Marx Notes Lecture
√ Animal Farm is an allegory (story where characters and plot represent something else)
*Ex. Wizard of Oz (1939) is an allegory of 1930's Depression-era American
*Animal Farm (AF) is an allegory which satirizes (pokes fun at) Soviet (Russian) communism
-Communism = no private property/state owns everything
-Capitalism = free enterprise/private ownership of land, business, etc.
√ Q: Considering that lalaland33 is NOT a Marxist, the why are all these notes on Marx?
* #1 – wrestling with even simplified philosophy stretches the mind
* #2 – to give me a preview of how college professors will try and shock me with their anti-parent, anti-bourgeoisie (m.c. = middle class) and trendy theories (that is if you aren't in college yet)
* #3 – social action (both good and bad) is first born in the mind of someone with a controversial idea (controversial = idea that people don't agree with or is weird)
AF is about that very thing – Old Major's ideas getting applied is what this novel is about.
√ Karl Marx (1818-1883) is perhaps the most famous liberal of the last 200 years
* Liberal vs. Conservative – which am I?
* Liberal (also called a "leftist") = individual rights and liberties are the most important things. (Pro-choice and pro-minority)
-Big government which means heavy spending to help out the poor and the disadvantage
*Conservatives (also called "right-wingers") = individual rights, yes, but society's protection and progress are perhaps just as vital (pro-life and tough on crime)
-small government means business thrives when there are few regulations
-promotes family values
*George Orwell is liberal even though AF is a satire of communism
-Many liberals seem to have communist sympathies
-lalaland33 believes that Orwell's complex understanding of socialism (a modified form of communism) gives this novel this power
√ AF's allegorical character match-ups
*Old Major – Karl Marx
*Snowbell – Leon Trotsky
*Mr. Jones – The Russian Czar
*Mr. Frederick – Germany
*Moses – Russian Orthodox Church
*Napoleon's dogs – NKUD (later known as KGB) secret police
√ This AF story represents the 1917 Russian Revolution (a.k.a. The Bolshevik [which means "majority" in Russian] Revolution)
*The American War of Independence (1776) was not a real Revolution because a revolution completely overturns society, but all we did was adapt the British system, became out own nation, and get rid of titles like: King and Lord
-The French and Russian Revolutions were, on the other hand, were real revolutions
√ Tie-ins to the novel (AF) and some other stuff
*Leon Trotsky (Snowball) wanted to create international worker rebellions (just like Snowbell wanted to spread animalism to other farms) but Stalin (Napoleon) wanted to consolidate his own personal power inside this newly formed Soviet Union of the 1920s and '30s
-Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union (just like Snowball) and (unlike Snowball) murdered by one of Stalin's secret agents with an ice pick in the back of the head in Mexico City in 1940
*Vladimir Lenin was actually the key figure of the Russian Revolution but Orwell left him out of AF
-Some online study guides say that Snowball = Lenin but that is incorrect
-Lenin adapted Marx because Lenin believed that massive worker revolt would not happen by its self: Revolution takes a core group of radicals to ignite it into being
l 1,500 radical Bolsheviks completely and forever altered the path of a nation of 100s and millions (big reason #3)
√ The rest of "The Marx Notes Lecture" will more of less be a dissection of Old Major's thinking (Marx and his influences)
*Marx said "Philosophers have sought to interpret the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."
-That's what he did: he changed the world, but he was dead before the change happened
-This concept of massive social action and change, he called it "praxis"
*A German immigrant to London, Marx wrote most of his works there and his family nearly starved to death (some of his kids died), yet he refused to work for capitalism)
-His writing partner, Frederic Engles, owned a family factory and sometimes gave the "non-working" Marx money for food and rent.
*Q: What's Marx's problem with Capitalism?
-A = His problem centered around the idea of "surplus value"
-The following, or so, will explain what "surplus value" is
-One woman in 1812 could spin as much thread as 200 women in 1770, because of the advancements of the Industrial Revolution (IR: 1750-1850)
-The IR turned the International Trade upside down because the world now moved from the trade of upperclass luxury goods (silk, spices) to the middle class trade of subsistence goods (basic clothing, iron for railroads , stoves, steel)
-Q: Metropark owner vs. Walmart owner – who's wealthier?
