Marxism has been regarded as a body of social doctrine worked out by Karl Marx (1818-1883), a revolutionary author, thinker philosopher of his age. He was assisted by his colleague and friend Frederick Engles.
Following are the main characteristics of Marxism :
In the contemporary world, Marxism makes its claims as a scientific philosophy, revolutionary programme, progressive movement, and the socio-economic, political, cultural and moral basis of the social systems of more than a thousand million people. During the course of its history of 130 years or so, Marxism had to face many challenges from within and without, guided many revolutionary movements and aroused hopes in millions of people. It provided a scientific outlook towards the universe, society, history, man, etc. The revolutionary power of this ideology and of the revolutionary mass movements based on it, has divided the world into two block the capitalist or liberal block, and the socialist block.
Marx did not appeal to the conscience of the capitalists to improve the conditions of the working class. He did not appeal to the reason of the capitalist class. He did not entrust the state with the welfare functions to improve the conditions of working class. On the contrary, he gave revolutionary message of changing the society—“Worker of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains and you have a world to win.”
Philosophy of socio-political change
The most important aspect of the development of Marxism is its philosophy of socio-political change.
Materialistic concept of history
Marx found the paradigm of actual social and human development and translated it into materialist terms. Materialistic conception of history was the Hegelian idealistic conception turned upside down or back upon its feet. Marx rejected idealism and replaced it with materialism. His method is known as dialectic materialism and it is the philosophical basis of Marxism. It is called dialectical materialism because its approach to the phenomena of Nature, its method studying and apprehending them is dialectical, while its interpretations of the phenomena of Nature, its conceptions of these phenomena, its theory is materialistic.
Marx wrote in Communist Manifesto “All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole super-incumbent strata of official society being sprang into the air. The proletariat revolution will be social revolution, as the proletariat represent the interests of the society as a whole. Thus Marxism is a theory of revolutionary change. Capture of political power by the working class is a beginning and, after it, the dictatorship of proletariat should be established and massive task of social and economic transformation should start, so that the way for a classless society may be paved.
Criticism of Marxism
- Revolutionary : Develop-ment and change in society can be brought through reforms rather than through revolution.
- Destructive : After the revolution, instead of the dictatorship of the proletariat, dictatorship over proletariat is established and it destroys the liberties available in an open society and gives birth to a closed society.
- Class Conflict : Classes are not abolished by revolution and even after the revolution class-struggle continues.
- National Loss : During the revolution, one generation has to pay a very heavy price and it is illogical that a generation should sacrifice itself for the sake of the coming generation.
- No withering away of state : In societies their are no chance of the withering away of the state.