Karl Marx, Anthropologist

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Karl Marx, Anthropologist

Thomas C. Patterson

Oxford • New York

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

Colleagues.For Friends. and Students .

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





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

Notes Bibliography Index

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


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

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

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

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

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

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. 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.2 • Karl Marx. intertwined and interacting strands. Shortly after they met. 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. 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). which he wrote in the mid 1860s (Marx 1857–8/1973. While I am not claiming that there is only a single tradition of philosophical anthropology. Interspersed with his more empirical studies were theoretically informed. judging by his 1842 critique of the philosophical underpinnings of influential faculty members. Pagden 1982. sixteenth-century Spain. which also began that year. theory. The Grundrisse of 1857–8 and Capital. 1865–85/1981). England where he worked in a family-owned mill and assembled the information for The Condition of the Working Class in England. which appeared in 1848. These were followed from the early 1850s onward by the thick descriptions and analyses of The Eighteenth Brumaire and The Civil War in France.g. 1965. 1864–94/1981. that constitute human beings. or. empirical inquiries have episodically forced changes in philosophical anthropology.e. Moreover. which has a legitimate claim to being the first urban ethnography (Engels 1845/1975). historical analyses of different forms of pre. Marx and Engels’s (1848/1976) Communist Manifesto. or ontological structures.or noncapitalist property relations and the development of capitalism—i. would soon bring the empirical strand and its ongoing importance into sharp focus. While Marx was undoubtedly aware of both empirical and philosophical anthropology during his student days at Berlin. 1863–7/1977. at any given moment.” is concerned with the presuppositions of the various traditions of empirical anthropology. Rowe 1964. often called “philosophical anthropology. or the late eighteenth-century Enlightenment (e.2 he was seemingly concerned initially at least with the former. Engels would spend two years in Manchester. 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. and practice. I would argue that. Anthropologist Italy. it resembles a cable with multiple. in all cultures. especially with what its practitioners believe to be the core features. for a criterion enabling us to determine whether or not a being is a man at all?” Since its scope is different.1 The other strand. Marx also continued his explorations of the philosophical underpinnings of a variety of subjects ranging from his critique . His association with Frederick Engels. It arguably has a more continuous distribution in time and space. in other words. Wokler 1993). 1871/1986). In a similar vein. It was an early effort at anthropological praxis—the merging of data.

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

were their subjectivities self-constructed. These include but are not limited to the following questions: Did Marx hold a linear theory of social (r)evolution. and the capacity of people to make their own history on occasion? Did he argue that people were merely the bearers of economic. oppression. 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. In practical terms. 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. 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: 199.4 • Karl Marx. since they may have immediate consequences for what you as a human being . culture. 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 history in the last instance. 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. which existed prior to and independent of the totality (a Cartesian totality which could be reduced atomistically to those parts). 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. this means that someone writing in 1910. situational. and exploitation universal features of the human condition. culture. and the Grundrisse was largely unknown in the West until Martin Nicolaus’s English translation appeared in 1973. political-juridical. and ideological structures that shaped their beliefs and actions. 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. A number of things are at stake in the debates. or did he have a more nuanced understanding of the mutual interconnections of ensembles of social relations. Anthropologist available in English in 1960. and teleologically throughout history. contradictory subjects? Were they alienated individuals whose subjectivities were partly constituted through the perceptions of others. 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 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. for instance. successively. 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. practical activity. and impermanent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

