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KARL MARX AND V.I.

LENIN AND
COMMUNISM

•  (a) Influences on Marx


•  (b) Class struggle and class consciousness
•  (c) Stages of history
•  (d) The Vanguard Party
•  (e) Marxism - Leninism
KARL MARX
1818 - 1883

•  Marx was born in the Rhineland, which more


than any other part of Germany had been
strongly permeated with democratic ideas by
the French Revolution.
•  In 1849 Marx went to London and he was soon
joined by Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895) whom
he met in Paris and who became his lifelong
collaborator.
•  Marx stayed in England until his death in 1883.
Influences on Marx : G.W.F. Hegel

•  In German philosophy, it was G.W.F. Hegel who greatly influenced


Marx.
•  Although Marx very early criticized Hegel, he never abandoned the basic
categories of Hegel s thought.
•  Like Hegel, Marx felt that history had meaning and that it moved in a set
pattern toward a known goal.
•  Marx held that history had both a meaning and a goal, and the historical
process was dominated by the struggles between social classes with
each phase of the struggle, as in Hegel, representing a higher phase of
human evolution than the preceding one.
•  The goal of history was predetermined for Marx, namely the classless
society, leading to full human freedom; while for Hegel, it was the final
victory of reason and spirit over enslavement to caprice and passion.
Influences on Marx :
The French Revolution

•  French revolutionary politics was another


important source for Marx s intellectual
development.
•  Marx theorised that if revolution was the
principal method of destroying a capitalist
society, then France and her revolutionary
experience served as the best laboratory.
•  This must be contrasted with Burke who was
horrified by what the French Revolution
epitomised.
Influences on Marx : The Industrial
Revolution in England
•  Since Marx viewed economic forces as the main driving
force in history, and since he felt that industrial
civilization was irresistably spreading throughout the
whole world, he was convinced that England was the
country to live in and to study industrial capitalism.
•  Marx also felt that English economic analysis was the
most advanced of any country and, therefore, industrial
capitalism, in his opinion, could best be studied in
England.
Dialectical materialism

•  Marx believed that political and historical events are due to


the conflict of social forces arising from economic
conditions.
•  He advocated the concepts of thesis, antithesis and
synthesis.
•  The thesis represented the existing order which would be
challenged and overthrown by an antithesis and the new
order that was created would be the synthesis.
•  This process would repeat itself until it finally stopped
when capitalism was overthrown and there was the
classless society of communism.
The Duty to Work
•  In Marx s thought, the classless communist society of the
future was by no means designed to abolish the duty to
work.
•  The first stage of communism (socialism), Marx argued,
would be guided by the principle of from each according
to his ability, to each according to his work.
•  In the second, and final phase of communism, the principle
of from each according to his ability, to each according to
his needs would prevail.
•  Under capitalism, Marx argues, the worker does not work
in order to fulfil himself as a person, because his work is
not voluntary but imposed, forced labour.
•  Marx argued that the proletariat (working class) only had
their labour to sell for a wage to the bourgeoisie (capitalist
class) who owned and controlled the means of production.
Alienation and Class Consciousness

•  According to Marx, under capitalism people are alienated


from their work, the objects they produce, their employers,
other workers, nature, and from themselves.
•  Such alienation was necessary to create the class
consciousness that could drive class struggle to effect
social change and progress that would bring about the
overthrow of the capitalist state and replace it with the
classless state of communism.
•  Marx attacked the role of religion in society as it had the
potential to undermine class consciousness by offering the
proletariat a means of accepting their station in life.
•  He called religion the opium of the masses.
The Communist Manifesto - 1848

•  In the Communist Manifesto , Marx and Engels explain


how social change through revolution actually occurs.
•  For them the history of all hitherto existing society is the
history of class struggles.
•  The end of capitalism will be brought about by the same
inexorable laws of social change that destroyed previous
systems.
•  There was no clear cut theory as to how the political
transformation from capitalist to proletarian rule would
actually take place - this was left to the forces of history.
•  Marx and Engels saw in revolution, civil war, and the
dictatorship of the proletariat the preparatory stages of
peace and harmony.
V.I. Lenin
1870 - 1924
•  Lenin must be understood both as the creator of a distinctive version of
Marxism as a revolutionary theory, and also as a person steeped in the
native Russian, non-Marxist revolutionary tradition.
•  He identified himself as a representative and a continuer of this
tradition in an article in 1912 in which he linked himself to (a) the
revolutionary nobles and landlords who unsuccessfully staged a troop
rising in St. Petersburg following the death of Czar Alexander I in 1825,
and, (b) a later generation of revolutionary commoners whose leaders
carried out the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881.
•  What Lenin found enduringly valuable in this tradition was its model of
the dedicated professional revolutionist and the aspects of this tradition
became known as Russian Jacobinism .
Russian Jacobinism
•  This theory held that a revolutionary seizure of power from
below should be followed by the formation of a dictatorship
of the revolutionary party, which would use political power
for the purpose of carrying through from above a
transformation of Russian society.
•  Once the revolutionary intellectuals had captured power
through revolutionary activity from below, they would rely
chiefly on persuasion of the masses through propaganda,
rather than coercion, and would gradually transform the
country on socialist lines.
•  The thrust of Lenin s thinking was toward the creation of a
revolutionary party dictatorship dedicated to the
transformation of Russian society along socialist lines.
•  For Lenin, a proletarian dictatorship would mean a
dictatorship of the revolutionary party on behalf of the
proletariat.
The Vanguard Party
•  Marx and Engels did not imagine that the proletariat, once in power,
would have need of a party as their teacher, guide and leader in
building a new life on socialist lines.
•  Leninism was, in part, a revival of Russian Jacobinism within Marxism.
•  In 1902, Lenin published a booklet entitled What Is To Be Done ? in
which he described the need to create the right kind of revolutionary
party organization for Russia s special conditions.
•  He argued that the Russian Marxist party should not seek a mass
working class membership, although it should strive to link itself with
masses of workers and other discontented elements of society through
trade unions, study circles and other groups.
•  This party was to be the Vanguard Party which consisted of the most
committed ideologues and against which there was no competition.
Lenin s Economic Theory

•  According to Lenin, imperialism, in its economic


essence, is monopoly capitalism.
•  This determines its place in history, because the
monopoly that grows out of free competition is
the transition from the capitalist system to a
higher socio-economic order.
•  In other words, imperialism is the highest stage
of capitalism.
Economic Transformation
•  In every socialist revolution, however, the principal task of the
proletariat, and of the poor peasants which it leads, is the positive or
constructive work of setting up an extremely intricate and delicate
system of new organizational relationships extending to the planned
production and distribution of the goods required for the existence of
tens of millions of people.
•  The principal difficulty lay in the economic sphere, namely, the
introduction of the strictest and universal accounting and control of
production and distribution of goods, raising the productivity of labour
and socializing production in practice.
•  The transformation from free market competition, which drove capitalist
production and distribution, to a new philosophy of State domination
and control of the economy, had to be carefully managed in the interest
of the population to ensure continuity without hardship.