POL101Y1 Lecture Notes - Proletariat, French Revolution, Bourgeoisie

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Published on 11 Oct 2012
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Political Science October 1st
The rise of the West and Marxism
- Innovations of the industrial revolution spread very slowly. Around 3 miles per year.
Origins of modern world economy
- Twin “revolutions” 16th-19th Centuries, agricultural and industrial
- Agricultural revolution: may be hyperbole to use the “world revolution” here
Industrial Revolution
- Originates in late 18th century England
- More appropriately designated as a revolution
- Example : raw cotton processed in british factories
- 1760: 2.5 million pounds
- 1787: 22 million pounds
- 1837: 366 million pounds….a16 fold in increase in fifty years
- Amount of iron processed into steel in english factories
- 1788: 68000 tons
- 1806: 250000 tons
- 1830: 678000 tons
- Produced huge changes in domestic consumption (Household utensils, matches, beer, wine all
of the sudden common commodities)
- Luxuries came to be seen as mere “decencies” and decencies came to be seen as necessities
- Distribution highly uneven but now creation of middle class that had risen from manual labor to
professional or entrepreneurial status
Industrial revolution: social results
1) Capacity to produce surplus
2) Increasing complexity of division of labour (lawyers for example many different specialization)
we depend on others for the skills we do not have (Can’t fish, build a house etc)
3) New forms of social consciousness (no longer stuck in the position you’re born to, authority is
not obeyed without question)
How are we to understand this? What are its consequences?
Political Consequences
- Demise of Royal absolutism
- Victory of Parliament over Kings
- Selection of leaders by election
- Rise of political parties
- Universal rights without reference to class
- Need to accommodate new groups within politics (Urban working class didn’t exist before)
- How to analyze a society?
- Marx was very deeply educated. Interested in how you analyze society
- What does one look for first?
- Queens and Kings?
- Dominant Ideas?
- What kind of food they eat, alcohol they drink?
Marx and Materialism
- Feuerbach and Critique of German idealism (Hegel)
- “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” –
Marx, Theses on Feuerbach
- Question big ideals in society
- Materialism: What is God? When we talk of god, we’re taking everything that’s good inside of us
humans and taking it outside of us to take it to this alien thing known as god that rules over us.
He is good, we are bad. God did not create man, man created god.
- But Marx: this doesn’t go far enough.
- Why do we need religion? Injustice. You must go to the material causes. Gives people who are in
a bad position now, will have it all good in the end.
Critique of Hegel: Historical Materialism
- Hegel: Consciousness creates society
- Marx disagrees: consciousness does not create being, “being creates consciousness” How you
live determine how you think, not how you think determines how you live.
- Starts Marx materialist conception of history. Can’t get around Marx’s ideas
Materialist Conception of History
- Humans make their own means of survival
- Work is natural, humans are creative
- History is history of class struggle and forms of domination: history is struggle, but material
struggle. There are two different classes: Those who own and do not own the means of
- Culture, ideas, art, law, morality, religion…all determined by mode of production:
“Superstructure.” Everything revolves around capital in capitalism. Everything revolves around
the mode of production.
Critique of Hegel: Historical Materialism
- Slave, Feudal, Capitalist, Socialist/Communist modes of peoduction.
- “Revolutions are the locomotives of history.” Marx, Capital
- A Marx claims people not wanting to work is due to capitalism, as their product of labour is
exploited. If it wasn’t the case, they would want to work.
- Marx believed material life determined everything, including family structure.
- Marx believes people can’t see a world that isn’t a capitalist world; he is asking us to imagine the
life on the other side. A world where all the creativity of the people will be unleashed.
- Due to exploited society, work is labour and we want to work as little as possible.
- History moves from one stage to the next: like Hegel it has meaning, movement, and an END!
How does history unfold
- All society is based on exploitation
- The difference between the value of work you create, and what you are paid is the exploitation
- Marx argues the notion of a free contract is crap, people work because they have to they are not
left with much choice.
- New classes grab power for their particular interest but claim it is in the universal interest.
- Case in point: the French revolution, the bourgeoisie claimed it was for the interest of all, but it
benefits them the most
- They create an ideology and exercise state power. The state is nothing more than executive
committee of ruling class. The rich and poor do not have the same access to the state.
- But they, too, exploit labor and eventually their power is brought into question.
- If history is the history of class struggle that means it only ends when…
When does history end?
- When class struggle ends.
- When does this come about?
- Marx’s analysis of social orders: feudalism to capitalism and then his analysis of capitalism.
- Immiseration and class consciousness
- Marx believed the conditions of the working class would get worse; people would begin to
understand their misery. The rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer.
- Will be displaced by those it exploits: revolution
- Creates unprecedented wealth
- But it warps human relations and culture