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Is everything ultimately about economics?

We started with a liberal political philosopher (Mill) who promoted the idea of individual liberty as the driving principle for the organisation of society. We turn now to a text which is scathing in its criticism of such idealism. Far from wanting to preserve established liberties, Karl Marx [masked]) with his long-time collaborator Friedrich Engels [masked]) looked forward to a radical transformation of modern society in which reason would triumph and concrete material circumstances would be the only considerations in organising society. We'll be looking at an early text, The German Ideology, which sets out what came to be called the "material conception of history".

Now, at Different Class we're used to lively discussion and a drink at The Wheatsheaf which we hope makes for an enjoyable evening. Marx, on the other hand, was known to have a different notion of a good night out in the West End:

"Marx's encounters with the natives were almost always disastrous, especially if he had a few drinks inside him. One night he set off with Edgar Bauer and Wilhelm Liebknecht for a drunken jaunt up the Tottenham Court Road, intending to have at least one glass of beer in every pub between Oxford Street and Hampstead Road. Since the route contained no fewer than eighteen pubs, by the time they reached the last port of call he was ready for a rumpus. A group of Oddfellows, enjoying a quiet dinner, found themselves accosted by this drunken trio and taunted about the feebleness of English culture. No country but Germany, Marx declared, could have produced such masters as Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and Haydn; snobbish, cant-ridden England was fit only for philistines. This was too much even for the mild-mannered Oddfellows. 'Damned foreigners!' one growled, while several others clenched their fists. Choosing the better part of valour, the German roisterers fled outside."

Reading

Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich, The German Ideology - Part I only.

Online: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_The_German_Ideology.pdf

Physical: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/German-Ideology%3A-Introduction-Critique-Political-Economy-Karl-Marx/9780853152170

As ever, you're encouraged to read the text in advance so that you can make a full contribution to the discussion.

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  • Nathan C.

    @Emma - when I manage to get our new, additional session going I'll try for a Mon or Tue...

    @Matthew - The question is a very crude reduction - I can't anyone seriously saying yes, other than perhaps an economist. Maybe it should have been: Are we blinded by ideology?

    October 4, 2013

  • Matthew

    Sorry, I'm on holiday then. The answer is 'no', by the way.

    October 3, 2013

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