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Encyclopedia > Economic determinism

When Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels created the ideology of Communism, many Marxists believe they inductively surmised what they saw as a law of history, an 'inexorable law', that ran throughout the course of history. Marx and Engels are also said to have believed that, by tracing this law through history, they could predict with positive assurance the pattern of man's progress in the future. Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883 London) was an immensely influential German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal–August 5, 1895) was a 19th-century German political philosopher. ... Communism is a philosophical way of thought that pertains to a conjectured future classless, stateless social organization based upon common ownership of the means of production, and can be classified as a branch of the broader socialist movement. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


The law of economic determinism attributed to Marx is simple: self-preservation is the supreme instinct in man, and therefore the whole pattern of human conduct must always have been governed by the fundamental laws governing survival, a dialectical process between man and nature (see co-evolution). This reasoning leads to the conclusion that all elements of historical consequence result from 'economic determinism', or man's effort to survive. Economics (deriving from the Greek words οίκω [okos], house, and νέμω [nemo], rules hence household management) is the social science that studies the allocation of scarce resources to satisfy unlimited wants. ... Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. ... Self preservation is part of an animals instinct that demands that the organism survives at all costs. ... Conflict is a necessary element of fictional literature. ... Bumblebees and the flowers they pollinate have co-evolved so that both have become dependent on each other for survival. ...

Contents


Economic Determinism's relation to Marxist philosophy

Many Marxists claim that Marx and Engels said everything man does, whether organizing a government, establishing laws, supporting a particular moral code, or practicing religion, is merely a result of his desire to protect whatever mode of production he is currently using, to secure the necessities of maintaining the status quo of his modus operandi. Furthermore, Marx and Engels are said to have believed, should a revolutionary force change the mode of production, the dominant class will immediately set out to create a new society to protect this new economic order. In the modernity of their era, Marx and Engels felt the property class had essentially accomplished the establishment of a new societal and economic order, instinctively creating a society protective of their capitalist interests. They made this statement to the Bourgeoisie in the Communist Manifesto: "Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class, made into law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economic conditions of the existence of your class."¹ From this, it is argued that Marx and Engels did not believe men could arbitrarily choose any one of several forms of society, but only that one which promotes the prevailing mode of production. The very nature of man's materialistic make-up requires him to do this. At the foundation of all activity of society, many Marxists argue, lies 'economic determinism'. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Morality. ... In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning the way of producing) is a specific combination of: productive forces: these include human labor-power, tools, equipment, buildings and technologies, materials, and improved land social and technical relations... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Modus operandi (often used in the abbreviated form MO) is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as mode of operation. ... It has been suggested that Revolutionary be merged into this article or section. ... bourgeoisie is basically a trem that meens middle class. ... Malayalam editon of the Manifesto The Communist Manifesto, also known as The Manifesto of the Communist Party, first published on February 21, 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, is one of the worlds most historically influential political tracts. ... Jurisprudence is essentially the theory and philosophy of law. ... Human relationships within an ethnically diverse society. ... This article addresses materialism in the economic sense of the word. ...


Marxist Views of the Human Mind

Marx and Engels are claimed to have possessed a very mechanistic view of the way the human mind works. After the brain receives impressions from the outside world, they are claimed to have said, it automatically moves the individual to take action (see Activist Theory). They asked this: "Are men free to choose this or that form of society? By no means."² According to this view, the thing which we call 'free will' is nothing other than an awareness of the impelling forces which move an individual to action; in taking action, he is not free to change the course his very nature dictates." Possession is having some degree of control over something else. ... A Mechanic is a person who fixes things (generally machinery) or works to keeps things operating properly. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Free will is the philosophical doctrine that holds that our choices are ultimately up to ourselves. ...


Conclusion

Many Marxists claim that Marx and Engels viewed this law of 'economic determinism' as the creative force in human progress. Marx and Engels stated: "The final causes of all social changes and political revolution are to be sought, not in men's brains, not in man's insight into internal truth and justice... but in the economies of each epoch."³ Therefore, they advocated a change in economic structure as the only valid way of improving society and refining the intellectual make-up of humanity. In the Trotskyist movement, the term political revolution refers to an unpheaval in which the government is replaced, or the form of government altered, but in which property relations are predominantly left intact. ... La Vérité by the French painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre Common dictionary definitions of truth mention some form of accord with fact or reality. ... Lady Justice - allegory of Justice as woman with sword and with book - statue at court building. ... An intellectual is a person who uses his or her intellect to study, reflect, speculate on, or ask and answer questions with regard to a variety of different ideas. ... Human beings are defined variously in biological, spiritual, and cultural terms, or in combinations thereof. ...


