Friday, June 25, 2010

Los primeros trabajos de Marx

A guide to some of the major ideas.
Alienation. Religion. Money. Private Property Socialism


“A guide to some of the major ideas”

Socialists rightly stress that a grasp of Marx’s materialist conception of history, his economics, indeed his survey of the class struggle in all its manifestations, is essential for the working-class movement, But there is a danger in over-emphasising the objective factors if one forgets the early writings, which are more subjective and psychological in their implications, Of course this side could be exaggerated too, and clearly all aspects of Marx’s thought must be related to each other and given their proper perspective.

Was Marx a humanist ? Many people, understandably, will cringe at this question. Didn’t Marx himself, in later years, dismiss the writings of his youth as philosophical twaddle, seeming to put it in the same bracket as the airy-fairy poetry of his student days ? We have to see these sweeping self-criticisms in their context, however. In the narrow sense, the Establishment had given him a rough time by expulsions from various countries, forcing him to live in poverty, etc. In the broader sense - Marx wasn’t just suffering from sour grapes - it must have given him a feeling of frustration and bitterness to look around and see how the capitalist system’s hypocritical contradictions, which glared at him everywhere he went, were so callously ignored by these who caused them, and so misunderstood by those who suffered from them. He became sardonic and irritable. Though undespairing, he could hardly be expected to feel the same emotional involvement with his early romantic views of man’s potentiality.


A second objection would be that ‘humanism’ is a very vague term and is bandied about by many people who have a rather abstract concern for the effects of capitalism upon people and not its causes. You can call yourself a humanist and still support a system which denies the free development of human beings. Most people who refer to themselves as ‘humanists ‘ hold up man in the form of the abstract individual, not man as he actually is, a being living and working with other beings of his species in the natural world. They separate man’s spiritual essence from his material existence (which determines the degree to which that essence can be expressed). It doesn’t matter to them how much human suffering there is as long as the ‘essence’ is kept intact, preserved by a few defenders of so-called ‘human civilisation’, culture, and so on. They of course set themselves up as the defenders.

Their view thus appears to be a dualistic, religious one. So they are no different from the avowedly religious people they claim to oppose. They may not believe in any explicit God (Christian, Jewish, or whatever) but they have objectified the human essence, divorced it from the actual, real world and virtually made it into a God. Their so-superior attitude of trendy atheism thus seems rather sour; their smug feeling that only fools can believe in God rebounds upon themselves. ‘Communism begins with atheism, ‘ wrote Marx, ‘but atheism is at the beginning still far from being communism since it is mostly an abstraction’ 1 (Marx used the terms socialism and communism, interchangeably; we in the SPGB don’t often use the latter as it could be confused with its prostituted use by the state-capitalist countries). If you are merely an atheist all you have done is negated something: why be so self-conscious about it ? Why not go on and pose something positive ? When the ‘humanists’ do attempt to do anything positive it is usually a pathetic rag-bag of reforms within the present system.

If we can still save the word ‘humanism’ from its deplorable abuse, we can say, yes, Marx was a humanist, but with this difference - his humanism was concrete. In his early manuscripts there are not just denunciations of capitalism, but also some penetrating conceptions of man as he will be under socialism. In this respect he differs from the merely God-bashing ‘humanists’ . His views are firmly rooted in man’s relationships to man and. nature - i.e., the real world.

Man under Capitalism.


First of all, there is his classic description of the effect of the capitalist mode of production upon man’s consciousness. This is his conception of ‘alienation’. It gives one an uncanny feeling to know that it is all the more relevant today than when Marx wrote it. It is at the heart of many of the greatest works of 20th century art, music and literature, for example the stories of Kafka, Hemingway and Orwell. In our culture, where things seem to matter more than people, and where one is rated by the amount of things one possesses, where production seems more and more for production’s sake, no wonder psychiatrists can never cure a ‘neurotic’ by either trying to find the origin of his hang-ups within himself, or if they admit to an external cause, play it down for the sake of peace.

There are four basic aspects of alienation, described in the section entitled Alienated Labour. First of all, the worker is alienated from the object of his labour. The more he exerts himself in production, the more of him goes into the product, and the less he has left for himself. So the power that he had as a human being has been transferred to the object he has made. He doesn’t command his power, it commands him. This phenomenon occurs at all levels: the technological marvels that we have made are capable of turning against us. In wartime, workers who go out to defend their rulers’ interests may be killed by the arms they themselves have made. Man can blow himself up at any minute - but the means of destruction were fashioned by man in the first place.


