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Marx and Political Criticism


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Marx, Politics, Capitalism, Communism, Revolution

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Marx and Political Criticism

  1. 1. Political Criticism From Marxism to Cultural Materialism
  2. 2. Means of Production • Labor as well as the technical, technological and economical means at a society's disposal • The relations of production according to Marx include property and the division of produce and profits within society
  3. 3. Economic Base • What differentiates humans from animals is that man is the only species that manufactures in order to survive; this is his basic function while every other aspect of human life is derived from this one central feature • Every society in history organized its production according to its available means of production that determine relations of production (i.e. feudalism, capitalism, communism…) and its own concept of property
  4. 4. Superstructure • On top of the economic base Marx poses the "superstructure", all cultural structures that are the result of the economic base • An important part of the Superstructure is Ideology
  5. 5. Ideology • Represents the production of ideas of conceptions of consciousness, all that men say, imagine, conceive, and include such things as politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics, etc. • Functions as the Superstructure of a civilization – the conventions and culture that make up the dominant ideas of a society
  6. 6. False Consciousness • Ideology is a veil pulled over the economic base in order to prevent people from seeing its inherit injustice (that is, until communism comes) • Ideology convinces people that the current state of production is justified, warranted, "natural" or anything else which gets them to comply to it. • Ideology has been famously referred to by Marx as "false consciousness” • Revolutions come about when the fallacy of this consciousness is recognized
  7. 7. Young Karl Marx
  8. 8. Marx with Wife, Jenny Von Westphalen
  9. 9. Key Ideas • Material conditions shape consciousness • History is a class struggle • Society built on base – superstructure arrangement
  10. 10. Material Conditions Shape Consciousness Economic and Philosophic Manuscript of 1844 • Humans are meant to be productive • Workers alienated from means of production • Externally & internally (emptied) • Production becomes commodification • Capitalism results in two classes: owners and workers (slaves)
  11. 11. • Dialectical materialism • from Hegel’s dialectic of thesis, antithesis, synthesis • Consciousness doesn’t originate in ideas or religion; “consciousness does not determine life; life determines consciousness” • Look for meaning in life not in religion but in daily social and economic interactions; what we believe & value grow out of these The German Ideology (1845)
  12. 12. History As Class Struggle The Communist Manifesto (1848) • From Hegel’s dialectic takes idea that history is cyclic, ending in freedom of proletariat through revolution • Historical shift from feudalism to capitalism • Commodification manufactures desire • Announces Communism as a political force
  13. 13. Base-Superstructure Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859) • The superstructure is built on the base: • Base = economic means of production • Superstructure = human beliefs & institutions • Material conditions are real; • It is the consciousness of men that determines
  14. 14. Idealism vs. Materialism Idealism belief that ideas create or are behind reality (Plato) Materialism belief that struggle for means to life determine reality (Marx)
  15. 15. Dialectical Materialism Struggle between owner and worker class will end in revolution → socialist state