People will move to towns or population centers if there is work there; if there is work, people earn wages and spend them; of they spend their wages they move capital, and when they move capital -- every time they move capital -- the capitalist, that is the person whose life is dedicated to the accumulation of capital -- benefits, if the system is working correctly. That is, the capitalist sets up factories and businesses and conveyance companies and services and in all these cases he employs people to whom he pays wages, always a little less than it costs to sell the product or provide the service or move the goods. The wages the capitalist pays are then put right back into circulation to buy the objects and services he produces. This circular set-up works to the capitalist's advantage if and only if her can keep selling as much as possible to as many people as possible.

He has two markets - the workers, who by definition have little to spare since he tries to pay them less than the value of the goods they produce for him. That is he pays wages that, added to the cost of setting up and running the plant and paying for the raw materials used in manufacturing, never add up to the selling price of the thing produced.He also sells to people like himself, those whose 'job' is to produce profit for themselves. These people have much more disposable income and will spend some of it, but since their job is also to maximize profit they will be very careful consumers and will hold back most of their capital for reinvestment purposes. 


So, the budding capitalist soon needs new ways to produce capital, ways that are not available from his workers or his fellow capitalists. Marx postulates two necessary sources of capital, which were clearly centrally important in his day, the heyday of European imperialism and huge armaments races. 

First, the post-monarchical analog of the wasteful priests and monarchs, and better than either for the capitalist, is the modern nation-state, which is dedicated to protecting its citizens and to advancing what it tells them are their national interests. Patriotism, as any sensible capitalist knows, pays. It pays in the sense that states have the power to levy taxes on both individual citizens and on corporations, taking in this manner a great deal of capital from capitalists and their businesses, as well as from the common people. These taxes are then fed right back into the capitalist system for a number of purposes, the most gratifying of which is war and the preparations for war. If the capitalist can whip up patriotic feelings,and create a narrative in which the state and its people are always at some risk from envious, evil or depraved neighbors, then he can get the government to spend huge, almost ruinous sums on the best of all capitalist products -- weapons and soldiers. Soldiers, because these are utterly non-produtvie people, in large numbers, who eat great quantities of food, wear government issued clothing, live in government housing and use government health care facilities. Soldiers are no competition for the capitalist because they do not business; all they do is consume, and the capitalist contract with the government to feed and house and clothe and tend them, thereby creating one level of profit from their consumption of his services and another when they spend their paychecks to buy his goods on their own. Soldiers are perfect consumers.

Second, weapons are the ideal commodity because they are expensive to produce (rather, cheap to produce, expensive to purchase because they are absolutely necessary), they become obsolete quickly and therefore have to be upgraded, also an expensive proposition, and, best of all, they are constantly breaking, getting destroyed, being left behind, getting lost, and so forth, because in war and even in training exercises things get used up quickly and broken easily. Making and maintaining and improving weapons is a huge money-maker, and whoever makes the most effective weapons has a strangle hold on the state -- it has to pay high prices to defend itself, because this is what people come to expect in a nation state. And no expects this more than the capitalist, who is of course supplying all the military needs and making a fortune from this, which he plows back into new production and investment, keeping the economy humming.


Peace is bad, or was bad, for capitalism. [Note: when people in 2010 moan about th cost of American wars they fail to understand that one of the few expensive objects American workers and scientists still get to make are high tech weapons, which are largely made in America. We cannot afford to make washing machines or TV sets or undershirts, but we can afford to at least assemble, and even make of the parts for, Abrams battle tanks and F-18s]. Just something to think about.


The second additional source of capital has to be foreign markets. Capitalists need folks to buy their product and they quickly get so efficient at making a lot of whatever it that they make that they cannot possibly sell it all at home, especially since they cannot pay their workers enough to buy all that they make. [Note: one often unnoted source of economic downturns is that in a capitalist system there is enormous pressure, always, to keep upping production and cost-per-unit, so that the normal condition of capitalist is one of glut, in which manufacturing capacity begins to outstrip consuming capacity, leading to a downward spiral that is hard to stop once it begins. 


Here is how it works: because we are capitalists dedicated to producing as much capital as possible we cannot help but push the limits of production until we produce more than the market can absorb. When this happens people making things and delivering services get laid off because there is an inventory backlog. The more people get laid off the buying power there is to reduce the inventory buildup, which leads to more backup and more layoffs and thus to more buildup, and so on down the rabbit hole. 


