Published on November 18th, 20120
The Roots of Marxism
By Tor G. Jakobsen
For almost 50 years the world was divided into the Free World and the Marxist World. Then the Berlin Wall fell, and the countries of Eastern Europe got democracy. Popular Social Science has taken a look at the roots of Marxist ideology.
The founder of Marxism was Karl Marx (1818–1883). He was born in Trier in Prussia, to a wealthy Jewish family. The original plan was that Karl was to become a rabbi. However, these plans changed, and he moved to England where he got into touch with Friedrich Engels.
Marxism is mainly rooted in three traditions, one philosophical, one political, and one economic:
1) The philosophy of Georg Friedrich Hegel: Marx was characterized as a leftist Hegel-follower. He used an economic dialectic inherited from Hegel.
2) French socialism.
3) Scottish economists: like, for example, Adam Smith. Marxism is also an economic theory, and Marx drew on Smith in the way he analyzed capitalism. However, their solutions to the problems of capitalism were completely different.
The economy and the society
According to Marxism the economy is interwoven with both sociology and history. However, the economy is by far the most important feature of society. It provides the basis for everything else in society, like culture, politics etc. Marx felt that work was of great value for ones self-esteem, and of great psychological benefit for the ordinary man.
Societal development occurs every time a way of organizing an economic system reaches its level of saturation. When this occurs, one sees a qualitative jump in history, that is, one reaches a better way of organizing the economy. According to the Marxist, this is best achieved through violent revolution.
This way one reaches higher states of organizing the society, and communism is reckoned as the highest level.
A communist society is a classless society, where all citizens own the means of production. The working population would through the state own companies involved with agriculture, industry, and trade. The reason Marx gave for this was that a systematic unequal distribution of goods, as seen in a capitalist economy, led to a unfair and exploiting society.