Another Look at Marxism

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”~ Karl Marx~ Communist Manifesto
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”~ Karl Marx~ Communist Manifesto | Source

Class Struggle-An Observable Truth

Karl Marx stated in his Communist Manifesto that German Socialism is the “True” Socialism. He stated that, “In Germany, the petty-bourgeois class, a relic of the sixteenth century, and since then constantly cropping up again under the various forms, is the real social basis of the existing state of things. To preserve this class is to preserve the existing state of things in Germany.” While the political conclusions that follow from Communism, Socialism, and Marxism are debatable, the historical arguments on class struggle are an observable truth, even in today’s modern society.

Since its conception, Communism, Socialism, and Marxism, have been vilified as a danger to society. However, Capitalism, while giving the illusion of freedom, has really been just another form of enslavement. The rise of industry in the late nineteenth century gave birth to, and paved the way for capitalism to prosper. In response, German thinkers like Karl Marx saw the unfairness of the bourgeoisie owning all the property while the proletariat, who made this possible, lived in poverty. We see a similar problem today as in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement which criticizes the fact that 1% of the population is the elite property owners and 99% of the population is the proletariat—at least in the United States which is the poster boy of capitalism today. In a time where the gap between the rich and the poor has never been wider, it would seem that Marx's claims have been proven true.

America, Home of the Free?

“That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.”~Karl Marx~ Communist Manifesto
“That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.”~Karl Marx~ Communist Manifesto | Source
“Under monopoly all mass culture is identical…”~Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer~ The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception
“Under monopoly all mass culture is identical…”~Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer~ The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception | Source

Other German Marxist Thinkers

The founding father of communism, Karl Marx, was concerned with class struggle. In his Communist Manifesto he suggests that the most important type of relationship throughout history is that of the oppressor and the oppressed. His solution was to abolish property but in order to do that there had to be a revolution. While his solution is debatable, his concern that the bourgeoisie has been the oppressor to the proletariat, and will continue to be an oppressor if allowed to, is legitimate. Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer shared a similar view with Marx but they saw the instigator for the bourgeoisie as the mass culture industry in the United States in the 1950’s. He claimed in The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, that mass culture is a monopoly whose, “…violence becomes more open, so its power grows.” Adorno and Horkheimer saw the mass culture industry the way Marx saw the manufacturing industry—as a system that was designed to make elites out of a few and slaves out of the majority. The Red Army Faction also shared this concern in the 1970’s. What the Red Army Faction and Karl Marx shared in common was that they believed power should be in the hands of the people, the proletarians, and not just a few chosen elites—the bourgeoisie. Like Marx, they saw class struggle as the result of capitalist greed, and like Adorno and Horkheimer, they were well aware that modern materialism was a trap to perpetuate the enslavement of the working class.

More extremist views, like those of the Red Army Faction, are equally founded on legitimate concerns. In Germany in the 1960’s, the German people were divided between capitalism and socialism in the most empirical way—a wall literally divided the two Germanies along with their ideologies. The West was seen as a monster set out to destroy German kultur, and the East was portrayed, by Communists and Socialists, as the practical solution to the plague of Capitalism.Such a visible reminder of this class warfare perhaps made it hard to ignore the fact that maybe this guerrilla group had a reason to be concerned. Their extremist response, however, was to become German guerillas and force people to see society their way even if it meant using violence. This is not necessarily a solution that I support because violence only begets more violence, but I can certainly sympathize with their concern. Now more than ever capitalist greed is at the forefront of every discussion with economic and political overtones. The Red Army Faction were also very concerned with the illusion that government serves the people when in reality they are just serving themselves. Again, this concern seems to be prevalent today. Many times throughout the history of Germany the worry was that the government would turn fascist. It was especially a concern in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Here in the United States we currently have that same worry.

