Hmmm I think would have to look into the implicit philosophy of Marx and his work to come to some sense of his approach but I think that there is perhaps a difficult nuance to try and draw out. To which I really can't do adequately and now having written so much, am acutely aware that I haven't the time or already established knowledge to really engage explain it, but I do hope to prompt some interest as to spur some to look further at certain points. We necessarily hold conclusions from inadequate information, as such I think there is at least some persuasion in emphasizing that there is something to be found and that one should doubt certain conclusions. But we all have to journey through it ourselves to become true believers through our own reason.
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” ― Gautama Buddha
I think as a simple summary this suffices
Still, I can imagine further charges of class reductionism that could be leveled at Marxism here. Someone could argue that Marxists are reductionist insofar as they don't understand racial oppression (or any other form of oppression) to be particular particulars, sui generis and completely autonomous from one another. The charge clearly sticks; Marxists indeed do not think that racism, for example, is totally sui generis. Marxism holds that no single part of the social life can be fully understood when torn apart from other features about modern societies and history. Marxists view society as a totality with complex dialectically mediated interconnections between various parts. But does that make one reductionist? I don't see that it does.
Marxists, on the basis of a concrete, materialist analysis of historical development, will argue that we can't understand modern racism without seeing how and why it emerges when and where it does. We don't fully grasp modern racism without learning about European colonialism, imperialism, and the battles for economic/political dominance between the ruling elites of different European empires. Does that mean that racism is reducible to its historical origins? Hardly. Here Marxists must emphasize that ours is a dialectical social theory. That means that racism and class exploitation develop such that there is causal interaction going both ways; the two reciprocally interact, co-evolve, inflect one another, in a dance of mutual reinforcement and tension (one sometimes pulling more strongly against the other and vice versa). Reduction of one to the other elides the dialectical structure of Marxism as a tool for social analysis.
I imagine this sense comes to Marx under the strong influence of Hegelism, which I think he rejects the sort of outlook that is common to modern society which views things as independent fragments which relates also to his in which he rejects traditional materialism and idealism like Hegel
It should also be noted from the outset that Marx’s epistemology cannot be handled in traditional epistemological terms. In their article “Marxist Epistemology: The Critique of Economic Determinism”, Stephen A. Resnick and Richard D. Wolff indicate that traditional epistemology operates as if there are two separate realms: “independent subjects seeking knowledge of independent objects” (Resnick and Wolf, 45). In contrast to traditional epistemology, Marx does not see theory and reality as belonging to two distinct spheres. Rather there is a “circular process” in the production of theory where “theory begins and ends with concretes […] the concrete which determines theory is conceptualized as the ‘concrete real’ [the real concrete] and the concrete produced by thought is the ‘thought-concrete’ [concrete for thought]”( Resnick and Wolf, 43).
This is a nice quote to help summarize the above of Marx beginning with the empirical, investigating the world than abstracting from it in a way to identify the essence
of things (the essence of a thing is it's relations that constitute it) in order to develop an abstraction that is not one sided but more complete.https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch01.htm#loc3
If I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception of the whole, and I would then, by means of further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts, from the imagined concrete towards ever thinner abstractions until I had arrived at the simplest determinations. From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and relations.This might help
, though have to acquaint self with Ilyenkov I believe, as a first reading of this didn't really strike me as it does now.
This focus purely on particulars to the neglect of it's relation to the whole seems to be an issue.https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ot/zizek1.htm
Today, we already can discern the signs of a kind of general unease — recall the series of events usually listed under the name of “Seattle.” The 10 years honeymoon of the triumphant global capitalism is over, the long-overdue “seven years itch” is here — witness the panicky reactions of the big media, which — from the Time magazine to CNN — all of a sudden started to warn about the Marxists manipulating the crowd of the “honest” protesters. The problem is now the strictly Leninist one — how to ACTUALIZE the media’s accusations: how to invent the organizational structure which will confer on this unrest the FORM of the universal political demand. Otherwise, the momentum will be lost, and what will remain is the marginal disturbance, perhaps organized as a new Greenpeace, with certain efficiency, but also strictly limited goals, marketing strategy, etc. In other words, the key “Leninist” lesson today is: politics without the organizational FORM of the party is politics without politics, so the answer to those who want just the (quite adequately named) “New SOCIAL Movements” is the same as the answer of the Jacobins to the Girondin compromisers: “You want revolution without a revolution!” Today’s blockade is that there are two ways open for the socio-political engagement: either play the game of the system, engage in the “long march through the institutions,” or get active in new social movements, from feminism through ecology to anti-racism. And, again, the limit of these movements is that they are not POLITICAL in the sense of the Universal Singular: they are “one issue movements” which lack the dimension of the universality, i.e. they do not relate to the social TOTALITY.
