A Detailed analysis of Dynamic Determinism Essay Example
A Detailed analysis of Dynamic Determinism Essay Example

A Detailed analysis of Dynamic Determinism Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2612 words)
  • Published: August 21, 2017
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Dynamic Determinism

At the outset of the Communist Manifesto, Marx presents a key tenant of his ideology, asserting that "the history of all previously existing society is the history of class struggles" (p.256).

Marx introduces his readers to his dialectic using this quotation mark. It suggests that business and wealth create different societal categories, and that economic conditions determine historical events. Essentially, Marx's interpretation of history is influenced by historical philistinism. He implicitly supports this idea by emphasizing that the ongoing battle between different categories will be resolved in a unique way. In the conflict between labor and the middle class, Marx believes that the revolution will serve as both the anti-thesis and a declaration of past struggles. While previous social changes have always resulted in the emergence of a new ruling category, Marx argues that capitalist economy


will unequivocally transition to an egalitarian communist state. However, critics find a contradiction in Marxism: why is the influence of philosophers necessary if historical philistinism will lead to communism regardless? Ironically, even Marx's supporters struggle with this question, as some fear that too much influence will corrupt the class consciousness of laborers. However, according to Marx, the opposite is true, as he states that "philosophers have merely interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it" (p.145).

Philosophers have a responsibility to serve as a catalyst for the revolution, but simply pointing out flaws in capitalism is not enough. To understand why Marx wants to use philosophy to overcome capitalism, we must examine his definition of it and why political activism aligns with historical materialism. My thesis argues that understanding Marx's perspective relies on interpretin

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his statements about historical materialism, political activism, and capitalism. Before analyzing capitalism, it is important to grasp how it arises from Marx's interpretation of history. We will begin by examining why the revolution must directly challenge the capitalist system rather than any other social structure. This helps demonstrate why philosophers are necessary in guiding the revolution according to Marx's vision.

In the following text, we will analyze Marx's views on the need for proletarian class consciousness and how the division of labor has hindered its development. Marx identifies five oppressive factors that hinder the Communist Revolution, and believes that philosophers must navigate these barriers in order to overcome them. By understanding these two concepts together, we can gain a deeper understanding of capitalism and why Marx strongly advocates for philosophers to be involved in the revolution. Historical philistinism is seen by Marx as a form of economic determinism.

Marx explores the concept of a "materialist construct of history" in his discussion, although he does not explicitly label it as such. This construct is employed to elucidate past conflicts and anticipate future ones. Historical philistinism focuses not on the chronology of biological science history, but instead on societal history. Marx contends that society originates from the creation of means to satisfy its needs, or the means of production. This initial act is deemed the "first historical act," as individuals acknowledge that their survival hinges on their capacity to produce essential resources for life.

Since its inception, society has been shaped by and focused on these institutions. The process started in tribal communities during prehistoric times, where access to land, a crucial means of production over time, was

available to everyone equally. In these tribes, the division of labor resulted in distinct social roles for hunters, gatherers, and craftsmen, each occupying their own unique societal position. One's social status was directly linked to the importance of their occupation within the labor division.

The passage discusses the evolution of communal society and the ownership of slaves in different eras. In the early communal society, slaves were a result of inter-tribe struggle or understanding, hinting at the decline of community-ownership of production. Slaves were completely emancipated from their communities, demonstrating that it was not humanity as a whole but a specific group that owned their productive abilities. In feudal times, the nobility gained control over production by owning all available land, further solidifying their exclusive ownership. Unlike in the previous era where the entire tribal community owned slaves, now only a small fraction of the community, the nobility, controlled the means of production. Serfs had access to these means but both the agencies and the products, the land and agriculture, belonged to the nobility.

The helot was paid not for his labor, but for the merchandise generated, serving as their landlord proverb tantrum. Antagonism emerged towards the towns where the Lords resided together, equipped with the necessary weapons to maintain their control. Capitalism completely redefined the available business opportunities to individuals, leading to the creation of new social classes. According to Marx, capitalism was an unavoidable successor to the feudal system, as advancements in technology would eventually render the means of production too complex to be confined within the feudal structure.

