Introduction to our critical Marxism

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I. Who was Karl Marx?

a. Biography

b. Intellectual biography

i. German philosophy

ii. French utopian socialism

iii. British political economy

II. What was distinctive about Marx’s method?

a. Historical materialism

b. Class struggle

c. Role of the proletariat

d. Lesson of Revolution of 1848:

Political independence of the proletariat

e. Lesson of the Paris Commune of 1871:

The capitalist state must be smashed.

f. Das Kapital (Capital) – theory of capitalism

i. Labor theory of value – exploitation

ii. Capitalist crises

III. What was Marx’s relationship to the labor movement?

a. French – Proudhon

b. British trade unions

c. International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) – First International

detailed outline


Karl Marx, Preface of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy [1]

Karl Marx, The German Ideology. 1845 [2] Beginning with section First Premises of Materialist Method and ending when the reader reaches the subhead History Fundamental Conditions (that section is not required).

Friedrich Engels, Principles of Communism [3]

The Third Address, May 1871, The Paris Commune [4] From the phrase "The direct antithesis..." to "It is a strange fact"