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Marx’s Idea of Communism

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    Present study seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of Marx’s concept of communism through the prism of historical and evolutionary analysis. Main theoretical aspects of Marx’s concept, which played such a crucial role in the development of modern society, will be assessed in the light of the globalization consequences, including global disparity between North and South, rising tide of imperialist intervention, racism, nationalism and intolerance.

    Finally, based on this analysis the prospects of building communism after great collapse of the ‘really existing socialism’ will be assessed.

    Marx’s idea of communism: theoretical and practical dimensions

    Marx concepts of communism is inextricably linked to the entire philosophy of historical materialism and its application to the study of political economy realized by Marx in his seminal work Capital (Tucker 1978). Hence, communism should be studies and analyzed, addressing three main dimensions thereof – 1) philosophical mindset and ideology; 2) socio-economic structure of post-capitalist society and 3) practical political practices of action and behavior (Amin 1998 34).

    There is no denying the importance of the fact, that these three dimensions of Marxian concept of communism represented in Marxian philosophy constitute the key to understanding of its relevance to modern global society.

    Communism as philosophy and ideology has direct humanistic origins and should be regarded as the progressive development in modern society. Marx directly claimed about deep ties of his version of scientific communism with utopian communism, which was developed by Owen, Moore and other philosophers (Marx German Ideology 18). The similarity between these different theories rests in their sharing of certain starting points and ideas. The main among them is articulation of moral impossibility of the inequality, existing in modern society and exploitation of human beings by those, who control power and money. Instead, communism seeks to provide the path for the development of the just model of society, based on human friendship, free development of human interests and capacities. There is no denying the importance of the fact, that notwithstanding the fact, that utopian and Marxian concepts of communism have much in common, there exist significant difference, which in fact made Marxian communism the driving force of 20-th century revolutions in Russia, China and other countries. First of all, as Engels noted himself in Anti-Duhring utopian socialism and communism proceeded from the pre-scientific and ideological understanding of social relations (Tucker 1978). Owen and others understood, that exploitation, unjustness, lie and hypocrisy exist, however, they did not find out fundamental social and economic causes of those phenomena.

    The revolutionary role of Marx communism rested in his famous discovery that the world history is the history of class struggles and exploitation (Tucker 1978). In this way, Marx located the ideology and necessity of communism in real history, politics and economy. Here, the first ideological dimension of communism was linked with Marxian analysis of capitalist political economy, which showed how communism may be possible as the final stage of human development.

    In his Economic-Philosophic Manuscripts written in 1848 Marx for the first time presents his version of communism, based on analysis of human exploitation and degradation of proletariat’s daily life (Tucker 1978). However, still Marx’s idea of communism was based on Feuerbach’s philosophy of love, which would be later debunked by Marx in German Ideology as pre-scientific ideological knowledge, lacking clear understanding of society.

    Only in Das Kapital did Marx created the full framework for the analysis of communism as the real alternative to communism. Through the analysis of commodity and its exchange Marx formulated the labour theory of value, which argued that the value of commodity is formed by the surplus labor added to it (Amin 1977 33). This analysis later expanded in Marx’s work to include the process of production in the context of capitalist factory. Based on his initial finding, Marx discovered, that the source of capitalist profit originated from unpaid surplus labor, which capitalist receive from workers. Capital, according to Marx extracts labor from people, degrading their human capacities, moral and philosophical interests and the development of their personality. Capital to reproduce necessitates constant reduction of workers’ salaries, accompanied by the conitinous increase of labor day and exploitation (Berberoglu 1987).

    The latter is connected with growing competetion between various capitalist enterprises and the development of technology, which while revolutionizing production, results in cheaping of commodities and ergo – profits. Finally, these developments result in total destruction of previously dominant structures of life such as nuclear family, morality etc. and transformation of all nation into two opposite classes of capitalists and proletariat, struggling with each other.

    However, these destructive historical process, according to Marx create material and economic preconditions for the communist society, which would liqiudate classes statuses and state and will create the community of individuals, working not only for their daily material needs, but engaging in constant communication, aimed at the development of personal capacities (Tucker 1978).

