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A. Speech Mark Dave in London in 8900 56 he started his audience with this story. In the middle ages had marks there was in Germany a secret organisation called the secret court and Marx went on. If a Red Cross was seen marked on a house people knew that its owner was doomed by the secret court. And then Marx said all the houses of Europe are now marked with the mysterious Red Cross. History is the judge its executioner is the proletariat. This is Marx's vision of capitalist society deserving and receiving capital punishment at the hands of the proletariat. This is Marx's vision of world history and its future a history of such great injustice and inhumanity that it can culminate in only one way by sentencing to death all of the capitalist world. Let us take a closer look now at Marx's materialist conception of history
which is usually called his historical materialism historical materialism is the central theory of mature Marxism. It is stated developed or restated at some point in all the major works of mature Marxism the German ideology the Communist Manifesto. The preface to the critique of political economy and capital. What does Marx mean by historical materialism. Walks me leaves that his own materialism is radically different from all previous types of materialism in his awareness that the world of all material objects the material world is not a reality which is independent of human beings but is actually a reality which is transformed by the labor of generations of human beings over the long stretches of history. Mock's presents his own conception of historical materialism as a radically new way of understanding history. Marx's historical materialism explains the whole
sweep of history by taking man's material production as the basis of history and mental production. The human thought process as its effect and Marx insists that this real basis of history in material production in the whole conception of history has never before been understood. What does Marx mean by his new view that material production is the real basis of history and that human thought is only its effect. Exactly like Hegel before him. Marx is trying to find a key which will explain the characteristics of individual human societies and which will also explain the changes which have taken place in human societies in the course of history. Like Hegel Marx is an organist for Marx no less than four Hegel. Every individual society is an interrelated organic totality in which no part can be understood in isolation. But whereas for
the ideal philosopher Hegel the explanation of the organic unity of a particular society lies in the spirit of the people which embodies the spirit of the absolute. For the materialist theory of Marx the explanation of the organic unity of a particular society lies in its economic structure its economic foundation the concept of the economic structure or economic foundation of society is crucial to Marx's view of society and history. Marx's fundamental point here is that human beings in their history are unlike animals in a very important way. Whereas animals satisfy their needs by taking from nature what nature provides. Human beings work labor upon nature and change transform nature into things for humans into the food and clothing and shelter which will meet the basic needs of human beings.
And as man satisfies his basic needs he develops new needs which he is also increasingly able to satisfy by his labor by his productive activity by his transforming of nature. Marx analyzes this process of man's material production in society as consisting in three components human production is based first of all on the existing conditions of production in the particular society by the term conditions of production. Marx means such basic conditions affecting human production. The existing climate the geography of the Society's physical location the supply of raw materials the total population. The second component of production. Marx calls the forces of production and by this term he means all of the skills tools instruments and technology as well as the labor supply which are available to the society. The third component Marx called the relations of production and by this he means
the social relations according to which the society recognizes its conditions and forces of production and distributes what is produced among the members of the society. These three components of production may easily be seen to constitute a Hungarian dialectical triad in which the conditions of production form the thesis. The first is a production form the antithesis and the relations of production are the synthesis of the two. The totality of these three components of production in any particular society. Cause the mode of production and sometimes the economic foundation or the economic substructure of society. This is the famous Marxian concept of the economic base or economic foundation or economic substructure of society. But now Marx adds what is to become the crucial concept of his analysis of the economic foundation of society. And this is his
concept of the division of labor. By the concept of the division of labor. Marx does not mean merely what the economist Adam Smith admits that labor becomes specialized in order to perform efficiently the many different skills required in production for amox. The division of labor into specialized jobs has de-humanizing and evil results. It enslaves the worker to a limited and restricting sphere of activity from which there is no escape. The worker as a result is alienated from the totality of his human creative powers which can never develop under the division of labor. Marx makes this point in a striking way in his own work. The German ideology. And he says. For as soon as Labor is distributed each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter a fisherman a shepherd or a critical critic and must remain so if he does
not want to lose his means of livelihood. The division of labor brings into being a state of affairs in which no one any longer develops his full human potential. And no one any longer controls the means of his own livelihood. Moreover where there is a division of labor the relations of production take the place of human relations individual humans no longer appear to one another as persons but as a unit within the impersonal process of the relations of production and society. Furthermore the division of labor alienates the individual worker from his fellow workers. It sets one against the other. Since each is working for personal gain and not for a social or human benefit. Did Marx in exile in Brussels over one hundred years ago manage to describe certain aspects of your own life today. By the division of labor. Marx also means the division which occurs in the productive process
between non-producing owners of the materials and means of production and Antawn owning producers. This division leads to a situation in which what one man produces another man appropriates the greater part of as his own private property where there is a division between owners of the major means of production and the materials for production. And on the other side produces the product of labor no longer belongs to the one who produced it. As Marx but to the non producer who owns the raw materials and the forces of production was on Marx's view the division of labor is rooted in private property and it leads to class division in society between the class that owns and controls the materials and means of production and the class produces for marks. These two classes are in a master slave relationship. The class of producers are in the position of slaves to those who own the raw materials and
the factories and are therefore able to appropriate to themselves. The major share of what the workers produce class struggle is the inevitable result of this relationship now marks moves on from this account of the economic motor production the economic foundation to his explanation of the cultural life of a society. His claim is that the economic foundation of society determines the entire realm of culture. In a famous passage in the Preface to his book entitled The critique of political economy Mark says the economic structure of society is the real foundation on which rise legal and political superstructures the motive for reduction in material life determines the general character of the social political and spiritual processes of life. Here we have Marks's most celebrated formulation of his view that human culture is not governed by
ideas by philosophic or religious beliefs as it was for Hagele. It is goven determined conditioned by the economic mode production and all ideas all thought in religion philosophy politics ethics are entirely conditioned by the economic foundation of society in Marx's famous words. It is not the consciousness of man that determines their existence but on the contrary their social existence determines their consciousness. Morals religion law political thought philosophy all are determined by the economic substructure of society and they specifically reflect the class division within the substructure of society. The dominant morals politics religion law philosophy and art of any society are the ideas of the dominant economic class. Here we have come upon one of Marx's most formidable contributions to the development of
Western civilization. It is nothing less than the claim that all existing ideas in all the areas of human thought are distortions falsifications of the truth. They reflect not reality as it actually is in that particular society but rather as it appears from the viewpoint of the dominating and oppressive class within the economic motor production. The characteristic thought and values of culture in any society are totally conditioned by the class struggle and they represent not the thought and values of all classes and society but only the thought and values which serve the interests of the master class the exploiting class which owns and controls the materials and the means of production. In Marx's words the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. This Marxian conception of all of human culture religion philosophy law political thought morality are as
falsifying and distorting the truth about social reality. In the interest of a particular social class this is Marx's famous and tremendously influential concept of ideology. Marx's concept of ideology may be defined as a system of ideas which are determined by class conflict and which reflect and promote the interests of the dominant class. All the claims to truth which philosophies religions political theories moral systems have made in history are branded by Marx as ideologies throughout the historical ages in which there has been a division of labor and class conflict the dominant beliefs within culture have served to protect the dominant class. Class conflict for economic control historically takes the form of a struggle to control men's thoughts so that they will believe and accept the authority of the ruling class. Marx exposes the history of human culture as a history of ideology of
powerfully effective religious and religions and philosophies which have presented themselves as universal and eternal truths. For all mankind while actually representing class interests. So for example the rising cost of the bourgeoisie in the French Revolution called for freedom and equality which appeared to be for the benefit of mankind. But in fact served primarily to give the bourgeoisie the political power which they lacked. So also Christianity is exposed by Marx as an ideology. It supports the ruling class by sanctifying its government as ruling by divine authority and it keeps the poor from rebelling against society and the existing economic foundation. By consoling them for their sorry loss on this earth by promising them rewards to come in heaven all the principal ideas and values of history can be shown. According to Marx to be rooted in class interests and to have functioned to keep the truth of the
exploitative injustice and the dehumanizing aspects of civil society from being recognized by the exploited class Marx's concept of ideology soon entered into the mainstream of 20th century thought and produced a new way of looking at any theory by asking the question what class interests does this theory represent. How is it distorting twisting misrepresenting reality in order to defend protect promote the interests of some identifiable social group as one contemporary philosopher has said since Marx developed the concept of ideology theory has never recovered from this ideological way of looking at it. This suspicion that all philosophising all theorizing is less pure less universal or less detached less true than it presents itself as being the Marxian ideological way of looking at theory at all
