Reading 3- Historical Perspectives on Technology – Marx’s Ideology and The German Ideology

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  1. #1 by prateeklohchubh on February 7, 2013 - 8:18 PM

    Karl Marx was a renowned German philosopher, sociologist, historian, journalist and revolutionary socialist who is counted among the greatest economists of all times. In the early days of his life, he became interested in philosophical ideas of the Young Hegelians which is reflected well in his writings from that era. In the mid twenties, he turned away from philosophy towards economics and politics. Owing to this transition, some theorists consider Karl Marx’s thought to be divide into a ‘young’ period and a ‘mature’ one. However, there is a disagreement as to when his thought began to mature. If we take a look at his works from the ‘early and late’ period, we will find palpable difference between the two, brought clearly through the contrast between his early notion of man as a commodity to his later conception that man’s ability to sell his labor as a realization of capital is the reason behind his exploitation, inferring the fact that Marx changed from being a liberal pre 1844 to being a materialist and a socialist post 1844.

    The newly acquired materialistic view of Marx shows well through his criticism of the contemporary theories in The German Ideology, shaped on the grounds of materialism, historical method and alienation. He explains that the main trouble with German social thought is that, it never quitted the realms of philosophy and remains obsessed with the system of Hegel, where the old Hegelians admire religion and asserts its necessity and predominance while the young ones are still gripped in the shadows of idealism. They think that thoughts and ideas are the real chains holding people and by bringing a change in their consciousness, a corresponding change can be brought in their lives.

    Another significant work by Marx on similar grounds is his Theses on Feuerbach, in association with Engels where he heavily criticizes the work of Feuerbach who claimed that religious faith is rooted in man’s actual and material conditions, in man’s perception of himself and in that, god is but a projection of his earthly creators, for Marx thinks that Feuerbach failed to bring into account specific social, economical and historical conditions which shape religious belief. He argues that the main deficiency, in all materialism (even that of Feuerbach) is that the external object, reality and sensibility are conceived only in the form of the object and of our contemplation of it, rather than as sensuous human activity and as practice, as something non-subjective. He also draws attention to the fact that philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways but what is most important is to change it. Although, Feuerbach attempts to resolve the religious world into its secular basis, he overlooks the fact that it can be explained only by the self-negation and self-contradiction within it.

    Unlike his contemporaries, Marx was not content by simply claiming that people create their own images and ideologies, he in fact believed that these are conditioned by the historical formation of the powers of production and relations of production. He asserted the idea of commodity fetishism, explaining it in detail as the transformation of human relations, derived from the trading of commodities in the market, whereby the social relationships among people are expressed with objectified economic relationships, among the money and commodities, and the buyers and sellers, giving it a mystical character. Apart from this, Marx also elaborated on the topic of division of labor within the workshop and within the society, focusing primarily on their cause, effect and interdependencies. He associated division of labor in the workshop with concentration of means of production in the hands of one capitalist, whereas their dispersion among many independent producers of commodities formed the basis for division of labor in the society. Although, the practice of manufacture led to the setting up of workshops and ultimately to the invention of machines, it was yet branded as a refined and civilized method of exploitation that resulted in cheapening of commodities and accumulation of capital in the hands of some, by Marx, due to the very fact that the machinery which was intended to augment human efforts itself raised the degree of this exploitation, causing intensification of labor by placing every moment of laborer’s time and that of his family at the disposal of the capitalist. Thus, ridiculed by this socio-economic form of society, termed as capitalism, which came into being as the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”, and encouraged by the wealthy classes purely for their own benefit, Marx predicted that just like the earlier ones, it would also succumb to internal tensions leading to self destruction and replacement by a new system on the lines of socialism.

    Prateek Singh Lohchubh

  2. #2 by Talha Ahmad Siddiqui on February 7, 2013 - 8:38 PM

    The article by Karl Marx discusses various topics that were of great importance in those days as well as today. The first reading discusses the division of labour and how the capitalists used to exploit the labour world. In Section 1: The Development of Machinery, Chapter XV Machinery and Modern Industries, Marx says that just as the machinery cheapen the commodities at one hand, on the other hand it increases the time for which labour has to work in the industry thereby not allowing him/her to spend more time outside the industries. He further says that machines have now become a means of “producing surplus –value”. Marx also states that the distinction in the “epochs” of historical line is not very clear and enquires as to when the tools and handicrafts got replaced by machines.

    Later in Section 3 Marx discusses the “effects of machinery on the workman”. The advantage of using a machine is that it reduces the work manually done by labour. But this comes with a very negative side effect and a very good reason for the capitalists to organise women and children in labour force. As Marx states, exploitation of the women and children increases with the introduction of machinery as the latter does not require large manual force but only an operator to control it.

    The consequence of such an arrangement is that the children lose upon their important time which could have been used for studying or playing and every member of the family is brought into this never ending process. This vicious cycle is even found in today’s rural society where all the members of a family are forced to work so that they could fulfil the family requirements. Thus Marx concludes by saying that even though machines have reduced a lot of human effort and produce far better goods, but ultimately it results in the exploitation of the poor by the capitalists.

    One more important issue that Marx discusses is the “prolongation of the working day”. The author says that as the machine reduces the time taken to produce a product, it increases the time put in by the workers. Also these factors are favoured by the light working conditions which do not involve manual work coupled with non-resisting nature of women and children. Similar conditions are found these days as well. We often see people working far more than the prescribed limit just because the working conditions are suitable for which owner offers small amount of money. Thus this leads the capitalists to exploit and get the maximum out of the staff they have by offering small incentives. This finally results in the increase of the profit for the owner, making him hungry for more profit and the cycle continues.

    Next Marx talks about the system which integrates both humans as well as machines-“Factories”. Marx describes the labour force that works in the factory. The factory is headed by the head workman and under him are his assistants. The basic workforce is divided into two groups, one which is a workman that looks after the machines and other who is a mere “attendant” (mostly children) of the workman. There exists one more class of labours who are technically sound and thus take care of the whole machinery and repair it from time to time. Also as in the factory, it is a machine that does the work, a simple change of one or more people hardly makes a difference to the functioning of the system. Marx also draws some basic differences between the handicrafts and manufacturing and the factory system. Marx states that in the former it is a tool that is used for the production process and it’s the movements of the labour the tool has to follow whereas in the latter it is a machine working for you and it is the machine’s movement which the labour has to follow. Marx states that the factory appears to be lifeless part of workman that later becomes a burden on him. The author later describes the factory a place where a person suffers from injury both mentally and physically and how he/she is always surrounded by danger and the risk of losing their life. The author also describes the inhuman conditions where the people work irrespective of their age, sex etc. The sad truth about the whole scenario is that the condition in such workplaces has not at all changed and the exploitation of the labour continues in today’s world as well. Thus I fully support the points mentioned by the author for the protection of the labour class.

    In the second article “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof“, Marx talks about commodity fetishism which he describes as the way in which the human relationships are derived from the trading of the commodities in the market. Thus the commodity fetishism changes the way people consider an abstract good as an economic value and find meaning in it. Marx elaborates this concept with an example of a table made from wood. The table is merely considered a form of wood until it is brought in the market. As soon as it enters a market, it is transformed into a commodity that is of great importance to people.
    In the later stages of the article, Marx states beautifully the difference between “value” and “riches”. According to him, value is a property that is associated with the product whereas riches are associated with man. Also he quotes “A pearl or a diamond is valuable as a pearl or diamond.” Thus what value an object has depends on the merits of the object.

    The article “Marx on the history of his opinions” is a preface to Marx’s book A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy written in 1859 which broadly deals with his early life and the new theory of history.
    At the time when Marx used to work as an editor in the Rheinische Zeitung, he realized that the revolutionaries needed a new theory of history. So he took the best theory of history then available, that of Hegel, and critically re-examined it which ultimately led him to some essential conclusions one of which being- the economic factors are the one’s which ultimately condition the kind of ideology and politics that a society can have. According to Marx, it is not what we think that decides our reality. It is rather our reality that decides what we are capable of thinking. He claims that the reality in which we live in influences our ability to think. In Marx’s view, conflicts and contradictions lead to a historical change or in his language, “Then begins an epoch of social revolution.”
    Marx’s comment- “In considering such transformations a distinction should always . . .forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.”- Clearly shows that during his course of study he realized that in order to understand history, one needs to study both economics and sociology. Later in the article Marx talks about his journey with his fellow revolutionary socialist, Friedrich Engels with whom he set about writing criticism about the ideologies of post-Hegelian philosophy. In the end, Marx declares that his opinions, no matter how they are judged, have developed only after a thorough research which he carried over the course of his entire life.

    “Theses on Feuerbach” consists of eleven theses that were written by Marx in the year 1845 but were published after his death by Engels in the year 1884. In this portion he talks about various points such as “abstract thinking”, “sensuous contemplation”, “social rebellion”, “alienation and religious sentiments” and also about “changing the society”. In the first thesis Marx talks about the “sensuousness that is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation.” Thus we can conclude that Marx here distinguishes his materialism from all previous theories of materialism (one of which was also given by Feuerbach) by considering human beings as being materially active rather than just being “objects of admiration.” His eleventh thesis is the most widely known and accepted thesis where he concludes that understanding the “world” is not enough, however the point is to change the world through active participation and “practical critical activity in the material world”.

    Talha Ahmad Siddiqui

  3. #3 by Kundan Kumar on February 7, 2013 - 8:40 PM



    Selections from:
    “Theses on Feurbach” Page(143-145)
    “The German Ideology” Page(146-200)
    “Marx on The History of His Opinions” Page(3-6)
    “Capital Volume One” Page(319-328 & 392-411)

    Karl Marx, a great German philosopher, economists, journalists and revolutionary socialist has thrown a lot of light on the issues concerning the society. His ideas and his thinking leads me to a path where everyone is equal without any discrimination and have equal rights. He has thrown his weight on technology and told us how technique can be liberating, how it can be beneficial for the masses, how it can uplift the society. One proof of technological advancement is that, development of technology lead to revolution in 18th century in renaissance period. But at the same time he has been critical about the technology as he feared the suppression of science because science is something which is express able whereas technique is just a means and so he has been critical of it. There is no technique without science and hence he feared that technique may in the end make science suffer because of its ability to give instant application/results.

    I agree with Marx in having a practical approach towards the different problems of our society. whatever our approach is, it must be practical, we must prove the truth and convince others about it. Marx has illustrated the relationship between the technological commodities and human labor in the chapter “Capital Volume One”. He is very much critical about the idea of capitalism i.e a particular section of society having a monopoly over others and holding the production of different commodities, and also the laborers who helps in the production of those commodities are not given their due, they are forced to work without any complaint and also they are paid low wages. This indeed helped in creating different types of classes in our society such as clergy, laborers etc. Feudalism is practiced here. Eventually the society got divided, there were bourgeoisie who kept everything in their hand, almost as a monopoly and others became as laborers who had to work for their landlords.

    Marx discussed the importance of human labor in the section ‘The Fetishism of commodities’. He said that it is not right to judge the amount of effort put by laborers in according to the market value of commodity. Marx explained that the work done for recreation is different from the work done for necessity. He said that there is a difference between work and labor. If we talk about the theses on Feurbach and its relation with Marx thinking i found that he has advocated about self conscience. He has tried to link religious sentiments with human essence. He has talked about contemplative materialism and has focused on communism and human essence towards the practical approach in society. Some section of upper class don’t feel any wrong in employing a child and the child in his childhood only learns to operate machines that too with a lot of sufferings and without any wages. Marx has thrown light on a lot of things. He even said that old materialism is “civil society” but new is the “human society”. He wants us to introspect about the kind of life we wish to live. He wants us to introspect in what kind of society we wish to live – a society where there are different classes or a society where everyone is considered equal and true essence of humanity prevails there.

    In the end i would like to say that i am very much inspired by his ideas and his approach towards society. I got to know a lot about the changing society, its problem, and possible solution to it with a humanistic feeling in our heart. A lot of philosophers and great thinkers have their interpretations of the world, but according to Marx the need of hour is to suggest ways that brings a change in the society and uplifts the lesser known section of our society and equality prevails everywhere.

  4. #4 by ananyaharsh12018 on February 7, 2013 - 8:41 PM

    This is a critical summary on some of the ideas of Karl Marx, a German philosopher and economist. In this summary, I present my interpretation of his ideas and views and opinions on his thoughts.

    The theory of alienation of labor and fetishism of commodity are closely linked in the works of Marx. He argues that in a capitalistic society, value of a commodity is determined by the object itself and not by the hard work the labors have put in making it. In a process of production controlled by society, the workers are not alienated from the commodity and the commodity is valued according to the working hours spent in making it. The social relations in a capitalistic society are just of a buyer and seller of a commodity. Contrast to it, a society which controls the production and manufacturing process, holds up the dignity of labor and he or she is deeply connected or integrated within the social structures of society.

    Marx argues about division of labor in the process of manufacture and at the same time in society. I differ from his opinions on the subject. While his ideas of process of manufacture being owned by the society and not individuals may have helped the Russian revolution to take a grip, or it was massively promoted during the Indian independence struggle, but the same ideas do not apply in today’s world. According to Marx, division of labor in the society brings a sense of togetherness and unity in the commodity producers. A division of labor within the factories or manufacturing units promotes capitalism. Now, in my view Marx being a critique of capitalism, chooses it first and then aims his arguments against it. Instead a more logical way would have been to deduce the arguments first and then direct it for or against capitalism. The capitalistic society may have its own negative aspects but being born in a capitalistic society, I tend to notice it to be better than community owned. Also, the process manufacturing being owned by individuals, there tends to be a healthy competition to improve products, which in fact benefits consumers.

    A social division in the society as well as manufacturing units is necessary to maintain the standard of production and best utilize the talents of an individual person working in an organization. Another argument that Marx makes is that in a capitalistic society, the profit of a commodity produced is not distributed among the labors. In my opinion, the same point works for the benefit of labors as well. It gives them the choice to work for the people, who give them the maximum benefits for their work. A manufacturing process owned by the society instead of a person, lacking division of labor in it will also lack organization and management of the process, thus contributing to lower productivity. Coming back to my argument about Russian revolution, in the end, Soviet Union did disintegrate based on the same principles of socialism. Also until the Indian industries were not privatized in the 1990’s, India had seen little development in terms of quality and quantity of products in the market.

    Marx shows a trend of subtle difference in his writing during his early years and then during the latter half of his life. His development as a human being changed his focus of writing from a Hegelian philosopher to more of a social economist, although there is no definite line to demarcate these two halves. Marx’s early works consist of his theory of alienation of labor, in which he argues how a capitalist society confines the free will of a labor. His theses on Feuerbach, which is a critical outline on the ideas of Hegelian philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, is one of his early works, even though it was published by Friedrich Engels after his death. His later works exclude his earlier theories and constitute more of critical analysis of capitalism, surplus commodities, division of labor and exploitation. Reading his earlier works some might term his approach more “humanistic” but that does not imply that his later works are wrong.

    Although I may not agree to every thought, idea or theory of Karl Marx, I still recognize the importance of his works on capitalism, economics and philosophy. He is one of the few authors who have correctly realized the effect of factories and machinery on human beings and elaborated them in their works. These readings also provide an insight and a different perspective, related to a capitalistic society, on how machines have affected human life since their development.
    Ananya Harsh Jha

  5. #5 by abhishek12123 on February 7, 2013 - 8:45 PM

    Marx, Karl one of the greatest philosopher, revolutionary socialist and economist of his time looks back upon his opinions and is certain of the fact that law and order in a society is always determined, sadly, by the respective state’s particular interests. According to Marx, mankind always sets up tasks whose solutions are already available in their materialistic interests. On this point I totally agree with Marx because even today the laws are made to directly or indirectly favor the rich and the powerful, the ones which are meant to benefit the commoners are merely toothless pieces of paper meant to be mentioned in the constitution, though this is not always the case, but mostly it is.
    Marx quotes, “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces comes in conflict with existing relation of production.”(Page 4). It is now when laborers start thinking about their situation. They realize their condition is bad and they are better in the outside world. An antagonist contradicts with this thinking, according to him labor is a natural resource meant to be used and exhausted ( from : Why the industrial revolution happened here) He is the one who tends to exploit the working class directly or indirectly.
    Marx proposes that if this class system is removed from the society, then there will not be any sort of exploitation, repression and suffering in the middle class. Though this may affect the capitalists in the negative way. In the “Theses of Feuerbach” Marx has criticized Feuerbach on the basis that, although materialist, Feuerbach approach is neither historical nor concrete. So in Materialists Marx notes “the thing reality, sensuousness is conceived only in form of object or contemplation”.
    I think that Marx is trying to press on the fact that against traditional materialist conception, “reality is sensuous human activity, practice . . . subjective”. The idealists do provide a way out of this mechanical determinism but it has been sketched through the more sophisticated account of subjectivity. The major problem with the idealist way is that according to it the mind is an object which can or maybe it should create objects it thinks about.
    Feuerbach makes a point that the activities attribute to god by Hegel are actually those of human mind. Marx finds Feuerbach’s move against Hegel interesting and appreciable but he finds his work unsatisfactory too, because the person that Feuerbach is talking about is an abstract man taken from social and historical contexts. Marx has given credit to Feuerbach for wanting to look at sensuous objects to be different from tough objects. But he points out that he does not conceive human activity as objective activity.
    Now moving on to commodity fetishism, going by the Wikipedia the term actually means “In the market place producers and consumers perceive each other by means of the money and goods they exchange”.
    According to the modern world approach one on which u look at the product through the eyes of the buyer and the other way is as its seller or manufacturer but the way Marx sees it is the third way, the laborers way. The two mentioned earlier look at the product, its features and its uses. But the laborer judges it by the amount of money he is paid to make that product, the processes through which he had to go through to make that thing. In other words it is the tendency to see product of their labor in terms of relationship between things rather than social relationships between people.

    Abhishek Kumar

  6. #6 by kriti12050 on February 7, 2013 - 8:53 PM

    A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy mainly acquaints one to the concept of historical materialism and underpinnings of the capitalist phase. According to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, human history can be best explained by viewing materialism as a process of production of various physical necessities of life. Marx begins his critique by associating a mystical aura to any commodity and calls it as objects which satisfy human wants. He defines ‘use value’ and ‘exchange value’ as two distinct characteristics of these commodities. The extent of usage of any commodity determines its use value while the exchange value is actuated with the amount in which they are exchanged. The exchange value of any good inherits in itself the value of human labour. Marx implies that the social relations between individuals are mediated by intrinsic values of these commodities.

    Marx outlines a criticism of the ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach, a Hegelian Philosopher. In ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ he tries to middle out a position between philosophical idealism and contemplative materialism. He polemically argues that all previous conceptions of materialism have overlooked the human subject and believed that world existed independent of the human activity. He says that human needs are the driving factor for any transformation in the historical material conditions. “It is essential to educate the educator himself” (Theses on Feuerbach, pg144) echoes Marx’s idea of self emancipation. He says that objective truth is revealed when concrete conflicts are sought. Marx questions the concept of “materialist doctrine” which draws an assumption that humans are mere outcomes of changed upbringing and circumstances. I am left thought provoked by his idea of philosophers hitherto functioning only by interpreting the world when the need is to mark a change.

    Marx draws a comparison between work division and social division. Work division under capitalism changes the relation between human labour and expression as they no longer work to fulfil their own needs. Modern division of labour makes a worker lose his identity and individual productive power in order to fit his scope of work, trying incessantly to increase the capital. The social division is much about exchange of products of different branches of industry.

    While Plato saw human society rigidly maintained and separated into functional groups, Adam Smith retorts division of labour as it professes progressive mechanisation and makes a worker machine like. John Stuart Mill rightly paints his opinion that development of production forces has intensified the working day beyond all limitations set by human nature. Marx reckons capitalist profit as extraction of surplus value from the exploited workers encompassing small children, women and all kinds.

    Kriti Pandey

  7. #7 by Shikha Madaan on February 7, 2013 - 8:54 PM

    Writing based on Historical Perspectives on Technology – Marx’s Ideology and The German Ideology:
    In Winner’s reading we read about effect of technology on us and in the second writing based on Ellul’s writing, we read about materialism of society and how machines affected our lives but in Marx’s reading we read about a different topic.
    Marx has talked about “the history of his opinions” .He told about his investigations according to which he concluded that “legal relations” and “forms of state” are not created by man or the “general development of mankind”. One of his other investigation stated that a man’s “consciousness” doesn’t determine one’s “being” rather it is the social interaction of a person that proves his/her existence. He has explained how with the change of economic conditions, the structure of society too changed.
    Having talked about the “Political Economy” he told how the “Political Economy” was analysed. It was although “incompletely” analysed but the reason beneath it was touched upon by him. Further, he discussed the mode of production of forms of commodity.
    Marx also introduces us to what he thinks of the commodities. According to him, “A commodity is an external object that satisfies a human need either directly or indirectly.” He also says tells that “useful things can be looked at from the point of view of quality and quantity”. They have many attributes and thus can also be used in many ways. He was using terms such as “value” pertaining to the commodities’ quality and “the usefulness” of such things make it valuable.”A commodity’s use-value is a trait of the thing itself, and is independent of the amount of labour needed to make the commodity useful”.
    About the production of goods, he has discussed the “bourgeois production”.
    Marx also wrote about “The thesis of Feuerbach” when he and Engels were doing a study based on “German Ideology” in Brussels in the spring of 1845.Through eleven theses of Feuerbach, Marxs tells about the historical materialism . Marxs explains how Feuerbach has linked practice and thinking. He has touched upon various topics for example “sensuous contemplation”, “feudalism” and few of such topics. He has put forward his view that capitalism reduces work. He has also discussed the early basis of human society that is how the humans used to work on nature without exploiting it.
    Marx’s writing had also showed how his views changed with course of time as he stepped into his old age from youth. Many readers explained his change from “a humanist personality” to “a determinist personality”. This topic has been talked about by many literals.Marx’s change in his writings tells how he changed as a personality and as a human being. His work is obviously appreciated by all .He has written his views on capitalism, economics, and philosophy.
    Shikha Madaan

  8. #8 by mansi12055 on February 7, 2013 - 8:56 PM

    Marx on the History of His opinion: He talks about a critical review of Hegelian philosophy. He concludes that it is not the legal relations, the general development of human mind but the material conditions which results in the civil society. This interferes with the social and economic structure of society. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”(pg4) The workers begin to recognise their terrible working conditions which could be better. They were collectively against so-called legal and political structure. Marx refers it as- social revolution.
    Marx explains that the ancient, feudal and bourgeois modes of production can be responsible for the economic formation of society. The capitalist or bourgeoisies, make money off of their workers. And in indirect way attack their labours by making their working conditions worst. Marx suggests the social revolution as the solution of this antagonistic relationship between workers and bourgeois group. Simply, he talks about communism.
    Division of labour in manufacture, and Division of labour in Society
    Karl Marx in his writing explained the division of labour on the basis of sex, age and social groups. Different families, tribes, communities have different means of production, and of living. When they exchange their products, there is gradual conversion of products into commodities.
    An example was given that in the 18th century different kinds of silk stuffs were woven, and “every apprentice should devote himself to only one sort of fabrication, and should not learn the preparation of several kinds of stuff at once.” With the division of labour, workers specialise in only one task and work together to produce commodities. For example in building a wooden table, one should cut the wood, one person fix it and the other person would paint it. No one person will be responsible for the final product. It implies the dispersion among independent producers of commodities. Being forced to do the same work, make them less enthusiasm against their work. Due to which they cannot be employed to other handicrafts than the one in which they are master.
    He explained the distinction between the social, technical and economic division of labour. “While division of labour in society at large, division brought about not by exchange of commodities, is common to economic formation of society, is a special creation mode of the capitalist mode of production alone.” (Capital, volume one, pg 397).
    Marx in the section The Development of Machinery explained that the introduction of machinery increases productivity. Due to the increase in the productivity, the commodity being produced is cheapened. Machinery shortened the working day time which result in the amplification of the surplus-value. “The value of the labour power was determined, not only by the labour-time necessary to maintain the individual adult labourer, but also by that necessary to maintain his family.” He gave an example that to purchase the labour-power of a family of four workers cost more than to purchase the labour-power of the head of the family. Profits are made by the capitalist’s appropriation of the surplus value created by the labour of his workers. The thing which is not clear is that the increase in the productivity not results in the increase in the labour by workers. “An exact expression for the degree of exploitation of labour-power by capital”-what did Marx mean by ‘exploitation’?
    The organisation of machines into a system called as factory. The extension in the hours of the labour results in the production at enormous scale. The concept of the labour-division also reappeared in the factory system. For example, in the factory the organised group responsible for manufacture, head workmen and his assistants. It divided it into two parts- inferior and superior class of workmen. Engineers were scientifically educated and came under superior class. This describes division of labour on technical basis.
    In the above discussion he explained the dominance of humans on the machines and the latter part showed the dominance of machines over workman’s life. The workman should be taught from the childhood about the machinery in order to make him adapt to the motion of the automated machine. “In handicrafts and manufacture, the workman makes use of a tool, in the factory, the machine makes use of him.”(Capital, volume one, pg 409). Marx also elaborates the terrible conditions of the factory labours due to unhealthy working conditions like dust-laden air, water and the high degree of temperatures.
    Marx describes the strife between workman and machine. As the automation of machine increases, the number of skilled labour decreases.
    Marx in section The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof explains about the nature of the commodity. He says that commodity appears to be ordinary thing but in reality, it is a queer thing. Example of wooden table was given by Marx. The human labour converted wood into the table or as the commodity it is changed into something “transcendent”. Human social relations have been objectified as the relation between the things which are not human, says Marx.
    In this section, he explains the role of commodities in the social relations. “A commodity is a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour.”(Capital, volume one pg320). The exchange of the products among the different labour in the society brings social contact with each other.
    “The determination of the magnitude of value by labour time is a secret, hidden in the apparent fluctuations in the relative values of commodities.” The value of commodity is concerned only with supply and demand but it is important to understand the labour-time socially is necessary to determine its value.
    In the end I came to know about changing factors of the society and different ways in which it is interpreted by Marx.


  9. #9 by mimansa on February 7, 2013 - 8:57 PM

    Marx in these writings shared some of his important experiences in life, including his work at Rheinische Zeitung . Marx had conflicting thoughts about Hegel’s philosophy, he had mentioned it clearly in his letter to his father. He also mentioned his two important relations of life, one personal relation with jenny and another intellectual one with Hegel. He believes in materialism while Hegel’s in idealism. Marx believes that historical materialism is complimented for understanding the physical reality of the world. He declared that for the first time he was embarrassed to take part I discussions on materialism. Then he planned to investigate about the Hegelian philosophy. During his investigation, he found that materialism is rising as the backbone of legal and political superstructure. Material condition of life has been analysed by the name civil society. Marx has correctly said that “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but their social being that determines their consciousness”. He also mentioned about the Bourgeious society.

    In “The Critique of capitalism” Marx remarked the fact that every commodity has a value associated with it in terms of the “quantity of human labour” contained in it. It is this use-value of a commodity that helps in the exchange of it. It is the labour of the workers that decides the quantity and quality of the product. Thus a given quantity of any commodity contains a definite quantity of human labour, measured in time and required in production and marketing. . Commodities also help in increasing the social interaction, as the products relate various producers socially. Marx tried to show a larger picture of the division of labour in our society and how has this division started due to division of the manufacturing process of any product in an industry. Actually this division led to better conditions. The product which was first produced at a single unit was made by merging different parts produced at various units of an industry or different industries. It brought new types of goods and of different amount of purchases and sales in different branches of the industries. This, in turn, gave rise to division of labour. The simplest form of the circulation of commodities is C-M-C, and then change of commodities into money, and change of money back into commodities. Another form of circulation is M-C-M, the transformation of money into commodities, change of commodities back into money; then buying in order to sell. Marx critiques in relationship of industry and labour. He says that the work in industry has become so much simple that even women and children can be made to work in factories as labour.

    In “Theses of Feuerbach”, which is developed by Marx and his fellow German revolutionary socialist Friedrich Engels he described about the problems with the abstract thinking that creates sensuous contemplation etc. ,that materialism gave the society totally a civil look whereas according to Feuerbach it is actually a human society. According to Marx, man is circumstance driven and ironically it is man himself who moulds the circumstances. He says, materialism and hedonism is the source of discontent in the society. Marx say on religion is that, the humans have self-alienated themselves through religion. These religions have generated more cracks in the society rather than bringing equality to it. According to Marx, today’s materialization is more ‘human’ which refers to society as an individual and hence, focuses on individual development rather than, society as a whole. Several intellectuals and philosophers have talked about their interpretation of the world, its problems etc but according to Marx, need is to suggest ways that actually bring about a change in the society and help the lesser section of the society to have a say in this world.



  10. #10 by Manya Wadhwa on February 7, 2013 - 8:57 PM

    Some scholars believe that Karl Marx changes was initially a Hegelian philosopher, who later in his life moved on in life to become a communist and worked on studying economics.. ( . Thus, there was a transition in him, from philosophy to economics. It is due to this transition, people have divided his thoughts into a “young” and “mature” period.
    Marx , in his writing, talks about the Hegelian philosophy of right. He comes to a conclusion that laws and hierarchy of a state are determined by the current materialistic conditions. He states, “legal relations as well as forms of state are to grasped neither from themselves nor from the human mind, but from the material conditions of life. “ (Marx 1859, A contribution to the critiques of Political Economy, pg 4). He saw that it is these laws and hierarchies that create inequalities within the socioeconomic classes of the society. Marx quotes, “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production-or what is but a legal expression for the same thing – with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto.” (Marx 1859, A contribution to the critiques of Political Economy, pg 4 ). The men start thinking about their condition, and this is when they begin to have a social consciousness. They start thinking about the better working conditions outside their workspace. Marx refers to this as social revolution. Thus, with a change in the economic foundation, superstructure is more or less transformed.
    Marx says that any social development appears only when the material conditions are in existence or under formation, i.e. “the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solutions exists or is in the process of formation. “ (Marx 1859, A contribution to the critiques of Political Economy, pg 5 ). Here Marx refers to the bourgeois method of production as an “epoch in the economic formation of society”. He says that “the productive forces developing in the bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of the antagonism.”
    Marx, in his very popular theses on Feuerbach, writes about “historical materialism”. Historical materialism tells us about is how and why societies develop. As we progress, the society moves step by step, from one stage to another, and, one moves up the ladder only by materialistic means. For example, during the industrial revolution many changes were observed. People who ended up controlling the factories/industries/mills or those who set up their own business were the ones who came to power.
    Another important concept the Marx talks about is of “self-alienation” (Theses number four). This theory of alienation is described as “separation of things that naturally belong together, and the placement of antagonism between things that are properly in harmony.” ('s_theory_of_alienation). Under the economic system, the workers faced a lot of alienation from the world. Everything the worker makes is a contribution of the outside world, a world with which he cannot relate. This cause even more estrangement. There is an alienation of the worker from the product he is making, from the working (the jobs in big industries are broken down into small tasks. Alienation is caused, because the worker doesn’t have a larger relationship with what he/she makes). The worker is alienated from other workers and even himself/herself.
    In one of his theses, Marx talks about “thinking” and “practice” (theses 2). What he says is , even though men have given many theories, their theories are effective only if they are practised. He emphasizes on the “human practice” of his/her ideas and theories. Marx, also, raises objections to “all hitherto existing materialism and idealism”. Materialism is appreciated as it understands the physical world, but is criticized for ignoring the active role of humans in creating the world. Idealism on the other hand, understands this human nature, but has confined it to thought.
    Apart from this, Marx also, elaborated on his idea about division of labour in society and division of labour in manufacture. According to Marx, “Division of labour in a workshop implies concentration of means of production in the hands of one capitalist, whereas division of labour in society implies their dispersion among many independent producers of commodities” (Capital volume one, pg 395). According to him, in society, the labours are inter dependent, and each of their products are independent commodities, whereas, in a workshop, there is only one product which becomes a commodity.
    Marx is considered as one of the most influential writers and thinkers in history, who has influenced both the political, as well as the intellectual world. He is someone who has not only interpreted the world, but also changed it.

    Manya Wadhwa

  11. #11 by Kanishk Rawat (@kanishkrawat) on February 7, 2013 - 8:58 PM

    Marx essentially attempts to apply Hegelian deductions of categories to economics, trying to demonstrate that all the categories of wealthy middle-class; wages, rent, exchange, profit, etc are all derived from an analysis of the concept of alienation. Consequently each category of alienated labour is supposed to be deductible from the previous one. However, Marx gets no further than deducing categories of alienated labour from each other. The general, in the production of their life , men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which corresponds to a definite stage of development of their material forces.

    In the thesis Marx states his objections to all up till now existing materialism and idealism. Materialism has been complimented for understanding the physical reality of the world, but is also criticized for ignoring the active role of human subject in creating the world we perceive. Idealism, as developed by Hegel, understands the active nature of the human subject, but confines it to thought : the world is created through the categories we impose upon it. Marx combines the insights of both traditions to propose a view in which human beings do indeed create/transform , the world they find themselves in, but this transformation happens not in thought or imposition of sublime concepts but through actual material activity, the sweat of their brow, with picks and shovels. This historical version of materialism, which transcends and thus rejects all existing philosophical thought, is the foundation of Marx’s later theory of history.

    A commodity at first appears to be very easily understandable thing, which in reality is not as simple as it looks. When we analyze its true value then we can know that there is nothing mysterious about it, and it is only the thing of nature that has been manipulated by human in industry to make it useful to them. Now it has always been a rule of importance, that articles of utilities become commodities, only because they are products of labour of private individuals who carry on their work independently. The products that a labour makes has a character that the products made by him are of social use and helpful not only to himself but to others also. Hence, when we see the products of our labour into relation with each other as values, it is of the fact that whenever we equate the values of products we also equate the human labour expanded upon that product

    In “The Capitalist Character of Manufacture” Marx says that the modern division of labor makes it necessary to have an increased number of workers under one capitalist. The minimum amount of capital that the capitalist has must continue to increase. The worker is transformed by these manufacturing developments. He loses some of his identity in order to fit his specific job; he must become attached to a larger machine. Manufacture is originally spontaneously developed. However, with time it becomes “the conscious, methodical and systematic” form of capitalist production. The division of labor is a specifically capitalist form of social production; it is a way of creating surplus-value at the expense of the worker. It is both a necessary part of civilization’s progress and a more refined way to exploit workers. There are obstacles to the development of the division of labor during the manufacturing period. However, with the advent of machines these obstacles are pushed aside and capital takes center stage.
    Marx also argued that increasing the specialization may also lead to workers with poorer overall skills and a lack of enthusiasm for their work. He described the process as alienation: workers become more and more specialized and work becomes repetitive, eventually leading to complete alienation from the process of production.

    -kanishk rawat

  12. #12 by Anchita Goel on February 7, 2013 - 8:58 PM

    Marx, in the preface to his work “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”(1859),makes it understandably clear the importance of having a materialistic approach to all forms of production in our history. On a critical note of the Hegelian philosophy of good will he explains that it is the material conditions of life that form the basis of all the legal relations and forms of state, rather than the “general development of human mind”(pg. 4).he believes in the concept so much so that he admits that even the “social production of life”(pg. 4) –where human finds himself in relations that are formed “independent of his will”(pg. 4) are all according to the “ different stages of development of their material productive forces”(pg . 4).in a chiasmic style he writes “It is not consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”(pg . 4)At some of point in the development process, the “material productive forces come in conflict with the existing relations of production” which in turn leads to a whole new and “higher relations of production”, thus restructuring the whole economic foundation . thus it is only when the material conditions of production “mature”,that a more complex form of relations of production evolves.In the bourgeois society these material conditions as a consequence of the existing productive forces.
    Coming to the “theses on Feurbach”, Karl Marx is evidently seen being a critique to Feurbach’s idea of materialism and idealism. Marx believes that knowing the truth behind something is not some sort of hypothetical question, rather the knowledge should be ascertained by “practice”, by actually developing a relation between our thoughts and the object. He becomes critical of the deterministic approach-“ are products of circumstances and upbringing..”,again on a chiasmic note it is not the men who evolve according to the situations but it the circumstances that develop according to the conditions created by men.He doesn’t believe in the division of society, where one form is superior than the other,instead he believes everything in our lives is governed by human activity and nothing else.At one time, Marx agrees with Feurbach on “self-alienation”,moving from the practical reality of the life to a “religious imaginary world’ which “establishes itself in the clouds as an independent realm” that is ,moving from a subjective note to an objective one.He criticizes Feurbach’s inclination towards “sensuous contemplation” ,assuming that sensuous for Feurbach does not stand for practical,subjective human activities rather something something contrary to that.He believes that “religious sentiments” are just a manifestation of the societal reality,a social product.He believes that theories are just another way of mystifying the life around us,to demystify those objects would mean to look at them rationally in human practice,in all its essence and connection with the reality.last but not the least ,he considers the role of philosophers would be complete only when they “change” it and not just “interpret” it.
    Max turns to fetishism , explaining that the commodity at first just looks like a simple,trivial thing.A commodity remains an object for us as long as we just consider its use value.However,as the commodity is being processed from raw, it gradually “transcends sensuousness”-thus proving his point against capitalism that ,people in capitalism do not really understand the real essence of the product as such, they consider it just as an object that has a utility in their lives , rather than understanding and trying to connect with the real and sheer amount of effort that has been put in by the labourers.Hence there is no as such a societal relation between the “real” producers and the consumers.Marx explains that this is a result of the fact that in a capitalist society the “real” producers are not really associated with the produce, neither are the consumers connected with the product.The only time when they form a relation with the product is in “the act of exchanging the commodities”.The only thing the bourgeois are interested in is the profits associated with the product.In a capitalist system the “real” producers are led to believe that they cannot form an important part in the production process, since the production process is fractioned into minute parts possible, hence the producer does not feel any association with the production.

    Talikg about the division of labour in manufacture,and division of labour in society, Marx says that keeping just the idea of labour , it can be divided on the basis of social production into agriculture, industries.Further splitting of families , and then division of labour into workshop is the lowest level of division one can get into.There is division of labour within a family too, depending on the age and sex(that is depending on the physiological differences).Since each family lives under different conditions,They need different means of subsistence for survival which leads to another kind of division.Hence it is only the common effort of all the labourers cross different production units, that a full furnished commodity is produced.The bourgeois basically favours division of labour for the sole reason that they believe that division of labour leads to organisation of labour, which further expands the “productiveness”.But at the same time that very class in its best attempts tries to “regulate the process of production” on the whole.The capitalistic feature of manufacturing process is based on the law that the social means of production should be continuously transformed into capital so to keep the means of subsistence alive.Thus to make believe that no single labourer has any significant productive power is the key to reap out maximum profits.Marx believes that though the workers are usually oppressed and exploited they still work in harmony with each other and since they live off that on what they produce , they usually end up satisfied.Since machines are used , hence muscular power has no role as such,thus more women and children can be employed and that too at a much cheaper cost basing on the fact that they cannot put efforts equivalent to that of a man. Use of machines produces both skilled and unskilled labour but the amount of unskilled labour is usually limited.He describes that splitting the production of handicrafts lowers the value of the produce,but for the most detailed fraction of work detailed work of a professional is always needed.

    Anchita Goel

  13. #13 by Suraj Rana on February 7, 2013 - 8:58 PM

    Selections from:

    “Theses on Feurbach” Page(143-145)
    “The German Ideology” Page(146-200)
    “Marx on The History of His Opinions” Page(3-6)
    “Capital Volume One” Page(319-328 & 392-411)

    With these 4 readings we experience the slew of revolutionary and unorthodox ideas left behind by Karl Marx, one of the most celebrated philosopher and economist of all time.

    In his reading ‘Fetishism of commodity’ Marx attempts to teach us the difference between price and value of a commodity. A commodity is, Marx said, ‘at first sight a trivial and easily understood thing, yet its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.’ What he means to say is that one cannot simply assign a value by one self to a produced commodity. Rather its value is majorly determined by the amount of human labour. As an example, in potter’s market one can see that different pots utilising the same amount of materials can vary greatly in price. This difference arises from different level of craftsmanship involved in the making of the pot. Unfortunately, Marx goes on to say, these commodities are treated as products of inherent values with the human labour associated with them disregarded. This belief in the in the inherent value of an object is referred to as fetishism, ie, attributing power to an object that it actually does not possess.
    A very unique example of this phenomenon is money itself. Coins, cheques, credit cards, note all possess negligible intrinsic value and yet the power and value associated with it is very much visible. Money today has come to represent the labour value associated with a commodity. ’Aurum est Potestas’; Gold is power, as the saying goes.

