Hard Socialism (Karl Marx)
Karl Marx can be called one of the most well-known people in the modern history. He is known to be the philosopher, the economist and the creator of the theory about the society’s organization and mechanisms of its development. The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848, and since that time, it became an inspiration for a great number of outstanding political leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and many others, who tried to build socialism, and then communism in practice. It is possible to say that socialistic form of economics is good for all aspects of human development, if everything is done according to the theory. However, the human nature is still far from being ideal and abuses of power, exploitation, and excessive governmental control.
Karl Marx was developing the theoretical background of the communism with Frederick Engels, as the economical and social system that is opposed to the existing capitalism. Socialism is the stage of development that is previous to the communism. It is necessary to describe the parts of the intellectual heritage of Marx and Engels in order to understand the view of the world history they presented in The Communist Manifesto. The philosophical part introduces the ideas of the dialectical and historical materialism. In the economical part, the idea of the surplus value is described. The third and, perhaps, the main part of Marxism features the idea of the class structure in the capitalistic society. This class stratification is closely connected with the notion of the war of classes that has to lead to the dictatorship of the proletarians and, thus, the creation of the new society, where there will be no classes and private property.
The dialectical materialism is about the laws of development of the nature, human and society. According to this theory, opposites are the main power in the development. The desire to come over these opposites is the main characteristic of the form. While the dialectical materialism is about the theory of evolution in general, the historical materialism is the investigation into the development of the specific object, namely, the human society.
According to the historical materialism, the most important thing in any society is the way it produces the material wealth. That supposes the analysis of the productive forces and relations of people, members of society, who work to produce all those goods and consume them. According to the classification proposed by Marx and Engels, people are divided into two classes: workers, or proletarians, and bourgeois, or owners of factories, where proletarians work.
Marx considers the combination of society’s productive forces and relations on the working place to be the basis of the system. Everything else, like the combination of political, legal, cultural and religious institutions of society, and the ideas they promote, is referred to the superstructure of the society. Even though Marx as the philosopher did not pay much attention to the governmental intervention into citizens’ loves, this problem turned out to be the disaster of socialistic countries, which proves one more time that the humankind is still not ready for building communism and treating others as comrades.
The productive forces are constantly developing since it is necessary to satisfy the needs of people for material wealth. With the time, the productive forces develop to the extent when the existing relations at work stop meeting proletarians’ requirements. At that moment, the existing relations in the society change to fit the current economic development. This is the way the superstructure of the society and the whole historical tradition is changed according to the ideas of Marx and Engels.
The process of changing a social system can be evolutionary or revolutionary, depending on whether this change takes place gradually or not. When the changes of superstructure and the transition to new social relations occur through a revolution, it is mostly always led by those groups of the society that suffer the most from the current state of the superstructure. That is why they are more than other members of the society interested in a revolution. In other words, the driving force of a revolution is the laboring class, who works hard on the plants and lives in poverty. They are directly engaged in the production of goods that are valuable to the majority in a country.
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Marx and Engels in their theoretical works paid much attention to the question, what exactly the mechanism of exploitation of proletarians by bourgeois in their epoch is. Marx introduced the concept of surplus value to answer this question. When Marx and Engels created their theory, the working conditions on the European market of that time were harsh.
The exploitation of proletarians was never-ending and uncontrolled, turning the life of workers into the battle for surviving in jungles. People had to work in factories for at least 12 hours. The work of minors was also actively used. People who worked in dangerous places where there was a high risk of losing an arm or a leg as a result of a minor mistake were not receiving any satisfaction. They were working at their own risk – their employers gave no insurances.
The wages were so low that proletarians lived below the poverty line. It pushed women from the working-class families to sell themselves so that they were able to feed their children. In general, lives of workers in big industrial cities of Western Europe was a nightmare, and there was no possible way out of the difficult situation. Marx and Engels claimed for the following things in The Communist Manifesto:
Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form and combination of education with industrial production. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. Abolition of all right of inheritance. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.