At everyday level, however, the phenomenon is just as powerful. We work in order to eat to be able to go back to work in order to eat to be able to go back to work ..... We produce commodities but we ourselves have become commodities. We are reduced to the status of things. We are not human beings any more. However, the things we have made have become more important than the things we are, The law, for example, is based first of all on the protection of property, not of people. A magistrate once wrote to his local paper demanding a harder line with youths who spray-painted walls. He called that ‘vandalism’. He happens to have a white-collar job with his town ‘s major industry. Not only is his firm’s factory itself a dreary, depressing building - uglier than any spray-painted wall - but the vandalism committed on the people who work in it is horrifying to contemplate. Their creative potential as human beings is coldly denied. They themselves are made ignorant of it. No wonder some of them will transfer it, crudely, with spray-paint, to the walls. Whether the graffiti is ‘obscene’ or not is irrelevant. It is surely even more obscene that they are forced to express what is deep within them, in such a pathetically inadequate way. As long as they’re churning out the products that mean profits for their bosses, that’s O.K, as far as our magistrate is concerned.


Many workers in the western world are no doubt better housed, clothed, and fed than they were when Marx was writing, but they are still forced to sell their labour-power to an employer to perform tasks they loathe. In their work they are not affirming themselves, and so have to make futile attempts towards affirmation in the accumulation of possessions. They become, instead, further alienated in their possessions - which are produced by themselves ! They may have more leisure time, but they are still not free, just as they are still poor no matter how much they possess. They are exploited in their leisure time as well as at work - by the same capitalists. Anyone who doubts this should take a walk through the streets and in the shops of a large town. Compare the promise of the ubiquitous advertisements - if you use this after-shave, the girls will flock to you, etc. - with the reality of the crowds who are passing you, crossing the road, bumping into you in the shops. The girls may not be flocking to any men you see but their wives will probably be nagging at them for spending to much time at the aftershave counter in Boots. You’ll probably feel in the 1970s what Engels felt in 1844 when he was writing about London :-

“The restless and noisy activity of the crowded streets is highly distasteful, and it is surely abhorrent to human nature itself. Hundreds of thousands of men and women drawn from all classes and ranks of society pack the streets of London. Are they not all human beings with the same innate characteristics and potentialities ? And do they not all aim at happiness by following similar methods ? Yet they rush past each other as if they had nothing in common. They are tacitly agreed on one thing only - that everyone should keep to the right of the pavement so as not to collide with the stream of people moving in the opposite direction. No one even thinks of sparing a glance for his neighbours in the streets. The more that Londoners are packed into a tiny space, the more repulsive and disgraceful becomes the brutal indifference with which they ignore their neighbours and selfishly concentrate upon their private affairs. We know well enough that this isolation of the individual - this narrow-minded egotism - is everywhere the fundamental principle of modern society. But nowhere is this selfish egotism so blatantly evident as in the frantic bustle of the great city. The disintegration of society into individuals, each guided by his private principles and each pursuing his own aims has been pushed to its furthest limits in London. Here indeed human society has been split into its component atoms.”

This is what capitalism does to people in ordinary, everyday life. It is not that people are born like that. Indeed, even under capitalism, there are the odd, free moments when alienation is temporarily overcome and people can be unselfish, friendly, warm. This gives us confidence that socialism, given the chance, will work.

The second, third, and fourth aspects of alienation follow on from the first. The second is that man’s work under capitalism is not part of his nature. As Marx puts it

“the worker does not affirm himself in his work but denies himself, feels miserable and unhappy, develops no free physical and mental energy but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. ....(His work) is not voluntary but coerced, forced labour. It is not the satisfaction of a need but only a means to satisfy other needs. Its alien character is obvious from the fact that as soon as no physical or other pressure exists, labour is avoided like the plague.”

The labour is not his - how can it interest him if this belongs to his boss ?

“The activity of the worker is not his own spontaneous activity. It belongs to another. It is the loss of himself.”

So the second aspect of alienation is ‘self-alienation’ - man is alienated from himself.


In the next two paragraphs Marx backs up his utterances by reference to a theme that was to provide one of the conclusions to a later work - that work being Engels’ Socialism Utopian and Scientific. Under capitalism, man is prevented from expressing his uniquely human capacities. He is kept at the animal level. What springs to mind here is the fact that capitalism is a ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ society, like the life of beasts of prey. Surely capitalism is out of date, now that technology and science have developed to the point where no one in the world has to starve, and the socialist principle ‘From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs’ can be applied. The mere animal existence of capitalism is surely not our final stage of existence.’

