Category: Political Theory

Timeline of the life and work of Karl Marx

The following timeline is adapted from Marxists.org, which is an excellent source for Marx and Marxism. (The links below will lead to texts at Marxists.org.)  Marxists.org also has a timeline of the works of Marx and Engels. There is also a  good timeline for Karl Marx at the Wikipedia. May 5, 1818 A son Karl is born to barrister Heinrich Marx and his wife, Henriette, in Trier November 28, 1820 A son Frederick is born to textile manufacturer Friedrich Engels and his wife, Elisabeth, in Barmen July 27-29, 1830 Revolution in France September Revolution in Belgium 1830-31 Uprisings in Poland October 1830 Karl...

Karl Marx: Theses On Feuerbach. 1845

Karl Marx wrote his “Theses on Feuerbach” in the Spring of 1845. Friedrich Engels made some editing changes, and the short and sketchy text was published much later (after Marx’s death) as an appendix to Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy in 1888.  Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One, p. 13 – 15. Introduction The “Theses on Feuerbach” are eleven short philosophical notes that were meant to outline the first chapter of the book The German Ideology. The 11th thesis became famous and was used on Marx’s grave. “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various...

Political Philosophy Quotes

“From these things it is evident, that the city belongs among the things that exist by nature, and that man is by nature a political animal” (Aristotle, The Politics, 1253a1–3). Authority implies an obedience in which men retain their freedom. Hannah Arendt Plato: The Republic. Book VII: “Say then, my friend, in what manner does tyranny arise?–that it has a democratic origin is evident. Clearly. And does not tyranny spring from democracy in the same manner as democracy from oligarchy–I mean, after a sort? How? The good which oligarchy proposed to itself and the means by which it was maintained...

Ayn Rand: “Atlas Shrugged.” John Galt’s Speech. 1957

Introduction Ayn Rands‘ philosophy is at the core of the American Right; it is an expression of strong libertarianism in support of capitalism and not the “compassionate conservatism” of the Bush Era. Her main book is “Atlas Shrugged,” 1957. In it, the hero, John Galt, makes a radio speech to the nation explaining the strike of the “producers” (Capitalists.) The speech reveals the philosophical mystery of the plot: Why are the most productive people leaving their work and disappearing from society? This speech provides a comprehensive introduction to Ayn Rand ‘s philosophy, but it is tailored to the events and characters of the...

Erich Fromm: Human Nature and Social Theory. 1969

The following letter Erich Fromm wrote in 1969 to the Russian philosopher Vladimir Dobrenkov shows his interest in connecting with socialist thinkers and to discuss with them his reception of Marx and his understanding of socialism. Dobrenkov wanted to write a book on Fromm and therefore started a correspondence with him. Fromm tried to clarify many topics Dobrenkov misunderstood. But Fromm’s clarifications did not have much effect on Dobrenkov’s book “Neo-Freudians in Search of Truth. (Published in many languages in the seventies. Moskau: Progress Publishers). This letter is a summary of Fromm’s concept of man and society; it shows Fromm’s understanding...

Michel Foucault: The Archaeology of Knowledge. 1969.

Chapter 1: The Unities of Discourse Source: The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), publ. Routledge, 1972. The first three Chapters are reproduced here. The use of concepts of discontinuity, rupture, threshold, limit, series, and transformation present all historical analysis not only with questions of procedure, but with theoretical problems. It is these problems that will be studied here (the questions of procedure will be examined in later empirical studies – if the opportunity, the desire, and the courage to undertake them do not desert me). These theoretical problems too will be examined only in a particular field: in those disciplines – so unsure...

Michel Foucault: Madness and Civilization. 1961

The book [easyazon_link identifier=”067972110X” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason[/easyazon_link], written by Michel Foucault in 1961, is a classic in 20th century Continental philosophy. It offers a sharp historical analysis of the relations between rationality and mental disorder. The book marks a turning from phenomenological method towards structuralism: the change in the relationship between madness and rationality is driven by powerful social structures. The person with the mental disorder is seen as “the other,” and the attempts to dialog and understand the person affected by the disease are increasingly replaced by a monolog of...

Erich Fromm: Territorialism and Dominance (1973)

In this short extract from [easyazon_link identifier=”080501604X” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness[/easyazon_link], Erich Fromm rejects the idea that an instinct of territorialism exists that leads humans and animals to defend vast areas of territory they inhabit. He argues instead that there is a tendency to invade and appropriate new territories. In his view, this has nothing to do with innate human instincts, but with man-made aggressive ideologies and institutions. Here is the excerpt:  The popular picture of animal aggressiveness has been largely influenced by the concept of territorialism. [easyazon_link identifier=”B001UKYQUE” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Robert Ardrey’s Territorial Imperative[/easyazon_link] (1967) has left the general public...

