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Dennis Wall

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SOCI 3P00 D2 LEC 02 – Introduction to Early Modern Social Theory (Fall 2013) Sept 26 The structures of capitalist societies: Marx Readings: Thomson, chapter 5 Perelman, Michael. 2003. “The History of Capitalism.” In Alfredo Saad Filho (ed.) Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction, pp. 119-126. London: Pluto Press. Karl Marx (1818-1883) I. Historical Materialism In the social production which men carry on they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will. These relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, which is the real foundation on top of which arises a legal and political superstructure to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material forces of production in society come in conflict with the existing relations of production or—what is but a legal expression of the same thing—with the property relations within which they had been at work before. From forms of development of the forces of production these relations turn into their fetters. Then occurs a period of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. (Marx, 1859/1970:20–21) • Base our lives off the ruling class • Born free but we are in chains • Class structure starts from when we are born o The class we are born into • Working-class you get working-class jobs, working for a wage o Born into this more than likely will be working for a wage • Product of your parents economic well being • Revolution in context of ideas • Contradictions 1 Table: The Historical Materialist View of the Structure of Society ____________________________________________________________________ Element of Society Composition ____________________________________________________________________ Superstructure Ideology: art, religion, philosophy (including social and political thought) Non-economic social relations: political and legal institutions Substructure/Foundation/Base Social relations of production: specific jobs, power (economic life) structure of the workplace, classes Forces of production: machines, railways, workers Means of production: raw materials, land, water • Capitalist had to overcome feudalism • Class o Unequal relationship o Determines where you end up in life and your struggles II. Class Struggle and the Stages of History 1848 Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels state the following: The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. (Marx and Engels, 1848) • History of all societies – class struggles • Oppressor and oppressed Table: Marx and Engels’ Stages of History ____________________________________________________________________ Stage of History Dominant Form of Property Class Structure ____________________________________________________________________ Primitive Hunter-gatherers: property Communism Tribal: no economic shared classes to speak of Asiatic Mode of Property communal; surplus Oriental despotism: a king Production goes to despot unrestrained by law rules over a society linked by kinship; land held in trust from the despot. Ancient Mode of Mixed private and state The city is the centre of the ancient 2 Production ownership of land; slaves world; peasants control their own land, but only as citizens of the city state (e.g., ancient Greece). Women and slaves do most of the menial work. Feudalism Land Countryside: the nobility own landed estates, peasants grow food and create agricultural surplus to support the nobility. Towns: craftsmen work in guilds, merchants sell goods, lend money. The king rules everyone, the clergy extracts tithes. Capitalism Capital Bourgeoisie (capitalists) own industries, proletariat (wage workers) work in factories. Minor classes: petite bourgeoisie run shops and engage in craft trades in towns; the aristocracy owns land; peasant farmers grow food. Communism Social (shared) Class structure abolished (in theory): ‘From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.’ Wage labour ends, people work for their own benefit. III. Ideology and Religion • Ideology: any systemic things distorted by class interest o Class position determines how you view the world • Religion: dominated by the ruling class o Ruling class uses religion as power over working class o To oppress o If working class questioned the ruling class you were questioning mind of god = sin o Reward when you get to heaven: god loves hard workers  Should except this as the working class o Bible as own self interest 3 • Ideology: anything ruling class could use to stay on top • Feudal: religion looked at differently o Previous work ethic never used in study of religion • Capitali
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