Mao Tse-Tung and Karl Marx

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Exploring the Concepts of Karl Marx and Mao Tse-Tung

Karl Marx believed that in an industrialized society, the working class, known as the proletariat would revolt and take over the ruling class, and would in effect, create a classless society. Karl Marx believed this could only happen in an industrialized society. Once it became apparent that the working class would not rise above, Lenin intervened and confirmed Marxism obsolete in Russia. Since the late 1920's the Chinese Communist Party has altered Marxism in China. It became a peasant party with an anti-Marxist petty-bourgeois viewpoint and through all the fluctuations of the left and right turns of world Stalinism, it kept a utopian and reactionary perspective; in Marxist terminology, reactionary refers to people whose ideas might appear to be socialist, but, in essence, contain elements of feudalism, capitalism, nationalism, fascism or other characteristics of the ruling class. It kept a nationally based and classless socialism, or "peasant socialism,” as worded by Trotsky. To call Mao Tse-Tung’s communist or Maoist, philosophy socialism is an understatement. Though encompassing many Marxist values, China has done a more effective job of forcing the Maoist agenda through more ruthless violence by utilizing the multitude of peasants residing within its borders as a powerful force, unlike Marxism which calls for a series of revolution by means of class struggle and uprising in the proletariat. Though the Maoist ideology had subsisted in China for some years after his time, today it is an important economic force, but is government-run, leaving it unstable without government regulation as the economy is dominated by large state-owned enterprises, but private enterprises also play a major role in the economy. State-owned enterprises are a major source of profit and power for members of the Communist Party of China and their families and are largely favored by the government.

Karl Marx wove economics and philosophy together to construct a grand theory of human history and social change. His concept of alienation, for example, first expressed in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, plays a key role in his criticism of capitalism. Marx believed that people, by nature, are free, creative beings who have the potential to totally transform the world. But he observed that the modern, technologically developed world is apparently beyond our full control. Marx condemned the free market, for instance, as being “anarchic,” or ungoverned. He maintained that the way the market economy is coordinated—through the spontaneous purchase and sale of private property dictated by the laws of supply and demand—blocks our ability to take control of our individual and collective destinies. Marx condemned capitalism as a system that alienates the masses. His reasoning was like this: although workers produce things for the market, market forces, not workers, control things. People are required to work for capitalists who have full control over the means of production and maintain power in the workplace. Work, he said, becomes degrading, monotonous, and suitable for machines rather than for free, creative people. In the end, people themselves become objects—robot-like mechanisms that have lost touch with human nature, that make decisions based on cold profit-and-loss considerations, with little concern for human worth and need. Marx concluded that capitalism blocks our capacity to create our own humane society. Marx’s notion of alienation rests on a crucial but shaky assumption. It assumes that people can successfully abolish an advanced, market-based society and replace it with a democratic, comprehensively planned society. Marx claimed that we are alienated not only because many of us toil in tedious, perhaps even degrading, jobs, or because by competing in the marketplace we tend to place profitability above human need. The issue is not about toil versus happiness. We are...
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