Erich Fromm: Mechanisms of Escape from Freedom (1942)

The following passages are from Chapter V of [easyazon_link identifier=”0415253888″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Fear of Freedom[/easyazon_link]Fear from Freedom. Erich Fromm explores and presents the psychological and social mechanisms that lead an individual to be afraid of freedom and to prefer to give it up. They appear as the tendency to be led by a “superior” power and/or to behave like a social automaton conforming to a role assigned to him by others or by circumstances. And there is also the drive to destructiveness (towards others or towards himself) when the feeling of powerlessness is overwhelming. It is interesting that in all of...

Stanley Milgram: Obedience to Authority (1974)

During the years 1960-1963 Stanley Milgram carried out some experiments on obedience while working in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. Years later, in 1972-1973, he was granted a Fellowship and, while living in Paris, he wrote a book about the results and reflections on those experiments that had already been presented in a shorter form in various scientific journals. The following text is an excerpt from chapter one and chapter 15, where he applies his experimental findings to a massacre in Vietnam (My Lai.) It was published in 1974 as “[easyazon_link identifier=”B01LWV0NY3″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Obedience to Authority[/easyazon_link].” Milgram unmasks in...

The Frankfurt School

The “Frankfurt School” refers to a group of German theorists who developed powerful analyses of the changes in Western capitalist societies that occurred since the classical theory of Marx. Working at the Institut fur Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, theorists such as Max Horkheimer, T.W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Leo Lowenthal, and Erich Fromm produced some of the first accounts within critical social theory of the importance of mass culture and communication in social reproduction and domination. The Frankfurt School also generated a critical cultural studies program that analyzes the processes of cultural production...

Max Horkheimer: Feudal Lord, Customer, and Specialist. 1964

Max Horkheimer: Feudal Lord, Customer, and Specialist. The End of the Fairy Tale of the Customer as King. Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”B01FIXWAI8″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Max Horkheimer: Critique of Instrumental Reason[/easyazon_link].  Published by Continuum 1974; Now that the bourgeois world is entering a new situation which may be interpreted either as more rational or as regressive, the forms of human relationship which originated in the feudal order and were transposed to a new level in the bourgeois order are about to be liquidated. Bourgeois culture was deeply influenced by the dignity, honor, and freedom of the feudal lord and, in the last analysis,...

Joseph Schumpeter: State Imperialism and Capitalism (1919)

These are selected passages from an essay on the “Sociology of Imperialism” (1919) written by Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950). For a short time, he was the Finance Minister of Austria in 1919, and later he became a Harvard professor of economics. He is famous for [easyazon_link identifier=”B00AWO0CYI” locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy[/easyazon_link] (1942). Schumpeter’s analysis of imperialism contradicts the analysis of Lenin. Imperialism is not seen as the most advanced stage of capitalism but as the clear sign that pre-capitalistic (i.e. feudal) aspects survive in capitalism. This results from the subservience of the capitalists to state rulers from whom they ask for “protection...

Jacques Maritain: Man and the State (1951)

The State is not the supreme incarnation of the Idea, as Hegel believed; the State is not a kind of collective superman; the State is but an agency entitled to use power and coercion, and made up of experts or specialists in public order and welfare, an instrument in the service of man. Putting man at the service of that instrument is political perversion. The human person as an individual is for the body politic and the body politic is for the human person as a person. But man is by no means for the State. The State is for man.

Bruno Latour: The Social as Association. 2004

From very early on, since science studies started, I have not considered the social to be at the center of sociology, and from this starting point I slowly developed an argument about the anthropology of modernity. So, it actually goes the other way: because I started in science studies I realized that the social was not at the center of sociology but rather what I call association.

Truth, Power, Self: Interview with Michel Foucault.

What I have studied are the three traditional problems:

What are the relations we have to truth through scientific knowledge, to those “truth games” which are so important in civilization and in which we are both subject and objects?
What are the relationships we have to others through those strange strategies and power relationships? And
what are the relationships between truth, power, and self?

George Washington’s Farewell Address. 1796

Friends and Citizens: The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made. I beg...

Michel Foucault: “What is Enlightenment?”

What is Enlightenment? This is a question that modern philosophy has not been capable of answering, but that it has never managed to get rid of, either. And one that has been repeated in various forms for two centuries now. From Hegel through Nietzsche or Max Weber to Horkheimer or Habermas, hardly any philosophy has failed to confront this same question, directly or indirectly. What, then, is this event that is called the Aufklärung?

Michel Foucault: Key Concepts

 This page offers brief definitions of some of the key concepts in Foucault’s work. It is adapted from Michel-Foucault.com, maintained by Claire O’Farrell. apparatus (dispositif) Foucault generally uses this term to indicate the various institutional, physical and administrative mechanisms and knowledge structures, which enhance and maintain the exercise of power within the social body. The original French term dispositif is rendered variously as ‘dispositif’, ‘apparatus’ and ‘deployment’ in English translations of Foucault’s work archaeology ‘Archaeology’ is the term Foucault used during the 1960s to describe his approach to writing history. Archaeology is about examining the discursive traces and orders left by the...