Marxism is a philosophy that was named for Karl Marx, it
is also known as scientific socialism. Marxism has had a great
influence on the development of the contemporary society,
and modern communism is based on its main principles.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ theory is based on the
Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Proletarian Internationalism.
The philosophical method of Marxism is dialectical materialism,
which is based on the Hegel’s theory of the dialectical
idealism. Dialectical materialism presumes economic determinant
to be the prima determinant in history. It is this method
that concerns the history of society to be the “history
of struggle”. “A specific class could rule only
so long as it best represented the economically productive
forces of society; when it became outmoded it would be destroyed
and replaced” (Marx, 234).
The notion class derives from the attitude of some social
group to the means of production. Marx indicates several social
classes: the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, the landlords,
the farmers and the peasantry and others. The proletariat
is “those individuals who sell their labor power, and
therefore add value to the products, and who, in the capitalist
mode of production, do not own the means of production”
(Marx, 145). The bourgeoisie presents the social class which
owns the means of production and so it exploits the proletariat.
The bourgeoisie class could be further divided into the wealthy
bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie. The second group could
either employ workers or work themselves. They usually presented
trade workers, small owners or land-holding peasants. Marx
claimed that this class of bourgeoisie would soon become the
proletariat. The landlords present an ancient class which
used to be important earlier and now this class only remains
us about its wealth and power. The peasantry and farmers are
a disorganized class, which is unable to change something.
Karl Marx predicted its disappearance. According to Marx the
proletariat, which consists of the industrial workers, is
the only true productive class, which can develop economy
and so rule the country.
The main principles of Marx’ collective works are based
on class consciousness, mode of production means of production,
ideology, historical materialism, exploitation, political
economy and some others. Class consciousness presumes the
ability of a social class to act in its own rational interests.
The means of production include the means of labor and the
subject of labor. Means of production do not produce anything.
They require labor power in order to produce something. These
means include machines, tools, equipment, raw materials. Marxism
is based on the assumption that workers can not handle the
results of their work because capitalists possess all means
of production.( Kolakowski, 1998).
Marx developed the concept of historical materials though
he never used this term. Historical materialism is based on
the idea that the development changes of human society are
caused by the changes of means to life. He put factors which
influenced the society on the economic background and regarded
them from the economical point of view. Marx used the term
political economy in order to explain the conditions under
which capitalist system has been developed. Political economy
became a study of ways humans organize material, distribute
the products of activity.
Marx defined exploitation as the main reason of social injustice.
He defined exploitation of one class by another as a key feature
of capitalism and free market. Capitalists gain their profit
from the difference between the value of the product and actual
wages that workers receive. In this way workers get less than
their labor costs in reality and this makes it possible for
the capitalist class to gain additional profit. This is the
reason capitalists class becomes richer and working class
becomes poorer. Workers produce goods and services but final
result belongs to the owners of plants and factories. Labor
of workers is not paid accordingly and this finally leads
to the alienation of their work. Marx defined alienation as
a main result of capitalism. These ideas were suitable during
the time when Marx created his philosophy. During that time
workers really did not receive appropriate pay for their labor
and exploitation of the working class by the class of capitalists
was evident. The situation has changed since than and nowadays
we can not talk about the exploitation of working class in
the countries of Western Europe and America. Workers in the
United States of America get up to 80 per cent of the cost
of their labor in contrast to the not developed countries
where workers get only about 10 per cent of the cost of their
labor. Economical structure represented in contemporary America
can be classified as developed capitalism. Despite there is
a distinction between rich and poor, at the same time there
is not exploitation of the working class. It is evident that
we can not talk about exploitation and alienation in the United
States of America. Since these basic concepts of Marxism are
not represented in the US it is evident that this teaching
can not be used in this country. (Sowell, 1985) There is another
problem, which may appear with Marxism in the United States.
Marxism and Socialism often appear as foreign and even hostile
ideologies for American citizens. Long period of confrontation
with the Soviet Union, where Marxism used to be a leading
ideology caused a lot of misinterpretations of this teaching.
The United States of America is country based on democratic
traditions. Revolutionary struggle and struggle against slavery
proved desire to follow democratic ideals. Marxism and Socialism
as a dominant regime of utilitarian states, such the USSR,
China, Cuba, made American citizens to associate it with Utilitarism.
That is one of the reasons this ideology will be hard to follow
in democratic American society. A vivid example of utilitarism
is empires which incarnated regimes of social injustice and
governmental control over economy. All there factors taken
together give enough reasons to think that the teaching of
Marxism can not be suitable for the United States of America.
Economical reasons, such as free market and private property,
which make the fundamental American liberties guaranteed by
the constitution, and ideological improperty of Marxism for
the American society, give enough reasons to think that this
teaching will not fit into American political and ideological
1. Anderson, P. “Considerations on Western Marxism.”
Cambridge University Press, 1976.
2. Avineri, Shlomo. “The Social and Political Thought
of Karl Marx.” Cambridge University Press. 1968.
3. Crepanti, E; S. Zamagna. An Outline of the History of Economic
4. Karl Marx, Grundrisse, trans. Martin Nicolaus, New York
5. Kolakowski, Leszek. Main Currents in Marxism. New York,
6. Parkes, Henry Bamford. Marxism: An Autopsy. Boston: Houghton
7. Sojo, Cleto A. “Venezuela’s Chavez Closes World
Social Forum with Call to Transcend Capitalism.” Venezuela
Analysis, 31 Jan 2005.
8. Sowell, Thomas. “Marxism: Philosophy and Economics.”
New York: William Morrow, 1985