Marxism Essay, Research Paper

How convincing was the Marxist review of the capitalist province?

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This following unit of theory is entitled & # 8220 ; Ideology and Discourse. & # 8221 ; The theoreticians we & # 8217 ; re analyzing & # 8211 ; Althusser, Bakhtin, and Foucault & # 8211 ; are discoursing how ideology plants, and how political orientations construct topics. All of these theoreticians are coming from a Marxist position, utilizing thoughts and footings developed in Marxist theory, though merely Althusser really claims to be a Marxist. So to get down off, I want to speak a spot about some basic thoughts of Marxist theory.

Marxism is a set of theories, or a system of idea and analysis, developed by Karl Marx in the 19th century in response to the Western industrial revolution and the rise of industrial capitalist economy as the prevailing economic manner. Like feminist theory, Marxist theory is directed at societal alteration ; Marxists want to analyse societal dealingss in order to alter them, in order to change what they see are the gross unfairnesss and inequalities created by capitalist economic dealingss. My capsule sum-up of the chief thoughts of Marxism, nevertheless, will concentrate on the theoretical facets more than on how that theory has been and is applicable to undertakings for societal alteration.

As a theory, Marxism is reasonably complicated. You can believe of Marxism as being three types of theory in one: doctrine, history, and economic sciences. First, Marxism is a philosophical motion ; Marx & # 8217 ; s thoughts about human nature, and about how we know and map in the universe semen from traditions articulated by Hegel, Feuerbach, Kant, and other German philosophers. All of these cats, including Marx, are interested in the relation between materialist and dreamer doctrine. As a philosopher, Marx helps make and specify a subdivision of doctrine called DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM.

Materialism in general is the subdivision of Western doctrine from which scientific discipline ( Aristotelean or Newtonian ) comes. Materialist doctrine is based on empiricist philosophy, on the direct observation of mensurable or discernible phenomena ; materialist doctrine is interested in analyzing how the human head, via the senses, perceives external world, and peculiarly with the thought of how we know things & # 8220 ; objectively, & # 8221 ; without the intervention of emotions or preconceived thoughts about things. Materialist doctrine frequently wants to inquire how we know something is existent, or, more specifically, how we know that what is existent IS existent, and non the merchandise of our mental procedures ( which are subjective ) .

The & # 8220 ; dialectical & # 8221 ; portion of & # 8220 ; dialectical philistinism & # 8221 ; comes from the Grecian thought of & # 8220 ; duologue, & # 8221 ; which means to reason. Marx & # 8217 ; s position of the thought of & # 8220 ; dialectic & # 8221 ; comes from Hegel, who thought that no thoughts, societal formations, or patterns were of all time ageless or fixed, but were ever in gesture or flux ( something like Derrida & # 8217 ; s & # 8220 ; play & # 8221 ; ) . Hegel said that this gesture or flux or alteration happens in a certain form, which he called a & # 8220 ; dialectic. & # 8221 ; Hegel says, alteration occurs as the consequence of a battle between two opposed forces, which so acquire resolved into a 3rd entity. Hegel & # 8217 ; s theoretical account of alteration looks like this: you start with a proposition or a place, which he calls a & # 8220 ; thesis ; & # 8221 ; the thesis so stands in resistance to another place, which he calls the & # 8220 ; antithesis & # 8221 ; ( and therefore far it does work like our old friend the binary resistance ) . But so the battle between thesis and antithesis is resolved into a 3rd place, or set of thoughts or patterns, which Hegel calls the & # 8220 ; synthesis. & # 8221 ; Then, of class, the synthesis finally becomes a thesis, with an antithesis, and the whole procedure starts over. But that, says Hegel, is how alteration happens & # 8211 ; by the continual battle between thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

In add-on to being a sort of doctrine, Marxism is besides a manner to understand history. In this sense, Marxism belongs to a sort of historicism called HISTORICAL MATERIALISM, which shows that history, or societal alteration, occurs via human forces, and non because of God, fate, or some unknown non-human force that shapes events. Historical philistinism is & # 8220 ; materialist & # 8221 ; because it is interested in how worlds have created material civilization, i.e. tools, objects, the material things that we use to populate our lives every twenty-four hours, and in how this material civilization has formed the footing for historical alteration.

