SOC201H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-6: Excess Supply, Economic Planning, Underconsumption
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Lecture Notes on Karl Marx
ive force in history.
Society can be changed by criticizing and transforming ways of thought.
he liberation of thought from religious alienation is essential
to the advance of human freedom.
oppression. This is what Marx means when he says that "Religion is the opiate of the masses."
thereby transforming the very nature of human existence in the process.
d aspirations but under coercive conditions that
dictate what and how they must produce.
Four aspects of alienation:
Young Hegelians: A group of radical, humanist philosophers who played an important role in
Marx’s intellectual development. They viewed human society as progressing through a proces
of dialectical change. Human intelligence and reason are seen as the creat
Young Hegelian (Feuerbach’s) critique of religion: Religious ideas are a product of human
reason and moral understanding. With the institutionalization of religion, these ideas become
separated from their human roots and projected onto alien objects (gods, demons, divine law
which are viewed as the all-powerful creators and rulers of human beings rather than being
recognized as merely the products of the human imagination. Humans thus become subordinate
to their own intellectual creations. T
Marx’s views on religion: Marx originally embraced the views of the Young Hegelian
philosophers who saw religion as a false and alienating form of consciousness and believed the
overthrow of religion would make people more free. Later Marx came to believe that the Young
Hegelians exaggerated the causal importance of religion; he believed that oppression was root
in material relations, rather than ideas, and that religion was more a symptom than a cause of
Marx’s concept of human nature: Unlike other animals that adapt themselves to a given
environment, humans, through their labor, shape and change their own m
Marx’s concept of alienation: Workers in capitalist society do not produce freely as an
expression of their true human potential an
Alienation from product of labor: The product of labor becomes an alien object that
workers do not control and that comes to rule over them.
Alienation from process of labor: In the process of labor, humans must suppress thei
unique human qualities as potentially free producers and subordinate themselves to
external control. Labor becomes m
erely a means to an end, rather than a means of self-
development and an end in itself.
Alienation from other workers: workers relate to others workers not as full human beings
but as means to an end and as competitors for their jobs
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Alienation from human "species being": workers suppress their unique human capacities
for self-expression through creative labor, i.e., they suppress what distinguishes them as a
otivated by extrinsic reward).
ol over own work activity; little participation in decision-making.
ority relations). Marx
argues that the relations of production are ordinarily well suited to the utilization of the
f society and the forms of social consciousness associated with these.
Marx argues that the superstructure of society is ultimately determined by the economic base.
the interests of the
economic ruling class.
stabilize capitalism and
efforts to stabilize economic downturns
use of the military to dominate foreign markets
buying off discontent through social welfare programs
species from other animals.
C. Wright Mill's summary of alienation in his book Wh
No intrinsic motivation to work (work m
No feeling of satisfaction in the finished product.
Work not a means to self-development.
Work not integral to life (only a means to life outside of work); separation of work
Marx’s concept of the mode of production: Every historically specific mode of production
(economic system) consists of a combination of "forces" of production and "relations" o
production. The forces of production are the technical capacities employed in production
(machines, raw materials, energy, knowledge, human labor power). The relations of production
are the social relations between persons in production (property and auth
prevailing forces of production. But the forces of production tend to grow and advance until
eventually they no longer match with the existing relations of production, resulting in a period o
economic crisis and pressures for social change.
Marx’s concepts of "base" and "superstructure": Base refers to the mode of production, the
economic forces and relations of production. Superstructure refers to the political, cultural, and
intellectual institutions o
Marxist analysis of superstructural institutions like the state or education commonly examine the
functions that they serve with respect to reproducing capitalism and protecting
Marx’s concept of the state in capitalist society: The state functions to
to defend the interests of the capitalist class. For example, the state provid
police protection for private property
suppression of dissent and obstacles to work
promotion of pro-capitalist ideologies
training of the workforce at public expense
subsidies for profitable capital investment
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