in the home country. This informed his views about the importance of alliances between the industrial workers in capitalist states and progressive elements of the working masses in societies on the periphery of the capitalist world system (e. the gold mines of California. Marx saw property as rights of access. use. or compulsion over the actions of others (e. by its state of power “maintaining injustice in property relations. (Marx 1847/1976a: 319.” which is determined by the modern division of labour. In these regions. West Africa. competition. Hegel. Power. or eastern Europe—were labor reserves whose primary export was human labor-power. large sectors of the local populations that reproduced workers outside the labor market. and polemics about the condition of the peasantry in Moselle as well as by the distinctions Ferguson. Property was a central concern in these arguments. and disposition—that is..8 If the bourgeoisie is politically. consequently. and others drew between civil society and a political state that stood outside of society (Showstack Sassoon 1991).138 • Karl Marx.g. The “injustice of property relations” which is determined by the modern division of labour.

For Marx (1843/1975a). for the state is only found nowadays in those countries where the estates have not yet completely developed into classes. the state was not an abstraction or an ideal. in the kinds of capitalist societies that were crystallizing at the time. Since the state is the form in which the individuals of a ruling class assert their common interests. Draper 1977: 32–4). where consequently no section of the population can achieve dominance over the others. still play a part and there exists a mixture. self-supporting individual—is the root of property.” and that “the economic structure of society. [is] the real foundation. On this is based the entire configuration of the economic community arising from the actual relations of production. the state has become a separate entity. has to be sought in political economy. in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of the direct producers. on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness” (Marx 1859/1970: 20).g. and in which the whole civil society of an epoch is epitomised.” that “the anatomy of civil society . . and hence also its specific political form. Or. it referred instead to the historically specific. actually existing political entities that claimed to rise above the differences of particular socioeconomic interests by relativizing them and portraying them as equivalents. . . Dissatisfied with the ambiguity of the terms and the distinction implied between natural man and abstract citizen. where the estates. of the laws based on it and of the inevitable slavery. alongside and outside civil society. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 3. he would write that the legal relations and the political forms of a society “originate in the material conditions of life. He increasingly saw the state as an excrescence of society rather than an expression of the common concerns of its members (Marx 1880–2/1974: 329). The specific economic form. Marx (1843/1975c: 166–7) virtually stopped using the notion of civil society by the 1850s and narrowed the meaning of the concept of the state. (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 90) Later. it follows that all common institutions are set up with the help of the state and are given a political form”. . as this grows directly out of production itself and reacts back on in turn as a determinant. a category which stood above those of individuals and of which political organization was only one aspect (e. Through the emancipation of private property from the community.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 139 Society itself—the fact that man lives in society and not as an independent. both for internal and external purposes. 89–91. (Marx 1861–3/1963: 346) Marx initially framed his discussions of property in terms of Hegel’s distinction between civil society and the state—the former as the sphere of individual (private) economic desires and the latter as public expressions of the common concerns of society as a whole. determines the relationship of domination and servitude. done away with in more advanced countries. It is in each case . . but it is nothing more than the form of organisation which the bourgeois are compelled to adopt.

racial relations. Anthropologist the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the immediate producers—a relation whose particular form naturally corresponds always to a certain level of development of the type and manner of labour. “political power was precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society. as a result of innumerable different empirical circumstances. power. or the reproduction of society through time. the corresponding specific form of the state in each case. As we saw earlier in this chapter. for example—coincided in time and was inseparably linked with the development of industrial capitalism. 1991). Colletti 1975. The institutions and practices of the state sought to contain conflict and to preserve the social-class structures and political relations that prevailed among their citizens and subjects. class struggle. 1882/1989) were acutely aware of the complex culture-historical. and the creation of both domestic and overseas markets (Marx 1863–7/1977: 914–40.9 As a result. even though their forms of expression and intensity were often diverse. while the ethnic. then the modern (capitalist) state was an expression of the antagonisms and contradictions resulting from alienation. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 927–8) Marx’s views about politics. and the historically contingent processes of domination and subordination of groups inherent in class-stratified societies. and . and the state were already well developed by the mid 1840s (Marx 1843/1975a. In other words.. Marx and Engels (1848/1976: 517. If modern civil society was the realm of competitive individualism mediated by the market. states were also arenas of struggle within and between classes (Marx 1843/1975a. in short.140 • Karl Marx. the hidden basis of the entire social edifice. States and their agents were representatives of the dominant social classes whose members owned and controlled the means of production. the rise of national states—England. politics and culture were important arenas of struggle. natural conditions. of course. Miliband 1977. They were typically elaborated in the context of writings whose central concerns were the state. they are not simply reducible to purely economic arrangements. also manifestations of property and power. and other kinds of rivalries and conflicts generated within and between modern societies have their roots in socialclass relations. For Marx (1847/1976b: 212). Germany. 1852/1979. religious. Engels 1884/1990). national. historical influences acting from outside. the class struggles that occurred in one national state were typically both spatially and organizationally distinct from those taking place in other countries. and hence also the political form of the relationship of sovereignty and dependence. These political relations were. and hence to its social productive power—in which we find the innermost secret. political. or the United States. and these can only be understood by analyzing given conditions. Marx and Engels 1848/1976). etc. the formation of colonies. In this perspective.” What modern civil society had accomplished was to simplify the expression of these struggles. This does not prevent the same economic basis—the same in its major conditions—from displaying infinite variations and gradations in appearance. They still are in some respects. exploitation.

They repeatedly insisted that. It depended. The conflict between the capitalist classes of different national states usually pitted one country against another—e. in fact. the appearance of unity had nothing to do with the conscious commitment of a state’s members.g. and practices were shaped to varying degrees by the dominant classes. Aware of the common interests of workers. [to] unite!”—a sentiment they repeated once again in 1882 when they pointed to possible linkages between Russian peasants and industrial proletarians in the capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America (Benner 1995). and civil servants who viewed the state as their own private property (Marx 1843/1975a: 38. laws. Attempts to organize workers politically within national states as well as across their boundaries were often resisted by both the capitalist classes of those countries and the state apparatuses. In other words. and racial differences that fragmented the working classes of particular national states (like England or the United States) and of the chasms that separated the proletarians of one country from those of another when they wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848 and called for the “working men of all countries. on denying them opportunities to express any political preferences of their own. Marx (1843/1975a: 22–3) knew that the political unity of a national state was. in times of peace. since they derived “from the fact that part of civil society emancipates itself and attains general domination. undertakes the general emancipation of society [Marx 1843–4/1975: 184]. This “partial revolution” left a potentially explosive tension between the inclusive. national. Marx and Engels belonged to political groups that had representatives from a number of national states. Benner 1995: 32). for example—were simultaneously assertions of unity vis-à-vis other states and manifestations of the failure of a class-stratified society to achieve any real sense of community or internal unity by other means. representatives.” so that a particular class “proceeding from its particular situation. he thought that one should evaluate the reasons why particular national identities were imposed on a people from above and that these should be distinguished from those that arose in the community and addressed real human needs as opposed to the abstract concerns of the state and of the monarchs. whose institutions. expressions of national identity by national states—like the United States (America). because even the limited benefits of “political emancipation” were distributed unevenly in society. egalitarian premises of democratic constitutions and the social inequalities they declined to address. (Benner 1995: 34) Thus. the modern national states emerging in Europe and North America. as Erica Benner (1995: 31) put it. the United States and England in the 1850s . for example. In either situation. through political repression. on. were fragile.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 141 economic roots of the ethnic. democratic movements in one country needed to be aware of and to seek the support of similar groups in other states. 49–54. strategically.” Moreover. “realized only in times of external crisis and war.

g. and the spread of capitalist culture through global media and telecommunications. about which Marx wrote extensively in the 1850s as we saw earlier in this chapter. These conflicts typically involved the creation of cross-class alliances that yoked the interests of peasants and workers with those of the capitalist classes under the hegemony of the latter. the North and the South. At the same time that national states have hindered the formation of transnational unions and attempted with varying intensities to regulate the flow of workers across their borders. the capitalist classes of different countries have also joined together to form regional or international institutions—such as the North American Free Trade Agreement or the World Trade Organization—designed to facilitate the flows of commodities and capital between different countries. decolonization.142 • Karl Marx. refugees. Patriotism was often the glue that cemented these historically constituted blocs (e. the rapid development of global financial markets.g.. Brewer 1990). the 220. for example. movement of vast numbers of people as migrants. as well as distinctions between developed and underdeveloped countries. they exist alongside and articulate with a fundamental antagonism in capitalist societies—the one that pits capitalist against worker. and Genoa since 1999. national liberation movements. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000: 237). the adoption of flexible production strategies. Dower 1986. broadly constituted movements have organized to protest and resist their efforts—the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. the adoption of new information technologies. cheap transportation. Anthropologist and 1860s or France and Germany during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1. Marx wrote extensively about the contradictions of industrial capitalist societies from the 1840s onward. argue that these attempts to regulate the global market signal an “epochal shift in contemporary . or the core and the periphery (e. which suggests that he would have been intrigued by their manifestations today. the capitalist countries of the First World and the newly independent but poor nations of the Third World. Marx wrote about these contradictions from the 1840s onward. In the wake of the Second World War.000 or so labor disturbances that occur annually in China. Quebec. More recent examples are the First and Second World Wars of the twentieth century. These are aspects of what is now globalization—i. or the massive immigrant rights protests that took place across the United States in 2006 are only a few instances (Walker 2006: 26n18). 1933/1971). Gramsci 1926/1967. these conflicts were often referred to in terms of imperialism. The focus of the highly diverse. The two forms of contradiction described above—those between capitalist states and those between capitalist states and non-capitalist societies—have persisted to the present day. The conflicts between capitalist states also pitted them against non-capitalist societies—such as India or China. anti-globalization movement is as often a protest against the institutions of global capitalism as it is opposition to the practices of particular national states.e. These alliances set the working classes of one country against those of another. and tourists. In the last forty years.

237). the pre-eminence of the United States and its rivalry with the USSR. “the entry of great masses of workers into the disciplinary régime of modern capitalist production. since the income gap between the North and the South continues and may even be widening. there are still ongoing and emergent rivalries between national states.” For Hardt and Negri. there is a profound contradiction between the globalization of markets and states using different currencies. remain peripheralised in the traditional sense of relying on exports of one or two primary commodities and the import of manufactures. . imperialism “also created and reinforced rigid boundaries among the various global spaces. Hardt and Negri 2000: 42–6. the decentering of industrial production from the old industrial capitalist countries to former colonies. Government and politics come to be completely integrated into the system of transnational command. state functions and constitutional elements have effectively been displaced to other levels and domains. . the . . not everyone agrees with it for any number of reasons. strict notions of inside and outside that effectively blocked the free flow of capital. . However. what persists in the global structure at the beginning of the twenty-first century is the conflict between transnational corporations and the power of the state. These include but are not limited to: there are alternative historical explanations of the developments Hardt and Negri describe. In their view. labor and goods—thus necessarily precluding the full realization of the world market” (Hardt and Negri 2000: 332). however. As Paul Green (2002: 43) has noted. They see a fundamental contradiction “between the deterritorialising logic of capital and the territorialising nature of nation-states” (Green 2002: 40. which allowed the capitalist firms of Europe and North America to expand under the protection of the national state both at home and abroad. (Hardt and Negri 2000: 307) Their claim is a provocative one that challenges state-centered approaches to understanding the world today. especially Africa. cf. the weakening of the old imperialist powers in the wake of the Second World War. albeit in a new form: Although transnational corporations and global networks of production and circulation have undermined the powers of nation-states. the unification of the world market did not involve homogenization but rather the uneven development of capitalism. Controls are articulated through a series of international bodies and functions. even as some parts of the globe. and the emergence of new patterns of labour migration . the crisis of the 1970s was not as different from those of 1873–96 and the 1930s as they imply. and the success of decolonization movements were conditions that promoted the re-creation of the world market and the formation of a new global division of labor in the 1970s. the world is not as seamless or smooth as they suggest. This contradiction was mediated through imperialism.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 143 history” and use the term “empire” to refer to the new form of sovereignty that they suggest has crystallized as a result of efforts to unify the world market. .

the border between the United States and Mexico. on his discussions of the interrelations of property and power. and the obstacles that it erects that hinder this process. on the one hand. on the other. or.g. on the other. on the one hand. The third focused. on the implications of his writings for understanding what is happening at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The first was Marx’s views about the development of industrial capitalist social relations and its intersection with primitive accumulation. and national-chauvinist sentiments and dispositions (e. racist. Smith 2005: 51). we have looked at three issues. and colonization. far from opening up a political space for the voice of the multitudes as they suggest. their approach to the issue of power in terms of binary oppositions is problematic. It is perhaps fitting to recall Marx’s (1857–8/1973: 409–10) comments in the Grundrisse about the universality towards which capital strives.144 • Karl Marx. . The second was concerned with the processes of combined and uneven development along different historical trajectories that resulted from the encapsulation and articulation of societies manifesting different modes of production that were differentially resistant to change. and. Anthropologist deterritorialization they describe is accompanied by reterritorialization—e. Balakrishnan 2003. the intensification of competition in the market has seemingly strengthened patriarchal. the formation of domestic and overseas markets. In this chapter.g.

