On the concept of Marxism

in philosophy •  last year 

On the concept of Marxism

{This post is part of a contest ran by @anarchyhasnogods on explaining the concept of Marxism, as the post's title suggest. Click here to see what the contest is about.}

The concept:

To be a Marxist, one has to accept a lot of preconditions before doing so. When we, as Marxists, say we are Marxists, we implicate ourselves having faith of the following things:

  1. To ultimately accept Materialism as the primary source of everything that exists, including that of the conditions of consciousness. That means that it isn't thought that dictates the Universe around us, but rather that it is subordinate to matter but can heavily influence matter.
  2. To accept that Dialectics, that of Dialectical Materialism (DiaMat) and Historical Materialism (HM), can explain the world as-is and how it came to be. If one denies the Dialectics, one simply will have a hard time to justify Marx's findings and will have, more than often, invalid reasons to still uphold what Marx found and not use the Dialectics.
  3. That we have the profoundest faith in Science (Wissenschaft), which that type of Science incorporates lab-coat science (Hard science), self-discoverable knowledge, scholarship and dialectics. Though this has been a point of recent controversy, this is a matter of fact due to the distinction between lab-coat science and the Enlightenment Project's usage of Science lasting even to the days of Marx.
  4. To quote Karl Marx: "In the eyes of [D]ialectical philosophy, nothing is established for all times, nothing is sacred or absolute" - for the World is not in isolation and is dynamically evolving each second we live. To think something can be forced into isolated, is to proclaim faith in Metaphysics and that everything can be analyzed in isolation.

Where's the influence of Marxism at?

Marxism ultimately has profound influences in a lot of fields, even in places you last expected to appear in such. Marxism ultimately has found itself:

  1. Fields of Sociology that Marx and Engels ruminated on how classes are formed by groups of individuals that possessed the same class consciousness and how those class consciousnesses came to be because of their social being. To which, he can go on talks of how class conflict works, the economic basis of class structures that permits classes to struggle and why false consciousness is needed in order to secure the ruling class of society without the fear of working class revolts. Yet to only look at Sociology and to ignore the economy would ultimately hurt one's analysis and show that the person has a one-sided analysis of actual (real) abstractions of society.
  2. For Marx's Labor Theory of Value (LTV) is equally as important as his findings in Sociology. For Marx and Engels would go on to explain the many mechanisms of Capitalism from the Capitalist mode of production, Capitalist production itself, the functionality of a market, the tie-in of markets and production and how labor-power is the intrinsic-value that makes actual of the use-value and increases the exchange-value of a commodity. For while Marx's LTV is borrowed upon Adam Smith's and Ricardo's LTV, Marx expanded both's LTV and established the place labor-power had in the Capitalist economy. Yet to be an economic determinist, will still have a one-sided analysis of the actual abstractions of society.
  3. In which case, Marx and Engels would have to tie the Superstructure of society with the Base of society. This is where their influence of Dialectics, id est the entirety of Dialectical philosophy, as a whole comes into play. Using Dialectics, they would tie together the economy and ideology under a model called the Base-Superstructure that explains how the economy is the Base of society and forms the ideology, or Superstructure, of society, but, in turn, the Superstructure maintains the Base as to continue the reproduction of the Superstructure and allow changes to happen if it came to benefit of the existing Base-Superstructure of society. Yet Marx and Engels more profound than that, they would established a materialist line in Dialectical philosophy and would often use DiaMat as a means to generate new findings in the economy and ideology of Capitalism and prove their findings realistic.

What is Marxism not?

However, with misinformation of those outside of Marxist rings and misuse of concepts and signifiers inside of Marxist rings, it's no wonder people have misconceptions of Marxism. Here are just some of them here:

