An Overview of the Philosophy and Sociology of Marxism

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Marxism simply capitalized on the fact that a revolution could quite possibly restructure society, taking the dialectic that everything evolves scientifically, thus every change throughout history is the result of conflicts between material forces.

The basis of opponents, oppressed and the oppressor, good and evil, and simply the war of classes, was an already existing societal issue ever since the Middle Ages. The emerging middle class and the bourgeoisie laid the foundations of control over the feudal classes, thus the powerful maintained the dominant views in business and government. Marxism simply capitalized on the fact that a revolution could quite possibly restructure society, taking the dialectic that everything evolves scientifically, thus every change throughout history is the result of conflicts between material forces.

In 1848, the nationalists and the liberals began to push for a new order, and in so doing, sparked the revolutions. Workers and artisans took to the streets in petty rebellions, seeking social freedom, democracy, and national unity within liberal principals of socioeconomic structure. Ironically, the Communist Manifesto was published on the eve of the revolutions of 1848. Since the groundwork for the revolutions had already taken place years prior, it seemed odd that the pamphlet read as if it had cause the upheaval. The manifesto was meant to rouse the workers into a revolution, however it passed unnoticed.

Marx and Engels' managed to pull the idea of socialism from a scientific perspective and compared it to the real world of class society. Since the bourgeois had only triumphed over feudalism, this was seen simply as a building block for class struggle. Now, an emerging industrial working class, the proletariat, was up against the bourgeois. Marx and Engels believed that the working class could overtake their masters, thus the victory would create a dictatorship to reorganize production. A classless society would emerge and the state would disappear. Their workers movement had inherited the legacy of classical German philosophy in ‘scientific socialism’, whereby there is a struggle that needs to be overcome.

Socialism was no longer to be just a supercilious ideal, but the product of a material struggle between the classes. The material interests of the dominant social class determine how people see human existence. Therefore, Marx believed that the emergence of a new classless society would leads to progress in science, technology, and industry. Great wealth for all was the ultimate goal. The issue was, however, that Marx’s materialistic viewpoint appeared from bourgeois idealism; and it is now understandable why bourgeois histories of philosophy had either to ignore it completely or could only understand its nature in a negative and - literally – inverted sense.

Marxism was seen more of a philosophy than an actual movement toward reform. Karl Marx used both ideas from the French and the Germans to arrive at one simple explanation. History is determined by material forces. Of course, we can’t forget that Marx had a Ph.D. in philosophy and approached the working class from a standpoint that all people could be equal. The issue was, however, that society at the time still ruled in favor of the educated aristocracy and the landed middle class. The pyramid of the classes was not about to be changed due to a scientific approach of working conditions from a radical journalist.

Author Note:

Lauren Axelrod is is a full time student working towards a Ph.D in European/Medieval History/Archaeology.

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