Another way of saying this is that human beings create themselves through praxis.” and that in pre-capitalist societies “individuals. although their 145 . they experience both their everyday life and history as individuals. As we saw in earlier chapters. and that they will keep on doing so. Marx (1857–8/1973: 158.–6– Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century Marx was indeed an anthropologist. . In the same context. He clearly realized that societies were different from one another. Marx argued (1) that individual human beings engaged in creative and self-creative activity and enmeshed in webs of social relations are the fundamental entities of society. the essential or core features—that characterize and structure human existence. since their social relations are neither fixed nor immutable. and (2) that both the nature of the individuals and their social relations with each other change historically (e. In Marx’s (1857–8/1973: 84) terms. His anthropology was empirically grounded in the changing realities of everyday life in his own society broadly conceived and in accounts of other societies—initially past societies in the West and increasingly contemporary societies in other parts of the world.g. Gould 1978: 6). . they are “dependent belonging to the greater whole” and “can individuate [themselves] only in the midst of society. These social individuals are shaped by their history and plot the course of their actions within the constraints imposed by their bodies and their social relations with others. Archard 1987.e. that they change. the particular form they assume at any given moment “is a historic product [that] belongs to a specific phase of their [sociohistorical] development” (Marx 1857–8/1973: 162). Marx’s anthropology was therefore cautiously optimistic. These inquiries buttressed his critical analyses of both the contradictions of modern society and the possibilities and contingencies of alternative pathways of social change in the immediate future. .. 161–3) also argued logically that “relations of personal dependence (entirely spontaneous at the outset) are the first social forms. Marx honed his philosophical anthropology in the 1840s after completing his doctoral dissertation and continued to refine his views in subsequent writings like the Grundrisse.” Moreover. The rich detail of his empirical anthropology is perhaps most evident in his journalistic accounts and his analyses of capitalist society and the capitalist mode of production. Brenkert 1983: 227. His anthropology was also rooted in a life-long exploration and elaboration of the ontological categories—i. and their sociality creates them as social individuals in a community. Nevertheless.

These relations depersonalized connections between individuals and used things to express the linkages. They were based on exchange and exchange value (commodities). how it relates to Marx’s notion of freedom. imprisoned within a certain definition. In this concluding chapter.146 • Karl Marx. More specifically. or erected them as independent social powers and relations opposite to himself. The bourgeois viewpoint has never advanced beyond the antithesis of itself and this romantic viewpoint. who either had personal (intimate but not necessarily harmonious) ties or stood in a distributive relation to one another. I want to examine Marx’s relevance for framing and addressing today’s issues and to consider some of the range of problems he addressed more than a century ago that are pressing concerns now. but also the universality and the comprehensiveness of his relations and capacities. which had appeared in historical-developmental terms at the interstices of communities rather than within them. because he has not yet worked out his relationships in their fullness. I want to examine three interrelated themes. He called them “universally developed individuals” and then suggested: The degree and universality of the development of wealth where this individuality becomes possible presupposes production on the basis of exchange values as a prior condition. Anthropologist relations appear to be more personal. and individuals. were limited developments of humanity. (Marx 1857– 8/1973: 162. or as members of a caste etc. or as members of an estate etc. as human beings.” He then proceeded to point out that the social relations associated with industrial capitalist society were different. capitalism has produced a truly peculiar kind of individual and set of social relations in the process. fulfilled only the personal and social roles that existed in those groups. He described the “isolated individuality” and “reciprocal independence and indifference” of the social individuals in capitalist societies. The first is broadly concerned with the self-actualization of social individuals in the context of historically specific sets of social relations. It is as ridiculous to yearn for a return to that original fullness as it is to believe that with this complete emptiness history has come to a standstill. by contrast. of free individuality. as feudal lord and vassal. In earlier stages of development the single individual seems developed more fully. and therefore the latter will accompany it as legitimate antithesis up to its blessed end. whose universality produces not only the alienation of the individual from himself and from others. and how they are relevant in today’s world.. the rise of capitalism provided the stage for the self-realization of truly universal social individuals—that is.1 While exchange value opened up possibilities for both creating and expanding individuality as it inserted itself between communities. enter into connection with one another only as individuals. more importantly. emphasis in the original) In other words. The third deals with the issues that confront us at the beginning of the twenty-first century as anthropologists and. All preceding communities. The second focuses briefly on selfrealization. etc. . landlord and serf.

exploitation. it explores the contradictions between culture. He was also aware of its connections with social stratification. He was well aware that alienation had economic. 1880–82/1974). and exchange. On the other. however. or overcoming the self-alienation of human beings. Another way of saying this is that . On the one hand. property. political economy. after meeting Engels for the first time in 1844 and discussing conditions the latter had observed in England where industrial capitalism—i. superseding. domination. aesthetic. Marx’s investigation is framed not only in terms of revealing the internal relations and contradictions but also with reference to transcending. Marx (1843/1975a. his theory of alienation is most importantly a theory of internal relations. most notably capitalist society. political. and cultural dimensions. the natural sciences.e. and ethics. 1857–8/1973. emphasis in the original). and as “the negation of productivity” (Fromm 1961/2004: 37. Alienation Alienation has been described as the “loss of control [of one’s humanity and] its embodiment in an alien force which confronts the individuals as a hostile and potentially destructive power” (Mészáros 2005: 8. Marx (1844/1975a) sharpened his analysis in The 1844 Manuscripts (Mészáros 2005: 66–76). In the process. As István Mészáros (2005: 78–9) and Bertell Ollman (1976: 131–5) have pointed out. Let us briefly consider these in more detail. the capitalist mode of production—was more fully developed than it was on the Continent.. 1843/1975b. human beings are a part of nature. They have physical needs and must engage in productive (creative) activity in order to satisfy them. emphasis in the original). and resistance. As you will recall from the discussion in Chapter 2. which he presented in detail in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. because these are mediated by the division of labor. moral. 1843–4/1975) sketched his initial views about alienation in the early 1840s. as the “splintering of human nature into a number of misbegotten parts” (Ollman 1976: 135). He now distinguished between those features of alienation that were an integral part of the human condition and those that were particular to specific sociohistorical formations. He was also clear that forms of alienation found in pre-capitalist societies were different from those characteristic of capitalist ones—a point he would elaborate in subsequent writings like the Grundrisse or The Ethnological Notebooks (Marx 1844/1975a: 266–7. 79–82).Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 147 Social Relations and the Formation of Social Individuals The cornerstone of Marx’s (1844/1975a) views about the formation of social individuals is his theory of alienation in capitalist society. they create additional non-physical needs whose gratification becomes a necessary condition for the satisfaction of the original needs (Mészáros 2005: 14–5. it examines the contradictions that exist between human beings and their activity.

However. this capacity for productive activity is also a commodity. . the mediator in the “subject-object relationship” between a human mode of existence. the labor-power of workers is purchased for a wage to produce a commodity. these are second-order mediations that arise as historically specific. does not dissolve himself into nature. Here the workers are alienated from their productive activity. because the labor-power of the workers is purchased in a buyer’s market by the capitalist who then also claims property rights to the products of that capacity. (Mészáros 2005: 80–1. and desires. Three distinctive features of industrial capitalist society. . independent individuals in the market where they treat each other as equals and assert that they have both legal title to the property they propose to exchange (sell). alienated forms of productive activity that involve—in this instance—private property. ensuring that he does not fall back into nature. usually but not always in the monetary form of capital. Productive activity is. from other human beings. and from the ability to satisfy their creative potential—i.e. First. and use these exterior objects and beings as they act creatively to fulfill socially defined needs and desires. albeit a peculiar one. from one another.. exchange. establish their own identity and individuality in the process. Anthropologist Human activities and needs of a “spiritual” kind thus have their ultimate ontological foundation in the sphere of material production as specific expressions of human interchange with nature.148 • Karl Marx. It is worth recalling that Marx viewed property as a relationship between individuals. Marx described productivity activity in capitalist society as “active alienation” and wrote: . when human beings objectify nature. which entails the differentiation of subject from object and the estrangement from nature. Marx proceeded to argue that. . and (3) that the illusion of equality which seemingly existed at the moment of exchange in the market vanishes in the production sphere when the capitalist appropriates the commodities created by the labor-power of the worker and then sells them for a profit to buyers who in turn use the goods and services to satisfy their needs. from the products of that activity. emphasis in the original) Thus. wants. and even from the very qualities that make them human (Ollman 1976: 136–56). while those of the producing class (proletariat) have property only in their labor-power or ability to produce. are (1) that the members of the capitalist class own or control access to the conditions or means of production. hence. the division of labor. they not only identify objects and others but also estrange or alienate themselves from them as they apprehend the natural and social worlds in which they live. as we saw earlier. therefore. their humanness or species-being. Let us now look at the four aspects of alienation in capitalist society in more detail. (2) that the members of the two classes meet as isolated. human beings were also alienated from the products of their activity. This form of self-alienation. mediated in complex ways and forms. in capitalist societies. and wage labor. as Mészáros (2005: 78–9) points out. is an essential feature of the human condition in all societies. and then the capitalist employs the labor-power of the direct producer in return for a wage.

The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labour becomes an object. capitalist workers are also estranged from the commodity they produce in the context of alienated productive activity. the less he is himself. emphasis in the original) As Ollman (1976: 147) notes. For on this premise it is clear that the more the worker spends on himself. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need. the creative capacities and productive activity of the capitalist worker are consumed like fuel. . and “the qualities that mark him as a human being become progressively diminished” (Ollman 1976: 137). or at most in his dwelling and in dressing up. and in his human functions he no longer feels himself to be anything but an animal. The external character of labour for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own. Their labor has become an object that exists outside of them in the sense that they cannot use the goods they produce either to keep alive or to engage in productive activity. and when he is working he does not feel at home. the less belongs to him as his own. the more the worker lacks. . Therefore the greater this product. he is not. procreating. an external existence. does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. . that in it he belongs to himself. the poorer he himself— his inner world—becomes. but to another. therefore. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists.e.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 149 the fact that labour is external to the worker. . . as something alien to him. etc. in fact. labour is shunned like the plague. . (Marx 1844/1975a: 272. independently. whose interests are directly opposed to those of the worker. emphasis in the original) In a phrase. Second. What is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal. therefore. His labour is therefore not voluntary but coerced. Whatever the product of his labour. “the hostility of the worker’s product is due to the fact that it is owned by the capitalist. and that it becomes a power of its own confronting him. (Marx 1844/1975a: 274–5. but that it exists outside him. man (the worker) only feels himself freely active in his animal functions—eating. i. he does not affirm himself but denies himself. that in his work. it is forced labour. . As a result. that it does not belong to him. does not feel content but unhappy. but someone else’s. drinking. Hence. the greater this activity. The worker puts his life into the object.. As Marx put it the worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object. . the more powerful becomes the alien world of objects which he creates over and against himself. . It means that the life which he has conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and alien. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work.” . it does not belong to his intrinsic nature. but now his life no longer belongs to him but to the object.. it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. they have no control over the products of their labor or how or by whom they might be used (Ollman 1976: 143).

