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2.21 Marx

Hegel said that the I develops in the form of history; Karl Heinrich Marx (Trier, Germany 1818 – London 1883) criticizes Hegel saying that it is not the I that makes history; things are exactly the opposite: it is the economic structure, that is the course of history and the economy, that confers on the ego its ideological superstructure, that is, its mental physiognomy, its conscience; this reversal operated by Marx is the “historical materialism”. According to this thought, it is necessary to study not how the I is made or works, but how history, material things are made and work, since they are the ones that form the I; the dialectic of Hegel’s I must be transformed into “dialectical materialism”. History is dialectical history of opposition of the social classes, which at the time of Marx are identified as bourgeoisie, equivalent to capitalists, that is, owners of the means of production and the capital, as opposed to the proletariat (literally: those who have only the offspring, that is the children, as the only wealth), who are the propertyless, who have as their sole resource to sell only their workforce. The worker poses, alienates his life in the object he produces; the capitalist takes possession of it, paying this work less than it is worth, and this way takes possession of the life of the worker. In fact the worker in six hours produces with his labor force a value sufficient to make him live, equivalent to the pay he receives; in the remaining hours of work he produces a plus-value, that is an added value, which actually is not paid to him. Another way in which unpaid surplus value is formed is when several workers work in collaboration, because this way they produce more than they would produce by working on their own, and yet the pay they receive continues to be like the one they would receive for working individually; to this the advantage of using machinery can be added. All this produces an ever-increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of an increasingly restricted number of people, opposed to an increasingly numerous and poor mass of proletarians, until the mechanism no longer holds up, the proletarians inevitably become aware of themselves and make the revolution to take possession of the means of production. The Marxist phrase has become famous: “Proletarians of the whole world, unite!”. This way a society without private property, without social classes, without division of labor, without alienation, without a State is destined to form: that is, the communist society, as opposed to the previous capitalist society. These political theories would later have to materialize in the intentions of communist Russia and China, whose political and economic history has shown the difference from how things go in reality. One of the limits of Marxist theory is the fact of limiting the value of objects to the amount of work that was necessary to achieve them, thus neglecting other factors, such as the influence of market laws, the relationship between supply and demand, etc.
Religion was defined by Marx, with an expression that became famous, “opium of the peoples”; in it man finds himself distracted from the concrete political struggle and instead invents an imaginary world, in which to project his desires, his frustrations, a world in which to see resolved the conflicts and the contradictions that afflict him in the real world; to combat this projection, alienation, we must fight not it directly, but the historical conditions that determined it.

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