Here, Lenin’s reproach to liberals is crucial: they only EXPLOIT the working classes’ discontent to strengthen their position vis-a-vis the conservatives, instead of identifying with it to the end.52 Is this also not the case with today’s Left liberals? They like to evoke racism, ecology, workers’ grievances, etc., to score points over the conservatives WITHOUT ENDANGERING THE SYSTEM. Recall how, in Seattle, Bill Clinton himself deftly referred to the protesters on the streets outside, reminding the gathered leaders inside the guarded palaces that they should listen to the message of the demonstrators (the message which, of course, Clinton interpreted, depriving it of its subversive sting attributed to the dangerous extremists introducing chaos and violence into the majority of peaceful protesters). It’s the same with all New Social Movements, up to the Zapatistas in Chiapas: the systemic politics is always ready to “listen to their demands,” depriving them of their proper political sting. The system is by definition ecumenical, open, tolerant, ready to “listen” to all — even if one insist on one’s demands, they are deprived of their universal political sting by the very form of negotiation. The true Third Way we have to look for is this third way between the institutionalized parliamentary politics and the new social movements.
The ultimate answer to the reproach that the radical Left proposals are utopian should thus be that, today, the true utopia is the belief that the present liberal-democratic capitalist consensus could go on indefinitely, without radical changes. We are thus back at the old ‘68 motto “Soyons realistes, demandons l'impossible!": in order to be truly a “realist,” one must consider breaking out of the constraints of what appears “possible” (or, as we usually out it, “feasible”).
Naturally, those who are at the very least of a radical mindset, necessarily detest that which fundamentally accepts the capitalist system, and wishes only to alter things within it's limits rather than change the relations which underpin it and this is not the sort of freedom idolized by radicals.
The Formulas of the Improvisers Among the improvisers who seek to deny the capitalist nature of German economy, a few have hastily read Marx in order to cull from his works some definition of capitalism which is no longer applicable to the Third Reich. In the main their procedure comes down to defining capitalist economy as a “market economy.” Then they conclude: Since prices in Germany are determined not by the automatic laws of the market but by state decrees, therefore the economy is no longer capitalist. To be sure, the intervention of the state into the sphere of circulation affords certain supplementary channels for the manipulation of prices. But there is essentially nothing new in this. For almost half a century monopolies and cartels have precisely set themselves the task of converting free trade into its opposite. Are monopolies then “non-capitalist” enterprises? The formula of the improvisers is false because they attempt to define capitalism by seeking its essential characteristics in the sphere of circulation.https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/ch01.htm
Marxism teaches us that a correct definition of capitalism can be established only by seeking out the essential relations in the sphere of production, which, in turn, determines those in the sphere of circulation.
Quite apart from the analysis so far given, it was in general a mistake to make a fuss about so-called distribution and put the principal stress on it.https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ot/zizek.htm
Any distribution whatever of the means of consumption is only a consequence of the distribution of the conditions of production themselves. The latter distribution, however, is a feature of the mode of production itself. The capitalist mode of production, for example, rests on the fact that the material conditions of production are in the hands of nonworkers in the form of property in capital and land, while the masses are only owners of the personal condition of production, of labor power. If the elements of production are so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically. If the material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves, then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one. Vulgar socialism (and from it in turn a section of the democrats) has taken over from the bourgeois economists the consideration and treatment of distribution as independent of the mode of production and hence the presentation of socialism as turning principally on distribution. After the real relation has long been made clear, why retrogress again?
