Classical Marxism

Classical Marxism

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Classical Marxism'
Start a new discussion about 'Classical Marxism'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Classical Marxism refers to the social theory expounded by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

, as contrasted with later developments in Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

.

Karl Marx


Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 – March 14, 1883, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

) was an immensely influential German philosopher, political economist
Political economy
Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

, and socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 revolutionary
Revolutionary
A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.-Definition:...

. Marx addressed a wide range of issues, including alienation
Marx's theory of alienation
Marx's theory of alienation , as expressed in the writings of the young Karl Marx , refers to the separation of things that naturally belong together, or to put antagonism between things that are properly in harmony...

 and exploitation of the worker, the capitalist mode of production
Capitalist mode of production
In Marx's critique of political economy, the capitalist mode of production is the production system of capitalist societies, which began in Europe in the 16th century, grew rapidly in Western Europe from the end of the 18th century, and later extended to most of the world...

 and historical materialism, although he is most famous for his analysis of history in terms of class struggles, summed up in the opening line of the introduction to the Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." The influence of his ideas, already popular during his life, was given added impetus by the victory of the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n Bolsheviks in the 1917 October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

, and there are few parts of the world which were not significantly touched by Marxian ideas in the course of the twentieth century.

As the American Marx scholar Hal Draper
Hal Draper
Hal Draper was an American socialist activist and author who played a significant role in the Berkeley, California, Free Speech Movement and is perhaps best known for his extensive scholarship on the history and meaning of the thought of Karl Marx.Draper was a lifelong advocate of what he called...

 remarked, "there are few thinkers in modern history whose thought has been so badly misrepresented, by Marxists and anti-Marxists alike."

Early influences


The early influences on Marx are often grouped into 3 categories: German Philosophy, English/Scottish Political Economy and French Socialism.

German Philosophy


Main influences: Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, G. W. F. Hegel; Ludwig Feuerbach. Marx studied under one of Hegel's pupils, Bruno Bauer
Bruno Bauer
Bruno Bauer was a German philosopher and historian. As a student of GWF Hegel, Bauer was a radical Rationalist in philosophy, politics and Biblical criticism...

, a leader of the circle of Young Hegelians
Young Hegelians
The Young Hegelians, or Left Hegelians, were a group of Prussian intellectuals who in the decade or so after the death of Hegel in 1831, wrote and responded to his ambiguous legacy...

 to whom Marx attached himself. However from 1841, Marx and Engels came to disagree with Bruno Bauer and the rest of the Young Hegelians about socialism and also about the usage of Hegel's dialectic and progressively broke away from German idealism
German idealism
German idealism was a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It developed out of the work of Immanuel Kant in the 1780s and 1790s, and was closely linked both with romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment...

 and the Young Hegelians. Marx's early writings are thus a response towards Hegel, German Idealism and a break with the rest of the Young Hegelians. Marx, "stood Hegel on his head," in his own view of his role, by turning the idealistic dialectic into a materialistic one, in proposing that material circumstances shape ideas, instead of the other way around. In this, Marx was following the lead of Feuerbach. His theory of alienation
Marx's theory of alienation
Marx's theory of alienation , as expressed in the writings of the young Karl Marx , refers to the separation of things that naturally belong together, or to put antagonism between things that are properly in harmony...

, developed in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844
Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844
Economic & Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 are a series of notes written between April and August 1844 by Karl Marx. Not published by Marx during his lifetime, they were first released in 1927 by researchers in the Soviet Union.The notebooks are an early expression of Marx's analysis of...

(published in 1932), inspired itself from Feuerbach's critique of the alienation of Man in God through the objectivation of all his inherent characteristics (thus man projected on God all qualities which are in fact man's own quality which defines the "human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

"). But Marx also criticized Feuerbach for being insufficiently materialistic.

English and Scottish Political Economy


Main influences: Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

 & David Ricardo
David Ricardo
David Ricardo was an English political economist, often credited with systematising economics, and was one of the most influential of the classical economists, along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. He was also a member of Parliament, businessman, financier and speculator,...