    One of the reasons for separation of ties of the labourers with the finished commodity is due to their alienation from the manufacturing process. Due to division of in the process of production workers are made to specialize and perform in increasingly isolated tasks. These often repetitive and intellectually non challenging tasks rob the workers of their enthusiasm for their jobs and make them lose sight of their role in bringing about the end result. As an example think of an assembly line worker whose job description is sticking a sticker on the box or screwing on the cap of a bottle. How could such a person have passion for his job! With introduction of machines the situation has just worsened. Now not limited by physical requirements of the workers the capitalists can even employ children and women at factories. However, I don’t completely agree with the bleak picture painted by Marx. In today’s world where every commodity of value is result of collaboration of efforts of multiple specialists division of labour is the need of the hour. More widespread education has helped reduce the alienation of workers from the manufacturing process. Also the process of production itself is being changed with the tasks being broken down into subtasks that are completed by group of individuals who works together to achieve their goals.

    In his early writings Marx tells us about his introduction to Hegelian philosophy. He conducted a critical review of the Hegelian philosophy of right, which led him to conclude that law and order as well as political and social structures were rooted in materialism.

    ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ was published by Marx colleague after his death. It is critique of Feuerbach’s work. In them Marx declares that the only philosophy worth following is the one that encourages taking action for achieving truth. According to Marx men are indeed made by their circumstances, but strong men are capable of changing their circumstances and hence it is important to guide them in this task.
    Marx says about religion that it has betrayed its purpose; it was meant to bind not separate. Religions has started wars, called for death of thousands and caused separation between men where none should have existed. His last critique was inspiring words that have motivated philosophers to this day. He advocated Feuerbach focuses too much on interpreting the world. Philosophers true purpose is not to interpret the world in line with his thinking but to rather embed his philosophies into the minds of the people and bring about the revolution; changing the world forever.

    Suraj Rana

  14. #14 by Shubham Singh on February 7, 2013 - 8:59 PM

    In this writing, Marx has tried to analyse the economic system as “Capitalism”. He presents his critical views on the process involved in manufacturing of goods, from the day-to-day labour involved to the final mass production of finished goods. And through that he tries to assert the value of a commodity, which is determined by the quality and quantity of human labour involved in the building that commodity.
    Marx also mentions about the division of labour, that is increment in labour-power of one capitalism. The workers were exploited, are made to work extensively and were treated as machines. The worker became impoverished of his individual productive and creative power. The division of labor is a specifically capitalist form of social production is a way of creating surplus-value at the expense of the worker. It is a more refined way to exploit workers and used as a part of civilization’s progress. The division of labour ensures that each person who plays a role in production of a good performs his task properly at his own individual level, which was quite efficient and was a necessity for Industrial Revolution, but at the same time, it failed to accommodate the interests of workers.
    In his “Thesus on Feuerbach”, he suggests that people possess materialistic love and that people are also believers and non-believers in religion, which brings division in society. He also says that it is the job of philosophers not only to interpret the world in different ways, but also to change it.
    Marx states that a commodity is a social product as we live in a commodity based society the social labour, the social relations between producers and their mutual interdependence. Therefore, it is the market which determines the value apparently based on a characteristic of the commodity, it seems as if there are relations between commodities instead of relations between producers. As the product comes in the market and is distributed, it’s value is changed and the worker no longer holds the credit for his values, and is generated by it’s social importance. He says that economists also study the value of commodities as money.
    To conclude, I would say that Marx had an critical opinion of the world around us and has analysed the impact of sociology on economics, especially Capitalism. He highlighted about materialism prevailing the society and has introduced us to goods and bads behind mass production. All in all, I think as we look back, we find that the Industrialisation has revolutionized the world around us, but it also has few dark consequences that can’t be neglected.

    Shubham Singh

  15. #15 by prabhjot12072 on February 7, 2013 - 8:59 PM

    Prabhjot singh


    Karl Marx, a great German philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist, a wonderful article by Karl Marx on capitalism. According to him capitalism is a system of production of commodities. Every commodity is equally important and its advantages can’t be neglected. Commodity is thing that by its properties satisfies human need. He then talks about the characteristics of commodity. According to him every commodity has values associated with it. ”use value” commodity independent of amount of labour and it was realized only through use of consumption where as “exchange value” is a quantitative relation in which values in use of one sort are exchanged with another. Everyday new commodities are there in the market. This is due to the hard work of labour and their hours of effort to give a finished look. He also describes the two characters of labour useful labour and simple labour.

    The amount of work along with the cost of raw material decides the value of commodity which is termed as “relative value” which means value expressed in relation to something else. When the commodities are exchanged a bond or linkage is established between the labourer and commodity. This is all due to hard work and effort of labourer. Labour produce not only commodities also it produces itself and the worker as a commodity and this is how his/her hard work is reflected.

    Another article by Marx “ Thesis of Feuerbach” in which he is criticizing the 18th century. According to him object and contemplation are the need of human and consciousness is nothing but a reflection of material. He also talks about the social change according to him social change is something revolutionary. The philosophers have only interpreted the world and main motive is to change it.”The dispute over the reality or non reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is purely scholastic question”. Truth and power should be practically invoked and it should not mean only objective thought. In the next part he talks about the circumstances. According to him circumstances are actually changed by men and it is considered that circumstances changed the men. He is not satisfied considering sensuousness as human sensuous activity. Philosophers only interpreted world in different ways according to likes and dislikes of the world but main motive is to change the world.

  16. #16 by Sarthak Ahuja on February 7, 2013 - 8:59 PM

    This article “Marx on the history of his opinion” has to be one of the most difficult readings to comprehend. Karl Heinrich Marx, a known philosopher, economist, historian and socialist writes this article in his own words criticizing the Hegelian Philosophy of Right while highlighting some important phases of his life. ”It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” (Page 4). He argues that all these laws made by the state create inequalities among the society and particularly benefit the capitalists in earning more and more money at the expense of pushing a section of the society i.e. the working class in to darkness. He wants a ‘social revolution’ or ‘social awakening’ so that the large force of workers can unite themselves and aim for a change i.e. communist society. The next part of the reading is a letter written by Marx to his father highlighting, his artistic interests, the news of his love jenny and his conflicting views on Hegel’s philosophy of idealism.
    In the next reading “Theses on Feuerbach”, I was particularly impressed by the phrase “the task of philosophy is not only to interpret but to change the world”. In many ways it seems Marx is extending the theses and giving his inputs on it as well. Some of them which I understood were as follows: Humans in order to survive need to produce and reproduce the material requirements in life. Capitalism is a necessity for progressive growth. Contrary to the fact that circumstance change men, men have the power to change circumstances. Society moves from stage to stage where dominant class takes over the weak one. Ex: From feudal lords to capitalists. He comments on religious alienation and draws a connection between “social relations” and “alienation”. He further says that religion unites only a particular section of society sharing the same religious sentiments. Early materialism was done in the name of “civil” society and now it is regarded as an important aspect of socialised society. The final one is the most interesting one that philosophers only interpret the world in the way they like. He proposes that they must make effort to actually improve it as well. The Theses is quite difficult to understand and is written in a very intensive way but it clearly depicts the deep thinking of Feuerbach.
    The next reading “Fetishism of commodities” is very well written and frankly was the most interesting one. According to him there is much more to a “commodity” than meets the eye. It is not only the intrinsic value of the commodity that gives it its price but the human effort and labour that goes into producing it. Marx very creatively explains that when our eyes light up and are attracted to an “article” we tend to forget the amount of human effort that went into its making. He argues that people from the capitalist society completely ignore this fact and treat the commodities as pale objects. After reading this I wonder about the estranged labourer who is alienated from his work and from himself as a produce. This situation also rings some bells in my mind that only under oppression people find unity among themselves. To realize the dream of a communist society the workers must unite and attain control of their production. A frank observation about the reading is that though it was very indulgent, it is quite monotonous and repetitive.
    The final reading “Division of Labour” in a very elaborate way describes how the Division of labour led to Division of society. The making of a commodity is a step-wise process and requires a collective effort of people with different skills. In the process of production the people with a certain skill tend to form a community resulting in this social division. According to me this is a great thing as the product which was produced at a single place is now made in parts and merged to give the final products. The way I see it living in a community increases the individual skill of a person, thereby increasing the overall quality of the product. Another advantage of such a division maybe of obtaining a wide variety of finished products further used as raw materials for other commodities. This can be witnessed today itself, each and every component of an electronic device (capacitor, hard-disk) is in itself a finished product. All of these are assembled to give a more functional final product. Another interesting topic Marx talks about is the new modern tools: with the advancement in technology the earlier tools are replaced by new ones. These new tools eventually give birth to new industries and products to accommodate them further leading to increased production activity. Further he elaborates that with the coming of machines, the amount of physical labour required reduced. This led to employment of women and children into the production process further supplementing to profits made by capitalists. Though this scenario looks pretty organized and productive it gives a hint that the divisions formed ultimately benefit the capitalists. With production becoming more labour intensive, the work hours increased drastically and the workers remain sub-ordinate to the capitalists. Looking at the current day condition of the workers it is not difficult to imagine how they must be mistreated. Throughout the reading Marx remains critical about capitalism and favours his dream for a communist society.

    Sarthak Ahuja

  17. #17 by shuktika12163 on February 7, 2013 - 8:59 PM

    In this reading, Karl Marx presents the “history of his opinions”. He initially criticized the Hegelian Philosophy and believed that the material conditions of life led to the laws and hierarchies of a state. Marx goes on talking about “social consciousness” and says that it is determined by the social being of people. Later on, as seen in his letter to his father, Marx is seen reading fragments of Hegel’s philosophy. In the letter, Marx suggests that communism is the answer to all the problems, but he fails to see that the Capitalists and Bourgeoisies will not be content with this because of their greed for wealth.

    In his “Theses on Feuerbach”, Karl Marx calls our attention to various theses. The first thesis is based on historical materialism where he says that in order to survive, human beings need to produce and reproduce the material requirements in life. He criticizes Feuerbach by saying that he did not look at the practical side of the materials. The society keeps changing. It moves from stage to stage and the dominant class takes over the weak one. Marx has made a connection between “social relations” and “alienation”. Another thesis points out that “religious sentiment is itself a social product”. He says that the social life is not about theory but about “human practice”. In the last thesis, he proposes that the world needs to be changed and not just understood.

    In Section 4, Marx writes about “The Fetishism of Commodities”. According to him, a commodity seems to be a simple thing but in reality, it is a very complex thing. Marx gives the example of wood turned into table to explain this. He goes on to say that the product of labour turns the products into “commodities”. He calls commodity a mysterious thing and points out that a social relation exists between commodities and products of labour. He believes that these commodities appear as “independent beings endowed with life”. This attachment of commodities with the products of labour is the Fetishism Marx is talking about.

    Each commodity acquires a different value only because of the “exchange” of the products. It introduces the social character of the producer’s labour. As Karl Marx said, “articles of utility become commodities”. Thus, each commodity must have a “social want”, that is, it must be wanted by the society. According to Marx, the one thing all the commodities have in common is that of having value. Whenever an exchange is made, it is not only the values which are equated, but the human labour is also compared and equated. The value of each commodity is set according to different measures, like an ounce of gold and an ounce of iron vary greatly in their value.

    Every individual in this society has to do his/her portion of the work in order to enjoy our share of commodities. Marx quotes, “The total product of our community is a social product”. The process of material production is the basis for the life-process of society which remains mysterious until it is organized using a fixed plan. The value of the product is analysed by the “Political Economy” but it is not known why value represents labour and labour-time.

    In the extract “Division of Labour in Manufacture, and Division of Labour in Society”, Karl Marx writes about the “relation between the division of labour in manufacture, and the social division of labour”. There are different communities in this society and each community produces a different kind of labour leading to a division of labour. Thus, due to this difference, exchange of products in the society takes place and then these products turn into commodities. Various types of works are given to different set of people which in turn splits up the labour to a great extent. Each person is limited to a particular kind of work due to the division of labour.

    The division of labour in society is quite different from that in manufacturing. A commodity is formed only with the help of all the labourers combined. According to Marx, in workshop, means of production is in the hands of one capitalist whereas in society, it is dispersed among many producers of commodities. Equilibrium is formed because of the different forms of production. Further, Marx writes about how the rules of the guilds prevented a master from becoming a capitalist.

    According to Marx, only Capitalism can generate enough surpluses so that there is no scarcity within classes. The division of labour results in wealth but it crushes the individual labourers. After the introduction of machinery, it was thought that human labour would be reduced but instead, it turned out that more labour was being used. Now, even women and children were employed as less physical labour was required. All this happened because of the avarice of the Capitalists.

    Shuktika Jain

  18. #18 by Manan Gakhar on February 7, 2013 - 8:59 PM

    Marx, in his “Marx on the History of his opinions”, says that laws and hierarchies of the state are determined by the current material conditions. Marx wants that people should be the owner of all the property but progress cannot be done without capitalism. But due to capitalism, laws and hierarchies create inequalities society. These laws which are made even though they are in favour of the capitalists, the working class, who work under them, has to suffer in inhospitable conditions. The capitalists are driven by their greed for money. Marx quotes, “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society comes in conflict with the existing relations of production, or- what is but a legal expression for the same thing- with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto” (page 4). Workers now started to have their own consciousness and paid attention to the conditions in which they were placed. If the suffering workers come together and unite against the greedy, a social revolution can help them in the improvement of their conditions. Marx quotes “mankind always sets…process of formation” (page 5, Marx and the History of His Opinions). With this, I think he is trying to convey that as soon as the resources are available or nearly available in future, the work related to it is assigned to itself by man that it can complete; thus as the resources increase, there is progress in the technology and improvement in the society. Marx, in 1837, writes a letter to his father telling him about his present thinking and what he plans to do in future.

    Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach was a German philosopher and a materialist. Many of his philosophical writings offered a critical analysis of Christianity. Feuerbach is often recognized as a bridge between Hegel and Marx. Marx wrote the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ containing eleven of them. In the theses, he tries to tell criticize Feuerbach that he ignored the practical side of the materials. He says that the humans are the victim of their own doing, they are the ones who change their environment and get affected by it. This leads to different in society and the dominant class taking over the weak one. He also talks about the ‘alienation’ that is occurring between the workers, the work and the working. He tries to tell that the social life is a real, sensuous and practical life and should not be considered a unreal life. Earlier materialism was a civil society, for the citizens of a country or region, now the viewpoint is that the materialism should be for all humans alike. I would like to quote the eleventh theses which he usually repeats in his writings-“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”

    Marx in his reading “Fetishism of Commodities” has put some light on the proletariat who produce the commodities. Now-a-days they are being ignored and the value of the commodities are taken as intrinsic and the hard work of the workers are not taken into account. I would like to quote-“articles of utility become commodities…each other” (page 321). The word ‘Fetishism’, meaning belief in magical power, is used with the commodities to tell that the goods, after production, were considered to have false magical powers and is used in relation with religion too. Rather the value of the commodities, according to Marx, should be decided by the effort that the labourers do even the inhospitable conditions in which they are kept. Within the social process of production, workers come in social contact with each other relate in different manner- the worker is disconnected from his or her own labour- he/she has no control product of the work of his/her own hands.

    In the next reading, “Division of Labour”, Marx has focused on how the work is divided among the various societies or people. Division of labour is a general concept which leads to better production of commodities. A worker who is specialized in production of a certain kind of commodity is a better in manufacturing that product which is an advantage of this concept. Different workers with different specializations, if come together, form an ideal society in which variety of good quality products are available to the society. For example, a watch contains different products like a circuit, a battery, sensors, light etc., all these components are a product of different industries which are combined to form a useful commodity, a fetish which shows time. But as a coin has two sides, division of labour has a disadvantage too; any specialized worker, due to his specialization, can be cut-off from other things. Also, if the worker is dependent on the product for his survival, if the demand for that commodity decreases, he might be at a loss. After the industrial revolution, the need for specialized workers decreased and the need for labourers increased. So, from now, unskilled workers were called upon to work which even included the women and the children. The workers were made to work in inhospitable environment and there was no regards given with respect to age, gender, health etc.

    I would like to conclude that though there is a difference in focus and tone is seen between Young Marx and Old Marx, the heart of Marx’s beliefs and teachings remain same. The younger Marx was an idealist and theorist who talked about the various means of improving society and the production of commodities, whereas the older Marx was a practical person who believed in action, and implementing and formulating plans and altering the society. The older Marx focuses on bridging the social divide rather than just disclosing about the divide and the alienation that the weaker society faces. I would like to repeat Marx’s eleventh Theses to support this point:”The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”. This proves that he changed from an idealist to a practical person who believed to improve the society as he grew older.

    -Manan Gakhar

  19. #19 by tarunv08 on February 7, 2013 - 9:00 PM

    Considered as one of the greatest revolutionaries in the field of sociology and economics, Karl Marx presented a very clear view of the world and the society through his essays and theories. In his “Theses on Feuerbach” Marx rejects the society’s belief of mechanistic materialism which he is so often resumed to accept. He also implies that a reflectionist’s theory of consciousness is ultimately conservative in that it does not suggest how change is possible. Some holding the reflectionist view (Feuerbach and other early thinkers) try to avoid these conservative consequences by in effect dividing society into two parts and allowing for the existence of a few who escape determination and thus can go on to do something for the rest. Marx ridicules this idea, reminding us of an important fact; that “the educator himself needs education.”
    Marx has argued over a lot of grounds with Feuerbach’s theories; he frequently argues that humanity lacks revolutionary thinking; and that, “….he conceives human activity as an objective activity.”(Page 143). This can be reflected in the functioning of major industries and companies today, by carefully studying their functioning. One can, for example, take the case of Foxconn, about which I have already commented in one of my previous essays. The sub-par conditions in which Foxconn keeps its workers to achieve its final capitalist objectives is a prime example of Marx’s argument here.
    Marx, then, goes on; saying that thought is colorless and frail without any proof by the thinker himself. Marx, however, argues that thought definitely is not abstract, but just the opposite: it opens up precisely the mediated essential context of the appearance, one which is still sealed to the mere eyes. In other words, theory can only achieve the final aim partially; it does present logical correctness, but not the absolute truth. Men must, therefore, strive towards a better understanding of these thoughts, one that is not cold, but rather enlightens the intellectual self of the person in question.
    Marx further advocates that a human revolution needs to take place, so that, due to the materialistic end purposes of a section of society, the society itself does not get divided. Preachers must, as said before, practice what they preach, for a change to take place. Speaking of division, he then proceeds with self-alienation, criticizing Feuerbach’s work as being incomplete (“…he overlooks the fact that, after the completion of this work, the main task still remains to be done.”, Page-144) This argument is very important in its own light., as he ends with a powerful yet deep argument, that a religious family needs to be dissolved into a community which has the social welfare as it’s guiding principle.
    Furthermore, he makes it clear that mere perceiving does not makes sensuousness as a “practical, human-sensuous” activity. The religion based teachings and sentiments, about which Feuerbach argues, are nothing but a product of society. These sentiments only create division as already stated.
    The statements that follow this argument present two problems, one that is unclarified, and uncomprehended in reality, and the other, I quote, which are “are idolatry of darkness for their own sake.” But things that are often unexplored tend to lead to a bit of mysticism, to which the only solution, is rational human thought.
    To sum it all up, Marx is very right in his opinion that “philosophers have only interpreted the world- the question, however, is to change it.” The world needs action, not words. While great thinkers like Marx, Lenin etc., have laid upon their views on the society time after time, the world has lacked people who have actually stood up and done something. Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, so must be our thinking. The future aspect is the most important- as the action of the current generation lays down the ideals of the coming generation. This therefore calls out for a very well thought action-plan for the future.

    -Tarun Verma (2012112)

  20. #20 by Alakh Dhruv Chopra on February 7, 2013 - 9:00 PM

    Reading 3
    Alakh Dhruv Chopra

    Based on:
    Various works on Karl Marx, including selections from Capital, A Critique of
    Political Economy, and various essays written by him, especially his Theses on
    Feuerbach, which were posted posthumously.

