SOCB42H3 Study Guide - Primitive Communism, The Communist Manifesto, Philosophical Anthropology
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MARC CRITIQUE OF CAPITALISM: anthropology and political economy
Marx on individual human nature (his philosophical anthropology)
- Importance of creative and productive work (rather than leisure) as a human need.
- people produce not only means of subsistence, but also themselves through work (notion of HUMAN
- working class doesn’t own means of production, capitalist class own – that’s his idea of classes.
- He believes driving force between historical changes of societies, (Marx called is socio-economic
The driving force, the final cause is the development in means of production. That causes change in
society (change in classes)
Nature of human nature – humans need work, they get bored without it. Essence is the need of work,
they need to know they contributed to the society, did something useful and that people need their
work. People produce them selves through work (they develop their abilities through work an change
their abilities and personalities through work)
-human potential is historically created – it increases through history and is limitless – as you develop
your abilities thru work, and education, you can always develop more. it defers from one stage of
historic development from another.
A rich person according to marx, isn’t who owns all, has all. But is a peson who lives and needs “the
totality of human life” if you wanted to have and be everything possible at your time (develop your
According to marx, in class societies, most people do not develop their human potential completely,
because of exploitation and lack of control over them selves.
Means to cunsomption – not used to develop your abilities, far below your abilities, but you needed it,
cause you needed the money, in order to buy things. (a job you didn’t like)
According to marx – not only proletariat, but also bourgeoisie is poor (the capitalist) – they forgoe their
human potential for greed.
Needs: enduring and relative (created by a particular social structure EX . need for money in capitalism)
Marx distinguishes enduring (in common for all human beings, when ever and where ever they live) and
relative needs (developed in what ever social structure they live)
Artificial needs 0 created in order to expand consumption.
Primary economy – SUBSISTEN ECONOMY – a situation in which you produce what you need, you don’t
go to someone else and work for them, you take the money you earn and go buy something for your self
(exchange economy – exchange labor for money and then money for subsistence you need, maybe in
order to survive (food)… )
Need for money in capitalism is a relative need – only develops in capitalism
Artificial needs are those which are created in order to expand consumption, not needs which improve
your human potential (intrinsically happier, develop ur ability or knowledge) thye have been developed
by distributors of goods (EX – FASHION, you need clothes only to be protected form the weather, but
fashion industries teach you about trends.)
Are you responding to your environmental need (snow jackets worn out) or are you responding to your
social environment (fashion trends)
ENDURING HUMAN NEEDS (needs that those who ever lived are going to live will have)
Needs for (objective/material) physical reproduction (everything you need to survive generally and for
the next generation, create new humans)
SUBJECTIVE/NON MATERIAL – self actualization, you realize your potential and you want to do things
your potential allow you to, and self determination – someone else controlling your life.
He expands Hegel’s concept of freedom – as long as your thoughts are free, you are free.
Marx says – what good is it to have your free thoughts if your socio economic condition are so limited
that you cant put you thoughts into action – so to marx, a person who not only thinks freely but who has
self actualization (knw their human potential) and can make their thoughts true and have no limitations
re really free.
Primacy of material needs – people have to satisfy material needs before they pursue non material
needs (from the communist manifesto : people must eat then drink before they philosophize)
Purpose of production in communist society will be satisfaction of human needs and development of all
human potential (not profit, state power) Marx’s ideal society.
SELF ALIENATION- situation in which people are not developing their human potential, a situation in
which they are alienated.
Alienation – estrangement.
- A person who is not realizing his or her human potential is self alienated, or alienated from
his/herself or from his/her human essence
Anthropologically - this is the most important of the 4 forms of alienation
What prevents people from realizing their human potential?
1) Primitive state of means of production – means of production are very primitive so primitive
people cant. Primitive communism. slavery societies. Feudal societies. Capitalism.
2) Social relationships of domination (based on private ownership) – because everything in society
is organized for production – no one can worry about the development of their human potential
(workin class simply cant because they take any jb they can in order to survive and the ruling
class choose not to develop because its too busy pursuing maximum profit. Slave over slaves,
aristrocrats over serves, capitalist over workin, prevents them from pursuing the full human
potential. As slaves serve in working class, they cant pursue their full human potential because
they are struggling for survival – but in primary _____ every one is busy struggling because there
aren’t enough means of production (technology)
Marx and angel disagreed
Marx said yes –
Engel said no - people in primitive communism were not self alienated at all, they were perfectly free,
because there were no classes. They were equal to each other, no body dominated anybody else, it was
equal for every body in that society.
