Simply, Marxism is a set of philosophical, political, economic and social ideas , designed and developed by Karl Marx in collaboration with Friedrich Engels ; in the middle of the year 1848. The aim was to put an end to the differences and class struggle that had arisen with aggressive capitalism . It is also called scientific socialism or Marxist socialism. What is Marxism in simple terms?
Learn in this article what Marxism consisted of, how it arose, what its basic principles were and what consequences its implementation brought to humanity.
What is marxism
It is a complete ideological system that includes economic, philosophical, political and social conceptions . It seeks social equality and the elimination of social classes, that workers have all the same rights. It is a radical critique of capitalism , which it is staunchly opposed to.
Marxist Socialism had a greater impact on Russia. It was the inspiration for the creation of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party and the founding of the Soviet Union in 1917 , a fact that divided the world into two camps, one capitalist and the other socialist. What is Marxism in simple terms?
Background of Marxist Socialism
Capitalist society had brought a series of problems that caused great concern to some thinkers of the time and they sought to provide a solution. The utopian socialists are the ones who in principle offer theories and proposals to resolve the differences between the workers and the bourgeoisie .
The theory of utopian socialism was based on the common possession of goods, compulsory work for all people and the equal distribution of goods and products. He also aspired to replace private property with state socialism. Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, and Saint-Simon were the ones who created this school of thought around 1847.
Origin of Marxism
In the middle of the 19th century, Karl Marx (German social philosopher) together with Friedrich Engels (German revolutionary), elaborated a theory that was inspired by Utopian Socialism. In it they rejected capitalism and proposed a complete program of action to transform society. It was from this moment, between 1840 and 1850 , that the Marxist movement was created.
The first discussion of Marxist socialism arises when these thinkers published the work “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848 . Here they expose three elementary principles of the new socialist movement, which would become the basis of Marxism. What is Marxism in simple terms?
They denounced the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie and defended the need for the workers’ revolution to put an end to capitalism . The theory also came to be known as Scientific Socialism , for being more versed than that presented by Utopian Socialism.
Development of Marxism in society
Marxism appeared when the revolutions that would soon develop in several European countries by the year 1848, among them France, Germany, Italy and the Austrian Empire, were close.
The Marxist thought penetrates quickly in the working class factories. It causes intense pressure on industrial society in countries such as Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and later in other European countries.
But it is in Russia where Marx’s thoughts and ideologies sink deep and promote the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 . Later, it is taken as a reference in governments of a socialist nature such as those of Lenin and Stalin, thus reaching its greatest height. What is Marxism in simple terms?
Marxist socialism was based on scientifically and critically analyzing capitalism . Unlike Utopian Socialism, which only insisted on an ideal society but did not focus on finding a methodology to achieve this goal.
For Marx, society was divided into two groups:
- Those who hold the power of the means of production (bourgeoisie).
- Those who have no possessions and sold their work at low prices (proletariat).
Marxism had no intention of creating the ideal society, in which owners donated their wealth and property for the common social good. Marx considered that the political action of the worker was inevitable, the socialist revolution would give rise to the new society . Scientific socialism consisted of taking control through the dictatorship of the proletariat. What is Marxism in simple terms?
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In the dictatorship of the proletariat there would be no private property. The objective of the new State was to be the socialization of the property that would pass into its hands. According to Marxist theory, this dictatorship would only be an intermediate phase for social discrepancies to disappear and classes to dissolve.
Once the classes disappeared, the state would not be necessary because it would become a form of domination of a higher class over a lower one. So, in theory, the state should gradually disappear to make way for an egalitarian, communist and classless society.
Division of Marxism
After the death of Karl Marx in 1883, different groups in the world have taken Marxism as the foundation of their policies. The main division of Marxist socialism was the one that generated the:
- Social Democrats: They maintain that socialism can be passed in a capitalist and multi-party system. This ideology resulted in the creation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Labor Party, among others.
- Communists: They argue that to make the transition to socialism requires a revolution that establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Communism led to several parties with this ideology. What is Marxism in simple terms?
Currently there are many political parties and revolutionary movements, but workers’ internationalism has fallen into a deep crisis. There are still parties of a social democratic nature in power in some Western nations, but they have moved away from Marxism in very relevant respects. Vietnam, North Korea, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba and Laos are governments that call themselves Marxists.
Characteristics of Marxist Socialism
- He believed in creating a class-free society.
- Its objective was to establish public property and abolish private property.
- The salary had to be stipulated in relation to the number of benefits it produced.
- The value of a product was determined by the amount of labor required to produce it.
- It is the antithesis of capitalism , it criticizes the inequality that this form of government generates in society. What is Marxism in simple terms?
- The ideal society, according to Marxism, was one without classes and free of rulers . It only required a managerial class to meet the needs of the people.
- It supported the economic centralization and the means of production, as well as the standardization of prices by the State.
Principles of Marxism
The principles of Marxism were established and made known through the first work of Marx and Engels, the “Communist Manifesto”, published in 1848. These principles were:
- Analysis of the past through historical materialism and the dispute between classes, due to economic factors.
- Criticism of the present , analyzing the capitalist economic system, which produces a class struggle.
- Need for a future based on egalitarian society, where the state is in the hands of the workers.
Outstanding works of Marxism
Two works can be highlighted as the most important of Marxist thought, both published by the efforts of Marx and Engels. What is Marxism in simple terms?
- The Communist Manifesto: Published between 1847 and 1848, by the two thinkers and highlights the three basic principles of Marxist socialism, mentioned above.
- Capital: It is a thorough investigation of how economic relations work. Seeks to discover the universal concepts behind economics. It covers three volumes, but Marx lived only to see the first published. The other two volumes were published by Engels.
Consequences of Marxism
- Marxism, in its time, generated reflection on the struggle of social classes , capital and the creation of a project that would improve the well-being of the society of the moment and of the future.
- It promoted the analysis and review of the problems that capitalism generated in the countries and how it affected the people, especially the working class.
- The reflective approach that seeks social welfare is considered the most significant contribution of Marxism to humanity.
- Marxism was accepted in several countries , it was even applied in the form of the communist system. The most prominent cases are: Russia, Cuba and China.
- Today, those who call themselves Marxists continue to fight against worker exploitation and the equitable distribution of goods. What is Marxism in simple terms?
Disadvantages of Marxism
The application of Marxist thought has brought consequences that have not meant advantages for society, much less for the working class. The disadvantages that the practical application of Marxism has caused are:
- Rulers who remain in power for decades, forming a government bourgeoisie .
- Access to wealth is only available to rulers , while the people are getting poorer.
- In most cases, governments that are guided by Marxism suppress freedom of opinion . They even kill those who have ideas opposed to those of the regime.
- The quality of life is affected by the conditions mentioned above, also the means of production and the economy in general.