Karl Marx, Anthropologist

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Karl Marx, Anthropologist

Thomas C. Patterson

Oxford • New York

1818–1883. Porthcawl.) ISBN-13: 978-1-84520-509-6 (cloth) ISBN-10: 1-84520-509-X (cloth) 1. Thomas Carl.bergpublishers. OX4 1AW. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of Berg. Karl. Oxford. Includes bibliographical references and index. NY 10010. Marx. USA © Thomas C. I. ISBN 978 184520 509 6 (Cloth) ISBN 978 184520 511 9 (Paper) Typeset by JS Typesetting Ltd. Mid Glamorgan Printed in the UK by the MPG Books Group www. anthropologist / Thomas C. Title. Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Patterson. Anthropologists—Germany—Biography. Karl Marx. GN21. Anthropology—History. Patterson. Berg is the imprint of Oxford International Publishers Ltd.) ISBN-10: 1-84520-511-1 (pbk. UK 175 Fifth Avenue. p. Anthropology—Philosophy. Angel Court. Patterson 2009 All rights reserved. 81 St Clements Street.com . 2. ISBN-13: 978-1-84520-511-9 (pbk. 3.First published in 2009 by Berg Editorial offices: 1st Floor. 4. cm. New York.M2575P38 2009 301.092—dc22 [B] 2009000314 British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

For Friends. and Students . Colleagues.

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Contents
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

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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

Preface
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

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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.

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

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

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

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

or. empirical inquiries have episodically forced changes in philosophical anthropology. Marx and Engels’s (1848/1976) Communist Manifesto. which has a legitimate claim to being the first urban ethnography (Engels 1845/1975). in all cultures. 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). 1871/1986). Marx also continued his explorations of the philosophical underpinnings of a variety of subjects ranging from his critique .2 he was seemingly concerned initially at least with the former. and practice. which appeared in 1848. especially with what its practitioners believe to be the core features. 1863–7/1977.1 The other strand. 1865–85/1981). or the late eighteenth-century Enlightenment (e. It was an early effort at anthropological praxis—the merging of data. judging by his 1842 critique of the philosophical underpinnings of influential faculty members. I would argue that.e. His association with Frederick Engels. Engels would spend two years in Manchester. Shortly after they met. intertwined and interacting strands. England where he worked in a family-owned mill and assembled the information for The Condition of the Working Class in England. historical analyses of different forms of pre. or ontological structures. theory. Moreover.or noncapitalist property relations and the development of capitalism—i. which also began that year. 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. sixteenth-century Spain.” is concerned with the presuppositions of the various traditions of empirical anthropology. Wokler 1993). that constitute human beings. 1965. Anthropologist Italy. 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. 1864–94/1981. Pagden 1982. In a similar vein. 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. The Grundrisse of 1857–8 and Capital. Interspersed with his more empirical studies were theoretically informed. it resembles a cable with multiple. While I am not claiming that there is only a single tradition of philosophical anthropology. often called “philosophical anthropology. which he wrote in the mid 1860s (Marx 1857–8/1973. 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. It arguably has a more continuous distribution in time and space.g. 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. While Marx was undoubtedly aware of both empirical and philosophical anthropology during his student days at Berlin. Rowe 1964. at any given moment.2 • Karl Marx. for a criterion enabling us to determine whether or not a being is a man at all?” Since its scope is different. would soon bring the empirical strand and its ongoing importance into sharp focus.

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

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 he have a more nuanced understanding of the mutual interconnections of ensembles of social relations. A number of things are at stake in the debates. 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. and history in the last instance. and impermanent. 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. 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. 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. and the Grundrisse was largely unknown in the West until Martin Nicolaus’s English translation appeared in 1973. and ideological structures that shaped their beliefs and actions. political-juridical. successively. 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. In practical terms. practical activity. 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. 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. situational. Anthropologist available in English in 1960. culture. which existed prior to and independent of the totality (a Cartesian totality which could be reduced atomistically to those parts). and teleologically throughout history. were their subjectivities self-constructed. culture.4 • Karl Marx. oppression. since they may have immediate consequences for what you as a human being . and exploitation universal features of the human condition. contradictory subjects? Were they alienated individuals whose subjectivities were partly constituted through the perceptions of others. this means that someone writing in 1910. These include but are not limited to the following questions: Did Marx hold a linear theory of social (r)evolution. 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. 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. 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. for instance.

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

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

or the allocation of scarce resources (the starting points for classical political economists) but rather with production itself.g. it is also a story of resistance. 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. Culture. “Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World. and the imposition of colonial rule by capitalist national states. and the development of new forms of political institutions and practices. The story also involved massive emigration. the production of use values (items that satisfy human needs). and the creation of new needs—were neither timeless nor persistent but rather were constituted. sociality. through extra-economic means such as coercion. Marx began his analysis of how societies produced the material conditions for their own reproduction not with exchange. “History. we examine both the theoretical framework Marx sketched as well as how archaeologists and historians have contributed to the clarification of its implications. Here. political fragmentation. he argued that not all historically specific societies developed in the same way or even passed through the same succession of modes of production. Using the concept of a mode of production. In effect. 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.Introduction • 7 Chapter 4. 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. taxes. the distinctive features of humankind—creative intelligence realized through and manifested in labor. laws. Chapter 5. or rent or the exploitation of various categories . he developed a commentary on alternative pathways in the development of property relations away from those of the original kinship-based communities. and colonies that supplied not only raw materials but also customers for the commodities produced. supply and demand.” 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. In his view. reproduced. the rise of nationalist politics and its interconnections with diasporic communities. and Social Formation. culture. language.” 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. creation of new colonial territories and national states. and transformed in particular sociohistorical contexts. 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. 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.

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

skepticism. More than one aristocrat and preacher of the day lamented that “even the common people were susceptible to new ideas” (Israel 2001: 1. It was marked by a series of processes that mutually shaped and reinforced one another. 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. Lutherans. Calvinists. Spain. Zilsel 2003). and various Protestant fringe movements from the 1520s onward. 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. and the growth of cities across northern Europe (Hobsbawm 1968). the construction of factories. The Enlightenment was also marked by continuous conflicts between Catholics. 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). (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. It was felt by all layers of society.–1– The Enlightenment and Anthropology The Enlightenment. Enlightenment thought was discussed and deployed in the Americas. the “Age of Reason. Jacob 1988. Popkin 1979). which involved the appearance of new forms of manufacture from about 1750 onward that were based on the continual adoption of technological innovations. the transformation of social relations. Africa. England. Besides the ideological and political strife that formed the backdrop to everyday life. (2) the rise of anti-authoritarian sentiment. Portugal. It persisted. Merchant 1980. These included: (1) the formation of merchant empires and overseas colonies in the Americas. 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. analyzed later by Marx in Capital. and (4) the rise of industrial capitalism. because of the desire of the emerging commercial classes for technological innovations and the erosion of barriers separating intellectuals and artisans (Forbes 1968. and Asia established by Holland. While Europe is often portrayed as its center of gravity. this is not precisely correct. according to some.” was a tumultuous period. 8–9). the Middle 9 . The impact of the Enlightenment was not limited to the soldiers and sailors who died in these wars. Tracy 1990). from the early 1600s to as late as the 1830s. France.

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

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

These crises were the dialectic of history. In a word. . Montesquieu saw “society as a reality that was external to the individual. He argued that the diversity of laws and manners. . moral and physical. some general cause made it necessary for that state to perish in a single battle. Maintaining it. and despotisms. i. which act in every monarchy. (Montesquieu 1734/1965: 169) Thus. on the other. which was shaped by both the number of individuals who possessed sovereignty and the ways in which they exercised it. honor. monarchies. we must grasp the underlying causes which account for them. With regard to the former. For our purposes. the other when there were contradictions between the aims of the state. Montesquieu refined his concept of the underlying causes of development in his third work. In his second work.12 • Karl Marx.” Montesquieu distinguished two phases of Roman historical development: one when the government and the society were in harmony or equilibrium. norms and institutional structures are purely subjective” (Baum 1979: 43). Each type had its own distinctive nature. . 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). The Spirit of the Laws (1748/1965). There are general causes. its motor. Ask the Romans.e. and an uninterrupted sequence of reverses when they followed another. forms of government.. principles. All accidents are controlled by these causes. In this work. each type also had distinctive sentiments—such as morality. and values. 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. The earliest was the Persian Letters (Montesquieu 1721/1973). the main trend draws with it all particular accidents. And if by chance of one battle—that is. 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. [since] his understanding of its values. he wrote: It is not chance that rules the world. found in societies around the world could be reduced to a few types—republics. as Raymond Aron (1965/1998: 15) put it: “behind the seemingly accidental course of events. or fear—that promoted harmony . who had a continuous sequence of successes when they were guided by a certain plan. he wrote three books of note. or spirit that unified the populace. on the one hand. or hurling it to the ground. elevating it. 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. Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline (1734/1965).

the latter claimed that the mind combined ideas derived from sensory experience in new ways. Montesquieu also considered the material or physical causes—like climate or soil—have on the customs.” established a backdrop.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. when there were contradictions between the spirit (sentiments) of the people and the aims of the state. 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. between the incidence of polygamy and warm climates. sophisticated. and man’s place in nature (Roger 1989/1997: 81–92). The project of Georges-Louis Leclerc. there was a second dialectical relationship between the environment broadly defined and the customs and institutions of people. the former argued rational thought would yield truth. and the style of interpersonal relations. for example. on the other. The opening essay in the first volume. anatomical dissections. and those which depend upon time and place in a concrete situation” (Berlin 1955/2001: 157). and that the laws and forms of government of nations reflect those material influences. its members flocked to lectures illustrated with various scientific experiments. Buffon’s theories were widely read and critically discussed almost from the moment they appeared (Roger 1989/1997: 68–78. Montesquieu saw a connection between the form of government. crises emerged which eroded the form of government. Comte de Buffon (1707–88)—superintendent of the royal botanical gardens in Paris—was more expansive than that of Montesquieu. whether or not there is an order to nature. he argued that social life is shaped by the way in which power is exercised. powerful microscopes fashioned in the 1670s by Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723). “Discourse on Method. In the first three volumes of his Natural History. “Buffon made the study of natural history everybody’s pastime” (Mayr 1982: 101). 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. With regard to the first.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 13 among its citizens. Science was more than the . 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. the two dominant views concerning reason were those of Descartes and Locke. which was composed of a curious. Buffon merged the two perspectives. As a result. on the one hand. In other words. Buffon dealt with three issues: human reason. and opportunities to peer at specimens through one of the new. He argued that there was a correlation. Here. manners. Thus. He was also adamant that the spirit or will of the people was determinant in the final instance. which appeared under the imprimatur of the Royal Press in 1749. 1995). and the other commercial centers of Europe. There was a ready audience for his work. Sloan 1979. and laws of diverse peoples. As he had shown earlier. Paris.

Second. In the next two essays. like Carolus Linnaeus (1707–78). In this discussion. This materialist formulation of the question. while theory was viewed as an attempt to explain the physical causes or past organization that produced the present distributions (Haber 1959.14 • Karl Marx. Buffon took human beings as his starting point. 3 Buffon observed animal reproduction in a variety of species in order to establish regularities through comparison. [while] chance alone could create the unique and irreversible event. he argued that there was indeed an order in nature. history meant a description of the present distribution of oceans. 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. Rudwick 1985). Anthropologist description of mere facts. the fetus at conception. and mineral. To do so. stirred some controversy. With regard to the second question. whereas subsequent embryonic development was merely growth of those parts. First it was a theory of transformation and change. Here. the naturalist of living systems. . This argument seemed to combine the materialism of the Epicureans and Leibniz. the question in his mind was how rather than why they did so. in nature. 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). 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. after which nothing would remain as it was before. or chains of being. 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. The conclusions he drew were that the first development. Rossi 1984. he distinguished living beings. 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. Buffon’s model of the natural historian was Aristotle. Thus. was a production of parts that appeared for the first time. from nonliving matter—a classification that recognized animal. Like Aristotle. organic diversity. and strata. and internal. however. animals and plants. because it was too complicated for their equations (Sloan 1976). Buffon argued that living beings reproduce. since it also involved the use of reason—comparison. a proper theory of natural history had to combine natural causes with accidents. vegetable.” The importance of Buffon’s theory was twofold. which was quite similar to the way he wrote about the formation and subsequent history of the earth. had simply failed to capture its complexity. mountains. teleological processes. 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. The focus of the new natural history would be the study of reproduction. Porter 1972. but that the mathematicians and taxonomists. he also added Leibniz’s recently published views about continuous gradations. and generalization. analogy. Buffon tackled the history and theory of the earth and the formation of planets (Roger 1989/1997: 93–115).

his philosophical anthropology was materialist. medicoanatomical investigations. their physical appearance. Buffon clearly placed human beings in nature and argued that all of their propensities—their capacities for speech. and old age. to take account of the physiological demands and to consider the disruptive. historicized nature in the process.g. The New Anthropology of the Enlightenment Montesquieu and Buffon provided a “green light” to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. More importantly. or customs. Moreover. and that. there was an unbridgeable gap between human beings and the rest of the animal kingdom. While Buffon’s empirical anthropology was rooted in the travel literature. Roger 1989/1997: 151–83). dietary regimes. In the opening chapters. reproduction. they had to appropriate the resources of that world in order to cope with the uncertainties of their own cultures and ultimately to survive. and education of peoples living in different climatic regions. and abilities were slowly altered (degenerated in his words) and diversified under the influence of climate into the varieties that are seen today. Buffon also argued that the human species had been relatively uniform (and archetypically white-skinned) in its early stages. and Buffon simply refused to humanize the latter as some of his contemporaries did. living matter (organic molecules) was combined and recombined to produce successive generations of individuals of the same species. and other commentators of the Scottish Enlightenment to write about the . initiating. Its concern was the natural history of the human species (Blanckaert 1993. His analyses cut across different levels ranging from the molecular to the cosmological. as its members moved out from their mid-latitude homeland. This led him to consider in new ways factors like climate. Since human beings lived in the physical world. customs. Richards 2002.4 Buffon’s third volume of Natural History picked up where the first one began— with man. after Buffon. Reill 2005. puberty. which underpin the rise of civilization—were also natural. or dynamic role played by customs. and nationality to account for the physical and physiological differences noted in travel accounts. they influenced later writers (e. it was necessary. intellectual activity. 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. diet. and creative innovation. and integrated seemingly disparate ideas and information into a more or less coherent whole. geography. adulthood. Adam Smith. and biases of his day. Sloan 1979). modes of subsistence. As Claude Blanckaert (1993: 33) remarked.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 15 In other words. he relied on differences in climate. environment. he examined the history of the individual and the different stages of human development—childhood. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

protecting property rights to goods was the main condition for society and preceded notions . In their view. profits. A sincerely felt moral concern among Scottish intellectuals. that society was constituted by a rational act. and awareness of the advantages of life in a community only emerged later. they argued. artisans. and there were significant differences within the country between the north and the south or between the Highlands and the Lowlands. his influence on them was nonetheless substantial. You are merchants. They argued instead that the formation of society could not be predicated on reason. 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. because it involved sympathy (i. in order to protect life. your work. 1764/1962: 284. always occupied with your private interests. For him. To do so would be a virtuous act that would benefit the nation and meet with the approval of others. emotion preceded reason and reflection. Their country was less prosperous than England. as Hobbes and Locke had. backwoods subsistence farmers. The Scottish Historical Philosophers Through their travels. 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. empathy).. and property. The methodology was Newton’s applied to human society rather than inanimate objects. 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.e. (Rousseau. was to determine how they could make a backward country prosper (Waszek 1988: 30–7). the Scots were acutely aware of what is now called uneven development. they could then synthesize the information and use the results to formulate the natural laws of economic development (Forbes 1982). you are people for whom freedom itself is only a means toward untrammeled acquisition and secure possession. and roving foragers on the margins. To accomplish this goal. bourgeois. comparison and analysis. a social contract among individuals. they knew the act was virtuous. liberty. commerce. the capacity to put themselves imaginatively into the situation of others and to intuit what the others instinctively feel (Broackes 1995: 380). it was necessary to have accurate empirical information derived from experiment and observation. In 1750. herders. 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. like Adam Smith (1723–90). The Scots did not believe.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 21 become you. all of whom bartered the goods they owned.

jurisprudence. That is. human beings have in common certain predispositions. foraging societies were different from those whose economies were based on commerce and manufacturing. weavers. since individuals serve as mirrors for one another. which was associated with population growth and changes in their modes of subsistence. property. to better their own circumstances—and to the increasing division of labor. Despite the diversity of human actions. such as “the natural effort of every individual to better his own condition” or “the propensity to truck. As their numbers increased. Hume. or as Smith (1776/1976: 405) put it. Smith and the others saw progressive development in areas of society as diverse as language. and. institutions.” . as artisans—carpenters. motives. most importantly.g. Taking a slightly different tack. the sequence in which the different forms of society appeared followed from the nature of property. the Scots also believed in progress. Smith argued that the progress of society was a natural. but they were also the way in which those individuals were constituted as individuals in the society. tailors. hence. scarcity. Anthropologist of justice. The Scots also recognized that the culture and values of a societies were linked to their modes of subsistence. However. Smith. exchange. government. and the immutability of human nature. 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. the first societies were composed of small numbers of individuals who provisioned themselves by hunting and foraging. of course. These dispositions were fixed characteristics of the species that were invariant from one society to another or from one individual to the next. and environment as well as peculiarities of particular cultures and individuals—there were also stable characteristics. the mode of subsistence. they were the foundation of human sociability itself. When their numbers increased even further. Besides their views about natural sociability of human beings. This was followed by a significant advance in the division of labor. More importantly. 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. barter. and the other Scots had a common perspective on human nature that was intimately linked with their views on sociability. this view. From his perspective. law-driven process tied both to the natural dispositions shared by all human beings—e. contrasted markedly with Rousseau’s. “according to the natural course of things. they domesticated animals and became pastoralists. the idea that society was developing in a desirable direction. In his Lectures on Jurisprudence (1762–3/1982).22 • Karl Marx. and exchange one thing for another” that distinguish them from other species (Smith 1776/1976: 17). and instincts that were shared by all human beings. Smith argued that human sociability underpinned the development of morality. those in favorable environments domesticated plants and turned to agriculture. astronomy. government. and customs—reflecting variously the influence of education.