Marx accurately predicted that the labor force, workers in an ever-increasing number of mills, would quickly surpass

the peasantry in political significance. According to Marx, their potential lay in a dormant class consciousness that could be utilized for revolutionary purposes. In the feudal era, peasants were abundant in numbers but extremely difficult to organize and educate. This was due to their isolated occupations, resembling "potatoes in a sack." Farmers had limited interaction with one another, residing far apart, and were unable to engage in political activism due to seasonal obligations. In contrast, the labor force worked and lived in close proximity to mills, leading to unavoidable social interactions.

As the middle class gained power and opened more mills, the number of workers increased significantly. Interestingly, Marx notes that the middle class have created their own 'grave diggers'. This means that not only will the oppressed rise up in a bloody revolution, but the failed capitalists will also bury the graves of other capitalists. "A mass of minor industrialists... are thrown down... and stretch out their arms alongside those of the workers. Thus, the forest of raised arms demanding work becomes thicker, while the arms themselves become thinner." These conditions create a suitable backdrop for a violent revolution. However, a reactionary movement by the oppressed is not enough to free humanity from the perpetual cycle of classism. Without understanding the reason for their suffering, the laborers may become another ruling class that oppresses former middle class members, peasants, and other categories.

To prevent this, workers need to be conscious of and dismantle the system of oppression. Marx argues that it is essential for philosophers to raise the awareness of the working class, enabling them to overcome class divisions. The Communist Manifesto and other writings by

Marx provide empirical evidence that supports this idea. Understanding why workers cannot naturally awaken and recognize the root cause of their oppression is crucial. Marx emphasizes how production has shaped society and history, defining human interactions based on connections with goods rather than relationships among individuals.

Materialism encompasses a mindset in which "the main defect...is that the thing, world, sensuousness, is conceived merely in the form of the object...but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively". In this passage, Marx's critique of capitalism goes beyond a simple explanation of history with historical ignorance and delves into a more detailed analysis of the relationship between individuals and their labor. Marx asserts that social interactions have fostered a mindset where "man...makes both his own and other species his objects". This statement goes beyond identifying the objectification that occurs in slavery, where humans are viewed as commodities, but instead emphasizes that the way individuals interact with each other for the sake of fulfilling personal needs – or even wants, not just needs – reduces other people exclusively to a means to an end. Although one might expect this reasoning to solely criticize labor, Marx actually believes that labor can be both rewarding and beneficial. Marx argues that we should work "collectively for society, conscious of myself as a social being".

In a capitalist system, it is not possible to work for the benefit of others. The workers face difficulties in supporting themselves through their labor and cannot afford to prioritize each other. Prior to the industrial revolution, the most important social dynamic was wage-labor between the middle class and laborers. This dynamic has enslaved the workers to production, leading

them to experience selflessness and sadness.

According to Marx, the labor that should sustain workers instead harms them. This occurs because workers invest their lives into the objects they produce, causing these objects to no longer belong to them but to something else—an independent object that acts against them. This object possesses self-sufficient power and opposes the worker. Marx stresses that it is the worker who affirms their subordinate status to capitalists as each produced object confirms their subjugation. The proletarian forfeits their human identity and becomes reliant on production, detached from the product itself, the labor process, their own species-being, and other humans. By producing for capitalists, they reinforce their enslavement by losing control over political economy. As long as workers continue in this role within capitalist society, the relationship between labor and capitalists persists. Marx also observes that although labor is crucial for production, it lacks value; instead, all value is attributed to private ownership (p.93).

The text further demonstrates how the worker is reduced to a commodity, going against their identity as a human. The worker's survival depends solely on labor, which is also used to dominate them. This idea of seeing workers as commodities stems from alienation. Reification occurs when workers are forced to accept a change in the relationship between object and subject, being compelled to work under others' control. Consequently, the value of the products they create is only determined by their exchange for money. Although the connection between money and objects has existed in all societies, it is particularly prevalent in capitalism due to its foundation on producing and exchanging commodities.

Marx describes the creation of commodities in capitalist systems as

being for the purpose of selling them in exchange for money. This money can then be used to buy more commodities. Marx summarizes this process with two equations. The first equation, C-M-C, is less severe because it begins and ends by considering the use-value of commodities. It acknowledges that the reason for exchanging goods is to meet basic needs, with money serving as an intermediary without intrinsic value, as its value comes from the use-value of the second commodity obtained. In contrast, the second equation, M-C-M*, represents the true evil within capitalism by explaining the intense desire for wealth and accumulating capital.