[i. Marx (1844/1975a: 266–7) was well aware that different forms of alienation prevailed in pre-capitalist societies.150 • Karl Marx. Marx (1844/1975a: 277) wrote that alienation “estranges man from his own body. conscious decisions . The capitalists compete with one another for shares of the market and hence profits. Thus. the workers are not only alienated from their creative activity and the objects they produced. the competitive nature of capitalism itself requires that they appropriate surplus value with ever-increasing efficiency. where “the social distribution of labor and its products is effected by a wide variety of customs. mediates social relations and creates a “‘a society’ that assumes the form of a quasi-independent. or conceivably. Fourth.] manifest social relations” (Postone 1993: 149–50). Postone 1993: 159). which distorts other expressions of everyday life as well (Ollman 1976: 147–9. this species character is not some transhistorical.. Fracchia 1995: 360). abstract essence but rather is a historically specific consequence of the capitalist constitution of labor” where abstract labor becomes the measure of value. Anthropologist Third.e. in capitalist society. as well as external nature and his spiritual aspect. However. As we indicated earlier in this section. but also from the capitalists who appropriated them (Marx 1844/1975a: 279). and their ability to put themselves imaginatively into the shoes of another and to recognize both the similarities to and differences from themselves.e. abstract. their faculty for self-contemplation. . from the very qualities that make them human: their sociality. and that the capitalist owns—i. growing self-interest.e. These were distorted and deformed as social life turned into a means of individual life and spontaneous productive activity metamorphosed into a means of mere physical existence. Because of their isolated individuality. While the capitalists who control the conditions of production remain indifferent to workers except as a commodity that produces surplus value. The workers compete with one another for employment and for better-paying jobs to purchase the commodities they need for survival. . These alienated relations between human beings refract the existence of private property in the means of production. For example. 202–11. universal Other that stands opposed to the individuals and exerts an impersonal compulsion on them” (Fracchia 1995: 360. has private property in—the objects produced by someone else. there is still more to estrangement of one human being from another in capitalist society.. to name only a few. their capacity for creative productive activity. traditional ties. The workers are estranged from the capitalists by virtue of the fact that the commodities produced are independent of the individuals who actually made them. 153–6. and mounting indifference to others. neither the slaves (war captives) of classical antiquity nor the serfs of feudal society were separated . However. his human aspect” (emphasis in the original). their curiosity and imagination. human beings are estranged from their “species character”—i. overt relations of power. human beings in these conditions understand others as objects and begin to see themselves as increasingly or continually in competition with them. members of capitalist society—workers and the capitalists alike—are alienated from one another.

Exploitation. nor men ever more the victims of circumstance. they were alienated from a portion of the goods they produced. and Forms of Social Hierarchy The close connection Marx saw between alienation and relations of social domination and exploitation were already evident when he wrote The 1844 Manuscripts. albeit legally and politically subordinated ones. depends not on the capabilities of individual or collective agents but rather on the places they occupy relative to each other in a relational system that structures. maintains. The medieval serf. John Plamentz wrote perceptively that Alienation was never worse than in bourgeois society. often a significant portion. Inequalities of wealth were never greater or the poor more constrained to accept the terms offered to them by the rich in the [capitalist] society that proclaims the equality of men before the law and the rights of man. serf and lord constituted forms of state-based society that were not only vital but also local and limited. (Plamentz 1975: 297) Domination. Slave and master. they were also not inexorably driven toward their own suspension or toward the formation of some universal or free individuality as happens under capitalism. where the capacities to act are not distributed equally to all parties to the relationship” (Isaac 1987: 83–4). In a phrase. Social domination is a relationship that refers to the ability of the members of one group to constrain the agency of another group and to secure the compliance of its members. was less exposed to total ruin. Here. They were not isolated individuals but rather members of a community. social domination is a relation that involves control over the actions of groups “by means . Manual work was never as dull or precarious as it has come to be for most people in the economy in which labour is freely bought and sold. though he lived poorly. Nonetheless. who in spite of their status and position had rights of access to and use of communal resources as well as social and interpersonal relations with one another by virtue of their participation in the activities of the collectivity. It has been called “the asymmetrical distribution of social power [where] relations of domination and subordination comprise a subset of power relations. was more secure than the wage-worker under capitalism. power viewed as the capacity both to affect something and to actualize that ability.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 151 from the means of production or the products of their creative activity. In a commentary on Marx’s view of state-based societies as alienated forms of social life. the medieval burgher though he could not amass wealth in the way open to the capitalist. and they were certainly estranged from the lords and rulers who not only objectified their social status but also depended on them for the goods and services they provided. and transforms not only their interactions but also occasionally even the relational system itself. for precapitalist societies in all their variety were characterized by “relations of dependence” (Marx 1857–8/1973: 158). through various political and other extra-economic forms of surplus extraction.

Only in the eighteenth century. belonging to a greater whole: in a still quite natural way in the family and in the family expanded into the clan [Stamm]. workers who do not control the conditions of production are continually compelled to sell their labor power to capitalists who control those conditions. that the different relational structures were historically constituted. it remains tied to the expenditure of human labor (Postone 1993: 342). general) relations. redefine the amount of time workers are required to expend on reproduction. is also precisely that of the hitherto most developed social (from this standpoint. Marx was also clear by the late 1850s if not earlier that the forms of social domination were diverse and varied from one kind of society to another.” do the various forms of social connection confront the individual as a mere means toward his private necessity. reset the amount of value produced in a fixed amount of time. appear[s] as dependent. But the epoch which produces this standpoint. it “subjects people to impersonal structural imperatives and constraints that cannot be adequately grasped in terms of concrete domination (e. is membership in a community. in this view. then later in the various forms of communal society arising out of the antithesis and fusion of clans. Anthropologist of control over the conditions of their activity” rather than a causal determination of social action itself (Gould 1978: 135–6). and that generates an ongoing historical dynamic. and its more or less overt forms of social hierarchy based on historically constituted differences that refract the structure of its labor markets. The form of social domination that prevails in capitalist societies is abstract and impersonal. Every time workers sell their labor power or capitalists purchase it. and importantly that not all societies manifested social structures that supported relations of domination and subordination. personal or group domination). As Moishe Postone (1993: 3–4) writes. At the same time that capitalism creates wealth. they underwrite the reproduction of capitalism with its hidden forms of social domination and exploitation. that of the isolated individual. A major difference that Marx discerned between capitalist and pre-capitalist societies is that in the case of the latter the individual. The capitalists appropriate the surplus value created by the workers in the process of production and realize that value as profit over and above the cost of production when the commodities are sold.g.” In order to earn wages with which they can purchase commodities. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 84) The key. as external necessity. and worsen (immiserate) the circumstances of the workers regardless of the amount of their wage (Marx 1863–7/1977: 799).152 • Karl Marx. in “civil society. its proclamation of freedom and equality before the law. The capitalists are continually compelled to invest in new technologies and forms of regulation (management) that simultaneously increase productivity. and hence also the producing individual. and the rights and expectations that prevail among those individuals who constitute the social relations of the group and participate in its activities. Social domination is not a factor in some kin .

was the way in which the dominant class(es) whose members owned or controlled the conditions of production extracted surplus goods and labor from those classes that were directly engaged in production. peasants. individual wage-workers. This relationship underpinned not only the economic basis of the community but also the entire social structure. and labor time that ultimately constituted much of the nobility’s livelihood and actually underwrote their continued existence as a social group. noble and commoner alike were members of the same community. Exploitation has been described variously by different authors. and whether perceived as compulsion or not). they also depended on the latter for the surplus goods. albeit divided into distinct dominant and subordinate layers. locality. or . according to Marx. . slaves. serfs. or life experience. like those in Hawaii or on the Northwest Coast. slightly more elaborate account is that exploitation [occurs] when the use of the surplus by a group (or an aggregate) which has not provided the corresponding labour reproduces the conditions for a new extortion of surplus labour from the producers. gender. for Marx (1864–94/1981: 929). however. Lewis Henry Morgan (1881/2003: 1–103) characterized these communities as “communism in living. Even in the pre-capitalist tributary states described earlier.g. and where political decisions are often reached by consensus after lengthy discussion. landlords. at the end of the labour process the proletarian finds himself obliged once again to sell his labour power which the capitalist will then exploit (more intensely) thanks to the surplus he has appropriated during the labour process. One especially clear definition is that it occurs “when the primary producer is obliged to yield up a surplus under the influence of compulsion (whether political. where resources are held in common. in the capitalist system. where social domination was overt. or tenant farmers could be exploited directly by individual employers. Lee 1992: 77). including the particular political forms of sovereignty and dependence that shape the institutions and practices of the state. While the lords certainly had the capacity to constrain the agency of commoners who actually controlled the conditions of production. that have hereditary chiefs. Thus. . generosity. (Dupré and Rey 1968/1980: 196) The most distinctive feature of any society. That is. A second. continually pressed the lords to fulfill their obligations and to be generous especially in times of strife or famine. rent. economic or social. in turn. and concrete rather than impersonal and structural. and hospitality (e. Marx was also aware that exploitation could be either direct or indirect.” (Ste Croix 1981: 37). and wealth differentials. these too are characterized by communal control and use of resources and by fiercely held expectations of sharing.” There are also kin communities.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 153 communities where status differences reflect age. personal. where power or ability of one individual or group to constrain the agency of another is non-existent. at any rate at the stage when he no longer receives a real equivalent exchange . The commoners. where sharing and hospitality are expected. nobles and commoners. hierarchically ranked clans.

As a result. By contrast. or forced labor levied disproportionately on them by the state. Anthropologist moneylenders. exploitation occurs in the production process as the employer appropriates surplus value from the wageworkers—i. With particular reference to the exploitation of the French peasants from 1848 to 1850. to appropriate a surplus at the expense of—the larger classes. defined above all according to their relationship (primarily in terms of the degree of ownership or control) to the conditions of production (that is to say. the means and labour of production) and to other classes. . The individual capitalists exploit the individual peasants through mortgages and usury. Marx wrote The condition of the French peasants. when the republic had added new burdens to their old ones. the appropriation of surplus goods and labor-time is typically overt and periodic.. and thus constitute an economically and socially (and therefore probably also political) superior class or classes.e. continuous. A class (a particular class) is a group of persons in a community identified by their position in the whole system of social production. the way in which appropriation is embodied in a social structure. It is the essence of a class society that one or more of the smaller classes. . . which occurs at the economic realm of society even when the overt means of enforcing it derive political acts or legal practices. The obvious difference between direct exploitation in capitalist and non-capitalist societies is the locus of exploitation. is comprehensible. . (Marx 1850/1978: 122. the pretext under which it set him against the industrial proletariat. While the demands may be framed in terms of reciprocal exchange. It can be seen that there exploitation differs only in form from the exploitation of the industrial proletariat. Geoffrey de Sainte Croix has written that Class (essentially a relationship) is the collective social expression of the fact of exploitation. it takes place in an indirect. military conscription. in those pre-capitalist societies—such as tributary states like the Inca Empire—where direct exploitation occurs. which he viewed as both the collective agent of the ruling class and an arena for class struggle (Ste Croix 1981: 43–4). the locus of exploitation in pre-capitalist societies resides not at the economic level but rather in their social or political moments. (Ste Croix 1981: 43–4) . The peasant’s title to property is the talisman by which capital held him hitherto under its spell. will be able to exploit—that is. and abstract manner at the economic level. impersonal. . underwrites the formation and reproduction of social-class structures. the capitalist class exploits the peasant class through the state taxes. they are ultimately backed up with threats of force.154 • Karl Marx. in virtue of their control over the conditions of production (most commonly exercised through ownership of the means of production). emphasis in the original). The exploiter is the same: capital. . Exploitation. In capitalist societies. or could be exploited indirectly through taxes.

however. they cease to exist as real people and appear instead as formal entities—legal or civil personalities—in the eyes of the state. They do this in the interest of the state and of the society as a whole. This hierarchy of non-economic social categories disguises both the real economic class relations and the real contradictions that emerge from them. It is the condition for the formation of economic class relations to the extent that this process determines the place of the different social categories in the production process. the true nature of the economic is obscured. or race.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 155 In the “classless” societies manifesting variants of the communal mode of production. the social categories that regulate the relations of production are not economic ones. This involves the objectification of individual human beings. which involves the progressive differentiation of the activities of these categories. and other activities that were previously carried out by the community. and the economic aspects of the community are masked or concealed by them. This.2 The agencies of the state subsume the administration of justice. provides the conditions for the further development of the contradictions based on the appearance of extortion (Bonte 1981: 51–5). Since these relations are dominant during the processes of class formation. and that it determines the reorganization of the labor processes to incorporate exploitation by one or more of these categories. the social classes that emerge when individuals or groups of individuals begin to pursue their own interests in the context of the continuing public institutions and practices of the community are defined largely in cultural terms. 1845–6/1976: 46–8. By the mid 1840s. since the emergent class structure consists of a hierarchy of social categories that cannot be reduced directly to economic class relations. Marx did not argue that other sociohistorically constituted categories—such as gender. In Marx’s (1880–2/1974: 329) terms. the state was an excrescence of society. The state is simultaneously the representative of the class in whose interests it was organized and the mediator of the oppositions between individuals of that class and between the opposing classes of the society as a whole (Krader 1978: 94–6). is the basic contradiction of civil society. which also place individuals and groups in social . The formation of the class structure is ultimately based on the economic order of the society—the unequal accumulation of surplus product by the various social categories that make up the hierarchy. 76–85) had already worked out the class theory of the state (Draper 1977). The state stood above society only when the economic class relations of appropriation have become dominant. Thus. The autonomy of politics and of the state was the product of modern times. The reorganization of the labor processes. Marx and Engels (e. ethnicity. while the hierarchical social categories of the class structure appear as “natural” relations. In such a situation. They argued that the constitution of the state was connected with the conditions for the constitution of the class structure and with the conditions for the reproduction of the dominant class as real economic class relations appear.g. the economic class relations appear different from their real nature. the conduct of war and diplomacy.

