Fall 2020: Phl 810/820 – Marxist Philosophies

Dunayevskaya and Althusser

General information


Here is more information about Prof. Lotz

Class Meetings

Days: M
Time: 7:00 PM – 9:50 PM
Place: ZOOM (invitation link will be sent out via email)

Office & Office Hours

Phone: 517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: ZOOM
Hours: via individual appointments

Other Contact

E-mail: lotz@msu.edu
Home Phone: please ask
Webpage: http://christianlotz.info


You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (SK 503)


Note: readings listed under “further readings” are voluntary


Sep 7, Labor Day
No class, read some Marx!

Sep 14, Introduction: Marxism vs. Marxist Philosophy

Althusser, Philosophy and Marxism (late Interview) (D2L)
CLR James, Marxism for our Times (D2L)
Marcuse, Interview with Habermas (D2L)
Sartre, Marxism and Existentialism (D2L)

Further Readings:
Althusser, Philosophy as a Revolutionary Weapon (D2L)
Therborn, Critical Theory and the Legacy of Twentieth-Century Marxism (D2L)
Jameson, Marxism and Postmodernism (D2L)
Balibar, Etienne Balibar in Conversation: Revisiting European Marxism (D2L)

Hall, The Spectre of Marxism (link)
Balibar, Marx’s capitalism and ours (link)
Chibber, analyzing the academic “left” (link, video, Jacobin Weekends; text: Chibber, Our Road to Power, link)

Block I: Hegelian Marxism

Sep 21, Lukacs: Methodological Marxism

Lukacs, What is Orthodox Marxism? (in HCC) (D2L)

Voluntary, but recommended:
Lukacs, The Changing Function of Historical Materialism (in HCC) (D2L)

Further Readings:
Lukacs, Interview with Lukacs (D2L)
Lukacs, The Twin Crises. Interview (D2L)
Lopez, The Conversion of Georg Lukács (link, Jacobin)
Jones, The Marxism of the Early Lukacs (D2L)

Interview with Lukacs (link)

Sep 28, Lukacs: Reification

Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, The Phenomenon of Reification (D2L)

Further Readings:
Lotz, Categorial Forms as Intelligibility of Social Objects. Reification and Objectivity in Lukács (D2L)
Hedrick, Law as Reification (D2L)
Colletti, From Bergson to Lukacs (D2L)
Feenberg, chapter 4 of his Philosophy of Praxis
Markus, Alienation and Reification in Marx and Lukacs (D2L)

Protocol: Nic

Oct 5, Lukacs: The Standpoint of the Proletariat

Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, The Standpoint of the Proletariat (in HCC)

Voluntary: The Antinomies of Bourgeois Thought, in HCC (D2L)

Further Reading
Lukacs, On Class Consciousness (D2L)
Balibar, The Notion of Class Politics in Marx (D2L)

Protocol: Chase

Block II: Humanism

Oct 12, Markus

Markus, Marxism & Anthropology (D2L)

Further Readings
Heller, My Best Friend. For Markus (D2L)
Ricoeur, What is Humanism (D2L)

Protocol: Jack

Oct 19, Marcuse/Dunayevskaya/Fromm

Marcuse, New Sources on the Foundation of Historical Materialism (D2L)
Marcuse, Socialist Humanism? (link) & Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society (link)
Marcuse, On the Philosophical Foundations of the Concept of Labor in Economics (D2L)
Fromm, The Application of Humanist Psychoanalysis to Marx’s Theory (D2L)
Dunayevskaya, A New Humanism (D2L)
Dunayevskaya, Marx’s Humanism Today (D2L)

Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension (from Eros and Civilization) (D2L)

Further Readings:
Durkin, Erich Fromm and the Revolution of Hope (link, Jacobin)
Anderson, “Marxism and Freedom” After Sixty Years, For Yesterday and Today (link)
Quante, Recognition as the Social Grammar of Species Being in Marx (D2L; an alternative reading of the early manuscripts)

More by Fromm:
Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion. My Encounter with Marx and Freud
Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man

Marcuse, Interview (link):
Fromm, Interview (link)

Protocol: John the OIder
Presentation: Chase (on Marcuse)

Oct 26, Heller

Heller, The “System of Needs” and the “Society of Associated Producers” (from Heller’s Theory of Needs in Marx)
Heller, The Marxist Theory of Revolution and the Theory of Everyday Life (D2L)
Heller, Is Radical Philosophy Possible? (D2L)
Heller, Forms of Equality (D2L)