Let us take the situation in the Eastern European countries around 1990, when Really Existing Socialism was falling apart: all of a sudden, people were thrown into a situation of the “freedom of political choice” — however, were they REALLY at any point asked the fundamental question of what kind of new order they actually wanted? Is it not that they found themselves in the exact situation of the subject-victim of a Beauvois experiment? They were first told that they were entering the promised land of political freedom; then, soon afterwards, they were informed that this freedom involved wild privatization, the dismantling of the system of social security, etc. etc. — they still have the freedom to choose, so if they want, they can step out; but, no, our heroic Eastern Europeans didn’t want to disappoint their Western mentors, they stoically persisted in the choice they never made, convincing themselves that they should behave as mature subjects who are aware that freedom has its price ... This is why the notion of the psychological subject endowed with natural propensities, who has to realize its true Self and its potentials, and who is, consequently, ultimately responsible for his failure or success, is the key ingredient of liberal freedom. And here one should risk reintroducing the Leninist opposition of “formal” and “actual” freedom: in an act of actual freedom, one dares precisely to BREAK the seductive power of symbolic efficiency. Therein resides the moment of truth of Lenin’s acerbic retort to his Menshevik critics: the truly free choice is a choice in which I do not merely choose between two or more options WITHIN a pre-given set of coordinates, but I choose to change this set of coordinates itself The catch of the “transition” from Really Existing Socialism to capitalism was that people never had the chance to choose the ad quem of this transition — all of a sudden, they were (almost literally) “thrown” into a new situation in which they were presented with a new set of given choices (pure liberalism, nationalist conservatism ... ). What this means is that the “actual freedom” as the act of consciously changing this set occurs only when, in the situation of a forced choice, one ACTS AS IF THE CHOICE IS NOT FORCED and “chooses the impossible.”
This is what Lenin’s obsessive tirades against “formal” freedom are about, therein resides their “rational kernel” which is worth saving today: when he emphasizes that there is no “pure” democracy, that we should always ask who does a freedom under consideration serve, which is its role in the class struggle, his point is precisely to maintain the possibility of the TRUE radical choice. This is what the distinction between “formal” and “actual” freedom ultimately amounts to: “formal” freedom is the freedom of choice WITHIN the coordinates of the existing power relations, while “actual” freedom designates the site of an intervention which undermines these very coordinates. In short, Lenin’s point is not to limit freedom of choice, but to maintain the fundamental Choice — when Lenin asks about the role of a freedom within the class struggle, what he is asking is precisely: “Does this freedom contribute to or constrain the fundamental revolutionary Choice?”
Though I also like Zizek's point of how many who speak of radical ideas are in fact no that radical in that they can be totally consumed by the radical ideas (doctrinaires
) whilst what sometimes appears to be moderate can be the opening to more radical things (I suspect obamacare as an example of this, so much pain funneled through this issue for many in America today).
But moving on, to get back to the point about being entirely focused with particulars and not radical in that they inherently accept the capitalist relations. The issue here I think is that anyone who wants to really change things so much is Utopian if they believe they can maintain they can retain capitalism.
And those that simply reject even struggling for the well being and interests of the majority of the world as made up of the working class are either simply useless or at worst reactionary in beliefs and perhaps even in their practices.
So this is where I think class relations is a great example of a concrete abstraction from Marx, he identified the essence of class which is it's relations to means of production.
To which there can be particulars, but they will end up arbitrary and thus didn't make a good foundation as Marx's definition of class
The first question to he answered is this: What constitutes a class? — and the reply to this follows naturally from the reply to another question, namely: What makes wage-labourers, capitalists and landlords constitute the three great social classes?
At first glance — the identity of revenues and sources of revenue. There are three great social groups whose members, the individuals forming them, live on wages, profit and ground-rent respectively, on the realisation of their labour-power, their capital, and their landed property.
However, from this standpoint, physicians and officials, e.g., would also constitute two classes, for they belong to two distinct social groups, the members of each of these groups receiving their revenue from one and the same source. The same would also be true of the infinite fragmentation of interest and rank into which the division of social labour splits labourers as well as capitalists and landlords-the latter, e.g., into owners of vineyards, farm owners, owners of forests, mine owners and owners of fisheries.
