Marxism: Introduction Class Relations, Capitalism and Commodification, Base and Super Structure 2007 Fall Outline Starting Questions Focuses in this unit Karl Marx –two basic ideas Dialectical Materialism; Basic Terms Critique of Capitalism Social Structure Louis Althusser Some Examples and Summary Next Time Starting Questions (1): Economic Determinism Is money (or the economic relations we are in) the most important determinant in our life? The apparently ―non-materialist‖ aspects of life – the mental: our belief, ideas and ideals; the spiritual: our ―soul‖ literature and all the cultural products. Love -- Can love transcend the conditioning of money and the other social factors (e.g. class, educational background, etc.)? General Responses: (1) Political Economy of Love 「如果不答應我，就是不愛我。」這句話的邏輯其實 包括：一、說話者認為對方應該接受他對於愛情的理 解與要求；二、如果不接受就等於背叛愛情，甚至會 引來報復。 power relations 曾幾何時，金錢已經變成愛情的衡量標準，贈金送鑽 買花購禮，成為情人之間的主要語言。(e.g. 真金真性 情) 日前一位百貨公司的年輕專櫃小姐，嫁給了年老多金 的老闆，許多電子媒體紛紛以「麻雀變鳳凰」來形容。 (賴 ) (The other side of 門當戶對) 老夫少妻 浪漫不浪漫？平路 Starting Questions (2): Capitalism and Class Relations Which class do you belong to? Are we all part of the “middle classes”? What types of “class relations” do you see in our society? What type of “relations of production” are there at school and in between the teachers and students? What is capitalism? How does it influence our life? (ref. 82) Where do our desires for “things” come from? Why do we want more than what is “useful”? Do we have insatiable desire? If so, why? General Responses: (2) Relations of Production Class – no longer most basic category in any kind of social analysis. Can be combined with the other categories such as race and gender. Can be re-defined -- a. e.g. Val -- Ref. ―Psychoanalysis: Challenging Freud‖ 44:00 --> selling lifestyle 54:00 (SRI's Values and Lifestyle Program http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC03/SRIVALS.htm ) Most of us are ―laborers‖—wage earners. (source) But it is still important to analyze the power relations in society and in literature– manipulation, control/exploitation, inequality, and dialectical relations (master/slave). e.g. love between Daisy and Gatsby, Sons and Lovers, (Wide Sargasso Sea, The Piano, ―The Blind Man,‖ etc.) General Responses: (2) -2 Teacher & Student Relations One example (Marx: The Greatest Thinker 16:00) –system vs. freedom Students have the right to choose to do the ―stupid‖ homework or not; Teachers are there for the students. Students should have the right to choose. If learning is students’ own responsibility, then teachers don’t need to try to motivate students. Are teachers authorities to rebel against? Are students buyers free to choose what they want? ―I don’t think the school will like it.‖ Why does the father say that if the teachers serves the students as ―customers,‖ the former will not guide or motivate the students? General Responses: (2) -3 Teacher & Student Relations Teacher-student: commercial relation and others Teachers are no saints, though they are seen so traditionally, but a worse problem is that many students do not see themselves as ―buyers.‖ Teachers (like experts and those with technical skills ) are ―professionals‖ –they can produce more knowledge and thus more of their labor power and values (cultural capital). They, like the students, are still in the system of production, domination and subordination. Teachers do not own the means of production. (Ref. Scase 80) Q(3): Conspicuous Consumption and Commodity Fetishism? 林立雯承認自己的個性孤僻，不喜歡出門逛街，但為 了滿足自己的購物慾望，所以她整日「掛」在購物或 拍賣網站上，上個月，她就瘋狂訂購了十幾雙帆布鞋， 她說：「現在購物網站很發達，連台灣沒有的限定品 都可以買得到，而且送貨到家，非常方便。」她笑說 自己看到喜歡的就會忍不住買下來，幾乎把賺來的錢 都「敗」在上面了 (中國時報 影視娛樂 920415) What is the line between collection as a hobby and fetishism? Are you a conspicuous buyer? (One who keeps up with the Jones?) (ref. 83) General Responses: (3) Our Consumption Habits Why can’t we stop buying? Possible reasons: Loss of Religion and Sense of Stability; Faster Commodity Turnover. . Devaluation of the goods we buy or own; ―positional goods‖ – When more people own the goods, the satisfaction it brings is reduced. (e.g. LV bag—fake and real; shark fin; etc.) Endless Desires and Constant Stimulation: Durkheim: human wants are in principle limitless; capitalism develops too fast, always changing our expectations. Stoppable only by 1) repressive social morality; 2) regulating capitalism. Marxist views: (more later) capitalism creates false needs, sign values and Commodity Fetishism Marxism: Topics & Schools on Focus 1. Marx and Vulgar Marxism 1. Dialectic Materialism, 2. Western Marxists : Class, Commodification Althusser’s theory of and Social Structure Ideology & Gramsci’s Hegemony 2. Ideology: Literature & 3. American & British Marxism: Society Jameson and Eagleton 3. Marxist Literary Criticism 4. Foucault &文學社會學的 4. Literature as Discourse 多重互動模式 Marx: Basic Ideas 1. Economic Determinism (82); (previous Q & A) 2. Dialectic Materialism (79-80, 85) --(His Dialectic View of History: Revises Hegel’s view of history) 3. Critique of Capitalism – Exploitation of laborers and Alienation of them from their productive process (82-83) Commodification of Human Identity and Relations (83) 4. Social Structure: Base and Superstructure (83-84), reflection and production theories (81, 84) Dialectic Materialism: Marx’s Two major Statements It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. (ref. chap 6 p. 81) (In other words-- Consciousness does not determine our socio-economic existence; our socio-economic