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Encyclopedia > Marxist humanism

The term "Marxist humanism" has as its foundation Marx's conception of the "alienation of the labourer" as he advances it in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844--an alienation that is born of a capitalist system in which the worker no longer functions as (what Marx terms) a "Free Productive" being. And although many scholars consider late Marx less of a humanist than the Marx who wrote pre-Das Capital, as his later works are rather bereft of references to this alienation, the notion of alienation remains essential to Marx's holistic philosophy.

There is, as is assumed under the very notion of alienation, a human who, when disenfranchised by his own labour, somehow becomes less human--in fact, Marx says he becomes objectified. Man naturally produces for his own benefit--and, furthermore, he freely produces--however, under a capitalist society in which the means of production give rise to "fettering" productive relations--i.e. there is a single capitalist employing an army of workers at wages just sufficient to provide for their mere subsistence--the worker becomes a slave. He is no longer a free productive being, but instead he absolutely must produce to simply meet his most basic needs.

However, there is more to this than meets the eye. At one point in his Economic and Philosophic manuscripts, Marx writes: "A forcing-up of wages (disregarding all other difficulties, including the fact that it would only be by force, too, that the higher-wages, being an anomaly, could be maintained) would therefore be nothing but better payment for the slave, and would not conquer either for the worker or for labour their human status and dignity." It is here that Marx as a humanist is most evinced.

It is not the 12-hour work-day alone that enslaves man, forcing him to give his entire productive being--his natural skills, or that which constitutes is essence as a man--over to another. Rather, it is the very (philosophic) condition behind the capitalist structure that enslaves man--basically, capitalism is not conducive to democracy on Marx's conception. Capitalism inherently gives rise to an elite bourgeoisie for whom the rest of society--the proletariat--must work. Insofar as this is the case, the proletarian himself will never be able to dictate the conditions of his work, they will always be determined by the capitalist himself. So even if the capitalist pays the worker higher wages than he himself incurs (from his profits made off the labourer's efforts), he still controls the terms of the worker's production.

Insofar as man only has his LIBERTY to produce, and produce according to his own conceived ideas (i.e. he designs a very fancy shoe and wants to see this shoe materialize), capitalism, as a system, will be an eternal stymie to man's natural freedom. This is Marx's humanism.

  Results from FactBites:
Marxist philosophy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (618 words)
The term does not indicate a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as diverse as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history.
Much of Marxist philosophy also subscribes to some form of weak social determinism, holding that individual subjects' choices and beliefs are strongly conditioned by the social conditions in which they exist.
So Marxist philosophy must continue to take account of advances in the theory of politics developed after Marx, but it must also be wary of a descent into theoreticism or the temptations of idealism.
Humanism as the Theme of Chinese Modernity (4953 words)
To wit, humanism is, to Chinese scholars, merely one of the themes of the twentieth century, and a theme that was brought forth after the appearance of the Enlightenment and modernity in China.
When humanism and other concepts were transplanted into the context of China by means of translation, their original definition underwent sensational changes and become the most energetic factors in modern Chinese cultural thinking.
This handling of humanism in the sense of space was a rejection of the modern teleology of time, and an exposition of the relationship of knowledge/power embodied in the discourses of humanism.
  More results at FactBites »



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