Marx Glossary - A Marxist Glossary Thomas J Brommage Jr...

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A Marxist Glossary Thomas J. Brommage, Jr. Understanding Marx can be difficult. In addition to overcoming the spurious stereotypes by which Americans often characterize Marx's thought and his very non-linear dialectical method, Marx uses a set of inter-defined terms which may be unfamiliar to the reader. This brief glossary is intended to overcome the last of these difficulties. Below are some terms commonly used by Marx and later Marxists, including brief explanations of each. The terms which appear underlined are defined elsewhere in this glossary. Where necessary, I have tried to include textual references (if possible) to where major discussion of each term occurs. alienation: ( Entfremdung , also “externalization” or “estrangement”) The four-fold process of leveling the worker undergoes, which results from the loss of the created object in the process of wage labor . It is not to be understood as a psychological process (such as despair or depression), but rather is an existential condition of the laborer—similar, for example, to Heidegger's use of the term Angst ). Its modes are 1) alienation from object, 2) alienation from the act of labor, 3) alienation from species- being (man qua man), and 4) alienation from others (man from man). The first two are aspects of “individual alienation,” the second two “social alienation.” The doctrine of alienation is contained in Marx's early works (specifically, the “Alienated Labor” section of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 ) although some interpreters find a similar doctrine in his later analysis of commodity fetishism (Part I, section 4 in Capital Vol. 1 ). bourgeoisie: A sort-of buffer class in society, characterized by partial control (although not ownership) of the means of production . Later Marxists analyze the bourgeoisie as maintaining a “false consciousness” (although Marx himself never used the term) whereby their awareness of their place in capitalism is distorted. Like the capitalists , they maintain the system of wage labor ; and like the proletariat they are not directly the beneficiaries of their labor . In more contemporary economic terms, they are “the middle class.” capital: A collective noun which includes investment funds and also the means of production . Capitalism is defined by the fact that their use is directed at creating more money (in the process of production, mediated through the creation of commodities ). Capital is privately owned under Capitalism, and is one of the major factors in the development leading to Communism. It is related to the creation of surplus value in the process of wage labor . Capital stands in inverse proportion to wage labor , whereby a decrease in wages leads to an increase in profit (and hence, capital).
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