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I have studied Marx in a lot of subjects in the school, such as History, Sociology, Economy and Political Sciences. The bad side of this is that each professor told me different things about Marx.

  • Was he a defendor of capitalism and just criticizing the distribution of the income, or he wanted to completely remove the capitalism and set a new political-economic system (communism)?
  • Was the socialism installed in the Soviet Union by Lenin what Marx would like?
  • Is right to say that Marx wasn't a communist?
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I have studied Marx in a lot of subjects in the school, such as History, Sociology, Economy and Political Sciences. The bad side of this is that each professor told me different things about Marx.

There are many Marxisms - philosophical, cultural, political & economical. Its important to see that Marxs own writings are part of what is now called political economy; for example his labour theory of value is an extension of Adam Smiths theory; and as a young man he was part of that group called the Young or Left Hegelians that was critical of the Prussian state and of Religion; its important to realise that as a thinker he drew on many strands of intellectual thought and because he was a point of reference for many other thinkers - some of them far from his own - he left his mark on many others.

Was he a defendor of capitalism?

When Marx was writing the system that is called Capitalism was prevelant in a small number of North European nation states, predominantly England; though he traced it back to the commercial city states of Northern Italy; this was one of the reasons he emigrated to England - to study its effects and causes at first hand.

Capitalism should be distinguished from the petty capitalisms of the classical civilisations of Islam & Rome; the immediate precursors of Capitalism. Its also worth noting that contra the physical & biological sciences that his science isn't attempting to uncover the laws of motion for all economies for all time - it is not a universal theory as Newtons theory of Gravitation was a universal theory - but that it was a historically & socially constituted description & critique; he wrote that a new economic & political order would demand a new analysis.

As an astute observer of the Capitalism regime he predicted that it would cover the globe - ie what is now known as Globalisation (in at least some senses). He also admired the energy of the bourgeois (as opposed to the feudal order) which he considered would transform the relations of production throughout the globe; part of this must be at least predicated on the global extent of the colonial empire which would ease the introduction of these new methods.

[was he] just criticizing the distribution of the income?

In the latter half of Capital (volume 1) he describes his anger at the inequity of Early Capitalism; so, yes; there is a moral imperative there; but this moral anger was shared by a wide spectrum of people in 19C England/Europe - for example Chartism;but its not simply about distribution of income;

and set a new political-economic system (communism)?

Marx was a marginal figure in the political scene in Europe - "he had been exiled from Germany, thrown out of Belgium and expelled from France" when he joined the First International - The International Workingmans Association; it was through this organisation that his ideas became visible.

Here Marx became a political activist and he aligned himself with the political current that became Communism.

Was the socialism installed in the Soviet Union by Lenin what Marx would like?

Its difficult to judge from Marxs own writing as he died well before the Russian Revolution. One suspects he would have celebrated the revolution but been dismayed by its trajectory - particularly during the Stalinist era.

Is right to say that Marx wasn't a communist?

Yes & No; as a political activist he was - he & Engels cowrote The Communist Manifesto after all; As a thinker and philosopher - if one is to take his theory as granted, and name the political & economic order that supersedes Capitalism as Communism then he could not be - its impossible to belong to a movement or order that is not in existence; what one can say is that he aligned himself with forces that he believed in bringing a new order about.

  • I like this a little bit more. Thanks a lot for your answer. It's hard to me to understand long texts in english. – cdonts Jul 9 '14 at 19:52
  • I read this many times. What do you mean with the "political & economic order that supersedes Capitalism"? The system implemented in the Soviet Union? Isn't that called Socialism? – cdonts Jul 12 '14 at 22:28
  • @cdonts: considering Socialism hasn't superseded Capitalism; its a tautological fact that it is not post-capitalism; still, one has to be careful as the social democracies of Northern Europe still contain a certain amount of socialism. Marx didn't attemp to describe what would come after Capitalism, he only predicted it would at some point end; this surely is uncontroversial; for historically we can note that entire civilisations never mind empires or states can end; and of course we have seen the end of feudalism - a certain economic mode; – Mozibur Ullah Jul 12 '14 at 22:37
  • what is controversial I suspect is his analysis of how this would happen; – Mozibur Ullah Jul 12 '14 at 22:39
  • Ok, so what's that Communism that supersedes the Capitalism? – cdonts Jul 12 '14 at 22:51
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Is right to say that Marx wasn't a communist?

NO

See Karl Marx :

in late 1847, Marx and Engels began writing what was to become their most famous work – a programme of action for the Communist League. Written jointly by Marx and Engels from December 1847 to January 1848, The Communist Manifesto was first published on 21 February 1848. Commissioned by the Communist League (established in June 1847 in London, [...] in which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were the dominant personalities) it laid out the League's purposes and program.


Was the socialism installed in the Soviet Union by Lenin what Marx would like?

We do not know ...

The socialist states set-up during the 20th century was clearly inspired by Karl Marx's ideas. Was he responsible for the following crimes ?


Was he a defendor of capitalism and just criticizing the distribution of the income [...] ?

NO

The purpose of The Capital: Critique of Political Economy (1867)

was a scientific foundation for the politics of the modern labour movement; the analyses were meant "to bring a science, by criticism, to the point where it can be dialectically represented" and so "reveal the law of motion of modern society" to describe how the capitalist mode of production was the precursor of the socialist mode of production.

Marx believed that if the proletariat were to seize the means of production, they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, abolishing exploiting class, and introduce a system of production less vulnerable to cyclical crises. Marx argued in The German Ideology that capitalism will end through the organised actions of an international working class:

Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence. [Jon Elster, Making sense of Marx. Cambridge University Press. p. 217.]

  • Thanks for your answer. Of course we don't know what Marx would like, but based on his ideas, as far as I know, he wanted to completely remove the state, because it was the main exploiter of the proletariat. – cdonts Jul 9 '14 at 17:03

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