Unit 1 1
Unit 1 Analysis
California State University, Fullerton
SOCI 410: Theories of Social Behavior
False consciousness is a force that distorts ideas on the nature of life. Through Karl Marx’s work, one can begin to understand human developments and how material wellbeing affects human relationship and their social institutions. In this paper, I will cover the concepts of materialist method and ideology from Marx’s “The German Ideology” and explain how this determines society's organization, as described in “Manifesto of the Communist Party”. Then I will draw current day education as a contemporary example in modern day society.
In “The German Ideology”, Marx challenges social reality while criticizing German philosophers’ failure to connect with the reality of humans. Marx believed that ideology is a “camera obscura” reflecting the false conception of reality; these ideologies reflect a reversed image of social reality, which he believes is inaccurate. Ideology persuades society that the current way of life is natural, otherwise known as “false consciousness”. In other words, reality conceived through ideology is opposed to the reality in itself. Fundamentally, beliefs held by people, it be philosophy, gravity, or religion, stem from material conditions. These beliefs are conditioned by humans way of life, he insisted that one should get pass these beliefs and look at reality; what is actually there. Marx explains that material existence determines consciousness when he states “In direct contrast to German philosophy which descends from heaven to earth, here it is a matter of ascending from earth to heaven” (1845: 42). In order to understand the ideas and ideologies that exist in society, Marx does not start with the “idea” to get to the material world, but instead looks at how humans actually live.
Marx’s focus on the mode of production emphasizes human beings creating life itself, beyond mere physically existences. This is Marx’s materialist method, where society employs empirical science to look at how humans collectively meet their needs, and how society is actually set up. He emphasizes that material is considered primary and ideas as secondary, human ideas about society results from material conditions therefore material facets should not be deemed as irrelevant in the development of consciousness. This is supported by his statement: “It is not consciousness that determines life, but life that determines consciousness” (1845:42). Going beyond critiques of ideas, but it is not awareness that determines the material life around humans, but it is the material arrangement in the world shape ideas existing in society.
In “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, Marx analyzes how a society is divided into the ruling and ruled classes due to class struggle over the means of production. As feudal society diminished, the industrial revolution took off and manufactory, were replaced by corporation factories. Under the new system of...