Intercourse, as an important category in Marx’s ideological system, appeared as early as in the economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. In the book, Marx referred to the specific statements of intercourse with others and between man and nature.
Marx defined the concept of intercourse for the first time in a letter: “If he is not to be deprived of the results obtained or to forfeit the fruits of civilisation, man is compelled to change all his traditional social forms as soon as the mode of commerce ceases to correspond to the productive forces acquired. Here I use the word commerce in its widest sense—as we would say Verkehr in German” (Karl Marx, Letter from Marx to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov, 1846). In other translations, the term is often translated as “intercourse”.
From the anthropological and sociological point of view, the intercourse mentioned here should be understood as people’s intercourse activities, covering all the dimensions of internal intercourse, external intercourse and international intercourse between individuals, society, nation-state and other subjects, including the abstraction of human natural intercourse, including the collection of material and spiritual intercourse, which is formed in the practice of social production The sum of all social relations.
2. Main Content
Generally speaking, Marx’s analysis of the form of intercourse is mainly reflected in the following dimensions.
2.1. From the Scope of Intercourse to Grasp the Form of Intercourse, There Are Several Specific Ways of Expression
2.1.1. The Internal Intercourse of the Nation-State
In the abstract of Louis Morgan’s ancient society, notes of krotsnach and notes of history, Marx made a concrete investigation on the “internal intercourse of nation states” in the process of the development of human society. Along with Marx’s ideological line of investigating the internal intercourse of the nation-state, we can find that the change of the human form from the classless primitive society to the feudal society and the capitalist society is synchronous with the development history of human intercourse activities.
Marx found that human’s intercourse behavior and relationship experienced a process from equality to inequality, from barbarism to civilization, along with the gradual entry into class society from classless clan.
In addition to Das Kapital and Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx’s many works, such as the 18th foggy month of Louis Bonaparte and the civil war in France, involved the economic structure, political system of capitalist society and the total relationship formed in the process of people’s intercourse activities formed on this basis.
2.1.2. Exchanges between Nations and Countries in the Form of War and Trade
The external intercourse between nation states refers to the intercourse between different nationalities and countries. Marx pointed out in German ideology that, “These same conditions are to be seen (given a more developed intercourse) in the relations of different nations to one another” (Marx and Engels, 2009).
Marx made a detailed investigation of the main forms of intercourse between the two nation states: War and trade. Marx showed great concern for war, which is a form of external intercourse between nations and countries. He believes that immigration is often one of the causes of war, but immigration itself is also a form of external intercourse between nations. The frequent result of this large-scale population migration is the war between nations, between countries, or between colonists and colonial people. As for the way of intercourse of war, Marx once pointed out: “In actual history it is notorious that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, briefly force, play the great part” (Marx and Engels, 2009). In his notes on history, Marx made a more careful study of war, a form of external intercourse between nations and states. When he studied the internal political activities of ancient and modern nations in his works such as the notes of croznach, he also noticed the various forms of external intercourse between nations and countries by the subjects of intercourse such as nations and states.
Trade is an important form of external intercourse between nations except war. After the slavery society replaced the primitive clan society, the social productivity has been improved to a certain extent. When there is surplus of social products, these surplus products are used for commodity trade. With the expansion of material production and the increasingly close relationship between nations and countries, the trade activities between nations and countries begin to be frequent. In this way, the product trade between nation states becomes one of the forms of external intercourse.
2.1.3. The International Intercourse of Nation States
With the global expansion of capitalism and human’s further understanding of world geography, the external intercourse between nation states has been expanded, and the intercourse between nation states in the world has become increasingly frequent. Human history is undergoing a process of transformation from regional history to world history (Ma, 2019).
In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx believed that the production and consumption of all countries had become worldwide because of the opening up of the world market. The self-sufficiency and seclusion of the local and ethnic groups in the past have been replaced by the interaction and interdependence of various ethnic groups.
