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On Liberation Week 8 Notes

by: Halsey Hazzard

On Liberation Week 8 Notes CORE-UA 400 - 080

Halsey Hazzard
GPA 4.0

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These notes cover Marx and Engels' 'The German Ideology' and chapter one of 'Capital'. Main topics include dialectical reasoning, historical materialism, commodities and value, and commodity fetish...
Texts and Ideas: On Liberation
Jini Watson
Class Notes
Literature, philosophy, Economics, Marx, marxism, comparative literature
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Halsey Hazzard on Wednesday March 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CORE-UA 400 - 080 at New York University taught by Jini Watson in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Texts and Ideas: On Liberation in Education and Teacher Studies at New York University.

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Date Created: 03/23/16
Lecture Notes March 21 MARX I: The German Ideology (Marx and Engels) - Intro to Marxism and its influence - Hegel and the Dialectic - Man, nature, and materialism - Base and superstructure - Dialectic materialism Karl Marx 1818-1883  Writing at moment of advent of political economy; in conversation w Smith, Ricardo etc.  MARXISM: what has come after/amended/added onto Marx’s work  Marxism as theory of revolution, practical philosophy o ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it’ – Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach o “Marxism is either a project of liberation or it is nothing”  “self-critical discourse” of Europe, adopted b scholars around the world Context (Marx’s Life/Work) - Marx was born into middle class family in southwest Germany (then Prussian Rhineland) - Studied at Universities of Bonn and Berlin, met Engels in Paris - Exiled from Prussia for radicalism, much of work completed in UK - Inspiration: horrified by “Condition of the Working Class in England” (Engels’ book) o Capitalist industrialization was dehumanizing laborers  Alienation from self, from society, from fruits of labor, etc. o Saw current state of Capitalism as a crisis point DETOUR: Hegel (1770-1831) - The Phenomenology of the Spirit (1807) o (“spirit” = German “geist” – really means soul/mind- not easily translated) o Was epistemology/philosophical history  **epistemology: theory of knowledge o “Geist”/spirit theorized as ideal collective consciousness, absolute knowledge  (not actual universal – specific to Europe) - The Hegelian Dialectic – lays groundwork for Marxism, existentialism, ethics, etc. o -unity of object + subject – everything produced through relationship with opposite  i.e. master/slave codependency, human/world relationship o movement of concepts/development of history through contradictory stages  ie. Bourgeois capitalism being necessary for birth of communism o the superseding of something while original remains (German: aufheben, which can mean to cancel/void/set aside but also raise, lift, make up for. Weird to translate) o the truth as the whole – (bud->blossom->fruit analogy – residue is left) The German Ideology - early work, 500 page manuscript, never actually published - grapples with Marx’s famous idea of historical materialism Man and Nature:  man distinguishes self from nature by production of means of existence **Materialism: - focus on materiality of life/environment, “real” world, modes of production History:  first historical act: production of means to satisfy man’s needs  disagrees with Hegel who believed history began with ideology/consciousness SUPERSTRUCTURE: law, culture, philosophy, religion, art, ideology*  social order/structures BASE: forces of production, labor, property relations **Ideology: that which explains/naturalizes relationships to means of production (aka superstructure). Both enabled and limited by political/economic structure (aka base). NOTE: there is often a gap between reality of material world and ideology which describes it, and the base must be examined in order to truly understand the superstructure Example: Triangular trade must be examined in order to successfully abolish slavery DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM:  Marx’s method, departure from Hegelian Dialectic  History is not simply linear/progressive, but collective o Works by contradiction o New things constantly developing inside the old o The truth is the whole (sum total of history/changes)  In practice: Capitalism is not “bad” but rather necessary part of dialectic o Collectivity borne of capitalism  overthrow of society  i.e. social media comes from capitalism but can challenge it o Capitalists as revolution against earlier Feudalism/serfdom Reading Questions for Wednesday (Das Kapital) - What is a commodity? - What is the difference between use value and exchange value? - What does Marx mean by commodity fetishism? Lecture Notes March 23 The German Ideology continued - Freedom  mankind’s relation to production - History (from Hegel) – need to look at evolution/residues to get full picture o Contradictions give birth to new forms, problems contain solutions o Ex: globalization/high production necessary to give birth to communism - Revolutionary Agency o “liberation is a historical and not a mental act” (p129)  Determined by material conditions o Assumed (wrongly) that most advanced countries would be the first to rebel o “men make their own history but they do not make it just as they please” Das Kapital (Volumes 1-3, 1867-1894) (chapter we read known as “the commodity chapter”) -proletariat: creates wealth that they themselves do not enjoy -bourgeoisie: own means of production + accumulate wealth generated by proletariat **commodity: any object which satisfies a need - Use value: quality (incommensurable values) determined by consumption/use - Exchange value: quantity (commensurable values) realized in exchange Marx’s question: where does value come from? Answer: labor power: congealed qualities of homogenous human labor  Socially necessary/averaged time  Depends on productivity of labor (efficiency, etc.)  Not quite the same as price which is determined in the marketplace Concrete Labor: quality (incommensurable) Abstract Labor: Quantity (commensurable) **COMMODITY: an object determined by its congealed abstract labor and transferred to the consumer through the medium of exchange. Requires both use value and exchange value. Relationship of Labor to Value Quality Quantity (sensuous, particular, differentiated, material) (abstract, universal, homogenous) Use value  Exchange Value  ↓  ↓ Concrete Labor  Abstract Labor - You must have difference in order to make an exchange - If concrete labor/value is the “how”/”what” then abstract labor/value is the “how much” Labor power itself is a commodity  must be sold on the marker  Capitalists buy labor, use value is the concrete labor that is performed  Exchange value and abstract labor are measured on different scales, allowing for profit **valorization: creation of more value from value (profit-making) A secret of capitalism: difference between what capitalists pay for labor and the value produced **Commodity Fetishism: the process by which an animate life is attributed to an inanimate object  All traces of production are erased despite value being the result of human labor  People are dehumanized, commodities are made social objects  Money in commodity form is made to eclipse social relations For next week: What are the consequences of the commodification of education?


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