Day 47: Marxism

At the close of the 19th century, German philosophers Karl Marx and Frederich Engels developed an ideology that would serve as the basis of a transformation of a large kingdom into one of the world’s greatest superpowers and sources of conflict in the late 20th century. The USSR is just one example of a state attempting to follow the principles of Marxism, among others like China and Cuba. When one begins to think about the ideas of Marxism and Communism, one question always comes up: could that work in the real world?

At its basis, the philosophy of Marxism is based on the idea that class struggles between an exploited class and their exploiters lead to every important historical development. Each of these struggles ends with a revolution leading to the creation of two new classes and a continuation of class struggles. However, Marx believed that the class struggle of the time was between the rich bourgeoisie and proletariat was unique and the ensuing revolution would result in a disappearance of private property and classes due to the inherent instability of capitalism

The disappearance of private property was meant to begin with a form of government known as the dictatorship of the proletariat, where the working class was in power. Marx hoped that this form of government would be made up of a small council, nearly emulating direct democracy. He predicted that this government would take over the means of productions, which are how all goods and services are produced. This change would differentiate this intermediate form of economy from capitalism, without being the classless Communist society that was seen as the final, most perfect form of society in Marxism.

This is where ideology and reality begin to drift apart. The perfect communist society envisioned by Marx is not a form of governance where the state owns everything and the people are all equal because of its perfection at distributing resources. Rather, this “upper-stage communism,” as Marx calls it, is meant to be a classless, stateless society where everyone has access to goods and means of production. Technology would have be so advanced that work was barely necessary and scarcity was no longer an issue and society had little basis on the economy and problems of scarcity of resources. Basically, this is a utopia where everyone can be a super cool intellectual and analyze Shakespeare and watch movies without needing to worry about work and such.

As you may suspect, this Marxist ideal of the world is not feasible. The most feasible aspect is the dictatorship of the proletariat, a form of government supported by Leninism. However, the form of governance involving a majority of the working class is nearly impossible in a modern nation. In practice, Lenin’s actual dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet Union involved the intellectual working class men rising above the others and suppressing the opinions of opposing working class men. The diversity in people’s thoughts ultimately keep even the most basic portions of the Marxist model from existing.

To answer the initial question: no, it could not work.


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