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How did Marx explain the collapse of Capitalism and how did the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky develop Marxist theory?

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Introduction

How did Marx explain the collapse of Capitalism and how did the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky develop Marxist theory? Carl Marx (1818-83) was a German Philosopher, economist and political thinker, usually portrayed as the father of twentieth-century communism. After a brief career as a teacher and journalist, Marx spent the rest of his life as an active revolutionary and writer, living mainly in London and supported by his best friend and long life collaborator, Friedrich Engels. Marx's centrepiece was a critique of capitalism that highlights its transitional nature by drawing attention to systemic inequality and instability. Marx subscribed to teleological theory of history that held that social development would inevitably culminate with the establishment of communism. The core of classical Marxism is a philosophy of history that outlines why capitalism is doomed and why socialism is destined to replace it. What made Marx's approach different from that of other social thinkers was that he subscribed to what Engels called 'materialist conception of history' or historical materialism, Marx held that material circumstances to be fundamental to all forms of social and historical development. ...read more.

Middle

Marx thus explains historical change by reference to internal contradictions within each mode of production arising from the existence of private property. Capitalism is thus doomed because it embodies its own antithesis, the proletariat, seen by Marx as the 'grave digger of capitalism'. Conflict between capitalism and the proletariat will therefore lead to a higher stage of development in the establishment of a socialist, and eventually a communist, society. This enabled Marx to divide history into a series of stages, each characterised by its own economic structure and class system. Marx identified four stages: primitive communism or tribal society, in which material scarcity provided the principal source of conflict; slavery, covering classical or ancient societies and characterised by conflict between master and slave; feudalism, marked by antagonism between land owner and serfs; capitalism, dominated by the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Human history had therefore been a long struggle between the oppressed and the oppressor, the exploited and the exploiter. ...read more.

Conclusion

The bourgeoisie make up the capitalist class and live off the ownership of productive wealth; the proletariat constitute the property less masses, who are forced to subsist though the sale of their labour power and can thus be seen as 'wage slaves'. For Marx the analysis of the class system provides the key to historical understanding and enables predictions to be made about the future development of capitalism. So Marx's prediction was that capitalism was destined to be overthrown by a proletariat revolution. Vladimir Illich Lenin (1870-1924), soviet communism was also shaped by the decisive personal contribution of the first Bolshevik leader, Lenin and then later by Stalin. Lenin was both a political leader and a major political thinker. Lenin's ideas reflected his overriding concern with the problems of winning power and establishing communist rule. He remained faithful to the idea of revolution, believing that parliamentary politics were merely a bourgeoisie sham, aimed at tricking the proletariat into believing that political power was exercised through the ballot box. Lenin also echoed Marx's call for a transitional dictatorship of the proletariat, between the overthrow of capitalism and the achievement of 'full communism'. ...read more.

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