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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 22 New Delhi May 19, 2018

Relevance of Marxism in Contemporary World

Sunday 20 May 2018, by Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy


Karl Marx was an eminent philosopher, renowned economist, historian, journalist, political ideologue, revolutionary socialist, great intellectual and multilingual expert. Karl Marx obtained a law degree and simultaneously studied Hegelian philosophy. The bicentenary of his birth is being celebrated in a spectacular way all over the world from May 5, 2018 onwards throughout the year.

Marx was a great scientific thinker, yet there are some pseudo-intellectuals who have distorted Marxism. They have written books to prove that Marxism is no more relevant in the contemporary world. Their main aim is to continue with the status quo and serve the existing bourgeois society.

A vicious propaganda is also on in the social media stating that socialism proposed by Karl Marx has failed in the Soviet Union. Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary, has given befitting reply to those who made such allegations. He questioned them straightaway: “Where has this capitalism become successful?” He asked, could capitalism solve the problems of unemployment, poverty, hunger? Economic offences, scams, scandals, economic crises are the order of the day in any capitalist society. Karl Marx has also categorically stated that “philosophers all over the world have interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.” Marx is poetic. He is straight and sharp in his writings. His pen is piercingly sharp to the enemies.

Karl Marx had studied in depth the condition of the working class in the then prevailing situation in Britain especially in the background of industrial revolution. He had started forming trade unions in London. Karl Marx had written the world famous classical work, Das Capital, and along with Frederick Engels had written the Communist Manifesto. These exemplary books have enticed millions of readers all over the world. In these volumes they have disclosed the theory of surplus value, and how capitalists appropriate wealth. They have explained how capitalists dig their own graves. They have further elaborated how developing the means of production and production relations clash with each other changing the socio-economic formations and how finally springs up a new system of exploitation-free society.

Karl Marx had famously given the slogan to the working class calling them to unite for the struggle stating that “Workers of the world, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” He had given guidelines to the working class to intensify the class struggles. Above all, he had invented the theory of exploitation. He had also asserted that people are the driving force of the society. In historical materialism he had concluded that “History of society is nothing but history of class struggles alone.

For the first time in the history, Bolsheviks overthrew the Czarist regime in Russia with inspiration from the Communist Manifesto and Capital. Communists of Russia had established a government which had provided food, shelter, clothes, and dignified jobs to all. It was a system where there was no exploitation of either man by man or nation by another nation. The same system had distributed land to landless. Banks and industries were nationalised. The working class government had given top priority to space research. Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova were the first cosmonauts who could triumph in space travel. The Soviet Union had achieved many successes in heavy industry and the medical sector. It had also rendered co-operation to many developing nations. The ruling Communist Party had encouraged the younger generation in sports and games. Hence the Soviet Union, China, and other European socialist countries could bag 80 per cent of gold medals in Olympic Games.

In China Mao Tse Tung had successfully organised the Long March that paved way for building socialism in their own way with Chinese characteristics. At present China under comm-unist rule has become the second biggest economy after the USA. It may surpass even the USA within a short span of time. The Soviet Union was under communist rule for seven decades. Likewise China continues to be under communist rule for seventy years. They have recorded several victories, but some anti-communist intellectuals are making malicious propaganda against both the Soviet Union and China. The same people are distorting Marxism.

With the inspiration of Marxism, the Cuban revolution was successful under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara who had overthrown the dictatorship of Batista. Cuba under a socialist government has stood in the forefront in the medical field. It is Cuba which is sending medical teams to countries wherever natural calamity occurs. Vietnam is a fast developing nation in the world. It had defeated 14 nations and also the USA that had attacked it. Laos is developing socialism in its own way. Even in South America many countries like Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua could withstand against the pressures of the IMF and World Bank in general and the USA in particular. They have established their own bank. Communists of many republics of erstwhile Soviet Union and East European countries are advancing forward. Capitalist countries, which could not solve their own problems, have no right to question the socialist countries.

Karl Marx had rightly pointed out that Marxism is not a dogma but would continuously keeps changing according to conditions prevailing at a given time and place. After 1978, Deng Xiao Ping following Mao had brought about several reforms by which 80 crore people of China were liberated from poverty.