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

What united them were curiosity about the world and their quest for enlightenment. Johann Gottlieb von Herder (1744–1803). for understanding that world without necessarily having to rely solely or exclusively on the authority of others. novelist. Rousseau. history.” It was in this context that Kant and his student. Testimonials perhaps to the impact of these intellectual exchanges were Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1803) claims that “Hume awoke him [i. Another aspect of Frederick’s agenda was to reform the universities and remodel them after the curriculum at the University of Göttingen. and when a political revolutionary (Jefferson) conducted archaeological excavations in Virginia and collected vocabulary lists of American Indian languages. were authors like Montesquieu. astronomy. Kant] from his dogmatic slumbers” and that “Rousseau set him straight. Anthropologist mathematics. and statesman (Goethe) discovered the intermaxillary bone of the human skull. collected botanical samples. 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). his Inquiry into the Distinctness of the Principles of Natural . What inspired them. who himself was a longtime friend of Voltaire.. and the Scots. began to grapple with Rousseau’s writings at the University of Königsberg in 1762. and drew pictures of Roman ruins. whose writings provoked critical thought and practice. when a philosopher (Kant) lectured on anthropology. A third aspect of Frederick’s plan was to undermine and displace academic philosophy. which he viewed as pedantic and out of touch with the real world.24 • Karl Marx. among other things.e. This was part of the cultural and political agenda of King Frederick II. The first was an extended critique of Cartesian rationalism and the application of mathematical methods to metaphysical questions. Buffon. 2002: 16–35). and laid the foundations for the modern concept of biological species. Two additional themes appeared in his writings in the early 1760s. Kant’s Pragmatic Anthropology Kant’s early writings were concerned mainly with the natural sciences. French naturalist Pierre-Louis Maupertuis. The king was supported in his effort to bring the ideas of the French and Scottish Enlightenments to the public. that Kant launched his annual course in anthropology in 1772. The influence of Rousseau and others was already evident in the German principalities by the late 1750s. East Prussia had been incorporated into the Russian Empire during the Seven Years War (1756–63). especially by that newly emerging layer of society. when a poet.” 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. the “bourgeois intelligentsia. and the president of the Berlin Academy. This was a time of massive foreign influence in Central Europe. and that anthropology was institutionalized at Göttingen in the 1770s.

he typically dealt with human beings as sensuous things of nature endowed with natural talents and temperaments in one part and. 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. it was apparently paired with an ethics course that he also taught during that period. shifted the study of human nature from metaphysics toward the natural world. age. Louden 2000: 62–4. throughout the world. The comparison of human beings with each other. and environment (Zammito 2002: 108–9). that resulted from differences in sex. at the same time. By the time that Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764) appeared. he was also forging his own critique of academic philosophy in the German states (Beiser 1992a). . It also gained him public recognition. and the comparison of man today with the moral state of man in earlier times. In a course description for the 1765–6 academic year. . culture. there will be a consideration of . Finally. furnishes us with a comprehensive map of the human species. the condition of the states and nations throughout the world. The former was what nature made of human beings. The second theme dealt with human equality and education. moral discourse. For Kant. The natural phenomena he had in mind included the diverse experiences of natural and civilized man. The alternative he proposed in the mid 1760s was a practical philosophy. (Kant 1765/1992: 289. in another. [but] . reflection. 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. Zammito 2002: 221–307). culture. Unless these matters are considered. . education. 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 . he wrote: [It] considers man. Terms like “freedom” and “equality” slowly crept into his writings. Thus. enlightenment. which would not only study “natural phenomena that hinder or contribute to the development of morality in human life.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 25 Theology and Ethics (1762). the formation of moral character was the more fundamental question. considered them as ethical beings who acted from principles and reason instead impulse or inclination in social contexts molded by diverse factors. which was runner-up for the Berlin Academy’s prize. . Kant was already working his way through Rousseau’s comments about human nature. general judgements about man would scarcely be possible. the latter was an individual achievement formed through education. Stark 2003. inequality. categories clearly derived from Rousseau. he distinguished the physical character of human beings from their moral character. and the ability to think for oneself (Louden 2000: 76–85). and the trajectory of history. While the content of the anthropology course varied somewhat from year to year.” but also be useful by helping us distinguish natural from artificial feelings by stressing what human beings share (Louden 2000: 18).

women played the central role in the formation of moral character.11 These predispositions helped the human species achieve its “collective destiny” (Louden 2000: 97). legislated customs. Races reflected the effects of environment. It was the natural duty of women to provide individuals with the skills and discipline required to become rational and ethical human beings. and teleological. Kant (1784/1986). The concepts of races and peoples also played roles in Kant’s philosophical anthropology. The moralization of civilization represented another. While the process of enculturation was apparently asocial in Kant’s mind. His concept of race. there was a linkage between the emotional temperaments and physical states of the human species. the two were not the same. Like the Scots. Skills allowed individuals to use the products of nature. Kant viewed race exclusively as skin color. By a people. of course. and races often included numerous peoples. which. For Kant. For Kant. his essays were also responses to Herder’s Reflections . whereas peoples reflected culture and history. some peoples. some peoples were racially mixed. he saw it as moral progress. was simultaneously historical. In his view. it was hereditary. which was composed of free individuals whose actions were constrained by the lawful authority of the whole. mostly Europeans.26 • Karl Marx. 1786/1991) began to develop his theory of history in the mid 1780s. 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). In sum. had developed their natural predispositions. in which the human character is revealed” (Kant 1785/1991: 211–12. 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. emphasis in original). customs. building on Rousseau and on the liberal political thought of Hobbes. and the Scots. because they lacked culture and civilization. besides ensuring the preservation of the species. could only emerge in civil society. higher stage of historical development as yet unachieved (Louden 2000: 79–87. which built on Buffon’s work. while others. Anthropologist rather these materials can be found only in human actions. they were a moralizing force in society that influenced men. mostly non-European. he believed in progress. He posited psychological differences between men and women and argued that these were rooted in nature. because. 143–4). had yet to do so. 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). 1785/1991.10 Skill and discipline collectively constituted culture. Locke. however. Moreover. Kant historicized the development of the human species and human society. naturalistic. From his perspective. and established how social intercourse should be structured. rather than economic progress. he meant the inhabitants of a region who viewed themselves as a civic whole because of their common descent. discipline allowed them to free themselves from the dominance of natural needs and desires. and language (Kant 1798/1978: 225).

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

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

but beings whose energies had developed in an entirely different direction. 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. there was a relationship. it also allowed them to enrich and perpetuate those views for future generations through the processes of Bildung and tradition. which was situational and functional. in other words. analysis was also needed in order to describe content or the purpose of particular cultural segments. among the language shared by the members of a community and the habits of thought and modes of life of its members. an interaction. He thought of historical development as motion in which what was already latent in a culture was actualized or made manifest. in his view. Bildung was a non-repetitive process that entailed the assimilation.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 29 “a field of tension” (Barnard 1969: 385–6). 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. Second. evaluation. 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). Language not only linked them to the past by revealing the thoughts and sentiments of past generations. Tradition was an ongoing. for example. however. 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. it was clear to Herder that a historical. they were not simply animals with reason added. At the time Herder was formulating his philosophical anthropology. incorporated it into the core of his anthropological thought. In his view. 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. at any given moment. did not . the coherence of a culture was contingent and dependent. and addition of new materials to the distinctive heritage of the community. To paraphrase Barnard (1965: 57). in contrast to Rousseau. This provided a synchronic view of culture. or diachronic. was an interactive. which involved both persistence and change. marked the possession of a reflective mind. In his essay on the origins of language. there was teleology in history. Language. Herder. dialectical one that involved the interplay of two processes: Bildung and tradition. the idea of race was being discussed increasingly by Enlightenment writers. Herder. a shared or common language was the cement that held together the members of a community. saw language as a uniquely human attribute that separated human beings from animals. Kant. For Herder. however. 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. Herder’s notion of history. Thus. Herder’s views about teleology derived inspiration from both Spinoza and Leibniz. human beings were fundamentally different from animals.

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

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

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

was manifested most clearly in the latest historical stage—modern civil society—which was ushered in by the French Revolution. 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. unlike Kant. 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. which limited freedom and the capacity of reason. moral individuals. From Herder. While he addressed themes that they had already discussed. As a result. 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. Herder. Thus. which was inchoate in earlier stages of human history. Hegel’s philosophical anthropology shared important features with those of his predecessors and diverged in significant ways from them (Lukács 1966/1976. that human beings had the freedom to actualize themselves as rational. they could also . Rousseau. had been dismantled and replaced by rampant individualism. moreover. Knox and Pelczynski 1964. Dickey and Nisbet 1999. This was the first time. Waszek 1988). notably Adam Ferguson. His empirical anthropology was rooted in his concern with history and with the formation of civil society (e. 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. Like Rousseau and Herder. through their individuality. he was at the same time critical of some of the conclusions they had drawn. The clearest embodiment of this goal. there was “a rationally discernible development in history.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 33 Hegel’s Critical-Historical Anthropology Georg F. From the late 1790s onward.g. Berry 1982. a development. Hegel agreed with Herder and the Scots. Hegel believed that philosophy should be critical as well as systematic (scientific). Like Rousseau and the Scots. he viewed change from the standpoint of the community rather than the individual. history was teleological. What emerged in the wake of the revolution was an era in which the institutions and practices of the old regime. and that social change was the product of human activity. he gained an appreciation of the importance of historical understanding and the significance of varied cultural configurations of different historical epochs and civilizations. he wrote with the ideas of Kant. Rockmore 1992/1993). like Kant. W. 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. according to Hegel. in Hegel’s (1822–30/1975: 11–151) view. and the Scots as almost continual points of reference. he also developed concepts of history and the primacy of collective social activity that were inchoate in Herder’s writings. once comprehended. History. he viewed history in terms of uneven development and the resolution of conflicts and contradictions. For example. however. emphasis in original). which.

human beings were social beings. and reason—by virtue of their membership in historically specific communities (Hardimon 1994: 153–6).. Culture or Spirit is precisely the objectification of this teleology or mediation. intellect. self-determining individuals who possessed rights as well as interests. and alienations that represent forms of consciousness. and social dimensions of human beings interpenetrated and articulated with one another. cultural. they developed their minds. ideas. practical activity. Anthropologist actualize themselves as social members of a community. in objectifications. Since what is conditioning humanity is the externalization of its own purposive activity. In this particular form of society. externalizations. creates a “second nature” which conditions humanity. they could step back from their social roles in the community and conceive of themselves as autonomous. by giving meaning to its world. 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. Labor modifies its world and thereby allows man to know it and free itself from the bonds of natural necessity. . and the capacity to make moral judgments that were distinct from those of other individuals in the community. For Hegel. and cultural needs in society and actualized their distinctly human capacities— thought. had evolved. As Robert D’Amico has noted. practices. talents. . They satisfied biological. psychic.34 • Karl Marx. and subjective spirit in the context of the social institutions. Spirit is ultimately the reason inherent in history as a teleological process. Spirit comes to understand itself through the history of these objectifications. language. Second. . 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. and civil society and in their roles as citizens of a political state. embodying the positive values of earlier states. States. They not only determined how biologically given drives and desires were satisfied but also how individuals expressed and developed their interests. in Hegel’s view. social. First. it is conditioned by its own product and . labor is defined as that which mediates the world. Another way of saying this is that the physical. external nature]. the market. and skills. . 1821/1967). 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. They realized themselves as individuals in their social roles in the family. . 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.e. Most importantly. Hegel’s theory of history is based on self-production [in which] Spirit (Geist) manifests itself . Hegel saw history as the progressive unfolding of reason and consciousness and the development of Spirit. Hegel stresses two aspects of the role of labor as objectification. Human labor is just such a manifestation of the power of Spirit.

For example. marked the both the internationalization of society and the end of the nation state.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 35 not by an external. 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.. 1837/1956: 52–3. which was weakened as individuals pursued their own goals. The separation of the individual from the community only occurred during the Protestant Reformation (Plant 1983: 55–75).e. individuals satisfied their needs by pursing their private interests in the market. in his view. For Hegel. (1981: 5–6) As Hegel put it. History progressed unevenly through fits and starts as the people of a historical era succeeded in resolving the contradictions of their time. History was important. that of nature and that of the spirit. 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. Henri Saint-Simon (1760–1825) made a slightly different argument about their connection. . they felt a sense of profound estrangement from those societies. The province of the spirit is created by man himself” (1822–30/1975: 44. Thus. 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. revolutions. wars. History began with the rise of states and ended with the present. man appears on the scene as the antithesis of nature. as distinct from the customs of the city-state or as participants in the market exchange relations that characterized modern civil society. 241–2). SaintSimon was concerned with the appearance of industrial society. objectification is characterized exclusively by consciousness. he is the being who raises himself up into a second world. consequently. “the rational end of man is life in the state” (1817–30/1978: 242). natural object. which. The modern state not only reaffirmed the unity of the nation. . . His contemporary. which has nothing whatsoever to do with the kinds of determination that occur in the natural world. declines. . law and morality condition and form human beings through a process of cultivation (Bildungsweise) or civilizing influence. for Hegel. cf. where the purchase and sale of goods and services made them interdependent and connected them in an increasingly dense web of social relations. For example. because it explained the present and ended in the present. The general consciousness of man includes two distinct provinces. It accounted for the cultural configuration of modern civil society as well as the modern state. 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). Hegel was not the only theorist to comment on civil society and the state during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. “After the creation of the natural universe.” these did not give rise to history (Hegel 1822–30/1975: 134–7). In civil society.

when the young Karl Marx had barely entered his teens. human beings. commerce. 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. At times. nature. their relations with one another.36 • Karl Marx. we have viewed the Enlightenment as an ongoing conversation among individuals who held distinct. colonization. In one sense. and the difference between faith and reason. He would also absorb the importance of enlightenment. moreover. and Hegel responded in different ways to Rousseau and to one another. theoretically informed views about the world. it was more private—an exchange of words between friends (Spinoza) or a university lecture published only posthumously (Hegel). and human society had been historicized and their diversity acknowledged. and their place in the world. Marx would absorb the ideas of both writers as well as those of Montesquieu and Rousseau among others. resulted from the resolution of contradictions. the conversation that ensued can be viewed as a work in progress. Anthropologist While industrial society was built around the institutions of civil society. and later industrialization. a point with which Hegel would have agreed. Second. the Enlightenment provided a set of questions that the proponents of different philosophical anthropologies felt they needed to address. if it occurred at all. The conversation was often acrimonious. human nature was culturally determined (Herder and Hegel) and progress. about human beings. exploration. After Rousseau. Saint-Simon died in 1825. 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. Unlike the Scots and Hegel who viewed the present as the end of history. critical thought. Kant. First. 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. Third. At other times. while many of Marx’s predecessors believed in progress (Smith) or the dialectical unfolding of history (Hegel). however. Herder. and about their place in that world. The conversation was fueled by the conquest of nature. Let us dwell for a moment on some of the issues and lessons that Marx’s predecessors raised for him. In the 1830s. For some of them. the conversation was public as when the Scots. it was becoming increasingly difficult to argue that human beings were ontologically prior to human society. 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. Saint-Simon had a vision of what society could become in the future. Hegel six years later in 1831. others did not. for others. human nature was fixed and immutable and progress was a consequence of the passage of time. 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. In this chapter. In another sense. Marx’s predecessors were collectively concerned with the .

to use a term coined in response to Rousseau. Fifth. Saint-Simon). Herder. Hegel.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. and limited or muted the knowledge acquired in the course of everyday life in the community (Herder). In the chapters that follow. These civilizations. Fourth. from the time of Rousseau onward. associated with the state. 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. 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). Marx certainly learned from their writings and carried many of their arguments into his own work. were described as mechanical. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He wrote . in their participation in historically specific communities. time for intellectual development. these are typically available only to the privileged layers of that society. their corporeal organization. These included adequate food. Marx recognized the sociality of human beings and that being human was. free play of the vital forces of the body and mind. and the objects upon which work is performed (Marx 1857–8/1973: 494. 54–118. Márkus 1978: 15–35.46 • Karl Marx.g. adequate living and working space. . rest from exertion. portray themselves as representatives of the masses. While Marx never systematically elaborated a theory of social needs. that the development of the individual is determined by the development of all the others with whom he is directly or indirectly associated. fulfillment of social functions. and their cultures—have a profoundly social character (e. their identities. healthy maintenance of the body. variation of activity. 417). play. 611. 1863–7/1977: 284). actualized in their relations with other individuals. Henry 1976/1983. their personalities. and that the different generations of individuals entering into relation with one another are connected with one another. 762–802. As a result. their individualities. human individuals—their consciousnesses. Anthropologist (work). clothing. 1863–7/1977: 341. In short. “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. he and Engels made passing references to the needs of human beings in general (McMurtry 1978: 33–4). aesthetic stimulation. Another way of saying this is that these webs of social relations are the foundation on which intersubjectivity is possible. like adequate health care or rest. Negt 1988: 228–33: Schaff . but is determined by this history (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 438). who. 362. their ambivalences. and that these later generations inherit the productive forces and forms of intercourse accumulated by their predecessors. development. and meaningful interpersonal and sexual relationships (Marx 1844/1975a: 295–6. the instruments of work. Social needs are the genuine needs of every individual in a given society. 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). 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. 612. Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 38. social intercourse. fresh air and sunlight. their own mutual relations being determined thereby. or their biological features. . cleanliness of person and surroundings. in fact. growth. their subjectivities. like congressmen in the United States today. that the physical existence of the later generations is determined by that of their predecessors. drink. 375–6. and habitation.