The historical materialist position of history therefore holds that the traveling forces of societal organisations & # 8211 ; the forces that make alteration, that make & # 8220 ; history & # 8221 ; & # 8211 ; are people and their tools, and the work that people do with these tools ; the tools are frequently referred to as & # 8220 ; instruments of production, & # 8221 ; or as & # 8220 ; forces of production. & # 8221 ; Historical philistinism besides says that human labour ( people and how they use their tools ) ever has a societal character. Peoples live in societal groups, non in isolation, and they ever organize their societal groups in some manner ( holding some signifier of & # 8220 ; authorities, & # 8221 ; e.g. ) . What every societal group organizes, harmonizing to the historical materialist position, is how people work with their tools, or, in other words, how human labour, and forces of production, operate. The organisations that shape how people use their tools ( the forces of production ) are called the & # 8220 ; dealingss of production. & # 8221 ; The dealingss of production ( how people relate to each other, and to their society as a whole, through their productive activity ) and the forces of production ( the tools, and methods for utilizing tools, and the workers available to utilize these tools ) together organize what historical philistinism calls a MODE OF PRODUCTION.

As a historian, Marx identifies five basic historical developments or alterations in the manner of production: the crude community, the slave province, the feudal province, capitalist economy, and socialism. I won & # 8217 ; t travel into item about this history, but allow me indicate out a twosome of illustrations. In a slave province, some people are owned and some are the proprietors ; the owned people are the 1s that labour, and the proprietors reap the benefit of that labour. Within the slave & # 8220 ; manner of production, & # 8221 ; the organisation of labour and productiveness governs virtually all aspects of societal organisation, even those non straight related to labour, such as faith or even aesthetics. The Southern United States in the first half of the 19th century base as a good illustration of Marx & # 8217 ; s thought of a slave province: it & # 8217 ; s easy to see how all facets of southern civilization, including spiritual beliefs and art, upheld and justified the slave system that was at the bosom of the southern economic system.

Marx sees capitalist economy as a manner of production emerging from feudal system ( which is how labour and life were organized during the mediaeval period in Europe ) . He focuses on capitalist economy as an unequal manner of production, one which exploits workers, merely as the slave province exploited slaves. Harmonizing to Marx, this inequality is a cardinal facet of capitalist economy, and needs to be changed ( through dialectical battle ) . Finally, Marx says, the internal tensenesss and contradictions of capitalist economy ( which will make an eternal series of theses and antitheses and syntheses ) will finally destruct capitalist economy, and capitalist economy will germinate into socialism. Socialism, for Marx, is the terminal consequence of all this economic evolution/history: socialism would be a Utopian manner of production, and would so merely stay everlastingly ( without germinating into something else ) . This would pretty much be the terminal of history, or alteration, as we have known it.

Which leads us to a 3rd dimension of Marxism. Marxism is an economic theory or philosophy, an analysis of how capitalist economy as an economic system operates. It & # 8217 ; s based on an analysis of how the forces and dealingss of production work. In a mill, for case, a worker performs labour on natural stuffs, and therefore transforms those natural stuffs into an object ; in the procedure, the labourer adds something to the natural stuffs so that the object ( natural stuff + labour ) is worth more than the original natural stuff. What the labourer adds is called & # 8220 ; surplus value, & # 8221 ; in Marxist theory. While the labourer is paid for the work he or she does, that payment is figured in footings of & # 8220 ; reproduction & # 8221 ; , of what the labourer will necessitate in order to come back the following twenty-four hours ( i.e. nutrient, remainder, shelter, apparels, etc. ) , and non in footings of what value the labourer added to the natural stuff. The end of capitalist production is to sell the object made, with its excess value, for more than the cost of the natural stuffs and the reproduction of the labourer. This surplus in value ( in monetary value ) comes from the excess value added by the labourer, but it is & # 8220 ; owned & # 8221 ; by the capitalist ; the mill proprietor gets the net income from selling the object, and the labourer gets merely the cost of his/her & # 8220 ; reproduction & # 8221 ; in the rewards s/he earns.

These dealingss of production, where the labourer does the work and the proprietor gets the net income from the excess value created by the labourer, create two societal categories, harmonizing to Marx: the labor, which consists of the workers who have to sell their labour power in order to last, and the proprietors of the agencies of production, or capitalists. There is besides a 3rd category in the capitalist manner of production, a in-between category, called the middle class, who do non sell their labour power straight, but who provide services ( for the labourers and the capitalists ) & # 8211 ; merchandisers, physicians, instructors, etc. & # 8211 ; and who identify themselves with the capitalists, and uphold their involvements, instead than with the labor.

For Marxists, history & # 8211 ; or societal alteration & # 8211 ; therefore occurs through the battle ( the dialectical battle ) between the two categories, the labor and the capitalists. ( The middle class largely acquire counted with the capitalists in footings of designation, even though the middle class Don & # 8217 ; t own the agencies of production and Don & # 8217 ; t acquire the net incomes created by excess value ) .

