The Basic Tenets of Marxism - Bergen

The Basic Tenets of Marxism - Bergen

The Basic Tenets of Marxism The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it. I. History and Class Struggle (Historical Materialism) Human history is the history of class struggles among the classes in society. A class is defined by the relations of its members to the means of production.

Means of production - the combination of the means of labor and the subject of labor used by workers to make products. - Means of labor include machines, tools, factory and equipment, infrastructure, and so on: - Subject of labor includes raw materials and materials directly taken from nature. - Means of production by themselves produce nothing -labor is needed for production to take place. I. History and Class Struggle (Historical Materialism) The class struggles that define human history in each of its stages is

between those that own the means of production and those that work the means of production. I. History and Class Struggle (Historical Materialism) Stages of History: Primitive communism equalitarian hunting and gathering / tribal organizations Slave society largely agricultural production done by slaves for slave owners Feudalism largely agricultural production done by

serfs, indentured servants, slaves for large landowners - within feudalism, trade expands leading to merchants (bourgeoisie) / increased use of money I. History and Class Struggle (Historical Materialism) Capitalism - Economic system in which most of the means of production are privately owned, and production is guided and income distributed largely through the operation of markets. - Based open competition, profit motive. - Encourages private investment and business, compared to a government-controlled economy. - Investors in these private companies (i.e.

shareholders) also own the firms and are known as capitalists. - The first Industrial Revolution took place under capitalism. Marx lived from 1818-1883. I. History and Class Struggle (Historical Materialism) Under capitalism, the capitalists own the means of production, the proletariat own only their capacity to work. Landlords rule the land, and the

peasants are less significant than workers and are trapped in the idiocy of rural life. I. History and Class Struggle: Class Consciousness Prior to the overthrow of capitalism the proletariat must develop its own class consciousness. Other classes have their own forms of class consciousness.

Television, literature, art, music and other forms of culture tend to reflect the class ideology of the class to which the artist belongs. However, the ideology of other classes can also affect the artist. Class hatred is good. Class collaboration is a bad. II. Revolutionary Change New classes usually win power by revolution. Revolutions are violent, because the dying ruling class doesn't give up power without a desperate

struggle. The capitalist class wins power over the feudal class by a bourgeois democratic revolution. A bourgeois democratic revolution is a progressive step in the right direction. For Marxists, it is not an end-all stage. - French Revolution - Revolutions of 1830 / 1848 II. Revolutionary Change The proletariat wins power by a proletarian revolution. According to Marx and Lenin, this

revolution must be violent, because the bourgeoisie won't give up power by electoral means. The proletariat will then begin constructing socialism, destroying the bourgeoisie and eliminating class differences in the process. - This period is also known as the dictatorship of the proletariat. The final stage, the end of history is a classless society communism. II. Revolutionary Change

Socialism - The main feature is mixed ownership of the means of production (with an emphasis on public), distribution and exchange. - In the first stages of socialism the state is a dictatorship of the proletariat., i.e. the proletariat rules the other classes by force. - The socialist slogan is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work." II. Revolutionary Change

Communism - a system of social organization in which property (especially real property and the means of production) is held in common. - the movement that aims to overthrow the capitalist order by revolutionary means and to establish a classless society in which all goods will be socially owned. - a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are

equally shared by the people. - The communist slogan is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." II. Revolutionary Change Originally, proletarian (socialist) revolutions were supposed to occur first in the most advanced capitalist countries, e.g. Germany, Great Britain, the United States, France, Belgium, the Netherlands. It wasn't supposed to occur first in a

backward country like Russia, where capitalism barely took root, there was a tiny proletariat, an underdeveloped bourgeoisie and no bourgeois democratic revolution. II. Revolutionary Change None of the former or current socialist countries (Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam) had undergone a bourgeois-democratic revolution when the communists seized power. The communists tried to build socialism anyway, and some of their leftist rivals used the missing bourgeoisdemocratic revolution to predict that communist power would end badly.

