Introduction to Marxism
Marxism is the study of society by analysing class relationships and labour. Rather than looking at things through rose-coloured glasses, Marx chose the bitter red pill, known as physical reality—materialism.
Marxists observe the world through historical and dialectical materialism.
- Historical materialism shows that history only exists because of the physical interactions between social classes, and how they make the things they need for survival and happiness.
- Dialectical materialism demonstrates how the material universe constantly evolves and is the foundation for human existence; therefore, it must be studied through the interactions of matter in a holistic (as a whole) way.
There are several classes mentioned in Orthodox Marxism, but the most important are the proletariat, or working class, who is responsible for producing everything and is exploited by the bourgeois, the greedy bastards that manage everything and own the means of production.
The goal of the proletariat is the seize the means of production from capitalists, organise a classless society, and form a government that works towards communism.
The struggles between the proletariat and bourgeois stem from the contradictions in capitalism. In capitalism, the more technology advances, becomes widely used, and makes labour systematic for the proletariat, the more wealth and surplus value the fat cat bourgeois accumulates. Other such examples include:
- Markets become increasingly unstable and anarchic as capitalism progresses
- Capitalism "creates its own gravediggers" by leading itself to imminent ruin
- As capitalism increases, monopolies begin to form to control market shares
- Bosses control what workers produce, yet the workers own less and pay more.
There are two kinds of socialism: utopian and scientific. Utopian socialism was based on an ideal vision of the world as the driving factor for socioeconomic progress. Marx ridiculed it so much that the term became a pejorative in The Communist Manifesto. Marx was a scientific socialist, meaning that, rather than frolicking with Commie Unicorns, socialism should be based on the scientific method and observation.
Alienation refers to the process in which workers live at the mercy of their own labour. The best example was commodity fetishism, or allowing the things that don’t have value to have value (like the Air Jordan’s, emo hair gel, and the Kardashians).
Use Value and Exchange Value are related to commodities.
- Use value means that something one can actually use and satisfies a desire, like wool, silver, and crops.
- Exchange value is the value assigned to something which one can exchange for an equal value of something else. For example, based on the labour needed to make a diamond, you could exchange a well-cut one for an ounce of gold.
- Labour is an independent division of value, and changes the product based on how difficult it is to extract, produce, and distribute. Tailoring using a human being and using a Tail-O-Matic 5000 require different levels of labour, and affect the value of the product; one reason why capitalists prefer automation over human capital.
Lenin observed another form of alienation: monopoly and globalisation.
- Monopolies form as a direct result of market competition. Stronger companies will inevitably crush the little guy in order to increase its market share.
- Globalisation results from the need for greedy bastards to increase their global market share via market penetration (rape?) and the use of foreign, low-wage labour. Of course, if a foreign market doesn’t consent, capitalists just used gunboat diplomacy, also known as imperialism. For example, America’s United Fruit Company exploited Cuban workers by paying them almost nothing (sometimes simply nothing) and even massacred them when they went on strike.
- Imperialism comes in many forms, but in today’s world, it occurs through the War on Drugs/ Immigration/ Terror/ Joblessness/ Corruption/ Austerity. Whenever there’s a war on ‘something’, you can bet it’s a war for it.
- Supranational governmental organisations and ‘trade agreements’ get the job done as well. The European Union, American Union, ASEAN, TTIP, TISA, CISPA, ACTA, and others are the weapons of corporate empire.
Reserve army of the unemployed refers to structural unemployment that accumulates in capitalism. The broke, jobless, and desperate become a “reserve army” to which companies recruit whenever suitable. However, the number ‘in reserves’ grows more by the day; leading to civil unrest, crime, and eventually the overthrow of capitalism.