Karl Marx was a German philosopher and economist who developed the theory of communism. He studied many political-economic topics, including alienation and exploitation in capitalism, as well as a class struggle between social classes.
His ideas were largely responsible for shaping modern socialism/communism. Marx has been described by some academics as one of the most influential figures in human history; his work is cited both within the Marxist theory and outside it.
Who is Karl Marx?
After receiving his university degree, Marx began working as a journalist for a liberal newspaper in Prussia before moving to Paris, where he met Friedrich Engels.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are considered the founders of Marxism, a socio-political theory that predicts the overthrow of capitalism. Their most famous work, The Communist Manifesto, was published in 1848 and outlined his ideas about socialism and communism.
It depicted all of history as a series of class struggles and predicted that the upcoming proletarian revolution would sweep aside the capitalist system for good.
They published a criticism of Bauer’s Young Hegelian philosophy entitled “The Holy Father,” which led to their expulsion from France and move to Belgium.
The definition of Marxism
Marxism is a theory and practice of socialism, including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Marxism is a socio-economic system that believes in the class struggle. It is based on the idea of dialectical materialism, which is the belief that change occurs through the clash of opposites. In terms of race, Marxism believes that people are arranged hierarchically in terms of psychological and cultural characteristics that are immutable and innate.
Human groups’ shared, the collective character is not immutable; it will undergo transformations.
Processes will always end in a corresponding recasting of the biological substrate, thus all the time re-rooting character in a new innate hereditary basis.
The principles of Marxism
Marxism is primarily a political and social doctrine, comprising the Marxist theory of class struggle and Marxian economics. Marxism was first publicly articulated in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their publication The Communist Manifesto, which lays out their class struggle and revolt theory. Marxian economics centers on Karl Marx’s critiques of capitalism in his 1867 book Das Kapital.
Marx’s class theory views capitalism as a stage in the inevitable evolution of economic systems. They are motivated, he believed, by immense impersonal processes of history that manifest themselves via social class behavior and conflict. Marx believed that every society is split into social classes whose members have a greater affinity for one another than members of other social classes.
Here are some excerpts from Marx’s views about how class strife will manifest itself under a capitalist system:
Capitalist society is divided into two classes: the bourgeoisie, or business owners, who own the production resources, and the proletariat, or workers, whose labor converts raw materials into valuable commercial goods.
Workers who do not control the production resources, such as factories, buildings, and raw materials, have limited influence in a capitalist economic system. Additionally, workers are easily replaceable during harsh economic times, thus depreciating their perceived worth.
To maximize profits, company owners have an incentive to extract the most amount of work from their workforce while offering them the lowest salaries feasible. This generates an inequitable inequality between owners and employees, whose labor the owners profit from.
Marx predicted that because employees had no personal investment in the production process, they would grow detached from it, including their humanity, and develop resentment against company owners.
Additionally, the bourgeoisie uses social institutions like government, media, university, religion in general, and banking and financial systems as weapons and tools against the proletariat to preserve their position of authority and privilege.
Eventually, the inherent disparities and exploitative economic connections between these two classes will result in a revolution in which the working class rises against the bourgeoisie, seizes control over the means of production, and eradicates capitalism.
As you can see, Marx believed that the capitalist system was born with the seeds of its demise. Fundamental to capitalist relations is the detachment and exploitation of the proletariat, which eventually drives the working class to revolt against the capitalists and seize control of the production elements.
This revolution would be conducted by enlightened leaders dubbed “the vanguard of the proletariat,” who would comprehend society’s class structure and unify the working class via increased understanding and class consciousness.
Marx anticipated that as a result of the revolution, private ownership of the productive resources would be phased out and replaced by common ownership, initially under socialism and subsequently communism. Social stratification and class conflict would vanish in the last stage of human evolution.
Historical materialism is the philosophical basis of Marxism, which is the basis for socialism and communism. Historical materialism posits that the economic system determines social and political structures; in other words, the ruling class controls society because it controls the means of production.
Although Marx never clarified the nature of this correspondence between ideological forms and economic structure, his later followers have differed in their interpretations.
The superstructure, consisting of legal and political “forms of social consciousness,” corresponds to the economic structure.
The historical significance of money
Money is essential in the commodity economy because it helps to balance supply and demand. In the non-commodity economy, there is no money, so labor vouchers would need to be used to track social justice.
As per Marx, money is essential for the functioning of capitalism and its effects on society; money does not last forever, and it is only a historical period that capitalism exists.
Marx pointed out that “in a collective society based on the common ownership of means of production, producers do not exchange their products; the labor expended in the production of commodities is not represented as the value of commodities and the properties of something which they possess.”
Therefore, money would no longer exist in this type of society.
