Philosophy Through the Centuries


Think about this« What was life like for humans when they first evolved? What is life like for humans in the 21st Century? It takes evolution millions of years to adapt creatures to their environment, yet our environment is only a few decades old. Social evolution happens very rapidly and humans have been forced to adapt to society. Sometimes this adaptation is contrary to our biological nature.

Today Karl Marx 1818-1883

Karl Marx Marx lived during rapid social change. Large factories were appearing and people were moving into the cities. People worked in factories and coal mines for 15 hours per day, 6 or 7 days per week. They were paid the minimum they needed to survive. Marx thought that their ³human´ needs were not being met. It is not in people¶s nature to be stuck inside working all day every day. Marx also believed that people¶s lives were being dominated by the things they produce.

19th century boot factory

Factory smoke stacks

Cartoon published in 1849 ³Punch´ magazine«The comment read: 'It is gratifying to know that although there is such misery in the coal mines, a great deal of luxury results from it'.

Think about the person who works at McDonalds« How many burgers do they need to assemble before they¶ve been paid enough to buy one of those burgers? Someone else is getting most of the money for their efforts...

Marx called this a ³relation of production´

Historical relations of production: 1 2 Slavery Feudalism



Each of these changed through revolution, which saw slightly better conditions for the workers.

Just as every other system has collapsed, Marx predicts that capitalism will also collapse. It will be replaced by a system that is more equitable. Capitalism can be understood by looking at two classes of people: 1 2 Workers (Proletariate) Owners (Bougoursie)

The Owners own the means of production The Workers own their own labor

The relation of production works as follows:
1 It is in the Owners best interest to pay as little as possible for labor and charge as much as possible for their products. 2 It is in the Workers best interest to charge as much as possible for their labor.

The more Workers there are means they will be paid less. Why? Because there are plenty who are out of work and are willing to work for less, just to get the work.

Marx believes that this system sets up inequities and will eventually collapse.

Marx believes there will be a revolution that will bring about a more equitable system.

Capitalism will collapse, and there will be a period of transition: * Socialism e.g. USSR * This introduces a new economy and new human nature When Socialism reaches full potential, there will be a period of crisis and collapse: * Then Communism will appear * Under Communism, Humans will reach their full potential

Why will there be a revolution against capitalism? Capitalism is a contradictory system and will bring about its own destruction« Here¶s how:

1. Capitalists own means of production (factories, technology etc) 2. Capitalists pay as little as possible for labour 3. Product, profit takes on a life of its own--it¶s the driving force 4. New technology is created by workers. It becomes cheaper than the workers. Workers are replaced by technology. 5. Workers earn less money in order to be more affordable than technology (look at low pay rates of Chinese slave labourers) 6. Workers have less money and cannot buy products. They can¶t even afford to buy the things they produce. 7. Less people buying products means less profit, so Capitalists increase charge for products. They lay off more workers and replace them with technology to get costs down. 8. Revolution ! A change in economic system.

Problems with Marxism:
Humans are naturally greedy, so they will take advantage of communism to get one over on their neighbors. BUT: Is this true. Marx believes that we¶ve only ever seen humans as they are socially built under capitalism. It is possible that humans differ in their natural state. Reply: Humans must be naturally greedy, that¶s where capitalism came from. BUT: This is wrong. We can¶t say humans are greedy, therefore capitalism exists. Its better to say that capitalism exists, therefore humans became greedy. It was a step by step process. Capitalism evolved, and humans changed to fit the capitalist system.

Marx believes that Communism will work fine for humans who are brought up in that system without capitalist baggage. Imagine being able to realise your true potential« * In the morning you could work on writing a novel, * In the afternoon you could tend your garden, * In the evening you could be a musician or artist. This is our true nature. Humans should not become the thing that they produce as they do in Capitalist society. People should be whoever that want to be. Instead of people saying ³I¶m a plumber´ or ³I¶m a cook´ or ³I¶m a factory worker´« people should be able to say ³I do lots of cool stuff, and here¶s what I¶m working on this week«´

Powerpoint by BRENT SILBY Produced at Unlimited (UPT) Christchurch, New Zealand

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