Essential Features of Marxism


  1. Communism/Marxism has for its foundations the ideas and theories formulated by Karl Marx.

  2. Marxism rests upon the following main principles and theories:

  3. 1. Faith in Dialectical Materialism:

  4. In the theory of Dialectical Materialism. Marxism advocates that what is real are matter, i.e. material means of life. Matter or material means are living and evolutionary. Matter evolves by the three laws of Dialectics. Matter evolves and reaches its highest stage, (node) and then the dialectic leap (Revolution) come, and it enters the next stage. Because of its internal contradictions, matter is in a state of continuous flux and in its evolution one stage is negated by the next, and the new stage again by the next. This process goes on. In other words matter evolves dialectically.

  5. 2. Faith in Historical Materialism:

  6. Historical Materialism is the Marxian theory of history of society. It holds that history is the evolution of material means of life. The greatest and the soul fact of human life is: "Man must eat to live" Hunger is the reality which always leads to the human attempts to own material means of life. Human consciousness is always determined by the material means of life. Marx advocates: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their social existence on the contrary, it is their material existence that determines their consciousness." Social relations are very closely bound up with the material means of production.

  7. In acquiring new means of production men change their mode of production. In changing their mode of production they change their living and their social relations. The land gives rise to a society with feudalism and the steam mills, an industrial society.

  8. Marx identifies five stages of social evolution. The Communal stage, the Slave stage, the Feudal stage, the Capitalist stage and the Communist stage. Each is followed by the other. The present capitalist stage is bound to be followed by the Communist stage. The transformation is bound to come through a revolution.

  9. 3. Faith in Economic Determinism:

  10. This Marxian theory holds that economic relations determine all social relations.

  11. Society has a two tier structure of relations:

  12. (a) The Fundamental Structure which is constituted by economic relations, which are in turn relations between two economic classes—the haves or the Rich and have notes or the Poor.

  13. (b) The Super structure is constituted by all other types of relations—social, political, cultural, religious and the like.

  14. A change in the fundamental structure (Economic relations) leads to changes in the super structure of other relations. Politics has its roots in economics. Political structure at a given time is a reflection of e economic structure of society. Economic relations constitute the basis of society as well as the agent of change.

  15. 4. Analysis of Social Relations on the basis of Class Structure and Class Struggle:

  16. Marx advocates the view that each society has been and still continues to be inhabited by two classes—the haves and have-not's or the rich and the poor. The haves own the means of production and the have-not's are the sellers of their labour, lie haves exploit the have-not's. The rich are the exploiters and the poor are the victims exploitation. The former always maintain and try to perpetuate their system of exploitation, while the latter always try to get rid of their exploitation.

  17. Hence each class antagonistic to the other, and both are involved in struggle "The history of hither, to existing societies has been a history of class struggle—a history of strife and Tuggle between the haves and have not's." Class struggle is the creed of every society.

  18. 5. Advocacy of the Theory of Surplus Value :

  19. This theory is based on the hour theory of value which holds that labour is the real producer of value. A piece of brass when converted into a brass tap by the labour, registers a big value hike. The profit earned from selling it is really the share of the labour because it is the 'surplus value' created by him. However, it is owned by the rich as their profit. Capitalism is system of exploitation because in it the capitalists retain this surplus value as their profit. The capitalists exploit the fruits of the labour and use it for exploiting the labour. Hence capitalism is an evil system of exploitation.

  20. 6. Rejection of Capitalism as an evil system:

  21. Marxism is the enemy of capitalism. It regards capitalism as a system of exploitation and a system based on inequality. In it, the rich always become richer and the poor become poorer. The rich exploit the poor. Under capitalism, the workers merely exist and they always face exploitation, hunger, disease, starvation wretched conditions of work, and even wretched existence and not life.

  22. The capitalists use the institutions of state, religion and private property as instruments for the exploitation of the poor workers. Capitalism is as such an evil system. It has several inherent evils, like cut-throat competition, concentration of wealth in the hands of hands few people and an ever-increasing exploitation of the workers, which keeps on making it weaker and weaker.

  23. The workers keep on uniting by virtue of their class consciousness that emerges due to their sufferings at the hands of the capitalists. As such, with the evolution of capitalism things always go from bad to worst for the capitalists and their system. The workers then revolt to overthrow capitalism through a proletarian revolution. In fact, Marxism categorical states, "Capitalism is its own grave digger." "It contains the seeds of its own destruction. Its final end is destined and it is to come through a proletarian revolution."