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

it also includes “false consciousness”— mistaken ideas that conceal. It does not say that the culture is not economic or that the economic lacks significant cultural.” and “the activation of human actuality” (Márkus 1978: 29). Such claims also overlook passages Marx wrote earlier that are hard to square with models of economic determination. What they are. Thus. cultures. which are the expression of particular ensembles of social . The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social. the real foundation. consciousness is also related to Marx’s concepts of objectification and labor—the transformation of exterior objects to satisfy needs. it is well known that certain periods of their flowering are all out of proportion to the general development of society. ultimately.48 • Karl Marx. both with what they produce and how they produce. distort. coincides with their production. a definite mode of life on their part. legal. (2) the economic determination of society and history. of its organization. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals. on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. Anthropologist potentials they have for satisfying or creating new needs. political and intellectual life. For example. a definite form of expressing their life. therefore. 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. As individuals express their life. hence also to the material foundation. Thus. the appropriation of these “objects of social practice. 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). the skeletal structure. In the case of the arts. or invert reality and of whose existence the subjects are unaware. Marx portrayed the linkages of consciousness in his famous base–superstructure architectural metaphor: In the social production of their existence. (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31–2) In this view. namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. men inevitably enter into definite relations. hence. “culture [consciousness] constitutes a mode of expression of life conditioned by the form of production or form of life activity” (D’Amico 1981: 11). The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society. as it were. (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. or political dimensions. so they are. (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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who simultaneously was critically assessing the balance of forces in European society. his steadily more difficult economic circumstances. and the appearance of Frederick Engels’s (1845/1975) The Condition of the Working-Class in England. 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. continuous process of capital accumulation. and periodic economic and financial crises that result from the impossibility of a smooth. 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. unite!” Marx did not elaborate a theory of revolutionary practice. For instance. larger enterprises. the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. his steadily increasing involvement in political activism made him aware of what was happening in the world. He did not argue for a set trajectory of historical change.g. At the same time. we have sketched the outlines of Marx’s anthropology. so that the two complement each other. McLellan 1973: 137–225). In his view. the balance of forces. the possibility for revolution was a dialectical one that built on the contingency of relations. then Russia’s peasant-communal landownership may serve as the point of departure for a communist development” (Marx and Engels 1882/1989: 426). Instead. later. as you will recall from the preceding section. given the balance of forces at particular moments. 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. his interpersonal relationships and experiences while growing up in the Rhineland and. and. and contradictions that existed at a particular moment. As we have seen. at the same time. the concentration and centralization of production into steadily fewer and. Marx read widely and thoughtfully. the increased importance of technology relative to human labor power in developing economic sectors. together with Engels in 1882. His declining economic circumstances from the early . he thought of pre-capitalist modes of production as alternative pathways out of a primitive communal condition. From Personal Observation and Authentic Sources. increased rates of technological innovation. 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 suggested that there were at least two alternative possibilities for capitalist development in the 1860s (Marx 1864–94/1981: 567–73). Draper 1978. Anthropologist situation in Europe. and trying to devise tactics and strategies for altering the balance of force and the circumstances of workers (e. In this chapter. 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.62 • Karl Marx. he pointed out the potential for revolutionary practice that might exist. for example.

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. . In this sketch of Marx’s anthropology. The workers were not the objects of inquiry to be described and reported to the world. the significance of ensembles of social relations. reproduction. we have focused on the corporeal organization of human beings. and the importance of praxis in the production.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. they were instead thoughtful. perceptive individuals with vast funds of knowledge from whom the world could learn. the historicity and diversity of human societies and their propensities to change. and transformation of those communities.

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

Thus. Thus. (3) the diverse arguments proposed from 1750 onward by the Comte de Buffon.66 • Karl Marx. and there was a transition from ape to human).e. and (4) the view expounded by Georges Cuvier in 1812 that there was. Charles Lyell. human beings and apes shared a common ancestor. but [he was] also tending to exclude from that evolution any finalist [teleological] assumption. in fact.” From the late 1830s onward. 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). 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. “Marx was already not only taking for granted the principle of the historical evolution of animal species and of nature in general.. he was also critical of the way in which Darwin and others naturalized explanations of social inequality and other culturally constructed categories. in fact. (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. can be understood only after the higher development is already known. 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. James Hutton. As we shall see.” His later remark—“since Darwin demonstrated that we are all descended from apes. a succession of past worlds on earth. had the highest regard for Darwin’s insights. which found little favour in the sciences of the time. he was definitely not bothered by them. and Abraham Gottlob Werner that the earth was significantly older than commonly believed. The third is to consider the implications of this biocultural nature for population structures. 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. however. there is scarcely any shock whatever that could shake ‘our ancestral pride’”—suggests that. 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. this chapter has four goals. The intimations of higher development among the subordinate animal species. while Marx (1864/1985) was amused at the public outcry over the implications of Darwin’s ideas (i. while Marx. as Valentino Gerratana (1973: 64) put it. . when Marx was formulating his materialist conception of history. Anthropologist included (1) the anatomical similarities of human beings and chimpanzees recognized by Edward Tyson in 1699.

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

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. Darwin focused his attention on that variation and made it the object of his study. initially framed his ideas in terms of already existing metaphors. 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). at times.” and “wedging. and all that is required is a motive force for the conversion of variation. animal breeding. it marked a radical departure from the teleological worldviews of his predecessors. perhaps. That force is natural selection. about the world and man’s place in it (Desmond 1989). emphasis in the original) Darwin. was that individual variation and the differences between species were causally related. analogies. In a more self-reflexive moment. Thus. political economy. as Richard Lewontin put it. the differences between species are already latent within them. and natural science as he struggled to explain his new understandings of the natural world and the evolution of species (e. paintings. Darwin’s revolutionary theory was that the differences between organisms within a species are converted to the differences between species in space and time. on the one hand. and the luxuriant. They are “an entangled bank.” “natural selection. and analytical categories. (1974: 170. The publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 fuelled the discontent.” “the struggle for existence. religious and otherwise. At the same time. this might account for Marx’s two comments in letters about Darwin’s “clumsy English style of argumentation” as well as his own. He built on the language and imagery of German romanticism. on the other (Kohn 1996). Kohn 1996. Darwin described the interrelatedness of all nature in the following way: . evocative images rich in meaning. Amazonian rainforests of Brazil. 1985). variation. The dual sources of inspiration were the engravings. In The Origin. Schweber 1980.68 • Karl Marx. He employed the phrase “an entangled bank” to express the complexity of organization of nature.” His metaphors were used singularly or more frequently in combination to produce powerful. Anthropologist discontent among the public and a few natural historians was that it threatened their beliefs. Richards 1992. Instead of sweeping away the real variations among individuals of the same species in order to focus on the type. Darwin used four powerful metaphors in The Origin of Species to frame and express his new ideas about nature. His singularly stunning insight. fumbling and often opaque attempts to say what he actually meant. and the motor force driving evolution. like Marx.g.

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

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

In other words. their ancestors. their offspring were also tall. they viewed variation and inheritance as ontologically distinct categories. to paraphrase Lewontin (1974: 177–8). When he bred individuals that were hybrids for two traits—such as tall vs. all of whose genes constitute the gene pool of the population. 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. they tended to revert to one or the other of the original parental type over a number of generations. Many . if any of the hybrids produced were fertile. Because the breeders focused on the differences rather than on the similarities. then Mendel was responsible for clarifying the mechanisms by which hereditary variation is created and transmitted. he distinguished between the individual and the group. in this trait. when tall plants were bred with tall plants. Mendel then bred a tall plant with a short one and noted that each of the hybrid offspring was tall and. 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. its reservoir of hereditary material that is passed from one generation to the next. In other words. Let us consider briefly what Mendel did in his experiments and what he actually showed. (2) that the expression of the gene for tallness was dominant over the other.Human Natural Beings • 71 The Problems of Variation and Inheritance If Darwin made variation the proper study of biology. and even species. They attempted to cross organisms from different varieties. 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. 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. Mendel bred varieties of garden peas that differed from one another in a few traits—that is. he concluded. and saw that. 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. that it showed that variation and inheritance were manifestations of the same underlying phenomena but that they required two different kinds of causal explanation. the significance of Mendel’s work was. with regard to the characteristic being studied (1) that the hybrid individuals inherited a discrete particle (gene) from each of the parents. What Mendel did that was different from his contemporaries was that he focused on individuals. and their progeny. 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. and (2) they focused their attention on the group or variety rather than on the individual. they resembled one of their parents. This involved conceptualizing a local population of individuals. short plants and smooth vs. On the basis of this experiment. when he bred the hybrids of the first generation with one another. However. As Richard Lewontin (1974: 173–8) notes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. human adults. Some paleoanthropologists argue that both genera manufactured and used stone tools. that at least some hominids used sticks or rocks. chimpanzees and modern human beings—are different from one another. The brain volumes of modern human beings are roughly three times larger than those of their Plio-Pleistocene ancestors. 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. of course. The convolutions on the brain’s surface leave their imprint on the interior surface of the skull. others suggest that only some australopithecines had the manual dexterity to make tools. what is the relationship between increased brain size and the structural organization of the brain itself? Second.5 million years ago. and heavily muscled fingers and wrists adapted for grasping. food sharing. earlier than 2. The australopithecines had hands with long curved fingers. more specifically. Heat regulation is accomplished by the circulation of blood through a complex network of arteries and veins that crisscross their brains. is a marker for something else. it is linked with the development of the brain.Human Natural Beings • 79 believe. for example. Two issues emerge. and forearms more closely resemble those of modern human beings. a third group claims that stone tool-making was restricted to the genus Homo. There are three facts about the brain that it is useful to keep in mind. In this instance. social cooperation. and heat stress. it is possible to learn about the surface organization of the brain. We suspect that the latter made the tools. Engels’s third step in the evolution of human corporeal organization (Schoenemann 2006). There were two genera of early hominids in Ethiopia between about 2. thumbs and little fingers with a restricted range of rotation.000 years ago. A significant increase in brain volume began to appear about 2. The third is that brains consume enormous amounts of energy.5 and 1. Tool-making. increased hunting. All of the early hominids that lived before 2.0 million years ago in the genus Homo and continued until about 100. wrists. What we do not know about the tools from Ethiopia is who made them. consequently. The second fact is that the endocasts of human and nonhuman primates—that is. in the habitats in which the early hominids lived 7 to 2 million years ago. . First. or was it punctuated with episodes of growth followed by periods of relative stasis (Delisle 2007: 328–30)? The development of the brain was. because the configuration of the fingers.5 million years ago had brain volumes that resembled those of chimpanzees. hand. language. for example. as Engels indicated. by examining the endocasts of the imprints left on the skulls. of course. was this increase in brain size gradual and continuous. use about 20 percent of the metabolic energy they have to regulate the temperature of their brains.0 million years ago: Australopithecus and Homo.

possibly savannas. the dentition of the large australopithecines. 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. habilis about 2. roughly similar to those of apes. As you will recall. and (2) that they were different from those of the later. hence they appear hairless except for the tops of the heads. So. which is located north of the Caspian Sea. In this regard. even though they have about the same number of hair follicles as chimpanzees. and that these glands are distributed over the entire surface of their bodies. What makes sweating an effective evaporative.8 million years old at Dmanisi.” 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. A. until the vascular system of the brain was able to regulate temperature more efficiently in those hominids that had moved into more open habitats. as well as associated paleoenvironmental evidence. Once the vascular system of the brain became more efficient. hominid populations began to move out of the African tropics and onto the Eurasian landmass about 2 million years ago. and skin. In her view. small australopithecines and early species of Homo. brain volumes remained low—that is. brain volumes increased. what does this imply for a relatively hairless hominid? Brian Fagan suggests an answer: . It seems to have been a fairly continuous process until about 100. Falk learned (1) that the surface organization of the brains of large australopithecines resembled those of modern chimpanzees. The vascular system is not the only organ of the human body involved in heat regulation.5 million years ago. This process became apparent in the remains of H. cooling mechanism is that human beings are relatively hairless in comparison to the living apes. when the growth curve flattened out (Lee and Wolpoff 2003). but as likely the environmental mosaics described earlier in which patches of trees.80 • Karl Marx. More important.000 years ago. Adrienne Zihlman and B. both of which had features resembling the brain surfaces of modern human beings. others include sweat glands. the teeth and paleoenvironmental data indicated that the small australopithecines and early species of Homo moved into more open country. In contrast. The reason for their appearance is that their hair shafts are much smaller than those of apes. where winter temperatures occasionally plunge below 0 °F (–17. Their remains have been found at deposits that are about 1. 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. the large and small species of australopithecines. and water dotted the landscape. the distribution of hair. and early members of the genus Homo. This inference has some additional implications. indicated that they continued to live in wooded habitats. 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.8 °C). Anthropologist Examining the endocasts of apes. grasslands.

especially chimpanzees. is not unrelated to the development of the brain and other sensory organs. 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.Human Natural Beings • 81 For Homo erectus to be able to adapt to the more temperate climates of Europe and Asia. but not the motor cortex. 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). Language. seasonal whale songs. involve mimicry. (2) rules for combining and recombining these sounds into larger units. are quite vocal. which is unique to the human species. The unique skill in learning to speak suggests that this facility may reflect some critical neurological difference. facial gestures and even ejaculation. Repeated efforts to train primates to mimic even simple speech sounds have had little success. anger. has three central features: (1) basic sound units produced in the oral cavity. Human speech uses a very different set of neural circuits. have the capacity to communicate enormous ranges of information and meaning (semantics). which suggest that our common ancestors 10–5 million years ago probably did the same. (Fagan 1990: 76) Thus. and express ranges of immediate feelings like fear. or the calls of monkeys—which. respectively. as you know. the elaboration of culture. The ability to combine a larger number of . and by storing dried meat and other foods for use in the lean months. it was necessary not only to tame fire but to have both effective shelter and clothing to protect against heat loss. Both modern human beings and non-human primates. 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. The final step mentioned by Engels was the development of language. Homo erectus probably survived the winters by maintaining permanent fires. are referential but not symbolic. It depends on the region of the motor cortex that controls the mouth. Nevertheless. the vocalizations and gestures of non-human primates are not the same as language. or pleasure. like words (morphology) and sentences (syntax). These features distinguish human language from other forms or systems of communication—such as the dances of honeybees. display postures. tongue and larynx and the areas that are in front of it. even though this area can control the muscles of the larynx and mouth. 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. Stimulation of the vocalization areas in a monkey brain often produce other signs of arousal—such as hair standing on end. Engels’s fourth step in the transition from ape to human being. which lack innate or intrinsic meaning.

is located on the cortex amid areas that are associated with seeing. 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. A. A few of these were: the brain was reorganized as both the vascular and neural systems evolved. there is not a single structure that is concerned exclusively with language and speech production. With regard to the evolution of language. they leave imprints on the interior surface of the skull and thus appear on endocasts. and their coordination with movements of the respiratory system. has an ape-like pattern but shows evidence of Broca’s area. While there are no endocasts currently available for hominids that lived before about 3 million years ago. Between 7 million and 2 million years ago. rather than one that was built on a pre-existing structure or structures shared with other primates. the varied positions of the tongue.5 million years ago).2. An endocast from a late. habilis (c. both appear on endocasts of H. the anatomy of the craniofacial region was significantly shortened. and preceded by a half million or so years the initial movements of hominids out of the African tropics (Tobias 1998). instead .3. Wernicke’s area. and. This development coincided in time with the initial expansion of brain volume. In other words. particularly in the frontal area. That is to say. africanus (c. the surface topography of the cerebral cortex became more folded and complex. The former is a motor speech area associated not only with sensorimotor control of the structures of the oral cavity. interrelated changes occurred in the heads of our human and pre-human ancestors. Tobias 1998: 72). (Deacon 1992b: 119) Two regions of the human brain involved in speech production are Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. The configurations of their brain surfaces resembled those of modern human beings rather than apes. 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. Anthropologist component sounds to form larger units.1 to 2. which controls understanding and formulating coherent speech. asymmetric hemispherical specialization of the brain appeared. but also with manipulative and gestural abilities. the faculty seems to have been an emergent phenomenon that was a byproduct of other developments. makes possible to syntactic complexity of speech. Thus. The latter. toward the end of that period.or right-handedness).6 million years ago). the earliest representatives of the genus Homo seem to have had the neural capacity for spoken language. Since they are located on the surface of the brain. 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. a set of complex. and feeling (Gibson and Jessee 1999: 205. hearing.82 • Karl Marx. the volume of the brain itself expanded. the appearance of stone tool making (culture in the broadest sense). small australopithecine. words and phrases. All normally developed human brains have Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas.

practical activity and speech are increasingly interconnected as the child matures. 90 percent by age five. It is part of the complex process by which natural beings became human natural beings. first to themselves and then increasingly to others when they were confronted with a problem to solve. speech and interpersonal relations begin to guide and dominate what they will do in future. 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. their brains double in size during the first six months. As we have just seen. While practical intelligence (tool-use) operates independently of speech in young children. another with sensation and motor control—that have become. 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. (4) this prolonged period of maturation coincides with growth and developmental stages that witness not only the formation . these studies showed (1) that the practical behavior of apes is independent of any speechsymbolic activity. those that children manifested at different stages of psychological development changed dramatically. speech increasingly moves from solving the problems that are immediately at hand to a planning function that precedes their actions. 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). (3) human infants are relatively helpless in comparison to ape infants during the first years of life. The interconnections between the faculties of language and tool use in human natural beings were confirmed more than seventy years ago.Human Natural Beings • 83 there seem to be several areas—one associated with emotions. The egocentric. ape neonatal infants have about 50 percent of the brain volume of adults of the same species. While the tool-using abilities of apes remained essentially unchanged throughout their lives. For example. both apes and human children. (2) the growth rate in brain volume extends beyond well beyond the first year of life in human beings. not only in their evolution over the past 7 million years but also in the maturation process of the each individual human being. human infants are born with brain volumes that are about 25 percent of the size of those of adults. there are significant differences in the growth and development patterns of non-human primates and human beings. In a phrase. especially after they began to talk. As the human child matures. are about 75 percent the size of adults by two and a half. Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria (1930/1994) assessed studies that compared the development of speech and practical intelligence in individuals. in the course of the last 5 million or so years. and their brains typically grow to roughly the same size as the adults by the end of their first year of life. In contrast. practical activity (tool-use in this case) and language began to be linked increasingly in the development of human natural beings. 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. and 95 percent in their tenth year.

