Marxism defines this perspective and outlines in detail its goals, methods, fundamental concepts, and principle contributors. It evaluates the usefulness of this perspective in understanding social life and social interaction. Issues to consider could include famous and controversial theories, the problem of social order, class, gender, ethnicity, media, or religion.
No thinker in the 19th century has had such a direct, deliberate, and powerful influence upon mankind as Karl Marx. His concept of Marxism is now a major perspective in modern sociology. Karl Marx’s revolutionary philosophies led to the practice of socialism and communism, ultimately resulting in the overthrow of an entire capitalist society and the state institutions that had brought it into being through the Communist Revolutions in Eastern Europe and China during the last century.
Teacher: Conor Bendle
Word count: 1,216
Due: Tuesday, 16th March 2004
The main concepts that create the theory of Marxism are a criticism of capitalism, a classless society, and classical political economics. Karl Marx’s famous theories to help define Marxism include dialectical materialism, the law of development, and the mode of production. Within his lifetime, a new revolutionary practice was formed, and Marx’s name would be forever associated with that practice. The German-born Karl Marx was a philosopher, social scientist, historian, and revolutionary, and possibly the most influential socialist thinker to emerge from the nineteenth century. He completed the greater part of his work between 1844 and 1883, during periods of democratic nationalism, trade unionism, and revolution. He had an acute sense of injustice and was repelled by the rhetoric of the intellectuals, who were remote from reality, and the self-righteous contentment of the bourgeoisie, as he found they were hypocritical and blinded by their wealth and status.
Friedrich Engels was essentially a social philosopher and co-founder of modern communist theory with Karl Marx. In 1847, Engels and Marx began writing a pamphlet based on Engels’ The Principles of Communism. The 12,000-word pamphlet was finished in six weeks and written to make communist theory understandable to a wide audience. It was named The Communist Manifesto and published in February 1848. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels devoted the rest of his life to editing and translating Marx’s writings. Marxism can be defined as the theory of dialectical materialism based on communist practice.
Dialectical Materialism is a way of understanding reality, whether it be thoughts, emotions, or the material world. The materialist dialectic is the theoretical foundation of Marxism. Being a communist means practicing Marxism, actively supporting the interests of the working class and uniting workers regardless of gender, nationality, race, or ideology (Perry, 2002). Dialectics in Marx refer to opposing forces in reality, internal and inherent forces whose mutual conflicts produce metamorphoses. Men are products of their environment in general and their economic environment in particular (Sowell, 1985).
This dialectical idea of self-destruction through self-fulfillment predominantly states that the culture destroys itself by perfecting itself (Wolton, 1996). Marx distinguished five broad stages in the formation of a bourgeois society, which he named Modes of Production. In Marx’s writings, the five major historical modes of production are: primitive communism, the ancient mode of production, Asiatic mode of production, feudalism, and capitalism (Evans, 1993; Perry, 2002).
Social development from the lowest stage to the highest was marked by increases in human powers of production, the elaboration of the division of labor, and the rise of the institution of private property. The contradictions within the highest existing stage, i.e., a bourgeois society, would lead to its replacement by a still higher stage: communism. Socialism and communism were conceived as future modes of production that would liberate humanity from exploitation and oppression, using the general increase in the productive forces for the general good. Marx and Engels maintained that this mode of production opened a new possibility of a classless society: socialism.
They devoted their life’s work to the achievement of this goal (Perry, 2002). In modern capitalism, large capitalist employers exploit workers by not paying them the full worth of their labor. Marx considered that the progression of capitalism, each technical advance and each accretion of productivity, was bought at the price of the exploitation and suffering of workers (Evans, 1993). In his theory on the capitalist system, Marx refers to the dehumanization of the worker, with the implication that this system of production denies them something that is their due as human beings. He argued that capitalism had either destroyed morality.