Monday, January 26, 2009

Marx in the Age of the Internets

In our westernized capitalistic world it is easy to be affronted by the ideas of Marx and Engels. Capitalism is so entrenched into every aspect of our life that to criticize it seems as it is to condemn our very lifestyle, but viewed with even the most marginal objectivity one can begin to realize and concede that that the claims made follow a reasonable line of thought and are intellectually satisfying. These ideas also carry significant utility in many social sciences such as criminology and, particularly, political ecology. Irregardless of how applicable the bold predictions may be, the paradigm established by viewing the economic environment as conflicted, divided, and accelerating provides a perception that is essential to critical social sciences and is, of course, the basis of Neo-Marx Theory. Though, to support this doesn’t mean that Marx and Engels are free from criticism. In “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844” Marx argues, “Money’s properties are my properties and essential powers-the properties and powers of its possessor. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality.” This is to say that the monetary exchange system deprives us of individuality, but this is rooted in the idea that the capitalist system has debased all aspects of human existence. In the age of working 14 hours a day, six days a week this would be more striking, but working in contemporary society often allows for a degree of free time, hobbies, and the pursuit of personal pleasures this could be questioned. Marx could, and doubtlessly would, argue that even these are entangled by the capitalist system, but in the day of youtube, blogs, and dare I suggest, myspace, the levels of individual creation has become more accessible and reached levels unimaginable more than a decade before. Another point of conflict is in contemporary society there are many laws in existence that either help the working population (minimum wage, worker rights) or inhibit the owning class from doing as they will (environmental protection). The revolution spoken of in the manifesto often conjures up imagery of the patriotic overthrow of the British Empire or the gruesome slaughter of the French, but rather the subtle political shifts seem to be the more preferred venue of social change by the laboring class.

Do the creation possibilities that people elect to partake in during their free time allow engage our species being, or is this just another means for the capitalist system to infiltrate the lives of the population?

Are the regulations and laws in existence that inhibit the control of the owning class the display that a Marxian revolution is not needed for the interests of laborers to be protected or are these practically symbolic acts used to appease the masses, preventing real change from occurring?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I believe that Marx’s theories do serve a purpose, though not the purpose that he imagined. His theories have proven profitable for capitalism. Capitalism has survived through its critique of Marxism. Communism may not be an operable alternative to capitalism, but it has been useful in its reform. Capitalism can only survive through adopting some measures of socialism. The welfare state is an essential government intervention providing social programs as a safety net for capitalism. While the welfare state has many structural problems today, government intervention is necessary to assist the poor and buffer the economy. Businesses cannot be solely relied upon to provide for the welfare of their workers, as profit is the bottom line. What would Marx say about our current system of welfare capitalism?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Discussion Plan

On this blog, we will discuss theoretical ideas in sociology, including key points, critiques, etc.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This semester, my students will have the opportunity to blog about sociological theory.