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Phil 2265: Social / Political Philosophy

Jan 07, 2016




Phil 2265: Social / Political Philosophy. The (entire) history of Marxism in 120 min!. The Frankfurt School. Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Marcuse, Neumann, Kirchheimer, Lowenthal and Erich Fromm. Jurgen Habermas - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Phil 2265: Social / Political PhilosophyThe (entire) history of Marxism in 120 min!

  • The Frankfurt SchoolAdorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Marcuse, Neumann, Kirchheimer, Lowenthal and Erich Fromm.

    Jurgen Habermas

    The actual school in Frankfurt disbanded in the face of Nazism and moved to NY to become The New School for Social Research.

  • The ProblemWhy was Marx so incredibly right about capitalism, but so incredibly wrong about communism?

    Others: Lukacs, Korsch, GramsciLukacs forced to denounce his own views by the Communists in the 30sKorsch was kicked out of the German Communist Party for refusing to do the sameGramsci was protected from these purges because he was held in a fascist prison!

  • Bond with your kids via product ownership

  • Bond with your kids via product ownership

  • Bond with your kids via product ownership

  • Personal relationships with things Economic relationships with people

  • Personal relationships with things Economic relationships with people

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself

  • Define yourself(alternatively)

  • Define yourself(alternatively)

  • And world peace through sugary soda water

  • 47 Starbucks in Beijing4 in Oman17 in Paris!22 in Instanbul (4 in Ankara)

  • Solutions?Broadly speaking, a psychological explanation:


  • Influences:Built on the research programs of Max Weber & Lukacs:RationalizationCommodity Fetishism+=Reification

  • Why?Webers central contention was this: that capitalism is not just an economic system it is not simply explainable in terms of the impulse to acquire.

    It is something more: a capitalistic economic action is one which rests on the expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange, that is one (formally) peaceful chances of profit

  • Capitalism, for Weber, is intimately connected to the Protestant ethos it is more than an economic system, it is, at least partially, a religion.

  • The Frankfurt school sought similar explanations of peoples political and economic behavior that is, in terms of psychological states and properties.

    Marcuse sees people as dominated by one-dimensional society people have given up their autonomy, they willingly submit to the control both economic and political - of others. Why?

  • Lukacs:Commodity Fetishism: turning commodities into quasi-spiritual meaning-carrying entities through which we define our lives and find meaning.

  • Webers 2nd contribution:The rationalization of bureaucracy: treating something that depends on human decision and is within human control as if it is not.(later)

  • ReificationReification: from Lukacs a synthesis of Marxs commodity fetishism with Weberian rationalization. It occurs when something is treated in theory or practice as a marketable commodity (I.e. its use-value becomes its exchange-value)Add to this Webers rationalization and

  • Treating commodities as quasi-spiritual entities, and thinking that this is what they are objectively in and of themselves.(that is, failing to recognize that this quasi-spiritual status is dependent on the way we treat these objects, not anything they are themselves).

  • So, how is all this supposed to work?Background:Marx Das Capital & Lukacs interpretation (commodity fetishism)Weber rationalizationLukacs and reificationThen, Marcuse (in brief) and an example of the Frankfurt schools reasoning: Adorno on Music.

  • Marx.A commodity is, in the first place, a thing outside of us that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another.But, in reality, commodities have properties other than those that satisfy wants people collect them, venerate them, are loyal to them, and preserve them. Where do these mysterious properties come from?

  • 2 Key premises:In all states of society, the labor time that it costs to produce subsistence is necessarily of interest to all mankind.From the moment that men in any way work with or for one another, their labor assumes a social form.

  • Marxs contention: Science the special status of commodities is above and beyond subsistence, the enigmatic character of commodities comes from this social form of production.

  • The equality of human labor is expressed in objects by the equal value of the products (If I take 2ce as long to produce a widget than you take to produce a fidget, a widget must cost 2ce as much as a fidget).

    Thus, the relations between producers take on the form of relations between our products.

  • Therefore, a commodity is mysterious because:In it the social character of labor appears to be a property of the object itself. The relations between the producers to the sum total of their labor (that is, their products) is presented back to them as social relations between the products they produce. Therefore:Products of labor become commodities social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses.

  • The social relationship between commodities is analogous to the social relationship between souls or spirits. They are productions of the human mind, yet appear to be independent beings endowed with life and entering into relations with one another and the human race in general.

  • Articles of utility become commodities only because they are products of the labor of private individuals or groupsSince producers do not come into social contact with one another until they exchange their products, the specific social character of each producers labor doesnt show itself expect in the act of exchange.

  • The labor of an individual is thus a prart of the labor of society only insofar as it is related in exchange with other products, and indirectly, then, to the producers.Thus the relations connecting the labor of individuals are not direct social relations between individuals, but are material relations between persons and social relations between things.

  • And it is only in being exchanged that the products of labor acquire uniform social status or value distinct from their use-value.And when products are produced solely for the purpose of being exchanged, then their exchange value must be taken into account before production.

  • Therefore, the products of labor, to the producer of those products, have value only insofar as they are desired by others, and since the products of labor are merely material expressions of the producers labor, the producers labor has value only insofar as it is desired by others (and, hence, the basis of wage-labor).

  • WeberThe main question is Why advanced capitalism only in the west?advanced capitalism = The rational capitalistic organization of (formally) free labor this includes the separation of business from the household and the rationalization of bookkeeping.

  • Western capitalism is highly influenced by the development of technological possibilities.And those technological possibilities were encouraged by certain social-culture mores (dissection, e.g.)One of these social-culture mores of central importance is the particular law (i.e. the Magna Carta needed in Islam)

  • Modern rational capitalism has need, not only of technical means of production, but of a calculable legal systems and of administration in terms of formal rules

    (If there were individuals in the country to whom the law did not apply would you risk your hard earned money in an investment?)

  • When the rationalization of law comes into conflict with religion, religion usually wins (witness the development of biology in Hindu and Buddhist cultures, Islam in the modern world)So, there must have been something in the protestant, Calvinistic tradition that was amenable to the rationalization of law. (we talked about that)

  • It is one of the fundamental characteristics of an individualistic capitalistic economy that it is rationalized on the basis of rigorous calculation, directed with foresight and caution toward economic success which is sought in sharp contrast to the hand-to-mouth existence of the peasant, and to the privileged traditionalism of the guild craftsman and of the adventures capitalism, oriented to the exploitation of political opportunities and irrational speculation.

  • The development of the spirit of capitalism is best understood as part of the development of rationalism as a whole and could be deduced from the fundamental position of rationalism on the basic problems of life (76)

  • So, capitalism is a feature of rationalization of society (which is intimately connected to religion).Its self-justifyingIts self-verifyingIt takes on a life of its ownAnd its seen to be outside of human control.Its intimately connected with religion

  • LukacsCentral thesis: in developed capitalistic societies, the fetishism of commodities penetrates all spheres of social lifeThe factory is the model of all social relationshipsThe fate of the worker is the fate of all humanity

  • The world of commodity exchange is seen as the estrangement (alienation) of human activity and the de-activation of individualityReducing human labor to a commodity abstracts it and makes it interchangeable with other laborers thus undermining individual choice, expression, thought, etc.

  • The worker is mutilated reduced to mere spectatorship, to mere contemplation of his own estr