he argued that there was indeed an order in nature. To do so. Rossi 1984. 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). Anthropologist description of mere facts. 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. Porter 1972. Thus. from nonliving matter—a classification that recognized animal. With regard to the second question. organic diversity. and mineral. Second. and strata. Here. he also added Leibniz’s recently published views about continuous gradations. The conclusions he drew were that the first development.” The importance of Buffon’s theory was twofold. First it was a theory of transformation and change. the fetus at conception. since it also involved the use of reason—comparison. in nature. like Carolus Linnaeus (1707–78). after which nothing would remain as it was before. he distinguished living beings. stirred some controversy. Buffon took human beings as his starting point. In the next two essays. which was quite similar to the way he wrote about the formation and subsequent history of the earth. This argument seemed to combine the materialism of the Epicureans and Leibniz. 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. or chains of being. Rudwick 1985). The focus of the new natural history would be the study of reproduction. the naturalist of living systems. 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. animals and plants. history meant a description of the present distribution of oceans. analogy. [while] chance alone could create the unique and irreversible event. Buffon argued that living beings reproduce. because it was too complicated for their equations (Sloan 1976). however. 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. was a production of parts that appeared for the first time. vegetable. Buffon’s model of the natural historian was Aristotle. a proper theory of natural history had to combine natural causes with accidents. 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. teleological processes. In this discussion. had simply failed to capture its complexity. but that the mathematicians and taxonomists. 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. and internal. Buffon tackled the history and theory of the earth and the formation of planets (Roger 1989/1997: 93–115). Like Aristotle. whereas subsequent embryonic development was merely growth of those parts. the question in his mind was how rather than why they did so.14 • Karl Marx. . mountains. and generalization. 3 Buffon observed animal reproduction in a variety of species in order to establish regularities through comparison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 These predispositions helped the human species achieve its “collective destiny” (Louden 2000: 97). Skills allowed individuals to use the products of nature. in which the human character is revealed” (Kant 1785/1991: 211–12. besides ensuring the preservation of the species. 1786/1991) began to develop his theory of history in the mid 1780s. emphasis in original). 143–4). customs. mostly non-European. Kant (1784/1986). it was hereditary. The concepts of races and peoples also played roles in Kant’s philosophical anthropology. he believed in progress. 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).10 Skill and discipline collectively constituted culture. Like the Scots. 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. Locke. had yet to do so. was simultaneously historical. legislated customs. which was composed of free individuals whose actions were constrained by the lawful authority of the whole. which. For Kant. because. could only emerge in civil society.26 • Karl Marx. For Kant. It was the natural duty of women to provide individuals with the skills and discipline required to become rational and ethical human beings. 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). he meant the inhabitants of a region who viewed themselves as a civic whole because of their common descent. his essays were also responses to Herder’s Reflections . The moralization of civilization represented another. and races often included numerous peoples. mostly Europeans. he saw it as moral progress. Kant historicized the development of the human species and human society. and established how social intercourse should be structured. the two were not the same. higher stage of historical development as yet unachieved (Louden 2000: 79–87. Races reflected the effects of environment. women played the central role in the formation of moral character. While the process of enculturation was apparently asocial in Kant’s mind. which built on Buffon’s work. whereas peoples reflected culture and history. From his perspective. discipline allowed them to free themselves from the dominance of natural needs and desires. In sum. because they lacked culture and civilization. building on Rousseau and on the liberal political thought of Hobbes. while others. By a people. some peoples. Anthropologist rather these materials can be found only in human actions. 1785/1991. In his view. Kant viewed race exclusively as skin color. and language (Kant 1798/1978: 225). and teleological. He posited psychological differences between men and women and argued that these were rooted in nature. some peoples were racially mixed. they were a moralizing force in society that influenced men. however. Moreover. naturalistic. rather than economic progress. had developed their natural predispositions. His concept of race. of course. there was a linkage between the emotional temperaments and physical states of the human species. and the Scots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus. This was the first time. 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. 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. which limited freedom and the capacity of reason. and the Scots as almost continual points of reference. was manifested most clearly in the latest historical stage—modern civil society—which was ushered in by the French Revolution. he was at the same time critical of some of the conclusions they had drawn. Like Rousseau and Herder. through their individuality. once comprehended. As a result. which was inchoate in earlier stages of human history. like Kant. he viewed history in terms of uneven development and the resolution of conflicts and contradictions. Berry 1982. Hegel agreed with Herder and the Scots. history was teleological. moreover. From the late 1790s onward. a development. Herder. While he addressed themes that they had already discussed. in Hegel’s (1822–30/1975: 11–151) view. he wrote with the ideas of Kant. and that social change was the product of human activity. unlike Kant. Rousseau. Dickey and Nisbet 1999. that human beings had the freedom to actualize themselves as rational. that the social problems of the day were ultimately ethical or moral. Waszek 1988). Rockmore 1992/1993). 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. moral individuals. according to Hegel. Hegel’s philosophical anthropology shared important features with those of his predecessors and diverged in significant ways from them (Lukács 1966/1976. His empirical anthropology was rooted in his concern with history and with the formation of civil society (e. From Herder. however. he gained an appreciation of the importance of historical understanding and the significance of varied cultural configurations of different historical epochs and civilizations. W. 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. notably Adam Ferguson. Like Rousseau and the Scots. History. What emerged in the wake of the revolution was an era in which the institutions and practices of the old regime.g. would change the attitude of people toward their social environment” (Plant 1983: 57. For example. which. he viewed change from the standpoint of the community rather than the individual. Hegel believed that philosophy should be critical as well as systematic (scientific). they could also . 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. had been dismantled and replaced by rampant individualism. he also developed concepts of history and the primacy of collective social activity that were inchoate in Herder’s writings. Knox and Pelczynski 1964. emphasis in original).

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

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

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

Marx certainly learned from their writings and carried many of their arguments into his own work. These civilizations. Fifth. from the time of Rousseau onward. we will consider what he retained of their views and where he broke with them. to use a term coined in response to Rousseau. and limited or muted the knowledge acquired in the course of everyday life in the community (Herder). 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. Hegel. associated with the state. . In the chapters that follow. were described as mechanical. Fourth. 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). Herder.The Enlightenment and Anthropology • 37 inequalities and individualism that were characteristic of the commercial-industrial societies that shaped their everyday lives (Rousseau. Saint-Simon).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

