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					                             Poli 64
                      Modern Political Thought
               TURN YOUR PHONE OFF!
                                          November 29 1950
                               Chinese overwhelm Allies in North Korea
Three weeks after U.S. General Douglas MacArthur first reported Chinese communist troops in action 
in North Korea, U.S.-led U.N. troops begin a desperate retreat out of North Korea under heavy fire 
from the Chinese.

Near the end of World War II, the "Big Three" Allied powers--the United States, the Soviet Union, and 
Great Britain--agreed to divide Korea into two separate occupation zones and temporarily govern the 
nation. The country was split along the 38th parallel, with Soviet forces occupying the northern zone 
and Americans stationed in the south. By 1949, separate Korean governments had been established, 
and both the United States and the USSR withdrew the majority of their troops from the Korean 
Peninsula. The 38th parallel was heavily fortified on both sides, but the South Koreans were 
unprepared for the hordes of North Korean troops and Soviet-made tanks that suddenly rolled across 
the border on June 25, 1950.
                    Central themes in the socialist tradition
“Communism” is an ideal with a long history, stretching back (at least) to Plato
 and early Christianity. “Communism” implies common holding and equal sharing of
 material goods and social authority
“Socialism” is a particularly modern tradition of the communist ideal. “Socialism” is a
communal ideology for modern, mass, industrial societies.

  Philosophical foundations:
     1. Critique of existing society
                     Moral critique: present as “unjust”
                     Material critique: present as “inefficient”
      2. Belief in human perfectibility
                     Moral critique: change “hearts and minds”
                     Material critique: change institutions and practices
      3. Belief in virtues of communal life
                     Pastoral vision: small, face to face, self-sufficient communities
                     Technocratic vision: large, technologically advanced communities
       4. Belief in revolutionary change
                      Non-violent ideal: change by protest and education
                      Violent ideal: change by open violent conflict
       5. Internationalism
                      National differences/identities replaced by class differences/identities
         The presuppositions of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History

 1. A dialectical philosophy of history (Hegel’s legacy)
       o    History as progressive realization of reason

       o    Realization of reason through dissolution of alienation
       o    Historical change as overcoming of contradictions

   Historical                  PROGRESS                                 Universal
   change                                                               Freedom
            Intellectual/                  Intellectual/
        OLD Moral         “contradictions”
                                           Moral         NEW     PROCESS
            Conditions                     Conditions            REPEATS until
Stage of
development                                                      “emancipation” is
                                                                 realized
                Material conditions/      Material conditions/
                Practices                 Practices
   Alienated
                                                                        REASON
   existence                   PROGRESS
        The presuppositions of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History

 1. A dialectical philosophy of history (Hegel’s legacy)
  2. A historical materialist theory
      o    Against idealism (against Hegel)
      o   Against “essentialist” materialism (against Feuerbach) 
      o    Human nature is historical
          §     What makes humans capable of “history” is the human
                 capacity for labor 
                        ·     (NB: contrast “human” and “natural” history) 
          §     Realization of reason is the dissolution of conditions of
                 alienated labor

    
           §    Historical progress is driven by overcoming of material
                  contradictions between realities and possibilities of 
                  productive activity
    
         
        The presuppositions of Marx’s Materialist Conception of History

 1. A dialectical philosophy of history
  2. A historical materialist theory
  3. A critical theory or form of critique (Ideologiekritik)

     o    A “scientific” theory with practical, political intent.
           Dimensions: 
                      Descriptive: Analysis of social formations
                      Explanatory: Analysis of social change
                      Practical: Analysis of capitalist society
              Marx’s Materialist Conception of History


Descriptive: What is society, how is it structured?

Society = “Mode of Production”
                                                         Causal effects?
                   Ideology                  Superstructure
             Relations of production                           OR
                                               Base
          Forces (means) of production


Analytical points: Base “conditions” superstructure
                  “Ruling ideas” reflect interests of “ruling class”
                  Revolutionary change: resolving the “primacy
                     puzzle”
                    Marx’s Materialist Conception of History

   Explanatory: How do societies change?

