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(all page numbers refer to Tucker, unless otherwise indicated)
Marx on the History of His Opinions (pp. 3-5)
This is the preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), where Marx establishes his materialist conception of history.
The economic structure of society is the sum of people's relations to production, which correspond to a definite stage of their material productive forces. This economic
structure is the foundation for legal and political superstructures as well as social consciousness. When the material forces of society come into conflict with the existing
relations of production, a social revolution, which would transform the economic conditions of production and the ideological forms of consciousness, is possible.
A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (pp. 16-25)
Background information on Hegel and Feuerbach (Averneri, pp. 8-27) Marx became interested in Hegel's philosophy because of his dissatisfaction with Kant's
"antagonism between the 'is' and the 'ought.'" Hegel's philosophy offered a way to eliminate this dichotomy by "realizing idealism in reality." Marx later realizes that this
dichotomy remains in Hegel's philosophy, hidden in the inner contradictions of his theory of social and political institutions.
Feuerbach provided Marx with a methodological device to critique Hegel - the transformative method. Hegel argued that thought was the subject and existence was the
predicate. Feuerbach, however, wanted to ground the subject in space and time and thereby develop a materialistic philosophy. His transformative method takes the
human and the subject and thought as the predicate.
The Critique
Marx critiques Hegel's political philosophy in order to get at the roots of the Hegelian system. His discussion of sovereignty (pp. 18-19) is an example of his application
of the transformative method to critique Hegel. Hegel saw the state as an entity abstracted from the social and historical forces which created it. He ignored the social
context of human relations and rationalized existing social organizations. This is apparent in Marx's discussion of ancient, medieval, and modern politics (pp. 21-23).
Lastly, Marx criticizes Hegel's notion that the bureaucracy is the "universal class." Marx argues that the 'apparent idealism of the bureaucracy's dedication to the general
well-being of society is nothing but a mask for it's own coarse, materialistic ends" (Averneri, p. 23). "Democracy is the true unity of the general and the particular" (p.
21). It is the state of society in which the individual is no longer juxtaposed against society.
On the Jewish Question (pp. 26-46)
Written in 1843, Marx reviews two studies on the Jewish question written by Bruno Bauer, another Young Hegelian.
The question is how to emancipate the Jews. The answer is that we have to emancipate ourselves before we can emancipate others. Political emancipation is not the final
and absolute form of human emancipation. Human emancipation will only be complete when the real, individual human has absorbed into her/himself the abstract citizen;
when s/he has become a species-being and has recognized her/his own powers as social powers so that s/he no longer separates this social power from himself as political
power. The perfected political state is the species-life of a person, as opposed to her/his material life.
A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right: Introduction (pp. 53-65)
Written in 1843, Marx argues for a "radical revolution" to achieve self-realization. This is the first time he writes of the proletariat as the vehicle for revolution.
Marx begins this essay with a criticism of religion, which he claims is the premise of all criticism. Feuerbach used religion as the basis of his transformative method.
Marx follow his lead by saying that "man makes religion; religion does not make man" (p. 53). Also, religion creates the illusion that people are happy, but people must
abandon this ideal and demand real happiness, which can only be found in the material world.
Marx then criticizes the state of affairs in Germany and the problem of the rule of private property over nationality. Germany has long been the "theoretical
consciousness" of other nations but not it needs a revolution which will "raise it not only to the official level of modern nations, but to the human level" (p. 60). Marx
calls for a partial revolution in which "a section of civil society emancipates itself and attains universal domination" (p. 62). The proletariat is the ideal class to lead the
revolution because it is "a class in civil society which is not a class of civil society" and because it's sufferings are universal The proletariat will find its intellectual
weapons in philosophy. "Philosophy is the head of this emancipation and the proletariat is the heart" (p. 65).
Theses on Feuerbach (pp. 143-145)
Here Marx is criticizing the 18th century materialist view that consciousness is nothing but a reflection of the material, environmental condition of human existence. This
view portrays people as passive and inhibits possibilities of change (Averneri, pp. 66-67).
Marx also emphasizes the importance of practice over theory. Social change is revolutionary practice. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point it to
change it" (p. 145).
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (pp. 66-105)
Estranged Labor
"With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces
itself and the worker as a commodity. ... (T)he object which labor produces confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer" (p. 71).
Four characteristics of the alienation of labor: (See also Giddens, pp. 12-16; Swingewood, pp. 65-67)
1.) The relation of the worker to the product of labor as an alien object exercising power over him/her. The worker does not control the fate of his/her products and
therefore does not benefit from them.
