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Marxian Argument for Political Development

POLSCI 504: Politics of Modernization

Kurt Zeus L. Dizon
Karl Marx

May 5, 1818 - March 14, 1883

He was a philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary
Born into a wealthy middle-class family in Trier in the Prussian Rhineland.
Marx studied at the universities of Bonn and Berlin
He moved to Paris in 1843, where he began writing for other radical newspapers
and met Friedrich Engels, who would become his lifelong friend and collaborator.
In 1849 he was exiled and moved to London together with his wife and children,
where he continued writing and formulating his theories about social and
economic activity.
He also campaigned for socialism and became a significant figure in the
International Workingmen's Association.
He published numerous books during his lifetime, the most notable are: The
Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (18671894).

Friedrich Engels

28 November 1820 5 August 1895

He was a German philosopher, social scientist, journalist and businessman.
He founded Marxist theory together with Karl Marx.
In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on
personal observations and research in Manchester.
In 1848 he co-authored The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, though he
also authored and co-authored (primarily with Marx) many other works, and
later he supported Marx financially to do research and write Das Kapital. After
Marx's death, Engels edited the second and third volumes. Additionally, Engels
organised Marx's notes on the "Theories of Surplus Value," which he later
published as the "fourth volume" of Capital.
He also made contributions to family economics.

The Communist Manifesto

Modern industrial society in specific is characterized by class conflict between

the bourgeoisie and proletariat.
However, the productive forces of capitalism are quickly ceasing to be
compatible with this exploitative relationship. Thus, the proletariat will lead a
revolution. However, this revolution will be of a different character than all
previous ones: previous revolutions simply reallocated property in favor of the
new ruling class.
However, by the nature of their class, the members of the proletariat have no
way of appropriating property. Therefore, when they obtain control they will
have to destroy all ownership of private property, and classes themselves will
The Manifesto argues that this development is inevitable, and that capitalism is
inherently unstable. The Communists intend to promote this revolution, and will
promote the parties and associations that are moving history towards its natural
conclusion. They argue that the elimination of social classes cannot come about
through reforms or changes in government. Rather, a revolution will be required.

Marxian Argument for Political Development

POLSCI 504: Politics of Modernization
Kurt Zeus L. Dizon
Base and Superstructure
Marx and Engels use the base-structure concept to explain the idea that the
totality of relations among people with regard to the social production of their
existence forms the economic basis, on which arises a superstructure of
political and legal institutions. To the base corresponds the social consciousness
which includes religious, philosophical, and other main ideas.
The base conditions both, the superstructure and the social consciousness. A
conflict between the development of material productive forces and the
relations of production causes social revolutions, and the resulting change in the
economic basis will sooner or later lead to the transformation of the
For Marx, though, this relationship is not a one way process - it is reflexive; the
base determines the superstructure in the first instance at the same time as it
remains the foundation of a form of social organization which is itself
transformed as an element in the overall dialectical process.
The relationship between superstructure and base is considered to be a
dialectical one, ineffable in a sense except as it unfolds in its material reality in
the actual historical process (which scientific socialism aims to explain and,
ultimately, to guide).

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with
State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the
bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in
accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all
the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the
populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of childrens factory
labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
Das Kapital

Das Kapital is a foundational theoretical text in communist philosophy,

economics and politics. Marx aimed to reveal the economic patterns
underpinning the capitalist mode of production.
Marx proposes that the motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of
labour, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value and then
profit both of which concepts have a specific meaning for Marx.

Marxian Argument for Political Development

POLSCI 504: Politics of Modernization
Kurt Zeus L. Dizon
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of human
societies and their development over time. Capitalism is the present
Capitalism is the economic system and the mode of production. It also holds the
means of production.
Theory of Alienation

The theoretic basis of alienation, within the capitalist mode of production, is that
the worker invariably loses the ability to determine life and destiny, when
deprived of the right to think (conceive) of themselves as the director of their
own actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define relationships
with other people; and to own those items of value from goods and services,
produced by their own labour.
Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realized human being, as an
economic entity, this worker is directed to goals and diverted to activities that
are dictated by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, in order to
extract from the worker the maximum amount of surplus value, in the course of
business competition among industrialists.


A commodity is an external object that satisfies a human need either directly or

indirectly. He says that useful things can be looked at from the point of view of
quality and quantity.
"The usefulness of a thing makes it a use-value." A commodity's use-value is a
trait of the thing itself, and is independent of the amount of labor needed to
make the commodity useful.
Exchange-value is the proportion by which use-values of one kind exchange for
use-values of other kinds. It is a constantly changing relation, and is not
inherent to the object. For example, corn and iron have an exchange relation,
which means that a certain amount of corn equals a certain amount of iron.
Each must therefore equal a third common element, and can be reduced to this
Use-value only has exchange-value when it consists of abstract human labor.
This is measured by the amount of labor-time socially necessary to produce it. A
commodity's value would stay constant if the labor-time also stayed constant.
With greater productivity, it takes less labor to produce a commodity, and thus,
less labor is "crystallized" in the product, leading to a decrease in value


The ultimate product of this commodity circulation is money. We see this every
day, when capital enters various markets in the form of money. Marx
distinguishes two kinds of circulation. C-M-C (commodities transformed into
money which is transformed back into commodities) is the direct form of
However, there is also another form, M-C-M. In this case, we buy in order to sell;
money is capital.
In the case of C-M-C, the final product is a use-value, and thus gets spent once
and for all.

Marxian Argument for Political Development

POLSCI 504: Politics of Modernization
Kurt Zeus L. Dizon
In M-C-M the seller gets his money back again; the money is not spent, but
rather advanced. This reflux of money occurs regardless of whether a profit is
made, by the nature of the process
Commodity Fetishism

The scientific laws of capitalism, given that its expansion of the market system
of commerce had objectified human economic relations; the use of money
voided religious and political illusions about its economic value, and replaced
them with commodity fetishism, the belief that an object (commodity) has
inherent economic value.
Because societal economic formation is a historical process, no one person
could control or direct it, thereby creating a global complex of social
connections among capitalists; thus, the economic formation (individual
commerce) of a society precedes the human administration of an economy
(organised commerce).
The Sale and Purchase of Labor-Power

The commodity's use-value must be a source of value whose consumption is a

creation of value. This occurs in the case of labor-power.
However, there are necessary social conditions in order for labor-power to be a
commodity. First, the individual must be selling his labor-power as a commodity.
This means he must own his own person, and he and the owner of money must
meet in the marketplace as legal equals.
Second, a person must not be able to sell the commodities that his labor has
created. Rather, he must be forced to sell his own labor-power
Valorization Process

The labor process, when the capitalist consumes labor-power, has two main
characteristics. First, the worker is under the control of the capitalist, to whom
his labor belongs. Secondly, the product of the worker's labor (the use- value of
his labor-power) is owned by the capitalist, and not by the worker.
Capitalists do not produce use-values for their own sake. Rather, they are
produced only insofar as they have an exchange-value. Furthermore, the
capitalist wants a commodity greater in value than the sum of the values of the
commodities he used to produce ithe wants surplus value. Thus, let us now
look at the production of commodities as a process of creating values
Class Consciousness

Based on the concept of labor theory of value and of surplus value, Marxs
economic theory argued the inevitability of the fall in the rate of profit, the
increasing tendency to accumulate capital and the growing monopolization of
This will lead to an economic crises that are rooted in the contradictory
character of the economic value of the commodity of a capitalist society. The
increasing intensity in the exploitation and socialization of labor, the growing
misery of workers would sharpen the antagonism between the classes.
These conditions will propitiate the Proletarian Revolution.
Communist Society

Marx believed that those structural contradictions within capitalism necessitate

its end, giving way to socialism, or a post-capitalistic, communist society.

Marxian Argument for Political Development

POLSCI 504: Politics of Modernization
Kurt Zeus L. Dizon

Works Cited:
SparkNotes Editors. (n.d.). SparkNote on Das Kapital. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from
Boyer, George R. (1998). "The Historical Background of the Communist
Manifesto". Journal of Economic Perspectives 12 (4): 151174.
Hobsbawm, Eric (2011). "On the Communist Manifesto". How To Change The
World. Little, Brown. pp. 101120.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. (June 1949). "The Communist Manifesto in sociology and
economics". Journal of Political Economy (The University of Chicago Press via
JSTOR) 57 (3): 199212.
Curtis, Michael (1981). The Great Political Theories. Volume 2 (New York, New York:
Avon Books, Inc.) pp. 155-161