Marx (e. Resistance and Protest It is worth noting that Marx thought that slaves. For example.3 While these forms of hierarchy were not well developed in his work. 335.” it was also ”an active moral agency. in the same volume. peasants. and workers were never completely powerless.g. both he and Marx (e.000 or so women and children employed in the domestic production of lace (Marx 1863–7/1977: 590–1. 1869/1988b) would lament the chauvinism of the different national groups that made it difficult for them to see their common cause as workers. 349) ranted against the racial classifications and hierarchies that were being constructed by social scientists in the wake of massive immigration in the late nineteenth century and used to legitimize the construction of working classes that were being stratified in terms of racialized identities (Gailey 2006: Patterson and Spencer 1995). in Capital. legitimating social hierarchy. Anthropologist hierarchies in capitalist societies—were unimportant.” (1843–4/1975: 175. In The Ethnological Notebooks. raised in a predominantly Catholic region oppressed by a state whose official cult was evangelical Protestantism. and English identities to construct an ethnically stratified labor force in Manchester and the slums inhabited by the Irish workers whom he characterized as the poorest of the poor. Engels (1845/1975: 389–92) had already described both the ways in which capitalist employers used Irish. religion was always more than “the ideological expression of the powerful [including the state]. however. the heart of a heartless world. especially for the deprived and despised” (Raines 2002: 5). often consider them in terms of how they intersected with social-class structures.156 • Karl Marx. 595–9). reformist efforts. just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. For Marx. Over the years. he described vividly the effects on the 140. “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest against real distress. he did. emphasis in the original) .g. Scottish. he quoted a public health report for 1863 and commented on its observations and remarked angrily on its justification for gendered inequities in food consumption: “the insufficiency of food on agricultural labourers fell as a rule chiefly on the women and children ‘for the man must eat to do his work’” (Marx 1863–7/1977: 809). It is the opium of the people. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. involving essentially exploitation. or resistance to it” (Ste Croix 1981: 44). Postone 1993: 321). In The Condition of the Working Class in England. 1880–2/1974: 324. reducible to class position. Over the years. or could only be understood in terms of class (Brodkin 2000. and that struggle is “the fundamental relationship between classes (and their respective individual members). In Marx’s own words. and open rebellion. he would comment on various forms of protest ranging from religion and the ongoing tensions between communities and the states in which they are enmeshed to various forms of resistance.

other industrial workers in the region reported that their problems were the same as those of the weavers. Marx (e. a crowd of 5. “a crowd of 3. 1857/1986c. foot-dragging. As Michael Löwy (2003/2005: 85) pointed out. Within hours. Patterson 1991: 98–128). Even when conditions are quiescent. the failed revolutions of 1849. 1871/1986). the state. killing or wounding a number of weavers. like Hegel before him.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 157 In this view. the dominant class. 1857/1986e.000 marched on a neighboring village (Langebielau). religion provides a sense of community and meaning to existence in times of increasingly atomization as human beings feel steadily more isolated from one another. and resistance they engender are played out in everyday life. Scott 1985). the crowd responded and drove off the military. The following day. where similar scenes occurred” (Löwy 2003/2005: 83). when kinship relations are distorted and become attached to non-kin-based state institutions. 42–4) notes. the contradictions arising from exploitation that exist between the priorities of the dominant class. especially in capitalist society (Marx 1844/1975a: 377). Thirty-eight were arrested and given long prison sentences. and the subject communities. Reinforcements arrived on the following day and dispersed the crowd into countryside where they were pursued by the soldiers.g. 1880–2/1974: 204. or evasion to name only a few (Bodley 1982. Marx.000 weavers ransacked his house and destroyed the account books. 1857/1986b. Toward the end of the year. and how the ongoing dynamics. As Gailey (1987: 16–7. 300–3. The protest was launched when a weaver employed as a domestic worker was arrested for singing a song lamenting the starvation wages paid by the factory owner. Marx sought out contemporary. Kin/civil conflict often spills over into active revolt (e. 261. and ethnographic accounts of protest and resistance. and the state. Hobsbawm 1959. The army intervened. the conflict continues as subject communities engage in various forms of passive resistance—lying.g. From the mid 1840s onward. historical. and the Paris Commune in 1870 (Marx 1850/1978. such as local chief or tax collector. and the new local representatives of the state and its dominant class find themselves in the position of having to negotiate whole new sets of relations with their kin and neighbors at the same time they are dealing with the demands of the state. individuals whose prestige is rooted in kinship are threatened. His earliest effort was an analysis of the revolt of the Silesian weavers in June 1844 (Marx 1844/1975c: 202–6). the Indian Mutiny in late 1850s. 1852/1979. Let us briefly return to the issue posed at the beginning of this section: the selfactualization of human potential—the self-determination or self-realization of the social individual. believed that history began with . theft. Marx recognized the relative weakness of the working class at the time and raised two important questions: (1) what was the balance of force among the workers. 328) also paid particular attention in The Ethnological Notebooks to what anthropologist Stanley Diamond (1951/1996) later called “kin/civil conflict”—that is. turmoil. and (2) what were the possibilities for alliances between the workers and other groups both within and beyond the national state? These would guide his analyses of subsequent protests and revolts—for example.

given the topics Marx addressed at length or in passing in his writings. believed in a notion of progress— that is. They had an existential need for a sense of community. Marx saw the project of self-actualization as a revolutionary goal to be achieved in the future on the basis of conditions that were created and contested in the present. and for a feeling of wholeness (Brian 2006: 233–5). the particular kinds of human existence that prevailed in different moments in the past were different from those of today. At the same time. Individual human beings struggled both with the world in which they lived and with their inner selves. state ownership of public utilities and banking. new power relations. the resolution of those contradictions involved putting into practice those capabilities that could be realized given the opportunities and constraints that prevail in historically given circumstances.4 Anthropology: “The Study of People in Crisis by People in Crisis” Let us now turn to the second goal outlined in the introduction to the book: namely. Marx. In a sense. ‘ought’ and ‘is’” (Rader 1979: 205). hope and accomplishment. he also recognized capitalism condemned large numbers of peoples to lives of drudgery. Another way of phrasing this is that the structure of capitalist society made it increasingly unlikely that human beings living under the conditions it creates would have the freedom from alienation. domination. At the same time. As a result. for creative expression. and creating conditions of material abundance and freedom that allow all human beings to actualize themselves as social individuals (Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 505). like a number of his predecessors. more like Hegel than Adam Smith. they lived in crisis. it might involve among other things several forms of income redistribution. sometimes it was much slower. and their crises had both external and internal dimensions and dialectics. Sometimes the pace of change was relatively rapid. Anthropologist human existence. recognized that capitalism created a variety of occupations that had not existed earlier. and few opportunities for creative activity beyond the satisfaction of immediate physical needs.158 • Karl Marx. We live in crisis as well. because it is historicized. and that. they recognized “the disparity between thought and being. both actual and potential. forging a social safety net. to issues of importance in anthropology today? Here. and that this diversity was a manifestation of circumstances that did in fact offer new opportunities. Marx. long working hours. for connection with reality. human beings continually struggle to overcome the internal and external contradictions in their daily lives (Plamentz 1975: 322–56). it is important to keep in mind that he was a political activist whose aim . ideal and fact. for a meaningful understanding of the worlds they inhabited. a more equitable distribution of justice. as he and Engels had advocated in the Communist Manifesto. and exploitation to actualize their potential. In other words. He did not specify in any great detail what the structures of those communities would be like—even though. what is his legacy. equal liability for work.

Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 159 was not merely to describe and interpret the world but rather to change it (Marx 1845/1976: 5). Like any political activist worth his salt, Marx was acutely aware of the importance of accurate assessments of the social groups involved and their capabilities under historically specific conditions, their relations, the balance of force among them, and the possibilities for building alliances to change that balance, as well as opportunities for maneuverability in those circumstances. Needless to say in these appraisals, he was far more interested in the real than in self-representations that put the best possible “spin” on things and always have the capacity to distort actually existing relations and conditions. As a result, Marx’s anthropology was an engaged anthropology. If he were alive today, he would probably agree with Stanley Diamond’s observation that
Anthropology, reified as the study of man, is the study of men in crisis by men in crisis. Anthropologists and their objects, the studied, despite opposing positions in the “scientific” equation, have this much in common: they are both, if not equally, objects of contemporary, imperial civilization. . . . Unless the anthropologist confronts his own alienation which is only a special instance of a general condition, and seeks to understand its roots, and subsequently matures as a relentless critic of his own civilization, the very civilization which objectifies man, he cannot understand or even recognize himself in the other or the other in himself. (Diamond 1969/1999: 401–2)

Marx’s anthropology of engagement would broadly include ongoing critical considerations of at least the following issues: (1) the relations, presuppositions, and practices of one’s own society; how they came to be; and how they impinge on and interact with those of other communities; (2) the sociohistorical developmental trajectories of other societies as well as of their complex, shifting articulations with one another and with our own society; (3) the conditions of constitution and historicity of analytical categories that are presumed to be ontological, and that distinguish phenomenal (superficial) forms from the essential relations that underlie them; and (4) the dialectical interplay of theoretically informed questions, which shape empirical observation, and the empirical evidence itself, which necessarily forces the refinement, modification, or rejection of theoretical understanding. As you will recall, Marx (1837/1975) lamented in a letter to his father the fragmentation of knowledge that was taking place in the university when he was a student. Hence, there is good reason to believe that his anthropology today would be integrating and integrative rather than one that balkanizes appreciation of the human condition and, in the process, actively promotes indifference, intolerance, or even contempt for the work of others among the diverse practitioners attempting to understand it. There are a number of perspectives or themes that Marx examined which retain their relevance today. Plausibly these include: the historicity of human beings both as natural and social beings and their changing relations; capitalism and its transformations on an increasingly global scale; social-class relations and their

160 • Karl Marx, Anthropologist intersection with racism, nationalism, and sexism; the health and well-being of human individuals; culture as an arena of social reproduction, creativity, and resistance; language, communication, and social relations; and the transition to more just forms of society. Let us briefly consider each of them in the pages that follow. First, Marx’s anthropology would be a theoretically informed, historical anthropology whose objects of inquiry were concerned with ensembles of social relations and culture per se rather than with the particular methodologies that archaeologists, historians, or ethnographers use to recuperate information about societies and the individuals who compose them that either existed in the past or live in contemporary communities whose day-to-day realities may be located in one part of the world while their centers of gravity and reference may be situated elsewhere. His anthropology was also sensitive to the diversity of those societies in time and space. It would pay attention to the historical development of human beings as both biological and social beings. Marx (e.g. 1863–7/1977: 340–416) knew that the human body simultaneously afforded certain opportunities and imposed certain limitations on what individuals could accomplish given the circumstances in which they lived and the arrays of cultural knowledge, practices, and things that were available to them at those particular times and places. He also knew that existent social relations, cultural knowledge, dispositions, and practices as well as their materialized manifestations not only shaped how the members of particular communities understood the worlds in which they live but also influenced the significance and meaning their members attached to its constituent elements. Both the social and biological dimensions of human beings are implicated in the metabolism that exists between their communities and the natural worlds they inhabit; both are involved in the changes to those metabolisms as is the natural world—changes that have the capacity at least to transform not only how human beings themselves live in their worlds but also to modify the human body itself. His anthropology would be concerned with the everyday lives of individuals, their social relations with one another, and the cultural beliefs and dispositions they share or contest as these are both replicated and transformed in the course of their day-to-day actions. Society and culture are processes that reflect and interact not only with the particular combinations of modes of production that underlie them at a different level of reality but also with contingent events and the tide of history. While many events, like brushing one’s teeth in the morning, may be fairly inconsequential, others, like the Russian Revolution of 1917, have had profound effects and were, in fact, chains of events set in motion months or even years earlier. They reflect decisions made as well as the intended and the unintended consequences of those choices that promote particular historical trajectories selected out of wider arrays of initial possibilities. This is what is sometimes meant by phrases like “tide of history,” whose course and outcome are often frighteningly foreseeable quite early in the process as events begin to unfold with almost law-like predictability and regularity, like those in the wake of the USA’s invasion of Iraq.

Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 161 His anthropology would deal with the issues of change understood both as transformation within particular combinations of modes of production and as transition from one mode of production to another. For example, the former might include developments internal to tributary or capitalist societies, while the latter might focus on the transition from feudalism to capitalism or the dual processes involved in the simultaneous dissolution of kin-based relations and the formation of social-class relations during the transition from primitive communism to some form of tributary society (e.g. Gailey 1987; Lee 2003; Leone and Potter 1999; Orser 1999). This anthropology would continue to appreciate his concern with the balance of force or power that exists among the disparate groups of a society as well as the changing circumstances that variously underwrite, reproduce, erode, alter, and even occasionally erase that balance. It would stress the historically contingency of change and underscore the fact, contrary to the beliefs of the evolutionists, that particular outcomes are never guaranteed even as groups struggle to secure them. This anthropology would also recognize, as Marx did in The Eighteenth Brumaire, the existence of dominant, residual, and emergent modes of production and cultures in particular societies—sometimes perceptively and presciently, sometimes by “studying history backward” to borrow a phrase from Bertell Ollman (1993: 133). Marx’s anthropology would also engage what Eric Wolf (1972) called “political ecology.” He realized that “the earth . . . [together with human beings] is active as an agent in the production of use-values, a material product” (Marx 1864– 94/1981: 955) and that “labour-power itself is, above all else, the material of nature transformed into a human organism” (Marx 1863–7/1977: 323). Elsewhere, Marx (1863–7/1977: 134) described the metabolism of human beings and nature in the following way: “Labour is not the only source of material wealth, i.e. of the usevalues it produces. As William Petty says labour is the father of material wealth, the earth is its mother.” He recognized that the relationship between people and their environment, as well as the production of use values, always occurred under specific sets of social relations, and that the latter had a shaping effect on how people humanized nature and how they were, in turn, naturalized by their worlds (Soper 1996: 87). That is, the conditions and relations of capitalist production had different consequences on the natural world than those that prevailed during earlier phases of sociohistorical development or in societies manifesting other modes of production (e.g. Marx 1857–8/1973: 604–5; 1861–3/1971: 301; 1865–85/1981: 321–3; 1864–94/1981: 195). In other words, while Marx was acutely aware of environmental degradation and sustainability under historically specific conditions, he also recognized the dependence of society on natural conditions and relativized both the notions of ecological limitations and overpopulation. As a consequence, he would undoubtedly be fascinated with current discussions such as those touching on the anthropology of built landscapes, overpopulation, global climate change, the property relations and governmental policies that sustain man-made natural disasters and famines, environmental degradation, and pollution to name only a few

162 • Karl Marx, Anthropologist (cf. Burkett 1999; Davis 1999, 2001; Franke and Chasin 1980; Grundmann 1991; Hughes 2000; Panitch and Leys 2006; Steinberg 2000). Second, Marx’s anthropology would retain a focus on the ongoing historical development of capitalism and the periodic crises, like the Great Depression of the 1930s, that are integral, necessary features of its growth. This focus would necessarily have several dimensions. Marx was impressed by the ability of the capitalist mode of production to produce wealth; in this regard, it was unlike any of its predecessors. By the 1860s, he had discerned that capitalism was developing along different trajectories, for example, in England, the United States, and Germany. He had written that there were alternative possibilities or options for the kinds of capitalist development that might occur in the immediate future in those national states. He was aware that there had already been several phases of industrial capitalist development broadly reflecting shifts from production of the means of consumption (the competitive capitalism of textile production, for instance, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) to the production of the means of production (the manufacture in the mid nineteenth century that yielded a commodity—steel for instance which could be used to make other commodities like railroad tracks or steam engines; this shift also involved the concentration and centralization of capital, the formation of joint stock companies, and the emerging distinction in the workplace between managers, engineers, and administrators, on the one hand, and skilled and less-skilled workers, on the other). He was aware of imperialist development, which involved the acquisition of raw materials from colonies or former colonies, the production of commodities in the factories of the capitalist state, and the sale of those goods in overseas markets created in the colonies; moreover, he would consider those commodities and their impact (e.g. Mauer 2006; Mintz 1985). Marx would undoubtedly have been fascinated by the development of industrial capitalism and its peripherals in the twentieth-century—such as the rise of finance capital and increasing interdependence of firms and industries in the early years; the Fordist compromises and guarantees between capital and labor after the Second World War underwritten by Keynesian state welfare policies and mass consumerism; the breakdown of those agreements with the advent of flexible accumulation in the 1970s; the dependent industrialization in parts of Latin America and East Asia; further fragmentation of the working class, the emergence of permanently unemployable peoples, the increased importance of financial markets following the partial abrogation of the Bretton Woods agreements; innovations in transportation and communication; or the impact of computer, information, and robotics technologies on the management, surveillance, and structure of production in the last thirty years to name only a few. Marx devoted considerable attention to the structural features, the conflicting tendencies, underlying the periodic crises and business cycles of the capitalist mode of production. His analyses began with the unequal exchanges that occur between those firms engaged in the manufacture of steel and other means of production

g. He also noted that the anarchic relations prevailing between firms producing means of production and those producing consumer goods result not only in the periodic overproduction and under-consumption of those goods but also in episodes of underemployment. the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina. Anthropologists. It was also apparent to Marx that the reproduction of capitalist accumulation on an expanded scale necessarily involved the continual absorption of peoples living in non-capitalist . Marx noted that the process of capitalist accumulation was always embedded in particular combinations of social relations and ecological circumstances. It is clear that both individuals and communities on the peripheries of capitalism frequently entered into these relations on their own terms—terms that made sense to them (e.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 163 and those that are involved in the manufacture of consumer goods. Harvey 2006: 69–116). in an effort either to resolve the crises of capitalism or to shift responsibility and the burden to the more affected and less powerful. Ireland. efforts to embed the process of accumulation and create the physical and administrative infrastructures (the built environment) required for its success frequently involved tensions. When the human sciences were professionalized in the late nineteenth century. often at the same time.g. as well as the implementation by national states of various Keynesian and neoliberal policies. bank closures. They involved the tendencies of the rate of profit to fall in industrial sectors and of investment to move from less to more profitable sectors of the economy with one consequence that the weaker firms in any given sector were destroyed through the concentration and centralization of capital. He took notice of episodes of the over-accumulation of capital—that is. savings and loan scandals. rapidly rising prices. the emergence of social movements. which adversely affect both workers and the profitability of firms that sell commodities targeted for the working classes. conflicts. and even the destruction of local communities as well as their articulation into the regional division of labor and entry into and participation in market exchange relations (cf. Sahlins 1993/2000). these crises have also underwritten emigration and yielded shortages. or the Pueblos of the American Southwest. of periods when it was not being invested because the rates of return on investments were deemed too low. the collapse of sub-prime mortgage markets. have long been aware that there is a significant spatial element in capitalist development that simultaneously involves both the uneven development of space and the incorporation or encapsulation in different ways of societies or peoples residing in those spaces or regions into the processes of capitalist production. anthropology’s object of inquiry in that emergent technical division of labor consisted of peoples living on the margins of the capitalist world or in one of its diasporic communities or internal colonies—e. with varying degrees of consciousness of the fact. it often involved the dispossession of local inhabitants or the devaluation or destruction of their assets (like the textile industry of India in the late eighteenth century or the buffalo herds of the Great Plains after the American Civil War). Besides unemployment. fiscal shortfalls for multiple levels of government.

Marx’s anthropology would want to examine social-class structures viewed in terms of the relations of production and their intersection with hierarchies socially and culturally constructed in terms of race. and the subsequent conversion of the displaced persons into seasonal subsistence fishermen.g. national states. while these essences may be portrayed as either biological . ethnic. on the one hand. and capitalism and. national states have historically protected capitalist enterprises located in their territories and suppressed resistance to the actions of those firms and to those of the state itself (e. on the other. the expropriation and redistribution of property. and the criminalization of vagabondage as well as its foot-dragging and active opposition both to legislation and to the enforcement of laws that would have been beneficial to the health and well-being of workers.g. he commented on the role played by the state in the transformation of agrarian landscapes in nineteenth-century Scotland into pasturage. poachers. Reyna and Downs 1999. Orser 2001. by the mapping of elements which were understood by their cartographers to reflect “essential” differences in collectivities of human bodies (e. for example. rustlers. littoral harvesters. foragers. Winant 2004). What we know about these analytical categories is that they vary significantly in time and space and even from one neighborhood to the next in a city like Detroit. There has been an intimate and complex relationship between the crystallization of the capitalist mode of production. the expulsion of their inhabitants. national. Marx would probably not be surprised by the resilience of capitalist enterprises and the capitalist mode of production in the years since his death. like Afghanistan. Elsewhere. and beggars who lived on the margins of capitalist society and whose activities were often of questionable legality (Marx 1853/1979g: 492–4). these categories create identities that are both oppositional and relational and that serve to include some individuals and exclude others. Weis 1998).g. The relationship of capitalism to the national state is indeed a complicated one especially in the former colonies of capitalist states and in areas. Anthropologist regions into capitalist social relations—a process that began more than two centuries ago and has continued virtually unabated to the present as evidenced by the vast numbers of young men and women emigrating today from the rural regions of western China to find wage-labor in the factories of the new industrial cities of Guangdong Province. Third. 2004). 877–907) discussed the state’s role in the dispossession of small holders from their lands. Mullings 2005. where the legitimacy of the colonial regime was routinely challenged and its authority was weak under the best of circumstances. and gendered identities. Marx (1863–7/1977: 594. We have seen that. As Peter Wade (2002: 20. In Capital. We also know that the ones that prevail today developed historically under circumstances shaped. after all. What these identities or categories share is that they always relate to some essence or element of a collectivity of individuals that is viewed both as natural and as unchanging (e. Kapferer1988. thieves. by the formation of colonies. and the formation of national states from the mid seventeenth century onward.164 • Karl Marx. 25) indicates. the rise of capitalist societies.

he also realized that racism. nationalism. and sexism were real. and exploitation. and others on the health and well-being of communities (Schell and Denham 2003).g. Fourth. there are lengthy sections in Capital where Marx (e. toxic air. domination. persistent organic compounds. or people who reside in neighborhoods poisoned by toxic wastes can certainly attest to the ways in which such habitual activities affect their bodies and impair their daily lives (e. He was certainly aware that slaves lacked the rights of free men and women.g. and that immigrants identified as one of the marked categories. He becomes a slave only in certain relations. that women and children typically received lower wages than men in factories. 610–42) discussed the impact of work and pollution from lead. 517–43. and how these experiences are inscribed in their bodies through repetitive performance. were paid less than nativeborn workers. the characteristic they share is that they are immutable or fixed. 1989/1994) has further shown that racism and sexism are frequently intertwined with nationalist projects that attempt to control not only the movement of people within a national state but also their ability to work or even to exist within their borders (e. his anthropology would certainly consider the health and well-being of communities. Hinton 2002a. had changed. they would undoubtedly be a feature of his anthropology in the twenty-first century. and global scales continue to be problems that Marx recognized and addressed often in inchoate form. nationality. and Blanc-Szanton 1992. As you will recall. 1863–7/1977: 320–411. In a phrase. . national. Silverstein 2005. he once wrote What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. noise. ethnicity. for example. Data processors who toil over computers. and sexism and their articulation with class structures on local. (Marx 1849/1977: 211.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 165 or cultural. petroleum.g. A Negro is a Negro. like the Irish. They were important dimensions of social organization and cultural meaning that not only labeled individuals and collectivities but also had the potential to underwrite discrimination. miners who inhale coal dust during their work shifts. Contemporary scholars have elaborated this understanding. Glick Schiller. As you recall. the issues of racism. The one explanation is as good as the other. 2002b. Etienne Balibar (1988/1991. Warren 1998). Karen Brodkin (2000) has perceptively shown that categories constructed in terms of race. nationalism. Marx’s view of human nature was that it was mutable. and gender structure capitalist labor markets. emphasis in the original) While Marx was both disbelieving and contemptuous of claims made about innate differences between races and nationalities. especially in relation to the conditions in which individuals work and live their everyday lives. Basch. linemen on professional football teams whose life expectancies are significantly shortened by long-term acute obesity and traumas. and reflected the particular ensembles of social relations that prevailed during different historical epochs.