    Such possibility, is according to Marx is based on the structure of the existing capitalist society and its technological and material capacities, which if properly used may destroy poverty, disparity, moral and physical degradation of the future generations (Meszaros 2001 34).
    Finally, the theoretical implications of Marx’s concept of communism were a basis for a real revolutionary practice for the first time in history, because they became the source of communist morality and ideology. Such philosophical doctrines as Marxism Leninim, Trotskysm, Maoism, New Left represent application of Marx’s ideas of communism to real political conditions of  a given society. There is no denying the importance, of the fact that October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and communist revolution in China resulted in great overture of human solidarity, friendship and understanding because they were driven against capitalist and imperialist exploitation of the ordinary working people. National specifics and real contradiction, however, often resulted in mild transformation of communism, however it never lost its critical and moral potential .


    Present analysis of the communist idea, developed by Marx showed, that it is grounded in humanistic philosophical tradition represented by Renessaince, Enlightment and the best achievments of humanity. However, unlike earlier version of communism, Marx analysis presents scientific breaktrough, which found the possibilities of communism’s realization in modern capitalist society. Based on the dialectical method, developed by Hegel and the achievements of Classical Political Economy, Marx found main driving forces of exploitation, social inequality, disparity and imperialist wars. It was capitalist structural drive for generating more and more profits from squeezing surplus value from proletariat, which results in its constant and worsening exploitation. Together with it, however, such structure of capitalist society, brings preconditions for the revolutionization of technical and productive forces, which should become the basis of classless and just communist society, a final stage of human development, where all contradictions of class society, reflected in slavery, feaudal and capitalist economy would be abolished.

    The Relevance of Marx’s idea of communism in the light of modern globalization and imperialism.

    Notwithstanding the demise of socialist system led by Soviet Union and gradual transition of China to capitalism, the relevance of communism is still on the global ideological agenda. Latest political projects of 21-st Century Socialism, developed in Venezuela and leftist trends in Latin America and South-Eastern Asia prove once again that communism is still capable of becoming a uniting force for all struggling for better society. The preconditions for actualizing Marx’s analysis of political economy become even more evident, than in the 19-th century. And that is mainly the result of globalization, which proved the absurdity of capitalist drive for profit (Berberogly 34).

    Neoliberal take-over in the late 70-th, which launched ‚capital accumulation on the global scale’ resulted in the total demise of Keynsianism, realized throught welfare state and import-substitution policies in the periphery (Amin 1998 23). The latter resulted in growing disparities betweeen classes both in imperialist countries of the world-system’s core and peripheral capitalist states. Globalization arised from the capitalist monopolies’ search for the cheap labor in pheriperal states. The latter created preconditions for the expansion of transnational corporations to new regions and integration of peripheral states into new global economy, controlled by international lobbies, states and corporations (Patnaik 2006).

    However, such integration had damaging economic, social and political consequences for the working people in those countries. The base for national and autonomous development was ruined by the rising tied of imports, exploitation, instability, fake democratic procedures etc.

    Local elites and international capitalists united in the sindicate, designed to manipulate public opinion and economic policies. The latter were largely formed throug international neoliberal consensus instituted throug international financial organizations, such as IMF and World Banks. The consequent shrinking of social services and national infrastructure projects resulted in global economic crises in 1997-1998 and finally current global crisis with unprecendented scope and unpredicted consequences for the global peace and the destiny of the human kind.

    There is no denying the importance, of the fact that the social and economic consequences, provoked by neoliberalism and globalization, resulted in the new actualization of communist ideals (Petras 2006). Such ideologies as social democracy, liberal Christianity and other kinds of centrism showed their impotence in the light of growing neoliberal consensus. These parties and movements largely supported new neoliberal reforms and policies. Proceeding from this fact, it becomes evident, that the only ideology, that is capable fo uniting wide masses of people for struggling for the radical transformation of society may be found only in communism.

    New Left basically represent such new interpretation of communism, based on modern conditions, created by globalization. Anti-globalization movements, Chiappas rebels in Mexico and especially contemporary Bolivarian ideologies constantly acknowledge their ideological linkages to communist ideas, developed by Marx. However, new developments in modern capitalism, which resulted in rising tide of moral degradation, provoked by mass consumption, fostered the creation of the new strands in communism, such as Theology of Liberation, which is popular religious interpretation of communism in Latin America (Amin 1998 45).