To avoid this problem maintaining a large military is one option. [We could add universal public education, which again puts lot of spending money into the hands of people who, like soldiers, produce nothing tangible but are good spenders. Dedicated teachers, school psychologists, crossing guards, coaches, social workers, and so forth are non-productive but have modest capital to spend, and they serve the additional purpose of keeping young people out of the job market for long stretches, thereby avoiding a surplus of laborers and creating another large consumer market that is non-productive. Education also helps some people prepare to be capitalists, or to staff the next generation of holding facilities - schools -]


But an equally good or even better option is to export, export, export. During the 19th century Europeans extended their political and economic control over vast stretches of the world -- to inland central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, south Asia -- and Marx conjectured that the reason for this huge expansion of empire was to create captive markets for the overflow of goods produced by the emerging capitalist nation states.


This expedient, allied with keeping the nation on a war footing, worked for a time but not forever. Two problems afflicted capitalism. First, overseas markets were much poorer than the home country; their capacity to absorb the ever-increasing volume of production is soon saturated. Second, being prepared for war tends to produce wars, and wars are both excellent for capitalists and potentially dengerous. The bigger the war the greater the profits because the greater the waste of materiel and the use of men. At the same time, wars create social upheaval and even, potentially, revolutions, which could depose the pro-capitalist war-friendly governments. 


So, capitalism has to come up with new and more sustainable ways to produce consumers for its products. Marx died in 1883 and the great marxist revolution in Russia happened in 1917. In both cases capitalism was still developing

and had not developed anything like the sophistication and flexibility it would later demonstrate. There was no ay either Marx or his Russian successors -- Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin -- could know what capitalism could create. 


The essential idea here is the identity, who each person is and feels herself to be, are strict functions of what class they belong to and where they find themselves in the economic system. Marx believed that we are all strictly determined by class membership and class loyalty, and that only a few revolutionaries know enough to question the assumptions of the ruling class. 


Ask yourself the extent to which you think the way you see the world depends on how deeply you have been shaped by such class membership and loyalty.



The child thus fits as well as he or she can into the family romance, repressing his desire, ‘forgetting’ his original erotic desires, and becoming a non-threatening, asexual ‘kid’, either male or female. This is a political accommodation in the sense that libido, or the anonymous and endless desire that forms the basis for all human personality, adapts itself to the circumstances and gets what satisfaction it can. It does so primarily, says Freud by hiding in people’s dreams and fantasies, masking its true objects by cleverly substituting other objects and events for those it truly desires. 

Freud believes that all adults live in this way: filled with desires that cannot be directly fulfilled because many of them are incestuous and/or socially unacceptable, human beings create pleasing surface personalities. Behind these personalities, which are essentially bargaining chips manufactured to transact deals between desire and reality, lives desire, which controls dreams and fantasy life and which manifests itself indirectly in personal tics and habits, in the way we hold our pens or our cell phones, in our eating and drinking habits, in our love lives and friendships, none of which is exactly what it seems. Everything we do, says Freud, has a sub-text, a second, third and fourth meaning, none of which is directly available to our conscious minds, which operate at the pleasure of underlying desire. In a literal sense, we do not know what we are doing and cannot know who we really are. 

We are all the product of desire. Human reason is used by desire to obtain its own ends, and every personality is the best accommodation the desire in us can make with the demands of the outside world that we be productive, contributing members of an orderly society. As with Marxism we are formed by forces beyond our knowledge ad control. In Freud’s case, only intensive psychoanalysis reveals the truth about who we are and why we do what we do. Marx offers class membership as the foundation of personality. Freud offers desire. Neither offers freedom for the self, or autonomy, or originality: identity is an effect, never a cause.



