Marxism is a philosophical, political and economic doctrine and movement founded by Karl Marx in the middle of the XIX century. It analyses the impact capitalism has on labor and on the development of economics, studies the role of the “working class” in the capital destruction and in the transition to a communist society. Marxism points out that class struggle defines relations emerging between people in the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of goods in capitalism.
In February 1848, the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" was published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It included information about the emergence of a new scientific worldview called Marxism. The founders of Marxism demonstrated that modern capitalist society is divided into two main antagonistic classes – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The economics they described in the work was based on the critique of capitalism. This concept was mentioned in another Karl Marx’s work - Das Kapital.
Struggle between social classes. According to his class theory, capitalistic society is just one of the stages in the process of evolution of economic systems. He claimed that every society consists of different social classes.
Below are stated the main concepts of the theory on struggle between social classes:
- There are two main classes in capitalist society: the bourgeoisie, the social class of owners that stand for exploitation of labor and the appropriation of the surplus value, and the “working class”, people who sell their labor-power.
- Ordinary people from the “working class” can influence practically nothing in capitalism and can be easily replaced.
- To increase revenue, the bourgeoisie is interested in getting the best results from the workers. They also unfairly aim at minimizing the cost of labor.
- Employers have no motivation to increase production volumes and have a negative emotional reaction towards the bourgeoisie because they are being mistreated.
- Business owners make use of social institutions to stay powerful and have control over workers.
- This results in a struggle between two social classes and a rebellion against the social class of owners.
Marx claimed that the development of the productive forces collides with prevailing productive relations and the capitalist society is destined to self-destruct. Eventually, the exploitation of labor would cause a radical change in the power relationships. The leaders of the revolt would be people from the “working class” who are aware of the hierarchical organization of the society and who would convince other workers to cooperate in order to defeat capitalism.
Marx and Engels believed that after society overcomes the resistance of the bourgeoisie, the dictatorship would disappear by itself. The first phase of communism – socialism – would arise and as the last "birthmarks" of capitalist society become obsolete, the mature phase of communism would appear. In the end, the society would become classless.
Forms of social order
The ideas of the philosophers influenced the history of communism, which, according to marxism, is characterized by social equality, the absence of private ownership and based on public ownership. Communist countries are states in which power is concentrated in the hands of parties representing the interests of the "working class" and where the Marxism philosophy prevails. It is known that pure communism never existed and neither North Korea nor China have been such countries.
Socialism has existed before communism. It is defined as a socio-economic system based on the principles of universal equality and social justice. In Marxism - it is the first phase of the communist socio-economic formation. The elements of socialism were supposed to be collectivism, public ownership of the means of production, solidarity, justice, the elimination of the class-divided society and labor exploitation, etc. Realization of socialism comes within existing economic, legal, political and other systems.
Communist and socialist societies are opposed to capitalist economies. Capitalism is a socio-economic system characterized by the private property, free market and competition as the main mechanisms of resource allocation and coordination of economic activity.
Criticism of Marxist theory
Bitter disputes arise from concepts of Marxism and many researchers criticize them. Marx considered competition as a factor stimulating the development of capitalist production but he claimed that it wouldn’t lead to the improvement of product quality. On the contrary, entities would be unable to repay debts to creditors and there would be an increase in the number of companies that control the market and have no competitors.
It turned out that the emergence of competition in the market hasn’t resulted in the end of capitalism. The concepts and predictions of Marxism didn’t come true and it, probably, will never happen.