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Chapter

Mark Rupert

This chapter examines Marxist theory’s understanding of capitalism as an historically particular way of organizing social life and how Marxism can shed light on complex social relationships through which human beings produce and reproduce their social relations, the natural world, and themselves. It argues that the kind of social organization envisioned by Marxists has political, cultural, and economic dimensions that must be viewed as a dynamic ensemble of social relations not necessarily contained within the territorial boundaries of nation-states. The chapter first provides an overview of historical materialism and the meaning of dialectical theory, with particular emphasis on Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism and the Marxist tradition’s theorizing of imperialism, before discussing Western Marxism and Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. It then considers Marxist concepts of global power and hegemony and concludes with a case study that highlights the social relations underlying US global militarism.

Chapter

Mark Rupert

This chapter examines Marxist theory's understanding of capitalism as an historically particular way of organizing social life and how Marxism can shed light on complex social relationships through which human beings produce and reproduce their social relations, the natural world, and themselves. It argues that the kind of social organization envisioned by Marxists has political, cultural, and economic dimensions that must be viewed as a dynamic ensemble of social relations not necessarily contained within the territorial boundaries of nation-states. The chapter first provides an overview of historical materialism and the meaning of dialectical theory, with particular emphasis on Karl Marx's critique of capitalism and the Marxist tradition's theorizing of imperialism, before discussing Western Marxism and Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony. It then considers Marxist concepts of global power and hegemony and concludes with a case study that highlights the social relations underlying U.S. global militarism.

Chapter

Lawrence Wilde

This chapter examines Karl Marx's work prior to 1846, with particular emphasis on his concept of alienation. Although Marx borrows heavily from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and from Ludwig Feuerbach, his background in the philosophy and culture of ancient Greece is an important factor in his early essentialism. The early Marx rejects Hegel's theory that the state represents an ethical community. For Marx, communism is the movement of the exploited workers struggling to free themselves, and, in the process, liberate the whole of humanity so that they can freely develop their human essence of social creativity. After providing a short biography of Marx, this chapter considers his arguments about human essence and its alienation as well as his critique of the modern state. It concludes with an analysis of Marx's communist alternative.

Chapter

Paul Thomas

This chapter examines Karl Marx's relationship to Friedrich Engels and their joint works of the 1840s, along with those works each of them published separately. Marx is regarded as Engels regarded him; that is, as the more important of the two, both as a theorist and political activist in the First International. The chapter begins with a discussion of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, with particular emphasis on Marx and Engels's views on ideology. It then considers Marx's critique of political economy; his concepts of use value, exchange value, and surplus value; and the ‘fetishism of commodities’ as discussed in the first volume of Capital. It also explores Marx's insights about Western European history and his theory of the state before concluding with an overview of Engels's contribution to Marxism.