Noble savage – becaue f the equality of hunting and gathering societies – there was no deception, no
corruption, no political domination, no exploitation, morality of that time is much superior than morality
of class societies’ times.
Members of working class are alienated from the product (results) of their labour. Workers have no
controle over the products of their labour, cause they belong to the owner of the enterprise, cause
somebody else owns them. They produce things they cant afford (not necessarily, luxury products, but
even things that might be necessary for the workers, comfortable lives EX have a comfy place to live in
for your self, although you help make houses for others)
Quite often have no understanding of it, or very little of the work you are doing, you will find it very dull
or very boring; you are not realizing your human potential, not doing creative, satisfying work, that is
why it is alienation.
ALIENATION IN THE PROCESS OF PRODUCTION OF EXCHANGE.
1) Alienation from the products results of labour: worker has no control over their product
2) Alienation from te process of production – worker has no understanding o fit
3) Alienation from one’s own human essence: worker makes his/her humanity a means for
4) Alienation from other people – every body is alienated from every body else – members of
opposing classes are in conflict, members of the same class are in competition, over
employment, market, resources – if working class wins capitalist looses, if capitalist wins,
working class looses, they can not identify with each other or care for each other’s needs, but
even within the same class there’s competition.
Increase in division of labour makes alienation worse (from general to detailed.) – every worker
performs only a small part of the production process, completely repetitive, very simple, completely
boring and uses no significant part of their human potential.
Division is good for decreasing costs (unqualified people, who demand very little wages) even hire
children who could be paid fraction of the adult wage. Its bad for the alienation of workers, they don’t
use their human potential and have lesser idea of what their work does in the bigger picture.
CAPITALIST MODE OF PRODUCTION:
Contradiction of capitalism are potential problems, frictions, ways in which capitalism isn’t running
smoothly, and marx believed these contradictions will worsen over time and will eventually result in
transformation of capitalism into communism cause people will realize it really isn’t working. He thoguth
means of production will continue to develop in a way that favour collective production, and collective
decisions. How ever capitalist system wont be able to keep up with thi large scale technology because of
market competition. Because capitalism will eventually hamper the means of production.
All based on the fact that capitalism means of production is on commodity (object or product/service for
sale, not to be consumed but to be sold) domination of commodity sets capitalism apart. Use value and
exchange value becomes crucial.
USE VALUE – how its useful to you
EXCHANGE VALUE – how much you paid for it.
Production cost consist of fixed capital and variable capital (which has been used to pay wages).
Surplus value – owner keeps for him or her self - exchange value – production costs.
PRODUCTION OF COMMODITIES: difference between use value and exchange value.
Production costs = costs of means of production (fixed capital) + wages ( variable caital)
Surplus value = exchange value – production costs
Only labor creates new value
Surplus value is thus the value of unpaid labour. It is appropriate by capitalists as profit.
Rate of exploitation: surplus value / wages (the higher the rate, the more owner gets, and the more
exploited the worker is)
Rate of profit: surplus value / production costs.
While the organic composition of capital is stable, rates of exploitation and profit are directly
HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT AND PERIODIC CRISES OF CAPITALISM
As technology develops – proportion of stable/fixed capital increases, the rate of profit decreases. As yu
spend more and more money on technology, and less on labor, your limiting the source of value, profit =
laws of diminishing rates of profit: as technology develops and proportion of stable capital increases,
rate of profit decreases.
4 – 8% rates of profit now, back in his days, more than 20% - laws of deminishing profit
This problem is avoided by: (in order to increase rate of profit)
1) Monopolization – centralization of ownership – situation in which one producer dominates the
market – only one producer in the market. they have no competition – they can charge what
ever they want because they are the only one in the market selling it.
2) Increased rate of exploitation (decreased real wages) - increase rate of exploitation – pay your
workers smaller amount for most work. Real wages / nominal wages (demands) decreasing
real wages, wages are not keeping up with the rates of inflation, inflation is 3% but wages by 1%,