as you will recall from earlier in the book.166 • Karl Marx. and reproduce the next generation of the labor force. Hence. While capitalism has continually striven to reduce human beings to creatures whose species essence is to work. Marx recognized that they also engaged in an array of activities and behaviors and did things with and to their bodies that capitalism did not control. Personal ornaments passed from one generation to the next embody the identities and experiences of deceased or older individuals and have the ability to make these sentiments. and the inscription of those needs and forms on and within the bodies of human beings enmeshed in particular ensembles of social relations. Joyce 2005). They ornamented or modified the surfaces of their bodies. and even understanding are unequally distributed in societies stratified by class and other socially constructed categories. he knew that people often treated themselves using folk remedies derived from a variety of medical traditions and saw physicians and other medical practitioners. illness. and health care providers—i. materialization (the embodiment within those objects of social relations). objectification (the rendering of human needs into material objects that satisfy those needs). the health policies and role of the state in providing health care. It seems reasonable to assume that these would be integral to his empirical and philosophical anthropology if he were alive today. work. Anthropologist Bourdieu 1972/1977: 72–95. dispositions. cf.e. Marx was already working by the late 1850s with a sophisticated notion of culture as the forms of social consciousness that are intertwined with praxis and social relations as these were manifested in particular societies. and the social relations between different layers of the medical hierarchy (Singer and Baer 1995: 61. and Susser 1997). Health and life insurance companies are even more acutely aware of the effects. he also knew that medical practitioners were not only members of particular social strata but also that they were “a primary interface between the ruling and subordinate classes” (Waitzkin 1979: 603). and everyday life. in ways that conveyed not only their lived experiences but also symbolic information about who they were. Marx would have agreed with the observation that social-class position was an important factor in determining morbidity and mortality. the political-economic contexts of health. the state. Williams 2001). culture is neither a one-way reflection of the views of the . From his own life experience. eat. their intentions and identities as well as their place in society (e. Buikstra and Beck 2006. the interactions of different medical traditions in national and transnational contexts. They know that risk. dental implants. or trepanations for instance). Fifth. the interrelations among the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. sometimes permanently (tattoos. Consequently. and even desires available intergenerationally—something Marx noted in his comments on the role of tradition in the preface to The Eighteenth Brumaire. culture is interwoven with material activity. In his view. Singer.g. Schulz and Mullings 2006. Baer.. the availability of treatment. it is reasonable to assume that he would concur with the interests of critical medical anthropologists who are concerned with the social origins of disease and poor health.

Claude Lévi-Strauss. It is ambiguous and contested. which has been described in the following way: Culture provides the very grounds for human communication and interaction. and even the dialects they speak. where antagonisms are displaced to other times or places. and where they are occasionally even resolved. it changes. Fowler 1997. culture consists of the historically constituted and learned habits of the mind and their materializations that derive from the habitual practices and ways of doing things in everyday lived experience. strategy. complex. science. sentiments. culture embodies power relations. involves not merely the relations of production but also considerations of age. traditions. and innovation. Hanks 2005. While parts of culture are widely shared in any given society. It relates the dispositions. Erving Goffman. most importantly. Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) has developed a number of themes about culture that are inchoate in Marx’s writings. thus. It is the locus of practical activity. education. Schwartz 1995: 15–51). He has done so by interrogating them in light of subsequent works by Émile Durkheim. Culture includes beliefs. Culture is learned within the domestic unit and outside of it. It is interconnected with but not directly reducible to economic or social spheres of activity. it is also a source of domination. other parts—both expressions and practices—are laden with diverse meanings. creativity. It is also the theater where social relations are worked out as well as the arena where contradictions manifest themselves. habits. Culture reflects the inequalities reproduced by these class structures. values. and aspirations of individual agents to the wider social institutions and hierarchies they create and reproduce through their everyday activities. Further. The arts. Whether in the form of dispositions. improvisation. they also help establish and maintain social hierarchies. It reflects the underlying unity of everyday life. Marx would undoubtedly be intrigued with Bourdieu’s standpoint. In recent years. indeed all symbolic systems—including language itself—not only shape our understanding of reality and form the basis for human communication. but rather is the product of ongoing. It is simultaneously mechanical and critical. status. Bourdieu . values and language. (Schwartz 1995: 1) In other words.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 167 dominant classes or those of the state nor reducible to them. systems. as antagonisms are reproduced or changed (e. gender. Max Weber. religion. It is a response to the experiences and relations of individuals in social-class structures and hence is reflective of their class position and. and Erwin Panofsky among others (e. property. many culture practices in advanced societies constitute relatively autonomous arenas of struggle for distinction. Struggles over the meaning of culture are waged in the context of these structures or fields. objects.g.g. And. Intellectuals—the specialized producers and transmitters of culture—play key roles in shaping those arenas and their institutionalized hierarchies. or institutions. reciprocal interactions. it also mediates practices by connecting individuals and groups to institutionalized hierarchies.

ideology is present. generalization. Bourdieu and Passeron 1977/1990. 1979/1984. so do language and consciousness. communication. while the latter were geared toward mastering one’s own behavior. and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well. and thought are socially formed. language.e. . . reflection. on the other. and both have their bases in the relations of human beings to one another and to the worlds they inhabited. the necessity. The first provided the means for satisfying human needs. It recognizes that. . and remains so as long as men exist at all. it is important to understand who said what. it is a means for conveying information and emotions. planning. language is practical consciousness that exists also for other men. it is also contested. 1929/1986) argued that consciousness (inner speech and a social event as he described it) was “bathed by and suspended in” spoken utterances. that words are signs. Vygotsky (1934/1962) focused instead on Marx’s notion of language as practical consciousness—i. and how the other participants in the interaction understood what was said as well as the milieu in which it was made. . 1991. and perhaps even changing one’s relations with others and the world they inhabit. the other for developing higher mental processes and internalized abstract thought. 1980/1990. and social relations. emphasis in the original) Thus. as those relations change. Language is historical. Crehan 2002). This has come to be called “the ethnography of communication” by linguistic anthropologists (Hymes 1967/1986). Consciousness is. too” (Vološinov 1927/1976: 10).. on the one hand. Anthropologist 1964/1979. as Marnie Holborow (2006: 4–7) has pointed out. from the very beginning a social product. Since words are social signs that have a number of potentially different meanings for different social classes or in different social contexts. how he or she said it. and that the meaning of these utterances could only be understood in terms of the contexts in which verbal interactions occurred. and language and ideology. Sixth. it exists for me. Holborow proceeded to argue that Valentin Vološinov (1895–1936) and Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) developed Marx’s notion that language was part of human consciousness in different ways. language and consciousness are dialectically intertwined. Marx’s anthropology would certainly examine the interconnections of language. in his perspective. he saw parallels between the use of tools and signs. Vološinov (1927/1976: 15. and that “wherever a sign is present. how the processes of problem-solving. For Marx. only arises from the need. and dynamic. therefore. 1989/1996. As you will recall from Chapter 3. of intercourse with other men. The former mediated human activity oriented toward managing nature. there is a dialectical relationship between language and human beings in society. like consciousness. consciousness. 1984/1988. (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 44. Language is as old as consciousness. 1993. creative. Where there exists a relationship.168 • Karl Marx. while language is shared.

He proceeds to argue that Marx applied a different ethical standpoint. signs (inner speech) had a different function from oral utterances. or virtues that govern behavior that affects others. Consequently. he also publicly opposed the torture and mistreatment of slaves in America and British war crimes in India. Wakin 1992. and freedom (emancipation). as Marx (e. 1857–8/1973: 705) was clear that the wage-relation between capitalist and worker in capitalist societies was not just and used terms like “exploitation. verbalization is often reduced. Importantly. Marx’s anthropology of today would also include considerations of morality and of such central moral issues as justice. It is worth noting in this context that Marx was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery.g. and democracy among others. even though there was a back and forth relationship between word and sign. Marx (e. incomplete. yet he has been described as a “moralist” when writing about the alienation. domination. 1843c/1975c: 162–4. and exploitation of workers in capitalist societies (Thompson 1978: 363–4). Inner (egocentric) speech was a critical step in the processes of concept-formation and decision-making and whose structure was “highly context-dependent” (Holborow 2006: 23). rights. freeing political prisoners. dependent not only on material circumstances but also reflects the prejudices and ideology of the dominant classes. The capitalist. as Ziyad Husami (1978/1980) points out. Paley 2002. because after all they have entered into a contract which applies the standards of justice underpinning capitalist society and assumes that the capitalist owns the means of production. Price 2007. fairness. Seventh.g. These and other themes in his writings and public statements are either identical or similar to ones that have been addressed by anthropologists for at least the last forty years (e. As Gary Young (1981) further notes. Diamond 1970. Morality is a public system of rules. it is. 1880–2/1974: 329) noted from the 1840s onward. which claims that the labor contributions of the workers are not adequately rewarded.” or “plunder.g. This perspective led Marx to focus on issues such as freedom and justice. 2005. He also noted that when the thoughts and experiences of speakers and listeners coincide. Steven Lukes (1987: 26–7) provides a resolution to this seeming paradox: Marx did not think of morality as a system of individual rights deriving from membership in civil society or a political community but rather as emancipation from rights that had been honed and imposed by the members of politically and economically dominant classes. Kapferer 2004. Marx distinguished between the spheres of exchange . ideals. González 2007. Vygotsky was concerned not only with the development of inner speech itself but also with how the intellectual (thought) and communicative (speech) functions were combined and elaborated during the sociohistorical development of human beings as a species and of their relations to one another and to the worlds they inhabited. Wilson 1997).” “theft. the implementation and enforcement of child labor and occupational health and safety regulations. he was typically critical of discussions of morality.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 169 For Vygotsky. does not believe that he steals from his workers. and disconnected.” to describe it.

and exploitation. conditions. veiling and mystifying the [extraction and] transfer of surplus value. more democratic society was also part of the struggle for emancipating the individual from the constraints imposed by alienation. Stephen 1997. which is the essence of capitalist production” (Lukes 1987: 53–4). Marx was concerned throughout his life with the questions: How do we actualize a more democratic society? And. Nagengast 1994. Mooney 1896. The issues of justice. the cargo cults that appeared in Melanesia from the 1880s onward. Bohannon 1957.g. the Ghost Dance. Worsley 1968/1970). . anthropologists have contributed to our understanding of emerging tendencies in societies throughout the twentieth century—for example. By freedom. Marx did not mean either the “absence of external impediments to movement or activity” or power over nature and self resulting from “knowledge of internal and external necessity. he viewed freedom in terms of self-determination: Human beings are free only when they determine their own deeds.” Rather. Hann 1998. in his view. Marx saw the relation between worker and capitalist as neither just nor equitable. This. poverty. which proclaims inalienable rights and equality at the same time that it is riven by structural inequities. when their creativity and actions reflect an integral. . intolerance of difference. how do we transcend the limitations of our own society. It has a finely . the freedom of the workers is illusory. many-sided personality that is not tied to special thoughts or emotions. equality. but rather with relations. Morgan 1881/2003. and property and their presuppositions have also been examined by anthropologists since the late nineteenth century (e. or the Zapatista movement that formed in southern Mexico in the wake of the NAFTA accords in the early 1990s (e. the civil rights struggles. as Gajo Petrović (1965/1967: 119–27) has argued. 2000). While workers as the owners and sellers of their labor power may “freely” enter into contracts with the capitalist in the labor market. Malinowski 1926. Cohen 1988: 286–304. Hence. Mauss 1925/1990. was the importance of emergent tendencies in societies in the context of dominant structures. and intense nationalist or fundamentalist sentiments? Marx was shrewd enough to realize that one does not start by creating something de novo.170 • Karl Marx. From the mid 1840s onward. Marx’s anthropology is concerned with Kant’s question: “What are human beings?” It recognizes the importance of totality—the sometimes contradictory unity—of various approaches to understanding the human condition. the struggle for a free. domination.g. and when what is creative in them determines not only their deeds but also contributes to the extension of the humanity itself (Petrović 1965/1967: 126–7). and contradictions as they already exist. cf. Verdery and Humphrey 2004. Marx was also concerned with the issue of freedom or emancipation. they become “a living component of capital” owned by the capitalist in the production sphere. Mullings 1997. 1995. the women’s movement. Warren 1998. For Marx. “an ideological appearance . indigenous activism. Collier 1994. Once again. In a phrase. Marable 1995. In sum. Anthropologist and production. This was the appeal of socialism and communism—first as theorized and then described in detail by Morgan (1881/2003).