  24. 7. Faith in Revolution:

  25. Marxism has a firm faith in revolution. It holds that when a particular stage of social evolution reaches its saturation—the node—a revolution comes to usher it into the next stage. Marxism accepts and advocates the need to prepare the workers for a revolution against capitalism. Marxists argue that since the end of capitalism is certain and it is to come through a revolution, the workers must prepare and stage the revolution. Revolution is to usher the social evolution towards its final destination—the communist society. Revolution is needed to give a push to history.

  26. 8. Dictatorship of the Proletariat:

  27. Marxism holds that after the overthrow of capitalism by a workers revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat (workers) will be established and operationalised. It will be used to eliminate all remaining features of capitalism. Under it, the workers will own and work the means of production. They will use and direct the organised power of the state against the capitalists and other enemies of revolution and socialism. A full liquidation of the class of capitalists and their other supporters is to be secured under the dictatorship of proletariat.

  28. 9. Communist Society as a Classless Stateless Society:

  29. Marxism stands for the establishment of a communist society—a classless and stateless society in which each one works according to his capacity and each one gets according to his needs. After the overthrow of capitalism by a proletarian revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariate will be established. Under it capitalism will be fully liquidated. The state will also wither away.

  30. The prehistory will end and the real history will begin after the establishment of the final stage of socialist evolution—the communist society. In other words Marxism stands for the establishment of a classless and stateless society as its final objective.

  31. 10. Rejection of State as a class organisation controlled and exploited by the rich:

  32. Marxism believes that state is a class institution. It is not a social institution. It is the institution created and run by the class of the 'Haves' for exploiting the poor. State had its birth at a particular stage of class struggle. It was not originally there. The 'Haves' created the state as an instrument of force and violence for dominating, suppressing and exploiting the have-nots. Communism therefore stands for the overthrow of the state and for the establishment of a stateless and classless society i.e. a communist society. There is to be no place for the state in communist society.

  33. 11. Marxism on Property:

  34. Marxism regards private property as the chief enemy of the society. Private Property has been the source of all evils — inequalities, exploitation and poverty of the masses. It is the hall-mark of capitalism. State and religion uphold private property and that is why these are also evil institutions.

  35. Private property has to be abolished for securing the end of all the evils of society. It has to be replaced by a system of public ownership in which all own everything in common. Communism permits personal property i.e. ownership of articles of daily use only.

  36. 12. Marxism and Religion:

  37. Marxism is opposed to religion. Religion is also an evil because it is used by the rich for justifying their 'property' and evil deeds. It is used by the rich for checking the growth of the idea of revolution among the poor. Religion preaches 'satisfaction with the lot' and calls upon the people to accept their existence as the will of God. Religion, according to Marxism, is the opium of the masses. It justifies exploitation and property in the name of God's will. There is to be no place for religion in the communist society.

  38. 13. Theory of Communist Party:

  39. The theory of communist party was formulated and used by Lenin. He held that the communist party, as the party of the workers, was to be organised and used for preparing, organising, directing and leading the workers in their struggle and revolution against capitalism. It was also to act as the vanguard of the people in their march towards socialism. It was to perform the role of educating the people in Marxism.

  40. 14. Theory of Capitalistic Imperialism:

  41. Lenin formulated the theory of capitalistic imperialism for explaining the development of capitalism into its highest stage—imperialism. The evolution of capitalism in a state leads to the birth of monopoly capital, which uses the state power for possessing and exploiting markets abroad. Capitalism as such develops into imperialism. This imperialism leads to war among the imperialists because of the law of cut-throut competition among the capitalists. The war then destroys the capitalists and it highest stage imperialism.

  42. 15. Theory of one Revolution and Violent Revolution:

  43. Further, Lenin clarified that the peasant, workers and the proletariat can and should combine to stage a common single revolution against feudalism and capitalism. Through it, they can directly secure socialism. It was also clarified by Lenin that revolution means a violent revolution involving bloodshed and use of force.

  44. He justified it by holding that since the minority (the capitalists) have been using force and violence against the people (have-nots) i.e. the majority, it is natural that the latter should use the same weapon against the former. These have been the fundamental features of Marxism (Communism).

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