a canadian marxist viewpoint : un point de vue marxiste canadien: a choice selection of internationalist & class news and commentary
August 27, 2016
A brief summary of the main tenets of Marxism
Marxism is a way of thinking and acting in concert with others to transform conditions. It is not a “system”: “I have never established a ‘socialist system’”, Karl Marx wrote in his “Notes on Adolph Wagner's Lehrbuch der politischen Ökonomie” (1880). Marxism is analysis of the development of the world as it is and was and may become, a method rooted in an intimate connection of practice, reflection and action.
Here are the basic principles of Marxism:
• Opposition to an economic system based on inequality and on the alienation and exploitation of the majority (by means of the system of wage labor), a system whose aim is to obtain profits for a tiny minority rather than satisfying the needs of all.
For the transformation of society, Marxism considers it a necessity that a revolutionary process led by the organised workers be waged for a society based on cooperation and the free distribution of goods and provision of services.
• “The emancipation of the workers must be the task of the workers themselves.” This is principle is inherent to authentic Marxism, which required democracy and self-emancipation; it also means that democracy is the indispensable foundation for a new society (called socialism or communism). This society, liberated from the different forms of domination, will have to be freely constructed by its members.
• Internationalism, which is simultaneously the recognition of the common interests of the workers of the entire world and of the need to struggle in solidarity with all other workers of all nations, and of the goal of abolishing nations in the transition to a human world community.
• The knowledge and analysis of History (the 'materialist' conception of history):
Marx described his own historical method very succinctly: "The way in which men produce their means of subsistence depends first of all on the nature of the actual means they find in existence and have to reproduce. This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the reproduction of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather, it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production."
• The recognition of the existence of social classes that divide men and women into two distinct segments of the population; the recognition of the profound inequalities and injustices that separate the Owning class from the Working Class; and the recognition that as long as society is divided into classes, there will be conflicts between these classes (the class struggle).
As a result, while they participate in the day-to-day class struggle of the workers, Marxists work on behalf of a reorganization of society that will put an end to this class division.
• The free exercise of the critical spirit. “Doubt everything”, Marx said; for the goal is to perceive reality as it is, in order to understand it better and thus to transform it.
Marxism does not attempt to isolate itself,on the the contrary: the goal is to contribute to the constitution of a movement of all of society for the creation of “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all” (Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto).