Tucker, Robert C. 1978. Excerpts from “The German Ideology” in The Marx-Engels Reader. New York, NY: W.W.

Norton and Company. I Starting Points A. Ills of Industrial Revolution: from Germany, Marx moves to England and witnesses first hand many of the evils produced by the Industrial Revolution. B. Critique of German Idealism. - view of history as spiritual and teleological, with mind and spirit as primary. - embodied by G. F. Hegel and others; dialectic process (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) as basic dynamic of all reality, leading to ascendancy of Absolute Spirit. II Problems of Labor, Property, and Production A. Basic Problem: workers’ labor has produced “for the rich wonderful things,” and yet for workers it has produced “deformity,” has turned them into “machines,” and mired them in “idiocy [and] cretinism” (p. 73, par. 3). B. Estrangement of Labor: the object of labor is “man’s species life,” i.e., through labor, man is able to reproduce himself both consciously and in reality, unlike animals who cannot distinguish themselves from its “life activity” (p.76, pars. 1-3); instead, however, with the Industrial Revolution what has transpired is a situation of estrangement or alienation, of … - the worker from the product of labor: the product exercises power over him rather than vice-versa (p.74, par. 5). - the worker from his own labor activity: “activity as suffering … turned against him” (p. 75, par. 1). - man from his own “species being,” or man from his own body: species life as a means to his existence, like animals (p. 77, par. 3). - man from other men: result of man’s alienation from his species being (p.77, pars. 3-4). C. Result of Alienated Man and Estranged Labor: Private Property (p. 79, par. 3). D. Solution: to counter servitude to private property and the yoke of other men, need for the “emancipation of workers” (p. 80, par. 4). III Materialist Conception of History as Basis for Ideology A. Premise of Human History: not “arbitrary ones” of German Philosophy but the “existence of living human individuals,” and their production of their “means of subsistence” (p. 149, last par. to p. 150, first par.). - the base of history is a particular mode of production (p. 150, par. 2). This is comprised, first, of the forces of production, i.e. the. means of subsistence in a particular era, technological and industrial developments, etc.

- a second element of the mode of production is the intercourse or relation of men [other translations, a “relations of production”] involving allocation of production and division of labor (p. 150, par. 3). B. Production of Consciousness. - thus consciousness itself is a “social product” (p. 158, par. 1); it is “interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men,” consciousness is dependent on these and thus not have an independent existence, an ascent “from earth to heaven” (p. 154, par. 3). - IMPORTANT: critique of idealism, p. 164, par. 1 ff.; “revolution is the driving force of history,” especially through class struggle. - also importance of power relations, “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” (p. 172, par. 3). C. Thus, basis of ideology is this materialist conception of history, which moves in a definite direction with the “dialectic” relationship between the forces of production and intercourse/relation of production (pp. 150-152, 176-186). The intercourse/relations of production “lag behind” the forces of production, and their dialectic relationship (manifested in class struggle) gives rise to new modes of production: primitive communism, slave, feudal, capitalist, and ultimately, communist. D. Culmination of this historical process is Communism, brought about by the revolution of the proletariat (p. 192) and resulting in the union of the forces of production and intercourse/relation of production (p. 193-195): the communist state and a classless society where “the state will fade away.” Before the state fades away, the Communist party serves as a “vanguard.”

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