2.) The relation of labor to the act of production within the labor process. Since labor is forced it offers no intrinsic satisfactions. It becomes a means to an end rather than
an end in itself.
3.) Estranged labor turns man's species being into a being alien to him, into a means to his individual existence. The alienation of men from their species being is a social
separation from socially generated characteristics and propensities (Giddens, p. 16).
4.) Man is estranged from man. All economic relations are social relations; human relations, in capitalism, tend to become reduced to operations of the market (Giddens,
p. 14).
Note of clarification: The difference between objectification and alienation (Swingewood, p. 65) Hegel does not distinguish between the two ideas. For Marx,
objectification is a process through which humanity externalizes itself in nature and society and thus necessarily entering into social relations. Alienation occurs only
when humanity, having externalized itself, encounters its own activity, its essence, operating as an external, alien, and oppressive power.
Private Property
Private property is the product of alienated labor and the means by which labor alienates itself (p. 79). "Communism is the positive transcendence of private property, or
human self-estrangement, and therefore is the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man. It is a complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human)
being" (p. 84). The transcendence of private property is the complete emancipation of all human senses and attributes.
The Meaning of Human Requirements (pp. 93-101)
The need for money is the true need produced by the modern economic system. The power of money decreases exactly in inverse proportion to the increase in the volume
of production.
The Power of Money (pp. 101-105)
"Money is the pimp between man's need and the object, between his life and his means of life. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of
other people for me" (p. 102). Money is the alienated ability of mankind.
Society and Economy in History (pp. 136-142)
Marx wrote this letter in 1846 as a critique of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's The Philosophy of Poverty. He later expanded it into a book called The Poverty of Philosophy. He
attacks Proudhon's individualistic economic model and develops his argument for a historical materialist approach to understanding society and economy.
According to Marx, society is the product of humans' reciprocal action. All human relations are based on material relations. The economic forms in which men produce,
consume and exchange are transitory and historical. Because Proudhon does not take a historical approach, he fails to recognize the importance of such "economic
evolutions" as the division of labor and machinery.
Proudhon is also a classical materialist and Marx criticizes this approach for overlooking the fact that human nature itself is the ever-changing product of human activity,
i.e., of history (Averneri, p. 71). This relates to Marx's critique of Feuerbach's mechanistic materialistic position in the Theses of Feuerbach.
The German Ideology (146-200)
Written by Marx and Engels in 1845-46, this is essentially an elaboration of the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, with particular emphasis on the
"materialist conception of history."
Marx complains that Old Hegelians comprehended everything by reeducating it to a Hegelian logical category, and the Young Hegelians criticized everything by
attributing it to religious conceptions; but no one had yet tried to connect German philosophy with German reality (pp. 148-149).
Stages of development of the division of labor:
1.) tribal: elementary division of labor; extension of natural d of l existing in family
2.) ancient communal: urban system of masters and slaves; communal private property
3.) feudal state: rural system of lords and serfs; little d of l; feudal organization of trades into guilds Marx emphasizes the need to look at different societies and see how
the social and political structure of each is connected to production
The production of the means to satisfy biological needs is the production of material life itself. The satisfaction of the first need leads to new needs. The production of
new needs is the first historical act. Marx stresses that needs are historical and not natural (p. 156; Averneri, p. 73).
The d of l implies a contradiction between the interest of the individual and that of the community. In communist society, no one has one exclusive sphere of activity and
society regulates the general production (p. 160).
Communism is a "world-historical" movement comprised of individuals directly linked up with world history (p. 162).
Civil society is the form of intercourse determined by the existing productive forces that transcends the state and the nation (p. 163).
Concerning the Production of Consciousness:
The ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas (p. 172).
The Real Basis of Ideology:
The greatest division of material and mental labor is the separation of town and country. This is the separation of capital and landed property and the beginning of
property having its basis only in labor and exchange (p. 176).
Big industry universalized competition and thus produced "world history" for the first time (i.e., people were not dependent on the whole world to satisfy their wants).
Relation of State and Law to Property:
Through the emancipation of private property from the community, the State has become a separate entity, outside civil society. The State is the form in which the
individuals of a ruling class assert their common interests.
Communism differs from all previous movements in that it overturns the basis of all earlier relations of production and intercourse (p. 193). Only in the community is
personal freedom possible (p. 197).
Wage Labor and Capital (pp. 203-217)
Published in 1849, Marx sets out the economic content of his argument for the first time.
Wages are the sum of money paid by the capitalist for a particular labor time or for a particular output (p. 204).
Labor power is a commodity which the worker sells to capital. The worker sells his life activity in order to secure the necessary means of subsistence. The worker belongs
not the individual capitalist, but to the capitalist class (pp. 204-205).