Further Readings:
Heller, Marx and the Liberation of Humankind (D2L)
Heller, Forms of Equality. A Postscript (D2L)
Heller, The Human Condition (D2L)
Dorahy – The Budapest School, chapter 1 (D2L)

Heller, 2014 in Ann Arbor (link)
Heller, short interview (link)
Heller, excerpt from documentary about the Budapest School (link)

Protocol: Marissa
Presentation: Dominick (on “System of Needs”)

Block III: Structuralism

Nov 2, Althusser: Critique of Humanism

Althusser, Marxism and Humanism (D2L)
Althusser, The Humanist Controversy (D2L)
Althusser, Is it Simple to be a Marxist in Philosophy? (D2L)

Further Readings:
Kolakowski, Althusser’s Marx (link)
Balibar, Althusser’s Object (D2L)
Poulantzas, Towards a Marxist Theory (on Althusser) (D2L)
Geras, Althusser’s Marxism. An Assessment (D2L)
Goshgarian, Philosophy and Revolution: An Interview with G.M. Goshgarian (link)

Althusser, An Intellectual Adventure (link, via MSU lib, docuseek2)

Protocol: Jonathan
Presentation: Jack (on Marxism and Humanism)

Nov 9, Althusser: Capitalist Reproduction

Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, chapter 1-10 (D2L)

Further readings:
Lewis, William S., Louis Althusser and the Traditions of French Marxism, chapter 6&7 (for the intellectual background and A’s relation to the PCF, D2L)
Carnoy, Althusser and Poulantzas on the State (D2L, contains also a good overview of the relation between class struggle and the state)

Protocol: Jessica
Presentation: Marissa (sections 6-10)
Presentation: Nic (sections 1-5)

Nov 16, Althusser: Overdetermination&Structural Causality

Althusser, Overdetermination and Contradiction (D2L)
Althusser, Reading Capital, part II.4&7-9 ) (D2L)

Balibar on Althusser (link)

Protocol: Dominick

Nov 23, Althusser: Ideology

Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, chapter 11&12&Notes&Appendixes (D2L)

Further Readings:
Laclau, The Death and Resurrection of the Theory of Ideology (D2L)
Althusser, Philosophy and Marxism (late Interview) (D2L)

Protocol: Jena
Presentation: Jonathan

Nov 30, Hall: Ideology & Race

Hall, Ideology and the Sociology of Knowledge, Selected Writings Vol1, chapter 4 (D2L)
Hall, Rethinking the Base/Superstructure Metaphor, Selected Writings Vol1, chapter 5 (D2L)
Hall, Race, Articulation, and Societies, Selected Writings Vol1, chapter 6 (D2L)

Further Readings:
Miles, Race after Race-Relations (D2L)
Du Bois – Marxism and the Negro Problem (D2L)
Williams, Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory (D2L)
Ramos, The Concepts of Ideology, Hegemony, and Organic Intellectuals in Gramsci’s Marxism (link)

The Stuart Hall Project (link & info)

Protocol: Greg
Presentation: Jena (on chapters 4&5)

Dec 7, Poulantzas: State & Classes

Poulantzas, On Social Classes (D2L)
Poulantzas, The Problem of the Capitalist State (D2L)
Poulantzas, State, Power, Socialism, Introduction&Part1 (D2L)

Further Readings
Balibar, In Search of the Proletariat. The Notion of Class Politics in Marx (D2L)
Therborn, An Agenda for Class Analysis (D2L)
Therborn, Dreams and Nightmares of the World’s Middle Classes (D2L)
Poulantzas, Towards a Democratic Socialism (D2L)
Kalampopkas, State, Political Power and Revolution: Althusser, Poulantzas, Balibar and the “Debate on the State” (link)

Balibar, Intersecting Optics: A Dialogue on ”Race, Nation, Class“ 30 years on (link)
Balibar, Race, Nation and Class: Rethinking their Articulation (link)

Presentation: Greg (On Social Classes)
Presentation 2: Jessica (on chapter 6, Stuart Hall, Nov 30)

Dec 18, Final Paper
Final paper due via email by Dec 18 at 11:59pm

Course Description

Agnes Heller (1929-2019)

In many contemporary philosophical discussions, Marx and Marxism have been reduced to simplistic doctrines centered on exploitation and class struggle; thereby dismissing the complexly intertwining of epistemological and metaphysical questions within the horizon of a critical theory of society. In this seminar we will read and discuss three major positions that emerged within the history of European Marxist thought and philosophy of the last 150 years. Though the scope of literature and figures in this field is vast, we will try to cover central aspects of Humanist Marxism, Structural Marxism, and Hegelian Marxism. We will focus on philosophical and social aspects of these positions, while paying less attention to economic theory (narrowly conceived), political philosophy and political movements. We also do not have time to look at Marxist theories outside the Continental tradition, such as the Japanese Uno-School, Feminist Marxism, or Postcolonial Theory (all of this would require another seminar). Perhaps we will figure out why Sartre’s famous statement that Marxism “remains the philosophy of our time. We cannot go beyond it” might still be valid. 


