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Q: Karl Marx and Heinrich von Treitschke ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Karl Marx and Heinrich von Treitschke
Category: Reference, Education and News > Homework Help
Asked by: wrestlechubs-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 20 Sep 2002 16:43 PDT
Expires: 20 Oct 2002 16:43 PDT
Question ID: 67436
Compare the reasons for war according to treitschke and marx.  Do they
agree in any way?

Request for Question Clarification by politicalguru-ga on 21 Sep 2002 15:34 PDT
What kind of help do you need with this assignment?

Clarification of Question by wrestlechubs-ga on 21 Sep 2002 20:02 PDT
This is a paper where I have to compare the reasons for war according
to Marx and the reasons for war according to Treitschke and see if
they agree with each other in any way.  This is an AP History Course
in High School (World War I History).
Subject: Re: Karl Marx and Heinrich von Treitschke
Answered By: shananigans-ga on 21 Sep 2002 21:25 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi wrestlechubs,

It is 'against the rules' for me to write your essay for you, however,
I can give  you information about each of Marx and von Treitschke's
views on war, and you can reach your own conclusion. I hope that what
I find for you will be sufficient, if not, please ask for

Page Title: 'From POLITICS, by Heinrich von Treitschke Introduction to

" ..if we simply look upon the State as intended to secure life and
property to the individual, how comes it that the individual will also
sacrifice life and property to the State? It is a false conclusion
that wars are waged for the sake of material advantage. Modern wars
are not fought for the sake of booty. Here the high moral ideal of
national honour is a factor handed down from one generation to
another, enhrining something positively sacred, and compelling the
individual to sacrifice himself to it. This ideal is above all price
and cannot be reduced to pounds, shillings, and pence. Kant says,
"Where a price can be paid, an equivalent can be substituted. It is
that which is above price and which consequently admits of no
equivalent, that possesses real value." Genuine patriotism is the
consciousness of co-operating with the body-politic, of being rooted
in ancestral achievements and of transmitting them to descendants.
Fichte has finely said, "Individual man sees in his country the
realisation of his earthly immortality."

"Treat the State as a person, and the necessary and rational
multiplicity of States follows. Just as in individual life the ego
implies the existence of the non-ego, so it does in, the State. The
State is power, precisely in order to assert itself as against other
equally independent powers. War and the administration of justice are
the chief tasks of even the most barbaric States. But these tasks are
only conceivable where a plurality of States are found existing side
by side. Thus the idea of one universal empire is odious-the ideal of
a State co-extensive with humanity is no ideal at all. In a single
State the whole range of culture could never be fully spanned; no
single people could unite the virtues of aristocracy and democracy.
All nations, like 211 individuals, have their limitations, but it is
exactly in the abundance of these limited qualities that the genius of
humanity is exhibited. The rays of the Divine light are. manifested,
broken by countless facets among the separate peoples, each one
exhibiting another picture and another idea of the whole. Every people
has a right to believe that certain attributes of the Divine reason
are exhibited in it to their fullest perfection."

"The notion of sovereignty must not be rigid, but flexible and
relative, like all political conceptions. Every State, in treaty
making, will limit its power in certain directions for its own sake.
States which conclude treaties with each other thereby curtail their
absolute authority to some extent. But the rule still stands, for
every treaty is a voluntary curb upon the power of each, and all
international agreements are prefaced by the clause "Rebus sic
stantibus." No State can pledge its future to another. It knows no
arbiter, and draws up all its treaties with this implied reservation.
This is supported by the axiom that so long as international law
exists all treaties lose their force at the very moment when war is
declared between the contracting parties; moreover, every sovereign
State has the undoubted right to declare war at its pleasure, and is
consequently entitled to repudiate its treaties. Upon this constantly
recurring alteration of treaties the progress of history depends;
every State must take care that its treaties do not survive their
effective value, lest another Power should denounce them by a
declaration of war; for antiquated treaties must necessarily be
denounced and replaced by others-more consonant with circumstances."