From these economic dealingss comes a crucially of import construct in Marxist idea: the thought of ALIENATION. There are two facets to the Marxist thought of disaffection. The first is that labour which produces

excess value is alienated labour. The labour put into an object becomes portion of the capitalist’s net income, and therefore no longer belongs to the labourer. In add-on to estranging the labourer from his or her labour power, capitalist economy besides forces the worker to go alienated from him or herself. When a worker has to sell her/his labour power, s/he becomes a COMMODITY, something to be sold in the market place like a thing ; the worker who is a trade good is therefore non to the full human, in the philosophical sense, since s/he can non exert free will to find her/his actions. ( Yes, this portion is coming from a humanist theoretical account, where people still have free will to regulate their actions ) . The worker who is forced to be as a trade good in the labour market is ALIENATED from her/his humanity ; in selling one’s labour, that labour becomes alienated, something separate from or other than the labourer, something divided from the individual that produces it.

The dual disaffection of the labor, and their development by the capitalists, form the basic contradictions of capitalist economy which produce the dialectic ( the battle between workers and proprietors, labour and capital ) which produces societal alteration, or history, and which will finally synthesise into socialism.

From Marx & # 8217 ; s economic philosophies comes an analysis of how the capitalist system specifically maps ; from historical philistinism comes a theoretical account of how societal organisations are structured, which is relevant to all civilizations, whether capitalist or non. Harmonizing to the Marxist position of civilization, the economic dealingss & # 8211 ; forces and dealingss of production, or manners of production & # 8211 ; are the primary finding factor in all societal dealingss: everything that happens in a society is in some manner related to, and determined by, the manner of production, besides called the ECONOMIC BASE ( or merely & # 8220 ; base & # 8221 ; ) . This thought, that the economic organisation of a societal group is primary and deciding, is a cardinal premiss of Marxist idea.

The economic base ( the dealingss and forces of production ) in any society generates other societal formations, called the SUPERSTRUCTURE. The superstructure consists of all other sorts of societal activities or systems, including political relations, faith, doctrine, morality, art, and scientific discipline ( etc. ) . All of these facets of a society are, in Marxist theory, determined by ( i.e. shaped, formed, or created by ) the economic base. Thus a cardinal inquiry for a batch of Marxist theory is how does the economic base determine superstructure? How, for case, does the feudal manner of production green goods or find the spiritual beliefs and patterns current during the mediaeval period?

Another manner of inquiring this inquiry is to look at the dealingss between economic base and a peculiar facet of superstructure, which Marxists name IDEOLOGY. Ideology, or political orientations, are the thoughts that exist in a civilization ; there will typically be one or several sorts of spiritual political orientations, for illustration, and political political orientations, and aesthetic political orientations, which will joint what, and how, people can believe about faith, political relations, and art, severally. Ideology is how a society thinks about itself, the signifiers of societal consciousness that exist at any peculiar minute ; political orientations supply all the footings and premises and models that persons use to understand their civilization, and political orientations supply all the things that people believe in, and so move on.

For Marx, political orientation, as portion of the superstructure generated by an economic base, works to warrant that base ; the political orientations present in a capitalist society will explicate, warrant, and back up the capitalist manner of production. Again, the illustration of bondage in nineteenth-century US civilization is utile: the economic base of that society was bondage, and all productive labour and economic dealingss were structured by the master/slave relation ; all of the superstructures, such as organized faith, local and national political relations, and art ( particularly literature ) , worked to uphold bondage as a good economic system.

Literature, so, is portion of any civilization & # 8217 ; s superstructure, from this position, and is determined ( in both signifier and content ) by the economic base. Literature besides participates in the articulation of signifiers of cultural political orientation & # 8211 ; novels and verse forms ( et Al. ) might warrant or assail spiritual beliefs, political beliefs, or aesthetic thoughts ( to utilize merely these three illustrations of ideological formations ) . Marxist literary critics and theoreticians are interested in inquiring a scope of inquiries about how literature maps as a site for political orientation, as portion of the superstructure. First, they want to analyze how the economic base of any civilization ( and peculiarly of capitalist civilizations ) influences or determines the signifier and/or content of literature, both in general footings and in specific plants of literature. They besides want to look at how literature maps in relation to other facets of the superstructure, peculiarly other articulations of political orientation. Does literature reflect the economic base? If so, how? Does literature reflect other political orientations? If so, how? Do literary plants create their ain political orientations? If so, how are these political orientations related back to the economic base? And, eventually, Marxist critics, like feminist critics, want to look into how literature can work as a force for societal alteration, or as a reassertion ( or & # 8220 ; hypostatization, & # 8221 ; to utilize Marxist nomenclature ) of bing conditions. Is literature portion of the dialectical battle that will stop capitalist economy and convey approximately socialism, or is literature portion of the bourgeois justification of capitalist economy?