. It knows that human activity can effect significant change as witnessed by the diverse array of societies that existed in the past and continue to form in the present. It engages rather than shies away from the critical social. and the subjectivity of individuals in particular sets of social relations. communication.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 171 tuned sense of historical temporality that makes change as normal as reproduction. It acknowledges the complex interrelations of consciousness. It knows that people occasionally do make their own history. and time. moral. ensembles of social relations. It provides culture. and that some trajectories of change potentially have better outcomes than others. and even the human body itself with sociohistorical contingency. It takes account of the existence and potential significance of the variability and diversity of human beings as both social and natural beings in space. It does not separate the historical development of human societies or the human species from the events. contradictions. place. and political issues of the day. and forces that shaped their development in time and space.

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Preformationists argued that the actual generation of a living being occurred in the body because of its ensoulment by the seed of the male parent. and medicine—by individuals with diverse backgrounds and philosophical presuppositions (Kelley 1984: 247. Rogers (1963/1997: 259–60) describes the doctrines of preformationism and preexistence of germs in the following way. and embryonic development consisted merely of the enlargement of the already existing parts. 173 . the contrast between Renaissance and sixteenth-century anthropology can be drawn by the emphasis on language and then archaeology in the former and the concern with comparative ethnology in the latter (Pagden 1982. This seed contained an entirely formed or preformed individual. As he points out.g. It also allowed Buffon to avoid censorship. misses the nuances and subtleties at other levels (Bowler 1974: 161). Advocates of the pre-existence of germs argued that the germ contained in the seed was not produced by the male genitor but rather by God at the beginning of the world and had merely been preserved in the adult male until the moment of development. Stark 2003). 2. judging by the content of Kant’s lectures (Kant 1798/1978. Voltaire. The imprimatur of the Royal Press was important for two reasons. theology.Notes Introduction 1. the shift in conception was complex. It made the volumes official publications of the Crown.” while accurate at one level. 1965). describing it as solely in terms of “a growing hostility to Christianity which drove many into deism and some into outright materialism and atheism. It also is doubtful that the empirical and philosophical strands were ever entirely separated in anthropology courses taught in the German states during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. notably Montesquieu. Chapter 1 The Enlightenment and Anthropology 1. 3. Jacques Roger (1963/1997: 181–204) discusses “the God of philosophers and scientists” in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Vermeulen 1995). Anthropology was clearly taught in different university faculties—e. Rowe 1964. and Rousseau (Fellows 1963a: 608–9). law. Diderot. For example. 2. which was a continual threat faced by his contemporaries.

e. While Rousseau was not the first to argue that apes occupied an intermediate position between human beings and animals. David Hume (1711–76)). Comparative anatomist Edward Tyson (1650–1708) argued in the 1690s that. crystallized the idea of transformism in 1753. but maintain a relation to each other” (Crocker 1959: 131. 48) characterized the Scottish historical school as Smith (1723–90). and James Burnett. 5. 7. William Robertson (1721–93). Lord Kames (1696–1782). Robert Louden’s discussion of Immanuel Kant’s “impure ethics. was taken to be the true mark of rationality. (3) new species appear through a process of variation. (2) it has evolved over a long period of time. While Buffon conceptualized descent with modification. He reasoned that no new species were known to have appeared. the gap between man and animal closed briefly. and that. and Mason and Wokler (1992). and Ferguson by name in his own writings and cited works that mentioned Millar. Hume. 1988) describes the debate in the following way..174 • Notes 4. even . 1980. who was a close associate of Smith. Fellows 1963b. Adam Ferguson (1723–1815). which occurred in the context of contingent social relations. My understanding and appreciation of Enlightenment social thought have benefited generally from the writings of Isaiah Berlin. Marx mentioned Smith. one species developing into another. and especially from Asher Horowitz’s pathbreaking analysis of Rousseau’s anthropology. and James Millar (1740–1805). Henry Home. Rousseau argued that the development of language was part of the perfectibility of human beings. he did not accept the idea of transformism—i. Crawford B. Ronald Meek. Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709–1751) argued that souls were fictitious. Ronald Meek (1967: 35–7. they did not possess language which. Fellows (1960). if one species did evolve from another. Buffon agreed and further suggested that only men had souls. when he argued that: “(1) each species has had a history. Buffon’s friend. might also be included as well. then the process was a gradual one (Mayr 1982: 330–6). Lord Monboddo (1714–99). at the time. 6. notably PierreLouis de Maupertuis (1698–1759) and Diderot. and that apes.” Wokler (1978. Denis Diderot (1713–84). while apes were intermediate because of physical characteristics they shared with human beings. 8. Peter H. is discussed by Bowler (1974). Lovejoy 1959a). Roy Pascal.” and Frederick Barnard’s explorations of Herder’s ideas about culture and history. Rousseau’s relationship with Buffon and their contemporaries.. Reill’s studies of historicism and the importance of history in the formation of the social sciences in the late eighteenth century. the Origins of Inequality sparked an interesting debate that linked the origins of language with what Robert Wokler (1978) called “perfectible apes. and Étienne Bonnet de Condillac (1714–80) claimed that the cries of animals were evidence of thought. In the late 1740s. Macpherson. that the infertility of hybrids constituted a barrier. they were nonetheless not human beings because they lacked the mental powers of humans—i.e. In contrast. whose views were outside the mainstream of the Scottish Enlightenment. and Robert Wokler.

g. developed from 1775 onward. They argued instead that the anatomical differences between apes and humans were too great to permit considering the former as part of the human species. like Rousseau. . 3.g. Geras 1983.g. played an important role in distinguishing species and races and in developing a historical interpretation of species (Lenoir 1980. Heyer 1982. Sayers 1998. 1788/2001) views on race. I generally follow the persuasive arguments set forth by Joseph Fracchia (1991. While Kant was skeptical about the possibility of physiognomy (i. 9. Márkus 1978. truly modern physical anthropologist. Greene 1982: 19–68). disagreed with Rousseau and Monboddo. and Blumenbach has been portrayed for more than a century as the first. 11. Lord Monboddo developed Rousseau’s ideas concerning the humanity of apes and historically contingent nature of language. McMurtry 1978. In this section. by contrast. he practiced it with some regularity (Bernasconi 2001). Sloan 1979).. Soper 1981. Both Werner and Lyell were concerned with empirical evidence for geological change and with the mechanisms that underpinned those changes. He had studied with Henrik Steffens. He argued that women did not think independently and thus should work behind the scenes in the private sphere (e. 1775/2000. comparative anatomist Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840). which asserts that “reality [is] . social critic Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) and physiologist. Marx’s views about human nature have been discussed by a number of authors. They do not always agree with one another. 10. In the 1770s. judging the dispositions or thoughts of individuals from their visible or exterior forms). Chapter 2 Marx’s Anthropology 1. . Archibald 1989. By 1795. the whole question had once again become dehistoricized (Stam 1976: 182–9). Winckelmann is arguably one of the founders of both art history and classical archaeology as we know them today. he stressed the importance of the capacity for language rather than its attainment. Kosík (1963/1976: 24) observed that Marx’s notion of totality differed from both the atomist-rationalist conception. 12. because of their behavior. Lewis 1974. one of Werner’s students. The geologists Marx had in mind were Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749–1817) and Charles Lyell (1797–1875) (Foster 2000: 116–20. were still a variety of human being. 2005) and David McNally (2001).e. a totality . Kant’s (e. argued that self-interest alone was the sufficient basis of society.Notes • 175 though they did not speak. Kant did not champion the rights of women in the public sphere. when Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814) wrote his essay on the origins of language. Louden 2000: 84–5). Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and John Locke (1632–1704). 2. often claimed as a founder of physical anthropology. especially during the past thirty years (e. Lichtman 1990. Venable 1945/1966).

1950/2004. Marx’s conceptualization of the Asiatic mode of production relied not only on analyses of societies in India. Karl Vogt (1817–95) and Jakob Moleschott (1822–93). and China but also on those of Peru and Mexico (Bailey and Llobera 1981. In the political sphere. 1882/1989. and they concentrated their attention on education and popularizing rather than political action (Gregory 1977a. 1977b). “which formalizes the whole and emphasizes the predominance and priority of the whole over the parts. Culture.” Marx’s view.” He was aware that the former involved a changing metabolism between people and the natural worlds they inhabited. social-class structures. or Eric Wolf (1982: 88–100) to name only three—refer to Marx’s original communal (tribal) form as primitive communism or the kinordered mode of production.” and the organicist view. Krader 1975). evolving and self-forming whole. conquest. is a dialectical conception “which grasps reality as a structured. The “bourgeois Darwinians” specifically mentioned by Engels were Ludwig Büchner (1824–99). 1876–8/1987. Chapter 3 Human Natural Beings 1. Hobsbawm also remarked that Engels (1850/1978. Eleanor Leacock (1972). described the origins of agriculture and the rise of states in terms of the “Neolithic Revolution” and the “Urban Revolution. arguably the most influential archaeologist of the twentieth century and a political activist of the Left for his entire life. 1954). Gordon Childe (1892–1957). Richard Lee (1988). 1884/1972) wrote more systematically about feudalism than Marx. 1882/1990. Social Formation 1.g. The first was a physician and the latter were physiologists. and that the latter involved new forms of surplus extraction. The concept of Oriental or Asiatic society had a substantial history before Marx wrote. and new forms of settlement (Childe 1936/1983. Persia. Later anthropologists inspired by Marx and Engels—e. . and craft specialization as well as literacy. Lewis H. Morgan (1881/2003: 63ff. All were scientific materialists and reductionists who believed the properties or forms of behavior exhibited by human beings should be sought in the laws of physics. monumental architecture. Chapter 4 History. repression. their politics were reformist. V. 3. I am indebted in this section to the insights of Karl Kosík’s (1963/1976) Dialectics of the Concrete and Richard Bernstein’s (1971) Praxis and Action. instead. 2.) coined the phrase “communism in living” in his Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines. and that there is no indication that the latter disagreed with what Engels wrote.176 • Notes of simplest elements and facts.” 4. 4.

was soon joined by Harold Wolpe (1980. 1995) are only a few of those who come immediately to mind.g. Patnaik 2006). Marx (1857–8/1973: 473. English bondholders gained control over a railroad built in southern Peru in the 1870s to facilitate the transport of wool from the southern highlands to the port city of Mollendo. Wallerstein 1974). 1989. Engels 1853/1983: 339–41). including Hegel. 1863–7/1977: 477–9) elaborated his views on the communal ownership of land and the village community in the Grundrisse and Capital (Habib 2006. Brenner 1977. Marx and Engels discussed the bases of this view and its implication in letters. 1853/1983b: 347–8. Joel Kahn and Josep Llobera (1981). Godfrey and Monica Wilson (1945/1954). he was already impressed by 1853 with the shaping effects of common property in the village community rather than religion in the organization of Indian society. wrote about the issues of nation and nationality in the eastern and southeastern parts of the Hapsburg Empire and the Crimean War. 2. and denouncing the caste system (e. Marx. Dobb 1947. Michael Taussig (1980. Eric Wolf (1959. and the former mentioned it in one of the early Tribune articles (Marx 1853/1983a: 332–4. 1975. and Wim van Binsbergen and Peter Geschiere (1985) among others. 1979) and Claude Meillassoux (1971/1980. and John Gledhill (1991. 1978/1990. June Nash (1979). Engels 1851–3/1979: Benner 1995). This discussion. Hilton 1953/1976. the bondholders received a 66-year monopoly on the railroad as well as monopolies on the sale of coca. the independence question in Ireland.g. Christine Gailey (1987). 1853/1983c: 339–42. 3. In exchange for the cancellation of the debt. They did so at the same time that the Marx was also writing about China. As Aijaz Ahmad (2001) notes. Byres 2006. matches. The two accounts were polarized to some extent by informed commentators on Marx during the debates on the “transition question” after the Second World War (e. 1969. 1973/1982. .1982). 1975/1981). Joel Kahn (1980. In 1884. While Marx began with the available sources on India. India. 1992). condemning slavery in the United States. 1853/1979a. 5. 1987). 1985). Engels’s (1845/1975) study of the conditions of the workers in Manchester was arguably the first urban ethnography. 4. which was launched by Pierre-Philippe Rey (1971. Peter Worsley (1961. and Engels to a greater extent. 1993). 6. 1968/1970). Marshall Sahlins (1988/2000). Marx’s views about articulation generated a significant debate in the 1970s and 1980s among anthropologists who were coming to grips with the linkages between capitalist and non-capitalist relations of production and reproduction in former colonies. Marx 1846/1982: 101–2. Peter Rigby (1985. Long-term monopolies over the sale of particular items seem to have been a common practice for the English. Sweezy 1950/1976.Notes • 177 Chapter 5 Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World 1. and playing cards (Spalding 1975).