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

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

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

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

“inventions” and Malthusian “struggle for existence. that of the sovereign in exchange for self-preservation and avoiding death (Wood and Wood 1997: 94–111).” It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes [i. that poverty was a natural outcome of social relations. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). in order to avoid being thrust back into a state of nature during the time of the English Civil War. they should submit their own individual wills to. and their reappropriation into capitalist society as “natural” relations. Having accomplished this feat . 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. the society of England with its division of labour. opening up of new markets.. these people proceed to re-extrapolate the same theories from organic nature to history. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers. war of all against all] and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology in which civil society figures as an “intellectual animal kingdom. the transposition of capitalist social relations to nature. 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. A second target was Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) who also assumed that self-interest and competition were the foundations of modern society. and that. and then claim to have proved their validity as eternal laws of human society. (Marx 1862/1985: 381) What stands out in both quotations is Marx’s critique of the naturalization of social inequalities. One target was Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). competition. or at least not resist.e. and that the tendency to over-reproduce far outstripped the capacity of society to produce food. the animal kingdom figures as civil 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.88 • Karl Marx. .” whereas. It is important to note here that Marx believed that “human nature” was not fixed but varied from one historical epoch to another. 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? . in Darwin. and Malthus who viewed struggle in terms of limitations imposed on society as a whole by its environment (Bowler 1976: 639. which led to a limited food supply and a “struggle for existence” among its members. Anthropologist its geometric progression—to humans as against plants and animals. . among the beasts and plants. 647–50).

Twelve years later. the evolution of human societies. and the cultural practices and beliefs of marginal peoples—also began to coalesce rapidly in the 1860s and 1870s (e. Stocking 1987. they also became part of emerging discourses about individualism. evolution) and metaphors (e. However.” Moreover. and that nature had a moral economy (Jones 1980: 1–9).” associated with Social Darwinism were in use before Darwin wrote either The Origin of Species or The Descent of Man. and societal evolution and made use of the same analogies and metaphors as Darwin and his followers. Lowie (1883–1957) in the United States—were socialists who rejected the positivism of the . 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. meritocracy. many features and metaphors. These tendencies became increasingly common in many countries after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 (e. While they were liberal reactions against entrenched aristocratic and conservative understandings of the world. political economists. many of the concepts (e. Darwinism and evolutionism were concerned with the individual. like “the struggle for existence” or “nature red in tooth and claw.g. anthropology was never a politically homogeneous discipline even at its inception.Human Natural Beings • 89 When Darwin was composing The Origin of Species in the 1840s and 1850s. or equilibrium.g. human diversity. Its early practitioners often had the same understandings of human beings. 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. their perspective frequently emphasized the naturalness of hierarchy. 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. Weikart 1999. Kelly 1981. Harvey 1983. and scientific racism that came to be called Social Darwinism after 1879. however. with the evolution of the human psyche and intelligence. Hammond 1980. Some early figures in the history of anthropology—like Franz Boas (1858–1942) or Robert H. they had entered into the public domain and were being deployed by naturalists.g. 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. Weindling 1989: 11–59). Anthropology—an emerging discipline concerned with human variation. “struggle for existence” or “survival of the fittest”) that he would eventually use had already been employed by others. Glick 1988). and with the evolution of human social and social organization. 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. the struggle for existence. it was not uncommon by the 1850s for writers to slip between claims that human beings had a nature.g. it is also clear that some of his followers were socialists and others were not. While it is possible to argue that Darwin was a Social Darwinist. gradualism. In a real sense. As a result.

and life history might have effected and produced diverse social structures. and how issues of mortality. at the same time. It is also clear. We then examined data clarifying these developments. however. fertility. who was one of the leading exponents of Darwin’s thought in Germany. Lowie was highly critical of Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society and of Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919). another set of linkages between Marx. Finally.90 • Karl Marx. In this chapter. to address questions concerned with the emergence and development of human natural beings and their relationship with the worlds in which they lived. that Marx and Engels were early opponents of the naturalization of cultural categories. populations rather than types of individuals. some of the data derived from the investigations of neuroanatomists. For Marx. Anthropologist social evolutionary perspectives and replaced them instead with empiricist-inspired and grounded studies of the cultural practices of particular communities. Engels linked the emergence of human natural beings with a series of interconnected changes in the corporeal organization of our ancestors that involved bipedalism. 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. while others came from paleoanthropological inquiries in African and Eurasia. expansion and reorganization of the brain. For our purposes in this book. There is. we examined how Marx’s materialism was an outcome of his efforts as a student to bring together the arts and sciences and then. We also saw that the broad outlines of Engels’s argument have stood the test of time. and the elaboration of culture. or the politics of science (Pittenger 1993). as the letters quoted above indicate. he praised the writings of Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921). although the kinds of detailed information available today are infinitely richer than when he wrote. . we raised questions about the kinds of social relations that might have existed in these early communities. Darwin. life expectancy. For example. 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. changes in the anatomy and dexterity of the hand. the attraction of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was precisely its materialist foundations.g. the weaknesses of scientific racist arguments. 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. Ssorin-Chaikov 2003. a few years later. 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. language. Patterson and Spencer 1995. especially his Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (Kropotkin 1904/1989) and of the socialist Alfred Russel Wallace. tool-making. Yanagisako and Delaney 1995).

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

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

and historians have gathered in the last 150 years. which Hegel claimed had already been fully realized in the Prussian state. actually “lies .History. and the constitutional monarchies of the early nineteenth century. and that unfolding of consciousness or knowledge of the thing-in-itself is a dialectical process that self-corrects its own claims (e. he might have dealt with the enormous amount of information about pre-capitalist and non-capitalist societies that archaeologists. Should the historically possible revolutionizing of society not come about. his notions of historical trajectories and the historically determined contingency of transitions. in contrast. (Fetscher 1991: 228) This led Marx (e. 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.g. In this regard. the dialectical progression of human history and society toward emancipation culminated in Christianity. his views bore a generic resemblance to those of Hegel. dominant. it presents only the objective possibility of such a development. in the future as a real possibility of the present” (Fetscher 1991: 228) As Iring Fetscher put it. had claimed that human beings only know things by their appearance.g. the realm of individual freedom. 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. 1861–3/1971: 536–7) addressed the relation between appearances and reality in the Grundrisse and Theories of Surplus Value. he claimed that appearance and essence belong together. the “thing-in-itself. In Marx’s view. and historical contingency in his empirical studies of particular societies. 1852/1979) to consider factors such as contradiction. given this standpoint. . the Reformation. then a relapse into barbarism (Luxemburg) or the “common ruin of the contending classes” (Marx) is also possible. In Hegel’s view. or emergent in any given society).” was unknowable. and how. Culture. where he provided a framework—a point of departure—for clarifying problems in order to gain practical understanding of everyday life in capitalist society. the balance of force among opposed groups. Both saw human society as a process of becoming. and that the real essence of the thing. Kant. Hartnack 1992). Marx’s Historical-Dialectical Conceptual Framework Marx’s empirical anthropology was underpinned by a historical-dialectical notion of society. Marx was also indebted to Hegel’s critique of the distinction that Kant drew between appearance and reality. Hegel did not think that there were limits to the application of human knowledge. as you will recall. cultural beliefs. The . the French Revolution. sociocultural anthropologists (ethnologists). Marx (1857–8/1973: 100–8. .

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

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

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

and a prayer leader were only a few of the specialists mentioned by Marx (1863–7/1977: 478–9). 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. and Social Formation • 97 1857–8/1973: 472–4. they were based on an amalgamation of food production and handicraft production and a fixed division of labor. Because of its self-sufficiency. since the individual member of the commune never enters into the relation of freedom towards it in which he could lose his (objective. which. developed in areas favorable to external trade. This also has to do with the combination of manufacture and agriculture. and their neverceasing changes of dynasty. of town (village) and countryside. In the more despotic form of the Asiatic mode of production. the scribe. economic) bond with it. The structure of the fundamental economic units of society remains untouched by the storms which blow up in the cloudy regions of politics. Marx typically characterized societies manifesting the Asiatic mode of production as relatively impervious to change. was an excrescence on the village communities. there were perhaps a dozen or so individuals who were maintained at the expense of the community as a whole—the headman. a few artisans. the loss [of property] is hardly possible. (Marx (1857–8/1973: 494. 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. 1880–2/1974: 329). when accidentally destroyed. which represented the unity of the wider society. emphasis in the original) The simplicity of the productive organism in these self-sufficing communities which constantly reproduce themselves in the same form and. the community is relatively impervious to the effects of exchange. when it occurs. Cities. which is in such striking contrast with the constant dissolution and refounding of Asiatic states. 494. its officials were supported by tribute in the form of surplus goods and labor appropriated from those rural communities. Marx described the resiliency of communal property in Asiatic communities when he wrote: In the oriental form. 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). There was oscillation between the democratic and . 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. except by means of altogether external influences. 1863–7/1977: 477–9). Culture. ingrown. the teacher. In the more democratic form. a poet.History. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 479) Marx discerned two variants of the Asiatic mode of production. rural village communities existed independently side by side. to the extent that they appeared at all. He is rooted to the spot. The state. Besides the mass of the members of each community who were occupied in much the same way.

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

only in periodic gatherings-together (Vereinigung) of the commune members. Hence the commune consisting of families initially organized in a warlike way—as a system of war and army. The individual was a private proprietor of the land and had access to the commons through participation in periodic gatherings of the community. at times. the great communal labor which is require either to occupy the objective conditions of being there alive. 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. The concentration of the residences in town [is the] basis of this bellicose organization. the fragmentation of estates. where the individual family chiefs settled in the forests. already from outward observation.e. Culture. emphasis in the original) The difficulties which the commune encounters can only arise from other communes. long distances apart. 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).History.. and even the appearance of wage-workers which created contradictions that resulted. and this is one of the conditions of its being there as a proprietor. the commune exists. Marx considered a third route away from primitive communism. increased reliance on slave production on state lands. or to protect and perpetuate the occupation. and therefore possessing an origin. 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. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 475. which have either previously occupied the land and soil. although their . The Germanic mode of production In an effort to understand the Germanic tribes on the periphery of the Roman State. Here. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 474) The expanded reproduction of these communities involved wars of conquest. the relations of production are based in the household. or which disturb the commune in its own occupation. not only in fact but also known as such. although already a product of history here. War is therefore the great comprehensive task. possibilities for the concentration of property ownership by some citizens at the expense of other citizens. in the restructuring of social relations even in circumstances where the forces of production were poorly developed (Banaji 2001). 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. In his view. the growth of foreign (overseas) trade. is the presupposition of property in land and soil—i. plunder. Marx conceptualized this mode production in the following way: Among the Germanic tribes. the monetization of the economy.

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

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

and the appearance of a market for land. He grouped the latter into a single category. Since the agricultural technology and techniques were relatively stable. still continue to exist side by side with it in a state of decay. the existing forms of exploitation disintegrated. . or. . relations derived from earlier forms will often be found within it only in an entirely stunted form. and the relations of production were reorganized (Bois 1976/1984: 393–408). “The levy was the principal aspect of the lord’s economic role” (Bois 1976/1984: 396). or even travestied. In Bois’s view. In the mid 1970s. for example. (Marx 1857–8/1973: 105–7) In Western Europe. In this regard. His standpoint implies the coexistence or articulation of the feudal and other modes of production as it is manifested in historically specific societies.102 • Karl Marx. . Marx had written that Since bourgeois society is itself only a contradictory form of development. economist Samir Amin (1973/1976: 13–16) drew a distinction between the primitive communal mode of production. on the other. the growth of trade. the growth of feudal society involved the addition of new production units in the countryside. and the other pre-capitalist modes of production discussed above. he was attempting to deal with the historic specificity of the European case. the capitalist regime has either directly subordinated to itself the whole of the nation’s production. it has at least indirect control of those social layers which. 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. . 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. . on the one hand. . In posing the question. In all forms of society there is one specific kind of production which predominates over the rest. although they belong to the antiquated mode of production. the contradictions that had accumulated during the process of growth were honed. when the possibilities for expansion were exhausted. whose relations thus assign rank and influence to the others. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 931) . which he called the “tribute-paying” mode of production. 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. Anthropologist (guilds) that strived to protect the interests and knowledge of their members from the exactions of the lords. In this regard. one that was based on interdependence and inequality with new forms of surplus extraction (Bois 1989/1992: 88–93). It involved a new dynamic. where economic relations are less developed. 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. 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.

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

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

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

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

Godelier 1966/1972: 345–61). hinder. 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. . the use value of commodities vs. but it can generate at times the conditions that may lead to its break up or transformation. transform. which are particularly important for understanding the internal dynamic of a given historical social formation. Culture. subvert. Marx used abstractions that operated at different scales and levels of generality in his discussions of sociohistorical change. As historian John Haldon notes. these internal antagonisms had the capacity to erode and dissolve old social forms and to underwrite the crystallization of new ones (Bhaskar 1991a. Third. and Social Formation • 107 production (e.History. on the other. they do not always do so. emphasis in the original) This is why Marx (1863–7/1977: 479. 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. Marx (1868/1987b: 552) saw the development of large-scale industry and all that it implies as “the mother of the antagonism.g.g. and context specific. and other societies around it. but also as the producer of the material and intellectual conditions for resolving these antagonisms. on the one hand. especially those that ignored the ordinary peoples of society (Engels and Marx 1844–5/1975: 83–4). On the one hand. dialectical contradictions were the motors of historical movement. on the other hand. They appear under historically specific circumstances and obscure the conditions in which they were formed. (Haldon 2006: 193. he seems to have been using a telescope to capture the “big picture” in a sentence or two—e. (Haldon 1993: 57) A mode of production cannot of itself give rise to a different mode of production. In some instances. structural. 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). and upon the structures of political power. or the clash between capitalist and small peasant property). they have contributed to the universal development of the forces of production and the productive power of labor. For Marx. wage-laborer vs. Different modes of production place different constraints upon the possibilities for change. They were historical. 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. itself. 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. capitalist. they have done so at a tremendous cost to the members of the societies experiencing that development. or resolve the antagonisms over time.” Second. their exchange value.

4 At the most general level of abstraction. 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. historians use written records and historical anthropologists use interviews of living peoples combined with traditions and documents to accomplish that goal. historians. and (3) the origins of states. As a result. 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. Each allowed him to open up a distinctive line of inquiry. The archaeological record provides virtually all of the evidence of human history until the last 5. It has only been in the last century or so that literacy spread to many other parts of the world. and that . and contexts that produced those particular patterns of objects—including artifacts. 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. but not all. and to develop more general arguments about the significance of the insights he gained. which is typically viewed in relation to the development of tool-making. During the twentieth century. Human History is Messy Archaeologists. all of them are concerned with the kinds of society and the varieties of social relations. archaeologists continue to provide much. both of which were particularly volatile moments in its history (Marx 1852/1979. 1871/1986). These areas of limited literacy were like small islands in a vast sea. and historically minded anthropologists study past societies.000 years. texts. (2) the origins of pastoral and agricultural economies. and that avoid altogether the issue of contingency.108 • Karl Marx. to compare their similarities and differences to examine the conditions in which they were produced and reproduced. many archaeologists have focused their efforts on three questions: (1) the origins of early human societies. which involves both the transformation and the development of the productive forces and the appearance of sedentism. Once we move beyond the specificities of the kinds of evidence and methods they use. and traditions—recovered from the archaeological and historical records. Shifting from one level of abstraction to another allowed him to explore the sociohistorical dynamics of various societies. of the evidence for human history well into the twenty-first century. they have confirmed that kin-communal societies both preceded and were contemporary with pre-capitalist states. Anthropologist In other instances. Each perspective allowed him to organize information and to grasp the particularities of society in a different manner. when writing systems appeared in isolated parts of the world. processes. which is often glossed as the rise of civilization or the appearance of cities.