identifying recombination. as well as mutation and migration. continuous variability in characteristics. ecology. 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. these researchers began to examine how selection. In a phrase. some are not. and Sewall Wright (1889–1988)—recognized that Mendel’s principles operated in all organisms. then the continual reshuffling from one generation to the next becomes a major source of the genetic variation that occurs in a population. and that even small selection pressures acting on minor genetic differences can result in evolutionary change (Gould 2002: 504). also had a genetic basis. mutation is the ultimate source of new genetic material in a population. Gould (2002: . S. 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. systematics. Gene flow occurs when an individual from outside the population breeds with an individual from the population. that would come to be called the Modern Synthesis or the New Synthesis in the 1940s. John B. They established the foundations for linking the traditional subfields of biology—genetics. paleontology. Second. to name only a few—into a more holistic biology. 198). First. and mutation as important sources. they clarified the nature of the genetic variation that exists within a population. 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. Fisher (1890–1962). they had no way to prove it (Allen 1978: 126–40. Haldane (1892–1964). unfortunately. as each human being seems to have.000 gene pairs. Recombination is what occurs when two individuals mate and their offspring receive half of their genetic complement from each parent. they integrated and synthesized the views of Mendel and Darwin. The first generation of population geneticists—Ronald A. This fusion was launched with the publication of Theodosius Dobzhansky’s (1900–75) Genetics and the Origin of Species in 1937. Third. gene flow. If the organism has about 30.72 • Karl Marx. The other source of variation is mutation. given the technology of the time. As a result. that small-scale. and new genetic material is potentially introduced into the gene pool. These investigations had three important consequences. The pool may be stable through time or change from one generation to the next depending on the particular conditions that prevail or appear. Anthropologist individuals or only a few may contribute to and share in the gene pool. or developmental physiology. 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. like height.

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

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

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

and structurally integrated organisms. the basic timeline—erect posture. Marx and Engels often forged and refined ideas in their letters. 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. On this basis. speech organs. . Washburn and Howell 1963.76 • Karl Marx. an erect gait. Even though he had no conception of the microevolutionary processes described above. their significance was neither recognized nor appreciated until the early years of the twentieth century (Delisle 2007: 70–124). The issues debated today are not whether the steps outlined by Engels occurred. Anthropologist Ape to Man. Through reading and possibly even trips to the zoo. However. He was clear that both human and non-human primates were behaviorally highly complex. This change in the locomotor behavior and structures was accompanied by other changes. most notably in the hand. did they discuss Engels’s essay about the transition from ape to human. but rather where and when they took place. as were those of his contemporaries (Trigger 1967/2003). he suggested that the decisive first step in the transition from ape to human involved upright walking. to my knowledge. Moreover. most prominently Sherwood Washburn (1911–2002) in the late 1950s (e. Washburn 1960. 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. conscious ways. it was adopted by paleoanthropologists. The development of the hand and all that this entailed were linked. arboreal apes who lived in the Old World tropics toward the end of the Tertiary period. tool-making. with increased dependence on others and the formation of new ensembles of social relations. the first incontrovertible evidence was only uncovered in 1859. which we now know occurred between about 2 and 23 million years ago. The latter was facilitated by changes in the hand.g. As a result.” While the first remains of “Neanderthal man” had been found in 1856. he argued that the arboreal primates of the present day used their forelimbs and hindlimbs differently when they climb. there is no evidence that Marx disagreed in any way whatsoever with Engels’s conclusions in this regard. Engels’s argument was a deductive one. Woolfson 1982). In fact. even though they may have done so in conversation. 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. with new relations to the objects of nature. and importantly with the development of language. with the development of the brain and other sensory organs. in none of these. in turn. While writers speculated about whether human beings had lived at the same time as extinct animals. and language— is still correct. especially since the late 1950s. 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. Engels argued that the ancestors of human beings were social.