    This essay focuses mostly on the implications on Karl Marx’s Theses on
    Feuerbach, which were a comment and criticism on the work on fellow
    philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, who was a ‘Young Hegelian’.

    Karl Marx was one of the most famous philosopher and socialist in the 19th
    century, arguably one of the most important in the history of mankind. In the
    words of Steven Kreis, “No thinker in the 19th-century has
    perhaps had so direct, deliberate and powerful influence upon mankind as Karl
    Marx”.[1] His most important literary contributions were The Communist Manifesto
    (1848) and Capital (1867-1894), which led to the creation on the theories of
    socialism and communism. One of the major influence on his thinking was the
    work of Friedrich Hegels, and later that of Ludwig Feuerbach. Karl Marx wrote
    in 1845 eleven small notes describing his views and criticism of Feueurbach’s
    work, related to contemplative materialism and idealism, and also his reaction
    to the philosophical work of his day. These theses were very important to
    Marx; it is said he used to hang a copy of these theses above his writing

    In his first thesis, Marx collectively criticises Feuerbachian materialism and
    idealism for their ignorance of the practical and active nature of the human
    experience by respectively ignoring the human factor in materialism, and that
    of practicality in idealism. Marx emphasises the human factor in influencing
    the course of history; this connects to his socialist philosophy, where he
    envisions a society run by men working to produce and reproduce their material
    requirements. Marx’s philosophical perspective is later named Dialectical
    Materialism (a neologism of Hegel’s Dialectical Idealism and

    The related idea of truth is explored in the second thesis, where the
    importance of truth is determined by their use and value in practical life;
    ignoring truth which disjoint from reality. As it was written earlier, objects
    (here, truth) cannot be regarded distinct from human practical experiences.
    The final statement of the first thesis, concerning ‘revolutionary practice’
    is referred and expanded in the third thesis. Marx explicitly rejects
    materialistic determinism by stating that humans have power over their
    circumstances, and not the other way around. The notion that men are “products
    of circumstances and upbringing” is bound to create divisions in society, one
    part which is superior to the other by virtue of its supposedly better
    circumstances. Marx calls the coincidence of changing circumstances and of
    humans activity as ‘revolutionary practice’.

    Marx, in the following theses’, expresses his views on religion, particularly
    Feuerbach’s interpretation of religion. Marx, while supporting Feuerbach’s
    view that religion is an exercise in self-alienation, criticizes him on his
    view that the secular world is inherently self-contradictory, and also on his
    failure to explain how the alienation occurs, and how it can be overcome.[4]
    Marx argues that people turn to religion due to alienation in material life,
    expressed as alienation in labor. He once famously quoted that, “”Religion is
    the opium of the people”.[5] The role of a community is also important in
    establishing a religion, in which people live under a false assurance of
    equality; this concept was replaced in recent history by the concept of a
    state, and of nationality and patriotism. Religion can only be removed in society
    when material life is emancipated. This is referred to his later works where
    he analyses how material life can be improved through different means of
    production environments. These sentiments are echoed in the sixth and seventh
    theses’, where he introduced the concept of community and religion as its
    product, as discussed before.

    Marx again returns one of the principal focus of his theses, practice. In the
    eighth thesis comments on the practical nature of the mysticism practiced in
    society, as another contrasting example between practical activity and
    contemplation, referred to by the phrase “praxis and theoria”. Marx concludes
    his previous theses’ by differentiating between the old materialism of Hegels
    and Feuerbach, and his ‘new’ concept of materialism based on human reality.
    Civil society focusses mainly on the public administration and functioning of
    society. Marx feels that civil society is a concept in unreality, in contrast
    to human or social society, which is based on human reality, his grouping into
    communities, and his modes of production.

    The culmination of Marx’s work in these theses is expressed through the famous
    and oft-reproduced phrase, “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the
    world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Through this thesis, Marx
    collectively criticizes his peers and ancestors in the philosophical community
    for refusing to combine their contemplative ideas with practical
    implementations and ideas to change and improve society. This touches upon
    the third thesis, in which he writes that men have the power to change and
    influence circumstances. This idea forms the basis of his later writings on
    society, and how to change it (he argues) for the better. Philosophy thus, he
    says, must become a force of revolutionary reconstruction.[3]


    [2] Theses on Feuerbach, Wikipedia
    [4] Karl Marx, Stanford Plato
    [5] Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher, Karl Marx

  21. #21 by Sukrit Kalra on February 7, 2013 - 9:00 PM

    Karl Marx was a revolutionary socialist. In his essay, “Theses on Feuerbach”, published in 1885, Marx “outlines a critique of his fellow philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach.” (Wikipedia)
    In his first theses, Marx criticises materialism and idealism by saying that it is completely devoid of “human sensuous activity” (Page 143) and focuses more on “the sensuousness conceived in the form of the object.” (Page 143) He says that Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, but “does not conceive human activity as objective activity” (Page 143) and “regards theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude.” (Page 143)

    In his second theses, Marx says that the usefulness of truth can be determined by its practicality in life, and is not a purely theoretical question. He says that man must prove the truth in practice. He also adds that pondering over the truths which are completely detached from reality, is a purely scholastic question.

    In the third thesis, Marx criticises the idea of materialism by saying that materialism divides society into two parts, one who are fortunate, and the other who are less fortunate. It achieves this by defining men through their circumstances and that different men are “products of different circumstances and different upbringings.” (Page 144) Through this doctrine, materialism ignores the fact that it is men who define their circumstances and perceives the act of humans changing their circumstances as a “revolutionising practice.” (Page 144)

    In his fourth thesis, Marx says that Feuerbach divides the world into two parts – the real one and a religious, imaginary one. Feuerbach focuses on converting the religious world into a secular one, and says that the religious world is a self-projection and is the product of self-alienation. Marx criticises Feuerbach for his lack of criticism of secularity and of projecting a secular world as an ideal state. Marx says that the secular world, like the religious world is alienated from reality. He favours Feuerbach’s views on religion, but, criticises him for not carrying his analysis to a conclusion. [1] Marx says that secularism can be perfected by criticising it first and then by removal of the negative aspects, be revolutionised in practice. He explains this by giving the example of an earthly and a holy family, wherein the earthly family should be “criticised in theory and revolutionised in practice.” (Page 144) In the 6th and 7th theses, Marx says that Feuerbach tries to resolve the “religious essence into the human essence.” (Page 145) He says that religion is a by-product of man’s wish to form social groups and have social relations, and that Feuerbach tries to justify his thoughts by considering an abstract individual, one who is totally isolated. Marx says that Feuerbach is unable to see that religious sentiments are a result of man’s behaviour to belong in social groups.

    In theses 8, Marx says that social life is practical and that the theories which lead “mystical theories into mysticism” are useful in real life and find their solution in practice. He also says that materialism which does not take into account human sensuousness and focuses on objects rather than humans finds it highest point in the thoughts of individual men in the civil society. In theses 10, Marx tries to differentiate between a civil and a human society and says that civil society is related to administration while human society is concerned with the concept of groups and a social relationship. He also says that the older idea of materialism centred around the civil society whereas the upcoming ideas of materialism prefer the human society more.
    The last theses is one of the most frequently quoted statements of Marx wherein he says that the philosopher’s work is to interpret the world and convey his ideas to the rest of the world. He says that only by reflecting upon the current state of the world, nothing can be done, and the main work which remains to be done is to ponder upon these ideas and use them to change the world.


    Sukrit Kalra

  22. #22 by aditya2012008 on February 7, 2013 - 9:00 PM

    ADITYA KUMAR 2012008
    Historical Perspectives of Technology
    Readings from:
    “Marx on The History of His Opinions” Page(3-6)
    “Theses on Feuerbach” Page(143-145)
    “The German Ideology” Page(146-200)
    “Capital Volume One” Page(319-328 & 392-411)
    Karl Heinrich Marx ideas played a significant role in the establishment of the social sciences and the development of the socialist movement. He is also considered one of the greatest economists in history. He worked closely with his friend and fellow revolutionary socialist, Friedrich Engels. One of his writing was “Theses on Feuerbach” which contain one of Marx’s most memorable remarks: “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways, the point, however, is to change it” (thesis 11). However the eleven theses as a whole provide, in the compass of a couple of pages, a remarkable digest of Marx’s reaction to the philosophy of his day. In the first thesis on Feuerbach, Marx argues: the chief defect of all hitherto existing materialisms (that of Feuerbach included) is that the thing, reality, sensuousness is conceived only in the form of the object of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such. These theses depict the idea of abstract thinking, social relations, religious sentiments and consciousness. Most of his quotes and lines are not very much understandable to me. Religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into religious and imaginary world were the main areas where he talked upon. In these formulations Marx is trying to make the point that consciousness is an aspect of human life activity. Thus the well-known Marxist statement that social being determines consciousness is making the uncontroversial claim that social being as a whole determines one of its own aspects. Of course, we often want for methodological reasons to focus on consciousness and need to remember as we do so that our current social being easily leads us into the mistake of regarding consciousness in isolation.
    Marx on the History of His Opinions is criticizing the Hegelian Philosophy and comes to the conclusion that hierarchies and laws of the state are determined by the current material conditions. These hierarchies and laws create inequalities within the socio-economic classes of society. The Laws created by the state benefit the Capitalists of society, as the government wants to protect their interests, particularly that of wealth. The Capitalists have it great because they are making a lot of money off of their workers, who in turn work extremely hard in extremely bad conditions. Marx quotes, “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society comes in conflict with the existing relations of production, or- what is but a legal expression for the same thing- with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto” (p.4). The best line about the consciousness of men is “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Marx has a mind in his article. Marx investigation led to the result that legal relations as well as forms of state are to be grasped neither from themselves nor from the so-called general development of the human mind, but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life, the sum total of which Hegel, following the example of the Englishmen and Frenchmen of the Eighteenth century, combines under the name of “civil society,” that, however, the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy. In this reading Marx basically focus on the economic condition, laws and religious conditions.
    By going through the Marx one can easily see difference between his writings during his early years and in the later part of his life. His writing can be divided based upon Young Marx and Later Marx. Marx’s early writings consist of alienation of labour which shows that the capitalist society confines the will of the workers or labours. Young Marx can be also presented as a humanist. Although I cannot agree with every thought and idea of Karl Marx but I recognize the importance of his writings about the society, capitalism and his philosophy which are of great importance. He was a great thinker and philosopher of his time.

  23. #23 by Akshima on February 7, 2013 - 9:01 PM

    Karl Marx, a well pronounced philosopher of the nineteenth century and the great thinker behind the well known Marxist theory in “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” published first time in 1859 in pages 3-6, writes about his early thinking which was equivalent to that of a person completely ignorant and unaware of the topics about which his theories are now considered impeccably well defined and well laden. His writing also involves his thinking about historical materialism. He also talks about the incidence when he realized his ignorance and finally decided to do an elaborated reading. He also talks about his association with philosopher Hegel which was like a guiding light and defined the direction of his thinking.
    Karl Marx in pages 143-145 brings out his understanding and arguments against the philosophies of Feuerbach, a German philosopher and anthropologist. In pages 318-328 Karl Marx talks about Quantitative Determination of Relative value where he talks about how a commodity contains apart from the definite quantity of materialistic resources, also a definite amount of human labor. It is not just the amount of materialistic resources which decide the commodities’ cost but also the amount of human labor put into its making, is an equally important factor in deciding its cost. Marx elaborately talks about “Fetishism of Commodities”. “Fetishism of Commodities” as defined by Wikipedia is the transformation of human relations derived from trading of commodities in the market, whereby the social relationships among people are expressed with objectified economic relationships. He also talks about how a commodity as soon as made from resources after the efforts being put into them are transformed into something of its own, something that has a value attached to it. Human beings in doing this transformation of commodities put in their physical and mental labor and in doing so they establish a social character as their work assumes a social form.
    He elaborately talks about exchange values which according to him is the socializing of quantity of labor put into the production of a commodity. By bourgeois production he refers to the capitalistic form of production meant for exchanges for monetary benefits.
    In pages beginning from 392 Karl Marx brings out his thinking and philosophies about division of labor in manufacturing and in society. He brings out the analogy and the differences between the division of labor in manufacturing and society. His elaborated view of the analogy and the differences between the two is impressive. While the analogy is clearly brought out by an example of cattle breeder, tanner and manufacturer of leather shoes which are working separately to make different commodities which finally is like a cumulative work of making of a single product that is shoes. This is similar to the working of laborers in a manufacturing unit but at the same time is different as each process done by different laborers does not produce an individual product.
    Moreover the division of labor in case of cattle breeder, tanner and manufacturer brings about equilibrium in society in economic terms while the one in the manufacturing unit brings out only accumulation of wealth in the hands of the owner of the manufacturing unit.
    Karl Marx through this writing also brings out the fact how machines had actually caused a hazard in the lives of laborers after the industrial revolution, who had to involve their entire families in order to be able to support their subsistence. This writing of Marx is a wholesome analysis of the society after the industrial revolution and brings out the various aspects of the society and manufacturing units through his critical view point which not only questions capitalism and politics but also about their powers in controlling the course that the society takes.
    By Akshima

  24. #24 by Meenakshi on February 7, 2013 - 9:01 PM

    MEENAKSHI S. (2012058)
    Karl Marx was a Prussian-German philosopher, economist and sociologist. His ideologies played a vital role in the establishment of social sciences and development of socialist movement. In the preface of his book A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, talks about his early self and the variation in his opinions as he matured. Often we find ourselves in a situation where we have to get into a social relation without consent; this issue is beautifully explained by Marx, who considers these relationships as the constituents of economic structure of the society. Further, he also talks about social consciousness and argues that this consciousness should not be explained by the social productive forces and production relations, but from contradictions of materialistic livelihood. He also talks about the opposition he and Frederick Engels faced on their ideological view of German philosophy.
    Marx wrote the “Theses of Feuerbach”, in which he talks about capitalism and historical materialism. Human beings in order to survive and continue their existence need to produce and reproduce materialistic things, which according to Marx is historical materialism. The work and toil one puts in his/her society constitutes the basis of the human society and how an individual moves historically is determined by the product of this work. Further through his writings he creates a link between reality and non-reality i.e. thinking and practice. In the theses he also takes up the issue of religious self-alienation i.e. alienating workers from work, working, him/her and others. Feuerbach considers social life as practical and calls mysteries of mysticism as misleading.
    Societies produce social surplus product, which they need. These products when produced in an organized way for generalized exchange is called commodity, which is later sold. According to Marx these commodities, based on their properties, have a use value which cannot be linked with their exchange ratios. The only thing various commodities have in common is that they are all products of human labor, which Marx defines as the “labor theory of value”. He also highlights that as there are all sorts of commodities, there are various sorts of labor too. Marx specifies that when we trade commodities, we reduce “heterogeneous” labor to “abstract” labor. As he writes in his article Capital “whenever, by an exchange, we equate as values our different products, by that very act, we also equate, as human labor, the different kinds of labor expended upon them”.
    Marx calls “commodity fetishism,” a form of alienation in which “a definite social relation between men…assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things”. He argues that our labor and our products are priced, which makes us another commodity and our relation with every other human being who are again commodities. He asserts that humans relate to one another inhospitably as co-dependent possessions engaged in comprehensive exchange. Further he calls the life-process of society to be based on material production, which does not reveals its true identity until it is consciously regulated by the men associated with it. He also talks of bourgeois production; which is a mode of production in which the product is produced directly for exchange. Marx concludes that the political economy has analyzed its value and magnitude, however partially. He also leaves us with a question that “why labor is represented by the value of its product and labor-time by magnitude of that value?”
    In all societies there is a social surplus, surplus labor or the labor time, which in capitalism takes the form of surplus value. The surplus value is one created by the worker, not necessarily for his/her own upholding and is a source of capitalist profit. A capitalist only hires a worker who gets paid less than the value of commodities he produces. According to Marx capitalist are often only interested in making profits, they will always try to cheapen the labor cost, either by increasing their efficiency or by hiring labors who work for lower wages, but this also affects the profit margin and reduces the value of the product.
    Marx agrees with conventional economists who insist that in capitalism, workers get “what they worth”, so they are not cheated by the employers and no intimidation is used against them. Capitalist reproduction can minimize oppression if people accept liberal ideology.

  25. #25 by Jyotsana on February 7, 2013 - 9:02 PM

    Karl Marx wrote the “Theses on Feuerbach” in 1845, while he was starting the collaborative work with Engels on “The German Ideology”. When it was published in 1888, Engels made a few small changes in the “Theses”.
    In Theses I , Feuerbach explains and wants sensuous objects to be different from the thought objects and regards the theoretical attitude to be the only human attitude . Thesis I stresses that even the epistemology reflection of activity could only be an abstract one, ‘since idealism of course does not know real, sensory activity as such’. In Theses II, he stresses that man should prove the power and reality in the practice. Theses III, focuses on the “revolutionary practice” which helps in one understanding of human activity and changing circumstances.
    In Section 4 of chapter “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof” talks about the word “commodity”, a very trivial thing. Man uses the raw material furnished by the Nature in such a way so as to make them useful and helpful to him. Marx here give an example of wood, where it is furnished into a table. All this is the product of the human labour. Commodity is, therefore, a mysterious thing. The labour of the individual asserts itself as a part of the labour society. Commodities are meaningful in two ways, first and most obvious is as exchange of objects with a certain a monetary value. The second is that commodities reflect not only the labor that went into making them but the social relations of production in which the labor was performed.
    Marx differentiates ordinary money from capital. He explains how circulation of commodities is transformed into money, which is then transformed back into a commodity .In this very basic market arrangement, people produce commodities so that they can obtain money to buy the commodities that they need. This naturally emerges in societies with a simple division of labour, in which different people are specialized in the production of different commodities. Capitalism operates in accordance with different principles. The capitalist starts with money, transforms it into commodities, then transforms those commodities into more money. Essentially, Marx argues that the mechanism of exploitation built into the capitalist economic system is the source of social antagonisms that will eventually lead to the dismantling of capitalism itself.


  26. #26 by Ankit Mittal on February 7, 2013 - 9:05 PM

    Historical Perspectives on Technology – Marx’s Ideology and The German Ideology

    In his writing Marx has shown two parts of his life the earlier part of being a determinist and later to be a humanist showing how he gained experience by working at Rheinische Zeitung, the way he completed his economic studies. In this writing he had criticises Hegel philosophy of right and dived again into his philosophy to make out what can be do to make it perfect. He mentioned about two important relations of his life, one being an intellectual relation with Hegel and other one a personal relationship with jenny.
    Marx in 1845, wrote the “Theses on Feuerbach” writing about eleven different theses talking about the different aspect of “The German Ideology”. In the theses he has written about many different aspects like abstract thinking, practice, social relation, historical materialism, self alienation and about the changing society. Human beings in order to survive need to produce and reproduce material requirements in life. This line basically means the historical materialism i.e. it looks up for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans collectively produce the necessities of life. Social classes and the relationship between them, plus the political structures and ways of thinking in society, are founded on and reflect economic activity of all the people. He has basically tried to link materialism with the social relationship. In the 1st theses he talks about object and contemplation not being considered as need of human consciousness but to be considered as practical human sensuous activity. In the 2nd theses he had written about the thinking of human being to that thing being reality or non reality. In 3rd he explains about the man and the circumstances how they are inter-related with each other and it has divided society into two, first being the superior one and other being not too much in powerful or who work under the superior. In the 4th these he talks about the secular thinking of Feuerbach. In the 5th theses he talks about feubach not satisfied with the sensuousness as a practical human sensuous activity. In the 6th theses he has shown the religious essence as a result of human essence. In the 7th theses he talks about the religious sentiments not uniting the society but it helps in forming a society which has different religious sentiments. in the 8th theses about the social theories that are mystical that we want to fulfil but we are not able to do so like for student he decides not to cheat in exams but if he is not able to solve a problem he tries to cheat or peek into someone’s else paper so that he can get it correct. In the 9th theses he talks about materialism not a comprehending sensuous activity. In the 10th theses about materialism being an important aspect of human society and a socialised society. And in the last thesis i.e. 11th one the most effective, he talks about the world of philosophers how they interpret the world around themselves. They always don’t criticise others but also formulate or I can say they extend others philosophy to the next level.
    As the industrial revolution began in Britain, many different industries came up across the whole world as now they could make big profits as they could hire labour which is unskilled at low wages and it earned them lot of profit but it lead to very bad impact on labourers as being explained by Marx in his section of “Division of Labour”. In this writing he has shown that the factory owners made them work a lot with over 11 hours of work each day. For ex. If 12 workers work for 11 hours a day and all of them do 1 hour extra work then they get paid for doing overtime but this helps owner as he has to pay less to them than the amount to 1 extra worker as they had done work of one extra worker. So in this way the made there life really hard and it became really hard for them to survive this world.
    In the reading part “Fetishism of commodities”, Marx explains the dependency of 1 item on the other item in different ways like they have an inverse relationship like if we take the example given by Marx using 20 linen=1coat and then 20 linen=2coats so this helped one commodity and other commodity got more used that is in same amount of linen they were able to make 2 coats hence gaining a larger profit but in this one commodity coats are produced more while the linen is reduced suggesting the inverse relation. Also this may vary on the labour time used in building the coat lesser the time lesser will be the cost more profit they can make if they increase the selling price a bit and also if the cost of linen is reduced their profit gains can increase more.
    Hence, at the end I can say that it had many pros and cons, Marx felt that capitalism through industrialisation had increased the productive capability of the world and the people i.e. the whole human society suggesting that historical materialism plays an important role in human life.