This leads to Marx’s discussion of the third aspect of man’s alienation from his species-life. Marx distinguishes the species-life of human beings from that of animals, which are on a much lower plane. He has just told us that

“. . . man (the worker) feels that he is acting freely only in his animal functions - eating, drinking, and procreating, or at most in his shelter and finery - while in his human functions he feels only like an animal. The animalistic becomes the human and the human the animalistic.
To be sure, eating, drinking, and procreation are genuine human functions, In abstraction, however, and separated from the regaining sphere of human activities and turned into final and sole ends, they are animal functions.”

An animal works to eat, and eats to work, and so on, and that’s all. But that is all human beings are reduced to under capitalism. Instead of fulfilling themselves in their human species-life, they are limited to the species-life of animals lower than humans.

“In the mode of life-activity lies the entire character of a species, its species-character; and free conscious activity is the species-character of man .... Conscious life-activity distinguishes man immediately from the life-activity of the animal.”

By conscious life-activity Marx means that whereas the animal produces without any consciousness of what it is doing - i.e., it is driven by mere instinct, mere necessity, and passively responds - man is active, conscious of what he’s doing. He doesn’t have to produce only for his immediate animal needs, he can also produce for his more satisfying human needs.

“The animal produces under the domination of physical need while man produces free of physical need and only genuinely in freedom from such need ... the animal’s product belongs immediately to its physical body while man is free when he confronts his product.”

Marx is referring to artistic ability, which is uniquely human. He was writing under the influence of German Romanticism - man could dominate Nature, whereas Nature dominated the animal. Marx must have known this Passage from Schiller’s 2 On the Romantic Nature of Man :

“So long as Man in his first physical condition accepts the world of sense merely passively, merely perceives, he is still completely identified with it, and just because he himself is simply world, there is no world yet for him. Not until he sets it outside himself or contemplates it, in his aesthetic status, does his personality become distinct from it, and a world appears to him because he has ceased to identify himself with it.”

Rather, he identifies it with himself. He is not given up to the world of things, their plaything, as is the animal. So commodity-rule over alienated man can be overcome. The human being can satisfy his higher nature by the joy of creativity - of shaping his environment, rather than merely being shaped by it. The animal is shaped, not shaping.

“The animal builds only according to the standard and need of the species to which it belongs, while man knows how to produce according to the standard of any species and at all times knows how to apply an intrinsic standard to the object. Thus man creates also according to the laws of beauty.”

We shall return to the all -men- as-artists theme later. Suffice it to say at this point that with man there is a two-way relationship with nature, with the animal there is only a one-way relationship; being entirely controlled by Nature, the animal cannot control Nature itself, as can man.

This is what we meant when we said that Marx’s humanism was based in the concrete, rather than in the abstract.

We now come to the fourth aspect of alienation As man is alienated from his life-activity, his species-life, he is alienated from his fellow man The individual is not an abstraction, he is a social being: nothing can be achieved by an individual in a vacuum, aloof from others; everything. is produced by individuals cooperating with each other. Marx, in a later section of the manuscripts - a section we shall be discussing - emphasises that even when he is writing alone in a study, that is still a social act, for the words he uses are not an individual creation, but have arisen out of the need of human beings to communicate with each other. Language is a social product, like everything else, Marx might have added that the desk he writes upon is also made by other people, likewise the pen he writes with, etc. ‘Self-help’ is thus a meaningless concept if taken in an absolute sense as opposed to a relative. When an employer loses his employees, ‘his’ enterprise doesn’t seem so ‘free’ - he depends on them; he can’t and won’t do their work himself


In a society dominated by big companies and bureaucracies (in the state-capitalist countries, party bureaucracies) , one man doesn’t know what the other man’s doing, and what he’s doing it for. He doesn’t even know the purpose of his own job. Suppose he works in a factory. He is responsible for a particular stage in the production process. The best part of his life is spent as an appendage to the machine. He receives the raw material from the stage before him, does his bit, passes it on to the next stage. He doesn’t see the product as a whole in its completed form, or if he does, the sum total of every individual’s labour power doesn’t occur to him as he views it. Only his own bit will interest him (if it interests him at all, that is). Suppose further that the factory is a munitions factory. Suppose that he is proud of the little job he does. (Even though he hardly fulfils himself in it). He may fulminate against ‘social security scroungers’ or striking/demonstrating workers/students who don’t want to waste their lives in munitions factories. He may go to church on Sundays and applaud silently (you’re not allowed to voice an opinion in church) the parson when he goes on about how sinful man is with his wars. This worker’s s ‘soul’ will be saved in the next world, so it doesn’t matter to him whether he is helping in a process which turns out objects with which people kill each other. Those people are working people like himself. His rulers start the wars but don’t themselves fight them.