Today. some of its leaders. they sometimes also used the term “nation” to refer to peoples. former officers in the Union army.” . and the latter with command over the actions and activities of persons. like the Irish or the Russians. Many were quickly arrested. Others sailed for Cork. were the “political claims” of such states to represent what Hegel had called the “genuine nationality” or patriotism of “the people. and (4) the prominence of one category relative to the other not only depends on national traditions (Scottish and French vs. In the wake of the American Civil War. The British press used this to whip up anti-Irish sentiment. This form of nation or nationality had pejorative connotations for them and was not a substitute for the formation of communities from the bottom up that genuinely dealt with the needs of their members. use. Ireland in 1867 where they planned to organize and lead an army that would overthrow the British. others served their sentences in Australia. (2) the boundary between the two concepts has often been blurred. and what they wanted most urgently to discredit. Marx and Engels (1845–6/1976: 73. Their supporters attempted to blow up a prison in London but succeeded only in destroying nearby houses. In The German Ideology. 89) saw nationality as an attribute of existing states rather than ethnic communities defined exclusively in terms of language and culture or language and blood or as peoples aspiring to self-determination. and deprived of habeas corpus. 9. their possession. What worried them. (3) one concept has frequently served as the limiting case of the other. He also pointed out: (1) the bases for this dichotomy were already present in the writings of seventeenth-century theorists.178 • Notes 7. The Fenian Brotherhood was formed in 1858 by members of the Irish-American petit bourgeoisie who desired political independence for Ireland and whose goal was fueled by hatred of the English landlords which appealed to many of the Irish immigrants. language community. and disposition. In their later writings. German and Italian) but also has shifted over time (power being the more prominent of the two in late twentieth-century intellectual discourse). Some of the prisoners were eventually executed. organized raids into Canada in 1866 and 1870. imprisoned. it is commonplace to treat property and power as distinct—the former concerned with socially acquired things. As Erica Benner 1995: 45) put it: They saw pre-political forms of ethnicity. much like the prisoners held unconstitutionally by the government of the United States at Guantanamo today. Dick Pels (1998: 18–73) has argued that the concepts of property and power are enmeshed in disciplinary and intellectual politics. 8. and territorial attachments as unthreatening to their revolutionary project so long as these were not pressed into the service of aggrandizing authoritarian states.

g. which of course are not necessarily the same thing. as Eric Wolf (1999: 5) noted. people continually struggle to maintain and re-create it in these and other contexts (e.” Anthropologists—Eleanor Leacock (1982) among several others—have pointed out that the social units forged by sharing are often larger than households or families. how these were manifest in interactions with others. Noam Chomsky (1928–) and Michel Foucault (1926–84) engaged in a debate with one another about human nature and with the proposals made by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto (Chomsky and Foucault 1971/2006: 37–66). interpersonal sentiments have developed. such that the members have extensive knowledge of each other.Notes • 179 6 Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century 1. and how the relationships operated in and organized those settings. In this sense. In 1971. 2003) provides textured discussions of Marx’s views about slavery. While 3. What distinguished one kind of pre-capitalist state from another. In an intimate economy the particular patterns of personal interdependency significantly influence the patterns of economic production and distribution. where there is some expectation of return. . 4. and changing the identity of the persons would change their relationships. While sharing is certainly not a predominant form of economic behavior in capitalist societies. the contexts in which they were activated and realized. Gailey 1987). sharing is distinct from reciprocity. John Price (1975: 4) notes that sharing is the glue that holds together the members of intimate societies are which are typically “small in scale and personally in quality. There is usually face-to-face interaction of the same people over an extended period of time. August Nimtz (2000. the sense of community embodied in the practice clearly exists. I use the term “intimate” as a synonym for “sharing” in order to indicate the relationships among those with whom one shares with no particular expectation of immediate or future return. racism. moreover. and race in the North America from the early 1850s onward as well as his active participation in abolitionist and democratic political movements in the United States. were kinds of relational structures that resulted from the capacities to control that inhered in groups. 2.

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88. 131–2 community. 119–28 chance. 122–3. 15 capitalism. 173 and the Enlightenment. 17–21. 147–58. 136–7 class defined. 5 dialectical interplay of human natural and social beings. 158–71 articulation of modes of production. 89–90. 117–44. 105. 151–6 economic determination Marx on 48–9 Engels. 24–7 diversity and historicity of societies. 166–8 Darwin. Frederick. 1–2. 137–8 culture. 62. 162–4 difference from precapitalist societies. 41–6. 136–8. 89–90 theory of evolution. 53 class and state formation. 66–70. 27–8 empirical. 164–8 contingency. 5 ensembles of social relations. 15–21. 13–15. 176 critical-dialectical perspective. 15 historicism. 134 formation of domestic and overseas markets. 13–14 on human reproduction 14–15 on diversity of human species. 6. 16–20. 47–50. 2. 154–5 health. 21–3 distinctive features of human beings. Charles. 57. 152–4 dynamism of. xi–xiii transition from ape to human. 66–70 development of human society and natural world. 31 Montesquieu. 55. 17–21 Scottish historical philosophers. 16–20. 7. 114–15. 2–3 corporeal organization of human beings. 152–3 consciousness. 23–4. 26. 12–15. 6. 75–84 219 . 128–38 Buffon. 41–50. 66–70 use of metaphors. 147–51 anthropology. 117–44. Comte de. 57–62.Index alienation. 31 Rousseau. 5–6 as social critique. 158–71. 40–6. 105–8. 136–8 colonialism. 4–5. 46–50 institutionalization at Göttingen. 12–13. 48–9. 118–19 development of capitalism. 175–8 and health. 24–5. 131–2 social reproduction of. praxis. 22. 165–6 commodity production. 28–30. 135–8 transition. 22–3. 126–8 overseas colonies. 127–8. 117–18 chronology. 6. 31–2 philosophical. 89–90 and Marx. 137–8 emigration. 15–17. 65–87. 16–17. 58 defined. 53–4. 174 combined empiricism and rationalism 13–14 development of human society. 27–9. 56. 5. 160. 33–6. 7 diversity (see also variation). 59. 119. 158 domination. 103–5.

72–4 transition from ape to human. 31–2 health.220 • Index Enlightenment.. 158 . 41–50 as moral beings. 82–4 demography and population structure. 65–87. 6. 147–51. 7. 9–36 defined. 117. 12–13 Rousseau on successive forms. 51 contingency. 108–15 as dialectical unfolding. 70–2 Göttingen. 8 alternative pathways. 158 human evolution. 44. 82–4 tool-making. 34–5 teleology. 27–30 concept of culture. 16–21 human beings and praxis. 75–84 exchange 114. 29 philosophical anthropology. 93 and individualism. 31 of human society. Asher. 78–80 human history. 36–7 anthropology. 25 as natural beings. 74–86 Marx on. 15–23 of nature. 21–3 human species Buffon. 51–7 relation to nature. 41–50. 31–2. 41–6. 5–6. 8. 17–18 human nature Buffon. 21–3 chance. W. 24–5. Georg F. 28–9 distinction between culture and civilization. 17–19. 10–15 historicism. 12–13. 33–4 history. 14–15 Rousseau on human nature. 120 exploitation. 176 as social beings. 28 hierarchy forms of social hierarchy. 177–8 individual. 33 Herder. 156. 57–62 as individuals. 33–5. 16–17. 41–50 formation of social individuals. 23–4. 28–9. Joseph. 51 directionality. 136–8. 15–23 evolution. 132–8. 16–17 Rousseau. 15–37 Early Enlightenment thought. 35–6 on labor. 41–6 genetics. 67–71 modern synthesis. 11 holism (see totality) Horowitz. 151–6 historicization nature and development of society. 10–15 historicization of nature. 151–6 Fraachia. 53 Kant 26–7 Marx’s premises. 18. 46–50. 17–21. 16–17 Scottish historical philosophers and immutability of human nature. 31 Rousseau. 54 as progress. 27–8 on language. 67–74 Darwin. 17–18 Scottish historical philosophers and natural laws of development. 12–13. 11–15 historicization of society. Johann. 33–6. 36–7. 14–15 language and tool-making as markers. 17. 33–6 on civil society. 77–84 brain. 9. 34. 5. 84–7 language. 21–3 human society Montesquieu on development. 5. 16–17 India. 5. 29 diversity and cultural relativism. 165–6 Hegel.

56–7 philosophical anthropology. 65–6 diversity and historicity of societies. 178 justice. 105–8. 46–50 praxis. 74–5 Mendel. 119–28 precapitalist. 51–7 on historical development. 132–5. 34–5. 136–8. Gregor. 70 mode of production. 1. David. 41–6 dialectical interplay of human natural and social beings. 91–3. 24–7 theory of history. 7. 28–9. 11–13. 5. 102–3 transition. 157–8 labor. xi–xiii consciousness. 92. 54 Germanic. 71–4 markets. 156 Marx on naturalization of social inequality. 8 biographical information. 158–9 chronology. 28. 105–15 Montesquieu. 178 praxis. 57–62. 122–3 Marx. 5. 26 distinction between human beings as natural and moral beings. 117–18. 55. 121–2 and health. 67. 93–105 precapitalist societies. 103 ancient. 50 ensembles of social relations. 7. 95–6. 17. 42–6 objectification. 7–8. 59 and Darwin. 39–40. 6. 87–9. 54–6 Asiatic. 53–4. 58. 31 Marx and Engels. Immanuel. 10 Lewontin. 119. 41–50 mode of production. 138–44. 26–7 kin/civil conflict. 164 naturalization of social inequality. 176 capitalist. 96–8. Ernst. 147–68 critical-dialectical perspective. 59. 105–15. 6. 175 concept of race. 140–4. Richard. 145–6. 50 inequality. 178 national-states. 92–105 primitive communism. 40. 81–3. 44 philosophical anthropology. 15–22. 158–71 defined. 3–5 historical-dialectical perspective. 5. 40. 7. 53. 31 power. 87–9 nature and historical development of society. 179 difference from capitalist societies. 152–3 . 168–9 and toolmaking. 1–5. 148 defined. 57 precapitalist modes of production. 169–71 Kant. 33–6. 93–104 historicity of individual. 6. 40 McNally. 17. 65–7. 40–6. 7. 89–90 anthropology. 62–3. 99–100 feudal. 117–44 distinction between capitalist and precapitalist. 98–9 as forms of cooperation and social structure. 6. 11–13 development of society. 81–3 Leibniz. 145–6. 100–2 dissolution. 54. Karl alienation. 158–71 corporeal organization of human beings.Index • 221 individualization. Gottfried. 12 nationalism. 24–7. 54–5. 25–6. 40 Platner. 87–9 Ireland. 43–6 language. 43–6. 40 premises of human history. 5 debates over interpretation of work. 175. Baron de. 56. 132–8. 43. 52–3 needs.

103–5 Spinoza. Jean-Jacques. 36–7 Smith. 70–2 . 147–58 society. 112–16. 119–30 progress. 22–3. 31–2. Henri. 17–19 critique of modern civil society. 5. 26. 131. 158 property. 20 historical-dialectical anthropology. 61 variation. 46–7 teleology. 174 concern with natural laws of social development 21 immutability of human nature. 17–21 Saint-Simon. 16–20. 21–3. 60–1 theories of. 21–3 social relations. 71–2 and inheritance. 43 subjectivity. 178 race and racism.222 • Index primitive accumulation. 15. 33 tool-making 79–80 totality. 133 subjectification. 21–3. 5. 138–44. 10 states capitalist. 28–30. 128–31. 51 resistance. 33–6. 175–6 truth as determination of reality. 26. 16 development of human nature. 28. 133. 51–2. 16–21 stages in development of society. 52. 17–19 development of human society and its rise in nature. Adam. 41–50. 156–8 Rousseau. 174–5 and individualism. 122–4. Baruch. 35–6 Scottish historical philosophers. 105 genetic. 138–44 precapitalist. 179 reductionism.

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