    Ankit Mittal

  27. #27 by ashish12026 on February 7, 2013 - 9:08 PM

    Karl Marx was a renowned German philosopher, historian, economist, journalist & revolutionary socialist. Following is the summary & interpretation of what he talks about in on Historical Perspective of Technology.
    In first part of he talks about division of labour. Marx describes division of labour as a process of alienation. He argues that with division of labour workers become more & more specialised by working repetitiously in their field & eventually lack enthusiasm & become alienated. He said that by division of labour worker is depressed both spiritually & physically to the condition of machine. He believed that fullness of production is essential to human liberation & division of labour is a necessary evil. I disagree with him because what I think is that division of labour helps in creating more job opportunities. In the present world we have progressed to the point where each & everything around us that is “man-made” can only be produced through the collective work of individuals/labours. It is organised in a way that is very complex for an individual to do it on his/her own. For example if we take shoe as the final product it is impossible for one individual to make it. It requires cattle to produce leather & tools to produce leather as well as shoe which can’t be done individually. I disagree with him when he says with division of labour worker lacks enthusiasm in work as he have to do the same work repetitiously because now we have progressed so much in the technology that with technology we can re-integrate the mechanical tasks assigned to a worker in such a way that it not only increases the output but also engages a worker in the work in a way that his enthusiasm also improves simultaneously. For example when a line engineer at automobile assembly plant suggests a better way to handle a technical support process it is nothing else but re-integration of labour which is nothing but providing a new way to the worker to do the same job thus improving the output as well as enthusiasm of the worker. So, I think division of labour is a good way to achieve maximum output as well as creating more job opportunities.
    Marx provides a sharp distinction between the social division of labour & technical or manufacture division of labour. He says that the technical division of labour is due to technical necessity while the social division of labour is due to class & status hierarchy. I agree with him on the point that if one person is doing some pleasant job & other unpleasant job cannot be explained by technical division but it is socially made division. For example a rag picker picks plastic roaming around to make his livelihood but at the end of the day he hates this job. There is no technical necessity that this person has to do this job but it is social division based on caste which in one way forces him to do this particular job.
    I liked the Marx’s concept of capitalist division of labour where surplus value is generated. This has started since Industrial Revolution where people started producing not only for themselves but surplus in order to earn profits.
    In second part he talks about commodity fetishism. “Commodity Fetishism is the transformation of human relations, derived from the trading of commodities in the market, whereby the social relationships among people are expressed with objectified economic relationships, among the money and commodities, and the buyers and sellers.”(Wikipedia Commodity Fetishism)
    Marx uses a materialistic approach to argue that within the capitalistic society social relations are masked by the presence of commodities. We see commodities as the backbone of capitalist society rather than human labour. It appears that the value of product appears from the nature of the product but actually it is human labour that gives the product its value. We treat commodities as if they have contained intrinsic value rather than giving value to the amount of labour work done to produce the object. Marx provides an insight to the alienated worker. Within the process of production, workers interact & relate in an atomistic manner. They are disconnected from their own labour. They have no control over the product of their own hands. If it is human labour that gives value to the product but we consider it as void then workers will be apathetic to what they produce.
    The contradiction to Marx’s point arises if we determine the value of commodity by the labour work spent on it. If more idle & unskilful labour has spent more time to make a product than considering Marx’s point the value of commodity should be more as labour spent on it is more. But the actual value of the commodity is very less. So, while considering the value of the commodity it is necessary to consider both nature of the product as well as labour.
    In third part he talks about his opinions of the history. The writings of German idealist Hegel had a profound impact on Marx. Hegel elaborated a dialectical view of human consciousness as a process of evolution from simple to more complex categories of thought. According to Hegel, human thought has evolved from basic attempts to grasp the nature of objects to higher forms of abstract thought & self-awareness. Hegel’s believed that ideas are the primary mode in which human beings relate to the world & that history can be understood in terms of the ideas that define each successive historical age. Marx, on the hand, believed that the fundamental truth about a particular society or period in history is how that society is organising to satisfy material needs. Marx saw history as a succession of economic systems or modes of production. He investigated Hegelian philosophy and found that legal relations as well as forms of state are a form of civil society and civil society is to be analysed as political economy as per Hegel. He investigated it himself and found that development of material productive forces is inevitable if one wants social development. He found that these relations were foundation of a society and that social being of a person determines their consciousness and not the other way around. But sooner or later these relations come in direct conflict with economic benefits of people. Thus begins a new era of social revolution and entire system is rapidly transformed. So, a period of social revolution should be judged as per the existing conflict between social productive forces and relations of production. His solicitation helped him in developing his interest in lyrical poetry which was focussed mainly on the diffuse and vague expressions of feelings he developed during this time. His views on social elements changed as he migrated from Hegel’s views to his resolution with Egner.

    In fourth part he talks about the ideology of Feuerbach. In “Theses on Feuerbach” Marx has provided 11 theses to put forward his ideology & thinking.
    He talks about materialism & sensuous human activity. He tries to explain the origin of idealism as a contradiction to the world of reason which according to him is not revolutionary. He comments that objectifying the human mind is not theoretical but of practical nature. The compulsion of men to prove the truth is his selfish style of thinking & is not necessary the correct. He says that the common belief that men are result of the circumstances that surround them is only partial & does not include the fact that human beings also effect their surroundings. Thus, this belief divides the society into two parts, one in which he is able to govern his future & thus is superior & revolutionary in nature. He appeals to the logical side of thinking but says that human minds delightment in various activities can’t be explained through reason. He appeals to sensory intuition but he does not conceive the realm of the senses in terms of practical, human sensuous activity. He resolved the religious essence into the human essence. He talks about social life being essentially practical. All the mysteries which turn theory towards mysticism find their rational solution in human practice & in the understanding of this practice.
    In the end he talks about philosophers who only interpreted the world in different ways rather than how to change it. I agree with this statement because interpreting the world in different ways is easy but changing the world is not a piece of cake.

    Ashish Khatkar

  28. #28 by Mohd Zaid Aslam on February 7, 2013 - 9:10 PM

    Marx in his article analyses history as a distinction between the means of production that produce the material goods and the social relationships that people get into when they use means of production. He also raises the point that the economic system of the society is the foundation for the political structures and the social consciousness.
    The author also raises the fact about the possibility of social revolution that may come if the existing relations of production conflict with material forces of society and that conflict ould transform the forms of consciousness as well as the economic conditions of the production. Marx considers the capitalist class as most revolutionary in the history as he believes that capitalist constantly revolutionised the means of production. He also refers to the pre-nding of the history of human society and says that we should look into our social material condition.
    In the section “Theses on Feuerbach”, Marx makes his objection that Feuerbach’s philosophical approach is neither historical not concrete and makes assertion that Feuerbach’s materialism has not been able to adequately account for human subject. He even argues that a reflectionist theory of consciousness is ultimately conservative in that it does not suggest how change is possible. He also tries to map the middle position between the materialism and the idealism. In this section Marx emphasises on the fact that human beings must be alive and should try to give them food and shelter but also claims that huams engaging in these sort of activities brings a production of new needs.
    In the section of his writing “Division of labour” ,Marx describes the process of alienation as workers become more and more specialised and work repeatedly which make them completely alienated. He also examines how these workers become physically , mentally and spiritually depressed and believes that idea of a strict division of labour is a temporary necessary evil.
    He also distinguishes between the social and economic division of labour as he brings us to notice that some forms of labour co-operation are due to technical necessity, but others are purely a result of a social function related to status hierarchy. For example, If particular people get to do the unpleasant jobs and others the pleasant jobs, this cannot be explained by technical necessity; as it is a socially made decision, which could be made using a variety of different criteria. Marx also suggest that the capitalist system can evolve over time giving birth to more productive labour which can in return create more surplus value. He also raises a important point that human development occurs when people express their nature in the creativity of work they do.

  29. #29 by Mukul Gupta on February 7, 2013 - 9:10 PM

    Mukul Gupta

    Marx in his younger years was more focused on the issues of social classes, wage labour and alienation and the implications of such attributed of society on society. Marx in his “Theses on Feuerbach” talks about the works of philosopher Feuerbach and the misconceptions and the shortcomings of his work. He argues that consciousness is often considered as a fictional activity of the mind while in truth it is an act of production, creating our conscious lives. He is strongly opposed to the idea of materialism established in the Helegian philosophy works. He teaches that alienation (self and religious) creates levels in society and how the conception of “state” is alienating the people from each other as the sole purpose of the “state” is to take account of all the social classes seen in the society, where the existence of classes is product of man’s materialistic nature which rips apart a society. Marx in his early works refers to alienation of workers from their products due to the assembly line system. When the material forces develop to a certain degree they are usually critiqued by the society and a change becomes imminent. The freedom of olden days was absent from the factory as a worker didn’t truly produce a commodity but was only judged by his contribution to the whole process, as Marx says on page 318 of his book. When men work for men the labour performed is measured as a commodity according to Marx, even though a real commodity is told to have feelings which he illustrates with the example of wooden table. Social thinking transforms to an objective thinking and labour is measured on the basis of its duration rather than quality. The social relationship between people (e.g. buyer and seller) is only through objectified economic relations; Marx is seriously against this perception. Hence, in a capitalist society, social relations between people—who makes what, who works for whom, the production-time for a commodity, et cetera—are perceived as economic relations among objects, that is, how valuable a given commodity is when compared to another commodity. There is a two-fold existence of labour one where it serves a social want and one where it serves a producer’s want. The example given about rent coming from society rather than production beautifully illustrates the meaning of Fetishism.
    Coming to the division of labour described by Marx, he explains that man’s ability to perceive himself exploitable (in form of labour) is the reason for his exploitation. Marx explains that division of labour in workplace takes place due to division of work between simultaneously employed labourers in a single factory and division of labour in society takes place due to various industrial sectors and producers in that sectors society. Marx observes that the guild workplaces restricted no. of workers and no. of specializations and hence it does not lead to division of labour and resists the encroachment of capital. He goes on to say that the man was being exploited by the very machines made to shorten the work hour. He says that the machine was introduced by capitalists to cheapen a commodity to simply generate a surplus. Machine reduces the physical strength required and hence women and children could be employed to work the machine. Thus the work hours of the family get increased and now every member of the family can work but the compensation of this extra work is null. The income earned by the whole family for say 24 hours is much less than what the male member alone could of earned for the same 24 hours. The creation of children as a human resource gets replaced by their use as resource in the industry.

    There is huge apparent difference between early and mature Marx as earlier he primarily focused on social relations and workplace but later he shifted to a more political and economic approach.

    Although much of his theories are questionable but surely his work gives a critical insight of the Industrial Revolution in contrast to the documentary which we earlier saw.

  30. #30 by vedanshi on February 7, 2013 - 9:11 PM

    Marx tells us how the entry of the machines in the production sphere resulted in the absolute opposite of what the general expectancy was. Everyone had hoped that with the onslaught of the iron monsters, the physical labour would be reduced and so would the prices of general products. However, this was not the case as the capitalists sought their own profit and started creating surplus by employing not only the male labourers but also the women and the children as it was no longer necessarily physical labour that was sought after. Before, when only the adult males of a family went to work, now children and women were preferred due to their malleability. It was also observed that on an average, children after hitting puberty tended to lose the ability to learn and mould themselves to work according to the machine. Due to this fact, child labour was employed and children were taught early on as to how to work the machines. Also, now, instead of just a single male member working it out in the factories, it was the entire family working, striving to survive and had even lesser hours of solitude than ever before.
    Even the skilled labourers lost all sense of accomplishment as they lost their products to the machines. It was said during the dawn of the machine age in the field of production that machines were introduced for the man to control and work with but it seems to be going the other way around. Machines are the ones that are actually controlling the humans as they needed them only for their operation and to handle technical issues once in a while. The skill of an artisan is no longer needed to create an artefact but to simply operate a machine that brings his own value down.
    The labourers whether skilled or unskilled were their own masters before but now they depended entirely on the capitalist who owned the machines and the factory. The labourers were divided and given separate parts of a single job. For example, Marx states that in a tanning factory, labourers were now divided into groups. One group skinned the sheep and the other tanned the skin into leather etc. Each group was dependant on the other to create the finished product. The labourers thus lost their individuality. They could no longer stake claim to their products as they weren’t theirs anymore.
    Also, it is to be noted that with the advent of machines, the industries grew and the cities expanded. Marx states a fact that the number of people living in a unit area does not define the population of a city, but the interconnecting roads and the modes of travelling does. Keeping that in mind, the cities that were consumed with the onslaught of machines were trade centres due to which they had well connected modes of travelling. This fact enabled as well as attracted countrymen to participate in the labour race. Thus, even though these cities had lesser number of actual citizens, they were densely populated due to the channels of transport which were bringing in immigrants searching for work.
    Marx also tells us how the capitalists then use the finished product as a commodity by determining its exchange value. An example that Marx states is that of gold and iron. Even though a ton of gold and a ton of iron are physically equivalent but their exchange value if far more different. This makes them commodities with their price depending on their exchange value. Also, the mode of production of these commodities plays a direct role in the formation of their exchange values which sets the value of the product as a commodity. This phenomenon of creating commodities out of products has led to wanting the product for our own cathartic means.
    While enunciating the history of his opinions, Marx states that we cannot and do not judge a person based on what he thinks of himself but what their social being determines of their conscience. In the same manner, we must not judge a social phenomena based on its conscience but by “contradictions of material life and from existing conflict between social productive forces and the realisation of production”. We can easily give the above stated reasons as the conflicts that are enough to give an alternate conscience of the capitalistic and consumerist drive that all of us are undergoing.
    Vedanshi Kataria

  31. #31 by aarushigoel on February 7, 2013 - 9:14 PM

    Karl Marx, a noted German Philosofer in his book the ‘The German Ideology’ along with his friend and co-writer of the book, Friedrich Engels explores and defines the social and economic relationships that man has with what he produces. Also that his nature to a certain extent depends on what he produces. In their writings, Marx and Engels are extremely critical about the capitalist turn that the the business of production took place, adversely affecting the lives of workers.

    Talking about division of labour in the society and workplace he mentions how initially the division was based on the different products that the different groups of people produced. Each of them were skilled in the production of their own products. The producers also had an emotional and social attachment with their product. These products became commodities when other people producing something else began to use the products produced by someone else. This was division of labour in the society where in people produced idependent commodities.

    But eventually this division of labour started to take place in the workshops or manufacturing units. This was when capitalists came in into picture. Different processes involved in the manufacture of a single product were broken down and each of these became a separate process in itself. Capitalists hired workers whose jobs were to produce only a single part of the commodity. This was in complete contrast to the earlier scenario where traditional production of commodities took place and there were no authorities governing this production.

    Such a condition adversely affected the lives and skills of the workers. His skill was now limited to only a small part of the production. His life became confined to the manufacturing unit. Over the time therefore workers remained poor. This disintegration of processes took place to an extent that skilled labourers were not required anymore. The society also did not want education for these workers because this system was contributing to economic growth of the society as a whole.

    This kind of a division in labour lead to the degradation of products but enhanced their quantity. The political-economy however responded and viewed this a different sense since they were only interested in profits. Acoording to them this system contributed to both the quality and the quantity of the products. This system in turn led to a degradation in the value of the worker as well.

    To worsen this condition, machines came up. Machines led to all the more cheaper products. The muscle power and skills of the labourer were no more required. Therefore women and children were emloyed to the same work in less wage. Thus stealing away their play time and innocence. Wages given to labourers also came down. Therefore each member of the family was seen as a contributer to the family income.

    Increased profits led to more and more exploitation of labourers, surplus was produced at the expense of increasing their working hours. As Marx clearly put it “Machines swept away the moral and natural working hours” of a worker. Even if a law was introduced to fix the number of working hours, capitalists intensified the work for labourers. They were expected to produce more in less time. As is quoted by Marx, “Earlier workmen made use of tools but in the factory, the machine made use of him.

    Marx’s conclusion to this kind of division of labour, is that capitalism, is more like a robbery. It steals away from a worker, his personal space, secure work environment, family time and humanly work conditions. Each organ of his is injured, his life is at risk, he is kept away from light, air and protection.

    Marx and Engel also talk about the fetishism of commodity. They argue that a commodity however trivial it may appear, is a very mysterius thing. A lot a labour has gone into the production of this commodity. There is also a kind of relationship the the producers of this commodity share with it. One cannot ignore the fact that the functions of most of our bodily organs are involved in the production of this commodity. Also the labour time and cost of production is part of this production process.

    Marx also has some critical views ont the theses of Feurbach. He says that in order to survive and continue existing, humans need to produce and reproduce material requirement. He links social relations with historical materialism. It is natural for humans to enjoy what they produce and establish a relationship with it. However capitalism leads to alienation of the worker from his work, other workers and himself as aproducer. The surplus capital that is produced in this system leads to the coming up of classes.

    In this book there is also a chapter where Marx draws certain diffences in his early and latter pieces of writings. He says that there is slight imaturity in his writings. He quotes the instance where he was led away by the manager of the newspaper for which he worked, after they had some issue with another newspaper. Marx tells us in this chapter that he later read a lot of philosophical works on political economy of other philosophers which gave him an opinion of his own. He later even went to London to do more research in the field of political economy. This was because the British museum had enourmous information about the history in his field of interest. In the end he defends his writings by saying that “the sketch of the course of my studies in the sphere of political economy is intended only to show that my views are a results of conscientious investigation lasting many years.”

  32. #32 by niharika12066 on February 7, 2013 - 9:14 PM

    Marx talks about the division of labour in manufacturing processes, and tries to relate it with the division of labour in society. According to Marx, people, or rather families in society have been divided on the basis of their calling. This is accompanied by natural division of labour, which is due to age, sex and other such factors. He also talks about the coexistence of different communities in the societies, each finding different means of sustenance and production. When these communities come into contact, exchange of goods take place, and goods are then regarded as commodities. He also observes that there is a new found differentiation in the industries. For instance, a fitted article consists of many parts together, manufactured separately and independently. There is a division of labour in the industries on the basis of various factors, for example, on the basis of raw material, or territorial division of labour, in which various special branches of production are confined to specific districts of a territory. But, this sense of labour division vanished when the bourgeois decided to use the machines for their own profit. Women and children were employed as labourers and were subjected to abominable conditions and wages that were lower than that of the male laborourers.

    There are two terms which define the division of labour in the workshop and in the society; namely priori and prosteriori, where priori defines the division of labour in the work house is regularly carried out. It becomes a division of labour within the society. Prosteriori is a rule of nature, which controls the division of labour based on luck in society. Even the guilds formed by the division of labour adhere to certain rules and guidelines, which help them, build up their groups exactly the way they were before, in case they are destroyed. These groups will resent encroachment, and if the need be, they will split up to cater to various needs. The merchants can buy any goods they want from them, but not the workers themselves. The fact that the merchants were separated from the workers created a sort of barrier between the two groups and the concept of classes came into being.

