Karl Marx was a German philosopher, sociologist, and communist in the 18th century. He developed a famous theory, called Marxism, that fundamentally influenced the human history. In fact, Karl Marx is among the most quoted scholars in history and is one of the most influential figures of all time. His two most famous works are: The Communist Manifesto published in 1848, mainly a political statement for the communist movement, and Das Capital, a book he devoted his life to on the nature of the capitalist system. In the last century, following his revolutionary theory, there were communist movement and revolutions in many countries to form a communist group of states, led by Soviet Union in 1922 and led to the founding of Red China in 1949. However, since the collapse of Soviet Union towards the end of last century, the communist movement suffered a big retreat and even the post-Mao China turned to market economy, a system closer to the capitalist economy than the communist economy. Marx’s predictions that the global revolutions will end the capitalist system in the world are not proven right.
2. Marx’s view on government
Marx has a theory of social development involving 5 major social types, from lower stages to upper stages, i.e.
Primitive Communism –> Slavery system –> Feudalism –> Capitalism –> Socialism –> Communism.
He regards the capitalist government as an inhuman government which only protects the capitalists (bourgeoisie) while oppressing the working class (proletarians). He believes that despite the name of democracy, a capitalist society is in essence based on Dictatorship of Bourgeoisie. He concludes that capitalist government should be overthrown by the working class and replaced by the socialist government based on Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Eventually socialism transitions to communism when the productivity gets to the highest level. Communism is the ideal society in Marxist theory in which every one enjoys his work, which brings job satisfaction and fulfillment of his creativity, at the same time producing the products to meet the needs of all the society. In communism, there is no distinction of class, no class struggle and everything is in harmony.
3. Marx’s theory of human nature:
Contrary to the popular view that human is selfish by nature, Marx thought that human is a naturally creative animal. Accordingly, an ideal society creates a condition for the whole development of human nature. But capitalism is an evil society which turns humans into wage slaves.
Marx’s theory of human nature plays an important role in his criticism of capitalism and his ideal of communism. A closely related and even more influential theory of Marx is about alienation from human nature caused by the capitalist system.
4. Marx’s theory of alienation
By alienation, Marx refers to the social separation of people from their “human nature” which is supposed to be decent and creative. Marx believed that alienation is a systematic result of capitalism. He believed that it is the alienation that deformed human nature, making people behave differently depending on one’s social status. The nature of capitalists becomes exploiting and oppressing the working class purely for the seeking of profits. The working class becomes wage-slaves like robots working in inhuman conditions.
Only in the communism can all men gain freedom and be liberated from wage-slavery, enjoying the full nature of their creativity.
5. why he thinks that way
Marxism was formed in an age when the capitalism was not mature and there were waves and waves of class struggle and society conflicts : there were no social programs, no unions and other forms of laws as seen in the modern society. For example, there were no minimum wage law, child labor law, income tax regulations and social welfare to protect the lower working class and to balance the interests between the capitalists and the proletarians. Out of deep compassions for the lower working class who has been struggling for very basic living, and out of the anger towards the early capitalists who were after profits by forcing the working class to work long hours with very low pay and very poor working conditions, Marx concluded that the capitalist government is inhuman and will be overthrown by the proletarians and replaced by the socialist and then communist government.
“Karl Marx.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 19 Sep. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation. 21 Sep.
“Marx’s Theory of Alienation.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 26 Aug. 2011. Wikimedia
Foundation. 21 Sep. 2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx’s_theory_of_alienation
“Marx’s Theory of Human Nature.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Jun. 2011.
Wikimedia Foundation. 21 Sep. 2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_human_nature