Marx: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
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It is widely acknowledged that Karl Marx was one of the most original and influential thinkers of modern times. His writings have inspired some of the most important political movements of the past century and still has the power to arouse controversy today.
Marx: A Guide for the Perplexed is a clear and thorough account of Marx's thought, his major works and theories, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex ideas of this major figure in the history of political thought. The book introduces key Marxist concepts and themes and examines the ways in which they have influenced philosophical and political thought. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of Marx's ideas, the book provides a cogent and reliable survey of some of the most important debates surrounding his often controversial theories. This is the ideal companion to the study of this most influential and challenging of thinkers.
have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundations the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. (1975a: 425–6) For Marx, the primary role of material production, an active relation to the natural world, is an essential fact of human history. Human beings always require food and shelter in order to exist. The ways in which
be undermined by socialist political economy could it begin to see beyond its own historical boundaries. Following on from this, it is also worth noting the important political implication of historicizing the present. Capitalism was just one of a series of modes of 63 MARX: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED production which had emerged, matured and then disintegrated. Slave societies and serf societies had come and gone. So too would societies based upon the exploitation of free labour. One issue
organizational elements of a new system – colonies, the national debt, modern forms of taxation and the protectionist system – were brought together. It is important to stress again, as Marx does, that this combination required force and political will: These methods depend in part on brute force, for instance the colonial system. But they all employ the power of the State, the concentrated and organized force of society, to hasten, as in a hothouse, the process of transformation of the feudal
view of everyone’ and expands into a brilliant sarcastic peroration on the public world of the free market, this ‘very Eden of the innate rights of man’: It is the exclusive realm of Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and seller of a commodity, let us say of labour-power, are determined only by their own free will. They contract as free persons, who are equal before the law. Their contract is the final result in which their joint will finds a common legal
provide ways into the writings of Marx. It is an introduction, not a conclusion. 14 CHAPTER 2 POLITICS: THE 1848 REVOLUTIONS Where speculation ends – in real life – there real, positive science begins: the representation of the practical activity, of the practical process of development of men. Empty talk about consciousness ceases, and real knowledge has to take its place. (MECW5: 37) ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it’ (1975a:423).