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

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

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

and cooption. that internal dissent is suppressed or deflected outward toward other communities. that facilitate the exploitation of one group by the members of another. 1957. practices. and as insurance for the community in times of emergency. where the lands of the temples were sequestered from the community and became in effect the property of the temples. as a fund of goods for exchange with other communities. and even occasionally that new distinctions are created between town dwellers and their rural kinfolk. powers. close kin. and restrictions that distinguished them from the rest of the population. Gearing 1961). The appearance of social-class structures is always linked to the institutions. A second trajectory. Customary authority. argues that ad hoc and provisional. States ensure that bodies are counted for taxation and conscription. conquest. that bureaucracies are formed and overseers are selected. They are often linked with violence. 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. A third trajectory has been discerned by Michael Blake and . 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. both of which require records (the origins of writing systems). that stationary or moving capitals are established. which used surplus variously as a source of income. 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. 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. All involved the ability of rulers. have undoubtedly appeared in a variety of ways. 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. Drawing on different bodies of evidence. is often transformed into the exploitative exercise of power. cf. that production is reorganized to satisfy new patterns of distribution and exchange.112 • Karl Marx. In this view. repression. Hierarchical social relations. and legal codes of the state. and retainers to extract tribute in the form of labor or goods from the direct producers in the society. 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. the original extortion resided in the custodians of the shrines who arrogated or were granted privileges. especially from the standpoint of peoples that become enmeshed in their relations. Diakonoff 1972). their families. outlined for a slightly earlier period in Mesopotamian history. political authority that was granted for a limited period of time was usurped and transformed into power (Jacobsen 1943. which simultaneously represent the interests of the dominant class and afford an arena of struggle for fractions within the ruling class. Class and state formation are always contingent processes. exercised in the context of these processes.

goods. archaeologists working on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico. and to appropriate goods that enhanced their own position as well of those of their followers.History. As a result. which involves the progressive differentiation of the activities of these categories. In other words. These big men manipulated social relations to create personal followings. 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. Since the cultural or superstructural moments are dominant during the process of class formation. The reorganization of the labor processes. the true nature of the economic is obscured. They redistributed the exotic goods they obtained during village feasts. based on the economic order of the society—the unequal accumulation of surplus product by the various social categories that make up the hierarchy. As a result. Thus. The ruling classes of pre-capitalist states live on the tribute in the form of labor. and Social Formation • 113 John Clark (1999). In such a situation. especially exotic ones. provides the conditions for the further development of the contradictions based on the appearance of exploitation and extortion. Culture. and they supported part-time craft specialists in their households. From the perspective of Marx’s base–superstructure metaphor. with other communities. This hierarchy of non-economic social categories disguises both the real economic class relations and the real contradictions that emerge from them. in the last analysis. the economic aspect of the society is concealed or masked by these structures. the social categories that regulate the relations of production are cultural or superstructural rather than ones formed in the economic base. 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. or taxes that they are able to extract from the direct producers. While the state can intervene in the production and reproduction of the local kin communities. rents. to gain control over the production of others. the economic class relations appear different from their real nature. 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). its survival depends on their continued . The formation of the class structures is. they have little interest in changing property relations. while the hierarchical social categories of the class structure appear as “natural” relations. since these were the bases from which their incomes are derived. 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 social classes that emerge will be defined largely in ideological terms.

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

” Edward Harris (2002: 86) raises the issue of whether specialized production was intended for local consumption or for export. The contradictions and their resolutions were often violent as in the case of Teotihuacán in central Mexico during the seventh century AD. 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. These local leaders simultaneously had rights and obligations toward the members of the communities they represented and toward the state. He also realized the importance of sociohistorical and cultural differences—that is. alternatively. we saw that Marx drew a sharp distinction between pre-capitalist and capitalist societies. This resistance accounts for the apparent stability of pre-capitalist societies. They could find themselves opposed by their kin. their own kin and neighbors. for their tendency to reproduce existing social relations. Marx was emphatic about the importance of understanding the structures underpinning the precapitalist forms. At the same time. The processes of class and state formation generate contradictions and conflicts between the demands of the ruling class and the state on the community. 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). In this chapter.History. Their positions were fraught with contradictions. and vital and the latter as universalizing and ridden with antagonisms. in ancient civilizations. the history of pre-capitalist societies was marked by “continual retrogressions and circular movements” (Engels and Marx 1844–5/1975: 83–4). These antagonisms and the alliances they could engender constitute the historical contingency of the formation and collapse of precapitalist states. different societies were organized on the basis of different modes of production and forms of property relations. and the rights and obligations that community leaders have to their kin and neighbors. in his view. other groups. We also saw that Marx had a more textured appreciation of culture than is commonly assumed. which Stanley Diamond (1951/1996) has called kin/civil conflict. and the apparent resiliency of those societies under historically specific conditions. on the one hand. the historical-dialectical dynamics of those structures. Culture. progress and retrogression. These local authorities were caught on the horns of a dilemma. and for what is often seen as repeated cycles of growth and collapse. 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. culture—the associated forms of social consciousness—were . 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. he viewed the former as limited. and the state. the processes that underwrote change in those societies. As Marx put it. local. They could find themselves pitted against the state or. on the other (Zagarell 1986: 157–60). They could pit their kin against other the members of other communities.

we examine in more detail Marx’s views about capitalism and the historicity of the modern world. Finally. historically contingent societies. Anthropologist intimately intertwined with praxis and the social relations manifest in historically specific. . 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.116 • Karl Marx. In the next chapter.

Patnaik 2006). for example.000 German workers in Paris (roughly an eighth of the city’s 650. . within the same field of enterprise. these snapshots would inform his analyses of various moments or stages in the development of capitalism. More than that. Over the years. . For a long time there were branches of manufacture virtually untouched by mechanization. This was partly due to his own historical anthropological research and partly to his acquaintance with the work of others. 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. while others were experiencing a revolutionary transformation.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. old and new methods of production often coexisted. by the 100 questions in his “Enquête Ouvrière. The transition to the factory system . was not a clear-cut process.000. with disseminating this knowledge both to the workers themselves and to the wider public through venues like the Tribune. which had a weekly circulation of about 200.000 workers in 1880—but also. making it the most widely read paper in the United States at the time (Husain 2006: xiii. Marx (1880/1989) was not only concerned with collecting information about actual social conditions—as evidenced. neither strong enough to overcome the other.1 The research for the Tribune articles provided him with 117 . though time was clearly on the side of innovation. (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. and more importantly. Husain 2006.–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. Weiss 1936/1973).” which was sent via labor unions and political groups to 25.

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

The first is to outline Marx’s views about the transition to capitalism and its subsequent development. 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. external linkages.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 119 satisfy their own personal needs or those of the firm. theoretical and practical. This truism is not a trivial statement. 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. The goals of this chapter are threefold. while the latter continually transformed the forces of production. he argued that there were significant differences between pre-capitalist and capitalist societies. As a consequence. and historical contingency. Therefore. 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. production is geared to exchange rather than immediate use by the producers. it should not be surprising that Marx presented two different accounts of the origins of industrial capitalism and hence of capitalist societies. In industrial capitalist societies. The second is to explore in more detail the notions of articulation and combined and uneven development that are implicit in his later writings. The third is to consider what he might have thought about the structures of contemporary capitalism and their relations to the modern nation-state. promoted commodity production. As you will recall from the last chapter. 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. These have important implications. The former were local and limited.2 One viewed it as the fruit of merchant capitalists who forged commercial networks. Another way of saying this is that they were subject to different internal constraints. and dissolved or reworked traditional ways of life as peoples on the margins were incorporated into capitalist relations of production. and dissolved the natural economy that dominated the countryside by restructuring labor processes and organizing rural putting-out . for his anthropology. Marx recognized multiple pathways of historical development in both pre-capitalist and capitalist forms that involved internal developments. in addition. 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. what was potentially an opportunity for development in one society may well have been an impossibility given the constraints for another.

and the development of the division of labor in terms of both specialization and cooperation were the motors of change. developing money into world money. 66– 74. 1864–94/1981: 449–55. Anthropologist industries as well as altering the division of labor. which in all their various forms are principally oriented to use value. 1848/1976: 485). i. It follows that this result is itself conditioned by quite other circumstances than the development of commercial capital. unlike the paths dominated by merchant capitalists.e. 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. 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. or. communities of direct producers retained control of their means of . he wrote that The development of trade and commercial capital always gives production a growing orientation towards exchange value. tributary or feudal modes of production. Trade always has. In the modern world. As noted earlier. In the first account. 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. expanding commerce. in all of the pre-capitalist forms of society where production was geared toward use rather than exchange. a solvent effect on the pre-existing relations of production. its outcome is the capitalist mode of production. And what comes out of this process of dissolution. diversifies it and renders it cosmopolitan. expanding its scope. on the other hand. what new mode of production arises in place of the old. While the two perspectives were not necessarily mutually exclusive.. does not depend on trade. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 449–50) Marx came to see that. In Capital. In the ancient world. 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. the influence of trade and the development of commercial capital always produced the result of a slave economy. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 485). The first focused on the role of external relationships. this removed production from the control of the town-based guilds (Marx and Engels 1845–6/1976: 31–4. In the second account. the engines were class struggle and technical changes in the productive forces. 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 shift of commodity production from the town to the countryside. to a greater or less degree. the second was concerned with the internal dynamics of change (Marx 1859/1970: 21. given a different point of departure. but rather on the character of the old mode of production itself. 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.120 • Karl Marx.

These caps effectively regularized demands from one year to the next at least in the short run even though the harvests undoubtedly varied considerably. surplus products in exchange—rather. 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. class-stratified societies. as this grows directly out of production itself and reacts back on it in turn as a determinant. there were many who could satisfy their own needs and meet obligations but had little or no capacity to produce regular surpluses. the owners of small production units— remained marginal to the dominant fractions of the pre-capitalist. he wrote the following with particular reference to Europe: . as well as of the total community. 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. The aim of this work is not the creation of [exchange] value—although they may do surplus labour in order to obtain alien.e. 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. its aim is sustenance of the individual proprietor and of his family. there may have been relatively little internal social differentiation among the members of those ruling-producing classes. Moreover. (Marx 1864– 94/1981: 927) Under these conditions. while there may have been marked inequalities in the distribution of wealth among the rural producers of some tributary societies. 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. That is. i.. there was no particular incentive or compulsion for either the direct producers or their exploiters to increase productivity beyond subsistence levels. Although he cited no specific historical evidence. the direct producers—i. 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). (Marx 1857–8/1973: 471–2. The demands could not be so high that they threatened the well-being and survival of the direct producers themselves. Nevertheless. Marx believed that. 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..e.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 121 production and subsistence. as a result. whose very maintenance and reproduction depended on non-economic means of extracting goods and services from them. Marx put it this way. the basic social cleavage in the societies was that between the direct producers and the classes that extracted surplus from them.

The elements of this dynamic included. the continual transformation of the instruments of production including the introduction of machines which both made workers appendages of those . Hicks 1987. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 935–6) Subsequent historical research in the tributary societies of Europe. and money. and.122 • Karl Marx. Market dependence is rooted in the profit motive and requires marketing on a regular basis. labor. importance in the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Markets now exist for subsistence goods. its members were engaged in a long-term struggle with the local lords to reduce their annual exactions (e. Bois 1976/1984. and that. the distinction is of considerable. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 929) in the feudal period the wealthier peasant serfs already kept serfs of their own. An important distinction that Robert Brenner (1997: 38–9) and Ellen Wood (2002) have made is the one between market involvement and market dependence. especially England and France. in the last analysis. the prolongation and intensification of the work day.g. That the distinction was not always immediately apparent is evident by the formation. or other corporate landholding groups in the region (Patterson 1984. for example. In this way it gradually becomes possible for them to build up a certain degree of wealth and transform themselves into future capitalists. wealthy peasants) were able to create and expand markets for their goods. Anthropologist It is still possible for this villein or serf to develop independent means of production of his own and even become quite wealthy. of the market economy of Mughal India or Aztec Mexico (Habib 1968/1995. they became increasingly dependent on the market for their own livelihoods as well as for the maintenance and reproduction of their production units. but probably not primary. has confirmed that there was some degree of internal social differentiation among the rural producers. The logic of the former is pre-capitalist. most importantly. This has also been shown in the tributary Inca state of the central Andes. Hilton 1978/1990). 1989/1992. for example. for example. 1999). raw materials. land. 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. By contrast. These circumstances brought a new dynamic into play that was concerned. Spalding 1984). What processes are set in motion? In one of those instances where the direct producers (that is. local tribal entities. with expanding production and increasing productivity. as a class. the development of new forms of cooperation and production. Hence. whereas the latter is a capitalist logic. differentiation of the labor process. where (1) the wealthy were those individuals with many kin and the poor were orphans who lacked kin. 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. 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.

usury. Industrial capitalism thrived in some regions. It was a highly uneven process that occurred on a world scale over a period of several centuries. . 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. (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 with it the African slave trade. and (3) an accumulation of monetary wealth derived from commerce. This historically contingent structure which steadily spread over the entire planet developed variably or differently from one part of the world to another. 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. Along with the machine. 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. It is also necessary to explain why industrial capitalism emerged first in Northwestern Europe and not elsewhere. 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. . the Americas. 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. In one of his descriptions of the process. 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. The transition from feudalism to capitalism took place on a world scale beginning in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. 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. 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. but also made slave-breeding the chief business of the so-called border slave states. 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. As to raw materials. It was firmly set in place by the rise of industrial capitalist in Northwestern Europe toward the end of the eighteenth century. 1962). it was thwarted or distorted in others. tribal. even though peoples in other parts of the world—notably Africa. . . or tributary social relations. Ireland. On the other hand. and plunder (Hobsbawm 1964: 46–7. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 487). it is no less certain that the blossoming of English woolen factories. (2) the existence of independent artisans who produced nonagricultural commodities. having during the last twenty years reduced its population by nearly one-half. .

and firewood to name only a few of its resources. 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. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 883–4) . the landed proprietors carried out.. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 876) This process gave rise to both wage-workers and the capitalists who employed them. Such communal property was always distinct from both that of the state and the large estate holder (Marx 1863–7/1977: 877–95).124 • Karl Marx. timber. by legal means. At the time when the properties of the Catholic Church were seized. from the soil is the basis of the whole process. an act of usurpation which was effected everywhere on the Continent without any legal formality. i. which we therefore take as our example. They abolished feudal tenure of land. “indemnified” the state by imposing taxes on the peasantry and the rest of the people. it held most of the land in England.e. . established for themselves the rights of modern private property to which they had only a feudal title. has it the classic form. manure. He said that The expropriation of the agricultural producer. The commons provided pasture. The Reformation provided an additional impetus for the expropriation of the agricultural population. of the peasant. and that it proceeded along developmental pathways that were different from the one that occurred in England. which served as his example for analytical purposes. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. They inaugurated a new era by practising on a colossal scale the theft of state lands which had hitherto been managed more modestly. 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 “glorious Revolution” [1688] brought into power. and. the feudal lords drove the free peasants from the lands and homes and seized the common lands. Only 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. . and at different historical epochs.” He was clear that it involved the separation of rural producers from their means of production. 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]. and runs through its various phases in different orders of succession. As Marx noted After the restoration of the Stuarts [1660–88]. the landed and capitalist profit-grubbers. finally. along with William of Orange. The history of this expropriation assumes different aspects in different countries. 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. they got rid of all its obligations to the state.

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

In the early stages of industrial capitalism.” . They acquired the flax. As Marx observed: The colonies provided a market for budding manufactures. the woolen manufacturers of England not only competed with one another but also with Irish producers for a share of the market. Today. Anthropologist industries—such as spinning and weaving—were also destroyed as the peasants were driven from their lands and homes. Once the feudal constitution and guild organizations of the towns were dissolved. Those parts of the rural population that remained in the countryside were transformed into wage-workers on capitalist farms. enslavement and murder flow back to the mother-country and were turned into capital there. Hence the preponderant role played by the colonial system at that time. rented or purchased the machines for spinning and weaving thread. . keeping the profits for themselves in order to meet their subsistence needs. they hired the workers. . Its fisheries. The treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting. or to reinvest in the maintenance of their factory and to purchase new inputs of materials.126 • Karl Marx. In the period of manufacture it is the reverse: commercial supremacy produces industrial predominance. . It proclaimed the making of profit as the ultimate and sole purpose of mankind. which first brought the colonial system to its full development. brought them together in a crowded factory. . poorer and more brutally oppressed than those of all the rest of Europe put together. industrial supremacy brings with it commercial supremacy. Holland. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 918) . and human resources. already stood at the zenith of its commercial greatness in 1648. The total capacity of the Republic was probably greater than that of all the rest of Europe put together. and even expanding the market itself underwrote the continual transformation of the machinery and organization of the productive process toward greater productivity. 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. By 1648 the people of Holland were more over-worked. However. to consume conspicuously. . and then sold the cloth they produced. 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. its shipping and its manufactures surpassed those of any other country. machinery. an increasing share of the market. 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. The formation of overseas colonies facilitated the concentration of capital. 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. and a vast increase in accumulation which was guaranteed by the mother country’s monopoly of the market. It was “in almost exclusive possession of the East Indies trade and the commerce between the south-east and the north-west of Europe. The drive for profits.

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.” 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. to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds. The state’s creditors actually give nothing away. it endows unproductive money with the power of creation and thus turns it into capital. and to speculation: in a word. and natural resources which fueled the growth of the manufacturing centers in northern Europe. the national debt has given rise to joint-stock companies. As with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand. But furthermore. which go on functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would. for the sum lent is transformed into public bonds. frequently. 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. in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. like Stanley Diamond (1974: 1). without the risks inseparable from its employment in industry or even in usury. He remarks that The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. 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. He acknowledges what anthropologists. 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. for whom a good part of every national loan performs the service of a capital fallen from heaven. easily negotiable. have long recognized: “civilization [capitalist in this case] originates with conquest abroad and repression at home. What were the manufacturing centers like? Marx’s short answer was that. for example. some of which. and quite apart from the class of idle rentiers thus created. human bodies. This theory of history also embodies a notion of directionality. merchants and private manufacturers. colonial production and even inter-colony trade were forbidden. which is reflective of contradictions in the domain of production as they are manifest in the wider society. the improvised wealth of the financiers who play the role of middlemen between the government and the nation.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 127 Thus. it has given rise to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy. they were composed of a number of relatively small firms. and the tax-farmers. 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. apart from all of these people. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 919. produced cotton textiles .

