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Presentation on theme: "WESTERN MARXISM and the FRANKFURT SCHOOL"— Presentation transcript:


2 KEY ISSUES 1. What happened to Marxism after Marx?
2. Multiple different Marxisms 3. Changing nature of Western societies - Why has the revolution not yet happened? 4. New types of Marxism: FOR understanding new social conditions Produced BY new social conditions

3 OUTLINE History after Marx “Eastern Marxism” “Western Marxism”
New Marxism 1: Georg Lukacs New Marxism 2: Antonio Gramsci “Hegemony” (More) Optimistic Marxism 6. New Marxism 3: The Frankfurt School “Critical Theory” (More) Pessimistic Marxism 7. Evaluation

4 (“The International”)
History after Marx Marx dies in 1883 Marx’s legacy: Intellectual: social theory Practical: Socialist movement (“The International”)

5 Changing social conditions
in the West 1880s to 1930s Appearance of mass media (esp. cheap newspapers) and mass leisure - Cinema (beginnings of ‘celebrity culture’; beginnings of ‘Americanization’) - Radio (possibilities for propaganda: Mussolini)

6 2) Rising working class standards of living
Development of welfare state Beginnings of mass consumerism (e.g. USA: mass car ownership by 1930s)

7 3) Crises in capitalism Wall Street Crash, 1929 Large number of businesses go bust Many capitalists ruined Mass unemployment Hyper-inflation 4) Challenges to capitalism - Communist revolution in Russia, 1917 Increased popularity of Fascism: Hitler wins power in Germany, 1933

8 “EASTERN MARXISM” Marxism in the Soviet Union (USSR)
Russian Revolution, 1917 Communist Party attempts to foster democracy VERSUS Communist Party keeps all power for itself Death of Lenin, 1924

9 1924 – 1930 Coming to power of Joseph Stalin 1) Opponents killed or sent to prison camps 2) USSR becomes totalitarian Communist Party has total power “Cult of Personality” – Stalin as God 3) Marxism becomes official religion of the State: “Dialectical Materialism”

10 Stalin’s presentation of Marx:
1) Positivism: scientific approach; “facts” 2) Fixed “laws” of social life 3) Inevitability of Communism 4) A State religion - The “Truth” Beyond criticism Uncritical of Russian society

11 All other social institutions Base and Superstructure
Economy Base and Superstructure Economy by far the most important of all social institutions All other institutions merely products of, and subservient to, the economic base

12 “WESTERN MARXISM” Response in Western Europe to the Soviet Union
1) Admiration & emulation by some 2) Increasing distrust of Stalin by others More information becomes available Not communism but totalitarianism By late 1930s, Stalin the mirror-image of Hitler

13 Need to develop a new sort of Marxism:
1) More flexible: not just base creates superstructure (“mechanistic Marxism”) 2) Not a state religion; not dogmatic - could criticise Communist Party and USSR 3) Attuned to new social conditions 4) DOESN’T claim Communism would emerge inevitably; - the revolution depends on circumstances

1) Why has the Revolution not yet happened? Physical repression: armed force Ideological repression: dominant ideologies Marx: “culture” not very important; merely part of the social superstructure Western Marxism: “culture” very important; controls how the working classes think 2) What forces are emerging in society that can lead to Revolution?

15 Georg (Gyorgy) Lukacs Need to develop non-mechanistic Marxism
- Rejects base and superstructure model Goes back to Hegel a) Young Marx influenced by Hegel b) Tension in Marx between active human agency and constraining social structures c) Hegel emphasises human agency; humans are critical and creative d) “Hegelian Marxism” – focus on human creativity; change and movement

16 “Social Totality” 1) Must look at the “whole society” 2) Look at how all parts relate to and effect each other 3) Changes in one part have effects in all other parts 4) The economy INDIRECTLY shapes other parts of the society 5) Other parts of the society can impact on the economy too

17 “Reification” 1) Develops Marx on alienation & ‘commodity fetishism’ 2) Reification = seeing as an objectively existing “thing” what are actually fluid and changing social relationships 3) Capitalist economy EITHER A “thing” with a life and mind of its own OR Fluid and changing social relationships Social conflicts and new social forces 4) Aim of Marxism: to break through reification; to identify social change, and encourage it

RECAP Marxism after Marx Adapted to fit 20th C conditions e.g. mass media Against “Eastern Marxism” Simplistic base and superstructure model 4. “Hegelian” - Lukacs – emphasis on human creativity 5. Why has the revolution not happened? How might it happen? Antonio Gramsci / The Frankfurt School

19 Antonio Gramsci Imprisoned by Mussolini regime “Prison Notebooks”
Hegelian Marxism: Emphasis on thoughtful and active human agency (“praxis”) Why has the Revolution not happened? Physical Force Dominant ideologies

