Marxism is nothing but a collection of political, economic and social ideas given by Karl Marx. In simple terms by Wikipedia, Marxism is a political and economic way of organizing society, where the workers own the means of production.

Karl Marx contributed to the liberal rationalism that has dominated western culture and intellectual inquiry in the modern period. His believes shaped many thoughts, reforms and thinkers.

Let’s find out more about Karl Marx and his theories of Marxism.

Who is Karl Marx?

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, political thinker, sociologist. He was usually portrayed as the father of twentieth-century communism.

Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-83) was born in trier, the center of the Moselle region in the Prussian Rhineland. Marx’s parents were Jewish. His father Heinrich Marx had no option but to change his religion in order to retain his legal post in the Prussian civil service.

At school, Karl was an intelligent student but his year of carousal at the University of Bonn caused his father some anxiety. Karl’s main interest was in poetry rather than the study of law. By the end of 1837, Marx becomes a Hegelian although Hegel had died in 1831, his ideas become dominant. 

Marx turned to journalism. He began to write for the Rheinische Zeitung, a newspaper founded by liberal industrialists like Campuses. In fact, the newspaper becomes the emerging idea of young Hegelians, and Marx himself became the editor in October 1842.

He was increasingly active in the socialist movement. Although, much of his voluminous writings remained unpublished at his death.  

WHAT IS MARXISM?

Marxism is all about the theories of Karl Marx.

Marxism is the method of analyzing society through socio-economic analysis. It originates from the mid-to-late 19th-century work of German philosopher Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It consists of historical materialism, dialectical materialism, religion, and many more things.

Marx sees everything from an economic perspective. Historical materialism is one of the major examples of it. Marx describes the evolution of society on an economic basis. 

Marxism focuses on the struggle between capitalists and the working class. Marxism was first publicly formulated in the 1848 pamphlet, the communist manifesto, by Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, which lays out the theory of class struggle and revolution. 

Mainly, we see Marx as the critic of capitalism he always criticizes the capitalist class, mainly known as the bourgeoisie, and always support the working class, known as the proletariat.

HISTORICAL MATERIALISM – What Is Historical Materialism?

This theory is called historical because Marx has traced the evolution of human societies from one stage to another. It is “materialistic” because of the interpretation of Marx being that: The evolution of societies is in terms of their material or economic bases.

Known to be the “materialistic conception of history” this describes the economic base of society and that economic base is the mode of production.

In historical materialism, different modes of production were discussed from primitive periods to the final stage that is communism. Basically, historical materialism is the evolution of the mode of production in the world and what are the reasons behind the change in the mode of production from time to time.

This theory is the work of both Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels.

Marx’s view on society is:-

  1. Society has interconnections between all the groups, institutions.
  2. Society is changeable in nature that’s why he introduced various kinds of models in this theory.
  3. Human nature is not consistent, it is revolutionary in nature and adaptable to change.

Marx says revolution came because people get rid of the present environment and they want to bring change.

Modes of production:

  1. Primitive communism
  2. Ancient mode of production
  3. Feudal mode of production
  4. Capitalistic mode of production
  5. Socialist mode of production
  6. Communism

Let us discuss this in detail!

PRIMITIVE COMMUNISM

This is the previous form of the mode of production. Basically, we can say that it is a hunting and gathering society. There was no such concept of producing more than need. Idea of saving was not present at that time. According to the need, there is production and consumption. Meaning, all have equal property, no one has access to it, which also has us arrive at the conclusion that all were equal which means there was a classless society. 

They make utensils using stones, sticks, the man also knows how to produce fire but the productive forces were very low common labor and common ownership was present there was the relationship of mutual equality, cooperation in this time. In primitive communism there was no surplus product, no individual can turn it into his private property.

  • WHY DID IT DECLINE?

It declined because people started producing more than their wish. They did so by doing mastery in a particular thing. For example, one man invents something which he can produce more. Because of that, some people remain as they were before. I.e. producing only according to their wish, because some people have more of it as compare to others. This lead to the emergence of a new period.

ANCIENT MODE OF PRODUCTION

This is the era of developing new inventions. Some do mastery over tools and some didn’t. Who did mastery, would be superiors, and those who didn’t, inferiors. Basically, society was as divisions of two types of people halves and halves not and they had a relation of master and slave.