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. and other machines. like bleaching. to those that produced steel. Anthropologist while others engaged in more specialized processes or items. for example. The first process was proletarianization—that is. the formation of a class of free wageworkers who were systematically denied access to land and who ultimately had only their labor-power. however. to sell in order to provide for their subsistence and that of their families. locomotives. One was a shift in the relative importance of firms from those that produced goods. This. He also noted other changes in the mid nineteenth century. which were incredibly expensive and were often the property of joint stock companies with large numbers of investors rather than single owners. for example. dyeing. The second process involved the creation of a system of overseas colonies that yielded plunder. for example. this forced many of them not only to adopt the new machines or practices but also to seek ones that were even more productive. they created a large. 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. Marx viewed this era as one of competitive capital. A second was the increased wealth available to firms like steel factories. by lengthening the work day of their employees. . or the production of looms.128 • Karl Marx. By the 1850s. together. and they began to close their doors as their shares of the markets declined. Those firms that were able to increase their productivity by adopting more efficient machines. which they sold to one or more of the textile manufacturers in the region. also threatened the very existence of their competitors who continued to produce in more traditional or less efficient ways. 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. like cotton textiles. which was essential for the construction of railroad tracks. Marx (1863–7/1977: 774–81) called these processes the concentration and centralization of capital. The Articulation of Modes of Production In the preceding section. many of the smaller firms found the cost of continually upgrading the machines they used to be increasingly prohibitive. unemployed or underemployed reserve army of labor. 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. 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. printing. Two processes were involved in primitive accumulation. which forced massive migration—from Ireland. their capacity to work. taxes.

Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 129 We also saw that the state underwrote both processes of primitive accumulation. and other . albeit the earliest one. For the unfree workers. the forms of surplus extraction were different for the two classes. Miles (1989: 40) and others observed that primitive accumulation is “a historically continuous process of transformation of relations of production and not a single. plunder. exploitation occurred at the point of production and involved the appropriation of the surplus value they created by the capitalist. For the wage-workers. and sometimes force. and indentured servants who toiled for varying lengths of time to repay their obligations. In other words.” This process continues to the present day. Because the historical context has been transformed by the emergence of the capitalist mode of production. unique event in seventeenth-century England. as well as (2) a class of unfree workers composed of debtors. cotton. the latter must be expected to have had effects upon extant. 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. While Marx (1863–7/1977: 873–940) formulated his concept of primitive accumulation largely in relation to the transition to capitalism in England. this dispossession simultaneously created the conditions for the formation of (1) a class of wage laborers and a labor market. the privatization of community and state property. The reason was that England was merely one historically specific instance of the transition. 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. In England. While the former underwrote the steady expansion of production and hence provided the basis for the continual transformation of the productive forces. sugar. 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. Many of the goods from the North American and Caribbean colonies that were prized by English merchants—tobacco. It used political and legal forms of compulsion. side by side with proletarianization (the spread of wage labor relations). criminals. 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. emphasis in the original) Primitive accumulation was the connective tissue that linked the various trajectories with each other. to drive rural producers from their homes and lands and then to criminalize their poverty. non-capitalist modes of production as a result of the inherently expansionary nature of the accumulation process. (Miles 1989: 39. 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.

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

José Mariátegui (1928/1971). they bring into awareness his view that capitalism and what lies beyond it were developing and will continue to develop along different historical trajectories. although they belong to antiquated mode of production. In other words. It is also the reason why political activists he influenced—V. of Capital. 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. Marx . 1881/1983). His writings on colonialism and nationalism. Lenin (1899/1960). Leon Trotsky (1930/1980: 3–15). Many anthropologists have shared their concern with the issues of articulation and alternative pathways of sociohistorical development during the twentieth century. Mao Zedong (1930/1990). . respectively. .g. as the owner of his own conditions of labour. should be understood as an interconnected project or a “continuum” (e. The contradiction between these two diametrically opposed economic systems has its practical manifestation here in the struggle between them. What was conceivable and possible. There the capitalist regime constantly comes up against the obstacle presented by the producer. It is otherwise in the colonies. First. still continue to exist side by side with it in a state of decay. the Tongan Islands. Where the capitalist has behind him the power of the mother country. Rosa Luxemburg (1913/2003). his formulation of it was inchoate.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 131 whole of the nation’s production. employs that labour to enrich himself instead of the capitalist. it has at least indirect control of those social layers which. 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. . and Amilcar Cabral (1963) among others—were not only students of history but were also concerned with the lessons it taught. which began in the late 1840s and early 1850s. I. who. This task would fall to his successors in the twentieth century. or the United States. the latter two being important concerns in the second and third volumes. or. nationalism. where economic relations are less developed.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. (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. 1933/1971). Marx’s theory of articulation draws on his discussions of colonialism. and transformation. 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. 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.4 While Marx laid the foundations for a theory of articulation. and he did not elaborate many of his observations in any great detail. Antonio Gramsci (1926/1967.

Engels (1849/1977a) distinguished “historic nations. The importance of the English exports to India should not be underestimated. the political unification and independence of nations that were highly fragmented and often dominated by neighboring powers (Ahmad 2001: 4. the dispossession of people from their lands. the creation of local markets for goods manufactured in England. 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. Second. especially Germany and Austria. cotton-producing farms in these areas during the early 1850s spurred the construction of railroads linking them with coastal cities like Bombay. In 1850. Ahmad 2001: 9).6 In sum. was inundated with thread and cotton goods made from American cotton in English factories. the latter which he characterized once as the “Ireland of the East. the population of traditional textile centers. 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. that were sizable and had already gained some degree of sovereignty and smaller nationalities. “peoples without history. He also pointed out that conflicts along national lines were relatively unimportant so long as the ruling classes in each .000 to 20. India. and the volume of imported English cloth grew from about 1 million yards in 1824 to 64 million yards in 1837.132 • Karl Marx. most noticeably in the interior regions of India.000. 1853/1979b: 154. he and Engels confronted the classic problems of national consolidation—namely. In Europe. the development of capitalist. Anthropologist 1848/1976. However.5 These can be described briefly as the destruction of local industry. like Dacca. 1853/1979d: 316–17). Ireland and India. the Hapsburg Empire in this case (Rosdolsky 1980). it was an exploitative relationship based partly on unequal exchange and partly on the ability of the Colonial Office to impose its will.” because of the similarities he saw in the implementation of English colonial policies in the two countries (Marx 1853/1979a: 125). 1853/1979c: 219–21. During the same period. most notably salt and opium which was sold to the Chinese (Marx 1853/1979a. Marx wrote extensively about two British colonies.” like Poland. 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). and one-eighth of its total employment. plummeted from 150. which had exported fabrics manufactured in Dacca and other traditional handloom centers. one-twelfth of its national revenue. Marx was impressed with the impact of political fragmentation initially through first-hand experience in Europe. the British government collected taxes from the colony and possessed monopolies over the manufacture or distribution of certain items. In 1813. 10–11). 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.” like the southern Slavs. that were incorporated into larger political entities. In addition. The English merchants in India undersold the local producers.

However sympathetic by natural instinct. Marx (e. the colonial government. his denunciations of the atrocities committed by British officers and troops. 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. and their local agents and representatives (Marx 1853/1979c: 218). 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. Not only was it geographically widespread. and the nationalist movements that had swept across Europe a few years earlier. which he called a national revolt. the basic features of twentieth-century national liberation movements.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 133 national group continued to share their common goal of “preserving the monarchy. As Ahmad (2001: 19) points out. 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. 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.g. and. 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. 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. till in Great Britain itself the new ruling classes shall have been supplanted by the industrial proletariat.g. and social-class divisions. religious. 1857/1986c). ruined artisans. was “the scientific element”—that is. when contemplated with regard to India. What the Indian rebels lacked. but it also cut across caste. However. Marx saw the similarity between the Indian insurrection of 1857–8. it was not the product of the Indian “regeneration” that he himself looked forward to. The groups challenged by the mutineers were the British financiers and mill owners. finally. Marx was also aware of the consequences of political fragmentation of India.” (Habib 2006: xlix) Nonetheless. 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. or till the Hindus themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke . as Ahmad (2001: 19) put it. Marx was with the 1857 rebels. 1857/1986a.” in order to maintain their own positions against the emerging bourgeois classes (Engels 1849/1977b: 229). 1857/1986b. in Engels (1857/1986: 392) view. Moreover. 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. centralized political and military leadership or. From the late 1850s onward.” but also that “the Indians will not reap the fruits of the new elements of society scattered among them by the British bourgeoisie.

Australia. 1853/1979f: 159. Ashworth 1983: 181–2. Curtis 1997: 148–80). he saw their circumstances as historically conditioned. and the United States) in the five-year period between 1847 and 1852. if not millions. 1859/1980: 489. he realized that hundreds of thousands. 1853/1979f). of persons were displaced in India in the 1830s and 1840s. 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.5 million persons (Marx 1853/1979e: 528–32. Marx knew that the rise of industrial capitalism and the linkages spawned by it triggered massive emigration. He was well aware that Irish farmers driven from the land went to the cities—including London. Marx frequently mocked the “public-opinion slang of England. and partly by their own efforts to ameliorate those circumstances given the prevailing balance of force at the time (Marx 1853/1979e: 528. 15–20 percent of its total population—emigrated elsewhere (to England. 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. Thompson 1963: 429–43). cf.” As Ahmad (2001: 20) has noted. occupied the lowest rungs of the social-class structure. 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. 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). Engels 1844/1975. and that. 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. Curtis 1997. like the United States. no Indian reformer of the nineteenth century took such a clear position on the question of Indian independence. by the mid 1860s. In Ireland. partly by the policies of capital and the state. he noted that more than a million of the colony’s roughly 7 million inhabitants— that is. 1863–7/1977: 866. 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.” 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. Anthropologist altogether. Instead. For example. In addition.g. he certainly did not see the Irish as the London Economist did: a “redundant population” whose departure was necessary before any improvement could occur. where large numbers had the most menial and undesirable of unskilled jobs. mostly from the colonies and the peripheral regions of the home countries. Third. Robinson 1983: 38–59. Fourth. the English landed aristocracy and the capitalist classes had a shared interest in .134 • Karl Marx. In his view. its population had fallen by half to about 3. Foner 1980: 150–200). Marx and Engels 1972). He also knew that Irish workers were often paid lower wages than their English counterparts.

Marx (e. Marx (e. especially England. 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. in correspondence and confidential reports.g. 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. who focused almost exclusively on the issue of political independence. minimally. including those associated with the production of the capitalists and workers themselves. 1867/1985. 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. 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. Fifth. Nevertheless.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 135 maintaining English domination over Ireland and in promoting emigration. Luxemburg argued that .7 As a result. 1881/1992b) was sympathetic. 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. and not only failed to make alliances with democratic working-class groups in other countries. 1870/1988). They were particularly critical of the views and tactics of the Fenians. 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. 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. linking the struggle over land with social issues. The issue was how to achieve it. For example. but also failed to understand the importance of these contacts. neither Marx nor Engels was especially sympathetic with cultural nationalism in the narrow sense of the term regardless of what either said publicly. publicly at least. were narrowly ethnocentric. (3) pitted English workers against the Irish immigrants. this would entail breaking the grip of the landed aristocracy in Ireland. and condemned the sentences imposed by the English on Irish (Fenian) prisoners in 1867. notably the Fenian (Irish Republican) Brotherhood and later Charles Steward Parnell (1846–91). were not only in a constant state of flux but were also incessantly renewed on an ever-increasing scale. Irish farms seized earlier in the century by English landlords were turned into pastures that (1) provided English markets with cheap meat and wool. Marx (1863–7/1977: 711–23. to the various groups or individuals within the Irish national liberation movement. 1865–85/1981: 468–599) was aware that the extent of capitalist markets and the processes of capitalist production.g. 1870/1985: 118–21) thought. His commentary about expanded reproduction provoked a number of subsequent writers to critique or work out its implications. He referred to this as accumulation and reproduction on an expanded scale.

(Luxemburg 1913/2003: 368) Thus. since it was consuming the very conditions that ensured its existence (Luxemburg 1913/2003: 350. 365–6. the machine. spreads the value of the man’s labour-power over his whole family. but not every one of these forms will serve its ends. and as a reservoir of labour power for its wage system. Capitalism needs non-capitalist social strata as a market for its surplus value. the declining rates of profit associated with the increased use of machines relative to human labor. He was also aware that social-class structures. as a source of supply for its means of production.136 • Karl Marx. While it repressed its own workers and engulfed non-capitalist societies it also sowed the seeds of economic crises and its own destruction. 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. 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. . . in other words. in her view. under the direct sway of capital. . . but also the independent labour at home. for the family itself. Machinery. or whose bodily development is incomplete. was immediately transformed into a means for increasing the number of wage-labourers by enrolling. 467). not only of children’s play. Rudolf Hilferding (1910/1981: 228–35. 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. 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. For example. by throwing every member of the family onto the labour market. every member of the worker’s family. with customary limits. Compulsory work for the capitalist usurped the place. Another commentator. To purchase the labour-power of a family of four workers may perhaps cost more than it . . In so far as machinery dispenses with muscular power. capitalism could never become a universal form of society. 288–98). it becomes a means for employing workers of slight muscular strength. Marx saw that social-class structures were expressions of exploitative social relations. It thus depreciates it. both in the capitalist countries and their colonies were continually reworked during the processes of expanded accumulation and reproduction. . 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). Anthropologist The existence and development of capitalism requires an environment of non-capitalist forms of production. without distinction of age or sex. The labour of women and children was therefore the first result of the capitalist application of machinery. That mighty substitute for labour and for workers.

while they might have had contact with capitalist merchants (often on their own terms). Marx wrote the following: “Mutato nomine de te fibula narrator [this could be thy story under a different name].Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 137 formerly did to purchase the labour-power of the head of the family. 1863–7/1977: 345. As a result. or (4) slaves in the American South who were so overworked that their bodies were effectively used up in seven years. After relating an account of the slave trade. read labor market. age. while augmenting the human material that forms capital’s most characteristic field of exploitation. and nationalism. he knew. were due.g. at least partly. for Kentucky and Virginia. but. (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. improvement in machinery allowed factory owners to substitute at lower wages less skilled workers for those with more skills. Another way of saying this is that class structures were made historically by peoples who were striving exist under circumstances . 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. Chakrabarti and Cullenberg 2003: 245–82). he understood how workers were segmented and isolated from one another by servile status. For slave trade. ethnicity. many of whom had begun working fifteen-hour days. 364–5. The differences. 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. and the price falls in proportion to the excess of the surplus labour of four over the surplus labour of one. (3) the high infant mortality rates in factory and agricultural districts where mothers had to work away from their homes. in return. at the same time raises the degree of that exploitation. had not yet been enmeshed in capitalist social relations. the unremitting toil of slaves on plantations. gender. for Africa. children for adults. 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. six days a week when they were eight years old. and their low life expectancies. Germany.g. he perceived similarities in the exploitation of workers in different parts of the world. Marx (e. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 517–18) In other words. four people must now provide not only labour for the capitalist. More importantly. 354–5. Thus we see that machinery. to the opposition and resistance of peoples in the home countries and of those on the margins who. race. and Wales. but also surplus labour. In order that the family may now live. four days’ labour takes the place of one day’s.” (Marx 1863–7/1977: 377–8) Marx clearly understood the historicity of social-class structures under conditions of expanded accumulation and reproduction. Ireland and agricultural districts of Scotland. and women for men. He described in detail the effects that intensified production for the capitalist market had on human beings.

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. Macpherson 1971.g. Bourdieu 1980/1990). debates on free trade and protective tariffs. Property was a central concern in these arguments. by its state of power “maintaining injustice in property relations. Other regions—Ireland. large sectors of the local populations that reproduced workers outside the labor market. emphasis in the original) . or compulsion over the actions of others (e. Hegel. His investigations were provoked by ongoing discussions of land thefts. as political relations between classes of persons that were mediated by things. the border states in Antebellum America. and civil society in the 1840s. the political rule of the bourgeois class arises from these modern relations of production.g. Power. and polemics about the condition of the peasantry in Moselle as well as by the distinctions Ferguson. Marx and Engels 1882/1989). competition. but vice versa.8 If the bourgeoisie is politically. SaintSimon.138 • Karl Marx. that is. Property. the ability to realize objective interests. or eastern Europe—were labor reserves whose primary export was human labor-power. 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. West Africa.” which is determined by the modern division of labour. the gold mines of California. concentration. use. 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. and disposition—that is. and often wage-workers that often sought to exclude indigenous peoples or immigrants from entering the labor market. the modern form of exchange. Marx saw property as rights of access. consequently. these have sometimes been called dual economies. it is not creating it. etc.. by no means arises from the political rule of the bourgeois class. property was also a statement about power viewed variously as agency (the capacity of action). The “injustice of property relations” which is determined by the modern division of labour. 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. and others drew between civil society and a political state that stood outside of society (Showstack Sassoon 1991). economy. 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. there were small commodity-producing economic sectors geared to export. (Marx 1847/1976a: 319. In these regions. and Capitalist States Marx began his examination of the interconnections of law.

