An Introduction to Marx
What is Marxism? What was Marxism? This course will not answer those questions, but we will try to provide an overview of Marx. To do this, we will investigate a selection of the intellectual history of the Enlightenment (with the notable exceptions of Rousseau, and–after the Enlightenment–Hegel, Smith, and Ricardo), some of the work of notable contemporaries and rivals of Marx, and, of course, the work of Marx and Engels themselves.
We have included a few latter-day Marxologists, but you will notice a conspicuous lack of a great many of the most important Marxists in history. Bebel, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Plekhanov, Debs, Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, and others who made important contributions to Marxist theory and politics are sadly not within the scope of this group. But don’t despair! They will have their day yet.
Sprinkled throughout you will notice short selections from Walter Benjamin and Max Horkheimer. These may seem to be only loosely related, but read them carefully. Remember: “[t]he tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”
- + Required
- – Recommended
Week 1: The Enlightenment
- + Walter Benjamin. On The Concept of History, Theses XV, IX, XVIII.
- + Immanuel Kant. What is Enlightenment?. [audio]
- + Immanuel Kant. Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View.
- – Thomas Paine. Common Sense. [audio]
- + John Locke. Second Treatise on Government. Chapter 5. [audio]
Week 2: The Rise of Liberal Capitalism
- + Karl Marx. On the Jewish Question, Section 1.
- – National Assembly of France (1789). Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
- + Friedrich Engels. The Condition of the Working Class in England, chapters Introduction, The Industrial Proletariat, and Competition. [audio]
Week 3: Materialism as Revolutionary Critique
- + Walter Benjamin. On The Concept of History, Theses I, VII.
- + Karl Marx. Letter to Ruge.
- + Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Idealism and Materialism.
- + Friedrich Engels. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. [audio]
Week 4: Critique of 19th Century Socialism
- + Walter Benjamin. On The Concept of History, Theses XI, XIII.
- + Ferdinand Lasalle. Open letter to the National Labor Association of Germany.
- + Mikhail Bakunin. A critique of the German social democratic program.
- + Karl Marx. Critique of the Gotha Program.
Week 5: The State
- + Friedrich Engels. Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Chapter 9: Barbarism and Civilization.
- + Hal Draper. The Death of the State in Marx and Engels
- + Karl Marx. The Civil War in France, Chapters 5: The Paris Commune & 6: The Fall of Paris.
Week 6: The Party
- + Monty Johnstone. Marx and Engels and the Concept of the Party.
- + Karl Marx. Circular Letter (1879), Section III.
- – Fredrich Engels. Engels to August Bebel In Leipzig (1882).
Week 7: The First International
- + Walter Benjamin. On The Concept of History, Thesis VI.
- + Karl Marx. Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association.
- + Karl Korsch. The Marxism of the First International.
- + Mikhail Bakunin. Founding of the Workers’ International.
- + Karl Marx. Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional General Council.
- – Jules Guesde. The Programme of the Parti Ouvrier.
- – Karl Marx. Address of the International Working Men’s Association to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America.
- + Mikhail Bakunin. Marxism, Freedom and the State.
Week 8: Philosophic Critique
- + Karl Marx. Theses On Feuerbach. [audio]
- + Max Horkheimer. The Little Man and the Philosophy of Freedom.
- + Walter Benjamin. On The Concept of History, Thesis IV.
- + Cyril Smith. The Standpoint of Socialized Humanity, Read from the beginning through section “Estranged from Ourselves”.
- + Karl Marx. Estranged Labor.
- + Karl Marx. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.
Week 9: Economic Critique
- + Max Horkheimer. Socialism and Resentment.
- + Cyril Smith. The Standpoint of Socialized Humanity Sections “Marx and Economics” and “Wealth and Value”.
- Martin Nicolaus. The Unknown Marx.
- – Read from the beginning through “The Emergence of Surplus-Value”.
- + Read from “What is the Fundamental Contradiction?” through “Surplus Labour”.
- – Read “The Unknown Pivot”.
- + Karl Marx. Value, Price, Profit.
- + Karl Marx. Capital Volume I, Chapter 1, Section 4: The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof. [audio]
Week 10: Conclusion
- + Karl Marx. Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.
- + Cyril Smith. The Standpoint of Socialized Humanity.
Read from section “What is History?” to the end
- + Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party. [audio]