November 20th, 2012
Is Marxism still relevant?
In 1999, the BBC conducted a series of polls, asking people to vote on the greatest men and women of the millennium. Names like Albert Einstein, creator of the theory of relativity, Isaac Newton, initial theorist behind natural law, and Marie Curie, physicist and first woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, were listed, however Karl Marx was voted the greatest man of the millennium. Marx’s accomplishment was creating the idea of Marxism, which has unarguably shaped many governments and created immense criticism of capitalism and democracy. One difference between Marx and the pioneers listed above, rests upon the idea of modern relevance. It would be idiotic to claim that the theory of relativity, the discovery of natural law, or even Curie’s work with radiation is not relevant, internationally and currently these discoveries shape the infrastructure of science and future innovation. This sets up the main question of this paper: is Marxism still relevant?
In examining this question, this paper will show that Marxism is only relevant as a disposition or at best a very weak ideology. The ideas of class antagonism and the resulting crisis theory will be magnified and sequentially analyzed to illuminate Marxism’s self-contained fallacies. Marxism only exists on an adversarial level, by this I mean that it can not stand on its own, this “ideology” is great for pointing out problems but is hardly practical. Before tackling Marxism, we must first briefly discuss it’s primary author and it’s basic tenets because the foundation of an ideology is utterly important in dissecting it’s fallacies.
Karl Marx was born into a wealthy middle class family and by his teen years he was well versed in philosophy. In 1848 Marx released the Communist Manifesto, at this time he and his family were residing in London. Only three of his seven children survived to adulthood, largely due to the poverty they incurred in London. Marx, a writer, did not earn much for his family and survived on family inheritances and support from long time friend and philosopher, Friedrich Hegel. He was a long time analyst of capitalism and spent much of his latter days in the library studying the works Adam Smith and other political theorist. The wife of Marx, Jenny, died in 1851 and Marx followed 15 months later. After briefly describing Marx’s life, it paramount that the basic tenets of Marxism are also briefly examined before specifically focusing on the question of relevancy.
Webster defines Marxism as a social theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and the dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society. This ideology is mainly concerned with extreme equality, in which classes are abolished and private property is non-existent. Marx was adamant in changing the status quo, and this change could only come about by changing material forces. These material forces or means of production would need to be government owned and equally redistributed among the masses. Marxism made it’s initial “full” appearance in 1848, a time of capitalist imperialism and industrial predominance. It is quite clear that Marxism was the product of reactionary thinking against capitalism, democracy, imperialism and her tenets.
We will now examine a very important factor of Marxism, class antagonism. It is impossible to claim that class warfare does not exist, it is still visibly apparent in society and widely debated in political arenas. This realization was not very prophetic, Marx is more popularly known for his solution to this problem. Marx believed that humans were inherently communal, capable of being equal and living in a borderless, non-competitive, classless world. In order to reach this utopia, Marx called for massive revolution by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie as...