In the West, during the 17th and 18th century there was a rapid establishment of factories and the capitalistic mode of production, as a result, the conditions of the workers deteriorated. The workers who entered the factories were subject to all sorts of exploitation: long hours of work, life in slums, ill-health etc. The result was exploitation of the workers, ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor, economic inequalities, degradation and alienation. Karl Marx and Frederich Engels realised clearly the adverse effects of capitalism and in the process, brought out what is called scientific socialism or Marxism (after the name of Marx). After Marx and Engels, V.I. Lenin (Russia), and Mao Zedong (China) contributed and took forward Marxian philosophy.
Karl Marx and Frederich Engels realised clearly the adverse effects of capitalism and in the process, brought out what is called scientific socialism or Marxism
Marxism is the political philosophy of the working class as liberalism is the political philosophy of the capitalist class. It is a theory of social change: why social changes take place and how do these changes come into effect? The social changes take place because of the material factors and through a method called ‘dialectical materialistic’ method. Dialectical materialism is the sum-total of the general principles which explain as to why and how social changes take place. The social changes take place because of the material factors and through the dialectical materialistic method. Marxism is based on certain assumptions/postulates. These are:
- Nothing happens in the world on its own; there is always a cause-effect relationship in what we see around. The relations of production (i.e., material relations among the people), as the basis of society, provide the cause while the productive force constitutes the effect.
- The real development is always material development (i.e., economic development). The progressive development of productive forces indicates the progressive level of development.
- The material (i.e. economic) factor is the dominant factor in both individual life and social life.
- Human being is born at a particular stage of social/material development, i.e., born in a social setting which exists independent of him. But being an active being, human being makes his own social setting. Marx had said, human beings are born in history, but they make history.
- Social classes, especially the opposing classes, through their struggle and following the process of revolution, move in the forward direction. That is why the Marxists say that every subsequent society is better than the preceding society.
- Revolutions mean total and wholesome changes; they are not a negative force but are what Marx had called, the locomotives of history. When launched and successful, revolutions take society to a higher stage of development.
- The state, being the result of a class society, is a class institution. It is neither impartial Individual and the State nor just; it is a class institution. It is a partisan, oppressive and exploitative institution; it exists to serve the dominant class of which it is an instrument. In the capitalist society, the capitalist state protects and promotes the interests of the capitalists while in a socialist society, it protects and promotes the interests of the working class. By the time the socialist society becomes fully communistic, the state would, by then, have withered away.
Thus, Marxism advocates as the highest form of society where men would work as they wish and would get what they want: “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”