Marx

“Karl Marx (1818-1883) in his Theses on Feuerbach contends that up till his time philosophers like Hegel had only interpreted history, but that now the real task of philosophy was to make or change history. Marx claimed that the chief philosophy interpretations prior to him had been ideologies intended to cover up the real relationships between the economic forces of production (= any given stage of technological developments available) and the relations of production (social relations between capitalists [owners of means of production] and wage-earners). Hegel’s account of the historical evolution of universal freedom omitted the realities of economics and obscured how history is really the history of class warfare. The liberal capitalist ideology of Locke and Adam Smith tried to make people believe that the laws of the market place (of supply and demand) are necessary and iron-clad laws of nature (like Marx supposed the laws of physics were). But Marx unveiled them as really only misunderstandings of one phase in the dialectical development of economics from feudalism through capitalism to communism. For Marx the American and French Revolutions only got rid of the nobility and turned the middle class (bourgeoisie) into capitalists who own the means of production and so are able to expropriate the value bestowed on products by the proletarian labourers, sell the products as commodities, take the profits for themselves, and only pay the workers a wage that hovers around subsistence level. However, as technology develops under capitalism, material prosperity will increase, but more and more workers will be put out of work by machines. But in time profits too will have to decrease, causing the capitalists to gouge the growing proletariat more and more until their lot becomes so dire that they can do nothing but revolt: “Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” For Marx the proletariat is the first class in history whose interests are not particular or individualist but identical with those of man as a species-being. When they revolt in the general interest, they will abolish the private ownership of property, classes will disappear, and it will be “from each according to their ability and to each according to their needs” in a context of unlimited material abundance brought about by the development of technology” (Frederick Lawrence, Philosophers and Theologians, Boston College).

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This entry was posted in Karl Marx, Philosophers and Theologians, philosophy, Philosophy Class Archive. Bookmark the permalink.

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