But a focus on strata doesn't have to be ignored, strata
is simply particulars that exist within class distinctions.
As Giddens noticed in what is also the foundation of my critique of neo-Weberian and neo-Marxist class schemes, the approach which bases class categories on the variable market-based individual resources and capabilities includes the possibility of constructing “as many classes as there are concrete individuals participating in market relationships“ (Giddens, 1973, 78), leading to possibly innumerable, under-theorised, ad hoc divisions. Variables concerning the character of the work experience entail a similar flaw as far as constructing class schemes is concerned (considering that differences in work conditions exist along a continuum), as illustrated in the critique made by the architects of the Cambridge Scale (which I shall briefly discuss later).
In effect, through identifying the extraction of a skill-based and organisation-based “rent”, Wright is trying to give a Marxist account of the closure strategies used by professional and skilled workers, as well as by supervisors and managers, to strengthen their position on the labour market, which had already been analysed by “Weberians” like Parkin (1979), among others. However, he has made a welcome modification of his position by suggesting that what “this relative vagueness in the link between skill exploitation and class relations may imply is that the expert-versus-nonexpert distinction should perhaps be treated as a form of stratification within classes rather than a class relation itself. This could, for example, define a type of class fraction within particular classes“ (Wrights, 1989, 22-23).
And it's this strata, these arbitrary elements that wasn't of concern in his works and he is sometimes criticized for not including everything in his works, except that he had specific goals to his works and wasn't creating a theory of everything which is often the mistaken assumption about Marxism I think.
Prime example being feminist critics that take issue with Marx not making women central to his work, which is just absurd his analysis of capital.http://crisiscritique.org/political11/Andrew%20Kliman.pdf
The Specificity of Capital
It is frequently asserted that Capital “leaves out” or “overlooks” some important aspect of capitalism, or that its treatment of that aspect is “underdeveloped.” For example, Monthly Review author Heather Brown (2014) recently complained that “Marx’s theory remains underdeveloped in terms of providing an account that includes gender as important to understanding capitalism.” This presumes that “understanding capitalism” —as such or, perhaps, in its totality—was the aim of Capital. Since gender relations are important aspects of capitalism, it then follows that provision of a fuller account of gender relations would help to rescue Capital from the “underdeveloped” state in which its author left it.
I think this seriously misconstrues what Capital is about. It is entitled Capital for a reason. It is not entitled Everything You Need to Know about What Takes Place within Capitalism, or even Everything You Need to Know about Capitalism. It focuses specifically on capital––the process in and through which value “self-expands,” or becomes a bigger amount of value. It is about how that self-expansion is produced, how it is reproduced (renewed and repeated), and how the whole process is reflected, imperfectly, in the conventional thinking and concepts of economists and business people.
This does not mean that Capital is reductive. There is a crucial difference between having a specific focus and being reductive. I don’t think Marx wrote or suggested anywhere that the process of value’s self-expansion is the only thing within capitalism that matters or that other processes can be reduced to it. It does affect a lot of other things, sometimes in crucial ways––and this is perhaps the main reason that a book on Capital is mistaken for an Everything About Capitalism book––but to recognize the interrelationships is not to reduce these other things to the self-expansion of value.
Of course, there is some sense in which any book with a specific focus “leaves out” or “overlooks” other things, but we don’t normally complain that a cookbook leaves out or overlooks instructions for changing the oil in your car or any analysis of international politics. The charge that Capital “fails” to discuss many aspects of capitalism and what takes place within it seems to me to be similarly inappropriate and unfair.
Federici’s comment that Marx ignored women’s reproductive work is an instance of the tendency to misconstrue Capital as an Everything About Capitalism book.
Thus, “ignored” doesn’t simply mean that women’s reproductive work is not among the topics that Marx discussed in Capital. It means that he should have discussed it. It is directly relevant to what he did discuss, and his discussion is distorted and incorrect because it wrongly treats reproductive work as unimportant, even unnecessary, for the reproduction of workers’ labor-power.