"The next essential function of the State is the conduct of war. The
long oblivion into which this principle had fallen is a proof of how
effeminate the science of government had become in civilian hands. In
our century this sentimentality was dissipated by Clausewitz, but a
one-sided materialism arose in its place, after the fashion of the
Manchester school, seeing in man a biped creature, whose destiny lies
in buying cheap and selling dear. It is obvious that this idea is not
compatible with war, and it is only since the last war that a sounder
theory arose of the State and its military power.

Without war no State could be. All those we know of arose through war,
and the protection of their members by armed force remains their
primary and essential task. War, therefore, will endure to the end of
history, as long as there is multiplicity of States. The laws of human
thought and of human nature forbid any alternative, neither is one to
be wished for. The blind worshipper of an eternal peace falls into the
error of isolating the State, or dreams of one which is universal,
which we have already seen to be at variance with reason.

Even as it is impossible to conceive of a tribunal above the State,
which we have recognized as sovereign in its very essence, so it is
likewise impossible to banish the idea of war from the world. It is a
favourite fashion of our time to instance England as particularly
ready for peace. But England is perpetually at war; there is hardly an
instant in her recent history in which she has not been obliged to be
fighting somewhere. The great strides which civilization makes against
barbarism and unreason are only made actual by the sword. Between
civilized nations also war is the form of litigation by which States
make their claims valid. The arguments brought forward in these
terrible law suits of the nations compel as no argument in civil suits
can ever do. Often as we have tried by theory to convince the small
States that Prussia alone can be the leader in Germany, we had to
produce the final proof upon the battlefields of Bohemia and the Main.

Moreover war is a uniting as well as a dividing element among nations;
it does not draw them together in enmity only, for through its means
they learn to know and to respect each other's peculiar qualities. . .

The grandeur of war lies in the utter annihilation of .puny man in the
great conception of the State, and it brings out the full magnificence
of the sacrifice of fellow-countrymen for one another. In war the
chaff is winnowed from the wheat. Those who have lived through 1870
cannot fail to understand Niebuhr's description of his feelings in
1813, when he speaks of how no one who has entered into the joy of
being bound by a common tie to all his compatriots, gentle and simple
alike, can ever forget how he was uplifted by the love, the
friendliness, and the strength of that mutual sentiment.

It is war which fosters the political idealism which the--materialist
rejects. What a-disaster for civilization it would be if mankind
blotted heroes from memory. The heroes of a nation are the figures
which rejoice and inspire the spirit of its youth, and the writers
whose words ring like crumpet blasts become the idols of our boyhood
and our early manhood. He who feels no answering thrill is unworthy to
bear arms for his country."

The above was found using search terms '+hienrich +von +treitschke
+war +reason' in the Google search engine


Marx's view of war stems from his beliefs about the way capitalist
society is organised:
"Karl Marx From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."

"The notion of labor is fundamental in Marx's thought. Basically, Marx
argued that it is human nature to transform nature, and he calls this
process of transformation "labor" and the capacity to transform nature
labor power. For Marx, this is a natural capacity for a physical
activity, but it is intimately tied to the human mind and human

"Marx's analysis of history is based on his distinction between the
means of production, literally those things, like land and natural
resources, labor, and technology, that are necessary for the
production of material goods, and the social relations of production,
in other words, the social relationships people enter into as they
acquire and use the means of production. Together these comprise the
mode of production; Marx observed that within any given society the
mode of production changes, and that European societies had progressed
from a  feudal mode of production to a capitalist mode of production.
In general, Marx believed that the means of production change more
rapidly than the relations of production (for example, we develop a
new technology, and only later do we develop laws to regulate that
technology). For Marx this lag is a major source of conflict.

