SOC 1105 Lecture Notes - The Communist Manifesto, The Proletariat, Proletariat

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14 Nov 2012
Karl Marx
May 5, 1818 March 12, 1883 Trier Germany
What is Marxism?
- Marxism is a philosophy of history. It is also an economic doctrine. Marxism
is also a theory of revolution for how societies go through the process of
change. Marxists believe that they and they alone have the process of
historical change, as well the key to predicting the future. As Marx put it,
“Communism is the riddle of history solved.” Marxists also believe that they
and they alone have an empirical, scientific approach.
Class Struggle (Social Classes)
- Marx argued that your relationship to the means of production objectively
determined your social class
- Identified two great classes in Capitalists society:
o The Bourgeoisie (Upper or Ruling class) those people who owned
the means of production
o The Proletariat (Working Class)
- Base: Economic relationships the “infrastructure” or “economic base” of
- Superstructure: Political/ideological relationships the “superstructure” of
Basic Contradiction Between
1. The forces of production (the things that are required to produce
commodities) and
2. The relations of production (in basic terms, who benefits the most from these
a. However, if the relationship between social classes is
i. Unequal
ii. Exploitative
iii. Founded on a conflict of interest
b. Why exploited put up with this situation?
c. Concepts of both “power” and “ideology” come into he equation:
Foucault, Gramsci Hegemony
Communist Manifesto
- Describes the position f communists
- Critiques other social schools
- The aim is history of society as class society
- “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of Communism”
- “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”
- “The executive of the mod. State is but a committee for managing the
common affair of the whole bourgeoisie”
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