In the situation of primitive communism there is little excess time, or labor value, left over. But as the group divides labor and becomes more efficient more time is freed up. Marx' insight is that when such time becomes free it does not generally get evenly distributed. That is, as soon as group efficiency produces free time and with that surplus goods, certain group members will differentiate themselves. They do so in order to gain control of both time and physical surpluses. And they accomplish this in the manner I sketched out in class. The 'Sopranos' principle applies here: those who become religious professionals and/or nobles-warriors learn how to persuade their fellows that they possess special skills that are necessary for the group's survival. They will defend the rest from external enemies, and/or they will propitiate the gods and spirits and in both cases they will make life possible for the group. In exchange the group 'pays' these so-called experts in time and goods. They need time to do their special duties and while they are so employed they cannot themselves produce food for themselves, or shelter. 
Thus begins, for Marx, the classed society based on exploitation of one group by another. Here, Marx is describing feudal society or, in amore general sense, a society in which certain subgroups -- the priest class and the noble class -- take the surplus product and time from what becomes the lower class and use it up. Keys to this analysis are that (i) those now in control spend part of the time and energy they steal from the others to create justifications and defenses for their privileged position. This is what Marx calls ideology, that is, accounts crafted to defend and justify what is ultimately an unjustifiable class position. The idea here is that all such narratives - national histories, religious stories, myths, even fiction and film - express a dominant ideology, a set of values that suggests that the way things are right now, in economic and social terms, is exactly the way things ought to be. Second, those in power cannot, on some level, fully understand what they are doing. The rulers believe the stories as much as their victims, and get stuck in that story as if it will always remain true.
But the secret to Marx' dialectical  materialism is that this class situation, in which one or two self-creating groups seizes time and surplus and creates a story to justify the theft, is never as stable as the ruling class, especially, imagines. Instead, class relations are inherently dynamic; they are changing in ways that the ruling class has protected themselves from understanding. Ideology blinds them to the emerging truth, and the marriage of such changes with ideological blindness inevitably dooms the ruling class to extinction. 
How does this happen? Well, the priests and warriors are not all that busy; they have free time and surplus goods, not all of which they can consume, especially as peasant agricultural practice and populations develop. More people making more things more efficiently means greater leisure and prosperity for the ruling class. So, the inevitable human tendency to get better at things makes the rulers richer and freer. 
This produces something new: the rulers and priests begin wanting to translate their agricultural and cloth surplus, for example, into other kinds of objects, things that will make their lives both easier and more pleasant. So, the rulers begin to need folks who can do more than raise a rutabaga. They need stoneworkers and woodworkers to build their castles and manors; weaponers to produce swords and shields and such; they need chefs and kitchen workers and wine stewards and estate managers and saddlers and on and on. Priests needs church builders and housekeepers and cooks and vestment weavers and buys who make chalices and so forth.  
To get all this stuff many of the farming peasants have to be transformed, at least part-time, into other kinds of workers and, eventually, some of these people become permanent non-peasants and begin to live, for convenience' sake, right around the ruler's manor and priest's church. Thus grow up small towns and cities, all of whose inhabitants haver to be supported by the agricultural surplus and the free time that produces. 
This set of developments puts further pressure on the people on the bottom rung of the social ladder and they become more oppressed and more alienated. But unnoticed by the rulers their hungers have done something no one could have predicted: they have inadvertently created another class, the bourgeois, which means people who live in towns and cities. The rulers still see these folks as peasants, because their ideology has no place for a class between peasant and priest/ruler.
But just such a class is emerging. These people live in a different world than the peasants and the rulers. They do not work the land. They make objects to please the priests and kings, and they get paid for their work. Since this is who they are, and since their survival depends on doing their work and getting paid, they develop a distinctive set of values based on hard work, prudent saving, and the accumulation of what is now called 'capital', that is, the money that in this represents the surplus labor of the peasantry mingled with their own labor. 
Here is where things get interesting. As a class the rulers and priests are pointed in a single direcftion: it is their self-appointed 'job' to spend the surplus they get from the lower class. They are not there to save or invest or develop. They exist to spend, whether it be in war or in rich living or in building magnificent cathedrals. Their 'vocation' is to exhaust the surplus they extract from those beneath them, And it is very hard for them to do anything else; they are trapped in their own self-description and self-understanding. Nobles and warriors do not work and save; priests and bishops accept donations, but they spend all they are given. 
Inevitably, says Marx, the tastes of the rulers and priest runs ahead of their ability to pay for these tastes. Just as the easy availability of credit led middle class Americans to run up unmanageable debt during the past 20 years, so the easy surplus available to the ruling class led them to overspend that surplus. The effect of this overspending was to provoke a crisis: in order to bankroll their excesses the rulers had to alter their relationship with their town dwelling artisans. They either failed to pay, which alienated the artisans, and /or they borrowed heavily from the townspeople, who saved their money carefully. This borrowing and non-payment, as well as the increasing taxes the rulers imposed on both peasant and townsperson, led to an eventual collapse of the ruling class into poverty on one hand and oppression on the other. As they got poorer they got more rapacious and violent, and eventually the townspeople, the new middle class that the rulers had never seen as a separate class, rose up and overthrew their creators and onetime benefactors. The new middle class deposed the bankrupt rulers and themselves became the ruling class in a series of bourgeois revolutions starting with the Dutch revolt against the Hapsburg Spanish, the British rejection of absolute monarchy in the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution against the British Crown and the most famous and radical of them all, the French Revolution of 1789. In all these revolutions traditional monarchs were repudiated as were, in many cases, the equally oppressive religious establishments associated with them. 


To properly understand Marx we have to go back to an imagined primitive human condition, in which a group of putative people must survive in an environment in which their survival depends on how well they cope, collectively, with that environment.

