Marxism in Plain and Simple English: The Theory of Marxism in a Way Anyone Can Understand

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Marxism - Wikipedia

By far the more academic work, it lays forth Marx's theories on commodities, labor markets, the division of labor and a basic understanding of the rate of return to owners of capital. The exact origins of the term "capitalism" in English are unclear, it appears that Karl Marx was not the first to use the word "capitalism" in English, although he certainly contributed to the rise of its use. While it's unclear whether either Thackeray or Marx was aware of the other's work, both men meant the word to have a pejorative ring.

Still, there are some lessons that even modern economic thinkers can learn from Marx. Though he was the capitalist system's harshest critic, Marx understood that it was far more productive than previous or alternative economic systems. He believed all countries should become capitalist and develop that productive capacity, and then workers would naturally revolt into communism.

But, like Adam Smith and David Ricardo before him, Marx predicted that because of capitalism's relentless pursuit of profit by way of competition and technological progress to lower the costs of production, that the rate of profit in an economy would always be falling over time. Like the other classical economists , Karl Marx believed in the labor theory of value to explain relative differences in market prices.

This theory stated that the value of a produced economic good can be measured objectively by the average number of labor-hours required to produce it. In other words, if a table takes twice as long to make as a chair, then the table should be considered twice as valuable. It must mean, Marx concluded, that capitalists were underpaying or overworking, and thereby exploiting, laborers to drive down the cost of production. While Marx's answer was eventually proved incorrect and later economists adopted the subjective theory of value , his simple assertion was enough to show the weakness of the labor theory's logic and assumptions; Marx unintentionally helped fuel a revolution in economic thinking.

This underlies an often unappreciated aspect of economics: the emotions and political activity of the actors involved. A corollary of this argument was later made by French economist Thomas Piketty, who proposed that while nothing was wrong with income inequality in an economic sense, it could create blowback against capitalism among the people. Thus, there is a moral and anthropological consideration of any economic system.

The idea that societal structure and transformations from one order to the next can be the result of technological change in how things are produced in an economy is known as historical materialism. Investopedia uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By using Investopedia, you accept our. Your Money. Personal Finance.

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Login Newsletters. Economics Behavioral Economics. Additionally, the state, which has its origins in the bands of retainers hired by the first ruling classes to protect their economic privilege, will disappear as its conditions of existence have disappeared. According to orthodox Marxist theory , the overthrow of capitalism by a socialist revolution in contemporary society is inevitable.

Who Is Karl Marx?

While the inevitability of an eventual socialist revolution is a controversial debate among many different Marxist schools of thought, all Marxists believe socialism is a necessity, if not inevitable. Marxists believe that a socialist society is far better for the majority of the populace than its capitalist counterpart. Prior to the Russian revolution of , Lenin wrote: "The socialization of production is bound to lead to the conversion of the means of production into the property of society This conversion will directly result in an immense increase in productivity of labour, a reduction of working hours, and the replacement of the remnants, the ruins of small-scale, primitive, disunited production by collective and improved labour".

As such, classical Marxism distinguishes between "Marxism" as broadly perceived and "what Marx believed", thus in Marx wrote to the French labour leader Jules Guesde and to Marx's son-in-law Paul Lafargue —both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles—accusing them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggle. American Marxist scholar Hal Draper responded to this comment by saying:. On the other hand, the book Communism: The Great Misunderstanding argues that the source of such misrepresentations lies in ignoring the philosophy of Marxism, which is dialectical materialism.

In large part, this was due to the fact that The German Ideology , in which Marx and Engels developed this philosophy, did not find a publisher for almost one hundred years. The theoretical development of Marxist archaeology was first developed in the Soviet Union in , when a young archaeologist named Vladislav I.

Ravdonikas — published a report entitled "For a Soviet history of material culture".

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Within this work, the very discipline of archaeology as it then stood was criticised as being inherently bourgeois, therefore anti-socialist and so, as a part of the academic reforms instituted in the Soviet Union under the administration of Premier Joseph Stalin , a great emphasis was placed on the adoption of Marxist archaeology throughout the country.

Gordon Childe — , who used Marxist theory in his understandings of the development of human society. Marxist sociology is the study of sociology from a Marxist perspective.


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Marxism's objective of developing a positive empirical science of capitalist society as part of the mobilization of a revolutionary working class ". During the s, the Western Marxist school became accepted within Western academia, subsequently fracturing into several different perspectives such as the Frankfurt School or critical theory. Due to its former state-supported position, there has been a backlash against Marxist thought in post-communist states see sociology in Poland but it remains dominant in the sociological research sanctioned and supported by those communist states that remain see sociology in China.

Marxian economics refers to a school of economic thought tracing its foundations to the critique of classical political economy first expounded upon by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Although the Marxian school is considered heterodox , ideas that have come out of Marxian economics have contributed to mainstream understanding of the global economy. Certain concepts of Marxian economics, especially those related to capital accumulation and the business cycle , such as creative destruction , have been fitted for use in capitalist systems.