    The society was thus divided into two broad parts due to the above reason; the property owners and the property less workers. This leads to an estrangement of the workers from the property owners, and even from the world itself. The workers feels hostile towards even what he works to achieve, as the end product belongs to a world he is not a part of. This forms the first type of alienation that is, alienation of the worker from his own work. There is also alienation of workers from their work, in the sense that they do not have a choice in selecting what their job might be. They are forced to accept whatever batch of production they are assigned to. Or the alienation can be from their production, in the sense that they do not have any contribution in the design of the product, or any beforehand information on what the finished product may be. Hence, they produce something they would not be associated with after the production is over, and hence it signifies a loss of their own self. This alienation can also be from each other themselves, in the sense that the workers do not get a choice of working with people they know. They are in fact forced to work with complete strangers. This is, in its own way, a division of labour.
    In a capitalist society, along with food, water and shelter, money is also a pre requisite for life. The most perfect ideals, in a capitalist society are possessed by the thrifty and the miser, who scramble to save any money they can. In capitalism, self-denial becomes a cardinal value. According to Hegel, the most highly evolved state of self-consciousness is self-objectification, which is very highly associated with alienation.

    Marx also observes that the legal relations and forms of state needs to be studied in reference to the material conditions surrounding them and not the humans’ mind themselves. This leads to the formation of a civil society. He also observes that people enter into definite relationship without actually their own consent. These relations of productions correspond to the development of a particular stage in the material productive forces, and also form the economic base of the society, upon which arises a legal and political superstructure and the concept of social consciousness. Thus, due to this, without realising, they become part of a social phenomenon that they can do nothing but to accept in the way that it had been publicised.
    Niharika Verma

  33. #33 by Mahima Malik on February 7, 2013 - 9:15 PM

    In his writing on “Theses on Feuerbach”, Marx showed his objections on materialism and idealism. Though materials was appreciated by Marx but the very thought of not including the active role of human in transforming the world didn’t get down well with him. Marx proposed a view that human transforms the world in which they are living through actual material activity, and not by imposing the concepts as put forward by Hegel in his writing. The most memorable and quoted statement in “These on Feuerbach” is the eleventh thesis, which states the philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point, however, is to change it.

    In the section of “Fetishism of commodities”, Marx described the relation between a commodity’s value and its social dimensions. Commodities are determined to be meaningful in two forms. First in the form of object that is used to exchange with a value in market, and second defines the social relations of production, the condition in which the labour was performed, thus it not only reflects the labour but also the social relations build by the production. He has imposed this fact that social relations within capitalist society lies within commodities and not between the workers. Marx criticised the thought of describing the commodity through its price, but not with its most valued price, that is, the labour which has been performed to make these commodities available. In Marx’s words, “Political economy has indeed analysed value and magnitude, and has discovered what lies beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the question why labour is represented by the value and its product and labour-time by the magnitude of that value”. People has transformed the production and exchange of commodities as the behaviour of money, but in between, they are ignoring the true sense of labour.

    ‘Division of labour’, described in a simple way, is the labour where each task is divided into steps to be completed efficiently, with different people and different machines for each step. The division of labour along with the theory of comparative advantage, which defines the benefit of free trade, presumes that a person can work on one particular task, that is, many people on different tasks, and the trade with each other for mutual benefits. Marx described ‘Division of Labour’ in two forms, one which brings together different tasks to perform a single final task as mentioned in an example of making of shoes, with cattle breeder produces hides, tanner makes the hides into leather and then the shoemaker, produces shoes from this leather. Other form is the breaking of a bigger task into small task with different people and different machines for each task to be performed. Division of labour has become the capitalist form of social production. It creates the surplus-value with the exploitation of workers.

    Mahima Malik

  34. #34 by Anisha Agrawal on February 7, 2013 - 9:15 PM

    The extracts from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’s book Historical Perspectives on Technology – Marx’s Ideology and The German Ideology that were assigned to us were eye-openers. Starting with an introduction to his own early ideas and the journey of his studies on political economy, Marx outlines the basic theories that he formulated while undertaking various studies at different times in his life.
    When studying Hegel’s work, Marx developed a theory that is quite similar to what we read in Langdon Winner’s The Technological Society, and states that as men work, they form a relationship with the “material productive forces”. These productive relations are what form the basis of the political economics of society, and offers us a means to understand society as a whole. He says that it leads to a revolution in both the economic conditions and the ideological conditions of the society.
    While collaborating with Frederick Engels on a critique of the ideological view of German philosophy, he wrote many papers which could not be published then due to politically volatile conditions. Later, in 1850, he came to London to continue his economic studies, where he found a rich experience in the first hand observation of the bourgeois, the impressively preserved material for political economy in the British museum, and the new stages of economic development during the Gold Rush.
    He concludes from these observations that his ideas were formed after a long period of studies and “conscientious investigations lasting many years”.
    A short extract of Marx’s theses on Feuerbach’s writing provides a view of contemplative versus practical thinking. Marx comments that the religion and mysticism discussed prominently in his writings is clouding the practical, sensuous nature of human activity and social life. It should be viewed as an experience and practice of real objects, not as the contemplative idealism Feuerbach develops. He very rightly comments that “The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances…forgets that it is men who change circumstances”.
    On the topic of the human essence, Marx critics F. for equating it to belonging to the homo sapiens species, and not as the bond that unites individuals of the society in humanity. The individual is not separate from society, and religion is also a by-product of it. And at the ned is his oft-quoted maxim that the work of the philosophers is not to interpret but to change the world, for me defines the rasion d’etre of the philosophical study of mankind.
    Sections 4 and 5 of the chapter The Critique of Capitalism, vigorously expose capitalism in all its cunning avarice and single-minded pursuit of money by the “Division of Labour”. He starts by explaining how commodities are formed, and how important they are to the capitalist venture. Elaborating on his theory that when a process is made independent from the rest of the processes required to create a commodity, each process becomes a separate manufacture in itself, he says that this leads to a territorial division of labour, which is encouraged all the more by manufacturing practices. He then proceeds to point out important differences between division of labour in society and in factories. Each commodity in a labouring society is produced by a different labourer, but in a factory, no commodity is produced as such at any stage individually. The contribution to the finished product of every labourer reduces, while in that of society, it adds up to a collective whole. Also, an equilibrium is maintained in society based on the quality producible by the labourer and the use-value of the product, whereas in a factory, the authority of the owner rules supreme, and he decides the amount of labour necessary to be put in. The individual producers of society know no other authority.
    As he elaborates more, it becomes clear to the reader that Marx equates the very process of mechanized manufacturing and its division of labour with a capitalist policy. In contrast, the traditional guilds resisted division of labour with all their might.
    In a mechanized manufacturing scenario, capital is the driving force behind increase in number of workmen, number of working hours and intensiveness of labour. This capital looks to exploit “labour power by its very roots” and seeks to butcher the process for the sake of efficiency and profits. By doing so, it reduces the value of a labourer’s skills, and thus strives to lower the intellectual level of the worker. The labourer “spends his life in performing a few simple operations…becomes stupid and ignorant”. Efforts are also made to discipline him into subjugation and efficiency.
    Political economy has historically tended to support the manufacturing process, and justifies division of labour by saying that each man develops his talents and faculties in more minute detail.
    Continuing on the plight of the labourer, Marx says in part IV of the chapter that after crippling the labourer, the manufacturing process doesn’t even spare the worker’s family, employing them at lesser wages than any other fully developed worker, because mechanization means that muscle power is no longer important. This takes away from the family time and is a factor in developing the “plasticity of society” as mentioned by Jacques Ellul. The working day is immorally lengthened, and labour is made brutally work intensive, all for the increase of capital.
    Even though speciality in a particular technique means that the artist will work with the same tool throughout his life, with a machine, it becomes a life-long sentence of serving the same machine. The machine controls the movements of the worker and not the other way round. Thus the exploitation of the worker in every way is exacted by the capitalist and converted into wealth “for the nation”.

    Anisha Agrawal

  35. #35 by Srishty on February 7, 2013 - 9:16 PM

    Srishty Saha
    Marx in his book “The Early Marx” has described about his past life ,that is ,in the year 1842-44 when he was pursuing law as a subordinate subject along with philosophy and history. During this time he had experienced an embarrassment moment during a discussion on material interests. In this discussion, various topic were taken up like free trade and protective tariffs which arose the questions of economy on Marx’s mind.He declared himself against the discussion on French socialism and communism where he frankly confessed that his studies did not permit him to any judgment on the content of French tendencies instead he eagerly seized on the illusion of the managers of the Rheininische Zeintung .
    Marx had to look up for a solutions of his doubts and then Hegelian philosophy became his greatest critic.In his book ,”The Early Marx”,he has written about legal relation and forms of state has to be grasped by material conditions and not by the general development of human minds.Civil society needs to be studied in political economy.During his study on the solutions of his doubts ,he had found a guiding thread to his work ,that is, people enter in to the relations which are independent of their will and about the relations of production which corresponds to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. He had written about that material productive forces of society which conflicts the exiting relation of production and these relations of production does not find a place in the existing development of materialistic forces in the society and this is where social revolution comes in to play which implies that a distinction has to be made between material transformation of the economic conditions of production and the legal ,political, aesthetic and religious aspects.The contradiction in material life hold the old form of production and new production.He had explained about the existence of resources of transformation of society in the current society which are needed for transformation in material things.
    In this book ,”The Early Marx”,had explained about theses on Feuerbach .He noted that individual is seen as isolated and not a social being .He has described eleven theses of Feuerbach.First theses,says that the active side of materialism has been developed idealism.Second theses says that men are the production of circumstances and upbringing but essentially has forgotten the fact that it is the men who has changed the circumstances.Third theses has talked about religious alienation that is ,religious world has been established due to the contradiction of materialistic world.Fifth and sixth theses has talked about social contemplation and has ignored the concept practical and human sensuous activity .Also he explained about religious essence that is human essence is religious essence. Seventh theses explained on the fact that religious sentiment is itself a social product and eight theses says that social life takes place in everyday world.Ninth tenth theses says that that philosophy should be used to change the world and not interpret it.
    Marx in his book “Capital “,has about the fetishism of commodities and the secret there of ,that is, he focuses on the nature commodity apart from its basic use of value.Marx had also explained that history of capitalist society in which value of commodity is judged by political economists. Marx has compared manufacturing fetishism with religious belief.He had talked about life process in society which is based of material production which does not strip off its mystical veil until it is treated as production by freely associated men.He had talked about divison of labour in manufacture and divison of labour in society that is while divison of labour in society at large whether such divison be brought about or not exchange of commodities.
    He has also talked the capitalist nature of manufacture that is an increased number of labourers under the control of one capitalist is the starting-point as well of co –operation generally ,as of manufacture in particular.He has talked about production of relative surplus –value ,the proximate effects of machinery on the workman , intensification of labour and the contest between the capitalist and the wage labourers dates back to the very origin of capital and he revolted against means of production as being the material basis of the capitalist mode of produation

  36. #36 by Udayan Tandon on February 7, 2013 - 9:16 PM

    Historical Perspectives on Technology

    History of marx’s opinions: Mr. Marx begins his history by describing himself as a philosopher pursuing law. He was not so keen on discussing materialistic objects and ideas. From his views it seemed that he did not like the setup of the society. He mentions the thrust on free trade and economic gains. This swayed the society in “going forward” without the proper knowledge of the subject. The thrust was on development without the foundation being set. Marx calls this ‘amateurism’ of the society. Thus Marx started working on these doubts and anomalies in the society. His research led him to believe that the roots of the society were in the material needs of it. Thus we conclude that the conscience does not determine his being instead their social persona defines there conscience. This gives rise to a conflict that Marx talks about which is the conflict between the potential productive forces and the current productivity of the society. This leads to rapid transformation without proper insight into it, sending the society into turmoil. Marx further elaborates his study on material conditions and links ideas to Fredrick Engels. Marx in the end states that “at the entrance to science,as at the entrance to hell:”
    Qui si convien lasciare ogni sospetto;
    Ogni viltà convien che qui sia morta.

    Theses on Feuerbach(Karl Marx,1845): It is one of the works of Marx in which he proclaims “task of philosophy is not simply to interpret but to change the world”. Karl Marx criticized Ludwig Feuerbach’s espousal of materialism. He starts by bringing to light the topic of conceiving everything as an object and the total lack of humanity from the society. Also we see that Feuerbach considers only the theoretical process never taking into account a practical aspect of society. He critiqued Feuerbach on thinking only theretically and not digging up the facts through practical application. Feuerbach’s “Old materialism” only “civil” which is a group of people organizing there public lives to become acceptable,fit in. Whereas he needs to see the “human” being as a thrust for change. A force who applies practicality to adapt to the society and fulfill it’s needs.

    The Fetishism of Commodities: It means that capitalism affects the way people interact and respond with and to each other. It is division based on the economic class of people and it is reflected by the commodities they have. This division leads to conflicts and boundaries in the society which never existed. It affects generations to come.For instance, under capitalism everything that can be exchanged becomes a commodity, even labor. So by selling your labor to an employer you are commoditizing yourself, and that defines the kind of relationship you and your employer will have. Same thing for other commodities like when you go grocery shopping, that exchange of groceries for your money defines the relationship between the owner and you.And since under capitalism all transactions are carried through the exchange of commodities, mostly all relationships are defined by these exchanges.

    Division Of Labor: Division of labour means assigning roles in the workplace. Such as Executives and peons. Both are treated in a drastically different ways in the workplace.
    It was originally used by Sumerians to define jobs,trades,and economic status in the society. Division of labour helps in increasing productivity. But Marx was against this concept. He believed that this narrows skills of the workers. His area of expertise is shortened and thus work becomes moribund. His most significant contribution to this topic is the discreteness he brings out between social division and economic division. Meaning that if you belong to a poor family you are bound to be in a lower rung of the labour. It is highly likely too that if you belong to lower class socially you end up in a lower rung. This strategy of capitalism ensured that the rich and in power remain in control of the society.
    Marx then talks about communism and it’s advantages in the society.The division of labour is transcended, meaning that balanced human development occurs where people fully express their nature in the variety of creative work that they do.

    Thus with these four readings we conclude that development and especially the german philosophy was to focus on materialism. It never focused on the human condition. Capitalism took into account the economic state of the society and improved it but the human condition was untouched and degraded. Due to this factors such “Fetishism of Commodities” and “Division of labour” crept into the society. Still persisting these are responsible for the gap of equality and the reason of social classes in the society. Thus Marx created and ideal of “communism” in which he tried to eliminate all these factors and create a perfect society in harmony with the technical development.

    Udayan Tandon

  37. #37 by archittaneja on February 7, 2013 - 9:25 PM

    Karl Heinrich Marx was a Prussian – German philosopher, economist, sociologist , historian, journalist. His ideas played a significant role in the establishment of the sciences and the development of the socialist movement. In the reading “Division of labour” and “Fetishism of commodities” he puts forth his views in a very brilliant way. The value of commodity we wish to make, is known as a beneficial object of any given quantity. The value of a commodity always remains constant, though its relative value may fluctuate. In the initial phases a commodity is seen as an insignificant thing but in true sense it happens to be a very esteemed thing. Human according to his needs and requirements, modifies the commodity which is provided by nature. In the making of that very commodity goes the expenditure of human brains, nerves and muscles. One man works for another and thus this makes labour a social form. When two commodities are equated, we also equate human labour. The life process of society, hid behind the mystical veil would not come out until it is regulated by a well settled plan. The development of division of labour in a society starts itself. It is an obvious demand of division of labour in society at large that it should have attained a certain degree of development .Thus purchase and sale of different brings about a division of labour in our society. Marx argues that How far the productive forces of a nation are developed is shown by the degree to which the division of labour has been carried. Also, there is a direct link between division of labour and forms of ownership. Thus a lot goes into making of a commodity and one of the thing it requires the most is capital. John Stuart Mill says in his “Principles of political economy “that “ It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have heightened the daily toil of human being”
    In factory, is attained the starting point of an industry. The introduction of machine changed the whole scenario of production by making the things automatically. Independent of the workmen and thus cheapening the commodities to quite a great extent. Fixing the length of the days work and dividing the work of man across various specialized machines only decreased the expenditure that went into producing things. In his criticism of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right, Marx concludes that laws and hierarchies of the state are determined by the current material conditions. These laws are bound to create inequalities within the social and economic classes of the society. Marx quotes, “At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society comes in conflict with the existing relations of production, or- what is but a legal expression for the same thing- with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto”
    According to Marxist ideology the man enters into relations defining his social status. The mode of production also alters social relations. Thus he puts forward the fact that the social being determines the consciousness not vice versa. The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism that of Feuerbach included is that the thing, reality, sensuousness is conceived only in the form of object or of contemplation. Marx in his “Theses of Feuerbach” argues that the philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point lies on the fact of changing it.” and his materialist approach allows for and empowers such change. Marx states his objections to ‘all hitherto existing’ materialism and idealism. Materialism is complimented for understanding the physical reality of the world, but is criticized for ignoring the active role of the human subject in creating the world we perceive. Idealism, at least as developed by Hegel, understands the active nature of the human subject, but confines it to thought or contemplation: the world is created through the categories we impose upon it.

    By-Archit Taneja

  38. #38 by simranbakshi on February 7, 2013 - 9:28 PM

    The “Theses on Feuerbach”, published as an appendix in the 1888 essay by Engels on Feuerbach and End of the classical German philosophy, was written by Karl Marx in the spring of 1845 as he and Engels were starting their work on “The German Ideology”.
    They outline a critique of the ideas of Marx’s fellow Young Hegelian philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, but the text is often seen as more ambitious than this, criticizing both the contemplative materialism of the Young Hegelians and all forms of philosophical idealism.
    In the eleven theses, Marx proclaims that philosophy is not only responsible to interpret, but also to change the world – this being one of his most quoted statements.
    The thesis did not emerge by accident, they are a crystallization of Marx’s work and activities of his philosophy.
    In his first thesis, he is trying to find a middle ground between idealism and materialism- because materialism, is that sensuousness is conceived only in form of the object or of contemplation but not as subjective human practice, whereas idealism, on the other hand, does not know real, sensuous activities at all. In thesis I, Marx makes the assertion that all previous materialisms—including Feuerbach’s—had not been able to adequately account for the human subject.
    He goes on in his 2nd thesis, to talk about, how the dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking, which is isolated from practice, is completely a pedantic question. And how, the question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking, is not a theoretical but a highly practical question and Man, must prove the truth.
    His next thesis is about how the materialist doctrine concerning the change of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men themselves and that it is important to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society and the coincidence of the changing of circumstances and that if human activity can be rightly understood as being revolutionary practice.
    In further writing, Marx points out that Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and self-contradictions within this secular basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood in its contradiction and revolutionized in practice. Thus, for instance, after the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be destroyed in theory and in practice.
    Further, he notes that Feuerbach, not satisfied with abstract thinking, wants contemplation; but he does not conceive sensuousness as practical, human-sensuous activity.
    Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations. To abstract from the historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract – isolated – human individual, and human essence can be understood as an internal, dumb generality, which merely unites people.
    Feuerbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product.

    “All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice”- Marx points out that if you see the product, without seeing the practice of its production, you get mystified, if don’t look at practicality—like Feuerbach– who took a Christian angle to it.