Make yourself familiar with the major journals and book series in the field.

Academic Journals

Popular/Academic Journals

Book Series



People (contemporary)

Althusser, 1978


  • This class will be taught via ZOOM in a classical fashion. I will talk about the readings and we will have discussions about the readings.
  • Our ZOOM sessions require you to be attentive; as such, I do not want you to turn off your microphone, which, in turn, should make it easier for you to focus on the class session. Please make sure that you are in a quiet spot (at a desk or a table), and that you enter our meetings on time.
  • Please use a headset, which helps us create a more “intimate” atmosphere; headset microphones usually remove background noise; inexpensive headsets can easily be found online. If you can’t afford a headset (or don’t want to use one), then please try to use at least headphones or ear buds.
  • If multiple participants are speaking, and if they also use external speakers to hear the meeting audio, there can be an echo loop. Zoom uses echo cancellation to address this problem. However, headset/headphones/earbuds will eliminate this problem.
  • Please also do not turn off your camera (unless your internet connection is very slow), as this will also help everyone focus on our class session and eliminate distractions.
  • Set ZOOM to “gallery view” (instead of “speaker view”), as this makes it easier to see everyone in class (i.e., not only the speaker). Our class is small. So, “gallery view” should work just fine.

Course Goals

This course should make you familiar with selected Marxist philosophies:

  • Marxist Humanism
  • Marxist Structuralism
  • Marxist Existentialism
  • Hegelian Marxism


This graduate seminar is not based on a set of fixed knowledge and, as such, is not based on a behavioral idea of education; rather, we will try to learn together and critically examine the material. The material is the absolute center of this class. Free floating discussions about things unrelated to the material are to be avoided.

Required Texts

  • Althusser, The Reproduction of Capitalism, Verso (pdf: link)
  • Lukacs, History of Class Consciousness (pdf: link)
  • All other texts via pdf on D2L

Course Requirements

  • 1 protocol, write-up, up to 900 words, 20%
  • 1 oral presentation + brief write-up, up to 30 minutes+leading class discussion, 30%
  • Final paper, conference style, 12-15 pages, 50%
  • Regular participation, you are expected to attend every week, except in cases of reasonable excuses


The class protocol should cover our discussion in class. Protocols should have a length of 2-3 pages (no more than 900 words), and they will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we study for class. They can also include problems or questions that the writers had either with our class discussion or with the texts itself, but above all protocols should cover what we lectured about and what we discussed afterwards. Protocols should clarify and discuss selected issues in question. Protocols have to be sent out to everyone by Sunday at noon. Everyone will read the protocol before class. Please avoid late turn ins. The student who wrote the protocol will address questions during the first 15-20 minutes of the next class meeting.

Stuart Hall (1932-2014)

Presentation & Write-Up

Each student will be responsible for one class and for working out an introductory presentation, which should function as a platform for our discussions. Please focus on selected aspects of the readings; desired length of presentations: around 20-25 minutes. Please distribute a brief write-up/overview of what you will be talking about by Sunday morning. Your write-up should have a length of up to 3 pages. A write-up differs from a handout (used during a presentation); i.e., the write-up should consists of a coherent text that either interprets, reflects on, or explains the primary material. Let’s call it a “miniature-paper” that everyone reads before class. Note: the reading material should be the absolute focus of your presentation. Free floating discussions that are unrelated to the readings are to be avoided by all means.

General Remark

Given that this is a graduate seminar, I expect self-motivation, autonomy, civility, as well as self-responsibility. The attendance requires the willingness to intensively study the texts selected for class.

Final Paper

The class essay should be well researched and should present a substantial reflection on some parts of the material discussed in class. I expect excellent papers in regard to research, form, and content. The paper should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words. The paper should be “conference style,” i.e., it should have a length of around 12-15 pages and, ideally, could be presented at a conference.