-Therefore, this development made the middle class very wealthy, but also, widened the gap between middle and working classes.
-Marx's problem is that the factory owner (middle class or Bourgeoisie) gets to re-assign the other 199 workers, so to speak, but keeps all the profits to himself because the workers all keep the same wage.
-The extra cash the factory owner makes is the suplus value (profit)
-AF pg 8m = "You cows that I see … Jones and his men" Is an example allegorically of how working class do more and yet continue to suffer because they don't own the factory and thus don't make profit
*Thus, Marx believed that communism was the answer to the workers plight
-Communism = the factory is owned by the workers as a whole (no private ownership)
-It's just like the pigs had to take away the farm from Mr. Jones so all animals could work and own the farm together.
*While Marx's idea of seizing private property and making it worker owned may seem crazy today, remember that he lived through the worst phase of capitalism, where the workers got beaten up by strike-brakers, had no rights, starved, and even died of disease
-In fact, the power of unions today owes much to Marx's writing because we have federal laws that protect the working classes
*Marx believed that the only solution to breaking the control of the Bourgeoisie (working-class) was massive Revolution.
*Q: What's so extreme about Marx's solution?
-A = He's advocating violent take-over of upper-class and middle-class property and making it government property
√ Q: Does a Marxist have to be atheist?
*Marxism/Communism = animalism
*An atheist = someone who believes there is no God or supernatural anything (a radical belief)
-Zealot = a person with a belief so strong that it costs him or her something (but still, many atheists could be zealots but many zealots are not atheists)
*AF p18: "The pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place."
-The pigs quickly grasped what is vital to the Revolution
*Q: If I were a slave owner in the Old South (pre-civil war Confederacy) and I didn't care about my slaves' spiritual welfare, should I convert them to Christianity or not?
-A = Yes, convert the slaves because if the slaves believe in a reward in the afterlife (Sugar Candy Mountain/Heaven), then they will not rebel and try to create a better life for themselves now
*In other words, the pigs/Marxists hate the concept of Sugar Candy Mountain/Heaven but Mr. Jones/slave owner loves it even though he is perhaps not even interested in exhibiting Christian character
-The pigs/Marxists want a rebellion but Mr. Jones/slave owner wants obedience
-Remember that AF pg 18 and this whole checkmark is pre-Rebellion.
l Once the pigs got control of the farm, they mysteriously lost interest in formenting (stirring up) what Trotsky called "permanent revolution"
AF Old South
Mr. Jones = Slave Owner
Animals = slaves
Moses = Preacher/Christianity
*Even though Marx belived "religion is the opiate (drug) of the people," it's ironic that the Civil Right's movement in America started in the black Christian churches
-Marx, an atheist himself, was therefore against Christianity because he believed that it makes you feel good, but it kills your potential because Marx didn't believe Christianity was real
-In fact, what Marx saw as the greatest solution of hope for the working classes (atheism) is the very thing that today is making white western Europe apathetic (with it's 1.1 birthrate)
*A = Yes, a Marxist has to be an atheist because Marx's writings emphasized that the only path for massive Revolution is for the working classes (the proletariat) is to stamp out the idea of an afterlife reward (Orwell hints of this idea on page 18 of AF)
√ Karl Marx combined the idea of two men, George Hegel (1770-1831) and Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872), to form his concept of "historical materialism" (later called dialectical materialism or simply Marxism by others)
*Hegel was one of the first philosophers to formulate a theory of historical progress
-Hegel saw history as a dialectical struggle between an idea and its counter idea (the counter idea grows out of the idea itself)
l dialectics – the process of change in which a concept battles its opposite and forms a new idea
-Hegel's last work The Philosophy of History was actually the lecture notes gathered by his students after he died
l In the book, it says "The spirit of a people … carries within it its own negation."
lThis quote means that the word "people" can be called "thesis" and the word "negation" can be called "antithesis" and out of this antithesis, conflict is born "synthesis."