Capitalism, Communism, Socialism – the differences
Marx and Engels’ theories established the foundations for Communism’s theory and practice, which advocates for a classless society where all property and wealth are collectively (rather than privately) held. And though the former Soviet Union, China, and Cuba (among many other countries) had officially communist administrations, there has never been a genuinely communist state that entirely abolished private property, money, and class hierarchies.
Socialism is several decades older than communism. Its early followers advocated for more equitable income distribution, worker solidarity, improved working conditions, and shared ownership of land and industrial equipment. Socialism is founded on the principle of public control of production while people retain their property rights. Rather than emerging from a class revolution, socialist change occurs inside existing social and political systems, whether oligarchic, technocratic, democratic, or dictatorial in nature.
Communism and socialism both reject capitalism, an economic system characterized by personal ownership and a legal framework that safeguards the right to acquire or transfer private property. Private people and businesses own the productive resources and the rights to profit from them in a capitalist economy. Communism and socialism seek to correct the injustices inherent in capitalism’s free-market structure. This would include exploitation of workers and wealth disparities.
The main content and contribution of Marx’s monetary theory
Marx’s monetary theory is intensively reflected in each volume of Das Kapital.
It is sporadically manifested in Karl Marx, Frederick Engels: Collected Works (volume 26 and volumes 46 49), The Communist Manifesto, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (Preface and Introduction ), Critique of the Gotha Programme, and Epistles of Das Kapital.
In the analysis of simple forms of barter, Marx profoundly said: “The internal opposition between use-value and value hidden in commodity is manifested through the external opposition, that is, through the relationship between the two commodities. Therefore, the simple form of commodity value is the form of manifestation of use-value and value contained in the commodity.”
The monetary theory of Marx is a study of the form of value that makes values become exchange values. The main contribution of Marx’s economic theory is to deepen understanding of the form of value.
One weakness of classical political economy was that it could not find the form of value that makes value become exchange value from analysis of the commodity, especially the study of commodity values involving labor products.
This understanding involves understanding the historical particularity of the existence of money and the historical specificity of the capitalist mode of production. Commodity fetishism is not derived from content stipulated by value but rather from the social nature of labor that produces commodity.
Marx’s monetary theory explains how commodities are produced and exchanged and how this affects workers’ lives.
Marx argued that the commodity form is the fundamental structure of capitalism and that money is the most critical component of this form.
The mystique of the commodity world and black magic associated with labor products under capitalism is eliminated once we escape to other forms of production.
Marxism in contemporary sociology
Contemporary sociologists have drawn from Marxist principles to analyze society and its structures. Marxist sociology focuses on understanding how society works and how different elements interact and has had a significant impact on sociology over the past century.
There is a backlash against Marxist thought in some countries, but it remains dominant in sociological research sanctioned and supported by those communist states that remain.
Marxism offers a unique perspective on the nature of social inequality, labor and culture.
Marxism and law
Marxism and law are two concepts that are intertwined. Marxism developed in part because people need more than political instinct to steer by when they want to improve their situation. Legal change is necessary, but the law is not positioned to end oppression.
Ideologists of the women’s movement have done better than Marxists in grasping the power of law pragmatically.
Marxism has influenced legal thinking in many ways, most notably through its emphasis on class in society and the need for a political revolution to create a just society. Marxist legal theory is based on the idea that law is not simply an expression of social norms but a tool the ruling class uses to maintain power over the proletariat.
In recent decades, there has been a revival of interest in Marxist jurisprudence, primarily due to its insights into questions such as property rights, democracy and human rights.
Marxists believe that law reform is necessary but cannot end oppression on its own. Law reform is a necessary step in the struggle of the oppressed, and it must be directed towards addressing the root causes of inequality and injustice.
It is essential to build coalitions with other marginalized groups to stimulate an effective law reform.
There are various ways society can achieve law reform, and each approach has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Ultimately, it is up to those working within the legal system to decide how best to address inequality and injustice.
Criticisms of Marxism
While Marx inspired a large following, many of his forecasts failed to come true. Marx felt that more competition would not result in better goods for customers but would instead result in capitalist bankruptcy and the establishment of monopoly as fewer and fewer capitalists retained control of production.
Former capitalists who had fallen on hard times might embrace the proletariat, eventually becoming an army of the jobless. Additionally, by its very nature, the market economy would encounter enormous supply-and-demand imbalances, resulting in catastrophic depressions.
Nonetheless, capitalism has not imploded throughout time due to strong rivalry. While markets have evolved over time, they have not resulted in the predominance of monopolies.
Wages have climbed, and profits have remained stable, even though economic inequality has grown in many capitalist economies. And while recessions and depressions have occurred, they are not considered essential characteristics of free markets. Indeed, a society devoid of rivalry, wealth, and personal property has never arisen, and the experience of the twentieth century indicates that it is a likely impossibility.