A similar response may be given to the idea (which Federici does not put forward in her essay) that labor which reproduces workers’ laborpower—and, indeed, other kinds of labor performed outside of capitalist production—should be regarded as “productive labor” for capital, since they contribute indirectly to the creation of value and surplus-value. This idea was, for example, the basis on which Pellegrino Rossi objected to Adam Smith’s classification of magistrates’ labor as unproductive.
Because other acts of production are almost impossible without the labor of magistrates, Rossi argued that their labor “contributes to [other acts of production], if not by direct and material co-operation, at least by an indirect action which cannot be left out of account” (quoted in Marx 1989, p. 190). Marx did not dispute the indirect contribution made by magistrates’ labor, but he nonetheless rejected Rossi’s attempt to efface the distinction between productive and unproductive labour:
It is precisely this labour which participates indirectly in production … that we call unproductive labour. Otherwise we would have to say that since the magistrate is absolutely unable to live without the peasant, therefore the peasant is an indirect producer of justice. And so on. Utter nonsense! [Marx 1989, p. 190]
The point, once again, is that even though everything might be related to everything, it is generally a good idea to refrain from discussing everything at once.
Though I think it's method is actually quite amicable to particulars but it emphasizes them in relation to a whole when addressing specific issues. And a great example of the nuance of Marx in regard to say something like women's position in society is expressed by Heather Brown whilst she criticizes the more economical detereminist sentiment by Engels expressed in his Origins of the Family. As Marx comparatively emphasizes that whilst one can have a particular economic base, it clearly doesn't strictly determine the exact nature of the superstructure...
(which shouldn't be seen as actually distinct from the economic base but is simply a useful conceptual distinction in the way that we distinguish most of reality, but aware that they aren't purely independent from one another but all part of reality)
as there is room for variance in the superstructure and as such, there is room for differences in the attitude towards women in a society.
Here is a brief summary in Monthly Review
His last years, from 1879 to 1883, were among the most theoretically interesting periods of Marx’s life, especially concerning gender and the family. In his research notebooks, as well as his letters and published writings, he began to articulate a less deterministic model of social development, in which less-developed societies could be the first to carry out revolutions so long as they were followed by revolutions in more advanced states. Marx incorporated new historical subjects into his theory. It was not just the working class as an abstract entity that was capable of revolution. Peasants, and especially women, also became important forces for change within Marx’s theory. These notebooks give some indications, albeit in a fragmentary way, of how Marx saw women as subjects in the historical process.
Marx’s notes on Morgan are particularly important, since they provide a direct comparison with Engels’s Origin of the Family, which Engels claimed to be a relatively close representation of Marx’s reading of Morgan’s Ancient Society. But there are significant differences. The most important of these are Marx’s less deterministic understanding of societal development and his more dialectical grasp of contradiction within the relatively egalitarian clan.
Engels tended to focus almost solely and one-sidedly on economic and technological change as factors in societal development. Marx, in contrast, took a more dialectical approach, where social organization is not only a subjective factor, but in the right situation can become an objective one as well. This is particularly relevant to understanding their differences on gender oppression. Engels argued that the development of agricultural technology, private property, and the subsequent changes in the clan from mother-right to father-right led to the “world-historic defeat of the female sex,” where women would remain in a condition of subjugation until the destruction of private property. In contrast, Marx not only noted the subordinate position of women, but also pointed to the potential for change, even under private property, with his discussion of the Greek goddesses. Even though ancient Greek society was quite oppressive to women, confining them to their own section of the home, Marx argued that the Greek goddesses potentially provided an alternative model for women. Marx also showed in these notes the progress of upper-class Roman women, in contrast to their Greek counterparts. Moreover, Marx tended to take a more nuanced and dialectical approach to the development of contradictions in these early egalitarian societies. Engels tended to view the relatively egalitarian communal societies as lacking significant contradictions, especially with regard to gender relations.12 Marx, however, pointed to limitations in women’s rights in the communally based Iroquois society.
Engels’s Origin of the Family only discussed Marx’s notes on Morgan’s Ancient Society. But Marx’s notebooks on ethnology span a number of other sources. His notes on Henry Sumner Maine’s Lectures on the Early History of Institutions and Ludwig Lange’s Römische Alterthümer (“Ancient Rome”) offer significant discussions of gender and the family in pre-capitalist societies as well, particularly Ireland, India, and Rome.13 In his notes on both authors, Marx appears to have appropriated much of Morgan’s theory of the development of the clan. While Marx’s notes on Maine tend to be much more critical than those on Lange, in both cases Marx criticizes their uncritical acceptance of the patriarchal family as the first form.