feeding on low branches. toolmaking. neck. this finding helped to focus attention since the 1960s on the tropical regions of Africa. Ethiopia. and even display (Delisle 2007: 327). The issues that paleoanthropologists explore and resolve are still upright walking. hips. 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. Marx would have been . lived 10 to 5 million years ago. Kenya. what were the circumstances in which quadrupedal. the Pliocene Era. keeping in mind that anatomical clues for this form of locomotion are scattered over the body: toes. language. 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: 326–8.5 million years ago. carrying food and other objects. No one questions that the various early hominid species on both sides of the Rift Valley were bipedal walkers. to name only a few. the empirical evidence for the evolution of human beings was provided by the comparative anatomy of living species. and Tanzania. that evidence is provided by fossilized bones and their associated environments. especially those east of the Rift Valley in Ethiopia. they found a number of fossil hominids in late Miocene and early Pliocene deposits that ranged in age from about 7 to 3. it seems that human natural beings appeared first in the tropics. the terrain of the debates has shifted in the last fifty or so years because of the vast quantities of new information. and culture. there were fossil-bearing deposits that dated to the end of the Tertiary—that is. and Reich 2006). which occurred roughly 5 to 2 million years ago. by the similarities and differences of DNA or protein sequences that exist among different species. In the mid 1990s. where the extant species live today. ankles. and South Africa. shoulders. Richter. hunting. Here.Human Natural Beings • 77 Fossils and Proteins In Marx’s day. at the present time. and hands. Thus. Together with earlier discoveries of fossil hominids in South Africa. and by the molecular clock that the various sequences provide (Marks 2002: 7–31). perhaps in the triangle formed by Chad. however. Gnerre. and reducing the energy costs of traveling long distances because of scarcity of resources. According to molecular anthropologists. the last common ancestor shared by modern human beings and chimpanzees. Today. Lander. paleoanthropologists began to look for ancestral chimpanzees and gorillas on the west side of the Rift Valley. our closest relative in the animal kingdom. Gibbons 2006)? Besides the fact that ancestral ape and hominid species resided in tropical Africa 5 to 10 million years ago. knees. In Chad. and gorillas diverged from that group around 11 to 9 million years ago (Patterson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“inventions” and Malthusian “struggle for existence. they should submit their own individual wills to.” It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes [i. A second target was Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) who also assumed that self-interest and competition were the foundations of modern society. It is important to note here that Marx believed that “human nature” was not fixed but varied from one historical epoch to another. (Marx 1862/1985: 381) What stands out in both quotations is Marx’s critique of the naturalization of social inequalities. and Malthus who viewed struggle in terms of limitations imposed on society as a whole by its environment (Bowler 1976: 639.. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers. which led to a limited food supply and a “struggle for existence” among its members.” whereas. In 1875. among the beasts and plants. Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). 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. . and that the tendency to over-reproduce far outstripped the capacity of society to produce food. that poverty was a natural outcome of social relations. 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. and that. the society of England with its division of labour. 647–50).88 • Karl Marx. . (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? . and their reappropriation into capitalist society as “natural” relations. 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. or at least not resist. the animal kingdom figures as civil society. the transposition of capitalist social relations to nature. these people proceed to re-extrapolate the same theories from organic nature to history. competition. in order to avoid being thrust back into a state of nature during the time of the English Civil War. in Darwin. One target was Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679).e. war of all against all] and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology in which civil society figures as an “intellectual animal kingdom. that of the sovereign in exchange for self-preservation and avoiding death (Wood and Wood 1997: 94–111). Anthropologist its geometric progression—to humans as against plants and animals. Having accomplished this feat . opening up of new markets. and then claim to have proved their validity as eternal laws of human society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and legal codes of the state. and even occasionally that new distinctions are created between town dwellers and their rural kinfolk. States ensure that bodies are counted for taxation and conscription. and retainers to extract tribute in the form of labor or goods from the direct producers in the society. that internal dissent is suppressed or deflected outward toward other communities. Class and state formation are always contingent processes. is often transformed into the exploitative exercise of power. All involved the ability of rulers. 1957.112 • Karl Marx. especially from the standpoint of peoples that become enmeshed in their relations. They are often linked with violence. and as insurance for the community in times of emergency. as a fund of goods for exchange with other communities. close kin. both of which require records (the origins of writing systems). repression. cf. conquest. have undoubtedly appeared in a variety of ways. In this view. Gearing 1961). practices. that facilitate the exploitation of one group by the members of another. 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. that bureaucracies are formed and overseers are selected. 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. 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. The appearance of social-class structures is always linked to the institutions. powers. Diakonoff 1972). A second trajectory. their families. political authority that was granted for a limited period of time was usurped and transformed into power (Jacobsen 1943. exercised in the context of these processes. the original extortion resided in the custodians of the shrines who arrogated or were granted privileges. where the lands of the temples were sequestered from the community and became in effect the property of the temples. 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. which used surplus variously as a source of income. Hierarchical social relations. 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. that production is reorganized to satisfy new patterns of distribution and exchange. and restrictions that distinguished them from the rest of the population. outlined for a slightly earlier period in Mesopotamian history. argues that ad hoc and provisional. which simultaneously represent the interests of the dominant class and afford an arena of struggle for fractions within the ruling class. and cooption. 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. that stationary or moving capitals are established. Drawing on different bodies of evidence. Customary authority.

they have little interest in changing property relations. As a result. The formation of the class structures is. the social categories that regulate the relations of production are cultural or superstructural rather than ones formed in the economic base. or taxes that they are able to extract from the direct producers. In such a situation. They redistributed the exotic goods they obtained during village feasts. with other communities.History. The reorganization of the labor processes. This hierarchy of non-economic social categories disguises both the real economic class relations and the real contradictions that emerge from them. and they supported part-time craft specialists in their households. 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. In other words. Culture. 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. While the state can intervene in the production and reproduction of the local kin communities. the economic class relations appear different from their real nature. Since the cultural or superstructural moments are dominant during the process of class formation. in the last analysis. These big men manipulated social relations to create personal followings. which involves the progressive differentiation of the activities of these categories. rents. the social classes that emerge will be defined largely in ideological terms. provides the conditions for the further development of the contradictions based on the appearance of exploitation and extortion. its survival depends on their continued . Thus. the kin-organized communities of class-stratified. From the perspective of Marx’s base–superstructure metaphor. 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. and Social Formation • 113 John Clark (1999). the economic aspect of the society is concealed or masked by these structures. goods. 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 were the bases from which their incomes are derived. especially exotic ones. while the hierarchical social categories of the class structure appear as “natural” relations. the true nature of the economic is obscured. to gain control over the production of others. 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). the emergent class structure consists of a hierarchy of social categories that cannot be reduced directly to economic class relations. The ruling classes of pre-capitalist states live on the tribute in the form of labor. As a result.

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

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

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

and more importantly. which had a weekly circulation of about 200. for example. Marx (1880/1989) was not only concerned with collecting information about actual social conditions—as evidenced.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. Weiss 1936/1973). while others were experiencing a revolutionary transformation. More than that. was not a clear-cut process. The transition to the factory system . (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. This was partly due to his own historical anthropological research and partly to his acquaintance with the work of others.” which was sent via labor unions and political groups to 25. 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. though time was clearly on the side of innovation. . Over the years. within the same field of enterprise. with disseminating this knowledge both to the workers themselves and to the wider public through venues like the Tribune. Husain 2006. For a long time there were branches of manufacture virtually untouched by mechanization.1 The research for the Tribune articles provided him with 117 . . these snapshots would inform his analyses of various moments or stages in the development of capitalism. making it the most widely read paper in the United States at the time (Husain 2006: xiii. old and new methods of production often coexisted.000 German workers in Paris (roughly an eighth of the city’s 650. neither strong enough to overcome the other.000 workers in 1880—but also. by the 100 questions in his “Enquête Ouvrière.000.–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. Patnaik 2006).