Criticism of the concept

Other Marxists and Marx-scholars - including György Lukács, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, Maurice Godelier, Franz Jakubowski, Edward P. Thompson and Michael Lowy - completely reject the interpretation of Marx and Engels as "economic determinists". They claim this idea is based on a poor and selective reading of their work. Georg Lukács (April 13, 1885 - June 4, 1971) was a Hegelian and Marxist philosopher and literary critic. ... Antonio Gramsci Antonio Gramsci (January 22, 1891 – April 27, 1937) was an Italian writer, politician, leader and theorist of Socialism, Communism and Anti-Fascism. ... Louis Pierre Althusser (October 16, 1918 - October 23, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. ... Born in Cambrai, France in 1934, Maurice Godelier is one of the most influential names in French anthropology. ... Franz Jakubowski (1912 - 1970) was a Marxist theorist. ... Edward Palmer Thompson (February 3, 1924 - August 28, 1993), was a British historian, socialist and peace campaigner. ... Michael Löwy, born in Brazil 1938, is Research Director in Sociology at the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in Paris. ...


They argue that this interpretation originated in the early years of the Second International and was popularised by Karl Kautsky and Nikolai Bukharin among many others. They refer to the disclaimers by Friedrich Engels (see historical materialism) to the effect that while Marx and himself had focused a lot on the economic aspects, they were very aware this did not in fact constitute the totality of society or of social life. However, some have viewed such comments as Engels's attempt to extricate himself from an untenable position. The phrase Second International has two meanings: For the international association of socialist parties of the late 19th century, see Second International (politics) and a successor organization, the Socialist International For one of the Merriam-Webster dictionaries of American English, see Websters New International Dictionary, Second Edition This is... Karl Kautsky Karl Kautsky (October 18, 1854 - October 17, 1938) was a leading theoretician of social democracy. ... Nikolai Bukharin Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (Russian: ), (October 9 [O.S. September 27] 1888 – March 13, 1938) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and intellectual, and later a Soviet politician. ... Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal–August 5, 1895) was a 19th-century German political philosopher. ... Historical materialism (or what Marx himself called the materialist conception of history - materialistische Geschichtsauffassung) is a social theory and an approach to the study of history and sociology, normally considered the intellectual basis of Marxism. ...


Non-Marxist scholars have also objected that economic determinism is a rather vacuous, schematic or meaningless generality, insofar as any serious historical explanation of economic realities must always refer to non-economic realities. This became obvious when one had to specify exactly what the determinism precisely consisted of. In addition, a lot of confusion about "economic determinism" is due to the conflation of the "commercial" with the "economic". For Marx at least, these were very different concepts.


In this view, when Marx talked about the "economic base" and the "ideological superstructure" of society, he was making a generalisation about the broad sweep of history, to the effect that people ultimately will follow their material self-interests, whatever else they may imagine about their motivations. But the dynamic of history according to Marx was shaped precisely by the clash of those interests (the conflicts of social classes), and that clash could not be understood simply in terms of economic self-interest, because it also involved human needs, customs, traditions, morals and values encompassing a whole way of life.


The end result of economic determinism in this view is both economism (a narrow focus on how people earn their livelihood) and economic reductionism (the attempt to reduce a complex social reality to one factor [the economic] such that this one factor causes all other aspects of society). This, according to some, plays directly into the hands of the business class, and ultimately ended in an anti-working class position, whereby the allegiance of the working class is just a "tool" to be used by the political class to modernise an economy, with the aid of forced labour if need be. Economism is an ideology in which supply and demand are the only important factors in decisions, and literally outstrip or permit ignoring all other factors. ... Reductionism in philosophy describes a number of related, contentious theories that hold, very roughly, that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to (be explained by) simpler or more fundamental things. ... Unfree labour is a generic or collective term for forms of work, especially in modern or early modern history, in which adults and/or children are employed without wages, or for a minimal wage. ...


Sources

  • ¹ Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Communist Manifesto, pg 35
  • ² Karl Marx, Poverty of Philosophy, pg 152
  • ³ Friedrich Engels, Socialism -- Utopian and Scientific, pg 54
  • Skousen, W. Cleon The Naked Communist, pg 33-41

W. Cleon Skousen was a noted author, political commentator, and religious scholar. ...

Reference

  • Helmut Fleischer, Marxism and History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1973.

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Determinism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4001 words)
Determinism in the West is often associated with Newtonian physics, which depicts the physical matter of the universe as operating according to a set of fixed, knowable laws.
One approach to determinism is to argue that materialism does not present a correct understanding of the universe, not because it is wrong in its general picture of the determinate interactions that occur among material things, but because it ignores the souls of conscious beings.
If probabilistically determined events do have an impact on the macro events, such as whether a person who could have been historically important dies in youth of a cancer caused by a random mutation, then the course of history is not determined from the dawn of time.
Economic Determinism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (947 words)
The law of economic determinism attributed to Marx is simple: self-preservation is the supreme instinct in man, and therefore the whole pattern of human conduct must always have been governed by the fundamental laws governing survival, a dialectical process between man and nature (see co-evolution).
In this view, when Marx talked about the "economic base" and the "ideological superstructure" of society, he was making a generalisation about the broad sweep of history, to the effect that people ultimately will follow their material self-interests, whatever else they may imagine about their motivations.
The end result of economic determinism in this view is both economism (a narrow focus on how people earn their livelihood) and economic reductionism (the attempt to reduce a complex social reality to one factor [the economic] such that this one factor causes all other aspects of society).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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