Marx understood the "social relations of production" to comprise not
only relations among individuals, but between or among groups of
people, or classes. As a scientist and materialist, Marx did not
understand classes purely subjective (in other words, groups of people
who consciously identified with one another). He sought to define
classes in terms of objective criteria, such as their access to

Marx was especially concerned with how people relate to that most
fundamental resource of all, their own labor-power. Marx wrote
extensively about this in terms of the problem of alienation. As with
the dialectic, Marx began with a Hegelian notion of alienation but
developed a more materialist? conception. For Marx, the possibility
that one may give up ownership of one's own labor -- one's capacity to
transform the world -- is tantamount to being alienated from one's own
nature; it is a spiritual loss. Marx described this loss in tems of
commodity fetishism, in which people come to believe that it is the
very things that they produce that are powerful, and the sources of
power and creativity, rather than people themselves. He argued that
when this happens, people begin to mediate all their relationships
among themselves and with others through commodities. "

" Marx argues that this alienation of labor power (and resulting
commodity fetishism) is precisely the defining feature of capitalism.
Prior to capitalism, markets existed in Europe where producers and
merchants bought and sold commodities. According to Marx, a capitalist
mode of production developed in Europe when labor itself became a
commodity -- when peasants became free to sell their own labor-power,
and needed to sell their own labor because they no longer possessed
their own land or tools necessary to produce. A person sells their
labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work
they do in a given period of time (in other words, they are not
selling the product of their labor, but their capacity to work). In
return for selling their labor power they receive money which allows
them to survive. The person who must sell their labor power to live is
a "proletarian." The person who buys the labor power, generally
someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a
"capitalist" or "bourgeois." (NOTE: Marx considered this an objective
description of capitalism, distinct from any one of a variety of
ideological claims of or about capitalism).

Marx distinguished capitalists from merchants. Merchants buy goods in
one place and sell it in another; more precisely, they buy things in
one market and sell it in another. Since the laws of supply and demand
operate within given markets, there is often a difference between the
price of a commodity in one market and another. Merchants hope to
capture the difference between these two markets. According to Marx,
capitalists, on the other hand, take advantage of the difference
between the labor market and the market for whatever commodity is
produced by the capitalist. Marx observed that in practically every
successful industry the price for labor was lower than the price of
the manufactured good. Marx called this difference "surplus value" and
argued that this surplus value was in fact the source of a
capitalist's profit.

The capitalist mode of production is capable of tremendous growth
because the capitalist can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits
in new technologies. Marx considered the capitalist class to be the
most revolutionary in history, because it constantly revolutionized
the means of production. But Marx believed that capitalism was prone
to periodic crises. He suggested that over time, capitalists would
invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labor.
Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labor is the
source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall
even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit falls below a
certain point, the result would be a recesion or depression in which
certain sectors of the economy would collapse. Marx understood that
during such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and
eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the
growth of new sectors of the economy.

Marx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be
punctuated by increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that
the long-term consequence of this process was necessarily the
empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment of the
proletariate. Finally, he believed that were the proletariate to seize
the means of production, they would encourage social relations that
would benefit everyone equally, and a system of production less
vulnerable to periodic crises."

Marx (and Engels') writings about specific wars can be found here:
Karl Marx by Harold Laski

"No one can doubt the very large measure of truth in this outlook. No
one can write the history of English Puritanism, of the struggle for
toleration, or of the American Revolution, without making the defence
of an economic incentive fundamental to their explanation. But it is
equally clear that the insistence upon an economic background as the
whole exclamation is radically false. No economic motive can explain
the suicidal nationalism of the Balkans. The war of 1914 may have been
largely due to conflicting commercial imperialisms; but there was also
a competition of national ideas which was at no point economic.
Historically. too, the part played by religion in the determination of
social outlook was, until at least the peace of Westphalia, as
important as that played by material conditions. Luther represents
something more than a protest against the financial exactions of Rome.
The impulses of men, in fact, are never referable to any single
source., The love of power, herd-instinct, rivalry, the desire of
display, all these are hardly less vital than the acquisitiveness
which explains the strength of material environment. Engels, indeed,
seems to have realized the narrowness of the orthodox view, for in the
later years of his life he insisted that the dominant part ascribed by
Marx to the economic motive was due mainly to its neglect by his
opponents, "and there was not always time, place and opportunity to do
justice to the other considerations."

