One of the more common objections raised to Marx’s theory of value, at least here in the theoretical void of cyberspace, is the objection posed by subjective value theory. Though these modern objections often take quite a crude, simplistic tone, they are echoes of a rather old debate, one that dates back to debates between Marxists and Austrian economists that took place in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Continue reading →
In Paris, Marx finally encountered the social force capable of achieving liberation.
“I AM referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results…and being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.”
Marx was in a fighting mood in the months after the German authorities banned the Rheinische Zeitung, the newspaper he had edited in 1842-43. This is not to say that he was unhappy, far from it. After years of courtship, he and Jenny Westphalen were finally married and soon expecting their first child. As Howard Zinn put it in his play Marx in Soho, the two “were powerfully in love.”
The owners of the Rheinische Zeitung hired a “devil of a revolutionary” as editor.
In 1841, things were looking good for Karl Marx. After completing his dissertation in philosophy, his mentor, the radical critic and philosopher Bruno Bauer, prepared Marx’s way to land a prestigious academic appointment. Only 23 years old and widely recognized as a rising intellectual star, Marx shot to the top of the most influential liberal circles in Germany.
Pre-amble: I started writing this before events in Libya escalated, but it illustrates why it is imperative that we understand what exactly is going on in the Middle East and North Africa, especially when it comes to distinguishing between our wishes and reality. This is especially true of what is happening in Libya, where fact and invention (as well as wishful thinking) have become blurred in the press coverage. Continue reading →
Marx looked to Hegel’s original method for thinking about society’s problems.
“IF THERE should ever be time for such a work again,” said Marx to Engels amid a flurry of letters in January of 1858, “I should greatly like to make accessible to the ordinary human intelligence, in two or three printer’s sheets, what is rational in the method which Hegel discovered but at the same time enveloped in mysticism.” (From The Selected Correspondence of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: 1846-1895, New York: International Publishers, 1942, p. 102.)
Todd Chretien begins a new series that goes through the works of Marx and Engels.
“PHILOSOPHERS HAVE only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” So wrote Karl Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach when he had reached the ripe-old-age of 27.
Yet Marx and his collaborator Frederick Engels spent their lives interpreting the world, covering page after page, year after year. Their Collected Works fill up 50 volumes, which average about 600 pages each.
We get into trouble anytime we try to understand something in isolation. The true meaning of things exist not buried inside them but in their relation to other things. Take money for instance. The meaning of this rectangular piece of paper covered in strange hieroglyphics can only be understood when we look at the role money plays in the complex coordination of modern capitalist production. Take away capitalist production and this rectangular piece of paper loses its meaning.
In 1983, while the International Socialist Organization–the publisher of SocialistWorker.org–was still a very young group, British socialist Duncan Hallas came to the U.S. to give a national tour of meetings about Karl Marx, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Marx’s death.
Many of the meetings were small–often, they were held in living rooms. But those who attended couldn’t help but be persuaded by Duncan’s presentation. Here, we reprint an article by Duncan that appeared in Socialist Worker in March 1983–one of the best brief introductions to Marxism.
Paul D’Amato explains why the image of a classless, conflict-free society in the U.S.–the picture that dominates the media–was never a reality.
IN THE two decades after the Second World War Two, pundits and academics proclaimed the U.S. an exceptional society–one in which everyone was middle class and where concepts of class and class struggle were irrelevant.
How do we get from the vision of a socialist society to achieving one? Elizabeth Schulte looks at what Karl Marx and the Marxists after him had to say.
SOME ACADEMICS and historians may be happy to foster the idea that Karl Marx confined himself to analyzing the world, but the truth is that he and Frederick Engels sought to change it–and took part in building organizations dedicated to the goal of socialism.
In 1885, looking back on their discoveries about class society and the founding of the Communist League, Engels wrote: Continue reading →
Jen Roesch looks at where ideas like racism and sexism that divide workers come from–and how the working class can overcome this obstacle to unity and solidarity.
ONE OF the most common objections to socialism is the idea that the working class is too alienated, too tied to its narrow material interests and too internally divided to play the revolutionary role that Karl Marx envisioned for it.
The Socialist Alternative
Monthly Review Press, 2010
pp 192; US$15.95
The onset of the global economic crisis in mid 2008, symbolised by the collapse of some of Wall Street’s most iconic companies, led to soaring sales of Karl Marx’s seminal work Das Kapital, as many sought explanations to the tumultuous events unfolding.
Although written more than 100 years ago, this devastating and insightful dissection of how capital functions is still a powerful tool for people looking to understand and change the world.
In the first part in a series on “The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx,” Alan Maass, author of The Case for Socialism, looks at the building blocks for Marx’s view of the world. This will be a session at Marxism Day Schools taking place around the U.S.
WHEN I was a senior in high school, I learned about what happened in England in 1215. But not 1213 or 1217. And I didn’t have a clue about anywhere else in the world at any point in the 13th century.
If you spend any time reading about Marx’s theory of value on the internet you probably will come across some version of this asinine excuse for a critique called “the mudpie argument.” The basic style of the mudpie argument is similar to many advanced by those who know nothing about Marx’s theory of value: one constructs a ridiculous strawman argument that has nothing to do with Marx and then proceeds to knock it down with “devastating” brilliance, moral outrage, and a few clever asides about Stalinism. The MudPie argument goes something like this: Continue reading →