Marcela, Harrison, Lucas : MARX 2


1. What is the nature of the argument?

- Marx’ rhetorical style differs from text to text. In ‘The German Ideology’ his audience is of a more academic nature, and he accordingly uses some of the relevant philosophical terms of the day in discussing German ideology. In ‘Manifesto’, Marx’ and Engels’ audience is broader and less intellectual, and he effectively tones down the level of sophistication in his rhetoric. In all his texts, marx makes extensive use of poetic literary devices such as metaphor- especially extended metaphors, sometimes spanning nearly a page - simile, and imagery

- is the argument inductive or deductive, does it generalize from the specific, or begin with an overarching theory and proceed to interpret specifics?

Both. Inductive most readily identifiable, as it accounts for the majority of his writing on historical materialism. Deductive can be seen in his writings on the french revolution, as well as some of his criticisms of German ideology in which he places philosophers into the model of academic cooperation and legitimization of bourgeois capitalism. (First few pages of ‘German Ideology’)

- to whom is the writing addressed? or for whom is it intended?

  Marx’ work differs in its intended audience. His texts that discuss the failings of political philosophy are intended for the academic sphere, whereas other work such as ‘manifesto’ is intended for a broader audience. “Workers of the world, Unite!”

Inductive - historical materialism. empirically observing socio-economic structure and making claims about the nature of historical progression

- Deductive reasoning?

Marx says social construction and place in division of labor dictates how you see the world

pg. 108

2. Who/What is the argument against?

German Idealists who have competed in maintaining a philosophical justification of status quo material relationships (105). The ruling class of society in terms of material is also the ruling intellectual class, and maintains, by presenting Hegelian philosophy as given, an unquestioned establishment of existing institutions

    143 in ebook - “The industrialists of philosophy, having lived off the exploitation of absolute Spirit, then seized on the compounds. Each of them retailed his share with all possible zeal.”

-Bourgeoisie - established new classes and systems of oppression

3. What is the argument?

Marx is attempting to introduce a new account of history that places focus on individuals’ place in the means  - between fellow countrymen and between different nations - as the salient force that has shaped most of human history.

“What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces above all, is its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” pg. 169

overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy” pg. 169

do away with private property

           i. human nature: what theory is developed, what assumptions are made?

what defines character is the way you produce and provide for your subsistence. the world as we see it is a reflection of our own place within the means of production. The normative shifts in human society are due to the utility of different moral structures for enforcing different means of production and class division. 169 in ebook : “In every epoch the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas, that is, the class that is the ruling material power of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual power. The class having the means of material production also controls, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of intellectual production.”

           ii. ethics: how does ethics figure in the argument?  is the author engaging in moral condemnation or moral prescription, if so, on the basis of what sort of ethical theory?

The bourgeousie made it so that the only relation between men was self-interest

- family relations became purely monetary relations.

           iii. politics: what is politics according to the author?  what should the purposes of politics be?


3a. What does the author regard as the distinctive problems and possibilities in the Modern Age

As society has progressed from feudal institutions to market-based production class antagonism has become magnified: two distinct classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, have emerged with much hostility and competing interests. The need for a constantly expanding market drives the bourgeoisie all over the globe, consuming more land for production, and bringing more people under the umbrella of class conflict (159-162).  Additionally, the commodification of the labor-power of the proletarian strips them of their ability to have meaningful social and familial relationships, conditioning them toward competition and isolation~an egoistic existence characterized by profit-maximization “training to act as a machine” (172).    

3b. How does the author address liberty, equality, and fraternity?

-Liberty - Not chiefly concerned with the enforcement of negative rights, but the positive right to education, and the freedom from want. The means of production have evolved to such a point that the right to subsistence is a given.

how does the author define, conceptualize, and operationalize each concept?

- how does the author prioritize them.

Equality-Calls for Equal liablity of all to labor, free education for all children in public schools. abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form.  Equality of outcome, in the form of a heavy progressive or graduated income tax that levels income and thereby eliminates the social stratification of modern market-based production

“Wage Labour” The Bourgeoisie is unfit to be the ruling class in society - the modern labourer sinks deeper and deeper below the the conditions of existence.

equality/ fraternity- Wage labour rests on the concept of  competition between other labourers. pg. 169.

Fraternity- 166 This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves.

160 - “Each new class is, ideally expressed. It has to give its ideas the form of universality and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones. The class making revolution emerges at the outset simply because it is opposed to a class not as a class but as a representative of the whole of society.”

The proletariat’s struggle is first and foremost a national one

4 what are the strengths of the author's argument-

yes, he uses inductive reasoning to successfully challenge the “industrious” strain of german philosophical thought that he saw as perverting german idealism into a tool used for affirming the status quo

- any insights, valuable distinctions? good use of evidence?

- are you persuaded?

Examines social institutions without taking any philosophical pretenses for granted.

Bolsters claims about human nature and social institutions with analysis of historical property relationships

5. what are the weaknesses of the author's argument?

Marx’s writing prompted the bourgeois to realize the unsustainability of capitalism and prompted the strategy of letting the proletariat blow off steam

       Questin: if im marxist, what do i do? minimum wage laws simply keep people at subsistence.

what, if anything, has the author unduly neglected or missed?

-Certain passages seem to be inciting revolution, but Marx’s belief that capitalism must take hold across the globe in order for the means of production to support communism are inconsistent with this cry to arms. “Workers of the world, Unite!” is inscribed upon Marx’s gravestone, yet at the time that he and Engels coined this now famous phrase the majority of the world was not industrialized to the extent that Marx believed was necessary  for communism to be viable.

-Marx never elaborates on the specifics of what a communist society would look like.