Marxist historiography is a school of historiography influenced by Marxism. The chief tenets of Marxist historiography are the centrality of social class and economic constraints in determining historical outcomes. Marxist historiography has made contributions to the history of the working class , oppressed nationalities, and the methodology of history from below. Friedrich Engels ' most important historical contribution was Der deutsche Bauernkrieg The German Peasants' War , which analysed social warfare in early Protestant Germany in terms of emerging capitalist classes.

The German Peasants' War indicate the Marxist interest in history from below and class analysis, and attempts a dialectical analysis. Engels' short treatise The Condition of the Working Class in England in s was salient in creating the socialist impetus in British politics. Marx's most important works on social and political history include The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon , The Communist Manifesto , The German Ideology , and those chapters of Das Kapital dealing with the historical emergence of capitalists and proletarians from pre-industrial English society.

Marxist historiography suffered in the Soviet Union , as the government requested overdetermined historical writing. While some members of the group most notably Christopher Hill and E. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class is one of the works commonly associated with this group. Eric Hobsbawm 's Bandits is another example of this group's work. James was also a great pioneer of the 'history from below' approach. In India, B. Datta and D. Kosambi are considered the founding fathers of Marxist historiography.

Today, the senior-most scholars of Marxist historiography are R. Jha and K. Panikkar , most of whom are now over 75 years old. Marxist literary criticism is a loose term describing literary criticism based on socialist and dialectic theories. Marxist criticism views literary works as reflections of the social institutions from which they originate.

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Notes on British Marxism since 1945

According to Marxists, even literature itself is a social institution and has a specific ideological function, based on the background and ideology of the author. Marxist aesthetics is a theory of aesthetics based on, or derived from, the theories of Karl Marx.


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It involves a dialectical and materialist , or dialectical materialist , approach to the application of Marxism to the cultural sphere, specifically areas related to taste such as art, beauty, etc. Marxists believe that economic and social conditions, and especially the class relations that derive from them, affect every aspect of an individual's life, from religious beliefs to legal systems to cultural frameworks.

1983 Introduction

Karl Marx 5 May — 14 March was a German philosopher , political economist and socialist revolutionary who addressed the matters of alienation and exploitation of the working class, the capitalist mode of production and historical materialism. He is famous for analysing history in terms of class struggle, summarised in the initial line introducing The Communist Manifesto : "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". Friedrich Engels 28 November — 5 August was a German political philosopher who together with Marx co-developed communist theory.

Marx and Engels first met in September Discovering that they had similar views of philosophy and socialism, they collaborated and wrote works such as Die heilige Familie The Holy Family. After Marx was deported from France in January , they moved to Belgium, which then permitted greater freedom of expression than other European countries. Six weeks later, they published the 12,word pamphlet in February In March, Belgium expelled them and they moved to Cologne , where they published the Neue Rheinische Zeitung , a politically radical newspaper.

By , they had to leave Cologne for London. After Marx's death in , Engels became the editor and translator of Marx's writings. The Bolsheviks established the first socialist state based on the ideas of Soviet Democracy and Leninism. Their newly formed federal state promised to end Russian involvement in World War I and establish a revolutionary worker's state.

Following the October Revolution the Soviet government was involved in a struggle with the White Movement and several independence movements in the Russian Civil War. This period is marked by the establishment of many socialist policies and the development new socialist ideas mainly in the form of Marxism-Leninism. With Lenin's death in there was an internal struggle in the Soviet Communist movement, mainly between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky in the form of the Right Opposition and Left Opposition respectively.

These struggles were based on both sides different interpretations of Marxist and Leninist theory based on the situation of the Soviet Union at the time. The Chinese Communist Party , which was founded in , was in conflict with the Kuomintang over the future of the country. Mao found a large base of support in the peasantry as opposed to the Russian Revolution which found its primary support in the urban centers of the Russian Empire. The new socialist state was to be founded on the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin.

De-Stalinization , which first began under Nikita Khrushchev , and the policy of detente were seen as Revisionism Marxism and insufficiently Marxist. This ideological confrontation spilled into a wider global crisis centered around which nation was to lead the international socialist movement.

Commonly referred to as Socialism with Chinese Characteristics this new path was centered around Deng's Four Cardinal Principles which sought to uphold the central role of the Chinese Communist Party and uphold the principle that the PRC was in the Primary stage of socialism and that it was still working to build a communist society based on Marxist principles. Although the revolution was not explicitly socialist , upon victory Castro ascended to the position of Prime Minister and adopted the Leninist model of socialist development, forging an alliance with the Soviet Union.

He would posthumously go on to become an internationally recognised icon. In the People's Republic of China, the Maoist government undertook the Cultural Revolution from through to to purge Chinese society of capitalist elements and achieve socialism.