Sunday, July 25, 2021

The German Ideology: Main ideas and themes explained

The German Ideology is a series of manuscripts written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels around 1845 .

The German ideology is today considered one of the most important philosophical works
The German Ideology is shaped as a critique of young Hegelians such as Ludwig Feuerbach , Max Stirner and Bruno Bauer , and provides the first interpretation of Marx and Engels' theory of history, which has later been called historical materialism .

Centeal themes and ideas in The German Ideology

The materialist conception 

The first part of The German Ideology is entitled "Feuerbach materialist conception against idealist conception". It exposes the bases of materialism as well as the criticism of the young Hegelians. German thought is most fruitful. The decomposition of Hegelian thought has become universal fermentation (Hegel appears to be at the center of German thought and of Marx himself, who constantly positions himself in relation to him).

What individuals are depends on material conditions so much so that it is by producing their means of existence [that] men indirectly produce their material life itself. But the production intervenes with the increase of the population which supposes a trade between the individuals. “It is not consciousness that determines life but life that determines consciousness. The idealistic philosophers did not advance the deliverance of man because their methodology is not adequate. See Dialectical Materialism.

Division of labor 

The first act in history according to Marx is the creation of means to meet the needs of material life. And this leads in a second step to a repetition. We are therefore witnessing a multiplication of needs due to new social relations and the constant growth of the population. So cooperation is a productive force. Language arises from the natural necessity of commerce between men. Consciousness is therefore a social product (which is why animals have no language). The first stage of the division of labor is a division between the sexes, but it acquires its true value from the moment when intellectual and manual labor are separated. And that's when consciousness emancipates itself from the world and becomes capable of theorizing. The division of laborwithin a nation first of all separates industry / commerce from agricultural labor. Hence the opposition between town and country and antagonism of interests.

The division of labor leads to conflict because production and consumption fall to different people. It also involves property whose seeds are found in the family where wife and children are the slaves of the father. This is how the division of labor leads to the establishment of antagonisms between the interests of each other. Thus division of labor and private property are identical expressions, the first expressing in relation to the activity what the second expresses in relation to the product of this activity.

It follows that all the struggles within the state (democracy for example) are only illusory forms in which the struggles of the different classes between them are carried out. So any class that aspires to domination must first seize the state.

“Communism is for us neither a state which must be created, nor an ideal on which reality will have to be regulated. We call communism the real movement that abolishes the current state. The conditions of this movement result from the currently existing premises. "
“The conditions for this movement result from the prior data as it currently exists. The consequence of the world market is that these individuals [the proletariat] lead an existence which is directly linked to universal history. Therefore the proletariat can only exist as a historical and world force. " See Means of Productionrelation of production, means of production

History and Conscience 

History is the succession of generations which come after and exploit the materials, the capital as well as the productive forces bequeathed by all the preceding generations. So a new generation takes over the activity of the old one on the one hand and modifies it on the other hand.

The risk with history is to think that the history to come is the goal of the past history, whereby history is assigned particular ends. However, the course of history leads to a world history (like the production). The liberation of each individual will only come about then. The engine of history, religion and philosophy is not criticism but revolution. However, Marx goes beyond materialist theory because he admits that men make circumstances. see dialectics and capitalism in the German Ideology. 

Classes and dominant ideas 

The ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas. The dominant material power is therefore also the dominant spiritual power. Dominant thoughts are nothing more than the expression in ideas of the dominant material conditions. The proletariat has no history, which has the consequence that it has not been able to develop as the particular interest of a particular class. see Class Consciousness.

Genesis of capital and the modern state 

Capital results from the principle of the division of labor and the state of local particularity. The revolts of the Middle Ages started from the countryside but their failure was total because of their dispersion. The difficulty of communication and the small population prevented a strong division of labor. A real relationship of dependence is therefore established between the craftsman and his work. He does not have the indifference to his labor that the modern worker has. But the conditions change, competition is established between the nations and the manufacture arrives. From then on, trade took on political significance. The expansion of this trade accelerated the accumulation of mobile, modern (as opposed to primitive) capital. Then came big industry, monopolies within nations, the completion of capital.

"It was she who finally created universal history, insofar as she placed every civilized nation and every individual of this nation under the dependence of the whole world for the satisfaction of their needs, thus abolishing the primitive and traditional isolation of many nations. It took away from the division of labor the air of spontaneity and naturalness that it still had […]. It consecrated the city's victory over the countryside. "

Genesis of the bourgeoisie 

In the Middle Ages, the townspeople were forced to unite against the nobility of the countryside in order to defend their existence. The expansion of commerce and communications led each city to become acquainted with other cities which had the same interests in the struggle against the same adversary (a class becomes aware of itself through antagonism).