III. Marxist Economics Under capitalism, workers "tend" to be paid the bare amount required for them to support their families and reproduce. This is because of competition for jobs from the reserve army of labor, i.e. the unemployed. III. Marxist Economics The capitalist sells the product of the workers' labor at a price proportional to its value, which is the socially

necessary labor required to produce it. The difference between what the product sells for and what the workers are paid is surplus value and is appropriated by the capitalist. III. Marxist Economics Because the workers can't buy the full product of their labor and the capitalists don't consume all the surplus value, there tend to be recessions. - This is one of the major reasons why capitalist countries sought overseas colonies during the

Industrial Revolution > Imperialism. The steady increase in labor saving machinery creates unemployment and drives down wages. This emphasizes the tendency for there to be economic recessions. III. Marxist Economics The tendency to pay the workers bare subsistence wages leads to the increasing impoverishment of the proletariat.

As a small number of people become super wealthy, an even greater number become impoverished, polarizing the classes. - The middle classes must increasingly disappear until the world is divided into millionaires and paupers. (Friedrich Engels) IV. The State The state is the means whereby the ruling class forcibly maintains its rule over the other classes.

During socialism, the workers will take control of the state to begin the construction communism > dictatorship of the proletariat. Communism, which evolves peacefully from socialism, is a classless society under which the state will wither away. V. Religion God is created in the image of man, not man in the image of God.

Organized religions have been used to give the poor and oppressed hope that their afterlife will be better than their current one. Religion and the Church have been used as forms of social control to preserve the power of the ruling class. With the establishment of communism, the necessity to believe in God and a better life in heaven will disappear. Heaven will be created on Earth. - Marx believed religion would eventually wither away. Violent

means to suppress organized religion need not be taken. - Religion is the opiate of the masses. VI. Marxist Revisionists: Trade Unionists Trade unions are good as training grounds for the class struggle, but it is capitalist ideology to suppose that they can make any permanent improvement in the condition of the proletariat. The belief that trade unions can make a permanent difference is a heresy

called economism or trade-unionism. VI. Marxist Revisionists: Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932) Argued that it was possible for workers to win power peacefully by winning elections. Revolution was not necessary. This was revisionism and the orthodox

Marxist have used revisionism as an epithet ever since. VII. Marxism-Leninism VII. Marxism-Leninism Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. - The working class in the mother countries is bribed to keep it passive by exploiting the labor of the colonies. This explains why the working class became more prosperous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries instead of

becoming more miserable as a direct reading of Marxist theory might suggest. - The rivalry of the colonial countries becomes more and more intense leading to imperialist wars. WWI was a prime example. VII. Marxism-Leninism The working class needs to be led by a vanguard party, i.e. the Communist Party which in turn is led by professional revolutionaries.

The leadership of the working class by the vanguard party continues into the period of socialism. VII. Stalinism Socialism in One Country - The Soviet Union should concentrate its forces on building socialism within the country first because worldwide revolution is not imminent.

VII. Maoism Mao believed that in a country like China, the revolution could proceed first in the countryside which would surround the cities. The peasants, not the workers, could lead a socialist revolution.

emphasized class struggle within socialism and its evolution towards communism to be played out in a series of cultural revolutions. VII. Leninist Revisionists: Fidel Castro & Che Guevara Socialist revolution DOES NOT have to be led by a Communist Party. Socialist revolution can be

led by peasants. Soviet Union is obligated to aid all revolutionary socialist countries looking to break away from imperialist domination (Guevara). VII. Marxist-Leninist Revisionists: Kim Il Sung Juche self-reliance

A blend of Marxism-Leninism with Korean nationalism. Adaptation of MarxismLeninism to Korean conditions. Self-reliance--the need to rely on domestic resources, heighten vigilance against

possible external challenges, and strengthen domestic political solidarity. Sacrifice, austerity, unity, and patriotism became dominant themes

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