That is an example, and an extreme one at that. But multiply its implications by millions and you get a pretty horrifying insight into why the world is in such a mess today. The passage by Engels quoted above describes what is unpleasant in the city streets; on a vaster scale it is not just unpleasant, it is dangerous. The situation however is not decreed by God, whatever the lackeys of religious delusion may claim: it is caused by man, and man can stop it. An individual’s gesture of revolt is not enough; it demands mass action, conscious and democratic, to replace the economic and social relations which bring it about, by new ones. In short, the abolition of capitalism and the building of socialism.

At the more intimate level, however, alienation destroys personal relationships. It causes mutual distrust if not utter indifference. At the extreme, it causes wife-beating, child-beating, sexual assault, murder - quite apart from the fact, that as long as human beings are divided into classes their interests must necessarily be opposed. Consider how the man-woman relationship - the deepest and most natural - is perverted by private property. A man marries a woman for her possessions and vice versa. They do not relate to each other as human beings, but as things dependent upon things.

Alcoholism, suicide - those and the above problems cannot be solved by the social workers and charity ‘do-gooders’. If these people are to fulfil their professed aims, and get to the roots of the evils they rightly deplore, they had better join the socialist movement.


We come to a point where the early Marx links up with the later one. Alienated labour produces private property, which in turn produces capital, which exploits more alienated labour and the whole process goes on again. We already observed that the worker’s activity didn’t belong to himself, so it must belong to someone else. A lot of mystifications arise here. We are brainwashed into ignoring peoples' labour when contemplating their finished productions. Most history books tell us that the Pharaohs built Egypt, that Wellington achieved ‘victory’ at Waterloo and so on. We are not asked to consider the fact that they themselves didn’t lift a stone, that Wellington didn’t ‘win’ - how can war ever be won ? - the battle entirely alone. The slaves who built their masters’ palaces, and the common soldiers who fought their masters’ battles - you won’t find their names in the history books. We pointed out earlier that the ‘self-made’ businessman isn’t exactly ‘self’-made. A prevalent illusion is that a particular commodity exists in its own right, it seems to have created itself, or dropped from the skies, or been the ‘brain child’ of some ‘enterprising’ individual in whose factory it is mysteriously produced. We have a kind of holy awe towards this commodity, it seems to exist for its own sake. It has become a God. Erich Fromm likens the phenomenon to the tribal practice of carving idols and then bowing down before then and worshipping them. We forget that these ‘gods’ are the products of our own hands. It is we who brought them into being, but instead it seems that we only exist by and for the grace of then, Marx called this phenomenon ‘the fetishism of commodities’ in Capital, published in 1867, but clearly the notion was first developed in 1844 in the manuscript on alienated labour.


The religious nature of commodity fetishist prompts a note here on Marx’s attitude to religion. In the course of the manuscript we have been discussing, Marx has drawn parallels to his main argument from religion.

“The more the man attributes to God, the less he retains in himself. The worker puts his life into the object: then it no longer belongs to him but to the object.
In religion the spontaneity of human imagination, the spontaneity of the human brain and heart, acts independently of the individual as an alien, divine or devilish activity. Similarly, the activity of the worker is not his own spontaneous activity. It belongs to another.”

If you know any intensely religious people, you will know how that in giving themselves up to God, they seem to have little or no time left for essentially human activities. It is chilling. Blind, passive faith is for them superior to conscious, active reason. When their humanity asserts itself and they do something for someone else, they don’t do it, they say, because it’s the human ting to do, but because he Bible tells them to do it. Man, to them, only exists for the glory of God, not for the glory of man, who is seen as ‘sinful’ and ‘imperfect.’ This rather conflicts with their other idea that God created man in His own image - God must himself be sinful and imperfect, by that logic! Marx, however, believed that Man created God in his own image. Religion was a product of the human brain. So long as man was not master of himself and nature, religion was one substitute master over him. It was time man was for man’s sake, and not for God’s, or commodities’, or anything that was the product of man in the first place. Until man discarded religion, it would divert his attention from fulfilment in the real world, it would be used by ruling powers to sanctify and eternalise their brutal exploitation of working people.