. Marx built on and critiqued the most well-known political economists of his day, the British classical political economists.

Marx critiqued Smith and Ricardo for not realizing that their economic concepts reflected specifically capitalist institutions, not innate natural properties of human society, and could not be applied unchanged to all societies. He proposed a systematic correlation between labour-values and money prices. He claimed that the source of profits under capitalism is value added by workers not paid out in wages. This mechanism operated through the distinction between "labour power", which workers freely exchanged for their wages, and "labour", over which asset-holding capitalists thereby gained control. This practical and theoretical distinction was Marx's primary insight, and allowed him to develop the concept of "surplus value", which distinguished his works from that of Smith and Ricardo.

French Socialism


Main influences: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

; Charles Fourier
Charles Fourier
François Marie Charles Fourier was a French philosopher. An influential thinker, some of Fourier's social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become main currents in modern society...

; Henri de Saint-Simon; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French politician, mutualist philosopher and socialist. He was a member of the French Parliament, and he was the first person to call himself an "anarchist". He is considered among the most influential theorists and organisers of anarchism...

; Louis Blanc
Louis Blanc
Louis Jean Joseph Charles Blanc was a French politician and historian. A socialist who favored reforms, he called for the creation of cooperatives in order to guarantee employment for the urban poor....

.

Rousseau was one of the first modern writers to seriously attack the institution of private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

, and therefore is sometimes considered a forebear of modern socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, though Marx rarely mentions Rousseau in his writings.

In 1833 France was experiencing a number of social problems arising out of the Industrial Revolution. A number of sweeping plans of reform were developed by thinkers on the left. Among the more grandiose were the plans of Charles Fourier
Charles Fourier
François Marie Charles Fourier was a French philosopher. An influential thinker, some of Fourier's social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become main currents in modern society...

 and the followers of Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, often referred to as Henri de Saint-Simon was a French early socialist theorist whose thought influenced the foundations of various 19th century philosophies; perhaps most notably Marxism, positivism and the discipline of sociology...

. Fourier wanted to replace modern cities with utopian communities, while the Saint-Simonians advocated directing the economy by manipulating credit. Although these programs didn’t have much support, they did expand the political and social imagination of Marx.

Louis Blanc
Louis Blanc
Louis Jean Joseph Charles Blanc was a French politician and historian. A socialist who favored reforms, he called for the creation of cooperatives in order to guarantee employment for the urban poor....

 is perhaps best known for originating the social principle, later adopted by Marx, of how labor and income should be distributed: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French politician, mutualist philosopher and socialist. He was a member of the French Parliament, and he was the first person to call himself an "anarchist". He is considered among the most influential theorists and organisers of anarchism...

 participated in the February 1848 uprising and the composition of what he termed "the first republican proclamation" of the new republic. But he had misgivings about the new government because it was pursuing political reform at the expense of the socio-economic reform, which Proudhon considered basic. Proudhon published his own perspective for reform, Solution du problème social, in which he laid out a program of mutual financial cooperation among workers. He believed this would transfer control of economic relations from capitalists and financiers to workers. It was Proudhon's book What is Property?
What Is Property?
What Is Property?: or, An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government is an influential work of nonfiction on the concept of property and its relation to anarchist philosophy by the French anarchist and mutualist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, first published in 1840.In the book, Proudhon most...

that convinced the young Karl Marx that private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

 should be abolished.

Other influences on Marx


Main influences: Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

, Antique materialism, Giambattista Vico
Giambattista Vico
Giovanni Battista ' Vico or Vigo was an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist....

, Lewis H. Morgan
Lewis H. Morgan
Lewis Henry Morgan was a pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist, a railroad lawyer and capitalist. He is best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois...

.

