Marxism: Theory, Effects, and Examples

What Exactly Is Marxism?

Karl Marx is the founder of Marxism, a social, political, and economic philosophy. It looks at how capitalism affects labor, productivity, and economic development, and proposes a worker revolution to overthrow capitalism and replace it with communism. Marxism holds that in a capitalist economy, the struggle between social classes—specifically, the bourgeoisie, or capitalists, and the proletariat, or workers—defines economic relations and will inevitably lead to revolutionary communism.

Important Points to Remember

  • Karl Marx’s Marxism is a social, political, and economic theory that focuses on the struggle between capitalists and workers.
  • Marx believed that capitalist-worker power relationships were inherently exploitative and would inevitably lead to class conflict.
  • He believed that the working class would eventually overthrow the capitalist class and seize control of the economy as a result of this conflict.

Marxism: An Introduction

Marxism is a social and political theory that includes Marxian economics and Marxist class conflict theory. The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848, was the first public expression of Marxism. It lays out the theory of class struggle and revolution. Marxian economics focuses on Karl Marx’s critiques of capitalism, which he published in his book Das Kapital in 1867.

The End of Capitalism and Class Conflict

The elements of Marx’s theories of how class conflict would play out in a capitalist system are listed below.

The bourgeoisie, or business owners, who control the means of production, and the proletariat, or workers, whose labor transforms raw commodities into valuable economic goods, make up capitalist society.
In the capitalist economic system, ordinary workers who do not own the means of production, such as factories, buildings, and materials, have little power. In times of high unemployment, workers are also easily replaceable, further devaluing their perceived worth.

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Business owners have an incentive to get the most work out of their laborers while paying them the lowest possible wages in order to maximize profits. This creates an unjust balance between owners and laborers, whose labor is exploited for profit by the owners.

Workers, Marx believed, would become alienated from the process of production, as well as from their own humanity, and resent business owners because they have little personal stake in it.
The bourgeoisie also uses social institutions such as the government, media, academia, organized religion, and banking and financial systems against the proletariat in order to maintain their power and privilege.

 

The inherent inequalities and exploitative economic relations between these two classes will eventually lead to a revolution in which the working class revolts against the bourgeoisie, seizes control of the means of production, and overthrows capitalism.

As a result, Marx believed that the capitalist system contained the seeds of its own demise. The working class would inevitably rebel against the bourgeoisie and seize control of the means of production due to the alienation and exploitation of the proletariat that are inherent in capitalist relations. This revolution would be led by enlightened leaders known as “the vanguard of the proletariat,” who understood society’s class structure and would use awareness and class consciousness to unite the working class.

Marx predicted that private ownership of the means of production would be replaced by collective ownership as a result of the revolution, first under socialism and then under communism. Social classes and class conflict would no longer exist in the final stage of human development.

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Karl Marx believed that capitalism would be overthrown in a violent revolution by the proletariat.

Socialism vs. Capitalism vs. Communism

The ideas of Marx and Engels laid the foundation for communism’s theory and practice, which advocates for a classless society in which all property and wealth is owned communally (rather than privately). Although the former Soviet Union, China, and Cuba (among other countries) had nominally communist governments, no purely communist state has ever existed that has completely abolished personal property, money, or class systems.

Socialism is several decades older than communism. Its early supporters advocated for more equitable wealth distribution, worker solidarity, improved working conditions, and common ownership of land and manufacturing equipment. Individuals can still own property under socialism, which is based on the idea of public ownership of the means of production. Socialist reform occurs within existing social and political structures, whether democratic, technocratic, oligarchic, or totalitarian, rather than as a result of a class revolution.

Both communism and socialism oppose capitalism, which is defined by private ownership and a legal system that safeguards the right to own and transfer private property. Private individuals and businesses own the means of production and the right to profit from them in a capitalist economy. The goals of communism and socialism are to correct the flaws in capitalism’s free-market system. Workers are exploited, and there are inequalities between the rich and the poor.

Marxism’s skepticism

Despite the fact that Marx influenced a large number of people, many of his predictions have not come true. Increased competition, according to Marx, would not result in better goods for consumers, but rather would lead to capitalist bankruptcy and the rise of monopolies as fewer and fewer people were left to control production. Former capitalists who had gone bankrupt would join the proletariat, eventually forming an army of the unemployed. Furthermore, the market economy, which is unplanned by its very nature, would face massive supply-and-demand problems, resulting in severe depressions.

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Despite this, capitalism has not collapsed as a result of intense competition over time. Despite the fact that markets have evolved over time, monopolies have not become more prevalent. Although economic inequality has increased in many capitalist societies, wages have risen and profits have remained stable. Even though recessions and depressions have occurred, they are not thought to be a natural part of free markets. Indeed, a society without competition, money, or private property has never existed, and the history of the twentieth century indicates that it is an impractical concept.

Marxism: What Kind of Philosophy Is It?

Marxism is a philosophy that unifies social, political, and economic theory and was developed by Karl Marx in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is primarily concerned with the struggle between the working and ownership classes, and it prefers communism and socialism to capitalism.

What Future Predictions Did Marx Make?

Marx believed that capitalism would inevitably lead to its own demise. The oppressed workers would become alienated, eventually overthrowing the owners and seizing control of the means of production, ushering in a classless society.

Was Karl Marx correct?

So far, no. Some countries, such as the former Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, have attempted to establish communist societies, but have been unable to completely eliminate private property, money, and social classes. Capitalism, in its various forms, continues to be the dominant economic system in 2021.

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