How do YOU feel about communism or socialism? Well, years before Americans were feelin’ the Bern, Marxism described a wide range of social and political philosophy that was built on the work of 19th-century philosopher Karl Marx. One of the most influential and controversial philosophers of all time, Marx is perhaps best known for his critique of capitalism (and his stellar beard).

Key to this critique is the analytical framework known as “historical materialism” which measures societies growth based on money 💵 and cents rather than ideas and social progress. Marx was deeply interested in labor and value under capitalism and the conflict between the two classes in capitalism- the proletariat (who worked in the factories 🏭) and the bourgeoisie (the people who made money 💰off of those factories 🏭). He hoped that the conflict would eventually lead to the creation of a new economic system, one where everyone was able to break bread 🍞. Marx’s thought would influence the development of critical theory in philosophy and in social science more generally.

Further Reading

Key Thinkers

  • Theodor Adorno

  • Louis Althusser

  • Walter Benjamin

  • Friedrich Engels

  • Antonio Gramsci

  • Jürgen Habermas

  • Max Horkheimer

  • Frederic Jameson

  • Rosa Luxemburg

  • Herbert Marcuse

  • Karl Marx

  • Slavoj Žižek

Key Texts

Questions to Think About

  • How does capitalism change our perception on what we produce and how we view others?

  • How does capital exploit labor?

  • What’s a better measure of success, the amount of money you have, or how woke you are?

  • Why would humans feel attachment to belongings?

  • Are classes (rich, poor) necessary for a society to do well?

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