Marx is not the antichrist--in fact his system of thought is not inconsistent with the teachings of Christianity and other universal religions. . . .When reading Marx you often have to separate his social theory from his writings as a socialist organizer. . . . Pay special attention to his materialism, his theories of class, and of alienation all of which are central in determining social change. . . .His materialism is not as "vulgar" as many of his critics claim. . . .Marx's theory (as opposed to Marxist theory) is more evolutionary than revolutionary in nature.
Read: Chapter 1 The Sociology of Karl Marx" in Macrosociology: The Study of Sociocultural Systems
What is alienation? How does it fit into Marx's theory?
How can we explain the fact that the United States, the most capitalistic nation on earth, has not undergone a socialist revolution?
Marx and Engles Internet Archive
The Communist Manifesto
Marx's Sociology Work:
The Communist Manifesto in Toons:
In his own words:
"The first historical act is. . . the production of material life itself. This is indeed a historical act, a fundamental condition of all of history" (1964, p. 60).
"Legal relations as well as form of state are to be grasped neither from themselves nor from the so-called general development of the human mind, but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life, the sum total of which Hegel . . . combines under the name of 'civil society.' . . . The anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy" (1962, vol. 1, p. 362).
"The political, legal, philosophical, literary, and artistic development rests on the economic. But they all react upon one another and upon the economic base. It is not the case that the economic situation is the sole active cause and that everything else is merely a passive effect. There is, rather, a reciprocity within a field of economic necessity which in the last instance always asserts itself" (1962, vol. II, p. 304).
"In the social production which men carry on as they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material powers of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society--the real foundation, on which legal and political superstructures arise and to which definite forms of social consciousness correspond. The mode of production of material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being determines their consciousness" (1964, p. 51).
"According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determinant element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. . . . Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract and senseless phrase. The economic situation is the basis, but the various elements of the superstructure. . . also exercise their influence upon the course of the historical struggle and in many cases preponderate in determining their form" (1962, II, p. 488).
"The ideas of the ruling class are, in every age, the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is the dominant material force in society is at the same time its dominant intellectual force. The class which has the means of production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production" (1964, p. 78).
[We go astray] "if . . . we detach the ideas of the ruling class from the ruling class itself and attribute to them an independent existence, if we confine ourselves to saying that in a particular age these or those ideas were dominant, without paying attention to the conditions of production and the producers of these ideas, and if we thus ignore the individuals and the world conditions which are the source of these ideas" (1964, p.p. 79-80).
On social evolution
"The economic structure of capitalist society has grown out of the economic structure of feudal society. The dissolution of the latter sets free the elements of the former" (1964, p. 133).
"No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society" (1964, p. 52).
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" (1962, vol 1, p. 34).
"The separate individuals form a class only in so far as they have to carry on a common battle against another class; otherwise they are on hostile terms with each other as competitors" (1930, pp. 48-49).
[The major modern classes are] "the owners merely of labor-power, owners of capital, and landowners, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit and ground rent" (1964, p. 178).
"The State is the form in which the individuals of a ruling class assert their common interests" (1964, p. 78).
On alienation and religion
"Objectification is the practice of alienation. Just as man, so long as he is engrossed in religion, can only objectify his essence by an alien and fantastic being; so under the sway of egoistic need, he can only affirm himself and produce objects in practice by subordinating his products and his own activity to the domination of an alien entity, and by attributing to them the significance of an alien entity, namely money" (1964b, p. 39).
"The commodity form and the value relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising there from. It is simply a definite relationship between men, that assumes in their eyes the fantastic form of a relations between things. To find an analogy, we must have recourse to the nebulous regions of the religious world. In that world the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and with the human race. So it is in the world of commodities, with the products of men's hands. This I call the fetishism which attaches itself tot he products of labor, as soon as they are produced as commodities" (1964, pp. 175-176).
"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of an unspiritual situation. It is the opium of the people" (1959, p. 263).
On the sanctity of work
" The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left no other nexus between people than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom -- Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation (1846/1954)
"The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers (1848/1954)
"Money is the alienated essence of man's work and existence; the essence dominates him and he worships it" (1964b, p. 37).
"The state is the intermediary between men and human liberty. Just as Christ is the intermediary to whom man attributes all his own divinity and all his religious bonds, so the state is the intermediary to which man confides all his non divinity and human freedom" (1964b, p. II).
"Religious alienation as such occurs only in the sphere of consciousness, in the inner life of man, but economic alienation is that of real life. . . . It therefore affects both aspects" (1964b, p. 156).
"The object produced by labor, its product, now stands opposed to it as an alien being, as a power independent of the producer. . . . The more the worker expends himself in work the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, the poorer he becomes in his inner life, and the less he belongs to himself" (1964b, p. 122).
"However, alienation appears not merely in the result but also in the process of production, within productive activity itself. . . . If the product of labor is alienation, production itself must be active alienation. . . . The alienation of the object of labor merely summarizes the alienation in the work activity itself" (1964b, p. 124).
"Work is external to the worker. . . . It is not part of his nature; consequently he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself. . . . The worker therefore feels himself at home only during his leisure time, whereas at work he feels homeless" (1964b, pp. 124-125).
"This is the relationship of the worker to his own activity as something alien, not belonging to him, activity as suffering (passivity), strength as powerlessness, creation as emasculation, the personal physical and mental energy of the worker, his personal life. . . . as an activity which is directed against himself, independent of him and not belonging to him" (1964b, p. 125).
"What is true of man's relationship to his work, to the product of his work and to himself, is also true of his relationship to other men. . . . Each man is alienated from others . . .each of the others is likewise alienated from human life" (1964b, p. 129).
"The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental
has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation" (1848/1954).
Marx, K. (1887/1999). Capital. (F. Engels, Ed., S. Moore, & E. Aveling, Trans.) Retrieved March 19, 2008, from Marx/Engels Internet Archive: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/index.htm
Marx, K. (1875/1999). Critique of the Gotha Programme. Retrieved April 5, 2008, from Marxist.Org: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/ch01.htm
Marx, K. (1964b). Early Writings. (T. B. Bottomore, Trans.) New York: McGraw-Hill.
Marx, K. (1964). Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy. (T. Bottomore, Trans.) London: McGraw-Hill.
Marx, K. (1847/1999). The Poverty of Philosophy. Retrieved March 19, 2008, from Marx/Engels Internet Archive: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/poverty-philosophy/index.htm
Marx, K. (1845/1999). Theses on Feurback. Retrieved March 19, 2008, from Marx/Engels Internet Archive: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/index.htm
Marx, K. (1959). Toward the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. In L. S. (ed), Marx and Engels, Basic Writings. New York: Doubleday & Co.
Marx, K. (1847/1993). Wage Labour and Capital. Retrieved July 4, 2006, from Marx/Engels Internet Archive: http://www.marxist.org/archive/marx/works/1847/wage-labour/ch05.htm
Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1962). Selected Works, 2 Vols. Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House.
Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1848/1954). The Communist Manifesto. Chicago: Henry Reginery Company.
Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1930). The German Ideology. New York: International Publishers.
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