existence determines consciousness.) Economic Determinism Marx: Two major Statements (2) The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various way; the point is to change it. Has Marxism failed after the fall of Berlin Wall, the collapse of Soviet Union and the capitalization of mainland China? e.g. Soviet Union – 3 years after their its collapse, ½ of Russia’s economy is private owned. (Saunders 4) China –capitalism has been developing since 1970’s in some special economic zones 中國資本主義-- 依附性發展(部份須要服從帝國主義的積累需 要，妨礙了本地的較為健全的經濟發展方向 工人階級已經高達兩億多，佔全國勞動人口三成多 (source) Economic Determinism: Some Basic Terms Means of production -- 製造媒介（工具﹚〃 e.g. Machines (printing machine, steam engine) –in industrial society; media and computer in our age of Information; those who own them, or know well how to use them, get to hold power over those who don't. Added: systems of production (e.g. publishing company, school) Modes of production -- 製造形式〃 In the industrial society -- mechanical reproduction; in our "post-industrial" age -- electronic reproduction. Relations of production -- 製造關係 between the capitalist class who owns those means of production, and the proletarian class (working class; wager earner) whose labour- power the capitalist buys for profit. Economic Determinism: example Production of a novel today: influenced by Means of Production – typing or handwriting; including only verbal language or also drawing. Modes of Production – feudal (copying), industrial (print copy), electronic (multimedia, or internet and blog). Dialectical Relations of Production – from production (writer + cover designer + publishers) to distribution (with bookstores and news media) to consumption (readers) The material aspects determine the expression and communication of ideas. Marx’s Critique of Capitalism 1. Capitalism – caused by industrialism’s amplification of labor power (clip 14:00) with machines surplus values accumulation and expansion of capitals Investment Productive process (re-investment) (the laborers + machine) (alienation) Marketable (Scase 13) Economic surplus commodities Marx’s Critique of Capitalism (2) 2. Consequences: exploitation and alienation of laborers, Exchange/sign values over use values; (e.g. LV bag) reification(物化) and commodification of human relations (chap 6 83) flattening of subjectivity and waning of affect. Example: Modern Times (2:49 workers as a screw in the assembly line) ; The Bicycle Thief (bicycle as the means of production) Marx’s Critique of Capitalism (2) 2. ―immiseration thesis‖ -- exploitation and alienation of laborers, reification Note: Saunders argues that capitalism actually increases human wealth (of the poor and the rich alike) and improves human lives What do you think? Marx’s Solution 3. Marx’s argument: State-owned properties Communism (example: State Capitalism -- clip 13:00) Pension funds or share-holding is not enough; State-owned capital; possible problem, the State’s inefficiency; Commune (regional economy, self-sufficiency) Marx’s Critique of Capitalism (3) 3. fetishism The charming and enigmatic nature of commodity Use value Exchange values added to it; ―abstract‖ relations between the products relations between men Commodities as system of signs, hiding the economic relations in the production process. –誰來問凱蒂貓是否也流了汗﹖(source) Critique of Capitalism (4) –by Western Marxism Herbert Marcuse – capitalism creates our false needs, whereas our ―real needs‖ are ―repressively desublimated‖ in a one- dimensional world of commodities. (Cf. Saunders 79) Ardorno: creates ―massified‖ pseudo-identity e.g. The Icicle Thief (ending: a world of commodities, satisfying endless desires) Social Structure: Base and Superstructure Base-- ―The sum total of [the] relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation‖ (ref. 83) Superstructure--a legal and political superstructure, cultural institutions and forms of social consciousness. (ref. 84) Relations between -- The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. Social Structure: Base and Superstructure (2) Other ways to describe their relations: reflect, determine ultimately, cause, condition,sets the limit e.g. Vulgar Marxism’s reflectionism (ref. 81. 84)-- (presupposes a homology in social structure) Social Structure: Base and Superstructure (3) Superstructure Parallel, reflect Ideology: the ruling ideas of the ruling class; imposed on the other classes. Base as foundation, center Althusser’s idea of social formation; de-centered Relative autonomy of the social levels and ultimate determination by the base Can literature change society? Superstructure Base Summary --and Examples? Key words: Materialist View of Our Existence: – Economic determinism – Mode, Means and Relations of ―Production‖ – Alienation, Reification – Modes of Consumption (Conspicuous, Fetishist) – Class or different ways of grouping Dialectical Materialism – Class Struggle Capitalist Society – Mechanical Production emphasis on surplus value and exchange value (but not use value) One example (7-11 Always Open) – Industrial, Monopolist, Multinational Next Time Reader: chap 5 pp. 86-92; chap 6 to p. 81-89 The Great Gatsby excerpts (on Gatsby’s views of Daisy) (plot summary here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby#Plot_summary ) References Sauders, Peter. Capitalism: A Social Audit. Buckingham: Open UP, 1995. Scase, Richard. Class. Buckingham: Open UP, 1992. 賴祥蔚. 〈情人的政治經濟學〉中國 時報 92/02/14.
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