  • Halves -masters
  • Halves not – slaves

This gave rise to slavery and the concept of private ownership. Slaves worked on the land of masters and they did a lot of work. That arose the exploitation of slaves by the masters. The exploitation was common. They were not treated as equal to human beings, the division of human beings was prominent since that time.

  • WHY HAD THIS PERIOD DECLINED?

The reason behind the declination of this period is the exploitation of the lower class(slaves) by the upper class (masters).  They did a lot of work on the land of masters with very less pay for their work. Apart from this, they were not able to do anything that will uplift them. They didn’t have their own time of leisure and health was also in a very bad condition. When they got exhausted by the cruelty of the upper class then they started a revolution against them by demanding change.

  • Condition 

Their condition was that they want some property of their own to escape from cruelty. They wanted to cultivate in their own land. This condition lead to the emergence of a new form of society.

FEUDAL MODE OF PRODUCTION

This period was particularly the by-product of the revolution in ancient times. Masters gave some part of the land to the slaves and land was held on condition of providing rent or service to an overlord.

This period also lead to a change in the relationship between masters and slaves. The slaves became serfs and masters become feudal lord because they were the landlord.

  • Lower class-serfs
  • Upper class-feudal lords

Serfs had their land. But they have to give some part of their cultivated land to the feudal lord in the form of rent. As time passed, serfs were overburdened by the rent. 

  • WHY THIS PERIOD DECLINED?

This period went into the stage of declination because of the exploitation that was done by the lords to the serfs.

The problems the serfs underwent made them revolt. They didn’t have enough time for them. They did work day and night in order to pay the land revenue. Consumption of their own crops was hard because most of the crops were taken by the lords in the terms of rent. These problems lead to the emergence of the new period.

CAPATILASTIC MODE OF PRODUCTION

As we know that the feudal lords were the rich section of the society. With having landed with them,  they opened up the factories and become capitalist. They told serfs that you are invited to work in our factories, get a payment according to your work. It was compulsory to come daily. 

Two types of classes emerged at this time.

  • Have nots-proletariats(workers)
  • Halves-bourgeoisie(capitalist)
  • WHY THIS PERIOD DECLINED?

This period decline because of the same reason, that is, exploitation by the upper-class to the lower-class. After sometime capitalists started to exploit the workers. They paid fewer wages to the workers but told them to do more work. Because of that, workers could not able to make time for themselves. The poor became poorer and the rich become richer. Because of this unjust behavior by the bourgeoisie, proletariats start to revolt against them.

SOCIALIST MODE OF PRODUCTION

This resulted in the success of the revolution which was led against the capitalist mode of production by the proletariat. In this period, all the factories were taken by the proletariat and they rule at this time. That’s why this period is known as the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

The socialization of production is bound to lead to the conversion to the means of production into the property of society, to the expropriation of the expropriators this led to the productivity of the labor and the less working hours this happened in Russia during the period of Lenin. 

  • DECLINE OF THIS PERIOD

This period declined because the proletariat gave away their power. This led to the emergence of a new period in history.

COMMUNISM

This period is equivalent to the first period of history that is primitive communism in some aspect in this era there will be a classless society.

A communist society would be classless in that wealth would be owned in common by all, and the system of commodity production would be replaced by one for use geared to the satisfaction of genuine human needs.

There will be no declination of this period. According to Marx, it will be the solution to all problems on implementation.

“Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.”

My Criticisms

  • According to me, there will be no such period where there will be a classless society. Thus, Marxism is a utopian concept. Society is done building. Now, changes are not possible. We cannot eliminate government and rulers, bureaucrats, executives, which is impossible for us to make them vanish. Division in society will remain forever.
  • Karl Marx did not see religion in a good light. He criticized religion and compares it with opium. He famously refers to religion as the opiate of the people, but it is worthwhile to look at the entire quotation: “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and also the protest against the real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of the spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Marx also believed that religion hinders the revolution. But he clearly said that he is not against religion per se, but against a system that requires illusions of religion. 

The theories, their backgrounds and decline speak a lot. We can understand the mindset of people back then. Also, learn from their mistakes and success to better the present and future. While you know about Marxism now, you could also visit our blog –  Forms of Government – Federal, Unitary, Parliamentary and Presidential to learn more.