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The Rise of the West and Marxism (Modernity)

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Political Science

POL101 th Sept. 27 , 2010 The Rise of the West and Marxism (Modernity) Ways of understanding the rise of the west, when we speak of the west we speak of the economic advancement that took place in the area around Belgium, the Netherlands, & Great Britain (north-west triangle) Origins of the modern world economy we speak of two revolutions: th agricultural and industrial (twin revolutions 16-19 centuries) No political regimes were overthrown, big changes in economic life occurred (use of the word revolution metaphorical) Agricultural revolution – took place over a very long period of time, refers to radical changes Industrial Revolution: changes happened very quickly th Originates in late 18 cent More appropriately designated as a revolution Ex. raw cotton processed in British factories Amount of iron processed into steel in English factories = produced huge changes in domestic consumption pattern Consequences: Luxuries came to be seen as necessities and necessities mere “decencies” We now see a surplus; mass productions in products (soap, furniture, beer) People didn’t have seasonal changes in fashion Rise of the middle classes – distribution highly uneven but now there is a creation of the middle class Social results: 1) Capacity to produce surplus (Society of scarcity becomes society of surplus) 2) Increasing complexity of the division of labour (people could once do everything, people now became more inter-dependant) 3) New forms of social consciousness develop in the modern world – feel that they have power, but they are not getting it. (State required to regulate the complexity, people did not automatically confer to authority anymore, people wonder what is going to happen in the future/distribution highly uneven but now there is the creation of a middle class that had risen from manual labour to professional or entrepreneurial status) How do we understand all of this? What makes someone your social better? (For ex. Queen defined as our social better) Where is this changing social consciousness coming from? -A combination of these changes. Karl Marx Liked Hegel, many Germans thought a great deal of Hegel Broke with Hegel’s ideas Capitalists living like the aristocracy, but the middle class is the one producing the wealth, they are the ones advancing society, want some sort of power How do you analyze a society? What does one look for? Queens and Kings? Dominant ideas? What kind of food they eat, alcohol they drink? Where does Marx start? What is a materialist? Feuerbach & Critique of German Idealism (Hegel) What’s real are not the ideas, one must understand the material basis of all reality Religion – the big idea is the God idea, but what is God? God is all the good that is inside of us, but we take all the good inside of us and take it out God did not create man, man created God – real basis of life is the material basis of life For Marx, the materialist critique of Hegel did not go far enough, why do we need religion, why do people go for this? –People go to this due to injustice Go to the heart of the matter/material causes, NOT the peripherals What makes us human is that we produce the means of our own subsistence, our survival is material Important to understand why society is working the way it does, why things unfold the way they do, a type of science of society is required Hegel – consciousness creates society/being; Marx - consciousness does not create being, “being creates consciousness” People need to produce their own means of subsistence Develops a materialist conception of history – history unfolds because of changing material needs and because there is a clash; not because of ideas Marx saw the clash of material interest Materialist Conception of History Humans make their own means of survival Work is good, we are creative creatures; it is only the conditions that make us see it as bad History is the history of class struggle and forms of domination: history is struggle, but material struggle People who control the means of production (land, nat
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