The Communist Manifesto- Marx

Sources:

Engels, Frederick; Marx, Karl. (1848) Manifesto of the Communist Party; Samuel Moore Translation (1888) and Hal Draper Translation (1994). (1-28)

Drew, J. (2008, September 25) The Communist Manifesto Illustrated by Cartoons. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/embed/0KUl4yfABE4

I have heard about this document before but have always been scared to actually sit down and read it because I thought it would be very challenging. I actually found it interesting and although it was written a long time ago, I found a lot of the points I could relate to society now. The Communist Manifesto is Marx’ attempts to explain the reasoning behind Communism and talk about the relationships between classes and the struggles they face. He starts off by introducing the bourgeoisie and the proletariat as classes directly facing each other. The bourgeoisie are the “middle class” but more specifically the owners of companies who employ the proletariat. The proletariat are the wage earners, especially manual laborers who make up the working class.

Marx discusses modern industry and how there is always a constant demand and the immense development of commerce has changed the way our system runs. The urban population has greatly expanded with enormous cities making the need for laborers high. (7) Our capitalist society is the system that developed social rank. The classes struggle because the bourgeoisie want low labor costs to make a profit but the proletariat obviously want to be paid more so they can support their families and actually make a living. The problem with the system is that if you ask for higher wages, you will most likely be fired because there are many people waiting for a job that will take your place for the horrible working conditions. (5) Another interesting point was that in trying to make a profit a bourgeoisie may sacrifice health/safety, quality of product, and the overall niceness of the company. It’s crazy that the quality of work isn’t really the issue, our society focuses more on the cheap price.

After comparing the classes, Marx introduces the role of Communists. (10)  He says that they are distinguished from other working class parties by things like common interests and Communists represent the interests of the movement as a whole. The aim of Communists is “formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat” and later down the page sums it up by saying “Abolition of private property.” (11) It is interesting because he describes capital as being social power which is true, but it is how our society runs. They believe there should be no private property and to keep society fair there should be common ownership to manage the economy for the well-being and interests of the proletariat and masses, not the elites.

I went on “YouTube” to see if there were any videos that were interesting and after looking through the website there were a lot of videos that were not so informative, and others that were. I found a video called “The Communist Manifesto Illustrated by Cartoons” and although it sounds silly it was actually kind of nice to see it illustrated. The author describes the video saying that U.S cartoons were thought to be conveyors of capitalist ideologies and consumerism which I never thought about so the video was informative and helped me understand a little more even though it was just pictures to back up the words of Marx. The cartoons used were mostly older, and the creator chose the shows that had images that would describe the words of Marx. I am more of a visual learner, so the video was nice to look at along with the manifesto.

From both the videos I watched and the manifesto, I got many different ideas about Communism. A lot of people say in theory it may be good, but it would never work and would cause problems. I think that we have a huge gap of wealth in the United States that needs to be dealt with, but Communism will not solve this. It would basically force people to redistribute wealth and this would cause problems that I don’t think the economy could be functional. The rich do have a lot of focus on private gain, but I think the idea of Communism is a very radical idea that would do more harm than good. If everyone was equal, there would be no incentive to work hard. Capitalist systems reward those who work hard and as we discussed in class part of human nature is to have personal values in working hard. With a Communist society, this lack of motivation would be the end of production and we would be left with nothing. The issue of communism vs. capitalist society is a length argument that is too long to discuss here, I just wanted to discuss the issue briefly. Basically I found the manifesto and my personal research from that to be very informative and interesting. Of course there are problems with our systems that need to be altered, by trying to make everyone equal and free of private property will cause more harm than good.

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The “Self” and Society

Symbolic Interaction

Source:

– Carlson, Don; Chalfin, Julie; Faith, Myles; Gadon, Orly; Johnson, Craig; Southwick, Sarah. (2002). Self-reference and group membership: evidence for a group-reference effect. European Journal of Social Psychology, 32(2), 261-274. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e0cbda9d-3f89-4d0d-8f2c-2d0b11c460f2%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=108

-Goffman, Erving. (1973). Performances. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. The Overlook Press, 41, 249-254. Link: http://csuci.blackboard.com/courses/1/2112_SOC_100_01_1039/content/_533143_1/Goffman-Performances+~.pdf?bsession=7353802&bsession_str=session_id=7353802,user_id_pk1=20740,user_id_sos_id_pk2=1,one_time_token=