20 “Hegemony” Aspect 1: ruling classes control the society a) Their ideas are the dominant ideas b) Their ideas successfully repress the ideas of other classes c) Their ways of thinking shape everyone’s ways of thinking d) Their rule is seen by everyone as natural and inevitable (“just the way things are”)

21 Hegemony - Aspect 2: The rule of the ruling classes is not guaranteed The rule of the ruling classes is always potentially threatened: a) The population can become sceptical (e.g. due to crises in the economy) b) New “counter-hegemonic” social forces can emerge (e.g. anti-Iraq War protestors)

22 c) Disputes within the ruling classes
Not just one ruling class; ruling classES Different groups within ruling classes e.g. business leaders, government officials Must work with each other to retain power

23 Gramsci’s Conclusions
1) ruling classes’ power often quite fragile 2) ruling classes must constantly work to secure their rule 3) ruling classes must try to control counter-hegemonic social forces 4) ruling classes have to negotiate and compromise with the populace e.g. the welfare state

24 The Frankfurt School - Members
Institute for Social Research University of Frankfurt, 1923 Multi-disciplinary membership: Max Horkheimer (philosophy) Theodor Adorno (philosophy and musicology) Walter Benjamin (philosophy and literature) Herbert Marcuse (Freudian psychology)

25 “Critical Theory” Sources: Marx; 2) Max Weber; 3) Sigmund Freud
Following Marx: Most sorts of social science see only the surface of society Must find the hidden workings of society Frankfurt: against positivism - “scientific” sociology / Durkheim - can only see surface-level things

26 Marx: Sociology must be “critical”
Must be highly sceptical of all claims Must get beyond how a society presents itself & understands itself Internal Critique: Compare capitalist society’s claims about itself with the reality of that society e.g. freedom for individual / meritocracy Show a society’s hypocrisy Frankfurt: “negative dialectics”

27 Updating of Marx 1) Must avoid the flaws of other sorts of sociological theory: BOTH Theoretical AND Practical BOTH Theory AND Data 2) Must avoid flaws of “Eastern Marxism”: - must be open to being corrected by evidence - must change as society changes

28 Max Weber: The “Iron Cage” 1) Instrumental rationality thinking based on calculation most efficient ways of achieving aims 2) Bureaucracy: rational control over people Frankfurt view: “Total administration” - dominance of instrumental rationality - complete bureaucratic control The main bureaucracies: 1) The State 2) Capitalist Economy (Monopoly Capitalism) 3) Leisure industries & mass media

29 Mass Media Adorno and Horkheimer The “Culture Industry” Mass Culture: standardised culture for “the masses” 1. Propagates dominant ideologies - audiences influenced - conformist thinking and behaviour 2. Pacifies the populace - superficial pleasures - a break from unfulfilling jobs 3. Outcome: capitalist system reproduced over time

30 Sigmund Freud Social shaping of individual psychology - “blank slate” Frankfurt view (Fromm; Adorno): psychology shaped by dominant ideologies e.g. capitalist ideologies these make people passive and conformist

31 2) Social shaping of collective psychology
a social group e.g. the capitalist class a whole society e.g. capitalist society All societies need to repress individuals’ natural, biological instincts sex drives violent tendencies uncontrolled egotism & selfishness

32 Modern Western (capitalist) societies repress natural instincts very much
PROBLEM - Too much repression: Individual becomes “neurotic” - Individual is psychologically sick b) The whole society becomes “neurotic” - The whole society is psychologically sick

33 Frankfurt view (Herbert Marcuse – 1960s):
1) Capitalist society overly represses natural instincts 2) Individuals in capitalist society are made neurotic e.g. craving wealth & fame 3) The whole society is neurotic e.g. happiness = consumer goods 4) Encouragement of worst human traits: a) Greed b) Seeing others as objects to be used c) Hatred of ‘foreigners’ and ‘outsiders’ 5) Solution: Critical Theory as therapy – makes society realise its own sickness

34 EVALUATION Take Weber on “Iron Cage” at face value?
forget it is just a model / ideal type 2) Use of Freud: assume individual psychology thoroughly influenced by society overestimate power of mass media? 3) Overly pessimistic? No hope for social change. Total power of “the System”. (Adorno & Horkheimer; NOT Marcuse) Betray Marxism? Gramsci more appropriate?

35 Evaluation 2 Has Western Marxism improved on Marx’s ideas? Still flawed? Has Western Marxism successfully kept up with social developments? Has it been able to understand these developments effectively? Has Marxism been thoroughly outmoded? (e.g. Postmodernism)


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