                                        Conditions of change
                                 objective                 subjective
                              Forces change       Crisis        Revolutionary
Logic of change: Stability                                      consciousness

                                          Revolution
                              material       class         ideological
                                          Contradictions


Analytical points:
Ruling classes try to “fetter” development of productive forces
Revolutionary classes try to advance development of productive forces
Revolutions can only succeed when all necessary conditions are present
                    Marx’s Materialist Conception of History
Practical: How can we emancipate ourselves?
           Prerequisite of action: knowledge of historical possibilities
                       The development of human societies

      Social structure             Material conditions           “Mode of production”
     Pre-class/classless             Extreme scarcity            “primitive” communism

         Class based                 Unequal scarcity             Ancient
                                                                   Feudal

                                                                   Capitalist
                                                                          Early capitalism
                                     Artificial scarcity                Late capitalism
      Post-class/classless             Abundance                   Communism
                 Marx’s Materialist Conception of History
  Practical: How can we emancipate ourselves?
     Prerequisite of action: knowledge of historical possibilities
Analytical points:
             
   Historical progress advances development of productive forces
           Capitalism enables – and is – the realization of the 
           possibility of abundance
 Historical change “simplifies” class structures
          In capitalism, classes are “reduced” to 2: those who own, 
          and those who work the means of production. Relations 
          are “reduced” to economic exploitation
  Capitalism must be overthrown for progress – and freedom
   – to be realized. 
                   Capitalism is the first mode of production predicated 
                   on the development of productive forces. Capitalism
                   cannot continue by developing productive forces. 
                      Marx’s critique of capitalism
Capitalism is self-subverting:
   The premise of capitalist production is continuous development of productive 
   forces, BUT
   The social relations of capitalism cannot sustain continued development of 
   productive forces
            The logic of capitalist production
“Capital” (productive capacity) has two components:
          “Constant” capital (resources, tools, machinery);
           “Variable” capital (human labor)
                    Process of competition:
1. Goal of capitalist: maximization of profit. Means: raise prices  
     and/or cut costs
2. Competition makes price raising untenable; costs must be cut

3. Cost cutting achieved by reducing “variable” expenses, increasing
    ratio of “constant” expenses to “variable” expenses
4. Successful firms are “efficient” – producing more for less
                Marx’s critique of capitalism
              Process of competition (continued):
 5. Effects on social relations: for capitalists, “proletarianization”; 
         for workers, “emiseration”
 6. Effects on productive activity:
            Concentration of capital: growth of monopolies
            Contraction of markets: less wealth available for     
                    consumption of products
            Decline of profits, further sharpening of competition
            CRISIS OF “OVERPRODUCTION”
            Repeated cycling of process
 7. Solution to crises of overproduction: Suppress demand 
 (“dictatorship of bourgeoisie”) and/or suppress production

Capitalism cannot enable the continued development of productive 
forces, or the realization of freedom for all. Capitalism is “self-
subverting.”
   The effects of “alienated labor” (or, the moral dimension of 
   the material critique)
• Alienation from the product of labor (products become 
     commodities, and 
     objects “control” people)
2.  Alienation from the process of labor (labor becomes “work,”
        controlled by others)
3.  Alienation from one’s “species being” (labor is stripped of
     individual meaning;relations between individuals are stunted,
     mediated by objects)
4.    Alienation from other laborers (labor becomes basis 
of competition) 

               The point of Marx’s account of alienation:
In conditions of scarcity, alienation is inevitable. 
In conditions of abundance, alienation is inefficient – and 
morally reprehensible
                                  Marx on Communism
Transitional stage: “Socialism” – the “dictatorship of the proletariat”

           -- “The only way for individuals to control modern universal interaction is to make it
                subject to the control of all”
           -- The proletariat is the “universal class”; its interest is the interest of freedom for all
           -- Working class uses state power to suppress the interests of the bourgeoisie, and
               eliminate the vestiges of capitalist social relations
           -- As the need for class competition decreases, the state “withers away”

Communism: The end of “prehistory” and the beginning of human freedom
            -- “The administration of things replaces the administration of men”

            -- “The free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”

            -- A “Society of free social individuals”

             -- In a condition of abundance and freedom, the principle of production and
                distribution should be “From each according to his ability, to each according
                to his need”

           The failure of Marxism in practice: Bad theory or inappropriate application?

				
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posted:7/25/2013
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