-Rothman, Barbara Katz. (1981). Symbolic Interaction. In Labor: Women and Power in the Birthplace, W. Norton. 151-165. http://csuci.blackboard.com/courses/1/2112_SOC_100_01_1039/content/_533145_1/Rothman-Symbolic%20interaction+~.pdf?bsession=7375627&bsession_str=session_id=7375627,user_id_pk1=20740,user_id_sos_id_pk2=1,one_time_token=

I had never heard the term symbolic interaction before, and I found the concept to be really interesting. It focuses on humans and how we act in society. One thing that particularly interested me in class was when we discussed animal interactions vs. human interaction. Humans choose their words while animals use gestures. Both are trying to get a message across, but humans have intention and we choose specific words. This topic was brought about by George Mead who would say that we have no “self” without language which is interaction. It’s funny how we are shaped by the world around us and if we were in social isolation, we would acquire a very different “self” than when we are interacting with people. The self is a product of behavior and is a process. One concept related to the “self” is reference groups meaning that the different perspectives we face give meaning to our lives.

This shows how we have many social selves and each interaction makes us see ourselves in a different way. In the other article I found by the multiple authors, they also discussed this idea of being shaped by groups and people around us. They described how we self-categorize and see ourselves a certain way, but also social encounters shape our identities. It is weird to think that every person you interact with each day changes your life and it can be slight or dramatic. I know certain conversations I have can change the course of my day and the way I do things in the future. This also relates to a previous article I discussed by Goffman, because he talks about how we put on performances and act different ways in social situations. In the symbolic interactions article it discussed how in the flow of normal conversation we can stick to how we thought it would end up or change our “performance.” I thought this was a really interesting concept because I know sometimes I will think of things to talk about and how to react to certain occurrences, but of course when you are in the situation it won’t occur exactly how you imagined it.

I found these articles to be informative and made me think more about the idea of a “self” and how it is something we acquire not something we are born with. What we experience in social context affects how the self develops and these interactions are very important. This is the concept of socialization which refers to how we become a part of society and how we take on roles to be a part of society. The people we interact with define our roles and the self we develop. The Rothman article discussed how “socialization is not the manipulation or modification of the person, but the ongoing creation of the person” (168) and that we are active participants in this. We learn from society but also we modify it and make our lives fit with the world around us. The articles discussed identities and how they are shaped by the interactions we experience each day.

Performances in Society

Source:

-Goffman, Erving. (1973). Performances. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. The Overlook Press, 41, 249-254.

Link: http://csuci.blackboard.com/courses/1/2112_SOC_100_01_1039/content/_533143_1/Goffman-Performances+~.pdf?bsession=7353802&bsession_str=session_id=7353802,user_id_pk1=20740,user_id_sos_id_pk2=1,one_time_token=

-Jiang, Y., Jiang, J., & Ishida, T. (2009). Compatibility between the local and social performances of multi-agent societies. Expert Systems with Applications, 36(3), 4443-4450. doi:10.1016/j.eswa.2008.05.006

Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com.summit.csuci.edu:2048/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V03-4SGKB9T-D&_user=521370&_coverDate=04%2F30%2F2009&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000059554&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=521370&md5=821a74d9bf0e2416456dca53192be500&searchtype=a

I found Goffman’s chapter on performances to be very interesting. I never thought about how in every situation we behave a different way that is seen as acceptable for that circumstance. He says that we take on a character or role and put on a show for “the benefit of other people.” We act a certain way in order to make ourselves fit in the way society wants. The most interesting part to me was the idea of front stage and back stage. Front stage is the idealized personal front we put out for everyone to see and backstage is the concealment from the “audience.” I definitely show more of myself to some people than to others based on how they will react and how much I know them. The concept of masks was also addressed in this article as Goffman said that we have different faces and roles. It was really intriguing when he said that one mask can get ruined by another meaning that sometimes your roles can be competing or conflicting. This made me think of when I am with my friends I act and speak different than when I am around my grandparents or other adults. Even though I am not a “fake” person or deceiving, everyone subconsciously has multiple roles that they can’t help, it is just how we react to events throughout our days.

I found a peer reviewed article about compatibility between performances by a few authors (cited above) and I found their article by Yichuan, Jiuchuan, and Ishida to be interesting also. That article discusses the conflict between roles and performances that Goffman also talks about in “Performances.” I found this to be thought provoking because it showed that we have to find a balance between our roles that make up what we see as our usual self. The second article I found discussed how we adopt an average social strategy to have a unified social role and behavior. I don’t think I am too different around various people which shows that I want my roles to be compatible, which both articles would agree are important.

Another concept Goffman and the three authors is how we portray ourselves in a role. We want to be portray ourselves in our ideal way, to have the world see us as our best possible self. Goffman says we have a human self and a socialized self by playing a chosen character and idealizing our passions.

