Credits, references, and bibliography
(see also, "The Dead Sociologists' Index" on Marx, and Sociosite on Marx)
Karl Marx on Capitalism and Communism
"Karl Marx (1818-1883) created a classical grand theory that attempts to explain the historical development of capitalism, its workings, and the course of its transformation to communism. He based his critique of capitalism on a set of assumptions about human potential, which he called species being. All societies that had existed historically — and especially capitalist societies — had retarded or constrained the exercise of full human potential. Under capitalism, this constraint leads to alienation: i.e., the breakdown of the natural interconnections between people and their own productive activities, the products they produce, the people with whom they work, and the potential they have as human beings. This is especially the case, according to Marx, among the members of the working class. In Marx’s theory, capitalism leads to the emergence of two classes: the bourgeoisie (or capitalists), who own the means of production; and the proletariat (or workers), who must sell their labor in order to gain access to the means of production and make a living. Marx’s labor theory of value — according to which the value of a product is determined by the labor put into producing it — dictates that the relationship between the capitalists and the proletariat is one of exploitation. In other words, since proletarians add all of the value to a product by transforming raw material with their labor, and the capitalists reap the profits, the capitalists exploit the proletarians. False consciousness, however, obscures this exploitation from both the capitalists and the workers. In Marx’s theory, the workers must attain class consciousness in order to grasp the reality of this exploitation. The capitalists, however, are too wrapped up in making profits, and are thus incapable of grasping the reality of exploitation. In order to transform their unbearable conditions, the workers must first attain class consciousness and then engage in praxis, or concrete action. In other words, for Marx, social change is a matter of taking action rather than simply addressing exploitation intellectually. Marx believed that such concrete action on the part of the workers would lead to a revolution that would establish a communist society. While Marx never drafted a detailed blueprint for communism, he did believe that it would create, for the first time in history, a social system capable of nurturing full human potential. Ritzer argues that Marx’s theory is perhaps more relevant today than ever." (1)
Go to http://www.socialistworker.org/.
Click on the button that says “Where We Stand” and read the brief summary of the International Socialists Organization’s (ISO) positions. Then answer the following questions.
a. How does the ISO define
a socialist society?
b. How does the ISO’s definition of a socialist society compare to Marx’s vision of a communist society?
c. How does the ISO’s discussion of revolution compare to Marx’s?
d. How does the ISO’s platform deal with bureaucracy? How would Max Weber respond?(1)
Marxists.org Internet Archive: http://marxists.org/ (a searchable database of the works of Marx and Engels, biographical materials, image galleries, and reference works. It also contains material on other Marxists, Marxist history, a beginner’s guide to Marxism, and an encyclopedia of Marxism. Much of the material is more ideological than sociological.)(1)
Credits, references, and bibliography
Much of this page comes from the "Instructor's Manual" to accompany Contemporary
Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics, Second Edition,
George Ritzer, Mcgraw-Hill, 2007. The Instructor's Manual was prepared by James
Murphy, University of Maryland, College Park and Todd Stillman, Fayetteville
2. Ritzer, George. 2007/2010/2013. Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics. 2nd/3rd/4th editions. St. Louis: McGraw-Hill
On to Weber
Unless otherwise noted,
all pages within the web site http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/ ©2013 by
Robert O. Keel.
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