Karl Marx

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Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Social context takes precedence over
innate behavior (the concept of the
individual is rational only in his/her
relation to the community)

Human communities “transform nature”

This process of transformation is called
"labor" and the capacity to transform
nature "labor power"

Labor is a social activity

Karl Marx

There is a distinction between the means of
production and the relations of production

The Means of Production:


natural resources


The Relations of Production:

The social and technical relationships people enter into as
they acquire and use the means of production

This comprised not only relations among individuals, but

between or among groups of people, or classes.

Karl Marx

Together these comprise the mode of

Within any society, the mode of production

This was the result of a process known as
“dialectical materialism”

Each historical period’s mode of
production (thesis) was challenged by a
challenging set of social forces (anti

Karl Marx

The basis of human society is how humans work
on nature to produce the means of subsistence.

There is a division of labor into social classes
(relations of production) based on property
ownership where some people live from the labor
of others.

The system of class division is dependent on the
mode of production.

Society moves from stage to stage when the
dominant class is displaced by a new emerging

Karl Marx

Quote from the


“the history of all hitherto existing society
is the history of class struggles”

Translated: History is the effect of material
class struggle in society

The universe is not a disconnected mix of
things isolated from each other, but an
integral whole, with the result that things
are interdependent.

Karl Marx


the natural world or cosmos

is in a state of
constant motion:

"All nature, from the smallest thing to the biggest, from
a grain of sand to the sun, from the protista to man, is in
a constant state of coming into being and going out of
being, in a constant flux, in a ceaseless state of
movement and change."
Friedrich Engels

Insignificant and imperceptible quantitative changes lead to
fundamental, qualitative changes, occurring not gradually,
but rapidly and abruptly, in the form of a leap from one
state to another. A simple example from the physical world
might be the heating of water: a one degree increase in
temperature is a quantitive change, but at 100 degrees
there is a qualitative change

water to steam.

Karl Marx

Hegel turned on his head:
"My dialectic method,"
wrote Marx, "is not only different from the
Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the
process of the human brain, i.e. the process of
thinking, which, under the name of ‘the Idea,’ he
even transforms into an independent subject, is
the demiurgos of the real world, and the real
world is only the external, phenomenal form of
‘the Idea.’ With me, on the contrary, the ideal is
nothing else than the material world reflected by
the human mind, and translated into forms of

Karl Marx

“It is not the consciousness of men
that determines their existence, but
on the contrary, it is their social
existence that determines their

Karl marx

Marx believed that the basis of social
order in every society is the mode of
production of material goods

What is produced, and how it is produced
determine the differences in people’s
wealth, power, and social status

The mode of production also determines
all expressions of “civilization”: Law,
Philosophy, Art, Religion, etc.

Karl Marx


(Law, Philosophy,

Art, Religion


(Mode of Production)

Karl Marx

The History of humanity has been punctuated by several “stages” characterized by
different modes of production:

Primitive hunting and gathering societies which had no extra wealth and
therefore no private property, social classes, class struggles, or even the need for

Struggle for scarce resources between competing groups

The establishment of empires

Slave societies

with a rich ruling class opposed by an oppressed underclass of

The tension between native slave holders and non
native slaves

The collapse of empires

Feudal society with a noble class of landowning lords opposed by an oppressed
class of serfs

The forces of urbanization and specialization of labor, development of checking,
banking systems, paper moneyed systems

The emergence of the merchant class, or bourgeoisie

Capitalist society with a rich class of factory owners, or the bourgeoisie


by an oppressed class of factory workers, or the proletariat

Socialist society run by the workers with no private property, and thus no social
classes, or class conflicts
thesis, and final stage)

Karl Marx

Marx’s “labor theory of value”:

The value of an object is solely a result of the labor
expended to produce it.

The more labor, or labor time, that goes into an object,
the more it is worth

An example of how the labor theory of value works: A
worker in a factory is given $30 worth of material, and
after working 3 hours producing a good, and using $10
worth of fuel to run a machine, he creates a product
which is sold for $100. According the Marx, the labor and
only the labor of the worker increased the value of the
natural materials to $100. The worker is thus justly
entitled to a $60 payment, or $20 per hour.

Karl Marx

Marx’s theory of “the alienation of labor”

If the worker is employed by a factory owner
who pays him only $15 per hour, according to
Marx the $5 per hour the factory owner
receives constitutes theft.

The factory owner has done nothing to earn
the money and the $5 per hour he receives is
"surplus value" representing exploitation of the
worker. Even the tools which the factory owner
provided were produced by other workers.

Karl Marx

According to the labor theory of value, all
profits are the rightful earnings of the
workers, and when they are kept from the
workers by capitalists, workers are being
robbed. On the basis of this theory, Marx
called for the elimination of profits, for
workers to seize factories and for the
overthrow of the "tyranny" of capitalism.

The factory, then, becomes the collective
property of the workers.

Karl Marx

The implications of Marx’s theory:

The class consciousness of the proletariat will be elevated in
such a way to understand and challenge capitalist exploitation.
They will seize the means of production and govern as the
dominant class (the dictatorship of the proletariat)

The “state” as a development of superstructure from the
Capitalist Era, will pass away

Material goods will be produced by the working class who will
collectively own the means of production (this means the end
of private property) and democratically make all managerial

There will be an abundance of material goods produced by
workers that will be equitably distributed to everyone
according to their need, irregardless of what they have