Let me run through some of the ways Marxist critics have approached these inquiries about the societal map of literature. We & # 8217 ; ll get down by looking a little more closely at how ideology plants, since literature is considered a subset of political orientation.

Harmonizing to Frederich Engels ( Marx & # 8217 ; s buddy ) , ideology maps as an semblance ; political orientations give people thoughts about how to understand themselves and their lives, and these thoughts disguise or dissemble what & # 8217 ; s truly traveling on. In Engels & # 8217 ; account, political orientations signify the manner people live out their lives in category society, giving people the footings for the values, thoughts, and images that tie them to their societal maps, and therefore forestall them from a true apprehension of the existent forces and dealingss of production. Ideology is therefore an semblance which masks the real/objective state of affairs ; an illustration of this would be an political orientation that tells you, as a worker, that the capitalists are truly working in your involvement, which disguises or hides the & # 8220 ; nonsubjective & # 8221 ; world that the capitalists & # 8217 ; involvements are opposed to the workers & # 8217 ; involvements. ( Another illustration might be a politician, whose rhetoric in addresss & # 8211 ; whose political orientation & # 8211 ; attempts to carry you that he & # 8217 ; s concerned with your revenue enhancement state of affairs, and this political orientation keeps you from seeing how he & # 8217 ; s truly merely interested in protecting corporate revenue enhancement shelters ) . Anyway, Engels says that the semblances created by political orientation create FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS in people, who believe the ideological representations of how the universe works and therefore misperceive, or wear & # 8217 ; t see at all, how the universe really/objectively works ( i.e. in footings of the manner of production and the category divisions that manner of production creates ) . Workers, for Engels, are deluded by assorted sorts of political orientation into believing they & # 8217 ; re non exploited by the capitalist system, alternatively of seeing how they are.

In this position, literature is besides a sort of semblance, a sort of political orientation that prevents people from seeing the existent dealingss of production at work. From the point of view of what & # 8217 ; s now known as & # 8220 ; vulgar & # 8221 ; Marxism, all literature produces false consciousness, because all literature produced in a capitalist society could merely reflect the capitalist political orientations. This position can & # 8217 ; t history for how or why literature might be able to dispute the ideological premises of a society because it can & # 8217 ; t acknowledge that literature ( or other political orientations, for that affair ) might be in resistance to the dominant formation of the economic base. In coarse Marxism, you couldn & # 8217 ; t talk or believe in ways that weren & # 8217 ; t wholly determined by the economic base.

For more recent Marxist critics, nevertheless, such & # 8220 ; vulgar & # 8221 ; ` insisting that literature is perfectly determined by the economic base is abandoned in favour of a more complicated thought of how literature relates to economic formations. Rather than merely & # 8220 ; reflecting & # 8221 ; the values that support capitalist economy, Marxist critics argue, literature does something more complicated. Harmonizing to Pierre Macheray, literature doesn & # 8217 ; t reflect either the economic base or other political orientation, but instead it works on bing political orientations and transforms them, giving these political orientations new form and construction ; literature in Macheray & # 8217 ; s position is therefore distinguishable from, distant from, other signifiers of political orientation ( like spiritual political orientation ) , and therefore can supply penetrations into how political orientations are structured, and what their bounds are. This position is besides followed by Georg Lukacs, who argues that Marxist literary unfavorable judgment should look at a work of literature in footings of the ideological construction ( s ) of which it is a portion, but which it transforms in its art.

For other Marxists, including Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, and Louis Althusser, literature works the manner any political orientation does, by meaning the fanciful ways in which people perceive the existent universe ; literature uses linguistic communication to mean what it feels like to populate in peculiar conditions, instead than utilizing linguistic communication to give a rational analysis of those conditions. Therefore literature helps to make experience, non merely reflect it. As a sort of political orientation, literature for these critics is comparatively independent, both of other ideological signifiers and of the economic base. You can & # 8217 ; t hint one-to-one direct ties between literature and any peculiar political orientation, or between literature and the economic base. ( When you can, we call it bad literature ; literature straight linked to an political orientation we call & # 8220 ; propaganda, & # 8221 ; for case ) .

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