September 26th, 2011
The Rise of the West and Marxism
- Origins of Modern World Economy
o Twin “revolutions” 16th-19th centuries, agricultural and industrial
o Agricultural revolution: may be hyperbole to use the word “revolution” here
o Case of Flemish and British farmers
- Industrial Revolution
o Originates in the late 18th century England
o More appropriately designated as a revolution
o Example: raw cotton processed in British factories:
o 1760: 2.5 million pounds
o 1837: 366 million pounds…a 16 fold increase in over 50 years
o Amount of iron processed into steel in English factories
o 10 fold increase
o Produced huge changes in domestic consumption
Luxuries came to be seen and mere “decencies” and decencies came be seen
Distribution highly uneven but not creation of middle class that had risen
from manual labor to professional or entrepreneurial status
o Social results:
1) Capacity to produce surplus
2) Increasing complexity of division of labor
3) New forms of social consciousness
- Karl Marx
o How to analyze a society?
o What does one look for first?
o Queens and Kings?
o Dominant ideas?
- Marx and Materialism
o Feuerbach and Critique of German idealism (Hegel) .
o Materialism: What is God?
o But marx: this doesn’t go far enough
o Why do we need religion? Injustice. You must go to the material causes.
- Critique of Hegel: Historical Materialism
o Hegel: Consciousness creates society.
o Marx disagrees: consciousness does not create being, “being creates consciousness.”
o How we think determines how we live.
o Materialist conception of history
o Slave, feudal, capitalist, socialist/communist modes of production
o History moves from one stage to the next, like Hegel it has meaning, movement and
o History ends when class struggle ends
- Material conception of History
o Humans make their own means of survival.
o Work is natural, humans are creative