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Marxism Can Only Be Appreciated Retrospectively

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Introduction

Marx failed to predict the future, but it had many useful insights into the past. Discuss. Marxism was first coined by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Frederich Engels (1820-1895). It's both a theory and practice based on a scientific method of thought called historical dialectal materialism, meaning there is no one clear answer to a question, instead the theory is based on a certain amount of variables that are always restricted and so most of these theories are limited. Through this historical materialism Marx and other Marxists through time have studied the development of forms of social organisation and consciousness, how they have succeeded one another in history and their interconnections with the development of the forces of production mobilised by social formations at each stage in the unfolding of history. To test the validity of theory, Marx relied on truth as the empirical evidence and so using methodology, Marx and Engels examined history and this led them to examine and explain theories on class struggle, the foundations of social relations through economics and the form of society that would follow capitalism. Most historians who became Marxists from the 1880's onwards did so because they wanted to change the world in association with labour and socialist movements. While the origins of Marxism have been developed over time and enriched by working class history, the original theories still remain the same and it has evolved into much of the foundations of modern socialism. No other theories have been put forward either before or after Marxism to explain the role and movement of society and the working class. ...read more.

Middle

Marx's theory of value needs to be taken into account in order to understand the effects of the worker's alienated labour on it's products, with regards to what can these products do and what can be done with them. Firstly Marx takes his basic principles from Smith and Ricardo's earlier theory where by the value of any commodity stems from the amount of labour time it took during production. Although Marx is more concerned with why goods have prices in the first place. A Capitalist society is the only one to have it's production proceed through a medium of markets and prices. For example, before the capitalism came into practice, in the feudal state, the lord claims only part of what the serfs produce leaving the serfs to consume the rest for themselves and so therefore does not have a price. Because everything in a Capitalist society has a price, Marx puts great emphasis on the worker becoming separated from his or her means of production because in a Feudal state the serfs are tied to their means of production. Because of this, the workers have to sell their labour power to the capitalists, and so by doing this, they give up all claims of ownership to the products they produce during their labour. These products are now free to enter a market place in which workers may enter and purchase small amounts of these products with the wages they receive from their labour power. The products are priced with regard to what they are used for and the value placed upon them is the set of conditions that make up the price of that product. ...read more.

Conclusion

In all the European countries where they have had communist governments they have failed and converted into capitalism including the break up of the U.S.S.R into Russia because it's communist government collapsed. Even though Capitalism has imperfections and has caused major tragedies over the years including Nazi Germany and the sixties in Brazil which, displayed horrific brutality and cruelty, it would appear that capitalism is still the best available system for a society to be governed by. Western liberal democracies have good strong records for material progress and political freedom and in some aspects they are becoming more social but not to the extremes of communism. The Marxism of today is so diverse that it is extremely difficult to find two people who can come to an agreement on what Marxism actually is! It is simply the workers movement, which has changed through history as Marx never set out to build a movement of followers who all adhered to a self-closed ideology. "Marxism remains a movement rather than just a tendency however. For even though the Marxist movement has fragmented, it remains oriented to the struggle for socialism in and through the organised working class, and it is the struggles of the working class, united in its material existence as a social class, which constitute the life-blood and essential thread of the Marxist movement."3 So therefore, Marx had many useful insights into what has happened in the past to society and explains why revolutions have occurred between the proletariats and the bourgeoisie but Marx failed to predict the future as the extremes of it's ideology do not work in society today, so more lighter and less extreme versions of it exist in society today in the form of socialism. ...read more.

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