Karl Marx and Communism Beliefs expressed in The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx German political thinker in 19th century. Journalist Did most of his work in Britain. Influenced by German philosopher Hegel. Published Communist Manifesto in 1848 with co-author Frederick Engels. Wrote multi-volume Capital (Das Kapital), starting in 1867.
Marx studied British economic records for 20 years to develop his theory that everything is based on the economic system, including: politics, law, social structures, family relations, even religious belief.
‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” - Karl Marx
What is communism? Communism - a government where people shared work fairly and were paid equally. The word “Communism” comes from the Latin word “Communis” which means common or belonging to all.
The Goal of Communism The Goal of Communism is to get rid of social classes and make everything fair for everyone.
Social Groups • All societies are divided into two groups • Owners • Workers • Marx said that there were two social groups that existed: • The Bourgeois • The Proletariat • Our society is capitalist. • Owners are bourgeoisie • Workers are proletarians
Bourgeois: modern capitalists who own the means of production and therefore get to keep all the profits. • Today, this would include major stockholders in corporations. • Proletarians: modern wage laborers who sell their labor to live and don’t get any of the profits that they help to create. • This includes everyone who is not a stockholder or owner of capital, even professionals who work for a salary.
Owners and Workers • Owners exploit workers and live off the money which the workers earn • Workers put up with this inequality because: • They are oppressed wage slaves and cannot fight the system • They are indoctrinated by ideology and religion into believing what they are told by the powerful.
Marx believed that in most societies, the rich get rich, while the poor get poorer. ‘The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range.” – Marx
Economic systems go through historic cycles. Over time, an economic system becomes rigid and cannot adjust to new technologies, so a new system emerges, with new class relations and oppression. Someday, a perfect classless society will emerge and there will be no further cycles.
Marx’s key ideas 1. Slave system gave way to feudal economy 2. Feudal economy broke down with growth of manufacturing, towns, navigation & transportation, emergence of middle class 3. Industrial capitalism emerged, with only two classes: proletariat and bourgeoisie.
Industrial Capitalism – Negative Effects • Destroys important human values, replacing even religious belief with naked exploitation. • Undermines an individual’s sense of personal value in one’s work. • Undermines human relationships; all relationships are based on cash. • Destroys human freedom. The only freedom it protects is free trade.
Industrial Capitalism – Positive Effects • Unprecedented exploration and technological advancements. • War less likely. • Urbanization opens people’s minds to new ideas. • Economic production centralized, leading to favorable conditions for communism to emerge.
From Communist Manifesto “The bourgeoisie … has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from theidiocy of rural life…. The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productiveforces than have all preceding generations together… railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers.”
Communist Revolution Inevitable Capitalism creates huge factories. Workers become concentrated and begin to organize for legal reforms (higher wages/better working conditions). Their effort fails. Fierce competition between capitalists leads to new technologies, which leads to lower costs.
Communist Revolution Inevitable In the competition, some capitalists go bankrupt & have to become workers, and many workers lose their jobs as new technology replaces them. (Consider reports that U.S. workers’ productivity is going up. Fewer workers are making more goods, which means technology is replacing them.)
Communist Revolution Inevitable • Greater numbers of people permanently unemployed. Misery widespread. • Fewer people can afford the products of capitalists, so fewer companies survive. • Class struggle reaches a climax. • Conditions now ripe for revolution. The proletariat, having nothing to lose but their chains, rise up.
Communist Revolution • Revolution will eliminate private property. No longer will man have the means of exploiting another man. • Bourgeoisie will fight, so revolution will be violent. • A dictatorship of the proletariat will follow to weed out remaining capitalist elements.
The Worker’s Utopia • In the end, a classless society with no more oppression or internal contradictions. • People will be free to choose how they labor, and can be creatively productive. They will be able to live to their fullest potential. Consider the description in Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1845:
The Worker’s Utopia • “In communist society, …nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes,… to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, … without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”
Sources www.barrycomp.com/bhs/ppt0904/marx.ppt www.nmsu.edu/~govdept/faculty/Baker/.../Idelogies-communism.ppt jsdlib.jsd.k12.ca.us/schema_files/.../communism.../communism.ppt