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Political Thinking POL 161 Erik Rankin D&B 208-222.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Thinking POL 161 Erik Rankin D&B 208-222."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Thinking POL 161 Erik Rankin D&B

2 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels "A spectre is haunting Europe--the spectre of Communism." Communists have gathered in London and written a Manifesto to make public their views, aims and tendencies. The Manifesto begins by addressing the issue of class antagonism. "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." History shows us the oppressor and oppressed in constant opposition to each other. This fight is sometimes hidden and sometimes open. Every time the fight ends in either a revolutionary reconstruction of society or in the classes' common ruin.

3 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto begins with a statement of its purpose, to push the views, aims and ideas of the Communists. It is a document that is meant to be read by the public, and it is meant to be easily grasped by a general audience. This is the reason for its abbreviated format and simple language It is also meant to be a general overview of what Communism is, both as a theory and as a political movement.

4 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx begins by introducing several of the key ideas of his theory. The main idea is that all of history until now is made up of a series of class struggles. Every society in history has a characteristic economic structure, which breeds different classes This is not permanent, eventually the means of production cease to be compatible with the current class structure. Then the structure begins to impede the development of productive forces. Inevitably, the existing structure must be destroyed. This explains the emergence of the bourgeoisie out of feudalism. It will also explain the eventual destruction of the bourgeoisie. Marx feels all of history should be understood in this way—a process in which classes realign themselves in accordance with changing means of production.

5 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels A huge aspect of this theory of history is what it does not deem important In Marx's theory, history is shaped by economic relations alone Topics such as religion, culture, ideology, and the individual human being, play a very little role (rather odd given some ideas) This has been one of the biggest criticisms of Marx’s theory History for Marx moves according to impersonal forces, its overall direction is inevitable

6 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx feels that this kind of history will eventually come to an end The Manifesto argues that this modern class conflict is the final class conflict; which brings about the end of all class relations. Here are some of the ways in which the modern era is unique.  Classes have been simplified, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, are the only two classes  Everything is seen in terms of self- interest.  The bourgeoisie continually revolutionize the instruments of production, which leaves social relations in an unstable state.

7 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx pounds in the idea of the plight of the modern laborer. He feels that the worker is commodified, and is a part of the machinery. He matters only in so far as he produces, and he does not have control over his production What do we do with non-producers? The story of the laborer is a story of obvious exploitation, and has had great resonance with many of Marx's readers.

8 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx also shows the proletariat are a unique class (for obvious reasons) They are the majority in society, and their numbers are growing The biggest point he feels is that they have virtually nothing to lose The proletarians have no power or privileges they must defend. They must destroy the entire system, not change but utter destruction When they have their revolution, they must destroy the entire system of class exploitation, including all private property. That is why Marx describes this as the last part of history This stage can only exist due in part to the existence of the other stages The proletariat must create a revolution

9 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels He moves to ideas of religion and philosophy being rooted in people's material existence; most ideas are only the results of specific relationships of production. Most ideas, according to Marx are those that serve the interests of the ruling class (surprise) The ruling class makes the rules that form society, and supports those ideas that help them meet their ends EX: the bourgeoisie glorify property rights because they own most all of the property

10 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx talks about how he feels the revolution will unfold The workers become the rulers, eliminate private property, eliminating the vestiges of old class power It gets tough to understand if the Manifesto is talking about history or if it is laying out specific plans (as you read form your own opinion) Communism feels history is an unchangeable force, but also as leading to a morally desirable outcome. What is Communist's role in the process of history? If the revolution is an inevitable force of history, we might even question why the Communist Manifesto is necessary.

11 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx's techniques of responding to criticisms, is harsh and often quite sarcastic Consider whether his approach is effective Would he be more convincing if he took a more serious tone about the critiques of Communism? BUT… Can the Manifesto retain its "revolutionary" ideals if he did change his tone?

12 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx argues that other socialist ideas have failed because they missed out on a key component of Communist theory Most fail to realize that the inevitability of the bourgeoisie's rise, and of their eventual fall at the hands of the proletariat The Conservative Socialists, do not see the obvious features of class antagonism, and of the destruction of the bourgeoisie. The Critical-Utopian Socialists do not understand that social change must occur in revolutions, and not by words with dream like qualities Here you see the turn towards violence

13 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels For us Marx's discussion of the second subgroup deserves the most consideration. The Conservative Socialism that Marx abhors is same the attitude embraced by the United States toward the working class. Welfare, Social Security and a minimum wage are all practices that Marx would say act to preserve the capitalist system by making the position of the proletariat tolerable. Marx argues that these "reforms" are really done in the interests of the bourgeois, in order to appease the proletariat and make them accept their social role This is hard to swallow, but Marx feels that “reforms” are not done to protect you at all, rather to make accept to role in society quietly This is the reason that Marx and his ideals still exist in society today Is this argument compelling to you?

14 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx believes this type of Socialism is wrong; he feels that the only way fix the problems of the proletariat is by restructuring economic and social relations This is a revolutionary act; the suggested reforms of Conservative Socialists are merely there to serve the elite How does Marx's theories apply to the U.S. or Western European nations--nations that have instituted such "Conservative Socialist" programs? Is Marx right saying reforms serve the interests of the ruling capitalists, and not the workers? Looking back and having seen "Conservative Socialism" in action, do you see historical evidence supporting Marx's claims of the inevitability of a proletariat uprising? If so, do you feel there is a desirability of such an uprising?

15 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx ends by showing what his political agenda has in store. The end goal is a proletariat revolution and the abolition of private property and class differences He feels that history must go through stages, this may mean sometimes supporting the bourgeoisie, in order to eventually make a workers' revolution possible HUH? While the Communists have a strong foundation, combining observations and predictions, they are also advocating those predictions, and attempting to accelerate their realization.

16 The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Marx does not simply declare that workers shall one day unite He calls on workers to unite, promising them freedom and a better world free of class struggles How separable are the political and theoretical messages of the Communists? Is the Communists' theory of history an essential part of its revolutionary message? By this I mean, since this revolution is inevitable, is it difficult to disagree with Marx? His theory might seem awful open ended, and very applicable today (be fearful!) Ask yourself how the Communist cause might be helped or harmed by the claim that revolution is inevitable


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