Recently in [1-30] Marx & Engels II: History and Class Struggle Category

Mohamed Hassan Truth and Power Blog 1

| No Comments

In Truth and Power Foucault offers a commentary on power, and he questions the idea of speaking of power as simply repressive and negative. What example of power does he offer to show that power isn't merely negative and repressive? In order to understand why Foucault questions the idea of speaking of power as simply repressive and negative, it is important to understand Foucault's point view on power. According to Foucault, power holds ground with members of society because it "traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse" (203). Furthermore, he asserts that power can also be seen as negative and repressive by some individuals within our society because they view on power is inaccurate description of how a state forces things to be prohibited or how things are not allowed within our society. He asserts that individuals seems power as repressive because they might identify "power with a law which say no, power is taken above all as carrying the force of a prohibition" (203). Furthermore, he argues that this is a negative understanding of power because its "narrow, skeletal conception of power" and a notion which widespread to individuals within our society.
An example Foucault uses to illustrate power isn't merely negative and repressive is "sexuality" and more specifically, if children have one. Foucault argues that "the purpose of these discourses was precisely to prevent children from having sexuality" (204). Moreover, he asserts that parents who wanted to prevent their children from having a sexuality created a fundamental question in terms of "parental educational and responsibilities". In addition, from the children's perspective, the problem of sexuality were their "own body and their own sex was to be a fundamental problem as far as they were concerned" (204). With this dilemma of sexuality, from one side questioning the "parental responsibility" and on the other, the "sexual exciting" that's occurring within the bodies of their children leads to a "sexualizing of the familial domain" (204). In other words, sexuality reinforces the parent and the child's sexual understanding. Furthermore, this was possible to occur between the parent and the child because it helps both of them to learn and understand sexuality together as a family. Moreover, this dilemma was possible to occur because it questions the formation of power as merely negative and repressive. It is not repressive in which the parent does not enforces their rules to the child but rather, it strengths both parties duties and outcomes. In conclusion, this illustration of powers works both ways in which it reinforces both the parent and the child sexuality understanding. Furthermore, it also shows how power can be passed down from one person to another person but also have a huge impact on how it plays out at the end. Moreover, it shows how power is exercised as not repressive and negative but rather as positive without any prohibition. For instance, within our society, a child can read anything about sexuality, however, it is not only their parent's responsibility to keep that from happening, but it is also their job to educate and discus such matter about sexuality with their children.

Blog Post #1 - Marx and Engels II: History and Class Struggle

| No Comments

"The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"

1.- "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past" (p.111) Can you elaborate on this quote by giving examples from modern social events, e.g. politics of the U.S. etc. and explain what it means for social change and stability.