This is particularly important since it tends to point in the direction of a historical understanding of the family. In these, as well as the Morgan notes, Marx charts the contradictions present in each form of the family and how these contradictions sharpen, leading to significant changes in the structure of the family. Here, Marx appears to view the family as subject to a similar dialectic as that of other areas of society.
Perhaps for further elaboration of his, go to page 210 onwards of Marx on Gender and the Family
I think this sentiment of the economic base not strictly deteremining culture is expressed by one of TIG's favourites, Connolly.https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1904/condel/conart.htm
The abolition of the capitalist system will, undoubtedly, solve the economic side of the Woman Question, but it will solve that alone. The question of marriage, of divorce, of paternity, of the equality of woman with man are physical and sexual questions, or questions of temperamental affiliation as in marriage, and were we living in a Socialist Republic would still be hotly contested as they are to-day. One great element of disagreement would be removed – the economic – but men and women would still be unfaithful to their vows, and questions of the intellectual equality of the sexes would still be as much in dispute as they are today, even although economic equality would be assured.
So overall I think that Marx's implicit philosophy doesn't require a rejection of one or the other. Ending up in another dualism of economic base versus culture where one is paralyzed and ends up a skeptic or one sidedly emphasize one over the other, unable to see the two reconciled into a whole as not truly distinct from one another.
Hegel regards scepticism as having a profound grasp of reality and he says that his own “speculative logic” itself takes over “the dialectic of scepticism, for this negativity which is characteristic of scepticism likewise belongs to true knowledge” (HPh 2:330, and cf. 357; SL -81 Zusatz). In this sense, Hegel states that “we must undoubtedly grant the invincibility of scepticism” (HPh 2:329). But finally, Hegel views scepticism as a sort of “paralysis” which people “give themselves over to,” an “abyss” in which all certainty is swallowed up, and a deep despair which leads to the “decay of the world” because of the inability to affirm and give stability to any positive value (HPh 2:329, 371, 372). 
And so it seems to be an an inadequate thinking that emphasizes the struggle is purely cultural and through law or what ever or purely in changing the capitalist relations as they aren't independent of one another.
Put very generally, the great merit of scepticism is that it sees the contradictory character of things, that is, that any determination is conditioned by its opposite, or that any proposition is dialectically in conflict with equally compelling, opposing propositions. Scepticism is “the art of dissolving all that is determinate” (HPh 2:329), and as such it demonstrates the inherent flux and discord of reality which is so important in Hegel’s philosophy. This is for Hegel a deep insight into the unity of opposites and the insufficiency of viewing things as simple self-identities. Hence, scepticism is “the far-seeing power [of thought] which is requisite in order to recognize the determinations of negation and opposition everywhere present in everything concrete and in all that is thought” (HPh 2:365). But this “art of dissolving all that is determinate” is also the root of nihilism, and this is the great defect and danger of scepticism, that “it remains content with this purely negative result of dialectic,” just as Kant did with his antinomies and the dialectic of reason, and thus “mistakes the true value of its result” (SL -82 Zusatz). The question now arises as to how Hegel rises above this “purely negative result” — which, however negative, he calls necessary and true — and in what sense dialectic can achieve this transcendence without the simple abolishment of its insight and truth.
Hegel’s solution here is to distinguish between two ways of viewing the negativity of dialectic, one which sees oppositions only in a state of “equilibrium” or of “offsetting polarity,” so that no mediation or resolution of them is possible, and the other which sees the true value of opposition as pointing to a higher unity. The first sees only discord in the multiplicity and particularity of reality; the second finds the Miltonian “hidden soul of harmony through mazes running,” the One in the Many, discord resolving itself into unity. In this way, dialectic is in one sense the characteristic of an incomplete form of thought — what Hegel, following Kant, calls the understanding (Verstand) — and in another sense points beyond itself to a higher form of thought, reason (Vernunft). 
