Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844 study guide

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economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844 study guide

Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 by Karl Marx

Communism as a political movement attained global importance after the Bolsheviks toppled the Russian Czar in 1917. After that time the works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, especially the influential Communist Manifesto (1848), enjoyed an international audience. The world was to learn a new political vocabulary peppered with socialism, capitalism, the working class, the bourgeoisie, labour theory of value, alienation, economic determinism, dialectical materialism, and historical materialism. Marxs economic analysis of history has been a powerful legacy, the effects of which continue to be felt world-wide.Serving as the foundation for Marxs indictment of capitalism is his extraordinary work titled Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, written in 1844 but published nearly a century later. Here Marx offers his theory of human nature and an analysis of emerging capitalisms degenerative impact on mans sense of self and his creative potential. What is mans true nature? How did capitalism gain such a foothold on Western society? What is alienation and how does it threaten to undermine the proletariat? These and other vital questions are addressed as the youthful Marx sets forth his first detailed assessment of the human condition.
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The economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844 - Karl Marx

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Sociology January 27, Marx on Alienation. In his university studies in Germany, Marx was primarily concerned with philosophical issues, specifically the philosophy of Hegel and his followers. In his early journalism he had discussed the plight of the Moselle wine growers, and the problem of Prussian wood thefts. In the latter, Marx came to the view that the state was serving the interests of private property owners, rather than the general interest. He had not yet developed the idea that the state is the instrument expressing the power of the dominant social class.

Under the economic system of private ownership, society divides itself into two classes: the property owners and the property-less workers. In this arrangement, the workers not only suffer impoverishment but also experience an estrangement or alienation from the world. This estrangement occurs because the worker relates to the product of his work as an object alien and even hostile to himself. The worker puts his life into the object and his labor is invested in the object, yet because the worker does not own the fruits of his labor, which in capitalism are appropriated from him, he becomes more estranged the more he produces. Everything he makes contributes to a world outside of him to which he does not belong. He shrinks in comparison to this world of objects that he helps create but does not possess. This first type of alienation is the estrangement of the worker from the product of his work.

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Marx's 1844 Manuscripts

In the course of elaboration for publication, the intermingling of criticism directed only against speculation with criticism of the various subjects themselves proved utterly unsuitable, hampering the development of the argument and rendering comprehension difficult. Moreover the wealth and diversity of the subjects to be treated, could have been compressed into one work only in a purely aphoristic style; while an aphoristic presentation of this kind, for its part, would have given the impression of arbitrary systemizing. I shall therefore issue the critique of law, ethics, politics, etc. For this reason it will be found that the interconnection between political economy and the state, law, ethics, civil life, etc. It is hardly necessary to assure the reader conversant with political economy that my results have been won by means of a wholly empirical analysis based on a conscientious critical study of political economy. Whereas the uninformed reviewer who tries to hide his complete ignorance and intellectual poverty by hurling the "utopian phrase" at the positive critic's head, or again such phrases as "pure, resolute, utterly critical criticism," the "not merely legal but social -- utterly social -- society," the "compact, massy mass," the "oratorical orators of the massy mass," this reviewer has yet to furnish the first proof that besides his theological family-affairs he has anything to contribute to a discussion of worldly matters. It goes without saying that besides the French and English Socialists I have made use of German Socialist works as well.


  1. Jordan G. says:

    Study Guide for Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of

  2. Allyriane F. says:

    Soc - Marx on Alienation

  3. Guy H. says:

    However, although they have played a major role in the overall interpretation of his thought, they remained unknown for a long time and finally appeared in print nearly a century after their composition.

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