Sunday, March 30, 2014

Marx: The German Ideology - Questions

-Marx states that men can be distinguished from animals by religion (pg 150) and that material conditions and production determine religion/ideology, but he also states that the Hegelian system took the "dominance of religion" (148) for granted by pronouncing every "dominant relationship" as a "religious relationship" (148). In Marx's point of view, what role should religion have in society? Does he merely disagree with Hegelian beliefs based on how religion is determined, or does he also disagree about how religion should be regarded in society?

-How do Marx and Smith's ideas on the division of labor compare? What does the division of labor accomplish, according to Marx? Does he hold any negative views?

-How does the "antagonism of town and country" (151) compare to Kant's concept of "unsocial sociability?" Marx states that as a result of competition between the town and the country and between individual states, "the class relation between citizens and slaves" (151) develops. What does this "class relation" lead to?


  1. Regarding your second question (division of labor in Marx v. Smith), they both seem to believe that the division of labor is directly correlated to the level of advancement in a culture. Both would also agree that it causes large separations between branches of work and even individual workers themselves, but I think, if I'm understanding him correctly, Marx would say it divides people a lot more than Smith would. Marx generally takes a more outwardly negative view when it comes to the division of labor, as seen on pages 137-138. Marx actually compares the caste system and the corporate regime to the division of labor, insinuating eerie similarities between them all. On a side note, he actually mentions Smith on p. 138 when he says that Proudhon (the man whom he is criticizing) only gives a "superficial and incomplete summary" of Smith's views on the division of labor.

  2. In response to your question about Marx and Smith's ideas on division of labor:

    Marx and Smith have contrasting views on the topic of the division of labor. On one hand, the basis of Smith's argument is that division of labor is essential for a productive work force. This is because workers have the ability to perfect their skill set for that particular job, which will make them more efficient. However, Marx's view is the total opposite. He says that the division of labor 'traps' man in a sphere where he cannot escape. It is as if man gets trapped in a cycle where his own actions are controlling him rather than him controlling his actions. This restriction within one job makes man too specialized in their own task. It doesn't give man the freedom to do whatever job he wants, whenever he wants. Marx uses this as an example to suggest that a communist society is the way to go about this problem. Marx mentions that man can do many different jobs throughout the day but 'without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic. However, if society was set out to be like what Marx mentioned, would it mean that man doesn't have to commit to anything and not have an end goal in life (in terms of working)?

  3. I think the comparison between Marx's "antagonism between town and country" as well as Kant's concept of "unsocial sociability" is important to note in understanding this antagonism that Marx tries to outline. Similar to Kant, Marx asserts the necessity of the country to expand its labor by being involved with the town as well as the town needing the labor, and specialized skills of the country to sustain its market and urban environment. However, both town and country try to retain their individualistic desires through the disjointed working class and separate urban industries that need to remain separate for competition. Competition between towns is not possible however without this individualistic separation and the need of others to obtain the products of others towns that have good they can't produce themselves. This is similar to the unsocial sociability of Kant in which humanity desires to maintain a relationship with others, but also the inclination to remain alone which creates an antagonism necessary for social progress. Similarly to this antagonism that led to the realization of private property and self development, Marx's division of town and country ultimately led to an expanded trading market but alienated individuals through their labor and competition for personal gain.


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