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Karl Marx And Marxism Essay, Research Paper

Karl Marx and Marxism

Karl Marx set the wheels of modern Communism and Socialism in motion

with his writings in the late nineteenth century. In collaboration with his

friend, Heinrich Engels, he produced the The Communist Manifesto, written in

1848. Many failed countries’ political and socio-economic structures have been

based on Marx’s theories, for example the USSR, East Germany etc. Many people

believe that Marxism is not applicable to today’s society, as Karl Marx put

forward his ideas not anticipating the type of society we have today. The

welfare state system has effectively nullified Marx’s arguments, and made them


Karl Marx, born on May 5, 1818, died on March 14, 1883, was a German

economist, philosopher and revolutionist whose writings form the basis of the

body of ideas known as Marxism. In his youth he was deeply affected by the

philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel, and joined a rebel group called the Young Hegelians,

which contributed ideas towards the movement against organized religion and the

Prussian Autocracy. Later on in life, he was influenced by the writings of

Ludwig Feuerbach, who wrote that God was invented by humans as a projection of

their own ideals, and that in creating such a ‘perfect’ being, in contrast to

themselves, mankind lowered themselves to lowly, evil creatures who needed

guidance from the church and government. He said that, in creating God in their

own image, humans had ‘alienated themselves from themselves.’

Karl Marx applied this alienation theory to private property, which he

said caused humans to work only for themselves, not for the good of their

species. The idea is further explained in the following sentences. The people

who do the work in a capitalistic society own none of the means of production,

(ie. machines, raw produce etc.) that they use in their work. These are owned

by the capitalists, to whom the workers must sell their ‘labour power’, or

ability to do work, in return for a wage. The capitalists, owning the factories,

automatically have ownership rights to everything produced by it, and can do

with it what the will. Because of this, the worker is alienated from the

product of their labours, having no control over what is made, or what becomes

of it.

Karl Marx was very concerned with the class system in Prussia. He was

an avid campaigner against a system where one group of people flourish at the

expense of another class, in this case the working. He believed that all things

should be equal, and that sharing should abound, with no-one person owning

everything, all belonging to the state. Marx believed that once most workers

recognized their interests and became ‘class conscious’, the overthrow of

capitalism would proceed as quickly and democratically as the nature of the

capitalist opposition allowed. The socialist society that would emerge out of

the revolution would develop the full productive potential inherited from

capitalism through democratic planning on behalf of social needs. The final

goal, towards which socialist society would constantly build, is the human one

of abolishing alienation. Marx called the attainment of this goal Communism.

Marxism in its various forms has affected the world greatly throughout

time. Both world wars have involved communist countries to a great extent.

Communism has gone wrong in many countries, with the state turning into an

authoritarian one, with a few people at the top abusing their power for their

own personal gain, at the expense of the other members of the public.

In conclusion, I believe that Marx’s theories would be beneficial up to

a point. I agree that there should be no class distinctions, and that everyone

should have a fair go to succeed in life. Sharing should be greater, as

capitalism has risen to knew heights of greed and power lust. A communist state,

however, would never work, as it is in the human nature to compete against one

another, which rules out any social equality one could gain by abolishing

personal property.


Kenny, S., (1994) Developing Communities for the Future : Community Development

in Australia, Thomas Nelson Australia.

Miliband, R., (1977) Marxism and Politics, Herron Publishing Inc., New York.

Ollman, B., (1995) Grolier’s Encyclopaedia – Karl Marx and Marxism, Grolier

Electronic Publishing Inc.


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