Marxism is the name of a theory of a political attitude towards society. Marxism is named after the German socialist , Karl Marx (1818-1883) and is based on his ideas of a classless society and the abolition of private property.
What is Marxism?
Marxism is a world view and a method of analysis of society that focuses on class differences and societal conflicts between groups of citizens. The main elements of Karl Marx’s analysis and criticism of capitalism are described in the work “The Capital” ( Das Kapital in German), which Marx wrote until his death. Subsequently, two more volumes were published in Karl Marx’s name, published by his colleague and the community theorist, Friedrich Engels. Over time, Marx and Engels developed a wide range of Marxist societal perceptions and theories, which they published together, including the “Communist Manifesto” in 1848.
Marxism deals mainly with capitalism. Karl Marx was heavily influenced by the political tendencies of society in the mid-1800s, and as a political activist he came into contact with the labor movement. He opposed to the unequal economic and social relations between the classes in society. He therefore began to develop a philosophy that emphasized capitalism as a system that alienates man from core-values.
Marxism and Revolution
According to Marx, there is a conflict between owners and workers in a capitalist society – the so-called class struggle. In the capitalist society, it is the employers (the rich, the bourgeoisie) who exploit the workers. The group of workers are always larger than the group of owners who take the bulk of the cake. Marx emphasizes that workers will over time perceive this imbalance as unfair, and come to an understanding that capitalism exists only to exploit and suppress the proletariat.
In addition to these tensions between employers and workers, there are internal contradictions between the business owners, as they are in competition with each other. For example: If wages are kept low by one of those dominant companies, the demand for goods will fall because people will not be able to afford to buy what they usually do. If that happens, companies will have to lower prices so they can get rid of stocks. However, this will mean that some companies have to close because of too low turnover.
The class struggle and the economic domino effect together provide the basis for tensions between the group of companies and workers, both of whom experience economic pressure. Marx believed that these factors would spur a proletarian revolution, which over time would replace capitalist society with a socialist, where the people are in solidarity with each other and share ownership of the factories. However, the socialist society will only exist for a transitional period, as the people will strive for even greater equality and justice between people. The socialist society will therefore finally develop into a classless communist society based on common ownership of the means of production. Thus each citizen contributes to society as much as possible , and the production of goods and services is based on the real needs. Marx pointed out in this connection that the Communist community is best built on the principle that all citizens provide the best of their ability and enjoy as needed.
The development of Marxism
Supporters of Marxism have, over time, divided themselves into different groups with different focus on the three stages of Marxism; revolution, socialism and communism. From 1900s, Marxism has evolved towards a social democratic form and a more revolutionary communist form. The revolutionary form has also evolved to, among other things. Leninism, Maoism and Stalinism – named after the leaders of the various Marxist movements.
Marxism in practice
After World War II, several countries in Eastern Europe have tried to introduce Marxism’s ideas as a model of society through revolution. Although many of these countries’ governments have, claimed to act exclusively on behalf of the population during the transitional phase, this has not so far been the case. Because; governments had to use force to enforce the revolution. The world has therefore not yet seen a real society built on the Marxist thinking.
Neomarxism, or New Marxism, is a term for various modern Marxist approaches that attribute elements of classical Marxism to other sciences, such as critical theory, psychoanalysis, and existentialism. These modern branches of neomarxism have arisen primarily to explain issues that Marx did not explain in his works. Therefore there are many different subgroups of neomarxism that often do not conform to each other and their theories.