The cost of the production of labor power is the cost required for maintaining the worker as a worker; the price of labor is the price of the necessary means of subsistence
(p. 206).
Wage minimum is the cost of production of simple labor power, i.e., the cost of existence and reproduction of the worker.
Commodities are products which are exchangeable for others. Exchange value is the ratio in which commodities are exchangeable (if this ratio is expressed in money,
then exchange value is simply the price of a commodity) (p. 208).
The more productive capital grows, the more the d of l and application of machinery expand, the greater the competition among workers, and the more wages contract (p.
216). Nevertheless, the rapid growth of capital is the most favorable condition for wage labor because it may improve the material existence of the worker (pp. 211, 217).
The Grundrisse (pp. 224-226, 236-244)
Written in 1857-58, Marx states his view on the method of political economy and develops his thesis on production as the basic category.
There are characteristics which all stages of production have in common, and which are established as general ones; but the so-called general preconditions of all
production (e.g., property and the protection of acquisitions) are nothing more than these abstract moments with which no real historical stage of production can be
grasped (p. 226).
1.) there is no exchange without the d of l
2.) private exchange presupposes private production
3.) the intensity, extension, and manner of exchange are determined by the development and structure of production
Method of Political Economy:
Labor has become the means of creating wealth in general and has ceased to be organically linked with particular individuals in any specific form (pp. 240-241).
Bourgeois society is the most developed and most complex historical organization of production. Studying bourgeois society is the key to understanding the structure and
relations of production of former types of society (e.g., feudal, ancient, etc.); but this is possible only through the self-criticism of bourgeois society (pp. 241-242).
Capital, VolumeI (pp. 294-438)
Written in 1867, Marx aims to explore the capitalist mode of production and the conditions of production and exchange corresponding to that mode.
Part I: Commodities and Money (pp. )
Capitalism is a system of commodity production. A commodity is a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort. There are two characteristics to every
1.) use value is the utility of a thing independent of the amount of labor time used to produce it. Use-value is realized only through use or consumption. It is the substance
of all wealth.
2.) Exchange value is the proportion in which values in use of one sort are exchanged for those of another sort. It is a quantitative relation.
Values is the labor power expended in production. It is measure by the quantity of value-creating substance, i.e., labor. It varies directly as the quantity, and inversely as
the productiveness of the labor incorporated in it.
The labor time socially necessary is that required to produce an article under the normal conditions of production and with the average degree of skill and intensity
prevalent at the time.
The two-fold character of labor = useful labor + simple labor power
Useful labor is that which makes a product a use-value.
Simple labor power is that which, on the average, apart from any special development, exists in the organism of every ordinary individual.
Money-form is the value-form of commodities common to them all.
Relative value is the value expressed in relation to something else; it presupposes the presence of another commodity. Equivalent value is the second commodity whose
value is not expressed but it provides the material in which another value is expressed.
Fetishism occurs when the social character of human labor appears to people as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labor. A definite social relation
between people assumes the form of a relation between things. An expression of human creativity appears to be a natural object (Averneri, pp. 117-119). This fetishism is
due in part to money, which conceals the social character of private labor.
Part II: The Transformation of Money into Capital
The circulation of commodities is the starting point of capital.
M - C - M = capital
M' = M + M (M = surplus value)M - C - M' = general formula of capitalLabor power is the capacity for labor. It is the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities
existing in people which they exercise whenever they produce a use-value.The value of labor power is the value of the means of subsistence necessary for the
maintenance of the laborer.
Part III: The Production of Absolute Surplus Value
The elementary factors of labor-process:
1.) work itself
2.) subject of work
3.) its instruments
Surplus value is whatever the worker produces over and above the proportion of the working day needed to produce the worker's own value.
Absolute surplus value is produced by the prolongation of the working day. Relative surplus value is produced by the curtailment of the necessary labor time plus an
alteration in the respective length of the two components of the working day, that in which the laborer works for him/herself and that in which s/he works for the
Part IV: Production of Relative Surplus Value(pp. 376-417)
Machinery produces relative surplus-value by depreciating the value of labor power, cheapening the commodity, and raising the social value of the article produced above
its individual value. This only lasts until machinery becomes more general in a particular field. Then, the use of machinery converts variable capital (invested in labor-
power) into constant capital (machinery), which does not produce surplus value (p. 405). Machinery does not free the laborer from work, but makes that work
Part V: Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus Value (pp. 417-431)
The composition of capital:
value material
variable constant means living
of labor
production power
The growth of capital involves the growth of the variable constituent (i.e., the proletariat). This is the basis of the "reserve army" (p. 423).