elements of culture has pervaded 20th century intellectual life today all theory all elements of culture are regarded as bound to the interests of some social group. For example when you were solicited to subscribe to a magazine do you not immediately think what social Clauss viewpoint does this magazine represent. Is there no escape from the ideological trap. Moxon's reply is if there is only one way to escape the falsifying ideologies of the ruling class in the coming inevitable world wide revolution by the proletariat the entire evil economic foundation of the world will be destroyed. And along with it along with the foundation the cultural superstructure will necessarily crumble and be destroyed since it is only the product of the economic foundation the totality of Western culture will then be destroyed. Philosophy ethics law politics and the proletariat
will set about then ushering in a new post historical era of truth. But to understand this coming of the inevitable historical Holocaust we must turn now to Marx's theory of historical change. Marxist theory of history is constructed on the model which haggles great philosophy of history provided. History is a meaningful single developmental process. History is a rational structure which unfolds in time according to the laws of dialectic. But whereas for Hegel the individual units of the dialectical historical process where the great nation states each embodying a stage in the progressing consciousness of freedom by contrast for Marx the individual units of the dialectic of history are the powerful economic modes of production like Hagele Marxist thinking exhibit's historicism. He believes that one cannot understand economic modes of production abstractly but
only in terms of their historical situation and their own historical development. For Marx only economic forces are powerful enough to bring about historical change. How does a Marxist materialist dialectic of history explain historical change. Marx explains historical change by a conflict or contradiction which takes place within the triad of the economic foundation of society and shatters it. It is the conflict that develops between the constantly growing forces of production the skills technology and inventions and the existing relations of production and distribution of the fruits or profits of production. Marx explains this explosive conflict between the constantly developing forces of production and the relations of production in this way. As man the creative producer works upon nature he transforms production by developing new methods or instruments or
technologies to our production. In the early stages of a mode of production the relations of production and distribution of property aid in the development of these new and improved productive skills and technologies but at a certain point in the later stages of a motor production the growing new forces of production come into conflict with the existing relations of production and their distribution of the profits. The results of production. The interests of the ruling class. Leave them at this point to resist change and to keep the existing property distribution unchanged since their dominant position in society depends upon this. The ruling class which had earlier helped to develop new technologies and forces of production now fetters them and shames them down from developing further in order to protect their own profits. These relations of production must according to Mock's therefore be burst asunder by a
revolution. But how does why does a social revolution follow upon this conflict between the forces and the relations of production. It is the producer class of labor which suffers from the fettering the changing of the new forces of production. It is the producer clause which stands to gain by the expansion and development of productive technologies and by a change in the existing income distribution and so acting as a class the producers break the power of the dominant class by a revolution through the revolution. They become the new dominant clause seizing political power and generating their own mode of production which will then determine their own ideology. This is Marx's analysis of the dialectical process of historical change. Let us look now to see how Marx applies this to the actual course of human history. Can he show that all of human history is decisively determined by the conflict. The
contradiction between relations and forces of production. And that this leads inevitably to the violent destruction of the dominant social class by a rising social class and by a change in the mode of production. Marx boastfully claims that he has discovered the dialectical laws of history which work with iron necessity toward inevitable results. Just as the laws of natural science do does Amox provide a dialectical account of actual historical change which has iron necessity. In fact Marx's interpretation of the actual historical process which he presents briefly in the German ideology. The Communist Manifesto. The preface to the critique of political economy and in capital his presentation is very sketchy. Prior to the breakdown of feudalism and the emergence of capitalism the iron law of contradiction which it claims to have found between the relations and the expanding
forces of production. He actually shows only in one case the destruction of feudalism by the rising capitalist class. In his analysis of history Marx postulated that there must have been a first stage of history in which the mode of production was a primitive type of communism in which there was no division of labor. No separate spheres of owners and workers no separation of mental production from physical labor but only spontaneous work and communal ownership of all property. After this first primitive communist stage all the succeeding stages of history are of modes of production which are based upon a division of labor. Ownership of the major materials and instrumentalities of production by a ruling class class conflict and an ideological superstructure reflecting the interests of the ruling class. These modes of production which will follow primitive communism are the Asiatic the