But with Marx the economic motive is not only final, it is final in a
particular way. "The only durable source of faction," said Madison,
"is property," and, for Marx, the emergence of private property in
history is the beginning of the class struggle. Immediately society
can be divided into those who do, and those who do not, possess
private property, a power is released which explains the changes of
history. For the class which possesses property moulds the
civilization of that society in the service of its own interests. It
controls the government, it makes the laws, it builds the social
institutions of the commonwealth in accordance with its own desires.
Slave and free man, master and servant, these have been the eternal
antitheses of history. With the advent of capitalism the struggle is
at once simplified, and made more intense. Thenceforward, the final
stage of the class-war, the struggle between bourgeoisie and
proletariat, emerges. And just as each social order of the past has
secreted within its womb the germ of its successor, as for example,
feudalism produced capitalism, so does the latter contain within
itself the germ of its communist successor. "Capitalism," said Marx,
"produces its own gravedigger." The conflict, in his view, was an
inevitable and a bitter one, and it was bound to result in the victory
of the proletariat. "The bourgeoisie," he wrote in the Communist
Manifesto, "is incapable of continuing in power because it is
incapable of securing a bare subsistence to its slaves"; and the
result is a growing sense of revolt in the worker who ultimately, by a
revolutionary act, assumes the reins of power."

The above were found by entering '+karl +marx +writings +war' into the
Google search engine


Basically, Marx believes that just as the proletarian revolution is
caused by a desire of the workers to see more of what they produce;
therefore wars are waged over 'who gets what'. Von Treitschke, in
contrast, thinks that wars have nothing to do with materialism, but
with national honour instead.

Now that you know what you are looking for and what point is being
made by Marx and von Treitschke, it is easy enough for you to look
through the appropriate books on your course/topic reading list and
pick out the appropriate quotes. For Marx, the Communist Manifesto is
a good place to start (I don't recall him mentioning war specifically,
so you may have to think laterally and look for the cause of
proletarian revolution instead), and for von Treitschke, have a look
at 'The New Nationalism and Racism'. Searching with the above terms
will bring up some other titles as well.


A little hint: teachers don't ask these sort of questions and expect a
yes or no answer. They most likely want you to say 'there are some
similarities but these are outweighed by x y z differences' or 'there
are some differences, but overall their views are similar because of x
y z'.

Good luck! (and don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you need


Request for Answer Clarification by wrestlechubs-ga on 22 Sep 2002 11:29 PDT
Thank you for your help.  I am having trouble with Karl Marx--what
were his reasons for war?  Any futher info would be appreciated.  You
have given me a great starting ppoint, just do not seem to find the
answer on Karl Marx

Clarification of Answer by shananigans-ga on 22 Sep 2002 21:02 PDT
Hi wrestlechubs,

Did you check out the site (the address is in my original
answer) below? Some of the writings there pertain to Marx's thoughts
on the causes of various wars. Anyhow, more generally, Marx thinks

-the workers (proletarians) are being oppressed by the capitalists
(bougeoisie) because they do not see the fruits of their labour, only
a small wage.
-when the proletarians realise this, they will come together to
overthrow the bourgeoisie and obtain freedom
-this will be the revolution from communism to capitalism.

Revolution, as you know, is a form of war, it's just not
state-sponsored war. 'The people' will go to war against the
bourgeoisie and possibly even the government in protest over their
economic opression. States go to war with each other over economic
factors as well (though determining how exactly some wars pertain to
economics can require lateral thinking) for example: war because of a
desire for territory, to make sure one country does *not* trade its
resources (think of UN sanctions on Iraq), to stop trade in certain
goods (nuclear technology is a popular one at the moment).

Seeing as Marx focusses on war through revolution, I'm guessing that
your teacher will be OK with you focussing on this also. Just mention
that revolution is war.

I'd guess that the conclusion you're supposed to reach is that there
are not many similarities between the two views, as Marx focusses on
economics and property as causes for war (revolution) whilst von
Treitschke thinks that war is undertaken for personal betterment
through national glory - akin to the way in which parents 'live
through' their childrens' achievements sometimes.

Hope this has helped - if you need more clarification, just ask! (And
if I've done a terrible job of answering, don't feel bad about
rejecting the answer)

wrestlechubs-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thnak you so much!  I had no starting point, and this helped
tremendously to get my paper started.

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