Both articles discussed really interesting concepts about performances. It made me think more about how I act to keep an image and keep the “audience” happy with my “performance.” I think I am generally a genuine person and my different roles stay pretty true to my actual self. The performances are just different versions of me based on the situation I am facing. I enjoyed the articles and it made me think more about people and how society can affect how we act.

Social Networking

Source:

Goede, Jessica & Lee, Daniel B. & Shryock, Rebecca. (2010). Clicking for friendship: social network sites and the medium of personhood. MedieKultur, 49, 137-150.

Link: http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/mediekultur/article/download/2585/3380

When I read the article, it made me think about my use of social networking sites. I used to have a MySpace, but I only use Facebook now. I have around 300 “friends” and communicate with many people through the site. I have met and know each person I am friends with, but of course there are many that I rarely talk with on the site. My profile is constructed in a way that it reflects my personality, but it does not reveal too much personal information about me. I know that without Facebook, I would not talk to many of the people I am “friends” with online. The world of social networking has greatly expanded communication and “allow[s] us to maintain stronger ties to a wider group of people than ever before.” (138) Although I don’t talk to many of my online friends, I knew all of them at some point so it’s nice to know how they are doing. I live far away from home to be in Southern California for college and I can’t imagine not having Facebook to keep in touch with people. The site keeps me connected with people at home and allows for consistent communication.

The idea of “friends” on Facebook can describe just an online friendship because people I talk to on Facebook I may never see in person again, but then there are also “friends” that I talk to a lot outside of Facebook. I like how the article described it as an “imaginary but informative environment” (139) because it is like a world where many people you know are grouped together and you are socially connected to them. It is just a virtual world, but things that go on affect the real world outside of the internet. Social networking sites have made a huge impact on society because sites like Twitter attract a lot of celebrities and make people feel connected to their favorite stars even though they most likely will never actually interact with them in real life. There have also been news stories about people being in trouble and using social networking sites to contact others and get help.

The advancements of technology and the expanding of social networking have greatly changed how people interact now. We can reach so many people in faraway places and it almost feels as if we are still close with them. My best friend is studying abroad in Italy, but with the use of Facebook we are able to regularly communicate and she doesn’t feel as far away. I really value social networking sites now that I am away from a lot of people I used to see on a daily basis. Although Facebook does have a superficial friendship element to it, I still feel like I can stay close to people that I wouldn’t get to talk to as much otherwise. Although there are arguments on whether social networking sites are relevant or not, I think it is a nice site to have to keep connected with people and it is also a good distraction when I don’t want to do my homework.

RSA Animate: Matthew Taylor “Left Brain, Right Brain”

 

At first glance I thought these videos were overwhelming because of all the information so fast, but they are actually very interesting and I learn a lot. This particular one is about Matthew Taylor’s lecture discussing how our brain works and how it relates to our political system. It was very interesting because I would never really think that sides of the brain would have any effect on how we run politics.

A quote in the beginning I liked was “Democracy can only be as successful as we the people make it.” A lot of people talk about politics and democracy as something that acts on its own, but the people are really who affect the process. He says we have to understand our mental processes and how we focus more on short term goals than long. People want instant gratification and the political system doesn’t really work like that most of the time, so that is why a lot of people dislike politics.  

This video and concept made me think about the article by C. Wright Mills called “The Promise of Sociology.” He says that the more of the “ambitions and threats” around us, the more trapped we seem to feel. I know when I feel overwhelmed I want to give up, because seems too much for me to change. The political system is a lot like that because the voting turnouts are so low because people feel like their one vote won’t make a difference.

Our short term goals are usually self-centered, and this affects the democratic process because we should be working together to make good decisions as Taylor describes in his lecture. This relates to Mills who says that we “do not usually impute to the big ups and downs of the societies in which [we] live.” When there is an issue, we naturally think of ourselves and who we know first, not really how it affects society as a whole, but Mills also goes on to say that individuals understand their own fate and try to gauge their own fate by becoming aware of the other individuals in their circumstances. We care about others in our same situation because we want them to solve their issues so we see that we have a chance to fix our similar problem.

In the Taylor lecture, it said that we all agree there needs to be change, but we don’t change our actions. I think Mills would go along with this statement because he says “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both” meaning that individual and society issues are closely related because what happens to people in a society affects the whole. The Taylor lecture and the Mills article had some similar points and they both made me think about how our society runs. They would both agree we have so much potential as a society and as Taylor said we need to accept our flaws and acknowledging the social nature of the brain can help us to improve our political structure and society.

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