Marx's revision of Hegelianism
Hegelianism
Hegelianism is a collective term for schools of thought following or referring to G. W. F. Hegel's philosophy which can be summed up by the dictum that "the rational alone is real", which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories...

 was also influenced by Engels' book, ‘’The Condition of the Working Class’’ in England in 1844, which led Marx to conceive of the historical dialectic in terms of class conflict and to see the modern working class as the most progressive force for revolution.

Marx was influenced by Antique materialism, especially Epicurus
Epicurus
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism.Only a few fragments and letters remain of Epicurus's 300 written works...

 (to whom Marx dedicated his thesis, ‘’Difference of natural philosophy between Democritus and Epicurus’’, 1841) for his materialism and theory of clinamen
Clinamen
Clinamen is the Latin name Lucretius gave to the unpredictable swerve of atoms, in order to defend the atomistic doctrine of Epicurus.According to Lucretius, the unpredictable swerve occurs "at no fixed place or time":...

 which opened up a realm of liberty.

Giambattista Vico
Giambattista Vico
Giovanni Battista ' Vico or Vigo was an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist....

 propounded a cyclical theory
Cyclical theory
The cyclical theory refers to a model used by historian Arthur Schlesinger to attempt to explicate the fluctuations in politics throughout American History. Liberalism and conservatism are rooted in the “national mood” that shows a continuing shift in national involvement between public purpose and...

 of history, according to which human societies progress through a series of stages from barbarism to civilization and then return to barbarism. In the first stage—called the Age of the Gods—religion, the family, and other basic institutions emerge; in the succeeding Age of Heroes, the common people are kept in subjection by a dominant class of nobles; in the final stage—the Age of Men—the people rebel and win equality, but in the process society begins to disintegrate. Vico's influence on Marx is obvious.

Marx drew on Lewis H. Morgan
Lewis H. Morgan
Lewis Henry Morgan was a pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist, a railroad lawyer and capitalist. He is best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois...

 and his social evolution
Social evolution
Social evolution is a subdiscipline of evolutionary biology that is concerned with social behaviors that have fitness consequences for individuals other than the actor...

 theory. He wrote a collection of notebooks from his reading of Lewis Morgan but they are regarded as being quite obscure and only available in scholarly editions. (However Engels is much more noticeably influenced by Morgan than Marx).

Friedrich Engels



Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal
Wuppertal
Wuppertal is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in and around the Wupper river valley, and is situated east of the city of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr area. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land...

 – August 5, 1895, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

) was a nineteenth century German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...


political philosopher
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

. He developed communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 theory alongside his better-known collaborator, Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

.

In 1842 his father sent the young Engels to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 to help manage his cotton factory in Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

. Shocked by the widespread poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

, Engels began writing an account which he published in 1845 as The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844
The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844
The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 is one of the best-known works of Friedrich Engels.Originally written in German as Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England, it is a study of the working class in Victorian England. It was also Engels' first book, written during his stay in...

(http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/condition-working-class/index.htm).

In July 1845 Engels went to England. There he met an Irish working-class woman named Mary Burns
Mary Burns
Mary Burns was an Irish woman, living in Salford, near Manchester, England, known as the lifelong partner of Friedrich Engels.. Burns met Engels during his first stay in Manchester, probably early 1843. The working class woman guided Engels through the region, showing him the worst districts of...

 (Crosby), with whom he lived until her death in 1863 (Carver 2003:19). Later he lived with her sister, Lizzie, marrying her the day before she died in 1877 (Carver 2003:42). These women may have introduced him to the Chartist
Chartism
Chartism was a movement for political and social reform in the United Kingdom during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1859. It takes its name from the People's Charter of 1838. Chartism was possibly the first mass working class labour movement in the world...

 movement, of whose leaders he met several, including George Harney.

Engels actively participated in the Revolution of 1848, taking part in the uprising at Elberfeld
Elberfeld
Elberfeld is a municipal subdivision of the German city of Wuppertal; it was an independent town until 1929.-History:The first official mentioning of the geographic area on the banks of today's Wupper River as "elverfelde" was in a document of 1161...

