Marx began with a simple observation: human beings impart value to the objects they create by investing their own time and labor in them.
A chair maker can spend $50 on materials to build a chair that will sell for $60.
The added value of the maker's time and energy is reflected in the $10 extra.
The object's "surplus value of labor" makes it useful to anyone, not just the maker.
Marx concluded that the ability to create objects with their own innate 270 CHAPTER NINE # COMMUNISM AND POSTCOMMUNISM value sets humans apart from other animals, but it also inevitably leads to economic injustice.
As human beings develop their knowledge and technological skills, an opportunity is created for those with political power to extract the surplus value from others, enriching themselves while impoverishing other people.
Once human beings learned how to produce things of value, others found that they could gain them at little cost to themselves.
The economic system of a society is made up of technology and class relations.
Marxism says that the final stage of history is when capitalism is overthrown and the dictatorship of the proletariat takes over.
State and politics would disappear in communism, and society and the economy would be based on equality and cooperation.
The process of historical change is revolutionary.
The existing base and superstructure would come into conflict with new technological innovations, causing growing opposition to the existing order.
The old base and superstructure would be overthrown.
The old base and superstructure are eliminated during the temporary period after capitalism is overthrown.
Failure to understand the nature of one's exploitation equates to buying into the superstructure.
The ideas and values derive from the base.
The value invested in a human can be used by another person.
Exploitation happens when one person or group takes the surplus value from another.
Historical conditions would not lead to capitalism's demise unless an elite communist party carried out revolution because of false consciousness.
The employer of Communism, Equality, and the Nature of Human Relations would benefit from the surplus value of labor and get to keep the extra $10.
All human action flowed from the relations between the haves and the nots in Marx's world.
Marx believed that structures made history.
Marx considered human history and human relations to be functions of the base and the superstructure.
The superstructure was viewed by Marx as a system of institutions that were created to justify and perpetuate the existing order.
People suffer from false consciousness because they believe they understand the true nature of the world around them, but in reality they are deceived by the superstructure imposed by capitalism.
Marx and most other communists were against liberal democracy because it was meant to delude the exploited into thinking they have a say in their political destiny when in fact those with wealth actually control politics.
Marx used this framework to understand the nature of politics, economics, and society and to anticipate the future of capitalism.
Human history develops in phases, each driven by a particular kind of exploitation, according to Marx.
He argued that the form of exploitation was built around the existing level of technology.
In early agrarian societies, feudalism was the dominant political and economic order, and the rudimentary technology available tied individuals to the land so that their labor could be exploited by the aristocracy.
Technology is always dynamic and may appear stable.
Marx believed that the inevitable changes in technology would increase tensions between rulers and empower new groups who clashed with the base and the superstructure.
Those in power would be overthrown and a new ruling class would come to power as a result of the tensions resulting from technological advances.
Change would be sudden and violent and would lead to a new economic base and superstructure.
revolutions inevitably result from this process, according to Marx.
Marx thought that capitalist democracy would be overthrown by its own internal flaws.
Competition between firms would intensify as capitalism developed.
As the wealth of society became concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the bourgeoisie would grow smaller.
The wages of the working class would go down because of the oversupply of labor created by these factors.
They would take control of the state and economy.
The process was seen by Marx as an international one.
He believed that revolution would spread among the capitalist countries when the conditions were right.
The last remnants of capitalism would be swept away once world revolution had taken place, according to Marx.
All people would share in the fruits of labor, so there would be no need for laws or police.
There would be no need for armies or flags because people would be united in equality.
Marx believed that history would end because of exploitation and class struggle, and that people would live in a stateless world.
Since they were still controlled by the state, communist parties would usually describe their own countries as "socialist."
Most contemporary social democrats see socialism as an end stage, where the state exercises limited control over the economy.
socialism is a transitional phase toward a time when private property and the state no longer exist for communists.
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