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Paul Lafargue

Idealism and Materialism in the Conception of History

By Paul Lafarge (1895)

The following extract is taken from a lecture delivered by Paul Lafargue, under the auspices of the Group of Collectivist Students of Paris, this lecture being a reply to one given by Jean Jaurès on the above-named subject. The terms Idealism and Materialism are used here to designate the “two opposite views regarding the nature of human thought, that it is to say, concerning the ultimate sources of intellectual cognition, concerning the origin of ideas”, the former designating “the doctrine of innate ideas, of ideas a priori”, and the latter “the doctrine of cognition through experience, through the senses, the doctrine of ideas a posteriori” (Heine).

Socialism and Nationalisation pt.2

In the last issue we were saying that the only Socialist reason that might be given in favour of the transformation of certain private industries into services administered by State or Commune, was that the transformation would simplify the revolutionary task of expropriation to be accomplished by the workers’ party when masters of political power. But this reason has not a leg to stand on. The advantages of the changes would be far from balancing the many dangers presented, which we have already briefly mentioned.

Socialism and Nationalisation pt.1: An Early Article by Paul Lafargue

Readers know the circumstances in which Paul Lafargue and Laura Marx have ended life together, with their last words expressing their belief in the early triumph of the cause for which they laboured. We bow before death. Nevertheless we rejoice that, although Lafargue has laid down his pen, his words still fight on behalf of the workers. The following article, written in “L’Egalité” of June 2nd, 1882, is still trenchant and useful.

At the present moment a kind of Socialism for the capitalists is being created. It is very modest. It contents itself with the transformation of certain industries into public services. Above all, it does not compromise one. On the contrary it will rally a good number of capitalists.

The Law of Value and the Dearness of Commodities

Economic materialism, or to be more exact, economic determinism, which allows us to explain human evolution and which provides a scientific basis for history, and the law of value, the key to the secrets of commodity production, dominate the theoretic work of Marx.

The law of value demonstrates that the value of a commodity is constituted by the quantity of human labour therein incorporated. Allow that, says the Belgian economist, Laveleye, and Marx will prove to you, with his iron logic, that capital is unpaid labour, stolen labour.

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