200 Years of Marx

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200 Years of Marx

<p>2018 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. The last few years have witnessed major resurgences in Marxist studies and the publication of new books on these ideas. This resurgence

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2018 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. The last few years have witnessed major resurgences in Marxist studies and the publication of new books on these ideas. This resurgence has been prompted by the contemporary problems facing late capitalism, particularly the growing gap between the very rich and the working poor. Take an in-depth look at Marx’s philosophy and its substantial influence from the 19th C to our contemporary situation. Historically we will assess his impact on the communist revolutions in Russia, Asia, Africa and South America. In Philosophy we will study his theories on human nature, work, violence, economics, alienation, religion, and the Jewish question.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Introduction: We will begin with a study of the Germany of Marx’s youth. We will also consider the political and philosophical influences which shaped his work, with an analysis of his early essay: On the Jewish Question. In this work Marx makes one of his most enduring arguments by means of introducing the distinction between political and human emancipation.
  • Intellectual Influences: Marx’s ideas are a combination of German philosophy, British political economy and French socialism. We will examine extracts from his 1843 essay Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Marx’s notorious remark that religion is the ‘opiate of the people’ is from this work. He also introduces the role of the proletariat in bringing about the emancipation of society as a whole.
  • Alienated labour – Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844): This work deals with the issues of alienated labour and private property. He also defines his theory of Communism, based on the assertion that humans have an innate urge to transcend oppression and take control of their own destiny.
  • The Role of the Philosopher – Theses on Feuerbach (1845): This is the work in which Marx claims that hitherto: “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it”. Marx’s version of historical materialism is defined in this work.
  • The Communist Manifesto: In 1845 Marx collaborated with Engels on a short work which changed the world. Scholars do not consider it the best guide to Marx’s philosophy, but its readability and high rhetorical style made it very popular and therefore influential.
  • Economy, history and society: With the failure of the 1848 revolution Marx moved to London where he remained for the rest of his life. He now concentrated on the study of economics, producing in 1859 Contribution to a critique of Political Economy and the first volume of Capital in 1894. We will consider extracts from these works.
  • Historical Fallout: We will consider Marx’s influence on the Russian and Chinese Revolutions.
  • South America and Africa: We will consider Marx’s influence of the anti imperialist struggles in the third world.
  • Marx in the age of digital capitalism: New assessments of Marx on global capitalism and forecasts of a crisis of capitalism.
  • Marx and the Earth: Communism and ecology and other new uses of Marx’s theories.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have an overall idea of the development of Marx’s life, works and the history of the times.
  2. Comprehend Marx’s ideas on: human nature, work, violence, economics, alienation, and religion,
  3. Discuss some of his main concepts on human nature in terms of empirical realism.
  4. Relate Marx’s ideas to contemporary debates in political discussion.
  5. Apply Marx’s theory to the assessment of some current economic debates.