Political Science 2231E Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Vladimir Lenin, Mercantilism, Global Politics

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Ideas derived from Karl Marx (and Fredrich Engels)
private property: means of production (that is, productive land) is owned by individuals or
industrial society: mass production in factories
market consumerism: commodify everything into buyable/sellable good or services for sale in
the market
access to goods or services determined by ability to purchase
highly complex division of labour: production of any good or service involves a complex inter-
linked system
mode of production: organization of the economy and economic relationships forms the material
base of society
means of production
base = economic basis of society (drives change in the superstructure)
superstructure = political, social & legal institutions (help to perpetuate base)
structure is in two parts::
capitalists pay workers less than the actual value of the product or service
this difference between workers' pay and the value of their product (exchange value/price)
creates surplus value or profit for the capitalists
labour theory of value: congealed value of human labour in goods or services
new markets
push down workers' pay
replace workers with technology
capitalism is driven by continuous & expansive accumulation of surplus value -- that is, driven by
profit -- and this can be done in 3 ways:
mercantilist states seeking power & wealth accommodate capitalists
mercantilist states carved up world for exploitation
cooperation among these competing mercantilist states & their capitalist allies failed, so
they fought each other (WWI)
imperialism -- mercantilist states & capitalism
From J.A. Hobson and Vladimir Lenin:
Analysis of social relationships (humanist)
Human nature is not fixed; people are the social and historical products of their societies
Humans can be grouped into identifiable collectivities (especially classes), which have concrete
Key actors: a) bourgeiosie/capitalists, who own the means of production and sell goods & services
in a market; and b) proletariat/workers, who sell their labour to access goods & services through a
States are dependent on capitalists, and reflect their interests
Global capitalism connects everything
Politics and economics are connected -- holistic analysis (analyze the whole system, and how each
part fits into the system)
Critiques liberalism and realism as "knowledge" produced by dominant class (elites)
'Historical materialist' approach: understanding the specific conditions of particular economic
systems (ie. capitalism), and the resulting political & social institutions -- capitalism has different
institutions than feudal system (ie. capitalism needs freedom from central authority, being able to
General Marxist Assumptions
Lecture 6 - Marxist Structuralism
11:51 AM
POLITICS 2231E Page 1
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