Inside the Machinery of Capitalism with Karl Marx
February 6 , 2014
Review of Marx’s Conception of History
o Sees society as broken in two separate elements that relate to each other: the base
(economics, labour, mode of production, etc.; fundamental primes of every
society) and superstructure (determined by the base: forms of government,
politics, social relations, religious forms, cultural forms, system of education,
o Every period of history has a different mode of production – each has different
forces and different relations of production.
o Master and Slave, Surfs and Landlord, Proletariat and Bourgeoisie.
o Key: For Marx, man is fundamentally a productive animal (not a political one like
o Goes back to Hegel, with thesis and antithesis relations. Class struggle produces
conflict, and the creation of a for and against group – every system of humanity
further divides those which it governs.
o Communism creates a society where people can fully realize their true potential.
There are to be no classes, and all that’s left is to work and equally distribute
goods. However, Marx does not go into depth in acknowledging the positives of
capitalism – more of just a criticism.
o Change is built into the system, but it is also the responsibility of the citizen to
rise in consciousness, and push for that change.
o Marx summons the critical theorist like no one before him – it takes on a
systematic form, responsible for pushing forward transformation.
o Marx was very keen on the social effects of the Industrial Revolution (so was
o Does alienation impede our ability to lead a political life? To engage in social
practices and coexist nonviolently?
The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts
o Widely noted as the best entrance point into Marx’s theory as a whole – the
centerpiece of this text is alienation.
o With Marx, we enter the machine of capitalism itself – he was fascinated and
amazed by it.