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

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. 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. 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. promoted commodity production. The first is to outline Marx’s views about the transition to capitalism and its subsequent development. As you will recall from the last chapter. in addition. and historical contingency. Another way of saying this is that they were subject to different internal constraints. external linkages. In industrial capitalist societies. he argued that there were significant differences between pre-capitalist and capitalist societies. Marx recognized multiple pathways of historical development in both pre-capitalist and capitalist forms that involved internal developments. for his anthropology. This truism is not a trivial statement. As a consequence. Therefore. what was potentially an opportunity for development in one society may well have been an impossibility given the constraints for another. The goals of this chapter are threefold. theoretical and practical. 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 . These have important implications. The third is to consider what he might have thought about the structures of contemporary capitalism and their relations to the modern nation-state. The former were local and limited.2 One viewed it as the fruit of merchant capitalists who forged commercial networks.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 119 satisfy their own personal needs or those of the firm. The second is to explore in more detail the notions of articulation and combined and uneven development that are implicit in his later writings. 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. it should not be surprising that Marx presented two different accounts of the origins of industrial capitalism and hence of capitalist societies. 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. while the latter continually transformed the forces of production. and exploitation occurs at the point of production where the owners appropriate the surplus value created by the workers. created new markets for the commodities they produced.

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

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

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

As to raw materials. 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. 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. . 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. and (3) an accumulation of monetary wealth derived from commerce. but also made slave-breeding the chief business of the so-called border slave states. . . (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. . Along with the machine. and plunder (Hobsbawm 1964: 46–7. 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. 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. even though peoples in other parts of the world—notably Africa. it is no less certain that the blossoming of English woolen factories. tribal. it was thwarted or distorted in others. . We have already learnt that machinery is seizing control even of this branch of production on an ever-increasing scale. It was a highly uneven process that occurred on a world scale over a period of several centuries. .Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 123 machines and eventually displaced human beings from the production process (Marx 1863–7/1977. a new type of worker springs into life: the machine-maker. It is also necessary to explain why industrial capitalism emerged first in Northwestern Europe and not elsewhere. The transition from feudalism to capitalism took place on a world scale beginning in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. 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. usury. Industrial capitalism thrived in some regions. 1962). This historically contingent structure which steadily spread over the entire planet developed variably or differently from one part of the world to another. 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. or tributary social relations. Ireland. On the other hand. and South Asia—played important roles in that development. It was firmly set in place by the rise of industrial capitalist in Northwestern Europe toward the end of the eighteenth century. (2) the existence of independent artisans who produced nonagricultural commodities. having during the last twenty years reduced its population by nearly one-half. and with it the African slave trade. Marx and Engels 1848/1976: 487). the Americas. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Marx 1846/1982: 101–2). 876n1. village communities in India. 1863–7/1977: 271–2n3. slave-raiding. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies. one only need consider its predations in the United States. For example. 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. and commerce. without cotton no modern industry. or Mexico. credit.g. and immigrants to areas. In a phrase. the People’s Republic of China. (Marx 1863–7/1977: 925) While the transition to capitalism in England involved primitive accumulation through the dispossession of producers from their lands. new forms of unfree labor. 932–4. He had also commented on the interconnections between different parts of the world: for example. While the cotton industry introduced child-slavery into England. In fact. he wrote Direct slavery is as much a pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery. the colonies sent very few products to the Old World. and the creation of home markets. primitive accumulation has been and continues to be a permanent feature of capitalist development. 480. new relations between indigenous elites and the colonial administrators. Consequently. Marx (e. proletarianization. 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. 915–17.130 • Karl Marx. slaves in the American South. and did not noticeably change the face of the world. 1039–40. etc. . 570–1. during the last twenty years. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance. Without slavery there would be no cotton. with regard to the interdependence of Manchester textile factories. of the factory workers in England. in the United States it gave impulse for the transformation of the earlier. the process of primitive accumulation has more or less been accomplished. the veiled slavery of the wage-labourers in Europe needed the unqualified slavery of the New World as its pedestal. As we saw earlier. that were experiencing the growth of industrial capitalism. prior to the slave trade. . Here the capitalist regime has either directly subordinated to itself the . Russia. 1076–80) already had a comparative perspective on the development of capitalism in different countries. it is the colonies which have created world trade. serfs in Eastern Europe. 446. Marx described the dynamic forged by the articulation of capitalist country and non-capitalist colony in the following way: In Western Europe . like the United States or Germany. and world trade is the necessary condition of large-scale machine industry. for example. those that occurred elsewhere involved variously the intensification of pre-capitalist forms of surplus extraction. more or less patriarchal slavery into a system of commercial exploitation.