“Religious suffering is the expression of real suffering and at the same time the protest against real suffering.
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as people’s illusory happiness is the demand for their real happiness. The demand to abandon illusions about their condition is a demand to abandon a condition which requires illusions. The criticism of religion is thus in embryo a criticism of the vale of tears whose halo is religion.
Criticism has plucked imaginary flowers from the chain, not so that man will wear the chain that is without fantasy or consolation but so that he will throw it off and pluck the living flower. (Marx : Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right)

Religion divides man from man and unites him instead with that human creation ‘God’, just as private property divides man from man and unites him instead with that human creation, private property.

The same principle applies to ‘leadership.’ When the working class alienate their collective power and invest it in a ‘leader’, be he a Hitler, a Stalin, a Nixon, they have lost themselves as a potentially powerful class. They bow down before their own creation - after all, he is leader because they have made him so. They can just as well remove him, and all leaders for that matter. However, it is not the individual leader, but the concept of leadership that they rust eradicate.

For Marx, money was the extreme form of alienation under capitalism. Money was the essence of private property. At least your actual private property belonged to you, and you had some relationship, however perverted, to it. But you had no such relationship to money. Money, originally a means to an end (exchange) had become an end in itself. The value of money wasn’t determined against the value of goods, but vice versa. Money was even more anonymous than an actual possession. But worse than that was the effect money had on human relationships. Carlyle had seen that the cash-nexus had become the most important relationship of man to man, and Marx, who had read Carlyle, enlarged upon this thesis. Money, especially the credit system, is based on mistrust. ‘I promise to pay the bearer ...’ Thus a moral aspect has directly entered economics.

“In credit man himself instead or metal and paper has become the medium of exchange, but not as man, but rather as the existence of capital and interest.”

Man is reduced to an exchangeable commodity.

“Human individuality and human morality have become an article of trade and the material in which money exists.”

If you have money you arc highly regarded, you’ll got credit; if you haven’t, you won’t get credit, you’ll be looked down upon. You are what you have, in effect. As was the case with goods, money is not weighed against you, you are weighed against it. What you can’t do without money, you can do with it. ‘Money is the alienated power of humanity.’ It is ‘the alien intermediary between man and man’ (God was another); but the relationship between man and man should be direct. Let us consider an example of this. I may be competent in art but that by itself doesn’t determine whether I will get the opportunity to study and practise it, if I am penniless. I may have no talent for art at all, but want to use it as a means of getting ‘status’; if I have money, I can buy all the glossy art books and. expensive oils, brushes and canvas and probably produce something abysmally mediocre. Being rich, I will have my rubbish highly praised, while the poor genuine artist is rejected as soon as the culture-kings see the rags he’s wearing. Money thus inverts all values.

Man under Socialism


However, it is not just the abolition of money that is required, but the abolition of private property of which money is merely the abstract expression. Marx criticises the crude communism of the early French Utopians. Under this, everyone has private property, not just a few. Private property, however, still alienates man. What inspires this kind of crude communism is, says Marx, ‘universal envy.’ Wages are a form of private property and Marx advised trade unionists not to adopt the conservative slogan, ‘A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work’ but instead to inscribe on their banners, ‘Abolition of the Wages System.’ Man would still be divided from man and instead united with property, under ‘crude communism.’ There must be universal free access - complete sharing - in order that all men can really affirm themselves.


Having, in other words, must not be confused with being. If it is, man is still at the animal stage. The passivity of each isolated, individual merely having an isolated part of the material world, is different from the creative activity of all individuals responding to all the material world and shaping it.

“The positive overcoming of private property ... is not to be grasped only as immediate, exclusive satisfaction or as possession, as having. Man appropriates to himself his manifold essence in an all-sided way, thus as a whole man.”

Even if one has universal private property, one man’s ownership of a part of the natural world is kept from the others, and he himself can’t enjoy the others’ parts. All the subjective world (i.e., all human beings) should be able to interact with all the objective world (i.e., nature, the material environment) freely, without artificial, property restrictions.

“All the physical and spiritual senses have been replaced by the simple alienation of them all, the sense of having.”

These alienated senses have to be given back to man, but the abolition of private property is essential for their full development. As long as man makes private property a god, he will be swallowed up in it. There will be no two-way process, hence no freedom.