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past" (p.111). This quote from the reading describes how, in society, the state of things in the present day are set up by the structure of society in the past. It is almost impossible to do something without the past having an influence on the decision making process. It is difficult to progress outside of the previous structure because that is all that is known. Even the slightest change could be considered extremely controversial and put down. For example, in modern United States politics, the Vice President does virtually nothing but has still continued being a part of the Executive. The only real purpose of the Vice President is to replace the President if he/she is unable to serve any longer for any reason. There are other ways in which the President could be replaced in times of emergency, but for some reason we still have a Vice President. If someone suggested that we remove the position of Vice President from the government, there would almost certainly be an uproar of dissension. The government of the United States overall has remained relatively unchanged since its establishment even though there are arguably much more efficient ways of governing. This is reflective of the quote from page 111 because even though politicians run government and may slightly alter policies or laws, the government still functions in generally the same way it always has.
One example in the text used a person who is just beginning to learn a new language. The beginner continually has to translate the new language back to the mother tongue in order to understand what is being heard. This is similar to society in that the past structure is always present in the back of the mind of the modern day individual. There is constant comparison to earlier modes of organization which cannot escape the mind. When learning a new language, the only way a person can understand the new language without translating it back to the mother language is when that person forgets the native tongue when using the new. It does not say to discard the mother language altogether, but it does say to forget about the old language when using the new or else the person will not be able to apply the new language most efficiently. The same can be said about society. When implementing new societal structure or when making a drastic change to the format of society, one must forget about the previous societal construction. If this is done, the new design can be successful integrated. If not, the new society will simply be "draped" as the old.
Since the past always has an effect on the present, it makes it very challenging for social change to occur. People get stuck in their ways, and it is difficult to progress up the social ladder. Generally, children end up apart of the same social class as their parents. Most do not stray far up, or down, from where their parents were throughout life. The past structure of society makes it difficult for this change to occur because of multiple influences. Some of these influences being social, cultural, and financial capital. Since there is generally not much leeway for people to move throughout social classes, these classes of people are fairly stable. For example, the upper class is most likely always going to consist of a small minority of the population; if nobody is moving up or down the ladder it is going to remain the same general size. As a result of pre-existing circumstances, societal structure is going to remain fairly stable with little social change; people remain in the same general social class (as their parents) throughout their whole lives. Therefore, the social classes and the structure of society are not going to vary much throughout time.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' theory of social change and evolution has a very key focal point. "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." (P. 96). Essentially, this means that history has and seemingly forever, will be, focused around conflict. These conflicts are of class, civilization and power. An example of these kinds of conflicts and struggles would be perhaps the journeyman and guild-masters. The journeyman may move on out of town. When this occurrence happens, the class struggle between journeyman and guild-master may shift and all of a sudden merchants may have become the new rival class for the guilds and a new struggle is born. There is a "[struggle] that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending class." (P. 97). I believe that this is a primary claim of history and one that Marx and Engels makes evident.
A much more common and classic class struggle would be the antagonism of the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. The Proletariat was the working class: the class of wage-earning workers in society. In Marxist theory, the class of industrial workers whose only asset is the labor they sell to an employer. The Bourgeoisie was the middle-class people. They were sought as conventional, conservative, or materialistic. According to Marxist theory, the Bourgeoisie owns the means of producing wealth and exploits the proletariat. "The Bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production." (P. 98). In context to industrial evolution or just the advancement of production in general, the exploration and discovery of America was fresh soil waiting to be tilled by the up and coming Bourgeoisie. The procurement of Colonialism, increase in trade with the colonies and other industrial factors gave way to the hastened development of production in society. The old ways of feudal times were not sufficient enough anymore for these new evolutions. The industrial production that was monopolized by guilds could not handle the needs of the new market system. Even then, the models of production were ever changing and upgrading constantly. This kind of advancement that could be tribute to the Bourgeoisie is what Marx and Engels are talking about when it comes to evolution. The method that the Bourgeoisie exploited for this type of progress was the exploit of the class considered lower than themselves, the Proletariat.
In history there has been the "haves" and the "have nots", these two classifications are root to the struggle between classes. The Proletariat was always working and providing labor to the Bourgeoisie and eventually the rift between the two classes would widen. It is simple to break the spirit of one man or woman, but when a group amasses with the same interests and wants happen, the "have nots" are going to want the "haves" have. Marx and Engels elaborate greatly on these aspects but I have mentioned what I think are central to the theory of Social change and evolution.

2- What were the three periods Marx identifies in this period and what were the main events that marked out the development of each phase?
Marx asserts that there are three unique revolutions that France went through from February 24th, 1848 to December 1851. He refers the first period as the February period. In this period, it was an introductory revolution to other periods. This period of February, was a temporary which existed until further replaced was found permanently. In other words, in Marx discussion he affirms it as a provisional government. The proletariats which are class of modern wage labors had difficult time dealing with the so called the "bourgeoisie" who are the owners of the means of production. Upon after this period was established or came into existence, the proletariats had considered it to be a social republic. More essentially, the period of February had dropped down the bourgeoisie and the peasants who ones had the power on the political stage. The second period that Marx mentioned is the period of the constitution "the foundation of the bourgeoisie republic". In this period, the Paris proletariats had fought immensely by trying to get a chance to come to an existence again upon holding severe protests. Marx asserts that the demand of the Paris proletariat as a 'utopian nonsense". According to Marx, the Paris proletariats replied with June insurrection but yet the bourgeoisie republic had a significant success. Everything the Paris proletariats did such as the protests still the Paris proletariats couldn't stop the bourgeoisie republic from success. The third period is the constitutional republic or the period of the "legislative National Assembly". According to Marx, this period came into existence from the national elections and represented the whole nation. There weren't any divisions of bourgeoisie or the proletariats but rather this period treated them as a nation.

1- "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past" (p.111) Can you elaborate on this quote by giving examples from modern social events, e.g. politics of the U.S. etc. and explain what it means for social change and stability.
2- What were the three periods Marx identifies in this period and what were the main events that marked out the development of each phase?


Marx & Engels II: Manifesto of the Communist Party - Reading Questions

| No Comments


1- Explain Marx & Engels' theory of social change and evolution by interpreting the following quote from the reading: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." (p. 96)


2- How Marx and Engel's define their goals for society and how industrialization might help to achieve those goals?

June 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30            

Pages

Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the [1-30] Marx & Engels II: History and Class Struggle category.

[1-25] Marx & Engels I: Alienation and Historical Materialism is the previous category.

[2-01] Marx & Engels III: Capitalism and the Labor Process is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.