SOSC 2350 Note
Marx, Marxism and the Law
Intro to Marx
- One of the most highly influential thinkers of the modern period (19 th
century: a time of industrialization, political and social upheaval and revolt,
- These works conditions lead to struggle between classes and class conflict
- He was against the abuse of the working class.
- Combines economics, philosophy, sociology and history
- He developed a powerful critique of capitalism
- Lived from 1818 to 1883
- Contemporaneous with the 2 Industrial revolution
- Philosopher, political economist, social and labour activist
- Major works include:
o Communist Manifesto (1847)
o Das Kapital
o Outlines for a Critique of Political Economy
Marx as a conflict theorist
- Does not see law as the expression of common values of a society
- Society not formed or structured upon consensus
- Instead societies are divided by class conflicts:
o The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class
o Class struggle isnt new: there have been others before him.
o What is new with Marx is the recognition that after we move from a
feudal system, we dont undo class conflict: there is always a way for
one group of individuals to enslave others.
- Modern bourgeoisie is the product of a long course of development a series
o But it has not done away with class antagonisms
o Established new classes, new conditions of oppression, and new forms
of struggle in place of old ones.
o With industrialization, the hierarchy is changed, but the old culture is
Its a sort of servitude that is motivated by economic left:
exchange for economic value. People dont see their own work,
as community work, but exchanged for a monetary value.
Cheap labour produces cheap products that are then bought:
They dont do away with classes; there are simply new
types of classes. This directs their consumption and
- Page 260 The bourgeoisie has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, and
idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn apart the feudal ties between man to his natural superiors, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and
man than naked self interest, than callous cash payment
o Hes speaking to the idea of feeling like something.
Durkheim Feudal times.
Through these relationships we gain a sense of community,
Rather than having pride in ones work in what they contribute
to ones community: pride, artistry, instead its What can I
It speaks to mechanization, assembly line production: as
quickly as cheaply as you can, the more you sell, the
more money you get.
Sociological and Political
- Unlike Durkheim and Weber. Marx did not see his sociology isolated from
- But they were all evolutionary social theorists, legal systems evolved with
socio-economic system (Calavita at 12)
o They see society as moving in a particular direction, and there are
certain mechanisms that they allowed to be moved.
o They didnt all agree in the way that it is moving: Marx was
suggesting it better that people object to the way theyre moving.
- This, Marxism is both a sociological approach and a political movement
- Class analysis: there was a certain purpose to sustain a certain kind of
lifestyle for specific individuals.
- Ideology critique: challenging the things as the way they are.
Marx as three tenets
- Dialectical and Material philosophy of history
o Refers to two positions that are in relations to one another
Sometimes in these two comes a better third one: the best of
both is absorbed.
There is a necessary need to maintain those two oppositions.
In these two there are momentary findings of truth.
o Material Philosophy: material reality and conditions.
o History si concerned with is it true that we all mean to produce more
and more cheap products in order to be happy and wealthy? Is it not
also true that we can make better?
Its not better for all, its better for some.
o Is everyone being fulfilled in this situation?
- Critique of political economy (Critique of capitalism)
o It is not serving all people equally, not the only way to function.
- Socialist politics (advocacy of proletarian revolution)
o Advocating a working together as a community: society to fulfill all of
our needs, not just the needs of a certain class or groupo With more people fulfilled than used, therefore, we all as a society are
o To see whether there is a gap as we want it to be, and as it is.
Observation of reality is necessary.
Basic Concepts of Marxist philosophy
o Raising the concern in the readers mind that our relationships in
society are based on models of exploitation because theres one group
using the power of another.
o By putting a dollar value it removes us from our labour, thus we lose
pride in losing our identity and us with it.
o It allows for exploitation because its more calculable than qualitative
o Removal of our work
o We no longer see our identity with our work, the people who may use
our products, or gain help from us in an immediate way
o Its all about the money.
- Historical materialism
o Challenges the notion of history in a linear fashion in a causal manner.
o Looks at the material reality and questions whether theres a reflected
o This allows us to look at the reasons for what happened.
- Base and superstructure
o Base = its economic structure
We must supp