Thursday, December 31, 2009


historical materialism can be summed up in a sentence: ""it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness."
the old dog, Wellington wanders down to a pool full of crabs. The crabs speculate about the mysterious divinity, the "eyeballs in the sky," which appears to them
if your universe were a pond. Your consciousness is determined by your being. Thought is limited by the range of experience of the specie
We know very little about how primitive people thought, but we know what they couldn't have been thinking about
what the football results were
Industrial towns
where a part of society can be fed by the rest
extensive division of labour must exist
people must be accustomed to working for money and buying the things they want from others
are dependent on the way society makes its daily bread, on people's "social existence
what is mankind?
Hegel said that "man, is a thinking being

slightly more sophisticated form of the usual religious view that man is endowed by his Creator with a brain to admire His handiwork
we are different from dung beetles
But why did humans develop the capacity to think
Engels pointed out, upright posture marked the transition from ape to man, a completely materialist explanation
Upright posture liberated the hands for gripping with an opposable thumb. This enabled tools to be used and developed.
The use of the hands developed the powers of the brain through the medium of the eyes.
Engels was a dialectical materialis
he explained how it aros
Benjamin Franklin
nearer a materialist
defined man as a tool-making animal
struggle for existence
species survive through natural selection
Yet humans came to dominate the planet
take external nature
for granted
mankind progressively masters nature
The process
is labour
Engels stated Marx's
great discovery
"mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing
work before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion

In another dialectical formulation, Engels says that "the hand is not only the organ of labour, it is also the product of labour."
primitive human beings
were thinking most of the time—food
The struggle against want has dominated history ever since.
the appropriate social conditions must exist before our ideas and our activity can be effective.
people "make their own history...but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past"
We need to understand how society is developing in order to intervene in the process. That is what we mean when we say Marxism is a science of perspectives
Language, the currency of thought, is itself the creation of labour
hunting animals that rely upon teamwork
barked commands
the beginnings of language
result of their co-operative labour
labour distinguishes mankind
mankind progressively changes nature through labour
so changes itself
increasing ability
to master nature
increasing productivity of labour
To each stage in the development

of the productive forces corresponds a certain set of production relations
Production relation means the way people organise themselves to gain their
the skeleton
of society
the conditions of social existence that determine human consciousness
the development of the productive forces brings into existence different production relations, and different forms of class society
By a 'class' we mean a group of people in society with the same relationship to the means of production. The class which owns and controls the means of production rules society. This, at the same time, enables it to force the oppressed or labouring class to toil in the rulers' interests. The labouring class is forced to produce a surplus which the ruling class lives off.

Marx explained:

"The specific economic form in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of the direct producers determines the relationship of rulers and ruled, as it grows directly out of production itself and, in turn, reacts upon it as a determining element. Upon this, however, is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the production relations themselves; thereby simultaneously its specific political form. It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers-a relation always naturally corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the methods of labour and thereby its social productivity-which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social structure, and with it the political form of the relation of sovereignty and dependence, in short the corresponding specific form of the state. (Capital, Vol III.)

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