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MARXIST CRITICAL THEORY

Vladimir Lenin, Friedrich Engels,  Karl Marx

  1. Materialism:
  • There is no god, supernatural being, or soul. — only the material world.
  • Human beings exist only in this world. There is no afterlife.
  • The brain is material, not spiritual. “Sensations, thought, consciousness are the supreme product of matter” (Lenin)
  • Ideas do not control history; material concerns do. “Life is not determined by consciousness but consciousness by life”
  1. 2.  Dialectical Materialism:
  • History is a process. It is in constant change.
  • We call this process the dialectic. It is a “spiral not a straight line”. It evolves through wars, revolutions, developments, catastrophes, contradictions.
  • The dialectic springs from the material realities, not theories.
  • The driving force in history and all human enterprise is material production and distribution. “the mode of production of material life conditioned the social, political and intellectual life processes in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary their social being that determines their consciousness”.
  • History is the struggle over production and distribution: i.e. the class struggle.Thesis<>Antithesis // Struggle
  • Human societies divide
    • Slave societies
    • Feudal societies
    • Monarchy and absolutism
    • Capitalism and imperialism(capital and labor)
  1. 3.  The labor theory of value: Critique of Capitalism 1
  • Private ownership of the means of production. Capitalist class and worker proletarian class.
  • Capitalism produces goods and services (commodities) for sale – to make a profit.
  • Commodities have value which is determined by the amount of (skilled or unskilled) labour it takes to produce them and the use they have for the consumer.
  • BUT capitalist profits depend on the law of supply and demand, which distorts the value of labor.
  • The capitalist owner of the means of production receives the profit of the laborer. Objective: to keep labor costs down and prices high.
  • Contradiction: The workers are the consumers. If they make low wages, they cannot buy back the articles they produce. So, the surplus is invested in more production, the final product of which is war and economic depression. A society of surplus and starvation.The owners live off the surplus created by the workers.
  1. 4.  Alienation: Critique of Capitalism 2
  • The worker is alienated from the products of his labour. He produces things that do not benefit him, but the capitalist owner. The capitalist owner owns the product of the worker’s labor.
  • The worker is paid money, so he can purchase more goods, but he has given up his “creative” power over his work. The harder the worker works, the more powerful his boss becomes and the less power the worker has.
  • Because the worker has no control over the conditions of his work. The owner decides the hours, environment, rules, procedures, etc. This creates an alienating physical and mental environment : stress. It is to the ownersinterest to have the worker work harder, longer, faster.
  • Modern production is fragmented. The worker does not create an entire product, but only a small part. The white collar managers control the production process from their offices. They transform workers into machines that they can quantify, control. Individuals must conform or suffer the consequences.
  • All relationships tend to be seen as economic: profit and loss. We value people not according to who they are but what they are worth – whether or not they can help us make more money.
  • Everything becomes marketable. Relationships, love. Sex. Family, education, art – everything! “Money is the universal pimp”. Possessions are everything.  All relationships are determined by “Commodity fetishism” All our values come down to one value “The sense of having”.
  • The ruling class must defend its power; they will not allow themselves to see the truth: that they live off the exploitation of others.

5. Workers of the world Unite!

  • Man is an economic being.
  • The state is always the powerful instrument of the ruling class.
  • “Religion is the opiate of the people”
  • The capitalist class will never voluntarily give up power and wealth.
  • State power is only transferred from one class to another by violence.
  • The working class must become conscious of this and must unite against the owner class. Only when workers see themselves as more than isolated individuals, can they change the world.
  • Revolution!

The Classless Society (Communism)

  • The slate must be wiped clean. All previous exploitative institutions must go!
    • The ownership class
    • The military
    • The church
    • The state
  • Society must transform completely
  • Workers own and control the means of production
  • From each according to his ability to each according to his need
  • Complete equality of status and wealth
  • International brotherhood of workers. No nations, no cultures, no races.
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