    He concludes his 11th thesis with some of his most famous words: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it”.
    Marx made the difference between historical materialism and contemporary materialism very clear in his thesis on Feuerbach: “The chief defect of all materialism up to now (including Feuerbach’s) is that the object, reality, what we apprehend through our senses, is understood only in the form of the object or contemplation; but not as sensuous human activity, as practice; not subjectively. Hence in opposition to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism — which of course does not know real sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects really distinguished from the objects of thought; but he does not understand human activity itself as objective activity.”
    Marx, like Hegel looks at an object in its movement, in its becoming, and not as a static “object,” which can be explained by discovering the physical “cause” of it. In contrast to Hegel, Marx studies man and history by beginning with the real man and the economic and social conditions under which he must live, and not primarily with his ideas. Marx was as far from bourgeois materialism as he was from Hegel’s idealism — hence he could rightly say that his philosophy is neither idealism nor materialism but a synthesis: humanism and naturalism ( an excerpt from
    Marx, a German-Jew, joined the staff of the newspaper ‘Rheinische Zeitung’ in 1842 and soon became its editor.
    Here, he experienced, for the first time, the ‘embarrassment’ of having to take part in a discussion on ‘material interests’. Soon, it led to a discussion on French socialism and communism- he clearly declared himself against this ‘amateurism ’ and confessed that during his earlier days, he didn’t know enough even to ‘venture his judgement on the content of the French tendencies’ (Marx on the history of his opinions, The Early Marx, pg-4).
    He says that, his studies and investigations have led him to believe that legal relations and forms of state are not grasped from the development of the human mind, or by themselves, but have their roots in the material conditions of life- an idea, which Hegel, calls the “civil society”, which can be sought in political economy.
    Further studies by Marx, led him to the conclusion that, men, in the social production of their life, enter into certain indispensable relations, independent of their will, relations of production- those which correspond to a stage of development of their material, productive forces. He says, that it is the mode of production of material life, which shapes up one’s social, political and intellectual thoughts and processes. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” (Marx on the history of his opinions, The Early Marx, pg-4).At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society comes in conflict with the existing relations of production, or- what is but a legal expression for the same thing- with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto”.
    At this point, the labourers are able to start thinking clearly about their situation. They begin to recognize that they are in bad conditions, and that there are better conditions outside of their work. If enough of these workers have the same ideas, they can unite and build upon their current material existence and attempt for a change. Marx refers to this as a social revolution, which provides a such a change in the economic foundation that the entire superstructure is greatly transformed and in considering such transformations, a distinction needs to be made between the materialistic transformation of the economics of production and the legal, political, religious or aesthetic ones.
    He goes on to point out, rightly so, that just as our opinion of another person is not based on that person’s opinion of himself, so we can’t judge an epoch, a transformation period by its own consciousness.
    Marx calls the bourgeois relations of productions as antagonist- not as in individual antagonism but of one “arising from the social conditions of life of individuals”. Marx suggests that there is a solution to this antagonistic relationship- from the productive forces developed by the bourgeois society itself. In other words, I feel, Marx suggests that communism is the answer.
    He elaborates and says, that the outline of his study- Marx on the history of his opinions, are only to show his views, however they may be judged and however little they coincide with the prejudices of the ruling classes and these are the results of his meticulous investigations over many years.
    The division of labour is a sub¬ject which has been tracked by social scientists for aeons. It is true that anyone who intends to deal with the study of society must grapple with the question of the division of labour. Karl Marx was no exception.
    According to him, the Division of Labour in a society, and the corresponding curbing and suppression of individuals, develops itself, just like division of labour in manufacture, from opposite starting points- like in a family, with a natural labour division: on the basis of age and sex, a division based on physiological foundation which enlarges the divide by the expansion of population.
    On the other hand, as the various families and communities, find livelihood in their natural environment, their differences in means of living and production brings them together for the mutual exchange of products and the consequential conversion of these products into commodities- this exchange of commodities is what brings about the Division of Labour which demands that Division Of Labour in society be at a certain degree of development.
    Marx points out, the crucial fact that this labour division, seizes not only the economic but every other sphere of the society as well- laying down the base for the system of sorting men on the basis of their specialisations, quoting A. Ferguson, master of Adam Smith: “We make a nation of Helots, and have no free citizens.”(The critique of capitalism, pg 394)

    Marx describes the Capitalistic Character of Manufacture and points out, that the division of labour in manufacture makes the increase in the number if labourers under one capitalist’s control, a technical necessity.
    In manufacture, the collective working organism is a form of existence of capital. The mechanism that is made of the numerous individual detail labourers belongs to the capitalist and hence the productive power from the combination of labours appears to be the power of the capital.
    Due to the historical circumstances of capitalist society, the values of commodities are usually studied by political economists in their most advanced form: money. These economists see the value of the commodity as something metaphysically autonomous from the social labour that is the actual determinant of value. Marx calls this fetishism—the process whereby the society that originally generated an idea eventually, through the distance of time, forgets that the idea is actually a social and therefore all-too-human product (,VolumeI ).
    Marx talks about how the mystical character of commodities neither originates from their use value nor from the nature of determining factors of the value. A commodity is a mysterious thing because in it the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the final product. This is the reason why products become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses, the social character of men’s labour being the part that isn’t perceived by the senses. There is a definite social relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the form of relation between things. This is the Fetishism which attaches itself to products, as soon as they are produced as commodities.
    Marx goes on to talk about the Factory Legislation and the various Factory Acts, and how they don’t relate to the hours of labour work, about how apart from their wording, the capitalists evade several vital clauses of sanitation, cleanliness and protection against dangerous machinery.
    “The contest between the capitalist and the labourer, dates back to the very origin of capital. It raged throughout the manufacturing period. But only since the introduction of machinery had the workman fought against the instrument of labour itself, the material embodiment of capital. He revolts against this particular form of the means of production, as being the material basis of the capitalist mode of production” (Division of labour, The strife between workman and machine).
    The way society works, which is very directly related to the way material production works, cannot actually be clear until we treat is as production by or society of freely associated men, and for the mystical veil to lift, it is necessary for these freely associated men to consciously regulate the production/society in accordance with a firm, concrete and settled plan.

    Simran Bakshi

  39. #39 by Shrey Gupta on February 7, 2013 - 9:28 PM


    Karl Marx’s eleven-note critique of Feuerbach contains his most famous quote “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” (its also engraved on his tombstone).

    His theses give a view of what he thought of the philosophy of his day. He criticises the fact that human activity is not conceived as “objective”, and that practical activity’s significance is not understood even by Feuerbach, who seems to favour only theoretical human activity. He goes further to state that the changing human activity as a consequence of changing circumstances can be considered “revolutionary”, and related to practical thought. He seems critical of a secular basis and the contradictions it involves. He talks of how Feuerbach attempts to find some sort of generality to unite humans, an attempt at something fundamentally flawed, as “human essence” is the “ensemble of human relations”, and the secular basis of generality is wrong as religion itself is a practical product of the society. In his famous quote, he also mentions his dissent with philosophers who seem to comment on the ways of the world, but do nothing to change them. Practical application of thought, it seems ,is the most important to him.


    In this piece, Marx looks at the material conditions of life and its effects on larger social orders such as law and hierarchies in the state. The piece involves his account of various events that led him to a better understanding of society. He says that they should be understood considering not the state of mind, but taking into account the materialistic position of the society at the time. This is because social economy is constituted by the relations man enters in a society. He also goes forth to state that the consciousness of a person is determined by his/her social being.


    This piece speaks of the importance of commodities, theological as well as metaphysical. The importance, or the role of a commodity in society, is not because of its origins from resource, or from its use value, but rather in regards to objectification of a person’s labour. The mystery surrounding a commodity is because of the social relation that develops between the producer and the product. Marx calls this relationship “Fetishism”. This comes to light only during the exchange of said commodity, whence it is taken from the producer.

    Marx also talks about the equalisation of different kinds of labour via abstraction form their inequalities by thinking of them in terms of human labour power. He continues to talk about the social aspect of the individual labour that goes into production of said commodity. He then considers various situations, such as one of every family member putting in some amount of effort, and of a society of free individuals, and the necessity of the distribution of portion acquired via the utilisation of the commodity. He looks into the relative importance of commodities in different religious practices.

    He finally considers unveiling of the mystique surrounding commodities by consciously regulating them with a “settled plan”. He ends with an explanation of how “value” is commodity related, while “riches” relate to man.


    In this piece, Marx has lightly touched upon the major topics concerning labour, namely “the origin of manufacture, the detail labourer and his implements, and totality of mechanism.”
    He says there are opposite starting points involved in the development of a method of division of labour in regards to both society as well as manufacturing process. He continues to talk about the basic pre-requisites in division of labour, such as a number of simultaneously employed labourers, and for the division of labour in manufacture, the presence of a division of labour in society.

    However, there exist fundamental differences in the division of labour in a society and that in a workshop. The indisputability of this can be seen when one considers the bonds binding various manufacturing processes, in a chain-reaction of sorts, where different manufacturing processes together contributing to the finished form of product.

    A chief portion of the reading goes into examining the “capitalistic character of manufacture”. This part, in my opinion, is the highlight of the entire given reading, since it brings out most clearly Marx’s aversion to capitalism. His comments on how manufacturing process “seizes labour by its roots”, and “converts the labourer into a crippled monstrosity”, can very well be thought of as arguments in support of the famous statement that calls on unity of “all workers” (also inscribed on his tombstone). His talks seem more on how capitalism is an obstacle in manufacture.

    The later pieces are on the effect of machinery on workmen, such as the wrongful employment of women and children, and the prolongation of the working day, accompanied by the stress on the society, “the very sources of whose life are menaced”.

    The piece ends with his critique of the factory, where he seems to state that though one can say that with the coming of factory the very methods of manufacture were revolutionised, but one just cannot disregard the cost, the consequences.

    Shrey Gupta

  40. #40 by Pulkit Manocha on February 7, 2013 - 9:33 PM

    “The Critique of Capitalism”, Capital, Volume 1
    “Theses on Feuerbach”, Karl Marx
    Marx on the History of his Opinions

    In my eighteen years of existence, I have seldom come across people with ideas that match the profundity and depth as that of Karl Marx, the father of modern philosophy who proposed radical changes for a better society. Despite being fully aware of his passionate disagreement with capitalism and the altruism that was seeped in his thought, I found it exceptionally challenging to decipher his message he tries to convey in the aforementioned books .Moreover, I could not help but resort to quoting him a number of times as he exhibits an exquisite vocabulary that far outmatches mine and conveys a thought with absolute brevity and clarity. Marx heavily influenced by the works of Hegel and Feuerbach shows immense supports for the proletariat and his subsequent belief in communism which is clearly visible in section 4,”Division of Labour in Manufacture, and Division of Labour in Society” of Capital, which is a scathing indictment of the capitalist system and the bourgeois mind. He begins by differentiating on the division of labour within society and within a workshop. He asserts that in a society, such a division is synonymous to its distribution among the various independent producers who not only interact with each other to build commodities, but also share an apparently invisible bond that exists because “their respective products are commodities”. On the other hand, division of labour in factories is empowering to the capitalist who is at the centre of the entire process and owns the means of production. He also gives another fundamental difference between the two. He suggests that there exists a complete alienation of the final commodity with the labourer in a manufacture since he is involved in building only a small part of it. Marx does not hesitate in shedding light on the hypocrisy of the bourgeois which on one side hails the division of labour in a workshop but vociferously “denounces with equal vigor every conscious attempt to socially regulate the process of production, as an inroad upon such sacred things as the rights of property, freedom and unrestricted play for the bent of the individual capitalist”. This statement, which is pertinent to even today’s scenario, holds the key to the chapter as it clearly points to the inequities of the capitalist system which had been fiercely resisted by the guilds in order to keep the unity that exists between a labourer and his means of production. He clearly indicates that it is the capitalist who revels and profits in the industrious labourer’s effort and projects an image of hypocrisy and avarice. In contrast, he draws our attention to the Asiatic societies and communities highlighting their resilience to political turmoil and trying times due to the inherent simplicity in their way of production. He also explains in great detail how the capitalist slays the entire labour force for its own gains, destroying in the process the individual labourer himself. According to Adam Smith, the routine monotony of his job reduces him to “an ignorant and stupid creature”. He illustrates how exploitation is carried out in the most extreme and cringe worthy methods that invite nothing but contempt from an intellectual mind. Marx then shifts his focus on the sword with which the capitalist system slays the labour force for its ends, the machine. Yes, it has increased productivity by reducing the time to build a commodity but. The factory machine invites much fascination and marvel from the part of society detached and blissfully unaware of what it has done to the proletariat. It has cheapened human effort to such an extent that the labourer has been reduced to an almost worthless entity. The job that one does on the assembly line is so trivial, petty and unskilled that the capitalist does not see the point in paying higher wages to the one who does it. Instead, the capitalist, according to Marx, resorts to overworking the labourer for longer hours that would seem much more tedious than building a comparatively smaller number of bigger products. Moreover, the machine’s primary purpose of reducing human effort rendered the lack of physical strength in women and children otiose, thereby giving the capitalist a way to employ labour at even cheaper costs. All these factors lead to the “immoderate intensification of labour”. He also goes on to say that at times, the worker is subjected to handling a particular machine with such monotony that he or she effectively acts as a lifeless part of it.”Machinery is put to wrong use, with the object of transforming the workman, from his very childhood, into a part of detail-machine. In this way, not only are the expenses of his reproduction considerably lessened, but at the same time his helpless dependence upon the factory as a whole, and therefore upon the capitalist, is rendered complete”. These are the words of Marx that are influencing my thought and belief as I quote them. He writes on the misery of the labourer with such passion and disdain that one can’t help but see his point of view. This particular part of society has been suppresses and exploited with such heart wrenching cruelty that it leads the reader into a panicky state of mind, where he or she accepts the problem and frantically searches for the solution. It provokes the reader into comparing labour and slavery, with the former seemingly exhibiting human atrocities in just a less explicit form! It is important to note that Marx wrote Capital from 1867 to 1894, a time when industrial exploitation and physical working conditions were at their absolute worst. Although the physical conditions in factories have only improved in western and more developed countries since then but the fundamental idea and mentality that exists behind its structure survives. Karl Marx was a brilliant economist, one with an exceptionally clear perspective of society. His economic excellence led him to observe another trend, that of the fetishism of commodities. Although the concept of “fetishism” has been inspired from The Cult of Fetish Gods (1760) by Charles de Brosses, it took the genius of Marx to apply it to commodities. He begins by explaining that it is no trivial thing but “abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological aspects”. He asserts with great emphasis on detail that the sociological relations between people have become more and more objectified. This is because in a market, buyers and sellers identify each others by means to procure goods or capital. This objectification of human relation lies at the core of his idea of fetishism of commodities. The object of his investigation is apparently the association between various forms of production and corresponding socio-political forms and the capitalist society. He goes on to introduce a commodity’s “use value” which is an intrinsic property of a commodity that is built keeping in mind the human needs and wants, whereas “exchange value” describes its social aspects. Marx states “Political Economy has indeed analyzed, however incompletely, value and its magnitude, and has discovered what lies beneath these forms. But it has never once asked the question why labour is represented by the value of its product and labour-time by the magnitude of that value”. I could not agree more. He also goes on to show the process of attributing special properties to certain objects such as gold or silver and further dwells upon the use of the terms such as “exchange value” and “use value” tying them to society, labour and the bourgeois in ways that were beyond my comprehension. He draws parallels between the trading nations and the ancient worlds and provides great emphasis on the “narrowness” of nature worship and certain aspects of some popular religions. In “Theses on Feuerbach”, Karl Marx provides the critique to Feuerbach’s works with great brevity and profundity. He speaks on the worker’s alienation from himself as a producer and in the eleventh thesis urges the philosophers to change the world rather than just interpret and understand it. It would go on to eventually become his most memorable quote. He speaks on human sensuousness being “practical, human-sensuous activity”, religious self-alienation, the practicality of social life and the question of the reality or non-reality of thinking. He effectively destroys the argument that “humans are products of circumstances and upbringing” by asserting that is the human that moulds and develops these circumstances. .Marx’s works are cognitively exhausting to the untrained mind as they require intense effort and study to understand the point he is trying to make. His statement “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” prodded me into deep thought to fundamentally question the very nature of consciousness. Not only did his writings demolish my views on capitalism, human activity, value and consciousness but also raised many inconvenient questions and ideas that need to be looked upon from a completely different perspective without any bias or thought seeped ignorance. My perspective of the human society, bourgeoisie and the proletariat will never be the same again.

    Pulkit Manocha

  41. #41 by Nehal Gulati on February 7, 2013 - 9:36 PM


    This Karl Marx’s reading tells about the capitalist system and its effect on the labour and the society as whole. In a civilized society, there exist social relations, an a economic system, a political system and also a legal system. Karl Marx, had an intellectual relation with Hegel which led to Marxism. Manifesto of the communism party was jointly written by Marx & Engels. Carl Marx and Fredrick Engels were contemporaries. The collaborative work of Marx and Engels is “The German Ideology”. Marx wrote “Theses of Feuerbach”. It was published by Engels, forty years after Marx’s death. According to Marx, the task of philosophy is not only to interpret but also to change the world. lays out Marx’s conception of history.
    From the reading “Theses of Feuerbach”, it laid out Marx’s conception of history and the work of philosophy to interpret the society and to change it for the betterment of humankind. One get insight inside into social life of a common man in early 18 century at the time of industrial revolution. The philosophies have only interpreted the world in various ways. More important is to change the world.
    Every commodity is a useful object of a given quantity and contains a definite quantity of human labour. A commodity, appears at first sight, a very trivial thing and easily understood. In reality, it is a very complex thing. The value of commodity lies in its use and there is nothing mysterious about it. It is capable of satisfying human wants. It is made by the humans, used by the humans and made for the humans. e.g a table made out of wood is a commodity. Commodity can be further described in terms of quantity and quality.
    A commodity is a mysterious thing, as, in a commodity the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an object. Articles of utility become commodities only because they are products of labour of private individuals. The sum total of labour of all private individuals form the aggregate labour of the society. The labour of an individual has a two-fold social character that is the product should be useful and it should be useful to others. When the act of exchange occurs then the labour of an individual becomes a part of labour of society. So, social relations develop due to products. Every product has of value. The relative value of commodity may vary due to many factors like availability of raw material, cost of raw material etc. Labour is represented by the value of its products and labour-time by the magnitude of that value. Political economy has done analysis of value and its value. Value is a property of a thing. Riches are attribute of men and value is a attribute of a commodity. Here I concluded behind this meaning that a man is rich but a diamond is valuable.
    Productive activity is basically the expenditure of human brain, nerves and muscles etc. Labour assumes a social form when men work in union for one-another. The equality of all sorts of human labour is expressed objectively by their products (all are of equal value )
    One should strictly look into Marx’s theory that Division of labour in society and division of labour in workshop differ in degree and kind. Division of labour is the basis of division of society into classes.
    Division of labour in society : There is distribution of work even in the family and it depends on age, sex and immediate environment. Division of labour in society is brought about by the sale and purchase of products of different branches of industry. It implies dispersion among many independent producers who acknowledge no other authority but that of competition having mutual interest and dependency. Small workman like carpenters, smiths and handicrafts have simple operations and are self sufficient. Guild systems restrict the number of employees at such places. Labour and his means of production remains closely united. They have freedom of judgment, will and knowledge. The colonial system and the opening of the markets of the world caused division of labour in society.
    Division of labour in workshop/factory : It implies concentration of means of production in hands of one capitalist over number of people, one has employed. In a factory number of people are more so division of labour is a technical necessity. Also there is hierarchical gradation of workmen. Capitalist separates the labour into skilled and unskilled labour. Productive power resulting from the combined labour appears to be the productive power of capitalist. A worker life is spent in performing a few simple operations. By division of labour both the product and the producer are improved upon. Division of labour in a factory is actually a civilized and refined way of exploitation. Different types of workers were there like feeders, engineers, mechanics. In a factory, a worker becomes mechanized doing same work every day, every week, every month and every year. His mental and physical freedom was violated. Punishment were given in form of fines and deduction from wages, so there was a working class and a capitalist class. “The factory act” was the first conscious and methodical reaction of society against the capitalist system. It looked into area like ventilation in factories, dangerous machines and rights of the workmen.

    Increase in production is intended to cheapen value of commodity. It means producing surplus value. Here instruments of labour are machines and not implements.

    Machinery dispenses with muscle power, so labour of women and children was sought. Children were deprived of play and women of their freedom. The degree of exploitation further increased. There was prolongation of working day, beyond the bounds set by human nature. Automation depreciated the value of labour power, labour became cheap and abundant. Capitalist only wanted to make profit. A surplus of working population was formed. There was intensification of labour, both in terms of time and degree.