The understanding employs dialectic to rigidly exclude the mediation of opposites. In this sense, dialectic sets up an “equilibrium” of opposite determinations, so that every opposing determination has equal value. This is just what leads to scepticism, the epoche or suspension of judgment (which Hegel calls ”paralysis”) in the face of equally competing opposites. In this way, “dialectic is just a subjective see-sawing” from one determination to its opposite (SL -81 Anmerkung). Hegel refers to this as the “bad infinite” (die schlechte Unendlichkeit) of the understanding (e.g., HPh 2:268- SL -45 Zusatz, 94 & Zusatz, 95 & Zusatz, 104 Zusatz, 194 & Zusatz) — the opposing of one finite determination to another finite determination where the opposition effects an equal “neutralization” of its terms. The “true infinite” of reason, on the other hand, involves the “connective reference” and “reciprocal dependence” of the opposites, so that their opposition or mutual negation does not result in a neutralization, but in a “completer notion,” that is, in a concrete unity of the opposing terms (v. SL -95 Anmerkung).
But in the end, because Marx is in some particular sense 'materialist' in his emphasis on the real existing world and man's being to the empirical world, we as material beings are limited by the material world.https://uniteyouthdublin.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/john_storey_cultural_theory_and_popular_culturebookzz-org.pdf
What Engels claims is that the economic base produces the superstructural terrain (this terrain and not that), but that the form of activity that takes place there is determined not just by the fact that the terrain was produced and is reproduced by the economic base (although this clearly sets limits and influences outcomes), but by the interaction of the institutions and the participants as they occupy the terrain. Therefore, although texts and practices are never the ‘primary force’ in history, they can be active agents in historical change or the servants of social stability.
And so this is where there is a sort of anti-identity politics bit in that issues impacting say women isn't insignificant, but that they're seen in relation to society beyond merely being cultural issues where it's purely ideas that oppress women.
I like to think of Julia Gillard as an example in which she was subject to misogyny in parliament but she isn't oppressed in the way a working class woman is. And this is where power becomes relevant because it seems to me that many things are undermined as soon as a person has economic power. And this is where I get curious that whilst one should be sensitive to things in their gendered, racial or what ever particular nature, they derive social elements from the organization of the world itself.
Just thinking that gender itself if reduced would merely be reflection of power relations between different demographics which then have a particular appearance based on the appearance of the demographics.http://www.ihp.sinica.edu.tw/~tangsong/reference/96102601.pdf
My definition of gender has two parts and several subsets. They are interrelated but must be analytically distinct. The core of the definition rests on an integral connection between two propositions: gender is constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes, and gender is a primary way of signifying relationships of power. Changes in the organization of social relationships always correspond to changes in representation of power, but the direction of change is not necessarily one way.
When there is no power relation such as inherited by patriarchal relations or racial slavery and it's increasingly undermined, the very existence of things like sexism or racism would lose their significance. And their existence is maintained because their capacity to achieve certain power is maintained.
It's because of those power relations that associations are then given to some demographics. Though the real issue is the degree of autonomy that people are able to achieve, how they resist and struggle things which in itself is often informed by things in the real world, because things exist in tensions with one another. This is where somethings are born from things that already exist rather than develop as a completely original and independent thing.
To which it seems that what ever freedom and free will we achieve is perhaps mediated through society itself (as opposed to the metaphysical abstract individual free will).http://www.academia.edu/10023793/Free_Will_and_the_Analytical_Mind
The point (for me) is that we gain this freedom to control our own bodies only mediately via other people and the products of the culture around us. The question is: are we exercising genuinely free self-determination, or are we simply acting in a way that is determined by the means that the culture places at our disposal.
tl;dr Marx isn't reductionistic and certainly not towards 'social oppression', though whether in our own inadequacies in appreciating his implicit philosophical view might not be as free from criticism. I think the issue is to see how particulars relate to the universal, really we'd have to go back into problems and history of philosophy to see how these were treated and thus expressed in the ideas of Marx.
Which has in the end made this a bit of a bored procrastinating waste of time, eugh. I'm left to speculate and assert that Marx doesn't but am unable to adequately explain it.