I will refuse giving DFs in this class, unless you find yourself in a real emergency situation (hospitalization, etc.)

György Lukacs (1885-1971)

Course Evaluation


1 protocol20 points
oral presentation + handout30 points
final paper50 points
   100 points


4.0 (=A)100 – 93
3.592 – 87
3 (=B)86 – 82
2.581 – 77
2 (=C)76 – 72
1.571 – 65
1.0 (=D)64 – 60
0.0< 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Laptop/Cell Phone/Tablet Policy

You are not permitted to use laptops or cell phones in class, unless needed for medical reasons. Flat devices, such as tablets, are permitted  if you have purchased the literature required for class electronically. Please do not text under the table. Cell phones should be removed from tables. Failure to follow this policy will lead to unannounced assignments in class or loss of points (at the digression of the instructor).

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria + Paper Writing Tips

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn’t very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU’s library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU’s writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to writing@msu.edu.

Grief Absence Policy

I follow MSU’s general grief absence policy, which can be found here.

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/)

Plagiarism, from the Ombudsman’s page

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research (take that!) as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Accidental or Unintentional
One may not even know that they are plagiarizing.  It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that they understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the proper way to cite material.

Here, students are well aware that they are plagiarizing.  Purposefully using someone else’s ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism.  This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as one’s own.

Turning in the same term paper (or substantially the same paper) for two courses without getting permission from one’s instructor is plagiarism.

The Spartan Code of Honor

Student leaders have recognized the challenging task of discouraging plagiarism from the academic community. The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) is proud to be launching the Spartan Code of Honor academic pledge, focused on valuing academic integrity and honest work ethics at Michigan State University. The pledge reads as follows:

“As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do.”

The Spartan Code of Honor academic pledge embodies the principles of integrity that every Spartan is required to uphold in their time as a student, and beyond. The academic pledge was crafted with inspiration of existing individual college honor codes, establishing an overarching statement for the entire university. It was formally adopted by ASMSU on March 3, 2016, endorsed by Academic Governance on March 22, 2016, and recognized by the Provost, President, and Board of Trustees on April 15, 2016.

SIRS Evaluations

Michigan State University takes seriously the opinion of students in the evaluation of the effectiveness of instruction and has implemented the Student Instructional Rating System (SIRS) to gather student feedback (https://sirsonline.msu.edu). This course utilizes the online SIRS system, and you will receive an e-mail during the last two weeks of class asking you to fill out the SIRS web form at your convenience. In addition, participation in the online SIRS system involves grade sequestration, which means that the final grade for this course will not be accessible on STUINFO during the week following the submission of grades for this course unless the SIRS online form has been completed. Alternatively, you have the option on the SIRS website to decline to participate in the evaluation of the course. We hope, however, that you will be willing to give us your frank and constructive feedback so that we may instruct students even better in the future. If you access the online SIRS website and complete the online SIRS form or decline to participate, you will receive the final grade in this course as usual once final grades are submitted.

Social Media and Sharing of Course Materials

As members of a learning community, students are expected to respect the intellectual property of course instructors. All course materials presented to students are the copyrighted property of the course instructor and are subject to the following conditions of use:

  • Students may record lectures or any other classroom activities and use the recordings only for their own course-related purposes.
  • Students may share the recordings with other students enrolled in the class. Sharing is limited to using the recordings only for their own course-related purposes.
  • Students may post the recordings or other course materials online or distribute them to anyone not enrolled in the class with the advance written permission of the course instructor and, if applicable, any students whose voice or image is included in the recordings.
  • Any student violating the conditions described above may face academic disciplinary sanctions.

Student Support Program (SSP)

Michigan State University is offering all MSU students access to counseling support 24/7/365 through My SSP: Student Support Program. My SSP is free to all MSU students. My SSP is confidential, and can help with:

  • Adapting to new challenges
  • Being successful at school
  • Relationships with friends and family
  • Practical issues with studying
  • Stress, sadness, loneliness, and more

The My SSP professional counselors are available to help anytime, anywhere with:

  • Immediate support by phone and chat
  • Ongoing support by appointment via phone and video
  • In addition, culturally relevant support is available in the language of the caller’s choice.

There are multiple options for connecting with a My SSP counselor:

  • Download the free My SSP app on Google Play or iTunes
  • Chat online at http://us.myissp.com
  • Call 1-866-743-7732
  • From outside North America, call 001.416.380.657

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY)

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.