l Even though Hegel only used the words thesis/antithesis/synthesis once in a footnote, he became closely associated with these concepts
Let's map this out
…and so on until eventually this historical refining process will yield The Absolute Idea (which Marx ignored, but no one really knows WHAT the Absolute Idea REALLY is) which is supposed secretly guiding this development all along (but Hegel's thinking gets fuzzy here)
Synthesis - - CRASH!-New Antithesis
Thesis (idea…start!) - CRASH! - - - - - - - - Antithesis
*This takes centuries of history and deals primarily with clashing civilization
*EX: The Roman Empire and the attacking barbarian tribes (thesis and anti-thesis)
-According to Hegel, the absolute idea can only be recognized in retrospect (after history has happened)
-Lots of problems with this notion of history but it's still an exciting concept to think history is a pattern that can be traced.
-This idea/counter idea concept is only a small part of Hegel's thoughts (which is far too complicated to deal with this lecture)
-A modern example of this so-called Hegelian analysis can be seen with the infiltration of gang activity in schools
l Kids recruits other kids within the school by having gang signs and the principal or some administrator bans certain clothing or colors but gangs make new signs to recruit and let other people know about their gang
*Feuerbach, on the other hand, wrote, "We project all our own unrealized perfection onto an imaginary, non-human entity, God, instead of our fellow human beings" (The Essence of Christianity – 1841)
-Feuerbach, here, proposes a radical program of action that is man-centered and rejects the idea of waiting around for "non-existent" God to show up
-Feuerbach may have had an inaccurate view of what Christians in his time were really doing
l Ex. George Müller in London in the 1800s was a Christian who, without asking anyone for money, fed, clothed, and educated over 10,000 orphans at a time where practically nobody else was caring for them
*Taking Hegel's dialectical process of historical development and taking Feuerbach's man-centered social action principals, Marx invented "historical materialism"
-Historical (in this case) = dialectical = how change comes from an idea battling with an opposite idea and creating a new idea
-Materialism = two different definitions
l1) – most common every day use = the pursuit of goods that make you comfortable and make you look good
l2) actual meaning = atheism = believing that the 3D world is all there is (no supernatural) – Marx, Old Major are materialists
-Thus armed with Hegel's dialects and Feuerbach's materialism, Marx looked at history
(A/N: I don't feel like re-drawing a chart so I'm just going to just list the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Draw your own chart if you can't understand. Bold words are Marx's unrealized dream, which never quiet happened)
Thesis: The Upper-Upper = French aristocracy and royalty who owned the land for generations and had great wealth
Antithesis: The middle class- The French bourgeoisie is getting wealthy because of the Industrial Revolution/ but no land ownership = means a "ceiling" on their income
Crash!: 1789 = the French Revolution
Synthesis: creation of capitalist state
New Antithesis: the International brotherhood of workers rebel
New Synthesis: Creation of the great worker state – no private ownership
-In Marx's Communist Manifesto (1848), he explains how Hegel can be applied to actually changing the course of history: "The weapons with which the Bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground ARE turned against the Bourgeoisie. The Bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself."
lFeudalism = the European political organization which prevailed from the 9th century to the 16th century in which the peasants farmed the land for the lords/barons and served in the army in exchange for protection from other warring lords
-O- When Marx says feudalism, he means the UU (Upper-Upper)
ll felled = knocked over
ll forged = to form by heating and hammering
lMarx uses present tense (ARE) to make the workers feel that a communist revolution is already under way
-Marx considered the French Revolution to be a turning point of history because it was the first war of the classes
lThe middle class stirred up the peasants to cause the French Revolution (the peasants were far too ignorant and disorganized to ignite such a conflict themselves
-Like the rest of this lecture, the previous chart is a big over simplification of Marx's thoughts (and of history in general) but it IS an exposure to 19th century, world-changing ideas
*Marx claimed that he was "turning Hegel on his head" because Marx took Hegel's historical development formula and instead of simply tracing what had already happened, Marx thought he could use Hegelian analysis to bring about the Great Worker State (historical materialism or communism)
-It's exciting to think that you can predict the future