To Marx, the first category one had to put into play was labor, that is the physical energy expended to transform parts of the environment into food and shelter. Thus the energy needed to hunt animals, kill them, get them back to camp and prepare them, as well that needed to gather plants and berries and get them to camp and prepared, all count as labor. Labor is the fundamental unit of value, for Marx, and labor represents time as well as energy. Thus when I look at the animal I have killed and skinned what that animal really stands for is energy expended and the time of my life used up in getting that labor done. The prepared animal is, in a way, frozen time. 

As fundamental to Marx' understanding is the division of labor. This means that, in order to get anything effective done with respect to acquiring either food or shelter, a primitive group is best served by dividing the energy expended as a function of the several tasks needed to get the whole job done. The principle is simple: if you want to get your Ikea desks and bookcases assembled with as much efficiency as possible it makes most sense to have guy do all the computer desks and another to do the bookcases, for the simple reason that doing more than one desk cuts the time and efficiency for doing the second, third and fourth desks drastically. We teach ourselves how to do repeated tasks more and more quickly and skillfully, where we might fumble and delay if asked to do a multiple of different tasks. 

We also get more efficient if we assign different tasks to people with different inherent gifts or limitations. For example, men have greater physical strength, generally speaking, and so, generally speaking, might be more effective hunters in cases in which physical strength is critical to the effective operation of hunting weapons. Conversely, although women might be better as trackers, the fact that they will often have small children to care for means that they are more tied to an area near the group's encampment and thus are better placed to gather plants and nuts and berries, nursing their children as they go. 

This represents a simple and cartoonishly stereotyped example of the division of labor, which might or might not ever have occurred in just this way (although there is evidence that my little story, although wildly oversimplified, is not entirely inaccurate). The point is that in this instance humans are intelligent enough to think through the tasks at hand, assess what needs doing with respect to the environment, and make the divisions that work best over the long haul. Whether this is a self-conscious process is unclear and probably irrelevant. What matters is that people, or human groups, did seem to do this kind of dividing of effort.


There is another aspect to such divisions. Marx termed the thoughtful interaction between humans and the environment as praxis, which  means, roughly, thoughtful labor with respect to the environment, with the added idea that this labor is thoughtful in the precise sense that it is programmatic: we develop a set of teachable rules for catching snipes, putting together Ikea desks, or gathering pine nuts. We regularize how these things are done and we train different people in the society to do them. But as time passes, speculates Marx, two interesting things happen. First, the shape society takes is more and more clearly determined by these divisions of labor: how we work the world shapes how we organize ourselves and how we think of that organization. Thus there might grow up a special fraternity of Ikea desk assemblers who meet together and socialize and give out awards about desk assembly and wear special hats and ask for special privileges because the work they do is so vital, and so forth.

In a society of assemblers the guys who drag in the cartons and slit them open might come to occupy a lesser place in the social pecking order because what they do requires marginally less skill than what the assemblers do, and so forth. The idea is that social order and hierarchy are functions of divisions of labor.


It is also worth noting, and important, that as soon as we have division of labor we see the end of societies operating by primitive communism, worlds in which everyone does pretty much the same thing and everyone shares an equal amount of power, because he or she is expending an equal amount and kind of labor. With divisions of labor come attendant social divisions and differences in power. 


But before we address these we need to go back to the concept of praxis. Division of labor would never occur, if it did, would never develop, unless people were continually screwing around with their relationship to the environment and therefore, by extension, with each other. That is, as labor divides it also teaches itself how to proceed. One of Marx's greatest insights and one perhaps not always properly appreciated was the idea that labor interacts intelligently with the environment in a process of continual refinement and self-streamlining. Here, using a homely example, is what I mean. We Ikea desk assemblers first follow the more or less incomprehensible written directions for putting together desks, but soon find shortcuts, slightly faster or better ways to put the desks together faster and stronger. It might just be that we develop a quicker way to manipulate the hex wrenches, or we start using two people per desk rather than one to handle the awkward joinings of pieces. Over time we might even start questioning how the desks themselves are made, and start devising ways to make our own desk parts that fit together better and faster than the Ikea ones. But developing better desk plans on paper is not the same as being able to make the right parts. So, we either get in touch with Ikea and show them how our plans work better or we devise some way to start machining our own parts.

The point is that the division of labor with respect to any shared human activity is never entirely stable. Even something as elemental as child birth changes, over long stretches of time, as people devise ways to make it safer and less painful, and this development alters our fundamental relationship to the environment, giving us more control, and reconfiguring the way we deal, socially, with this event, gradually displacing family members with midwives, midwives with physicians, then physicians with better trained widwives until a teams of doctors and nurse practiitioners and midwives and others come together in birthing centers to optimize the experience.

