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Political Philosophies – Communism Part I – World History – Free PDF Download


Marxian perspective on communism:

  • Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Germany.
  • His father was a lawyer and head of bar in Trier, in Germany.
  • Born in a bourgeois household and brought up by a highly educated lawyer, a disciple of the Enlightenment and a student of Leibniz and Voltaire, Kant and Lessing, Marx naturally had to necessarily pursue higher studies.
  • At the age of 17, he entered the University of Bonn to study law.
  • In the following year, he traveled to the University of Berlin to study at University faculty.
  • Though Hegel had died in 1831, The University was still very much under the spell of his theory of history.
  • Quickly succumbing to Hegelianism, he joined a rather loosely knit band of young radicals who called themselves Young Hegelians.
  • Under their influence, Marx abandoned Law and took up the study of philosophy.
  • Now he received his doctorate in 1841 but he destroyed his chances at a University teaching career due to his radical and outspoken views, shortly after completing his studies, he began writing for a radical, left wing paper and became its editor in 1842.
  • Eventually the newspaper had to close down by the government following a series of radical articles by Marx, so Marx traveled to Paris, the then gathering place for European political refugees and the political left wing immigrant community.
  • Where he met Frederick Engles, who was to become a lifetime friend and had to have a major impact over Marxian political and economic theories.
  • Thereon, his movement away from Hegelian historicism towards a developing socialism accelerated.
  • However, it was not too long when he was expelled from Paris along with several of his associates and had to move to Brussels and formed an organization headquartered in London and Federated with the Communist League of Europe.
  • Where he wrote the Communist Manifesto, which was sent to the London headquarters in 1848.
  • In 1849, he moved to London, where he established his permanent home where he withdrew with into a self-imposed exile for the rest of his life, along with a close knit circle composed of his family and a select few devoted disciples.
  • after securing an admission card to the British Museum, the remainder of his life centered around the criticism of industrial capitalism.

Hegelian influence on Marxian Thought:

  • Hegelian heavily influenced Marx as evidenced by the way he received Hegel’s idealism and modified the approach which emphasized on materialism.
  • Hegel was a liberal who believed in the rule of law rather than the arbitrary rule of men and hence supported the Prussian state.
  • Hegels’s philosophy culminated the idealist tradition which began with Kant.
  • The idealist tradition advocates that the essence of reality is reason, but that the spirit of reason manifests itself only gradually, revealing more and more facets of itself only gradually during the course of time.
  • Hegel argued persuasively that “History is the growth of Reason to consciousness of itself, and the constitutional, Legalistic State is the culmination of history”.
  • The most significant contribution of Hegel’s ideology on Marx was the adoption of adaptation of “Dialectics” from Hegelian ideology.
  • According to Hegel, every statement of truth, or thesis, has its opposite statement of truth, or theses, or anti thesis, which is also true.
  • The thesis and anti-thesis may be reconciled on a higher level of synthesis, but this is not the end of the dialectical process which then continues as the synthesis becomes a new thesis with its anti-thesis and so on.
  • Unlike the Hegelian idealism which perceived truths in ideas, Marx claimed the contrary, namely, that ideas were not the realm of truth rather the material is.
  • Therefore, while the Hegelian system may be called ‘dialectical idealism’, Marxian system is called ‘dialectical materialism’.
  • Marx believed that truth of history can be revealed by a materialistic analysis rather than an idealistic analysis that is to say that life is not driven by consciousness, but consciousness by life.
  • However, Marx did not deny the reality of subjective consciousness or its significance in social change.
  • The adaptation of Hegelian idealism with the economic pragmatism of the British theorist Adam Smith, lead Marx to believe that the motivating factor in human existence was not ideas about religion and society but a materialistic realism having to do with survival.
  • This survival, the necessity to produce the means of subsistence, was fundamental to human life and human action in community and society.
  • The first Historical act, wrote Marx, was the production of the material life itself and ideal for him was nothing else than the material world reflected by human mind and translated into forms of thought.
  • Marx then modelled it with the evolutionary perspective of human development in the popular 19th century European thought and advocated a society as an arena within which the struggle and contention strife between groups of people, competing forces for survival and improved livelihood generated social change.
  • Instead of Rousseauian notion of peaceful harmony and movement forward within a cooperating and helpful community of like-minded citizens bound together with an agreed upon social contract, Marx thought of struggle and contention, strife and competition as the mechanism of social advancement in the community.
  • The utopian philosophers of the 18th century with their peace and harmony in an advancing community had given way to a 19th century pessimism about man’s ability to make and keep pledges of peace and cooperation, presuming that human society best survives within the arena of struggle and competition, violence and revolution.
  • Marx further identified four stages of human history on the basis of modes of production: primitive communism, ancient slave production, feudalism and capitalism.
  • The relationship which men have with one another varies with the mode of production.
  • Primitive Communism signified communal ownership, whereas ancient mode of production was characterized by slavery, the feudal mode of production was characterized by slavery, the feudal mode of production by serfdom and the capitalist system by bourgeois exploitation of wage earners.
  • Each of these stages except primitive communism constituted a distinct mode of man’s exploitation by men and his struggle for freedom.
  • Marx was committed not only to the analysis of this scenario, but more particularly to its final culmination in the classless Society of Socialism.
  • Thus, even though men are destined to fight for the establishment and maintenance of their material existence, yet they will not forever engage in war and revolution.
  • Marx believed that the process of dialectical materialism in which men struggle for survival in competition would come to an end when the working people of the world came to be sufficiently strong and politically conscious that capitalism would be finally overthrown and socialism would be installed.
  • The 5th and final state would constitute a classless society with no private property and no distinctions between the controllers and the controlled.
  • War and rebellion would hence vanish.

The basic postulates of Marxian dialectical methods as follows:

  • All the phenomena of nature are a part of the integrated whole.
  • Nature is in a continuous state of movement and change.
  • The developmental process is a product of quantitative advances which culminate in abrupt qualitative changes.
  • Contradictions are inherit in all realms of nature- but particularly human society and because of the inherent contradictions; each stage contained the seeds of its own destruction.
  • Marx believed that no matter how well a society functions in terms of its own order and structure, it was destined to turmoil and revolution until the final breakdown of all class divisions.
  • The struggle ensues between the class representing the old order and the class representing the new order.
  • The emerging class is eventually victorious, creating a new order of production that is a synthesis of the old and the new and the process goes on till the time a socialistic society is not established.
  • The inevitability of the continuing struggle is relative to the emergence of the division of Labor within the society, for it is this phenomenon of Labor differentiation which forms antagonistic classes that in turn become the center of competition and struggle against nature as well as against other elements within the society.



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