Karl Marx had proved in his popular booklet the Communist Manifesto, that emergence of the socialist system is inevitable. In his famous work Das Capital he analysed and proved that class struggles would dismantle the capitalist system and establish a new socialist system.

We are literally witnessing many developments before us. In those days the working class used to work 14 to 16 hours a day. On May Day the working class shed their blood demanding eight-hour working day. Workers, in the eight hours of their work, get paid only for one or two hours to meet their basic essentials, the rest of the time is spent in working without payment for the profits of the owner of the company. The unpaid labour generates surplus value. In search of more profits, owners used to force the workers to slog for more hours. Later on, as they improved the technology of the production process, the speed of the machines increased and production improved. Subsequently they started modernising the machines further in order to get super profits.

American imperialists have taken every precaution not to keep Marxist literature in their libraries. But in Internet, the entire Marxist literature is available. American imperialists are getting profits through software and hence they are developing that industry. They have stopped manufacturing traditional goods. Though in the Internet Marxist literature is available for readers, at the same time Internet is also simultaneously spreading the venom of anti-communism. In search of super profits they are digging their own graves.

The rate of exploitation is being increased by employing migrant workers in capitalist countries in general and in the USA in particular. They are extracting more work from the workers by paying attractive overtime wages and providing meals with subsidised rates. Capitalists are extracting 14 to 16 hours of work by providing facility of ‘work from home’. Karl Marx, in his work Das Capital, elaborated how the capitalist class will increase the working hours and enhance the rate of exploitation. Capitalists will go to any extent of resorting to dirty tricks in order to increase the working hours. Karl Marx had studied the conditions of working class of many countries for 30 years and he could learn many languages in order to study the conditions of the working class all over the world.

As Karl Marx had envisaged, the working class of France, Italy, England and the USA are taking to the streets and organising strikes demanding the right of association, right of collective bargaining, minimum wages and implementation, etc. Karl Marx had worked tirelessly for writing three components of Marxism, namely, Marxist Philosophy (Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism), Political Economy and Scientific Socialism. He had spent sleepless nights in order to write Das Capital. The family of Marx lived under utter penury. They were not even in a position to pay the rent of the house. Jennie Marx, as she was feeding her baby, it was blood not milk that poured out from her due to lack of any, leave apart nutritious, food. But Marx remained undeterred and never stopped writing. He invented the secret of exploitation of man by man and rendered his services to the entire mankind in general and the working class in particular. Developments all over the world have established that Marxism is victorious.

Karl Marx, while he was young, had written a poem in which he had emphasised that “a man should not live without aim and goal, that is living without life.“Not for me a life untroubled,/Not for my tempestuous soul/Let my life be full of struggle for a great and lofty goal...” Let us move forward with optimism. Let us break the chains of slavery and unite the workers of all countries. Let us together establish a society which will not have a place for wars and build up a society of peace and fraternity.

Marx and India

Marx made deep study about the then colonial India. He wrote a number of articles in New York Daily Tribune in 1857-59, during the First Indian War of Independence. He exposed the colonial plunder of India by the East India Company and named Robert Clive as a ‘Great Robber’. The principal power behind the insurrection in 1857 was the people of India, who rallied to the struggle against the unbearable colonial oppression. He wrote: “The introduction of Railways, industrialisation of India by the Britishwill shake the Indian society which is stagnant, while destroying the native irrigation system, handicrafts and native professions, is not going to help Indians but will be exploiting them even more.”

“The Indians will not reap the fruits of new elements of society, scattered among them by the British bourgeoisie, till the Great Britain itself, the now ruling classes, shall have been supplanted by the industrial proletariat or till the Hindus themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke together,” Marx predicted. This was an excellent review of the then prevailing situation and, as he predicted, India attained independence through its great national movement.

On the occasion of the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx, let us concentrate on ‘Marxism and its scientific application’ to the historical conditions of India. That will be the most appropriate tribute to Marx, the great teacher of scientific socialism.

The author is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India. This is his first article after his re-election to the post of the CPI General Secretary at the party’s 23rd Congress at Kollam, Kerala last month.

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