The point is that humans cannot leave things alone; they fiddle with their practices, and the relationship between humans and the world, in terms of getting the world to yield food and shelter, is always under revision. There are reverses and long stagnant periods and wrong turns but the revolutionary optimist Marx always sees progress across the centuries.

But this general pattern of technological advancement and increasing social complexity does not proceed smoothly and in a pleasant arc. Marx is more complex than that. Deeply influenced by Hegel's idea that human history advances by twists and turns and apparent reversals and does not follow a simple forward trajectory, Marx posits what he calls dialectical materialism, with emphasis on both terms, which we will now analyze. 



There are three or perhaps four grand visions articulated in the 19th century. Each of them purports to make the case that individual human identity, Descartes' thinking thing or the Christian soul, is really not a starting point but an outcome. Descartes saw self-identity as a bedrock, a foundation. The thinking thing was what a human being really was, after all the extraneous accretions were stripped away. This is what cannot be doubted.

But Freud, Marx and Darwin all reject this claim and all argue that one's sense of one's identity is not foundational, but the result of the operation of forces of which the individual is generally not aware, and whose influence he or she cannot directly feel.


Let's see how these arguments work. I have already filled you in, in a rough way, about Freud's position as a doctor in fin-de-siecle Vienna. We have reviewed the antisemitism as well as the brilliance of the cultural and social life of the Austrian capital. We know that Freud was an assimilated, highly educated German-speaking Jew, who could not get a position as a professor because of his religion. We know that most of his patients were frustrated, disaffected Jewish women caught up in the strictures of late Victorian patriarchal culture. Educated and gifted, these women were 'doomed' to private careers as wives and mothers. And they developed a plethora of symptoms and putatively neurological problems for which they cam to Freud for treatment. 


We have also noted that Freud soon realized that he was confronting a problem. It was not that the women had physical illnesses; there were no neural lesions or other physical alterations causing their problems. The issue in nearly every case seemed to be psychological. The women were experiencing problems in their minds that they did not know, ion their minds, that they were experiencing. These mind problems were expressing themselves in a masked way as physical symptoms, and Freud set out to find the etiology, the source, of these symptoms.

Surprisingly, to Freud, he found out that many, but not all, of the physical symptoms could be traced back to early childhood experience. He found this out by adapting techniques he had learned while studying the hypnotic  methods of the Frenchman Charcot in Paris. While he ultimately rejected hypnotism as a technique, because he believed that under hypnosis the patient had no control of their awareness and therefore could interact with the doctor in a productive way, he did adapt some of the elements of hypnosis in his practice.

He had the client lie on a couch, not facing him, speaking into the air. Freud would assume what has come to be the analyst's traditional pose, sitting slightly behind and to one side the client, taking notes and asking few questions. The point of this set-up is to free the client to express her own thoughts without much external direction. Gazing forward into space with no pre-established agenda lends itself to revelations because there is no obvious critic/listener present to inhibit self-expression. And the absence of any conversational context allows the speaker to lapse into a kind of semi-trance state, releasing deep memories.

What surprised Freud when he used this technique (which he developed over time) was that when we allowed the women to speak freely they very often regressed to two areas: what they claimed were early childhood memories and descriptions of dreams they had. 

The early childhood memories were especially disturbing to Freud because a surprisingly large number of his patients related that they had been sexually molested by uncles, fathers and family friends when they were very young. Freud could not believe this and attributed the stories to dream-like stories the women made up to symbolize feelings of frustration and violation. Freud was proven wrong about this later; he was blinded by his inability to credit that the abuse of female children was so prevalent, and thereby distorted his theorizing, adding an unnecessary layer of complexity to what was already a complex situation.

Even given this misinterpretation, Freud was also impressed that so many of the women recounted dreams, many of whose details seemed incoherent. These dreams, and their stories about early molestation, led Freud over time to very interesting hypotheses. First he made the assumption that dreams always mean something; we only have to figure out how to decode them. Second, all the accounts had to do with desire and with memory - with the memory of desire. 

Here is what Freud came up with -- we are leaving out all sorts of detail here in favor of brevity and narrative economy -- was the idea that desire is fundamental to human existence, that desire has to do with physical excitation, at least initially, but that desires run so deep and are so self-serving that their demands must be worked out indirectly through dreams and stories.

And this brings us to the next layer of complexity: for Freud desire has to work itself out within the context of what he calls, ironically but with a point, the "family romance."