Commodity fetishism can be summed up by this equation: "the purchaser lays out money...only with the crafty purpose of acquiring it back once more". This means that commodity fetishism is driven by exchange-value, which has no inherent value - commodities no longer represent use, but rather value. According to Marx, this system becomes eternal and oppressive because the only acceptable outcome is extra exchange-value, or surplus-value. There is no reason for M-C-M to exist because if M and M are equal, then the exchange does not need to occur. Marx implicitly argues that one of the greatest injustices in capitalism is the ability to access these two equations. The labor is forced to survive based on C-M-C, where they produce goods for the sake of wages, which must then be used to purchase necessities.

The middle class, however, capitalizes on M-C-M* in their wage-labor relationship with workers. They buy the goods produced by the laborers solely to sell them for profit. Reification occurs in both directions: the middle class views their workers as a way

to obtain goods, objectifying human beings, while the labor assigns value to goods through their wages, a self-imposed process of reification. Essentially, the labor is simply unaware of how to properly utilize labor.

Despite this, Marx does not blame them. He understands that they are raised in a hostile environment where selfishness is the norm. The working class is made to believe that the division of social classes is unavoidable and unchangeable. They are told that they must always follow the cycle of commodity-money-commodity and that the middle class can always exploit money-commodity-money*, while the ruling class will always hold power and the lower classes will always be oppressed. This concept is later referred to as 'false consciousness', which is adopted by the oppressed but created by the oppressors. In fact, "the ideas of the ruling class are, in every era, the ruling ideas," i.e.

According to Marx, society is governed by both its material force and its rational force. The division of labor separates physical and mental labor, allowing individuals to conceive pure theory, religion, doctrine, and ethics only when they can detach from reality. In capitalist economies, consciousness becomes detached from existing practices and becomes something abstract. Only priests, students, and philosophers who do not participate in labor are able to speculate beyond the economic theories that directly impact the lives of the working and middle classes. However, the working class finds itself trapped in a paradox where they must work to survive but in doing so further reinforce their own oppression.

Simultaneously, physical work prevents workers from recognizing the extent of their oppression and understanding it systematically. Even if individual workers came to the conclusion

that labor was the root of their subjugation, boycotting the system individually would only lead to hunger and destitution, without bringing about any ideological transformation. This is why philosophers - those who possess true comprehension of the world - must awaken the class as a whole, since labor cannot gradually inspire awareness. Marx perceives consciousness as "a social product" and states that "language is practical consciousness that exists also for other men" (p.183). As language facilitates dialogue among individuals, mankind's consciousness must evolve through this exchange. Within the capitalist framework, both the bourgeoisie and capitalist economy suppress labor's ability to cultivate a collective class consciousness.

The challenges to the revolution include disaffection, hypostatization, trade good fetichism, false consciousness, and the division of labor. A philosopher's task is to overcome these obstacles in the capitalist world. Just as the division of labor allows workers to produce parts that form complex products, the division of material and intellectual labor separates humanity into two classes that must collaborate to eliminate class struggles in society. Marx emphasizes the importance of political activism in awakening the class consciousness of laborers, who must intentionally unite for the purpose of revolution. It is worth noting that capitalism has its merits as well - it liberated individuals from feudalism and nature through advancements in production methods (p.246).

In fact, Marx's historical philistinism predicts that the agencies of production will continuously improve and society will always evolve. Marx acknowledges that society must evolve beyond communism as well, as the agencies of production continue to improve. Historical philistinism is both dynamic and deterministic; Marx believes that society will always revolve around the agencies of production, but also

advocates for socially conscious individuals to steer society in the right direction. Even if communism is not an end in itself, but only a means to another social structure, Marx recognizes that it is far superior to capitalism because of the various oppressive forces it creates. Marx's critique of capitalism begins and ends with the capitalist system, with a focus on the obstacles it poses to the inevitable transition to communism.

By combining Marx's ideas on political activism and historical philistinism, it becomes clear that Marx was not simply interpreting the world, but rather he aimed to change it through his writings.

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