  1. For those on the outside of Marxism, Marxism, or more commonly referred to as "Cultural Marxism" nowadays, isn't a conspiratorial ideology that seeks to "destroy" the "White" race or destroy "Traditional" values of society. At best, Cultural Marxism is a slur word that gets thrown around and at best was originally used to make fun of the Frankfurt School, yet, the arbitrariness of this signifier showing itself so proudly, it doesn't possess a stable signified meaning. Nonetheless, on the conspiratorial part, Marxists would profoundly denounce Blanquist moves to secure society for Socialism. Reason being as it hides the true nature of one's movement and would reverse all that was gained once the true image of the movement was shown to the masses, as the masses don't like being lied to of what's going on.
  2. The other one is that Marxian and Marxism is the same. Marxian is a term to describe people that buy into Marx's, and maybe not Engels's, findings, but whole-heatedly do not use Dialectics as to justify the findings nor expand upon them. They are often nowadays referred to as "Analytical" Marxists, some part due to the false Continental-Analytical rift in philosophy and some part due to crafting new methodologies to go with Marx that are barely sustainable on their own. It's best that this decaying group gets thrown into the dustbin of history soon.
  3. Marxism isn't an ideology, that is to say that Marxism is actually a Scientific philosophy. The one that actualizes this Scientific philosophy is Scientific Socialism. However, Marxism isn't just moping about and around, it works in conjecture with Scientific Socialism as to build ways to supersede contemporary society in an area, and Scientific Socialism in practice returns to prove or disprove any concept inside of Marxism and updates it if need be. (Once you are embedded in Dialectics, everything plays off, is interconnected with and actively reinforces each other.)
  4. Marxism cannot be dogmatic, it refuses to isolate any new produced knowledge in society because it negates its theories. In fact, it needs negations to even function properly in the face of new produced knowledge and needs to adapt to new knowledge as they come. Marxism wants to ground theory in reality, not the other way around; so if anyone Marxist refuses to learn something and they cannot prove why they refuse such, then they're dogmatic.
  5. Marxism isn't racist or transmisogynistic, that is: if someone uses Marxism for racist or transmisogynistic ends, they don't understand Marxism nor will they reap the benefits of Marxism. This in fact can go back to the economic determinism talked about early, for most that act this way are economic determinists that refuses to see how society feeds back into the economy and have harbored nasty preconceptions of groups of people in how they work in society. Marxists, even before intersectionality was a thing - which mainly is a reaction to economic determinism in the Neo-Liberal epoch - to begin with, have noticed how the Capitalist Superstructure can disadvantage groups of people of non-"White" roots and do see the displacement that Patriarchal heteronormativity, how society sees hetero people as "normal" in general, has on nonconforming sexualities and genders. All the while seeing how those Superstructural mediums need the Base, economy, to exist to even stay enforced as they are, so a Marxist worth their salt will never preclude LGBTQIA+ allies nor non-"White" communities in their organization and analysis of society.


Of course, that is a lot to take into one post and re-readings are stressed during the typing up of this post. But of course as well, this post was made for a contest as named above in the beginning of the post. So I suggest checking the other entrant's posts out and reading what they have to say on the matter. Regardless, with at least three years clocking in being a Marxist, this is pretty much as close as I get to explaining it in a superficial, but necessary, way. Good luck to the other contestants!

Cited posts:

@anarchyhasnogods - "Contest: Concept of Marxism"


"Dialectics of Nature" by Friedrich Engels

"Dialectical and Historical Materialism" by Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin.

"Das Kapital" (Volume one) by Karl Marx.

"Socialism: Utopian and Scientific" by Friedrich Engels.

"Critique of the Gotha Programme" by Karl Marx

"Philosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement" by Anuradha Ghandy

"Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle" by Larry Holmes

"Transgender Liberation: A movement whose time has come" by Leslie Feinberg

"The Roots of Lesbian and Gay Oppression – a Marxist view" by Bob McCubbin

"On Contradiction" by Mao Zedong

"On Practice" by Mao Zedong

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Excellent post comrade.

Random inquiry, have you looked into the dialetics of Bookchin?

It's where I learned about dialetics from.

I have not, I have been more swayed into Hegel's and Marx's Dialectics (while having slight impressed feelings from Jacques Lacan's usage of Dialectics) than reading into Dialectical Naturalism. Albeit, in my early days I have heard people on IPhilosophy (don't ask, it's practically dead and buried) say that it refuses an "End of History" part of Hegel's Dialectics. Regardless, I heard from them that it was more of a reaction to Orthodox (at which point the name gives me a headache for different reasons) Marxism and something that seemed to him antinaturalistic of Hegel. Albeit, I would think, except for Absolute Idealism, that Hegel's philosophy is absolutely neutral/indifferent to nature.


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