"Modern Slave"

“…the system can no longer purchase the loyalty of the masses, they must be coerced.”~Red Army Faction~ Serve the People, 1972
“…the system can no longer purchase the loyalty of the masses, they must be coerced.”~Red Army Faction~ Serve the People, 1972

Is Marxism Making a Comeback?

As you can see, I've paired modern propagandist style posters, better known today as memes on the internet, with quotes from Marxist texts to illustrate that the German concerns of one hundred fifty years ago are the same today here in the United States, and perhaps with more reason. This article is intended to comment on class warfare as we better understand it today—the rich against the poor and the dead end cycle that we are all trapped in. Given some of the negative connotations that go along with words like socialism and communism, it is understandable that most people may initially scoff at such a comparison, but, it is hard to argue with the non-political points about class struggle that Marx, Adorno, and other Marxist writers make. The images, or memes, that I have selected were all found on the internet. Essentially, what I want to illustrate with these images and quotes is that this concern is not a modern one. It has been around, as Karl Marx stated, throughout all of history. I hope that the person reading this will go away with a better understanding of the realities of our culture society and the purpose for it. It is not my intention to convince anyone that Communism or Socialism is necessarily better, but I do see the benefits of some of the ideas behind these ideologies. In a sense, class struggle is an observable truth in society and Marxism is just one view that provides a rational understanding of it, so my intention is to enlighten the viewer.

Power to the People!

“The masses must learn how to use power—by using power.”~Rosa Luxemburg~ Founding Manifesto of the Communist Party of Germany
“The masses must learn how to use power—by using power.”~Rosa Luxemburg~ Founding Manifesto of the Communist Party of Germany | Source

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Vote Up and Comment! 28 comments

Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

You say that you see benefits....

What would you have happen? What is your solution to our problem?


Indigo Atheist profile image

Indigo Atheist 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

I often think that if all the Americans who hate on socialism, if you asked them what socialism is, they wouldn't even know, and if they understood it better, they would become socialists themselves because most of them are poor people who are tricked by Fox News into hating the one thing that means power for the people, not the elites.


Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

Congratulations my young friend....you have been indoctrinated.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Barefoot, you apparently just saw the word Marxism, and scrolled all the way down to comment. Try reading the article, first.

Thank you, Indigo. I think Barefoot just proved your theory.


Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

Oh no I read the whole thing.

I am just older than the pair of you and have seen these things in action.

What that young lady just did was spew the talking points she has been taught and you took it for intelligent discourse.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Excuse me? Where did you get your PHD from? Do not insult me like that. I guarantee I have studied this far more than you have.


Rbostick profile image

Rbostick 4 years ago from Ruston, LA

In the end socialism has always failed. Not because Marx's ideas were inherently flawed, but because people are inherently flawed. The oppressed who clamor for reform end up taking power for themselves and becoming the very thing they opposed to begin with. Every social doctrine has failed for this very reason. It is never the idea that is flawed, only the people.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

I can agree with some of what you say, but socialism hasn't always failed. There are several countries right now that have very socialist forms of government and are thriving. Any country with universal health care can attest to that. I think what most people think of when they see the word socialism is Soviet Russia, or even Cuba, and that is what scares them. We have several socialist programs here in the US, too, like public schools, public parks, public roads, etc.


Rbostick profile image

Rbostick 4 years ago from Ruston, LA

Public schools are an example of a failing socialist policy in the U.S. The school system has been declining for years, especially since No Child Left Behind act in 2001. I wouldn't consider parks or roads socialist since governments provide those no matter the social policy. Soviet Russia and Cuba are examples of communism which is a different theory than socialism, the two share many properties but they are not the same.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

I agree public schools here have failed, but the public schools in Iceland, for example, were recently found to be the best. Also, there are plenty of other socialist programs here in the US, like social security and unemployment benefits. However, the point of my article, as it states, is not to debate whether or not socialism works. That debate could go on forever. My point is that the historical and social aspects found in Marxism are true. Class struggle is an observable fact, just look at how much CEO's make in comparison to what employees make. Yes, we expect there to be a gap, but not a 400% difference. That is the point I'm making.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Also, to your comment on parks and roads not being socialist...they are because they are built and maintained with taxpayer money, and that is socialism. Go to a state with higher taxes like Kansas, and look at their roads, then cross on over to Missouri and compare.


