Relevance of Marxism in the 21st Century
Marxism is much more than a theory or even a school of thought. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes is a body of doctrine that was developed by Karl Marx with contributions from Friedrich Engels in the mid-19th century. Marxism is a way of viewing the world from an economic and socio-political context. Originally, Marxism consisted of three basic ideas that were in some way related to each other: a philosophical anthropology, an economic and political, and program a theory of history. In other words, it is a combination of an economic theory, a political school of thought as well as a view of social change that was later picked up by socialist political movements across the globe. It has often been viewed as an analysis and critique of the development of the theory and practice of capitalism.
Marx’s work cannot be defined as a mere philosophy or even a philosophical system for that matter. In fact, it is a critique of philosophy, that of GWF Hegel in particular. The basic tenet of the Marxist school of thought is that philosophy has to be translated into reality. Marx said that merely interpreting the world should not be the goal of a philosopher or a political thinker. In fact, one must work towards changing and transforming the world we live in, thereby bringing about a change in not just the society but also the human consciousness of it (Marx, 1869). Marx’s work and the ideals of Marxism were heavily associated with concepts such as appropriation, alienation, praxis, creative labour, value, and so on. The basic political thinking within Marxism is built upon the notion of positive change and that a critique of ideals is the basis of all knowledge. This way, Marxism defers from empiricism (Britannica, 2011).
Marxism has found great appeal as a political thought for several class-based revolution and have been the theoretical basis for the policies and politics of several regimes across the world. However, most governments and rulers have interpreted the political writings of Marx in their own way and consequently; several of the policies of these so-called Marxist states are often dramatically different and conflicting from the basis of Marxism.
Marxist View of State
The Marxist theory on states can be roughly divided into three main focal areas: pre-capitalist states, capitalist states and the state in the post-capitalist society. According to Marxism, the civil society and the state are two different instruments. However, Marx did admit that there were some limitations to such a model as a political state always needs the guarantee of spheres that lie outside of it (Marx, 1843). This implies that the state is actually something that has a bourgeois interest, at least economically. Marxism refers to the state as a ‘committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie’ (Marx, 1846). In a way, Early Marxism looks at state from an economic perspective. In viewing the state and its functions, Marxism adopts a strict economic interpretation of history. According to Marxism, in every state, the production relations of the people are determined by the forces of production in the state, and these production relations later tend to condition all other relations, which includes the political as well. In a capitalist state, the economy and consequently the state are controlled by the bourgeois and the state in itself is rendered to becoming nothing more than just an instrument of class rule. So as the bourgeois accumulate more and more wealth and property through the development of industry and commerce, it is the individuals that grow richer and richer while the state continues to fall into considerable debt. However, Marx later made some modifications to this thought allowing certain amount of autonomy for the state. Here Marx contended that in some states, the bourgeois do not wield the power directly as they realize that...
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