What Is Marxism?

1952 Words 8 Pages
Far from being exhausted, Marxism is still very young, almost in its infancy; it has scarcely begun to develop. It remains, therefore, the philosophy of our time. We cannot go beyond it because we have not gone beyond the circumstances which engender it.
J.P. SARTRE, Search for a method (NY 1968) p. 29

Living in times which Francis Fukuyama famously described as the ‘end of history’, when the last great bastions of communism fell together with the Berlin wall more than 20 years ago, is it still possible to call Marxism the ‘philosophy of our time’? Karl Marx was the philosopher of the 19th century and the situation today has largely changed. One would be in denial if not admitting that many of Marx’s predictions didn’t come true.
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First of all, who is considered a Marxist? Marx himself would answer “tout ce que je sais, c’est que je ne suis pas Marxiste” (MEW 1974, p.436). Additionally, the variety of subsequent sub-traditions such as orthodox Marxism, revisionism, neo-Kantian Marxism, analytical or famously “No-bull shit Marxism”, neo-Marxism etc. all of which called themselves Marxists don’t actually offer an adequate answer to my question. Therefore, by the term ‘Marxist’, one would consider a person who believes the following propositions to be …show more content…
Production, in the form of co-operative work or division of labor, is a social activity and as such it presupposes a joint endeavor. However, in the course of history as a result of inexorable historical development (i.e. the ever-growing productiveness of the division of labor) one class has successfully accumulated the products of labor in the form of the means of production in their hands. “According to Marx, those who accumulate in their hands the means of productions, and thereby also its fruits in the form of capital, forcibly deprive the majority of producers – the workers – of what they create and so split the society into exploiters and exploited” (Berlin 1978, p.100; italics mine). For Marx, this condition is unnatural because it deprives the majority of their human essence viz., as stated in the Critique of the Gotha program, in capitalism labor is just a means and not life’s prime want, and moreover capitalism saps the all-round development of the individual (Tucker 1972, p.388). Needless to say, the interests of these antagonistic classes are opposed, and thus they find themselves in a constant state of struggle. In order to control this irreconcilable antagonism and to prevent the classes of consuming themselves in the course of the struggle, according to Engels, there

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