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

Engels (1849/1977a) distinguished “historic nations. the British government collected taxes from the colony and possessed monopolies over the manufacture or distribution of certain items. In addition. the Hapsburg Empire in this case (Rosdolsky 1980).” like the southern Slavs. 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.132 • Karl Marx. it was an exploitative relationship based partly on unequal exchange and partly on the ability of the Colonial Office to impose its will. In Europe. that were sizable and had already gained some degree of sovereignty and smaller nationalities.000. In 1850. 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. Ireland and India. Marx was impressed with the impact of political fragmentation initially through first-hand experience in Europe. the creation of local markets for goods manufactured in England.000 to 20. Second. one-twelfth of its national revenue. plummeted from 150. cotton-producing farms in these areas during the early 1850s spurred the construction of railroads linking them with coastal cities like Bombay. 1853/1979d: 316–17). like Dacca. 10–11). most notably salt and opium which was sold to the Chinese (Marx 1853/1979a. and the volume of imported English cloth grew from about 1 million yards in 1824 to 64 million yards in 1837. the political unification and independence of nations that were highly fragmented and often dominated by neighboring powers (Ahmad 2001: 4.” like Poland. 1853/1979c: 219–21. during the late 1840s and a few years later in India as a result of his investigative journalism for the New York Herald Tribune. However. that were incorporated into larger political entities. Anthropologist 1848/1976. The importance of the English exports to India should not be underestimated. the development of capitalist. India. and massive emigration within the country as well as to other parts of the world.5 These can be described briefly as the destruction of local industry. During the same period. The English merchants in India undersold the local producers. he and Engels confronted the classic problems of national consolidation—namely. He also pointed out that conflicts along national lines were relatively unimportant so long as the ruling classes in each . most noticeably in the interior regions of India. 1853/1979b: 154. “peoples without history. the development of capitalist agriculture (which in India at least was accompanied by the development of railroads in the early 1850s to move raw cotton to ports where it could be shipped to the home country). the latter which he characterized once as the “Ireland of the East. the population of traditional textile centers. Ahmad 2001: 9). Marx wrote extensively about two British colonies. which had exported fabrics manufactured in Dacca and other traditional handloom centers. and one-eighth of its total employment. especially Germany and Austria. In 1813. was inundated with thread and cotton goods made from American cotton in English factories.” because of the similarities he saw in the implementation of English colonial policies in the two countries (Marx 1853/1979a: 125). the dispossession of people from their lands.6 In sum.

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

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

in correspondence and confidential reports. minimally. Fifth. were narrowly ethnocentric. 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. who focused almost exclusively on the issue of political independence. but also failed to understand the importance of these contacts. His commentary about expanded reproduction provoked a number of subsequent writers to critique or work out its implications. to the various groups or individuals within the Irish national liberation movement.7 As a result. 1865–85/1981: 468–599) was aware that the extent of capitalist markets and the processes of capitalist production. For example. this would entail breaking the grip of the landed aristocracy in Ireland. 1870/1988). Marx (e. including those associated with the production of the capitalists and workers themselves. and condemned the sentences imposed by the English on Irish (Fenian) prisoners in 1867. neither Marx nor Engels was especially sympathetic with cultural nationalism in the narrow sense of the term regardless of what either said publicly. 1867/1985. notably the Fenian (Irish Republican) Brotherhood and later Charles Steward Parnell (1846–91).g. (3) pitted English workers against the Irish immigrants. 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. and not only failed to make alliances with democratic working-class groups in other countries. and forming coalitions with working classes around the world and most especially with those in England. 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. (2) ensured a reserve army of labor that drove down wages and the morale of the English working class. Luxemburg argued that . were not only in a constant state of flux but were also incessantly renewed on an ever-increasing scale. Marx (1863–7/1977: 711–23. 1881/1992b) was sympathetic. 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. The issue was how to achieve it. neglected both land and social issues. Irish farms seized earlier in the century by English landlords were turned into pastures that (1) provided English markets with cheap meat and wool. He referred to this as accumulation and reproduction on an expanded scale.Capitalism and Anthropology of the Modern World • 135 maintaining English domination over Ireland and in promoting emigration. 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. The resolution of the Irish question ultimately depended on the political independence of Ireland. 1870/1985: 118–21) thought. Marx (e. publicly at least. Nevertheless.g. They were particularly critical of the views and tactics of the Fenians. linking the struggle over land with social issues.

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

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

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

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

Germany. the formation of colonies.” What modern civil society had accomplished was to simplify the expression of these struggles. (Marx 1864–94/1981: 927–8) Marx’s views about politics. of course.140 • Karl Marx. and the historically contingent processes of domination and subordination of groups inherent in class-stratified societies. and these can only be understood by analyzing given conditions. 1852/1979. This does not prevent the same economic basis—the same in its major conditions—from displaying infinite variations and gradations in appearance.. 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. or the reproduction of society through time. etc. and other kinds of rivalries and conflicts generated within and between modern societies have their roots in socialclass relations. For Marx (1847/1976b: 212). and hence to its social productive power—in which we find the innermost secret. Marx and Engels (1848/1976: 517.9 As a result. Marx and Engels 1848/1976). They were typically elaborated in the context of writings whose central concerns were the state. As we saw earlier in this chapter. political. national. Engels 1884/1990). “political power was precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society. politics and culture were important arenas of struggle. states were also arenas of struggle within and between classes (Marx 1843/1975a. also manifestations of property and power. 1991). natural conditions. and the creation of both domestic and overseas markets (Marx 1863–7/1977: 914–40. racial relations. then the modern (capitalist) state was an expression of the antagonisms and contradictions resulting from alienation. the rise of national states—England. States and their agents were representatives of the dominant social classes whose members owned and controlled the means of production. even though their forms of expression and intensity were often diverse. as a result of innumerable different empirical circumstances. in short. and hence also the political form of the relationship of sovereignty and dependence. Colletti 1975. religious. Miliband 1977. and . historical influences acting from outside. 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. the hidden basis of the entire social edifice. the class struggles that occurred in one national state were typically both spatially and organizationally distinct from those taking place in other countries. If modern civil society was the realm of competitive individualism mediated by the market. they are not simply reducible to purely economic arrangements. class struggle. exploitation. the corresponding specific form of the state in each case. while the ethnic. or the United States. power. In other words. These political relations were. In this perspective. 1882/1989) were acutely aware of the complex culture-historical. for example—coincided in time and was inseparably linked with the development of industrial capitalism. and the state were already well developed by the mid 1840s (Marx 1843/1975a. They still are in some respects.

