1.Carefully explain why Marx’s philosophy is sometimes called historical materialism.
2.What is the dialectical process of history? Explain it in terms of the five epochs of history.
3.What did Marx see as the inherent contradiction in capitalism? How is the contradiction related to his prophesy of violent revolution? Do you think his analysis is sound? Explain.
4.Thoroughly explain Marx’s concept of alienation. What is alienated labor? What is unalienated labor? What is species-life, and what roles do consciousness and alienation play in it?
5.Does the failure of Soviet communism indicate that Marx was wrong about communism being the end of history? If not, why did communism fail in the Soviet Union?
Contemporary economists worry that although historically the American economy has been remarkably strong, the past few years have witnessed a major housing collapse, labor unrest, increasing and persistent unemployment, and declining tax revenues, along with global crises affecting the cost of health care, oil, cotton, and food. Do you think today’s economic uncertainties are associated with the globalization of capitalism? If so, is this the beginning of the end of capitalism that Marx foresaw? Or are there other, better explanations? (page 378)
Analyze your education from the standpoint of relationships of production. What—and whose—values does public education really serve? (page 380)
Compare kinds of contributions: Who contributes more—the builders who construct houses or the developers who finance them? Who contributes more—the president of a corporation or the secretaries? Are such comparisons fair? Are ideas contributions? Analyze the concept of “contribution.” (page 381)
Do you think that the growth of complex, international corporations, multinational trade alliances, and Internet commerce that are fueling what some observers refer to as the “global economy” or “world village” are signs of a spreading bourgeoisie? Is the “capitalist class” creating “a world after its own image”? (page 382)
Analyze some corporate scandals of the past few years from a Marxist perspective. Pay particular attention to the enormous compensation packages paid to CEOs in contrast to the devastating pension plan and stock market losses incurred by average workers. (page 384)
Discuss the possibility that efforts to “honor” racial, ethnic, age, and gender diversity actually serve the interests of an exploitative class by creating increased consciousness of difference and division. Are efforts to “honor diversity” aiding or hindering class consciousness? Is there a better solution to social inequality? If so, what? (page 386)
Discuss some of the ways that alienation spreads from the workplace into society at large and into the home in particular. Has it affected your life? Your church? Your classes? Then identify and discuss activities in which you participate in species-life. What can you do to decrease periods of alienation and increase your own species-life? (page 390)