. Engels fought in the Baden campaign against the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

ns (June/July 1849) as the aide-de-camp
Aide-de-camp
An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant, secretary, or adjutant to a person of high rank, usually a senior military officer or a head of state...

 of August Willich
August Willich
August Willich , born Johann August Ernst von Willich, was a military officer in the Prussian Army and a leading early proponent of Communism in Germany. In 1847 he discarded his title of nobility...

, who commanded a Free Corps in the Baden-Palatinate uprising. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1850/german-imperial/ch01.htm

Marx and Engels


Marx and Engels first met in person in September 1844. They discovered that they had similar views on philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and on capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and decided to work together, producing a number of works including Die heilige Familie (The Holy Family
The Holy Family (book)
The Holy Family was a book written by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels in November 1844. The book is a critique on the Young Hegelians and their trend of thought which was very popular in academic circles at the time. The title was a suggestion by the publisher and is meant as a sarcastic reference to...

). After the French authorities deported Marx from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in January 1845, Engels and Marx decided to move to Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, which then permitted greater freedom of expression than some other countries in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Engels and Marx returned to Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 in January 1846, where they set up the Communist Correspondence Committee.

In 1847 Engels and Marx began writing a pamphlet together, based on Engels' The Principles of Communism. They completed the 12,000-word pamphlet in six weeks, writing it in such a manner as to make communism understandable to a wide audience, and published it as The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party is a short 1848 publication written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the...

in February 1848. In March, Belgium expelled both Engels and Marx. They moved to Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, where they began to publish a radical newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Neue Rheinische Zeitung
The Neue Rheinische Zeitung - Organ der Demokratie was a German daily newspaper, published by Karl Marx in Cologne between June 1, 1848 and May 19, 1849. Its name refers to a paper earlier edited by Marx, the Rheinische Zeitung...

. By 1849 both Engels and Marx had to leave Germany and moved to London. The Prussian authorities applied pressure on the British government to expel the two men, but Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Lord John Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC , known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was an English Whig and Liberal politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century....

 refused. With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty. The contributions of Marx and Engels to the formation of Marxist theory have been described as inseparable.

After Marx's death



After Marx's death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

 in 1883, Engels devoted much of the rest of his life to editing and translating Marx's writings. However, he also contributed significantly to feminist theory
Feminist theory
Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, or philosophical discourse, it aims to understand the nature of gender inequality...

, seeing for instance the concept of monogamous
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

 marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 as having arisen because of the domination of men over women for the purpose of transferring (inheriting) property to their heir/ male children. In this sense, he ties communist theory to the family, arguing that men have dominated women just as the capitalist class has dominated workers. Engels died in London in 1895.

Main ideas of Classical Marxism


Marx's main ideas included:
  • alienation
    Marx's theory of alienation
    Marx's theory of alienation , as expressed in the writings of the young Karl Marx , refers to the separation of things that naturally belong together, or to put antagonism between things that are properly in harmony...

    :
    Marx refers to the alienation of people from aspects of their "human nature" ("Gattungswesen", usually translated as 'species-essence' or 'species-being'). He believed that alienation is a systematic result of capitalism. Under capitalism, the fruits of production belong to the employers, who expropriate the surplus created by others and in so doing generate alienated labour. Alienation describes objective features of a person's situation in capitalism - it isn't necessary for them to believe or feel that they are alienated.
  • base and superstructure: Marx and Engels use the “base-structure” concept to explain the idea that the totality of relations among people with regard to “the social production of their existence” forms the economic basis, on which arises a superstructure of political and legal institutions. To the base corresponds the social consciousness which includes religious, philosophical, and other main ideas. The base conditions both, the superstructure and the social consciousness. A conflict between the development of material productive forces and the relations of production causes social revolutions, and the resulting change in the economic basis will sooner or later lead to the transformation of the superstructure. For Marx, though, this relationship is not a one way process - it is reflexive; the base determines the superstructure in the first instance at the same time as it remains the foundation of a form of social organization which is itself transformed as an element in the overall dialectical process. The relationship between superstructure and base is considered to be a dialectical one, ineffable in a sense except as it unfolds in its material reality in the actual historical process (which scientific socialism aims to explain and, ultimately, to guide).
  • class consciousness
    Class consciousness
    Class consciousness is consciousness of one's social class or economic rank in society. From the perspective of Marxist theory, it refers to the self-awareness, or lack thereof, of a particular class; its capacity to act in its own rational interests; or its awareness of the historical tasks...

    :
    Class consciousness refers to the awareness, both of itself and of the social world around it, that a social class
    Social class
    Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

     possesses, and its capacity to act in its own rational interests based on this awareness. Thus class consciousness must be attained before the class may mount a successful revolution. Other methods of revolutionary action have been developed however, such as vanguardism
    Vanguardism
    In the context of revolutionary struggle, vanguardism is a strategy whereby an organization attempts to place itself at the center of the movement, and steer it in a direction consistent with its ideology....

    .
  • exploitation: Marx refers to the exploitation of an entire segment or class of society by another. He sees it as being an inherent feature and key element of capitalism and free markets. The profit gained by the capitalist is the difference between the value of the product made by the worker and the actual wage that the worker receives; in other words, capitalism functions on the basis of paying workers less than the full value of their labor, in order to enable the capitalist class to turn a profit.
  • historical materialism
    Historical materialism
    Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx as "the materialist conception of history". Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in human society in the means by which humans...

    :
    Historical materialism was first articulated by Marx, although he himself never used the term. It looks for the causes of developments and changes in human societies in the way in which humans collectively make the means to life, thus giving an emphasis, through economic analysis, to everything that co-exists with the economic base of society (e.g. social classes, political structures, ideologies).
  • means of production
    Means of production
    Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

    :
    The means of production are a combination of the means of labor
    Means of labor
    Means of labor is a concept in Marxist political economy that refers to "all those things with the aid of which man acts upon the subject of his labor, and transforms it." Means of labor include tools and machinery , as well as buildings and land used for production purposes and...

     and the subject of labor
    Subject of labor
    Subject of labor is a concept in Marxist political economy that refers to "everything to which man's labor is directed." The subject of labor may be materials provided directly by nature like timber or coal, or materials that have been modified by labor...

     used by workers to make products. The means of labor include machines, tools, equipment, infrastructure, and "all those things with the aid of which man acts upon the subject of labor, and transforms it". The subject of labor includes raw materials and materials directly taken from nature. Means of production by themselves produce nothing -- labor power is needed for production to take place.
  • ideology: Without offering a general definition for ideology, Marx on several instances has used the term to designate the production of images of social reality. According to Engels, “ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, it is true, but with a false consciousness. The real motive forces impelling him remain unknown to him; otherwise it simply would not be an ideological process. Hence he imagines false or seeming motive forces”. Because the ruling class controls the society's means of production, the superstructure of society, as well as its ruling ideas, will be determined according to what is in the ruling class's best interests. As Marx said famously in The German Ideology, “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force”. Therefore the ideology of a society is of enormous importance since it confuses the alienated groups and can create false consciousness such as commodity fetishism (perceiving labor as capital ~ a degradation of human life).
  • mode of production
    Mode of production
    In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production is a specific combination of:...

    :
    The mode of production is a specific combination of productive forces
    Productive forces
    Productive forces, "productive powers" or "forces of production" [in German, Produktivkräfte] is a central idea in Marxism and historical materialism....

     (including human the means of production
    Means of production
    Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

     and labour power, tools, equipment, buildings and technologies, materials, and improved land) and social and technical relations of production
    Relations of production
    Relations of production is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their theory of historical materialism, and in Das Kapital...

     (including the property, power and control relations governing society's productive assets, often codified in law, cooperative work relations and forms of association, relations between people and the objects of their work, and the relations between social classes).
  • political economy
    Political economy
    Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

    :
    The term "political economy" originally meant the study of the conditions under which production was organized in the nation-states of the new-born capitalist system. Political economy, then, studies the mechanism of human activity in organizing material, and the mechanism of distributing the surplus or deficit that is the result of that activity. Political economy studies the means of production, specifically capital, and how this manifests itself in economic activity.

Marx's concept of class


Marx believed that class identity was configured in the relations with the mode of production. In other words, a class, is a collective of individuals who have a similar relationship with the means of production (as opposed to the more common-sense idea that class is determined by wealth alone, i.e. high class, middle class, poor class).

Marx describes several social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

es in capitalist societies, including primarily:
  • the proletariat
    Proletariat
    The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

    :
    "those individuals who sell their labor power
    Labor power
    Labour power is a crucial concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of capitalist political economy. He regarded labour power as the most important of the productive forces of human beings. Labour power can be simply defined as work-capacity, the ability to do work...

    , (and therefore add value to the products), and who, in the capitalist mode of production, do not own the means of production". According to Marx, the capitalist mode of production establishes the conditions for the bourgeoisie
    Bourgeoisie
    In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

     to exploit the proletariat due to the fact that the worker's labor power
    Labor power
    Labour power is a crucial concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of capitalist political economy. He regarded labour power as the most important of the productive forces of human beings. Labour power can be simply defined as work-capacity, the ability to do work...

     generates an added value
    Surplus value
    Surplus value is a concept used famously by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. Although Marx did not himself invent the term, he developed the concept...

     greater than his salary
    Salary
    A salary is a form of periodic payment from an employer to an employee, which may be specified in an employment contract. It is contrasted with piece wages, where each job, hour or other unit is paid separately, rather than on a periodic basis....

    .
  • the bourgeoisie
    Bourgeoisie
    In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

    :
    those who "own the means of production" and buy labor power
    Labor power
    Labour power is a crucial concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of capitalist political economy. He regarded labour power as the most important of the productive forces of human beings. Labour power can be simply defined as work-capacity, the ability to do work...

     from the proletariat, who are recompensed by a salary, thus exploiting the proletariat.

The bourgeoisie may be further subdivided into the very wealthy bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie. The petty bourgeoisie are those who employ labor, but may also work themselves. These may be small proprietors, land-holding peasants, or trade workers. Marx predicted that the petty bourgeoisie would eventually be destroyed by the constant reinvention of the means of production and the result of this would be the forced movement of the vast majority of the petty bourgeoisie to the proletariat. Marx also identified the lumpenproletariat
Lumpenproletariat
Lumpenproletariat, a collective term from Lumpenproletarier , was first defined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The German Ideology and later elaborated on in other works by Marx...

, a stratum of society completely disconnected from the means of production.

Marx also describes the Communists as separate from the oppressed proletariat. The Communists were to be a unifying party among the proletariat; they were educated revolutionaries who could bring the proletariat to revolution and help them establish the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

. The Communists, according to Marx, would support any true revolution of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Thus, the Communists aide the proletariat in creating the inevitable classless society (Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

 takes this concept a step further by stating that only "professional revolutionaries" can lead the revolution against the bourgeoisie).

Marx's theory of history


The Marxist theory of historical materialism understands society as fundamentally determined by the material conditions at any given time - this means the relationships which people enter into with one another in order to fulfill their basic needs, for instance to feed and clothe themselves and their families. In general Marx and Engels identified five successive stages of the development of these material conditions in Western Europe.
  1. Primitive Communism
    Primitive communism
    Primitive communism is a term used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to describe what they interpreted as early forms of communism: As a model, primitive communism is usually used to describe early hunter-gatherer societies, that had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation...

  2. Ancient Slave Society
  3. Feudalism
    Feudalism
    Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

  4. Modern Bourgeois Society