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

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

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

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

Brenkert 1983: 227. since their social relations are neither fixed nor immutable. Marx’s anthropology was therefore cautiously optimistic. His anthropology was also rooted in a life-long exploration and elaboration of the ontological categories—i. 161–3) also argued logically that “relations of personal dependence (entirely spontaneous at the outset) are the first social forms. Marx honed his philosophical anthropology in the 1840s after completing his doctoral dissertation and continued to refine his views in subsequent writings like the Grundrisse. and (2) that both the nature of the individuals and their social relations with each other change historically (e. although their 145 . that they change. 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. they experience both their everyday life and history as individuals. He clearly realized that societies were different from one another.–6– Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century Marx was indeed an anthropologist. . and their sociality creates them as social individuals in a community. and that they will keep on doing so. they are “dependent belonging to the greater whole” and “can individuate [themselves] only in the midst of society.e. the essential or core features—that characterize and structure human existence. 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. Another way of saying this is that human beings create themselves through praxis.. Nevertheless. . Archard 1987. Marx (1857–8/1973: 158. 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. In Marx’s (1857–8/1973: 84) terms. 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. 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). 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.” Moreover.” and that in pre-capitalist societies “individuals. Gould 1978: 6). As we saw in earlier chapters. .g. In the same context.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and open rebellion. For example. 335. 349) ranted against the racial classifications and hierarchies that were being constructed by social scientists in the wake of massive immigration in the late nineteenth century and used to legitimize the construction of working classes that were being stratified in terms of racialized identities (Gailey 2006: Patterson and Spencer 1995). In Marx’s own words.000 or so women and children employed in the domestic production of lace (Marx 1863–7/1977: 590–1. especially for the deprived and despised” (Raines 2002: 5). just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. or could only be understood in terms of class (Brodkin 2000. and that struggle is “the fundamental relationship between classes (and their respective individual members). legitimating social hierarchy. 1880–2/1974: 324. Over the years. both he and Marx (e. In The Condition of the Working Class in England. raised in a predominantly Catholic region oppressed by a state whose official cult was evangelical Protestantism. he did. “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. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. It is the opium of the people. in Capital. 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). reducible to class position. however. Over the years.g. For Marx. or resistance to it” (Ste Croix 1981: 44). and workers were never completely powerless. Marx (e.” (1843–4/1975: 175. 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. Resistance and Protest It is worth noting that Marx thought that slaves. the heart of a heartless world. Anthropologist hierarchies in capitalist societies—were unimportant. religion was always more than “the ideological expression of the powerful [including the state]. 1869/1988b) would lament the chauvinism of the different national groups that made it difficult for them to see their common cause as workers. Postone 1993: 321). emphasis in the original) . Scottish. involving essentially exploitation. In The Ethnological Notebooks.156 • Karl Marx. 595–9). he described vividly the effects on the 140. in the same volume. peasants. Engels (1845/1975: 389–92) had already described both the ways in which capitalist employers used Irish. reformist efforts.” it was also ”an active moral agency.g. 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.3 While these forms of hierarchy were not well developed in his work.