Rbostick profile image

Rbostick 4 years ago from Ruston, LA

The point is made, there is a huge gap between the wealthy and the poor. But history has shown that no matter the social doctrine involved this always remains true. The historical aspects of capitalism are true, as well as the social aspects. The point I am making is that no matter the social system the gaps between social classes will always be a prominent feature in the society, and the clamor from reform always comes from this inevitable difference.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Well, I guess I hate looking at it in such a pessimistic way. I don't trust the word always. It's too final.


Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

emma:

How old are you Emma. Not insulting just giving you the perspective of living through the Cold War and personally knowing former Soviet citizens. Go argue with them.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Old enough to know how to disagree with someone without making an ass of myself. Living through an event does not make you an expert.


Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

No but it does give me the virtue of having experienced it without hearing about it secondhand.

Oh...and the virtue of hearing from others who actually lived IN it.

Did those who taught you about it actually live IN it? I have doubts.

Insult me all you like but reality is reality.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Yes, they did, actually. And I have a mind that can process facts and allow me to come to my own conclusions, so I'll thank you to not suggest that I am a machine that just regurgitates things mindlessly.


Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

No I just think you have been educated by folks who prefer that kind of system...or think that they do. I grew up with lots of them.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

You are perfectly free to think whatever you like. However, if your comments are going to revolve around my professors, please keep them to yourself.


Barefootfae profile image

Barefootfae 4 years ago from Skye

They are just people you know.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

And it seems that you have nothing better to do.


Keith R Greene profile image

Keith R Greene 4 years ago

As soon as someone asks how old someone else is, they lose all credibility. Although younger myself, I have met enough people to know that age does not neccessitate wisdom. That only comes with self reflection...


Keith R Greene profile image

Keith R Greene 4 years ago

This is a great, informative article and the pictures used are amazing. I feel people want nothing more than to exercise their own will, even to the point of their own destruction. This is the main factor that prevents Marxism or Socialism from being a viable social structure.


Indigo Atheist profile image

Indigo Atheist 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

Soviet Russia is not a representative model of all socialism. It was one failed attempt at socialism, and since it cropped up at a time of great political turmoil and chaos, of course it failed. But that doesn't mean all socialist systems fail. That's like saying we shouldn't fund public schools because some schools do badly.


Indigo Atheist profile image

Indigo Atheist 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

And, let's face it, every new style of government is bound to be inadequate and flawed at the first attempt. Democracy in Greece was a good example, because while it had good intentions, the squabbling and power struggles caused Greece to become vulnerable to foreign attack.


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

Thanks, Keith and Indigo. I agree with both of you. Hopefully more people will shed the fear of the unknown and be more open to learning about socialism before criticizing it. Yes, there are many successful socialist governments out there. I think Iceland, right now, is one of the best examples, but people here in the US tend to ignore the fact that we have many socialist programs right here that we couldn't do without. They may be flawed, but that's not to say that they don't work...they just need a big dose of rational thinking from a younger generation that isn't marred by the Cold War, I guess.


f_hruz profile image

f_hruz 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A solid understanding of Marxist social and economic theory is of enormous value to any thinking person who wants to make any sense out of world politics, international relations and the intellectual decline of the US ... the degree of manipulation and brainwashing in this country is unmatched in most other countries around the world!

Just watch this video and let it sink in for a moment before you dismiss it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RhIxxvYtRE

Here is another interesting perspective of things which should be in the public focus - but obviously are not even being questioned in the US ...

http://www.youtube.com/user/DerQuasar?feature=watc...


emmaspeaks profile image

emmaspeaks 4 years ago from Kansas City Author

These are great links. George Carlin nails it.

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