“Only if man’s object, we have seen, becomes for him a human object or objective man, is he not lost in it. This is possible only when the object becomes social and he himself becomes social.”

Only when everything belongs to everyone in common, therefore, can individuality express itself. A passage in Oscar Wilde is The Soul of Man under Socialism may be worth quoting here. Wilde is talking about ‘the great Individualism latent and potential in mankind generally’ :

“For the recognition of private property has really harmed Individualism, and obscured it, by confusing a man with what he possesses. It has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain, not growth, its aim. So that man thought the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is. Private property has crushed true Individualism and set up an Individualism that is false.


This individualism is realised only in society, that is, a society in which the means of production arc socially owned, a socialist society. Man is not only restored to the whole natural world but to all his follow men. All interactions are at last possible. The whole of the earth’s resources arc liberated, together with the all-round sensuousness of human beings.

“Only through the objectively unfolded wealth of human nature is the wealth of the subjective human sensibility either cultivated or created - a musical ear, an eye for the beauty of form, in short, senses capable of human satisfaction, confirming themselves as essential human capacities.”

This is a vision of the quality of life. All men will be artists in their work. Marx was relating a romantic future of man and art, drawing on Schiller’s insights, to the real present of the industrial expansion of the first half of the nineteenth century. That quality of life was still being denied late in that century, when William Morris expressed his hopes in News from Nowhere, and of course it is still denied today, in the late twentieth century. We do not share Marcuse’s elitism, but can share these words of his (note how he refers not only to modern capitalism’s denial of the quality of life, but life itself):

“A universe of human relationships no longer mediated by the market, no longer based on competitive exploitation or terror, demands a sensitivity freed from the repressive satisfactions of the unfree societies; a sensitivity receptive to the forms and modes of reality which thus far have been projected only by the aesthetic imagination . . . The aesthetic morality is the opposite of puritanism. It does not insist on a daily bath or shower for people whose cleaning practices involve systematic torture, slaughtering, poisoning; nor does it insist on clean clothes for men who are professionally engaged in dirty deals. But it does insist on cleaning the earth from the very material garbage produced by the spirit of capitalism, and from this spirit itself . . . art would have changed its traditional locus and function in society : it would have become a productive force in the material as well as cultural transformation . . . This would mean . . . the end of the segregation of the aesthetic from the real, but also end of the commercial unification of business and beauty, exploitation and pleasure.” (An Essay on Liberation)

The subject (man) only develops when he has an object (nature) to work on. The object (nature) only develops to the full when it has a subject (man) to work on it. The continual dialectic between man and nature brings out the best in both. Previously, when the one has been alienated from the other, man has had a very narrow and incomplete view of what the objective world could offer.

“For the starving man food, does not exist in its human form but only in its abstract character as food. It could be available in its crudest form and one could not say wherein the starving man’s eating differs from that of animals. The care-laden, needy man has no mind for the most beautiful play. The dealer in minerals sees only their market value but not their beauty and special nature; he has no mineralogical sensitivity.”

Socialism, however, completely appropriates all nature for the use of all humans, thus both for the first time can realise full potential, in their interaction. The antithesis between man and nature is at last resolved as are the other antitheses: man versus man, individual and species, existence and essence, subjectivism and objectivism, spiritualism and materialism, activity .and passivity.


The development of industry is ‘the open book of man’s essential powers’. It has not been thus far grasped in connection with man’s essential nature but only in an external utilitarian way ...’ Man’s products, alienated from him, can only become his again when this mere animal utilitarianism is transcended, impossible under capitalism, possible only under socialism.

Under capitalism, when private property and money are the only standards,

“Our mutual value is the value of our mutual objects for us. Man himself, therefore, is mutually valueless for us.” (Excerpt Notes of 1844)

Under socialism, man is the standard, private property and money are no more. Marx’s description of the interaction consequent on this has a prophetic ring about it:

" Suppose we had produced things as human beings: in his production each of us would have twice affirmed himself and the other. (ibid.)

(1) I would be glad that I had made something that reflected my personality, (2) your use of it would satisfy me further because it had satisfied you, (3) our relationship with each other and with the human species would be richly experienced, (4) I would have helped you in my work and known the joy of my social being, as an active member of the human community.

“Our productions would be so many mirrors reflecting our nature.” (ibid.)

We in the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its Companion Parties overseas believe that such a society is not utopian, but scientifically possible. However, it requires a conscious majority - and that, we hope, includes you - to work for its realization.

No comments: