Karl Marx, a philosopher, societal scientist, historian, and radical figure, emerged as the most influential socialist mind in the nineteenth century. Despite being overlooked by his contemporaries for most of his life, Marx's socio-economic and political ideas gained rapid acceptance during the socialist movement after his death. Recently, scholars have had the opportunity to fully appreciate Marx's intellectual stature due to delayed publication of many writings. His ideas have been adapted and modified to suit various political circumstances, leading to almost half the world's population living under governments claiming to adhere to Marxism.
Karl Marx formulated communism, a radical political ideology that garnered global acclaim. In response to the injustices inherent in capitalism, communism sought to create an equitable and harmonious society where individuals could pursue personal growth. The notion took shape with the publication of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and...
Friedrich Engels in 1848, wherein they analyzed the shortcomings of capitalism and advocated for an intellectually sound alternative called Scientific Socialism.
According to Karl Marx, communism (also called Marxism) stands out as a distinct socialist ideology because of its radical nature. In the Marxist perspective, equality is attained through revolutionary societal advancement rather than gradual progress.
The bourgeoisie who control the means of production will not easily relinquish their privileges, necessitating an armed revolution to seize power. Communism, also known as radical socialism due to its extremist nature, is discussed in pages 35-36 of Political Thinkers, Trends and Processes by M.N Suresh Kumar and Dr. G.R.
Poornima. Revised edition 2010 Sapna Book House.
Dialect materialism is a philosophical approach influenced by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, emphasizing the objective reality of the physical world that can
be perceived through the senses. According to Marx and Engels, ideas are products and reflections of material conditions, not dependent on the mind or spirit. They recognized mental and spiritual processes but viewed them as arising from these material conditions. In contrast, idealism considers matter as reliant on the mind or spirit, or believes in their independent existence. Dialect materialism constitutes the mindset and methodology of scientific socialism.
The text discusses the belief that all natural, societal, and rational formations are temporary outcomes of material conditions. It asserts that all phenomena emerge, progress, and ultimately decline due to internal contradictions. Marx and Engels saw dialectical philistinism as a way to expose false appearances, extract doctrine from speculation for the betterment of humanity, and establish theory based on science. Above all else, dialectical philistinism aligns with the interests of the self-liberation of the working class and the pursuit of communism and human fulfillment. This concept derives from both Hegel's dialectics and the philosophical philistinism of Ludwig Feuerbach and Karl Marx, with Friedrich Engels being a significant influence. It utilizes thesis, antithesis, and synthesis to explain how human history progresses and develops.
The concept of "thesis, antithesis, synthesis" is commonly used to explain dialectics or dialectical philistinism. However, Hegel and Marx did not actually use this framework themselves. Marxist theorists like Louis Althusser and Antonio Gramsci have criticized dialectical philistinism and advocated for a Marxist "doctrine of practice." In addition to these critiques, other scholars in Marxist theory have examined original texts by Marx and Engels to develop alternative philosophical projects that offer alternatives to dialectical philistinism. Mao Zedong presented a different interpretation in his 1937 essay "On Contradiction,"
rejecting the strict "laws of dialectics" and emphasizing the complexity of contradiction. Althusser found inspiration from Mao's text on contradiction, which had a significant influence on his acclaimed essay "For Marx" (1965).
Althusser attempted to enrich and refine the Marxist concept of "contradiction" by incorporating the idea of "over finding" from depth psychology. He criticized the teleological interpretation of Marx as a mere return to Hegel's idealism. Althusser developed the notion of "random philistinism" (materialisme aleatoire) as a counterpoint to dialectical philistinism, an idea that emerged from his exploration of 'anti-humanism,' or the "doctrine of the subject." Italian philosopher Ludovico Geymonat then constructed a historical epistemology based on dialectical philistinism in order to approach the subject in a novel way. Althusser eventually embraced an epistemic approach which rejected the dichotomy between subject and object, thus rendering Marx's work incompatible with its precursors.
The concept of Historical Materialism utilizes the scientific methodology of Marxism to investigate historical progress. The fundamental idea behind historical materialism can be summarized as follows: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but rather their social existence that determines their consciousness" (Marx, in the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy). By analyzing how societal existence affects societal consciousness throughout history and society's lifespan, historical materialism expands on the principles of dialectical materialism. It delves into how material conditions shape religious development within a society.