    Moreover, it should be noted that the relevance of communism is explained not only by the rising economic disparity, but the intensification of imperialist interventions and violence in the Third World. Religious fundamentalism, which was once the only answer to the imperialist intervention in the Middle East and Asia now loses its primary significance. Anti-imperialist struggles in the Third World nowadays borrow their ideological drive from communist ideas, whicha are better equipped to understand the causes of imperialist intervention (Patnaik 45). Religious fundamentalism results in unnecessary extremism, which is not linked back to real social and economic causes of imperialism, as the violence aimed at opening new markets for capital expansion.

    Hence, it should be articulated that modern anti-imperialist struggles are very crucial to the actualization of communism in new changing conditions of the modern world.

    Finally, modern communist ideas are inextricably linked to the realization of  the fact, that the development of global capitalist system may lead now only to two main results, voiced by Rosa Luxembourgh – socialism or barbarism (Meszaros 2). Such understanding is stimulated by the fact, that the uncontrolled drive for profit results in complete degradation of mineral resourse and world ecology. These global problems are acknowledge by international organizations and non-governmental organizations all over the world. However, only left forces link the resolution of ecologic problems with the institutionalization of communism, which would stop the uncontrolled exploitation of resources, caused by ever  growing consumption, motivated by the profit drive, rather than human needs and interests.

    Finally, it should be noted that gender and race problems are still not resolved, however, formal liberalization of Western societies took place nearly one century ago. Communist ideas help us better understand new phenomenon of racialization of labor, which is particularly evident in Western multinational societies. The riots, which took place in France and led by mostly Arab immigrants showed, that their unequal and dominated position in French society is caused by the patterns of capitalist exploitation. Economic and social inequality is embedded in racial divides, which may be statistically proven in cases of Arab and Latin minorities in France and the United States correspondingly. The latter is deeply connected with the capital ambition to attract cheap labor from other countries. In its turn emmigrant inflow results in actualization of nazist sentiments among local population. These and other  contradictions of modern society are best realized throught the prism of communist dialectics.


    Contemporary developments result in the new actualization of communist ideology and theory. Current financial crisis, caused by globalization, financialization of consumption and uncontrolled policies of banks may lead human kind to unknown consequences. The latter are yet can not be discerned in the twilights of a coming catastrophe. Massive lay-offs of workers, continuing military build-up in the major core countries and radicalization of proto-fashist forces is the greatest challenge to the global peace since the end of the Second World War. Therefore, the relevance of communim is once again on the agenda of all progressive forces, which stand for peace and just society.

    Works Cited

    1. Amin, Samir. Imperialism and Unequal Development. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977.
    2. Amin, Samir. Spectres of Capitalism: A Critique of Current Intellectual Fashions. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998.
    3. Amin S. ‘Globalization or Aparthied on a Global Scale’. In The Modern World-System in Longue-Duree., Ed. by I. Wallerstein. – London: Pluto Press, 2004, 5 – 30.
    4. Berberoglu, Berch. The Internatonalization of Capital: Imperialism and Capitalist Development on a World Scale. New York: Praeger, 1987.
    5. Magdoff, Harry. Imperialism: From the Colonial Age to the Present.  New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978.
    6. Meszaros, Istvan.  Socialism or Barbarism. Monthly Review Press, 2001.
      Marx, Karl. The German Ideology, Marx-Engels Institute, Moscow. 1845. Available at:
    7. The Marx-Engels Reader. Ed. By Tucker, Robert C.    W.W. Norton & Co. Second Edition edition, 1978
      Patnaik, Pratiush. ‘Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism Today’. In The Great Divergence: Hegemony, Uneven Development and Global Inequality. Eds. by K. S. Jomo. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006, 222 – 242.
    8. Petras, James. ‘Cultural Imperialism in the Late 20 Century’. Journal of Contemporary Asia. 1993, (v. 23, # 2), 139 – 148.


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