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

They still are in some respects. etc. the rise of national states—England.. exploitation. and other kinds of rivalries and conflicts generated within and between modern societies have their roots in socialclass relations. Colletti 1975. In other words. they are not simply reducible to purely economic arrangements. Engels 1884/1990). and the state were already well developed by the mid 1840s (Marx 1843/1975a. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 927–8) Marx’s views about politics. for example—coincided in time and was inseparably linked with the development of industrial capitalism. the corresponding specific form of the state in each case. 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. of course. and . the class struggles that occurred in one national state were typically both spatially and organizationally distinct from those taking place in other countries. natural conditions. religious. These political relations were.” What modern civil society had accomplished was to simplify the expression of these struggles. 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. historical influences acting from outside. or the United States. and these can only be understood by analyzing given conditions. They were typically elaborated in the context of writings whose central concerns were the state. 1882/1989) were acutely aware of the complex culture-historical. 1991). while the ethnic. and hence also the political form of the relationship of sovereignty and dependence. If modern civil society was the realm of competitive individualism mediated by the market. as a result of innumerable different empirical circumstances. Miliband 1977.140 • Karl Marx. racial relations. 1852/1979. the hidden basis of the entire social edifice. national. power. political. politics and culture were important arenas of struggle. then the modern (capitalist) state was an expression of the antagonisms and contradictions resulting from alienation. and the creation of both domestic and overseas markets (Marx 1863–7/1977: 914–40. also manifestations of property and power. and hence to its social productive power—in which we find the innermost secret. For Marx (1847/1976b: 212). even though their forms of expression and intensity were often diverse. states were also arenas of struggle within and between classes (Marx 1843/1975a. the formation of colonies. As we saw earlier in this chapter. Marx and Engels 1848/1976). States and their agents were representatives of the dominant social classes whose members owned and controlled the means of production. This does not prevent the same economic basis—the same in its major conditions—from displaying infinite variations and gradations in appearance. class struggle. “political power was precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society. or the reproduction of society through time.9 As a result. In this perspective. Germany. and the historically contingent processes of domination and subordination of groups inherent in class-stratified societies. Marx and Engels (1848/1976: 517. in short.

and civil servants who viewed the state as their own private property (Marx 1843/1975a: 38. Marx (1843/1975a: 22–3) knew that the political unity of a national state was. since they derived “from the fact that part of civil society emancipates itself and attains general domination. (Benner 1995: 34) Thus. whose institutions. democratic movements in one country needed to be aware of and to seek the support of similar groups in other states. representatives. were fragile. on denying them opportunities to express any political preferences of their own. strategically. They repeatedly insisted that. 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). as Erica Benner (1995: 31) put it. “realized only in times of external crisis and war. the appearance of unity had nothing to do with the conscious commitment of a state’s members. This “partial revolution” left a potentially explosive tension between the inclusive. undertakes the general emancipation of society [Marx 1843–4/1975: 184]. through political repression. egalitarian premises of democratic constitutions and the social inequalities they declined to address. It depended. Marx and Engels belonged to political groups that had representatives from a number of national states. in fact. and practices were shaped to varying degrees by the dominant classes. 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. expressions of national identity by national states—like the United States (America). for example.g. 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.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 141 economic roots of the ethnic. 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. 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. the United States and England in the 1850s . The conflict between the capitalist classes of different national states usually pitted one country against another—e. in times of peace.” Moreover. the modern national states emerging in Europe and North America. Benner 1995: 32).” so that a particular class “proceeding from its particular situation. national. because even the limited benefits of “political emancipation” were distributed unevenly in society. In either situation. 49–54. on. laws. In other words.

More recent examples are the First and Second World Wars of the twentieth century. decolonization.. cheap transportation. the capitalist countries of the First World and the newly independent but poor nations of the Third World. and Genoa since 1999. Patriotism was often the glue that cemented these historically constituted blocs (e. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000: 237). These alliances set the working classes of one country against those of another. Quebec. or the massive immigrant rights protests that took place across the United States in 2006 are only a few instances (Walker 2006: 26n18). In the wake of the Second World War. and tourists. Marx wrote about these contradictions from the 1840s onward. which suggests that he would have been intrigued by their manifestations today. 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 the spread of capitalist culture through global media and telecommunications. the rapid development of global financial markets. The conflicts between capitalist states also pitted them against non-capitalist societies—such as India or China. national liberation movements.g. 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.142 • Karl Marx.000 or so labor disturbances that occur annually in China. 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. These are aspects of what is now globalization—i.g. the North and the South. Dower 1986. Marx wrote extensively about the contradictions of industrial capitalist societies from the 1840s onward. In the last forty years. argue that these attempts to regulate the global market signal an “epochal shift in contemporary . 1933/1971). movement of vast numbers of people as migrants.e. 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. Brewer 1990). Gramsci 1926/1967. 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 focus of the highly diverse. about which Marx wrote extensively in the 1850s as we saw earlier in this chapter. for example. the adoption of flexible production strategies. Anthropologist and 1860s or France and Germany during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1. 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 220. refugees. or the core and the periphery (e. these conflicts were often referred to in terms of imperialism. 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.

cf. not everyone agrees with it for any number of reasons. 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. . even as some parts of the globe. the pre-eminence of the United States and its rivalry with the USSR. (Hardt and Negri 2000: 307) Their claim is a provocative one that challenges state-centered approaches to understanding the world today. strict notions of inside and outside that effectively blocked the free flow of capital. They see a fundamental contradiction “between the deterritorialising logic of capital and the territorialising nature of nation-states” (Green 2002: 40. In their view. the crisis of the 1970s was not as different from those of 1873–96 and the 1930s as they imply. the . . there are still ongoing and emergent rivalries between national states. “the entry of great masses of workers into the disciplinary régime of modern capitalist production. state functions and constitutional elements have effectively been displaced to other levels and domains. Controls are articulated through a series of international bodies and functions. 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. Hardt and Negri 2000: 42–6. the weakening of the old imperialist powers in the wake of the Second World War. 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. albeit in a new form: Although transnational corporations and global networks of production and circulation have undermined the powers of nation-states. 237). especially Africa. the world is not as seamless or smooth as they suggest. and the emergence of new patterns of labour migration . the unification of the world market did not involve homogenization but rather the uneven development of capitalism. However. As Paul Green (2002: 43) has noted. . These include but are not limited to: there are alternative historical explanations of the developments Hardt and Negri describe. This contradiction was mediated through imperialism. however. . 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. labor and goods—thus necessarily precluding the full realization of the world market” (Hardt and Negri 2000: 332). since the income gap between the North and the South continues and may even be widening.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. . there is a profound contradiction between the globalization of markets and states using different currencies.” For Hardt and Negri. which allowed the capitalist firms of Europe and North America to expand under the protection of the national state both at home and abroad.

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

and their sociality creates them as social individuals in a community. that they change. Gould 1978: 6). 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. Marx’s anthropology was therefore cautiously optimistic. they are “dependent belonging to the greater whole” and “can individuate [themselves] only in the midst of society. they experience both their everyday life and history as individuals.” and that in pre-capitalist societies “individuals. 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). since their social relations are neither fixed nor immutable.–6– Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century Marx was indeed an anthropologist. and that they will keep on doing so.” Moreover. Nevertheless. . Marx (1857–8/1973: 158. the essential or core features—that characterize and structure human existence.e. . His anthropology was also rooted in a life-long exploration and elaboration of the ontological categories—i. Archard 1987. although their 145 . Brenkert 1983: 227. He clearly realized that societies were different from one another.. Another way of saying this is that human beings create themselves through praxis. In the same context. In Marx’s (1857–8/1973: 84) terms. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. and (2) that both the nature of the individuals and their social relations with each other change historically (e. As we saw in earlier chapters. .g. 161–3) also argued logically that “relations of personal dependence (entirely spontaneous at the outset) are the first social forms.

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

property. Marx’s investigation is framed not only in terms of revealing the internal relations and contradictions but also with reference to transcending. they create additional non-physical needs whose gratification becomes a necessary condition for the satisfaction of the original needs (Mészáros 2005: 14–5. As István Mészáros (2005: 78–9) and Bertell Ollman (1976: 131–5) have pointed out. Marx (1844/1975a) sharpened his analysis in The 1844 Manuscripts (Mészáros 2005: 66–76). domination. it examines the contradictions that exist between human beings and their activity. and as “the negation of productivity” (Fromm 1961/2004: 37. exploitation. Another way of saying this is that . after meeting Engels for the first time in 1844 and discussing conditions the latter had observed in England where industrial capitalism—i. 1843–4/1975) sketched his initial views about alienation in the early 1840s. emphasis in the original). Marx (1843/1975a. superseding. political economy. In the process. 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. Let us briefly consider these in more detail. and ethics. 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. On the one hand. 1880–82/1974). political. aesthetic. He was well aware that alienation had economic. They have physical needs and must engage in productive (creative) activity in order to satisfy them. his theory of alienation is most importantly a theory of internal relations. 1843/1975b. or overcoming the self-alienation of human beings. 1857–8/1973. As you will recall from the discussion in Chapter 2. human beings are a part of nature. the capitalist mode of production—was more fully developed than it was on the Continent. the natural sciences.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.e. emphasis in the original). however. and cultural dimensions. He was also aware of its connections with social stratification. most notably capitalist society. 79–82). 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.. it explores the contradictions between culture. because these are mediated by the division of labor. and exchange. as the “splintering of human nature into a number of misbegotten parts” (Ollman 1976: 135). which he presented in detail in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. moral. On the other. and resistance.

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. is an essential feature of the human condition in all societies. therefore. (2) that the members of the two classes meet as isolated.e. mediated in complex ways and forms. Marx described productivity activity in capitalist society as “active alienation” and wrote: . and even from the very qualities that make them human (Ollman 1976: 136–56). and use these exterior objects and beings as they act creatively to fulfill socially defined needs and desires. as we saw earlier. 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. this capacity for productive activity is also a commodity. establish their own identity and individuality in the process. However. Here the workers are alienated from their productive activity. the division of labor. their humanness or species-being. 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). human beings were also alienated from the products of their activity. Let us now look at the four aspects of alienation in capitalist society in more detail. usually but not always in the monetary form of capital. hence. First. . the labor-power of workers is purchased for a wage to produce a commodity. and desires.. in capitalist societies. from the products of that activity. when human beings objectify nature. does not dissolve himself into nature. . from one another. wants. ensuring that he does not fall back into nature. This form of self-alienation. emphasis in the original) Thus. the mediator in the “subject-object relationship” between a human mode of existence. are (1) that the members of the capitalist class own or control access to the conditions or means of production. (Mészáros 2005: 80–1. and then the capitalist employs the labor-power of the direct producer in return for a wage. as Mészáros (2005: 78–9) points out. Marx proceeded to argue that. Three distinctive features of industrial capitalist society. exchange. 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.148 • Karl Marx. Productive activity is. alienated forms of productive activity that involve—in this instance—private property. 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. which entails the differentiation of subject from object and the estrangement from nature. from other human beings. while those of the producing class (proletariat) have property only in their labor-power or ability to produce. and from the ability to satisfy their creative potential—i. . It is worth recalling that Marx viewed property as a relationship between individuals. these are second-order mediations that arise as historically specific. and wage labor. albeit a peculiar one.

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

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

power viewed as the capacity both to affect something and to actualize that ability. through various political and other extra-economic forms of surplus extraction. 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. was less exposed to total ruin. John Plamentz wrote perceptively that Alienation was never worse than in bourgeois society. 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. It has been called “the asymmetrical distribution of social power [where] relations of domination and subordination comprise a subset of power relations. maintains. Here. Exploitation. often a significant portion. where the capacities to act are not distributed equally to all parties to the relationship” (Isaac 1987: 83–4). they were alienated from a portion of the goods they produced. and transforms not only their interactions but also occasionally even the relational system itself. (Plamentz 1975: 297) Domination. albeit legally and politically subordinated ones. In a commentary on Marx’s view of state-based societies as alienated forms of social life. serf and lord constituted forms of state-based society that were not only vital but also local and limited. social domination is a relation that involves control over the actions of groups “by means . Nonetheless. though he lived poorly. for precapitalist societies in all their variety were characterized by “relations of dependence” (Marx 1857–8/1973: 158). 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. the medieval burgher though he could not amass wealth in the way open to the capitalist. The medieval serf. 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. nor men ever more the victims of circumstance. they were also not inexorably driven toward their own suspension or toward the formation of some universal or free individuality as happens under capitalism. In a phrase. Slave and master. 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. They were not isolated individuals but rather members of a community.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 151 from the means of production or the products of their creative activity. 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 more secure than the wage-worker under capitalism. 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.

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

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

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

the social categories that regulate the relations of production are not economic ones. The autonomy of politics and of the state was the product of modern times. ethnicity. and that it determines the reorganization of the labor processes to incorporate exploitation by one or more of these categories. In such a situation. 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. In Marx’s (1880–2/1974: 329) terms. This hierarchy of non-economic social categories disguises both the real economic class relations and the real contradictions that emerge from them. they cease to exist as real people and appear instead as formal entities—legal or civil personalities—in the eyes of the state. however. Marx and Engels (e.g. is the basic contradiction of civil 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). 76–85) had already worked out the class theory of the state (Draper 1977). the economic class relations appear different from their real nature. or race. while the hierarchical social categories of the class structure appear as “natural” relations. provides the conditions for the further development of the contradictions based on the appearance of extortion (Bonte 1981: 51–5). the conduct of war and diplomacy. which involves the progressive differentiation of the activities of these categories. the state was an excrescence of society. 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. Since these relations are dominant during the processes of class formation.2 The agencies of the state subsume the administration of justice. The state stood above society only when the economic class relations of appropriation have become dominant. The reorganization of the labor processes. This. 1845–6/1976: 46–8. Marx did not argue that other sociohistorically constituted categories—such as gender. the true nature of the economic is obscured. 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. They do this in the interest of the state and of the society as a whole. and other activities that were previously carried out by the community. This involves the objectification of individual human beings.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 155 In the “classless” societies manifesting variants of the communal mode of production. and the economic aspects of the community are masked or concealed by 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. Thus. which also place individuals and groups in social . 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.

It is the opium of the people. 335. Over the years. For Marx. Marx (e. 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). however. especially for the deprived and despised” (Raines 2002: 5). in Capital. 1869/1988b) would lament the chauvinism of the different national groups that made it difficult for them to see their common cause as workers. he did. legitimating social hierarchy. Anthropologist hierarchies in capitalist societies—were unimportant. and workers were never completely powerless. and open rebellion. emphasis in the original) . in the same volume. the heart of a heartless world. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. In Marx’s own words. Resistance and Protest It is worth noting that Marx thought that slaves. just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. and that struggle is “the fundamental relationship between classes (and their respective individual members).000 or so women and children employed in the domestic production of lace (Marx 1863–7/1977: 590–1. or could only be understood in terms of class (Brodkin 2000. Postone 1993: 321). raised in a predominantly Catholic region oppressed by a state whose official cult was evangelical Protestantism. 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. often consider them in terms of how they intersected with social-class structures.3 While these forms of hierarchy were not well developed in his work.156 • Karl Marx. reducible to class position.” it was also ”an active moral agency. or resistance to it” (Ste Croix 1981: 44). reformist efforts. 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).g.” (1843–4/1975: 175. In The Condition of the Working Class in England. both he and Marx (e. peasants.g. Scottish. Engels (1845/1975: 389–92) had already described both the ways in which capitalist employers used Irish. In The Ethnological Notebooks. religion was always more than “the ideological expression of the powerful [including the state]. 1880–2/1974: 324. For example. 595–9). 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. 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. involving essentially exploitation.

such as local chief or tax collector. 1857/1986e. 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. the conflict continues as subject communities engage in various forms of passive resistance—lying. when kinship relations are distorted and become attached to non-kin-based state institutions. like Hegel before him. believed that history began with . the Indian Mutiny in late 1850s. Marx (e. other industrial workers in the region reported that their problems were the same as those of the weavers. Reinforcements arrived on the following day and dispersed the crowd into countryside where they were pursued by the soldiers. Within hours. As Michael Löwy (2003/2005: 85) pointed out. 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. 1857/1986c. 300–3. individuals whose prestige is rooted in kinship are threatened. 261. 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. Thirty-eight were arrested and given long prison sentences. 42–4) notes. Patterson 1991: 98–128). From the mid 1840s onward.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 157 In this view. “a crowd of 3. and how the ongoing dynamics. a crowd of 5. foot-dragging. the crowd responded and drove off the military. the state. historical.g. especially in capitalist society (Marx 1844/1975a: 377). or evasion to name only a few (Bodley 1982. 1871/1986). and the Paris Commune in 1870 (Marx 1850/1978. 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. the failed revolutions of 1849. Hobsbawm 1959. turmoil. The army intervened. Scott 1985).g. Toward the end of the year. 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. killing or wounding a number of weavers. 1880–2/1974: 204. His earliest effort was an analysis of the revolt of the Silesian weavers in June 1844 (Marx 1844/1975c: 202–6).000 weavers ransacked his house and destroyed the account books. Marx sought out contemporary. where similar scenes occurred” (Löwy 2003/2005: 83). 328) also paid particular attention in The Ethnological Notebooks to what anthropologist Stanley Diamond (1951/1996) later called “kin/civil conflict”—that is. and ethnographic accounts of protest and resistance. theft. the dominant class.000 marched on a neighboring village (Langebielau). and the subject communities. and resistance they engender are played out in everyday life. 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 the state. Marx. Kin/civil conflict often spills over into active revolt (e. Even when conditions are quiescent. As Gailey (1987: 16–7. 1852/1979. 1857/1986b. the contradictions arising from exploitation that exist between the priorities of the dominant class. The following day.

like a number of his predecessors. At the same time. what is his legacy. Individual human beings struggled both with the world in which they lived and with their inner selves. he also recognized capitalism condemned large numbers of peoples to lives of drudgery. ideal and fact. 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 that. In other words. 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. for connection with reality.158 • Karl Marx. 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). equal liability for work. long working hours. state ownership of public utilities and banking. to issues of importance in anthropology today? Here. believed in a notion of progress— that is. At the same time. new power relations. They had an existential need for a sense of community. ‘ought’ and ‘is’” (Rader 1979: 205). Marx. In a sense. and that this diversity was a manifestation of circumstances that did in fact offer new opportunities. recognized that capitalism created a variety of occupations that had not existed earlier. He did not specify in any great detail what the structures of those communities would be like—even though. sometimes it was much slower. 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. human beings continually struggle to overcome the internal and external contradictions in their daily lives (Plamentz 1975: 322–56). domination. because it is historicized. more like Hegel than Adam Smith. Anthropologist human existence. a more equitable distribution of justice. for creative expression. it is important to keep in mind that he was a political activist whose aim . and few opportunities for creative activity beyond the satisfaction of immediate physical needs. given the topics Marx addressed at length or in passing in his writings. and exploitation to actualize their potential. they recognized “the disparity between thought and being. As a result. hope and accomplishment. and their crises had both external and internal dimensions and dialectics. it might involve among other things several forms of income redistribution. the particular kinds of human existence that prevailed in different moments in the past were different from those of today. Sometimes the pace of change was relatively rapid. they lived in crisis. both actual and potential. forging a social safety net. We live in crisis as well. and for a feeling of wholeness (Brian 2006: 233–5). for a meaningful understanding of the worlds they inhabited. Marx. as he and Engels had advocated in the Communist Manifesto.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.