2.2. From the Perspective of the Relationship between Man and Nature, Intercourse Is the Intercourse between Man and Nature
Marx believed that man has two “bodies”. “Nature is man’s inorganic body—nature, that is, insofar as it is not itself human body. Man lives on nature—means that nature is his body, with which he must remain in continuous interchange if he is not to die. That man’s physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature” (Marx and Engels, 2009).
It can be seen that in his intercourse theory system, Marx not only pays attention to the interpersonal intercourse within human society and the external intercourse between nations and countries, but also attaches great importance to the intercourse between the subject and the objective world, that is, between human and nature, and pays attention to the harmonious relationship between man and nature. Moreover, Marx believed that, “This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man” (Marx and Engels, 2009).
These research contents of Marx show his deep understanding and understanding of the relationship between man and nature. In Marx’s theory of communism, the communication between man and nature is the harmony between subject and object (man and nature) (Xu, 2020).
2.3. From the Difference between Material and Spirit, Intercourse Can Be Divided into Material Intercourse and Spiritual Intercourse
When Marx analyzed the relationship between intercourse and production, he divided people’s intercourse into material intercourse and spiritual intercourse.
Material intercourse is based on people’s material production activities, which is shown in the intercourse relations formed in labor practice between people and between people and between man and nature. Spiritual intercourse is closely related to spiritual production, which is produced in the process of people’s spiritual activities. Material production labor is the practical basis of all material intercourse and the form or relationship of material intercourse. Without material production, there will be no material intercourse. At the same time, the needs of material production and spiritual production also determine the emergence of spiritual intercourse (Guan, 2012). The development of spiritual production promotes the universal extension of spiritual intercourse.
Moreover, according to the basic principle of materialist material determining consciousness, material production determines spiritual production. Therefore, the emergence of spiritual intercourse is based on material intercourse, which determines spiritual intercourse.
3. The Practical Significance of This Study
In addition to the philosophical thinking of the relationship between man and nature, spiritual communication and material communication, Marx’s communication theory seems to show greater value at the practical level, especially in the support of his communist theory. Mainly reflected in the following three aspects.
3.1. The Disclosure of the Essence of Capitalism
In Das Kapital and Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx concentrated on describing the situation of class division in capitalist society. Through these descriptions, we can not only see the economic structure and economic operation mechanism of the whole capitalist society, but also see people’s intercourse behaviors and forms in the development of capitalism, especially the relationship between workers and capitalists in the society. “The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” (Marx and Engels, 2009).
The interpersonal relationship revealed by Marx is undoubtedly expressed through the interaction of people living in the capitalist social environment.
3.2. In Terms of the Basic Principle of the Relationship between Productivity and Social Form Replacement
Through Marx’s investigation of history, we can see that war and transaction are two forms of external intercourse throughout the development process of social change. From the ancient times, the Middle Ages to the modern times, the intercourse between the nations in Europe and Asia, between the eastern and Western nations, is nothing more than a variety of violent or peaceful wars and transactions. Moreover, these two forms of communication are closely related to the level of social productivity.
3.3. Criticism of Colonialism
When studying the economic structure of capitalist society, Marx has paid attention to the promotion of the trend of global economic integration by the colonial system of capitalist countries, as well as the worldwide exchanges between nations and countries established on this basis. From the moral point of view, Marx paid attention to the unequal communication between nation states formed in the process of colonization, and revealed and attacked the essence of colonialism.
In Marx’s theoretical field of vision, especially in the German Ideology, the concept of intercourse has a very broad meaning, including internal intercourse and external intercourse. Internal intercourse refers to the economic, political and cultural intercourse between individuals and groups. The external intercourse includes the economic, political and cultural exchanges among nations and between countries (Li, 2017).
To sum up, Marx clearly defined the basic concept of intercourse theory, made a lot of investigation and Research on the intercourse activities in the history of human society. In his ideological system, he closely linked the intercourse theory with the materialist categories such as production relations, and finally formed the overall framework of intercourse theory, and further realized the theoretical connection with the Communist theory. It is related to practice.