Historical philistinism posits that acquiring the necessary resources for human existence and societal progress involves creating fundamental commodities such as food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and tools. In The Communist Manifesto, Engels cites historical philistinism as the basis
of each era's political and intellectual development. Ever since communal land ownership ceased to exist, struggles between exploited and working classes have been a defining aspect of history. These conflicts also arise between subordinate and ruling classes during different phases of social advancement. However, we have now reached a juncture where liberating the laboring class from the middle class that exploits and oppresses it is inseparable from freeing society from exploitation, subjugation, and class divisions.
In the German edition of Marx's Manifesto, Engels discusses Marx's ideas on history and capitalism. According to Marx, tangible goods are produced through means like land and resources. However, it is people's societal relationships within production that determine how they obtain and use these means. Yet, Marx also believed that capitalism experiences repeated crises because capitalists prioritize technology investment over labor.
Marx viewed his theory of surplus-value as his most important contribution to economic analysis. This theory enables him to place the capitalist mode of production in its historical context and identify its internal economic contradictions and laws based on specific production relationships.
Marx's theory of categories is based on the recognition that within each category society, a portion of society (the opinion category) appropriates the societal excess merchandise. However, this excess merchandise can take three different forms, or a combination of them. It can exist as straightforward unpaid excess labor, such as in the slave manner of production, early feudal system, or certain sectors of the Asiatic manner of production (unpaid corvee labor for the Empire). It can also be in the form of goods appropriated by the governing class as use-values (the products of excess labor), as observed under feudal systems
where feudal rent is paid in a certain amount of produce (produce rent) or its more modern remnants, such as sharecropping. Finally, it can assume a monetary form, like money-rent in the final stages of feudalism and capitalist profits.
The concept of surplus-value refers to the money representation of the societal surplus product or, in other words, the monetary product of excess labor. It shares a common root with all other indicators of excess products, which is uncompensated labor. Consequently, Marx's theory of surplus-value can be seen as a theory of residual (or remaining) income within the categories of opinion. The entire societal product (the net national income) is generated within the production process, similar to how farmers harvest the entire crop. The market activities (or appropriation of the produced goods) involve a distribution (or redistribution) of what has already been created.
The surplus-value, also known as excess merchandise and represented by money, refers to the remaining portion of new societal merchandise (income) after compensating the producing classes (who receive wages). This deduction of income from the ruling classes is an expansion theory. Despite Marx and Engels expressing moral outrage at historical exploitation, especially towards modern labor, it is primarily an economic concept. Ultimately, the income of the ruling classes can always be traced back to unpaid labor, which forms the core idea in Marx's development theory. A class signifies a collective of individuals with shared economic interests.
The category battle refers to the conflict between societal categories that have different economic involvements, such as their places in society in relation to the production and distribution of wealth. This includes the on-the-job category and the capitalist category, as
well as feudal owners and rising capitalists. All of these categories strive to gain control of political power in order to shape society according to their interests. Hence, all category battles can be understood as political struggles aimed at acquiring control over provincial power. In the past, with the introduction of private belongings, the province grew to protect property against any encroachment. As a result, any category that aimed to change the societal model to accommodate their interests would first need to gain control over the province - the organized power of coercion - or demonstrate enough strength to influence its operations. Unlike other animals who obtain their subsistence directly from nature through their physical organs alone, mankind uses inventions, tools, and social agreements that increase the power and reach of their organs, enabling them to obtain more from nature with less effort. Put simply, humans build a metaphorical barrier between themselves and nature through their innovations, tools, and societal structures.
The influence of societal effects on an individual's thinking and behavior is increasing within the clip class. Innovations, rather than intentions, have elevated him beyond the purely physical realm. This has sparked notions of autonomy, justice, and equality at various times. However, these supposedly absolute concepts are actually relative, varying according to changing societal systems and individual social positions within the same period.
Throughout history, different forms of private ownership have been intertwined with moral, rational, political, and spiritual concepts. These various types of ownership have divided society into opposing categories and resulted in fierce battles for dominance and self-interest. These conflicts have shaped the course of history by driving progress and bringing society closer to
achieving comfort and security through broadening the interpretation of natural forces. Each new mode of production gives rise to new social classes, which leads to changes in societal relationships, political alliances, and prevailing ideologies. The perspectives of ancient freewomen and slaves differed from those of feudal lords and serfs during the Middle Ages, just as today's capitalists and workers hold different beliefs from their medieval counterparts.
Understanding the concepts of a specific time period requires analyzing the economic model, which holds significant influence. While some traditions from outdated systems may carry over into the new system, they are adapted to fit within its structure. The transformation of Christianity over a thousand years serves as an example of this phenomenon. The perplexed mindset of society, both presently and in any given era, is a result of merging ideas originating from different social classes that constitute society. However, the prevalent thoughts dictated by the dominant class remain in authority until another class gains enough strength and awareness of its interests to challenge them and assume control over state power.
In the past, society had different conflicting categories including sovereigns, landholders, traders, provincials, and workers. However, capitalism has simplified these categories to just two: workers and capitalists. The current struggle is between these two categories and capitalism now hinders further social development. To eliminate war, crises, unemployment, and poverty from society, the workers must gain control of the state and establish a new system where everyone collectively owns the means of production and distribution.
DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
According to Marxism, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to the rule by the proletariat - an economic and social class comprising industrial workers
who solely earn income from their labor - during the transitional stage between abolishing capitalism and establishing communism.
The aim of the labor movement in this passage is to suppress opposition from the middle class and establish a new society with equal opportunities by dismantling the social relations of production that support the class system. The idea of labor absolutism was initially developed by Karl Marx (1818-83) as a dictatorship led by the majority class. Marx believed that all governments were essentially dictatorships of a certain class, hence considering proletarian dictatorship no different from any other form of government. However, during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, a dictatorship emerged not from the majority working class but rather from a political party claiming to represent their interests. This outcome contradicted Marx's vision and was predicted by George Orwell (1903-50), Mikhail Bakunin (1814-76), and others who foresaw that the intended dictatorship of labor would eventually transform into a dictatorship led by former workers.
According to Marx, the theory that outlines the nature and structure of the political and economic system that would replace capitalism is known as the absolutism of the labor. He briefly mentioned the need for this transitional phase towards full communism in his critique of the Gotha Program, which proposed social reforms. Marx stated that between capitalism and communism, there exists a period of radical transformation, which corresponds to a political transition period. During this time, the absolute power of labor is essential.
Democracy in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
But this absolutism embodies more existing democracy than the previous capitalist state, even though it may have been called a democracy. Democracy, in the Marxist
sense, means the absence of limitations on autonomy. Previously, this form of democracy existed for the capitalists (the few) and not for the workers (the many), but now it exists for the workers (the many) and not for the remaining capitalists (the few). The remaining capitalists must be crushed in order to free humanity from wage slavery; their resistance must be broken by force. It is clear that where there is suppression, there is also force; there is no autonomy, no democracy...
Democracy is altered during the transition from capitalism to communism, with the majority of people experiencing democracy while the oppressors are excluded from it through force.
MARX AND RELIGION
Marx's famous statement on religion is that it expresses real suffering and serves as a protest against that suffering. Religion emerges in a heartless world as the sigh of the oppressed creature, the soul of soulless conditions.
According to Marx, religion is referred to as the opium of the people, and it is necessary to eliminate the deception it brings in order for true happiness to exist. The demand to abandon the illusion of its status is essentially a demand to relinquish a status that relies on illusions. Marx, despite his dislike for religion, did not consider it the primary enemy of his work and ideas. If he had viewed religion as a more significant enemy, he would have dedicated more time towards it. In the provided quote, Marx suggests that religion serves the purpose of creating deceptive fantasies for the poor. However, economic realities prevent them from attaining true happiness in their current lives. Religion reassures them by promising true happiness in the afterlife.
Despite being a critical
view of faith, Marx acknowledges that people turn to religion for solace in times of suffering, much like how physically injured individuals find relief from opiate-based drugs. Religion, like other societal institutions, is influenced by the material and economic realities of a particular society. It does not have its own separate history, but rather is shaped by the productive forces of society. "The spiritual world is simply a physiological reaction to the real world."
Religion is only comprehensible when considering its relation to other societal systems and the economic structures within society. In reality, faith is solely reliant on economics, nothing more, to the point where existing spiritual beliefs are largely insignificant. This viewpoint regards religion from a functionalist perspective – understanding religion depends on the societal purpose it serves, rather than the actual beliefs it holds.
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