Saturday, July 4, 2009

Karl Marx - In Short

Karl Marx

Marx is considered one of the greatest philosophers on the 19th century. Marx was born in an orthodox Jewish family, which had a long chain of rabbis on both side. Later Marx converted to Christianity to penetrate in the German Middle Class.

Marx's work can be understood in an evolutionary model. In fact, Marx was so inspired by Darwin that he once said, "I would like to dedicate my book(Das Kapital) to Darwin, if only he answers in affirmative". I guess Darwin never answered!

Marx theory works on the principal which is know as 'Dialectical Materialism'. Marx was a Hegelian. The idea of dialectics was created by Hegel. (This idea is also present in the Greek philosophy but it is ascribed to Hegel). The idea of Materialism is taken from Fuerbach.

Dialectics is a method of argument. In this method a person presents a thesis, an anti-thesis and lastly a synthesis come out of them. To understand this, let's take an example. Person A says that due to industrialization, comfort levels are increasing, more time is available for leisure, and better working conditions are available compared to the pre-industrial revolution.

On the other hand, person B disagrees. He says that because of industrialization pollution has increased, which leads to more diseases; unemployment has increased as machine are replacing human, and life has become more like a robot as everything is mechanized. This is an anti-thesis.

Now we need to find out a middle way. This is called synthesis. Informally, when a thesis and anti-thesis collide a synthesis is created. This process is dynamic in nature. It never stops. This is because every synthesis would later became a thesis that will again collide with some anti-thesis and become a synthesis.


Marx is of the views that it is economies which derive a human acts not ideologies. It is through money that man buys shelter, clothing and food. A man must work in some sort of economic paradigm to get these basic necessities. According to Marx, and other materialists, it is the man's act of acquiring money which leads to the formation of law and society.

When we combine both of these ideas, i.e. Hegelian Dialectic and Materialism, we get 'dialectical materialism'. According to Marx, any social formation consists of two branches - infrastructure and super-infrastrucutre. The super-infrastructure provides the ideological drive to a society. It provide the framework according to which the infrastructure would gain its characteristics.

The infrastructure includes the ways of production. This might include technology and labour. The infrastructue basically leads to the creation of wealth and this is where dialectic comes into play.

According to Marx as there are two types of values(wealth) - capital value and labour value. As labour value move towards zero due to change in material conditions, a class war ignites as rich become richer and poor become poorer. This class war causes a problem in the infrastructure that consequently questions the super-infrastructure. The clash between the two can be considered as a collision of thesis and anti-thesis. This infact results in a synthesis which leads towards a new social formation.

1 comment:

  1. Good that you are here... I just posted briefly about today's Nashist, but nothing detailed.