March 10, 2014
Marx – Historical Materialism
1. Critique of ‘Philosophy’ – Man is a material/natural being
• Materialism drives men in to the world and work – consciousness is the product of
our relations with the world.
2. Critique of Liberalism and abstract individualism – man is social
• The capitalist class use their social class is buy labour – man is just selling their
labour power so they never have control over their own laboring lives. Therefore,
freedom and equality is an illusion in the public/private sphere.
3. Turning “Hegel on his head” – history as a class struggle
• The idea of individuality was a spiritual product that man the animal realized in time
through his work on the world. There was no such thing as man in the state of nature,
human beings are always involved in social relationships with each other and are
defined by their social relations. History is the story of human civilization and God in
human civilization coming to know man in higher and higher consciousness.
Individualism is a western cultural achievement.
• He keeps Hegel’s idea of consciousness developing through work, but taking it
further to man as social (has basic needs and as a thinking being that can organize his
social relations rationally).
4. Consciousness – product of work – life as laboring activity
• Freedom is a form of ideology – voting doesn’t emancipate us.
• Private property is a social product, which favors one class over the other. The state is
nothing more than an instrument that favors the capitalist class.
• Man will not be free until he understands his human potential as a fully functioning
human being. We see ourselves as individuals apart from others.
5. Estranged labour – man alienated from (1) his product, (2) himself and (3) his fellow
• We cannot understand freedom unless we are free from our material needs (basic
human needs). Even though we are isolated, it does not mean we are free. Our
physical nature is still locked into our laboring life. He is always working for others,
his product is the possession of others. We are alienated f