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POLSC302: Contemporary Political Thought

Unit 4: Anarchism, Marxism, and the Rise of Labor Movements   This unit examines the revolutionary ideas of anarchism, Marxism, and labor union-based political movements that took root in the late 19th century.  The impact of increased industrialization and the growing disparity of wealth in both Europe and the U.S. led to societal and political strife that served as the catalyst for the writings of Marx, Engels, and anarchists of the era.  The combination of these problems, coupled with the horrors of World War I, led to the Russian Revolution and, later, to the rise of Fascism in Europe.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit will take approximately 14.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4: 3.5 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Summarize the primary principles of Marxism and anarchism.
  • Identify the major political theorists of Marxism and anarchism.
  • Discuss Marxism and anarchism in the context of historical events.
  • Assess the impact that Marxism and anarchism has had on law, economics, international relations, and society.
  • Analyze the primary sources of Marxist and anarchist political theory and understand how these theories can be applied to solve problems in society.

4.1 Marxism and Early Socialism   - Lecture: iTunesU: University of Wisconsin-Madison: Professor Charles Anderson’s “Marx to Marxism” Link: iTunesU: University of Wisconsin-Madison: Professor Charles Anderson’s “Marx to Marxism” (iTunes U)
 
Instructions: Scroll down to podcast episodes #47 (“Marx to Marxism’) and #48 (Marx to Marxism, cont”) and listen to the lectures in their entirety (both between 45-50 minutes in length).  Anderson provides a comprehensive examination of the main principles of Marxist theory—helpful context for understanding the subsequent readings in this subunit.
 
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  • Reading: Yale University: The Avalon Project’s version of Karl Marx’s “Manifesto of the Communist Party” Link: Yale University: The Avalon Project’s version of Karl Marx’s “Manifesto of the Communist Party
     
    Also available in:
    Google Books

    Kindle (free)
     
    Instructions: Please read this document.  Manifesto is widely regarded as the founding document of modern communism. It provides an analysis of the limitations of capitalism and class struggle, and it presents the main principles of communist ideology in detail. Marx and Engels explain that each class of people in society will work towards the destruction of classes that are inferior to them, and  suggested that all classes and governments should be abolished. Manifestoinfluenced many politicians and scholars around the world, and inspired revolutions that resulted in the formation of communist states.
     
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  • Reading: SparkNotes: “Das Kapital” Link: SparkNotes: “Das Kapital” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Go to the above website and read the “Summary” and “Summary and Analysis.” The latter provides a comprehensive breakdown of key chapters within Das Kapital.  In this seminal work, Marx expounds on his theory of the capitalist system, its dynamism, and its tendencies toward self-destruction.
     
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  • Reading: Washington State University: Dr. Paul Brians’ “Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism” Link: Washington State University: Dr. Paul Brians’ “Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the above document in its entirety. It is useful in understanding the social, economic and political forces that sowed the seeds of the early socialist movement and its key figures.
     
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  • Lecture: Yale University: Professor John Merriman’s “Radicals” Link: Yale University: Professor John Merriman’s “Radicals” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:

    Quicktime (low bandwith)
    iTunes U
    HTML

    Mp3
     
    Instructions: Please watch the first 7 minutes of this lecture. Merriman discusses the two strains of socialism that existed in the 19th century—reformist and revolutionary—and how these competing ideologies affected the movement as a whole.
     
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  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Communist Manifesto” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Communist Manifesto” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please complete the entire assessment.  You can check your answers against the “Guide to Responding” (PDF).

4.2 Leninism and Revolutionary Communism   - Reading: Marxists Internet Archive: George Hanna’s translation of Vladimir Lenin’s “The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism” Link: Marxists Internet Archive: George Hanna’s translation of Vladimir Lenin’s “The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this document. Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917.  This article was published in 1913, dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Marx’s death. Lenin’s purpose was to show the comprehensiveness of Marxism, stating that it was “on the highroad of development of world civilization.”
 
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  • Reading: Patrick Lavin’s translation of Rosa Luxemburg’s “The Mass Strike, the Political Parties, and the Trade Unions” Links: Patrick Lavin’s translation of Rosa Luxemburg’s “The Mass Strike, the Political Parties, and the Trade Unions” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this document. Luxemburg, a Marxist theorist, activist and leader of the German Communist movement, championed the idea of the mass strike as the most important revolutionary weapon of the proletariat (working class).
     
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  • Lecture: iTunesU: Brown University: Professor Tom Gleason’s “Episode 2: Why Was Marx Important in Russia?” Link: iTunesU: Brown University: Professor Tom Gleason’s “Episode 2: Why Was Marx Important in Russia?”  (iTunes U)
     
    Also available in:
    Adobe Flash
     
    Instructions: Please watch this video clip (1 minute).
     
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4.3 Anarchism   - Reading: Spartacus Educational: “Anarchism” Link: Spartacus Educational: “Anarchism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the above article, a summary of the main tenets of anarchism and its most influential theorists and organizers.
 
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  • Reading: Noam Chomsky’s “Notes on Anarchism” Links: Noam Chomsky’s “Notes on Anarchism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this document.  Chomsky, an acclaimed linguist, philosopher, and activist, reflects on the anarchist principles that have guided him since he was a teenager.  Notesis widely considered a classic essay on libertarian socialist thought (anarchism).
     
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  • Lecture: YouTube: UCtelevision: University of California at Berkeley: Noam Chomsky’s “Activism, Anarchism, and Power” Link: YouTube: UCtelevision: University of California at Berkeley: Noam Chomsky’s “Activism, Anarchism, and Power” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    Mp3
     
    Instructions: Please watch this University of California-Berkeley interview (60 minutes) with Chomsky, where he discusses his views on American political life. 
     
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4.4 The Rise of Labor Movements as Political Forces   - Reading: The Library of Economics and Liberty’s version of Robert Hoxie’s “Trade Unionism in the United States” Links: The Library of Economics and Liberty’s version of Robert Hoxie’s “Trade Unionism in the United States” (HTML)
 
Also available in:
Google Books

 Instructions: Please read this document.  Robert Hoxie was a U.S.
economist at the University of Chicago with a particular interest in
trade and labor unions. He was among the earliest to argue that
unions evolve differently across social-psychological environmental
contexts.  He identified five functional types of unionism:business,
friendly/uplift, revolutionary, predatory, and dependent.  
    
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  • Lecture: University of New England: Robert Zieger’s “Does America (Still) Need Unions?” Link: University of New England: Robert Zieger’s “Does America (Still) Need Unions?” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please watch this lecture (83 minutes). Dr. Zieger discusses the connections between the turbulent history of labor unions and the present-day circumstances facing American workers.  He also addresses the impact of changing economic conditions and globalization on the labor movement.
     
     Note: Depending on your computer, the audio might be low; if so, please use headphones for better sound quality.
     
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