The Marxian Challenge 
The Marxian Challenge
by Yale / Ian Shapiro
Video Lecture 9 of 25
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Date Added: June 18, 2011

Lecture Description

Marxism is the second Enlightenment tradition upon which the course will focus. Contrary to popular belief, Marx did not hate capitalism but derived from economic analysis that it would self-destruct and lead to socialism. It is also a myth that Marx did not care about freedom; he was only egalitarian in the sense that he wanted everyone to have freedom. Ergo, Professor Shapiro asserts that Marx's dialectical materialism is as committed to the two principles of the Enlightenment--basing politics in science and emphasizing individual rights--as utilitarianism. In fact, Marx draws deeply from the Lockean workmanship ideal in formulating his secular labor theory of value, and he was also strongly influenced by classical economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Professor Shapiro explains Marx's ideas about natural and market prices, use-value and exchange value, commodification of labor, and alienation. The question Marx--and the class--is left with is, in a world where equivalents exchange for equivalents, where does profit come from?

Reading assignment:
Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, Manifesto of the Communist Party, pp. 469-500.

Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, “Theses on Feuerbach,” pp. 143-5 [optional]

Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, The German Ideology, Part I, pp. 146-202 [optional]

Course Index

Course Description

This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.

Course Structure:
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.

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