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

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

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

efforts to embed the process of accumulation and create the physical and administrative infrastructures (the built environment) required for its success frequently involved tensions. the collapse of sub-prime mortgage markets. these crises have also underwritten emigration and yielded shortages. bank closures. 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 . have long been aware that there is a significant spatial element in capitalist development that simultaneously involves both the uneven development of space and the incorporation or encapsulation in different ways of societies or peoples residing in those spaces or regions into the processes of capitalist production.Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century • 163 and those that are involved in the manufacture of consumer goods. 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. 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). of periods when it was not being invested because the rates of return on investments were deemed too low.g. as well as the implementation by national states of various Keynesian and neoliberal policies. 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. 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. savings and loan scandals. 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. He took notice of episodes of the over-accumulation of capital—that is. Marx noted that the process of capitalist accumulation was always embedded in particular combinations of social relations and ecological circumstances. Anthropologists. fiscal shortfalls for multiple levels of government. Ireland. rapidly rising prices. When the human sciences were professionalized in the late nineteenth century. often at the same time. or the Pueblos of the American Southwest. Sahlins 1993/2000). Harvey 2006: 69–116). Besides unemployment.g. the emergence of social movements. 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. which adversely affect both workers and the profitability of firms that sell commodities targeted for the working classes. conflicts. with varying degrees of consciousness of the fact. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Karl Vogt (1817–95) and Jakob Moleschott (1822–93). arguably the most influential archaeologist of the twentieth century and a political activist of the Left for his entire life. In the political sphere. and new forms of settlement (Childe 1936/1983. 1950/2004.g. and they concentrated their attention on education and popularizing rather than political action (Gregory 1977a. social-class structures. is a dialectical conception “which grasps reality as a structured. Morgan (1881/2003: 63ff. Richard Lee (1988).” and the organicist view. . Persia. 1954). and that the latter involved new forms of surplus extraction. 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.” 4. evolving and self-forming whole. Later anthropologists inspired by Marx and Engels—e. 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. their politics were reformist. 1882/1990. 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. 1977b). The first was a physician and the latter were physiologists. The “bourgeois Darwinians” specifically mentioned by Engels were Ludwig Büchner (1824–99). Gordon Childe (1892–1957). repression. and craft specialization as well as literacy. and that there is no indication that the latter disagreed with what Engels wrote.” He was aware that the former involved a changing metabolism between people and the natural worlds they inhabited. 3. 1876–8/1987.176 • Notes of simplest elements and facts. V. Eleanor Leacock (1972). Culture. Lewis H. Chapter 3 Human Natural Beings 1. 1884/1972) wrote more systematically about feudalism than Marx. Hobsbawm also remarked that Engels (1850/1978. “which formalizes the whole and emphasizes the predominance and priority of the whole over the parts. Marx’s conceptualization of the Asiatic mode of production relied not only on analyses of societies in India. Social Formation 1.” Marx’s view. conquest. The concept of Oriental or Asiatic society had a substantial history before Marx wrote. and China but also on those of Peru and Mexico (Bailey and Llobera 1981. Krader 1975). instead. Chapter 4 History. monumental architecture. 1882/1989.) coined the phrase “communism in living” in his Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines. described the origins of agriculture and the rise of states in terms of the “Neolithic Revolution” and the “Urban Revolution. 2.

They did so at the same time that the Marx was also writing about China. 1968/1970). 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. 1973/1982. Byres 2006. Hilton 1953/1976. India. 2. 1969. Sweezy 1950/1976. Wallerstein 1974). 1853/1983c: 339–42. Joel Kahn and Josep Llobera (1981). 1975. condemning slavery in the United States. Marx. Dobb 1947. 1987).Notes • 177 Chapter 5 Capitalism and the Anthropology of the Modern World 1. Godfrey and Monica Wilson (1945/1954). In 1884. Marx 1846/1982: 101–2. 4. and Engels to a greater extent. Christine Gailey (1987). 6. 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. 1993). including Hegel. Marx (1857–8/1973: 473. which was launched by Pierre-Philippe Rey (1971. 1989. 1992). wrote about the issues of nation and nationality in the eastern and southeastern parts of the Hapsburg Empire and the Crimean War. the independence question in Ireland. Eric Wolf (1959. 1985). June Nash (1979). Engels 1853/1983: 339–41). 3. 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. Joel Kahn (1980. Peter Rigby (1985.1982).g. 1853/1979a. Brenner 1977. was soon joined by Harold Wolpe (1980. 1995) are only a few of those who come immediately to mind. and playing cards (Spalding 1975). 1978/1990. matches. and Wim van Binsbergen and Peter Geschiere (1985) among others. . the bondholders received a 66-year monopoly on the railroad as well as monopolies on the sale of coca. This discussion. Engels’s (1845/1975) study of the conditions of the workers in Manchester was arguably the first urban ethnography. Marshall Sahlins (1988/2000). Michael Taussig (1980. 5. Marx and Engels discussed the bases of this view and its implication in letters. 1979) and Claude Meillassoux (1971/1980. Patnaik 2006). Peter Worsley (1961.g. 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. 1975/1981). and John Gledhill (1991. and denouncing the caste system (e. While Marx began with the available sources on India. Long-term monopolies over the sale of particular items seem to have been a common practice for the English. and the former mentioned it in one of the early Tribune articles (Marx 1853/1983a: 332–4. 1853/1983b: 347–8. In exchange for the cancellation of the debt. 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. Engels 1851–3/1979: Benner 1995). As Aijaz Ahmad (2001) notes.

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

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

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

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

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

20 historical-dialectical anthropology. 41–50. 36–7 Smith. Henri. 174 concern with natural laws of social development 21 immutability of human nature. 133 subjectification. 105 genetic. Adam. 51–2. 60–1 theories of. 43 subjectivity. 52. 35–6 Scottish historical philosophers. 179 reductionism. 122–4. 128–31. 61 variation. 17–19 development of human society and its rise in nature. 16 development of human nature. 119–30 progress. 71–2 and inheritance. 17–19 critique of modern civil society. 46–7 teleology. 21–3. 33 tool-making 79–80 totality. 131. 103–5 Spinoza. 21–3. 28–30. 51 resistance. 5. 10 states capitalist. Jean-Jacques. 70–2 . 5. 175–6 truth as determination of reality. 138–44. 22–3. 174–5 and individualism. 158 property. 28. 16–20. 147–58 society. 31–2. 21–3 social relations. 26.222 • Index primitive accumulation. Baruch. 26. 133. 112–16. 156–8 Rousseau. 16–21 stages in development of society. 178 race and racism. 138–44 precapitalist. 15. 33–6. 17–21 Saint-Simon.