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

He took notice of episodes of the over-accumulation of capital—that is. Sahlins 1993/2000). 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. the emergence of social movements. with varying degrees of consciousness of the fact. 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. Harvey 2006: 69–116). efforts to embed the process of accumulation and create the physical and administrative infrastructures (the built environment) required for its success frequently involved tensions.g. Besides unemployment. 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. When the human sciences were professionalized in the late nineteenth century. often at the same time. the collapse of sub-prime mortgage markets. these crises have also underwritten emigration and yielded shortages.g. 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). Anthropologists. Ireland. savings and loan scandals. rapidly rising prices. 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. Marx noted that the process of capitalist accumulation was always embedded in particular combinations of social relations and ecological circumstances. or the Pueblos of the American Southwest. fiscal shortfalls for multiple levels of government. of periods when it was not being invested because the rates of return on investments were deemed too low. as well as the implementation by national states of various Keynesian and neoliberal policies. the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina. in an effort either to resolve the crises of capitalism or to shift responsibility and the burden to the more affected and less powerful. 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. 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.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 163 and those that are involved in the manufacture of consumer goods. 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 . bank closures. conflicts. which adversely affect both workers and the profitability of firms that sell commodities targeted for the working classes.

2004). Orser 2001. As Peter Wade (2002: 20. on the one hand. for example. 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. We also know that the ones that prevail today developed historically under circumstances shaped. 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 gendered identities. after all. where the legitimacy of the colonial regime was routinely challenged and its authority was weak under the best of circumstances. thieves. and beggars who lived on the margins of capitalist society and whose activities were often of questionable legality (Marx 1853/1979g: 492–4). 877–907) discussed the state’s role in the dispossession of small holders from their lands. Weis 1998). ethnic. In Capital. 25) indicates. on the other. There has been an intimate and complex relationship between the crystallization of the capitalist mode of production. by the formation of colonies. and the formation of national states from the mid seventeenth century onward. poachers.g. rustlers. and the subsequent conversion of the displaced persons into seasonal subsistence fishermen. the expropriation and redistribution of property. Elsewhere. Winant 2004). Reyna and Downs 1999.g. the rise of capitalist societies. national states. 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. these categories create identities that are both oppositional and relational and that serve to include some individuals and exclude others. We have seen that. while these essences may be portrayed as either biological . Marx (1863–7/1977: 594. Marx would probably not be surprised by the resilience of capitalist enterprises and the capitalist mode of production in the years since his death. he commented on the role played by the state in the transformation of agrarian landscapes in nineteenth-century Scotland into pasturage. like Afghanistan. Third. foragers. Mullings 2005. Kapferer1988. national. 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. The relationship of capitalism to the national state is indeed a complicated one especially in the former colonies of capitalist states and in areas. 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. and capitalism and. 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.164 • Karl Marx. the expulsion of their inhabitants.g. by the mapping of elements which were understood by their cartographers to reflect “essential” differences in collectivities of human bodies (e. littoral harvesters.

and Blanc-Szanton 1992. A Negro is a Negro. Marx’s view of human nature was that it was mutable.g. Warren 1998). emphasis in the original) While Marx was both disbelieving and contemptuous of claims made about innate differences between races and nationalities. He was certainly aware that slaves lacked the rights of free men and women. Data processors who toil over computers. toxic air. 517–43. persistent organic compounds. the issues of racism. 2002b. The one explanation is as good as the other. for example. he once wrote What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. and that immigrants identified as one of the marked categories. As you will recall. Basch. and sexism and their articulation with class structures on local. Karen Brodkin (2000) has perceptively shown that categories constructed in terms of race. were paid less than nativeborn workers. Glick Schiller. petroleum. miners who inhale coal dust during their work shifts. As you recall. 610–42) discussed the impact of work and pollution from lead. especially in relation to the conditions in which individuals work and live their everyday lives. nationalism. (Marx 1849/1977: 211. he also realized that racism. and others on the health and well-being of communities (Schell and Denham 2003). Hinton 2002a. and global scales continue to be problems that Marx recognized and addressed often in inchoate form. domination. Etienne Balibar (1988/1991. . linemen on professional football teams whose life expectancies are significantly shortened by long-term acute obesity and traumas. like the Irish. and gender structure capitalist labor markets. 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. 1863–7/1977: 320–411. and sexism were real. that women and children typically received lower wages than men in factories. 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. his anthropology would certainly consider the health and well-being of communities. nationality. there are lengthy sections in Capital where Marx (e. had changed.g. In a phrase. and exploitation. noise.g. Silverstein 2005. and how these experiences are inscribed in their bodies through repetitive performance. 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.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 165 or cultural. the characteristic they share is that they are immutable or fixed. national. He becomes a slave only in certain relations. they would undoubtedly be a feature of his anthropology in the twenty-first century. Fourth. Contemporary scholars have elaborated this understanding. and reflected the particular ensembles of social relations that prevailed during different historical epochs. nationalism. ethnicity.

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

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

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

He proceeds to argue that Marx applied a different ethical standpoint. and disconnected. fairness. or virtues that govern behavior that affects others. Marx distinguished between the spheres of exchange . Wilson 1997).” “theft.” to describe it. and exploitation of workers in capitalist societies (Thompson 1978: 363–4). he also publicly opposed the torture and mistreatment of slaves in America and British war crimes in India. Consequently. It is worth noting in this context that Marx was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery. freeing political prisoners. The capitalist. domination. incomplete. and freedom (emancipation). 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.g. Paley 2002. Marx’s anthropology of today would also include considerations of morality and of such central moral issues as justice. 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. Diamond 1970. and democracy among others. 1843c/1975c: 162–4. Morality is a public system of rules. as Marx (e. 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). Seventh. 2005. as Ziyad Husami (1978/1980) points out. even though there was a back and forth relationship between word and sign. rights. Kapferer 2004. the implementation and enforcement of child labor and occupational health and safety regulations. does not believe that he steals from his workers. Importantly. yet he has been described as a “moralist” when writing about the alienation. This perspective led Marx to focus on issues such as freedom and justice. 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.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 169 For Vygotsky.g. González 2007. which claims that the labor contributions of the workers are not adequately rewarded. Price 2007.g. signs (inner speech) had a different function from oral utterances. 1880–2/1974: 329) noted from the 1840s onward. He also noted that when the thoughts and experiences of speakers and listeners coincide. As Gary Young (1981) further notes. 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. Wakin 1992. it is.” or “plunder. he was typically critical of discussions of morality. verbalization is often reduced. 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. ideals. dependent not only on material circumstances but also reflects the prejudices and ideology of the dominant classes. Marx (e.

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

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

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3. This seed contained an entirely formed or preformed individual. As he points out. Rogers (1963/1997: 259–60) describes the doctrines of preformationism and preexistence of germs in the following way.” while accurate at one level.Notes Introduction 1. Anthropology was clearly taught in different university faculties—e. 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. judging by the content of Kant’s lectures (Kant 1798/1978. 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. Rowe 1964. 1965). 2. Chapter 1 The Enlightenment and Anthropology 1. 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. For example. misses the nuances and subtleties at other levels (Bowler 1974: 161). and Rousseau (Fellows 1963a: 608–9). The imprimatur of the Royal Press was important for two reasons. which was a continual threat faced by his contemporaries. notably Montesquieu. and embryonic development consisted merely of the enlargement of the already existing parts.g. 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. law. Diderot. 173 . Vermeulen 1995). describing it as solely in terms of “a growing hostility to Christianity which drove many into deism and some into outright materialism and atheism. Jacques Roger (1963/1997: 181–204) discusses “the God of philosophers and scientists” in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It made the volumes official publications of the Crown. 2. Voltaire. It also allowed Buffon to avoid censorship. the shift in conception was complex. Stark 2003). theology. and medicine—by individuals with diverse backgrounds and philosophical presuppositions (Kelley 1984: 247.

they did not possess language which.” Wokler (1978. Denis Diderot (1713–84). and Robert Wokler. In contrast. and Ferguson by name in his own writings and cited works that mentioned Millar. Rousseau’s relationship with Buffon and their contemporaries. 6.174 • Notes 4. if one species did evolve from another. Macpherson. and James Millar (1740–1805). is discussed by Bowler (1974). 48) characterized the Scottish historical school as Smith (1723–90). He reasoned that no new species were known to have appeared. and Mason and Wokler (1992). Hume.e. William Robertson (1721–93). David Hume (1711–76)). but maintain a relation to each other” (Crocker 1959: 131. who was a close associate of Smith. they were nonetheless not human beings because they lacked the mental powers of humans—i. he did not accept the idea of transformism—i. at the time. even . Ronald Meek. one species developing into another. My understanding and appreciation of Enlightenment social thought have benefited generally from the writings of Isaiah Berlin. while apes were intermediate because of physical characteristics they shared with human beings. Buffon’s friend. was taken to be the true mark of rationality. when he argued that: “(1) each species has had a history. and that apes. Rousseau argued that the development of language was part of the perfectibility of human beings. Roy Pascal.. notably PierreLouis de Maupertuis (1698–1759) and Diderot. Fellows 1963b. whose views were outside the mainstream of the Scottish Enlightenment. Fellows (1960).e.” and Frederick Barnard’s explorations of Herder’s ideas about culture and history. Buffon agreed and further suggested that only men had souls. then the process was a gradual one (Mayr 1982: 330–6). (2) it has evolved over a long period of time. the gap between man and animal closed briefly. which occurred in the context of contingent social relations. and that. Lovejoy 1959a). Robert Louden’s discussion of Immanuel Kant’s “impure ethics. and Étienne Bonnet de Condillac (1714–80) claimed that the cries of animals were evidence of thought. Ronald Meek (1967: 35–7. crystallized the idea of transformism in 1753. and James Burnett. 1988) describes the debate in the following way. 5. and especially from Asher Horowitz’s pathbreaking analysis of Rousseau’s anthropology. Marx mentioned Smith. Reill’s studies of historicism and the importance of history in the formation of the social sciences in the late eighteenth century. 8. Adam Ferguson (1723–1815). While Buffon conceptualized descent with modification. In the late 1740s. Crawford B. that the infertility of hybrids constituted a barrier. 7. Lord Monboddo (1714–99). While Rousseau was not the first to argue that apes occupied an intermediate position between human beings and animals. Lord Kames (1696–1782).. Julien Offray de La Mettrie (1709–1751) argued that souls were fictitious. 1980. the Origins of Inequality sparked an interesting debate that linked the origins of language with what Robert Wokler (1978) called “perfectible apes. might also be included as well. Peter H. Comparative anatomist Edward Tyson (1650–1708) argued in the 1690s that. Henry Home. (3) new species appear through a process of variation.

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

Karl Vogt (1817–95) and Jakob Moleschott (1822–93). The concept of Oriental or Asiatic society had a substantial history before Marx wrote. their politics were reformist. and craft specialization as well as literacy. Culture. and China but also on those of Peru and Mexico (Bailey and Llobera 1981. The “bourgeois Darwinians” specifically mentioned by Engels were Ludwig Büchner (1824–99). Morgan (1881/2003: 63ff. 2. Eleanor Leacock (1972). 1977b). Persia. 1954). 1876–8/1987. Lewis H. Gordon Childe (1892–1957).) coined the phrase “communism in living” in his Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines. and they concentrated their attention on education and popularizing rather than political action (Gregory 1977a. monumental architecture. Marx’s conceptualization of the Asiatic mode of production relied not only on analyses of societies in India. evolving and self-forming whole.176 • Notes of simplest elements and facts. and that the latter involved new forms of surplus extraction. Krader 1975). “which formalizes the whole and emphasizes the predominance and priority of the whole over the parts. 1884/1972) wrote more systematically about feudalism than Marx. 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. instead. 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. 4. 1882/1990. V. conquest.g. 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. 1950/2004. Social Formation 1.” Marx’s view. social-class structures.” and the organicist view. 3. 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. . Richard Lee (1988). Hobsbawm also remarked that Engels (1850/1978.” He was aware that the former involved a changing metabolism between people and the natural worlds they inhabited. and that there is no indication that the latter disagreed with what Engels wrote. Later anthropologists inspired by Marx and Engels—e. In the political sphere. and new forms of settlement (Childe 1936/1983. is a dialectical conception “which grasps reality as a structured. 1882/1989. repression. Chapter 3 Human Natural Beings 1. Chapter 4 History. The first was a physician and the latter were physiologists.” 4.

and playing cards (Spalding 1975). While Marx began with the available sources on India. Marshall Sahlins (1988/2000). They did so at the same time that the Marx was also writing about China. 4. matches. Brenner 1977. was soon joined by Harold Wolpe (1980. 1995) are only a few of those who come immediately to mind. 1992). Sweezy 1950/1976. Marx. Michael Taussig (1980. and denouncing the caste system (e. Engels’s (1845/1975) study of the conditions of the workers in Manchester was arguably the first urban ethnography. In 1884. 1985). Peter Worsley (1961. and John Gledhill (1991. the bondholders received a 66-year monopoly on the railroad as well as monopolies on the sale of coca. India. Marx (1857–8/1973: 473. . June Nash (1979). Marx and Engels discussed the bases of this view and its implication in letters. 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.g. the independence question in Ireland. Godfrey and Monica Wilson (1945/1954). 1853/1983b: 347–8. Dobb 1947. Hilton 1953/1976. wrote about the issues of nation and nationality in the eastern and southeastern parts of the Hapsburg Empire and the Crimean War. 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. In exchange for the cancellation of the debt. 1993). 1989. Byres 2006. 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. 1853/1979a. 1968/1970). Marx 1846/1982: 101–2. Eric Wolf (1959. 1975. As Aijaz Ahmad (2001) notes. 1979) and Claude Meillassoux (1971/1980. 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. 3. and Wim van Binsbergen and Peter Geschiere (1985) among others. 1987). Joel Kahn (1980. 1969. Christine Gailey (1987). including Hegel. Patnaik 2006). 1973/1982. 2. 5. 1975/1981). Engels 1853/1983: 339–41). Wallerstein 1974). 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. Long-term monopolies over the sale of particular items seem to have been a common practice for the English. condemning slavery in the United States.1982). and the former mentioned it in one of the early Tribune articles (Marx 1853/1983a: 332–4. 6. 1978/1990. which was launched by Pierre-Philippe Rey (1971. This discussion. Engels 1851–3/1979: Benner 1995). Joel Kahn and Josep Llobera (1981). Peter Rigby (1985. and Engels to a greater extent.g. 1853/1983c: 339–42.Notes • 177 Chapter 5 Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World 1.

some of its leaders. and what they wanted most urgently to discredit. He also pointed out: (1) the bases for this dichotomy were already present in the writings of seventeenth-century theorists. As Erica Benner 1995: 45) put it: They saw pre-political forms of ethnicity. and deprived of habeas corpus. and the latter with command over the actions and activities of persons. organized raids into Canada in 1866 and 1870. In the wake of the American Civil War. 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. Their supporters attempted to blow up a prison in London but succeeded only in destroying nearby houses. German and Italian) but also has shifted over time (power being the more prominent of the two in late twentieth-century intellectual discourse). 8. Many were quickly arrested. they sometimes also used the term “nation” to refer to peoples. 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. (2) the boundary between the two concepts has often been blurred. use. Today. and (4) the prominence of one category relative to the other not only depends on national traditions (Scottish and French vs. and territorial attachments as unthreatening to their revolutionary project so long as these were not pressed into the service of aggrandizing authoritarian states. What worried them. others served their sentences in Australia. 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.178 • Notes 7. like the Irish or the Russians. The British press used this to whip up anti-Irish sentiment. imprisoned. much like the prisoners held unconstitutionally by the government of the United States at Guantanamo today. it is commonplace to treat property and power as distinct—the former concerned with socially acquired things.” . Dick Pels (1998: 18–73) has argued that the concepts of property and power are enmeshed in disciplinary and intellectual politics. Ireland in 1867 where they planned to organize and lead an army that would overthrow the British. (3) one concept has frequently served as the limiting case of the other. their possession. 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. In their later writings. Some of the prisoners were eventually executed. former officers in the Union army. Marx and Engels (1845–6/1976: 73. 9. and disposition. In The German Ideology.

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. as Eric Wolf (1999: 5) noted. 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. 2. 2003) provides textured discussions of Marx’s views about slavery. Gailey 1987). In 1971. sharing is distinct from reciprocity.g. interpersonal sentiments have developed. the contexts in which they were activated and realized. What distinguished one kind of pre-capitalist state from another. While 3. While sharing is certainly not a predominant form of economic behavior in capitalist societies. where there is some expectation of return. people continually struggle to maintain and re-create it in these and other contexts (e. the sense of community embodied in the practice clearly exists. how these were manifest in interactions with others. In this sense. and changing the identity of the persons would change their relationships. . were kinds of relational structures that resulted from the capacities to control that inhered in groups. which of course are not necessarily the same thing. 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. and how the relationships operated in and organized those settings. such that the members have extensive knowledge of each other. There is usually face-to-face interaction of the same people over an extended period of time. In an intimate economy the particular patterns of personal interdependency significantly influence the patterns of economic production and distribution.” Anthropologists—Eleanor Leacock (1982) among several others—have pointed out that the social units forged by sharing are often larger than households or families.Notes • 179 6 Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century 1. moreover. 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). racism. August Nimtz (2000. 4.

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

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

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

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

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