English 2200 Lecture on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
November 16, 2011
Karl Marx: 1818-1883
Friedrich Engels: 1820-1895
- The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
- translated to english and published in 1932
- primarily Marx work
- The German Ideology
- Primarily Engels work
- Both philosopher’s were German, like Nietzsche
- Communism was a really easy philosophy for dictators to assume: “This is how it is,
and if you’re not with us, you’re dead”
- Marx was student of Hegel’s philosophy, but starts to question Hegel when he meets
Engels. Engels studied economy, Marx philosophy. They both influenced each other
- Hegel wants to talk about our spirit -- Marx doesn’t believe in doing that. Everyone
can’t “be an artist” like Hegel said because of our ideologies, cultures, the way we were
- Everything is materialistic for Marx and Engel. Not concerned with any spiritual,
- When people say “Oh, this is a Marxist reading” they mean that it focuses on the
material conditions of whatever they’re talking about.
- A 5 dollar bill is labour. It is a promise that someone will labour the amount of 5 dollars
for the person who owns the bill to give it to them.
- Problem? Rule 1 of Capitalism: You can’t pay workers what they’re worth,
because then you wouldn’t have a profit margin.
- An economy really doesn’t have much to do with money. It means: interrelated
elements in a system
- Global economy: interrelated elements in a global system
- Global crises are material. There is something that we did to cause everything, it
doesn’t just ‘happen’.
- If we get away from Nietzsche’s Apollonian, we can start to change things. If
everything’s left up to us, we have the power to make change, according to Marx.
- Reification: Atheist Ludwig Feuerback wrote “Essence of Christianity” which was
controversial. He argues that humanity created God, but after generations have gone by
God become reified. Now God is seen as looking down on humanity, as creating
humanity. God somehow become bigger than us, even though we created him. Over
generations, we forget this.
- Feuerback wants us to stop living our lives according solely to God - Marx agrees with him, but applies his ideas to more than just God. Christianity is an
illusion. He sees the economy as the same illusion. The economy was created by
humans, but not it’s become so big. It now seems bigger than us and impossible to
change. Economy has become reified. It remains reified because we are all complicit: if
we weren’t, we’d all be in jail.
- Marx’s biggest issue is that the world is in a crisis of alienation.
- what do we think about when we hear this word? apart from collective,
xenophobia (fear of foreigners), distanced, a feeling/fear, Affective idea.
- To Marx, suffering and pain are material. People suffering (alienation, starving) is just
as material as the job you go to every day.
- Marx believed that things that belong together are being alienated from each other.
- The essence and existence of humans aren’t matching up the way he thinks
they should be. The ideal way we could live is not the way that the world is now.
The way we want to live is not what’s happening.
- We’ve gone through an alienation of labour.
- p.653: “The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the
more his production increases in power