The absolute law of capitalist accumulation = the greater the social wealth, the larger the reserve army, the greater the pauperization.
Part VIII: So-Called Primitive Accumulation (pp. 431-438)
Accumulation is not the result of the capitalist mode of production but its starting point.
The starting point of the development that gave rise to the wage-laborer as well as to the capitalist was the servitude of the laborer.
The Communist Manifesto (pp. 469-500)
Marx and Engels were commissioned in 1847 to write a manifesto for the Communist League. With highly charged rhetoric, they restate many of the basic premises of Marx' earlier works. They argue that:
1.) Economic production and the structure of every historical epoch constitute the foundation for the political and intellectual history of that epoch.
2.) All history has been a history of class struggles.
3.) This struggle has now reached a stage where the exploited and oppressed class (the proletariat) can no longer emancipate itself from the class which exploits and oppress it (the bourgeoisie) without freeing the whole of society from exploitation, oppression, and class struggles.
It is important to note that in his polemical writings, Marx frequently oversimplified his view of class struggle into the opposition between 2 classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. However, he believes in a more complex class structure including "transition classes," as is evident in The Eighteenth Brumaire (Swingewood, pp. 84-86).
The immediate aim of Communists is the formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, and the conquest of political power by the proletariat. The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property in general, but the abolition of bourgeois property because it exemplifies the exploitation of the many by the few.
The first step of revolution is to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class. Then it is necessary to wrest all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have the world to win. Workers of the world unite!!!!!
Class Struggle in France 1848-50 (pp. 586-593)
Marx sets out to explain why the workers' insurrection in France in 1848 failed. In February 1848, King Louis Philippe was forced to abdicate because of protests of Parisian workers. In June there was another workers' insurrection, which was crushed by the military. In December, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was elected president and in 1851 he made himself emperor by coup d'etat.
Marx says that the revolution was based on social relationships which had not yet come to the point of sharp class antagonisms. The Provisional Government which had emerged in February was largely bourgeoisie. They had used the workers only as fighters for bourgeois causes. Though the proletariat did not win the revolution, they won the terrain for the fight for their revolutionary emancipation.
Any merely political insurrection of the proletariat trying to create politically conditions not yet immanently developed in the socio-economic sphere is doomed to fail (Averneri, p. 194). A real revolution is only possible when modern productive forces and bourgeois productive forms come in collision with one another.
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (pp. 594-617)
Marx wants to "demonstrate how the class struggle in France created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero's part" (p. 594). He is treating an actual historical event from the viewpoint of the materialist conception of history.
Marx divides the French Revolution into 3 main periods:
1.) The February period: while the proletariat reveled in the vision of the wide prospects that had opened before it, the old powers of society had assembled themselves and taken over.
2.) The period of the Constitution (May 4, 1848 - May 1849): This was the foundation of the bourgeois republic. The proletariat tried to revolt with the June insurrection, but everyone else had united against this "party of anarchy," these "enemies of society."
3.) The period of the Constitutional Republic (May 29, 1849 - December 2, 1851): Under Bonaparte, the favored section of the bourgeoisie concealed its rule under cover of the crown. Bonaparte represented the small peasants. The great mass of the French nation is formed by the simple addition of homologous magnitudes, much as potatoes in a sack from a sackful of potatoes. They do not form a class because there is no national union or political organization.
Bonaparte sees himself as the adversary of the political and literary power of the middle class, but by protecting its material power, he allows it to regain political power. Bonaparte wants to make the lower classes happy within the framework of a bourgeois society. He would like to appear as the patriarchal benefactor of all classes, but he can't give to one class without taking from another.
Class Struggle and Mode of Production (p. 220)
In a letter to his friend Joseph Weydemeyer, Marx writes about what he considered most innovative in his analysis of the human historical process. He acknowledges that others before him had discovered the existence of classes and the struggle between them. What Marx did was to prove: 1.) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2.) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, and 3.) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.
Classes (pp. 441-442)
The three big classes of modern society are the wage-laborers, capitalists, and landowners. The law of development of the capitalist mode of production is to divorce the means of production from labor and to concentrate the scattered means of production into large groups, thereby transforming labor into wage-labor and the means of production into capital. Marx is concerned with defining what a class is. He starts with the hypothesis that a class can be defined by its sources of revenues. For example, wage-laborers live on wages, capitalists on profits, and landownders on ground-rent. However, he begins to argue that this is not a sufficient definition because it would lead to the infinite fragmentation of interest and rank. This manuscript is incomplete and Dahrendorf picks up on this subject and tries to complete Marx's definition of a class