ancient Greek and Roman the European feudal and the modern capitalist the Asiatic mode of production is characterized by Marx only as one of Oriental despotism and of the absence of private property in land. The classical Greek and Roman society develops a mode of production in which there is private property and in which the producing class consists of slaves Marx's description of the European feudal mode of production is also only sketched in broad outlines. The feudal mode of production was based upon land ownership with serfs chained to the land as the producing class. But then there began to develop under feudalism as well. In the towns individual craftsmen who joined in guilds the feudal nobility who formed the dominant class created a culture of philosophy religion art and morality which reflected their own class position and was determined by their own interest in the economic foundation. But the feudal
economic base was destroyed. It was burst asunder the new expanding forces of production demanded by the discovery of America trade with the Far East and with colonies and the new commercial and industrial developments burst through the feudal relations of production which had become fetters upon the new developments the rising new class of the bourgeoisie the capitalist class then became revolutionary and transformed the mode of production into capitalism. They seize political power and they created in time their own ideological superstructure. But capitalism is doomed by the same conflict which enabled the rising capitalist class to overthrow feudalism. The constantly expanding forces of production technology skills inventions are now running into conflict with the capitalist relations of production and its system of private ownership of the materials and means of production and of profit from the production process. The rapid
development of trade and technology. The growth of population has brought about now says Mock's an industrial revolution of machine production of goods and has created an international capitalist class. But the powerful dominant international capitalist class has given rise to its own opposing Clauss the internationally linked class of the proletariat says Marx. What the bourgeoisie produces above all is its own grave diggers. The proletariat of the grave diggers for the bourgeoisie the proletariat is now becoming conscious through their own economic suffering that the capitalist class is an obstacle to expanding forces of production that the capitalists are fearful of overproduction. Shrinkage of world markets and their own declining profits at this point. Marx breaks decisively with Hagel. Hagel had only interpreted the past for Hagel wisdom about the past about
history comes too late to change things. The owl of Minerva flies only when darkness is descending on a society. Not so for Marx the revolutionary. Now he says for the first time we can understand the dialectic of history future as well as posit the dialectical conflict between the relations of production and the constantly expanding forces the production provides a necessary iron law of history by which we can predict the future. The next development of history is inevitable. The proletariat will now become revolutionary. They will destroy the economic base of capitalism just as the rising capitalist class once destroy the economic foundation of feudalism. The proletariat will introduce a communist mode of production. They will seize political power and they will erect a dictatorship of the proletariat which will be an interim stage before the final coming of the cross less society. Can you not hear the thrilling chilling
call of the last words of the Communist Manifesto of 1848 heard around the world. Now for over a hundred years the Communist disdain to conceal their views and aims they openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions left the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletariat has nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world unite. Now. Now. For our.
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From Socrates To Sartre
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The Conflict of Classes
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Maryland Public Television
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Maryland Public Television (Owings Mills, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Marx III: Class Conflict. Withering Away of State - Marx's Theory of Ideology. Class-conflict in the economic substructure reflected in superstructure. Ideology vs. class-consciousness. "In every epoch the ruling ideas have been the ideas of the ruling class." Theory of the State. The state is a class institution maintaining its political power by monopoly on (1) means of violence and (2) chief forms of ideology. Economic Change. The dynamics of history are generated by changes in the economic substructure. The forces of production come into conflict with existing relations of production. Philosophy of History. History is the dialectical progress of modes of production as each in turn becomes a fetter on production and was abolished. The laws of dialectical materialism are iron laws. The destruction of capitalism is inevitable. (Why then fight to bring about the revolution?) Diagram of the dialectic of modes of production. Dictatorship of the Proletariat intervene
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"From Socrates to Sartre is an educational show hosted by Dr. Thelma Z. Lavine, who teaches viewers about the theories and history of philosophy."
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Copyright Holder: MPT
Host: Thelma Z. Lavine, Ph.D.
Producing Organization: Maryland Public Television
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Chicago: “From Socrates To Sartre; #23; The Conflict of Classes,” 1979-01-26, Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
MLA: “From Socrates To Sartre; #23; The Conflict of Classes.” 1979-01-26. Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <>.
APA: From Socrates To Sartre; #23; The Conflict of Classes. Boston, MA: Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from