Critique of Earth continues Arend’s investigation into Marx’s transformation of the critique of religion into the critique of political economy (or the transformation from the critique of heaven to critique of earth). This second series of lectures is concerned more specifically with Marx’s transition from the critique of law and politics to his critique of political economy. In the first series, Arend had concerned himself with the exposition of the young Karl Marx. The second series concerns itself with Marx’s ‘mature’ thought. Marx’s Critique of Political Economy marks the transition between these two phases in Marx’s intellectual life.
In Lecture I, Arend makes the transition from the first to the second series of lectures by returning to Marx’s dissertation, which he sees as containing some of the seeds for the Critique of Political Economy. The importance of the dissertation resides in the distinctive way Marx interprets Epicurus’s atomism, though also of significance is the influence of Francis Bacon and some reflections upon the mystical philosopher Jakob Böhme in the creation of Marx’s new materialism. Arend also considers Marx’s belief in the dominance of economics and the encounter in Marx’s thinking between theology and economics. Lecture II examines the significance of Marx’s considerations on ‘the laws of custom’, his views on private interest and the state and some thinking on justice. Lecture III examines Marx’s materialism and his critical analysis of Hegel’s philosophy of law, while Lecture IV continues this theme by investigating Hegel’s accommodation of civil society into the state, exploring the intimate relationship between Marx and Hegel in more depth and looking in particular at Hegel’s Philosophy of Law and Philosophy of Right. In Lecture V, Arend investigates Marx’s ‘critical revision of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’. Ultimately, ‘both the critique of religion and the critique of politics furnish us with the proof that now and for the future this earth is inhabited by man and by men alone’ (p. 149). Lecture VI captures Marx’s critique of Hegel as a critique of Germany, recognising Hegel’s philosophy as a copy of the actual political state of affairs at that time. Lecture VII shows how Marx detaches Hegel’s ‘philosophy of right’ from civil society in its entirety and, in Lecture VIII, Arend turns to economic considerations that regard money as the essential substance of private ownership and as the reflection of the true value of things. Lecture IX turns to Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, drawing on an analogy between Marx and Lavoisier, and outlining why Marx’s critique ‘calls for a more complex method than do the physical sciences’ (p. 260). Finally, Lecture X sees Arend outlining his case for a transformation of traditionally conceived natural theology into the critical theology he has had in mind throughout his series of lectures.