    These readings provided an deep insight and a strong perspectives, regarding to a capitalistic society in which machines have affected human life.
    All is what one get from all the readings that The Theory of Marx seems still relevant today as it were earlier in society.
    by Nehal Gulati

  42. #42 by alankrita12017 on February 7, 2013 - 9:46 PM

    Karl Marx was a Prussian-German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist (from Wikipedia). Here is a review on different theories and philosophies.
    Marx talks about fetishism of commodities. Whenever the word “commodity” appears, not much thought is given to it, but it still has a very special meaning in our lives. Marx says, “The mystical character of commodity does not originate, therefore, in their use-value.” I do not particularly agree to this statement. The use of the commodity is the reason of its existence. The mystic aura attached to it is probably because we don’t understand it – its working, for instance. A commodity appears mysterious to me if I am not able to use it or understand its working. I was very excited when my parents bought me my cellphone. But after using it for a while it lost its charm. It was no longer “mysterious.” But I will agree to Marx’s argument that commodity has a social and not a physical relationship with us. Even if my cellphone is no longer mysterious, it still has a very special place. If my parents were to say that they would give it away to my cousins, I would will really annoyed and sad.
    Commodities are the product of independent labour of different individuals. The collective sum of their labour forms the labour of the society. The social character of the products comes forward only in the exchange of the products between the producers. The labour time of different individuals depend on then as well as the prevailing conditions. The social character attributed to the product is therefore dependent on the expenditure time of the individual. The total product of a community is a social product. Even though a product might be produced exclusively for one’s use but it is still a part of the big picture. The life-process of society is an aggregate of different social products and is regulated by men.
    When we think about a commodity, we think that the more complex and useful it is, more labour time is associated with it. The value of the product is related to the labour associated to it. But the question “why?” is never asked. It is assumed to be self-evident.
    Marx talks about division of labour in manufacture and in society.
    The process of manufacturing of a commodity is possible only because of a systemic process of building it by a proper division of labor. As Karl Marx says, the division of labor in manufacturing process directly affects the social division of labor. The division of labor starts from the very basic structure of society: a family. The family has always worked on the principle of division of labor: the father works for money, the mother does the household and manages the resources collected by the father. When some families get together to form a society or a tribe, they work together to sustain their life by using the resources which are available to them. When two different tribes meet, they tend to exchange the products they make using the resources available to each of them. This way, it leads to the betterment of both of the tribes. In this process of exchange of diverse products made by both the tribes transforms products to commodities.
    Manufacturing, being a multistep process, requires a focused labor for each process. Each such process may branch into an entirely new process of its own. Take the production of laptop for instance. It requires assembling of hard drive, semi-conductor chips, disk drives etc. but each of these components have such a high importance now, that they have branched into being a separate product altogether.
    The division of labor is quite dependent on the territory from where the labor is recruited. Take the example of tribes again. A particular tribe may be efficient in one type of production than the other. Thus, this leads to a territorial division of labour. Slowly, this type of system confines special branches of production to specific geographical boundaries.
    The very existence of the manufacturing period is balanced by two major conditions: the opening out of the markets, and as Marx says, the colonial system. The reason for the existence of a manufacturing period can’t be based on sheer oppression based society. Though, it remains a fact that the colonies have always promoted manufacturing progress.
    In this fragmented system of manufacturing, where the labour is divided to accomplish one particular task, the man gets specialized for one particular faculty, and shuts the doors for other. The worst part is that his skills doesn’t even make an independent commodity. The man becomes dependent on the system, forever.
    The division of labor in a workshop, though affects the division of labor in society, both of them differ a lot. The former implies the concentration of means of production in hand of a capitalist. The division of labor in society by definition means the dispersion accompanied by formation of diverse social groups based on their labour. This clearly makes us understand the fact that the division of labour is governed by the laws of Nature.
    Marx explains the concept of increasing the capital put in by a capitalist. He firmly believes in that the minimum amount of capital, which is bound to be in the hands of each capital, must keep increasing. This will lead to the increase in the resources put in the manufacturing process and thus will increase in the total production.
    The statement quoted by Adam Smith appealed to me quite a bit. “… preoccupation of mind with only one part of the process… makes mind stagnant…” This statement can be found evident even in out day-to-day life. It in fact enforces mass-education, as a measure to remove this stagnancy.
    The more people incorporate themselves in the system of division of labor, the more do they give into the exploitation by the capitalists. Thought he motive of the capitalists is manufacture products and commodities, they believe it is the only thing which can sustain human existence and will take any measure to transcend their industrial levels. Talking about political economy, which also views the social division of labor only from the standpoint of manufacturers, sees capitalism as the only means to creating better commodities.
    Till here, we see a shift of simple tools to complex instruments to highly efficient machines. But now, tools do not supplement the production of commodities, but now the men supplement the machines for production. By the introduction of machinery, the need for muscle in the manufacturing process is quite less now. Thus, it has opened scope for the employment of women and children. Thus, where only the leading man of a family was taking part, now the whole family is taking part in the course of production. This lead to the depreciation of the value of human labor. This eventually led to the breakdown of the structure of family.
    The division of labor led to the production of better goods, eventually machines which slowly overtook the man’s position in the division of labor. Man is slowly becoming the servant of machine, if saying in lay man terms. The views of Marx are true to the last word; the way he has described the whole society as being a cause as well as repercussion of technology and production. But he never talks about the way we can make a change for good.

    Feuerbach was a German philosopher. Marx wrote his own “Theses” on Feuerbach. A gist of the theses is given in the following lines. Human beings in order to survive produce material requirements. These materialistic things not only influence the current generation but also the generation that follows it. Whether the human thinking has a truth attached to it or not is a practical question. The truth, reality of one’s thinking must be proved in one’s practice. It is said that men when their circumstances and upbringings change. But it is the men who cause who cause the change itself. The society is changing and it is due to the members of the society. There is an alienation of a worker from his/her activities. He is separated from his work and working. The work is divided into various parts and he is assigned only a part of it. He is just given as much as required. He doesn’t have a complete picture of the work even though he is the producer. Religious sentiments are not considered as a social product by Feuerbach. Social life is practical. Whenever theory breaches upon mystic fields, it is human practice and its understandings that helps differentiate between the two. Marx argues that the object of philosophy is not to only interpret the world but also to change it.
    Till date Marx’s ideologies and theories on political economy are a topic of discussion among many philosophers owing to the in-depth study he has done in his field. He brings up many pressing problems prevailing in the society. His theories help us to look at the economic, social and political sections of the society from a different perspective and help us understand them better.

    Alankrita Pathak

  43. #43 by Shagun Beniwal on February 7, 2013 - 9:49 PM

    “The Critique of Capitalism”, Capital, Volume 1
    “Theses on Feuerbach”, Karl Marx
    Marx on the History of his Opinions
    Division of labour in society and workplace

    The world is divided into seven continents, seven continents are further divided into hundreds of countries with these hundreds further divided into thousands of states which further divide down on the basis of language , caste , creed , groups , sects etc but the important point to be noted is that this division doesn’t stop here itself , it goes down to the most lower sections of the society as well namely the “The labour class”. The labour class is divided into two parts, first on the basis of manufacture demand and secondly on the basis of the labour in society.
    Firstly talking about division of labour in manufacture, Karl Marx states that the moment any of the units fail on the assembly the division is created and each subsequent unit then becomes an independent unit as the previous connecting link breaks. This system of division of labour is know n from somewhere around 18th century where this was bound under law that “each apprentice should devote himself to only one sort of fabrication and should not learn the preparation of several kinds of stuff”. This example shows how labour was divided at work. Another example that the author states and would make the picture clear is “cattle breeder produces hides, tanner makes the leather from these hides and finally the shoemaker makes boots from the leather made available to him by the tanner , this is an example of division of labour at manufacture. These boots are then sold by the various shopkeepers which becomes division of labour at society.
    Thoughts like protective tariffs and free trade were coming up in the society and Karl Marx also gave his contributing views to it by starting the newspaper Rheinische Zeiturg in cologne and was its chief editor. It was when economic questions like free trade and protective tariffs started occupying his mind more deeply and because of this topics like French socialism and communism started coming up in Rheinische Zeiturg. Marx was assailed with doubts when he worked on Hegelian philosophy. By his research he led to the result that people during development and growth of their life enter into many indispensible relations which become vital to respond till a definite stage of their development. They become socially conscious towards this growth. But at some stage in their lives the development made by the society contradicts with the human self development. It is when they become difficult to carry and the social revolution starts.
    The ancient, feudal, and modern bourgeois modes of production have played an important role in the economic formation of society. The bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social process of production. They have arisen from the social conditions of life of the individuals and at the same time these productive forces which have developed in the bourgeois society created the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism.

    Marx says that “middle class people in their capitalist society create conditions off antagonism. Frederick Engels and Karl Marx worked together for the opposition of their views on the German philosophy. They criticised post Hegelian Philosophy. Though their work was banned from printing yet they self clarified themselves. They together wrote manifesto of the communist party in which they complied their views on German philosophy. Marx also wrote a desertion in German on waged labour. His/her studies include few subjects on which he/she researched for many years. All his/her views were the result of his/her investigation on different subjects prevailing in Germany at that time.
    In summary :
    1) The nature of the productive relations of a given society is explained by the level of development of its productive forces. The productive relations are relations involving people and control of productive forces.
    2) The character of the noneconomic institutions of society, especially its political-legal order, is explained by the character of its economic structure.
    Further Marx made short philosophical notes which complied to form the Theses of Feuerbach in 1846. It gives us the idea of Marx’s Hegelian friend and philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach’s thinking. In theses of Feuerbach he/she criticises Hegelian materialism and philosophical idealism. He/she says Feuerbach wanted sensuous objects and not thought objects. The latter did not conceive human activities as an objective activity. Nor he/she understood the significance of revolutions in human society. Marx says” materialism is to understand the physical reality of the world but is criticised for ignoring the active role in human world”. Though idealism understands the active human nature but conflicts the thoughts that the world is created through the categories which the human impose on it. He/she further continues to say that man/woman should prove the reality and power of every subject and not just think about them. Marx also gives a doctrine that people change with the result of different circumstances they face and it is the man/woman itself who creates such circumstances. Changing circumstances and human activities can only be understood as a revolutionising practice. Marx set out his account on religion in most details. He/she accepted Feuerbach’s views that human have created god in themselves, in their own image. Feuerbach further said worshipping god further exempts humans from exercising their own human powers. While Marx criticised Feuerbach that he failed to understand why people fall into religious alienation and says it is an ensemble of social relations. He stated that philosophers have only interpreted the world in many different ways and point of views, but the main and foremost thing to change it is only tried by few.
    Marx describes commodity as a very important yet a complex thing which satisfies human wants. When the commodity is new its value is high and when used its value deteriorates. The labour changes the form of the natural object and transforms it to serve and suit his/her purpose. For instance – a log of wood is altered by the labour to make a table out of it. Till it is not transformed it’s just a piece of wood only. But when it steps forth as a commodity like table it has its uses and values. Men/women work for one another in different stages of development to fulfil each other’s needs which therefore takes a social form. Commodities fetishism is the transformation of human relation which one makes with the trade of commodities in the market where social relationships of people are expressed with economic relationships through money, commodities, buyers and sellers. Therefore in a capitalist society relations between people like who is producing what commodity, who works under whom, where does one work – are seen as economic relations among objects , that is now when two commodities are compared and their values are set. Market of commodities frames the human relation of production between the worker and the capitalist. Although worker has no control over what happens to the commodities they produce. Marx criticises the capitalist way of buying the products which actually are of no need. He criticises the idea of commerce of producing, buying and selling of the commodities which leads to wastage of labour which could have been used for actual production. He/she also takes religion into the account and states that” Christianity is most fitting for a society that treats their products as valuable commodities”.

    Shagun Beniwal

  44. #44 by Shubhorup on February 7, 2013 - 9:54 PM

    Shubhorup Biswas

    Karl Marx, Capital

    Divisions of Labour

    In this, Karl Marx talks of two levels of division of labour. One division is of workers or artisans grouped according to the commodity they produce, the other is a division within a factory/workshop of workers into groups depending upon their specific skill and specialty.
    Under a capitalist, the division of labour in a factory is optimized for maximum performance, each sub-process being assigned workers proportional to the work needed on it. A capitalist therefore, according to Marx, exerts complete control over the workers and puts them to work in highly specific, repetitive routines. The division of labour in a factory is under the ‘despotic’ control of the owner.
    Contrasted with this, in a capitalist society factories and workshops themselves aren’t governed by any body; they aren’t under any centralized control. However, they seem to follow apparent market forces.
    Marx contrasts the bourgeouis desire for a ‘free economy’ with their support for the “iron control” exerted by owners of factories over workers.
    According to me, there isn’t neccessarily any contradiction between the two. The existence of a free economy means that owners of factors of production must be able to control it fully. Workers in a factory have an agreement with the capitalist, to carry out their wishes for pay. Supporters of capitalism do not neccessarily want the establishment of such a despotic control of the capitalist over the workers, it is just that those factories in which division of labour is precisely laid out tend to to flourish.

    The capitalist system is contrasted with societies in which there is a broader division of labour, i.e. into groups for the production of various commodities, but there is no internal division of labour inside workshops. He takes the example of the caste and guild system in India.

    Marx is against the division of labour into smaller and smaller subtasks in factories as he feels that a worker, by being forced to specialise in a particular task, develops unidimensionally in that direction and loses the potential for multi-faceted development.
    Another reason Marx is opposed to division of labour within factories is that individual workers aren’t ‘close’ to the produced commodity if they are only performing an infinitesimal step in the chain of value-addition.
    Also, the separate groups of workers involved in different steps of the chain become alienated from each other.

    Marx has been critical of mechanization of manufacturing processes too. According to him, introduction of a machine reverses the earlier dynamic in which a worker used his/her tools so that now a machine controls the worker. A machine works at a fixed speed, needs raw material input at fixed intervals in precise quantities, etc. The control of machine over man eventually grows to such levels that workers in effect become “human appendages” of a larger machine, the factory.
    Machines would have been expected to act as a substitute for human labour, but in effect they allow the hiring of women and children as machine work is less strenuous, and allows their exploitation. Here I find his claim contestable as if productivity per worker and total number of workers is increasing, where does the exponentially increasing produce go? Increases in productive capacity are usually fuelled by greater demand for goods. Capitalists will not increase potential just because it is possible, they will do so if it is viable.
    Also, by using unconvincing deductions he shows increasing mechanization would lead to an increase, not decrease in the work day of the worker.

    In conclusion, we find him to be highly critical of division of labour in factories and the capitalist system in general.

  45. #45 by saumyan on February 7, 2013 - 11:20 PM

    The readings on Marx’s Ideology and the German Ideology highlight several important points relating to Karl Marx’s views on society, economy and political life. “Theses on Feuerbach” are a set of philosophical notes written by Marx in response to the ideas of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. These were edited by Friedrich Engels and published after Marx’s death in 1883. Marx believes that Feuerbach underestimates the importance of practice and activity in human life, taking theoretical attitude to be “the only genuinely human attitude.”

    Marx introduces the idea of “Historical Materialism”, that is, understanding history through its materialist manipulations. He argues that in order to survive, human beings need to produce and reproduce material requirements of life. The products of their work shape life around them and are essential for the existence of not just the present generation, but also for all future generations. Furthermore, work gives human beings a sense of identity. This is evident from the words, “The way in which men produce their means of subsistence depends first of all on the nature of the means of subsistence they actually find in existence and have to reproduce. This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the reproduction of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather, it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are.” This is also an idea elaborated on by Langdon Winner in the first chapter of his book ‘The Whale and the Reactor’.

    Marx also introduces social relations in this context. He argues that the materialist doctrine focusses on the product without looking at the practice of how things are made and necessarily divides society into two sections, one of which is superior to society. He also examines the effect of the industrial revolution and the beginning of the factory system on the lives of the proletariat. The factory system led to a separation of things that naturally belong together. The worker was separated from (the product of) his or her own work as s/he no longer had any control over the production process. As the job to be performed was broken down into several small, discrete parts, the worker was separated from working and from himself as a producer. S/he was also separated from other workers as workers were commoditized in order to maximize profit.

    Marx explains this idea in his chapter on division of labor where he argues that the introduction of machinery and assembly lines enabled factory owners to employ not just able men, but also women and children for work on assembly lines. Thus, the entire family was placed under the tyranny of the factory owner. Not only did it take away childhood from the youngest member of the family, it also took away the independence to work in moderate amounts from the head of the family. Although employing the entire family cost the owner more than employing only the head of the family, four days of labor takes the place of one, and thus the value of one person’s labor diminishes. This system thus creates distinct social classes, one of whom lives off the toil of the other. Machinery also produces relative surplus value, directly by depreciating the value of labor, indirectly by cheapening the commodities that enter into its reproduction and also by raising the social value of the article produced above its individual value and allowing the owner of that machinery to replace “the value of a day’s labor-power by a smaller proportion of the day’s product.” This also causes lengthening of the working day rather than reducing the toil of the worker.

    Marx also said that society keeps changing and a new class emerges to overpower the one already in power, like the aristocracy in Britain made way for capitalists and factory owners as the class at the higher echelons of society with advances in technology and the introduction of the factory system.

    Lastly, Marx argues in his eleventh thesis that although philosophy focusses on understanding and interpreting society, its main aim should be to change it.

    Marx describes machinery as being the major cause of the plight of the worker as it robs him/her of the freedom to create and produce at his own pace. One may or may not agree with this view, but one cannot deny that Marx was one of the clearest thinkers with a definite view on the changes taking place in the nineteenth century and which shaped the world as it is today.

    -Saumya Nagpal

  46. #46 by Ramjot Singh on February 8, 2013 - 12:46 AM

    Time changes a lot in people. How they think, how they explain things, their views about the world. Similar can be said for Karl Marx. Karl Heinrich Marx born on 5 May 1818 was a Prussian-German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. People have divided views on him being one of the best economists who ever walked this Earth. Karl Marx’s view about the things around him changed over the years and thus people categorize his work at ‘Young Marx’ and ‘Mature Marx’. General notion says that a man is shaped by what he sees in his early years upto an age of 10 but for Marx this seems to be untrue. While the young Marx considered man comparable to matter which can be used-and-thrown, older Marx considered human exploitation as a major concern and argued that capitalism is the primary reason behind human exploitation. This change resulted into sowing seeds of socialism by Marx. When did Marx go from materialist to being socialist is hard to tell and can be considered as a gradual change.
    Looking at ‘Young’ Marx one can see his materialistic views in his criticism of ‘The German Ideology’. Marx considers the philosophical view as a weak one and defies it completely. Nothing is true, Everything is permitted can be considered as Marx’s view. He completely defies religion and speaks openly against the Hegel system. Hegel system considers religion and humans bonds and ideas are the basis of life and counts these as being the standing pillars of what connects two humans. Marx’s materialists view are completely against this view of life and thus he emphasis on the need of demolishing this ages old system of thinking.
    Now let’s have a look on one of the other writing of Marx set in era of ‘Young’ Marx. Marx in his work along with Engels in Theses on Feuerbach. In these writing he criticizes work of Feuerbach a renowned philosopher who considered religion as root of humanity and was a believer of God. Feuerbach believed in a supreme power (God) who is creator of Earth and its creatures. According to Feuerbach religion is what builds up humanity. Marx and Engels although differ from Feuerbach in his views and argue that he has failed to bring up more important issues like economy, history which build up religion. They argue that Feuerbach has failed to bring the materialistic view of things and that his writings lack the real view of how things are (real vs. imaginary). Along with criticizing Feuerbach’s view of things, authors also criticize how philosophers look at the world in unreal manners.
    As can be seen that Marx’s view philosophy and ideologies is quite different from his counterparts. While people believed that ideology is shaped by the environment around you and with people whom you interact, Marx believed that this notion is much more complex. One’s economic condition plays a greater role in how one thinks, how one behaves and how they view things. He believed that with capitalism trying to justify itself, how workers who are being exploited by industry owners will not think in a way similar to them. With time this ideology will grow and the bad brought by machines will eventually come to a halt thus paving way for a better way of living i.e. socialism to take its place. These thoughts show optimism in Marx and his far sightedness and way of deriving consequences from the ground truth instead of building them from the old ways of powerful men controlling how the things go on. Marx believed that one’s philosophy can’t be explained in simple terms of the society they belong from and that the changes in economic system brought by capitalists will change how people think about religion and that people will eventually free themselves from these wrong doings. According to Marx capitalism has a dark future and it will destroy itself paving way for far better way of things knows as socialism.

    Ramjot Singh

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