I am not a Marxist. – Karl Marx
A year ago, when I started my brief affair with Marxian economics, it was not because I agreed with his economics. Frankly, I wasn’t even aware of what he proposed. I was impressed by the utopian society envisioned by communism. A stateless society where nothing’s ever scarce. How can someone NOT desire that? I knew that socialism was a failed concept, USSR was a testimony to that; but I was sure that should I delve into it, there must be a catch. This was apart from the mental pompousness that stroked my narcissistic personality, my need to be ‘different’.
A year on, there is one thing I can safely say: Marx has got to be one of the most misunderstood people that existed.
Karl Marx was no moralist. You don’t need to believe in a definite set of morals to be a Marxist. Marx didn’t champion communism because he believed that it was a more ‘ethical’ economic system than capitalism. In fact, he * wasn’t* a proponent of communism, in traditional garb.
What Marx was, was a historian.
He studied the dynamic motion of the society through various economic structures, noted down some similarities, and tried to predict the evolution of the economic state of the society. He noted that the society tends to base its morals, beliefs, ideologies, on its economic structure. In a way, the superstructure of the society was based on its economic structure. Thus, to have a clear understanding of the society, we need to understand the base, the economic structure.
This is where his dialectical method comes in. Dialectical relation is an inner relation, rather than an exogenous causal relation. He used his version of dialectical methods (revolutionized ideas from Hegel?) and established a relation between elements within the system.
Society, he said, was always moving to a higher form of consciousness. It moved from feudalism to capitalism, and would, on its own accord, move from capitalism to socialism. Communism was the highest form of socialism. One doesn’t ‘adopt’ socialism, one ‘evolves’ into a socialist society.
There are inherent contradictions in every economic structure. In a feudalistic society, there were inherent contradictions in the progress path of both the classes that existed in the society (slaves AND their owners). These contradictions would be resolved through revolutions, prompted by some crises, and the feudal structure would break down, and would be followed by another one- capitalism, for example.
Now he predicted that because of the inherent contradictions that exist in capitalist, the society WOULD move on to socialism, effectively giving the reign of control in the hands of the proletarians (through the proxy (?) control by the government, and then to total control by the proletariat.)
One cannot impose communism. It’s one of the most widespread misconception about Marxism, one doesn’t say ‘A communist society would solve the problems that exist in a capitalist society’; a communist society evolves from the contradictions of a capitalist society..
I disagree with his economics, but personally, I think his conception of history is a piece of genius