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Intro to Marxism Course Page

Do you know what it means to be a Marxist? Do you want to learn a new way to analyze the world around you? Can you explain class relations to a non-socialist?

In this course we will explore the answers to those questions and more by delving into two major concepts in the philosophy of Karl Marx, and that is dialectical and historical materialism and the economic concepts of commodification and class relations. Gaining a better understanding of the world around us makes us better organizers, so sign up now!

Wilmington DSA presents Intro to Marxism. Political Education series covering dialectical materialism, commodification, class relations, and imperialism.

Course Schedule:

Part 1: Dialectical and Historical Materialism (2 hours)

Part 2: Political Economy and Class Struggle (2 hours)

Part 3: Imperialism: The Next Stage of Capitalism

Part 1: Dialectical and Historical Materialism

Before class, watch the following two videos, read the articles, and respond to the discussion questions below.

Additional reading material:

Homework Assignment

  1. After watching Video 1: Think of a material condition in your own life (i.e. where you grew up, economic conditions of your upbringing or current life, sibling or friend relationships, etc). What elements of this material condition do you think shapes the way you view the world? Do any of these elements shape your political opinions?
  2. After watching Video 2: Dr. Wolff discusses the notion that the existence of contradictions in a particular way of thinking or actions does not necessarily imply that these are failures or flaws. (For example, how do we solve the climate crisis while ensuring that working class people around the world are able to survive) What is an example of a way of thinking or a set of actions that exhibit contradictions? What are those contradictions?
  3. Do you think that your ideas about the world are innate, or did you learn them from your experience interacting with the material world (which includes your parents, friends, teachers, what you see on TV, etc.?) Think about ideas about race.
  4. Can ideas derived from experience in the material world interact with and change the material world? If so, is this inconsistent with materialism?
  5. Why do we say that contradiction is the basis of all processes? Can anything change without this process?
  6. What do we mean by a “unity of opposites?” Can we see this in the class structure under capitalism? Other examples?
  7. How do contradictions develop (quantitative change) and how are they resolved (qualitative change)? – As an example, consider the personal relationship of a couple? Could this also be a good example of how everything is related to everything else?
  8. When looking at a contradiction is there such a thing as an external force? In the war in Ukraine is the US an external force? Is the manufacturer of automatic weapons an external force to the killing of elementary school children?

Part 2: Political Economy and Class Relations

Before class watch this video about Commodification and respond to the questions below.

Additional reading resources:

Homework Assignment

Comprehension Quiz

  1. A _______ is an external object, which satisfies human needs.
  2. A useful thing has two key properties: _______ and _______.
  3. The utility of a thing for human life is what provides its _______ .
  4. _________ value represents the proportion or number of objects with a use-value that equal the use-value of a different object.
  5. Given that commodities can all be represented as values, the unifying element of all commodities is _______.

Discussion Question

In your own life, think of an example where you did not control the means of production and the work that you did was different than if you had otherwise been able to have control over your work. What were you forced to do versus what would you have done? How did this alienate you from the act of production? Did this alienate you from other workers too? If so, how?

Part 3: Imperialism: The Next Stage of Capitalism

Before class, read the following article on Imperialism and answer the following questions.

  1. What change(s) in the capitalist economy are necessary to create the conditions for imperialism?
  2. Why do we say that capitalism needs to dominate every resource and worker?

Course Resources