Just as today Marx's diagnosis of capitalist globalisation is finding wider acceptance, tomorrow there will be growing support for Marx's call, first clearly expressed in the Manifesto, for an international struggle against the global domination of capital.
The most politically conscious of those fighting against capitalist domination will recognise the validity of Marx's alternative, already outlined in the Manifesto: 'The first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, which is the struggle of democracy...
Despite differing interpretations, there is a general agreement that Marx's main interest was in the historical basis of inequality, especially the unique form that it takes under capitalism. For Marx, a theory about how society works would be partial, because what he mainly sought was a theory about how to change society. Marx's theory, then, is an analysis of inequality under capitalism and how to change it.
In its most fundamental sense, the term `Marxism' refers to the system of thought created by Karl Marx (1818-83) which provides the main theoretical basis for modern socialism and communism. The term is often also taken to include the work of Marx's lifelong collaborator and friend, F. Engels. By extension, the term refers to the ideas of Marx's subsequent followers, derived from or based upon his work
Marxism is divided into different, often conflicting, tendencies and groups, none of which can unproblematically claim to be the sole `true' heirs of Marx. Some writers argue that there is no longer a single theory of Marxism and that we must talk instead of `Marxisms' in the plural. Others maintain that Marxism should be seen as a concrete and complex historical tradition which contains within it many different schools and theories.
"Marxism" is a fairly dynamic theoretical perspective insofar as it is constantly being amended and reinterpreted by writers. In this respect, the basic two-class model proposed by Marx has been variously reinterpreted in the light of developments in the 20th century. Modern Marxists have tended to refine Marx's model by subdividing the bourgeoisie and proletariat into various sub-classes or "class fractions" as the neo-Marxist Nicos Poulantzas has termed them.
A theory of politics and economics asserting that social and political change is determined by control over the means of economic production. Marxism inherited its dialectical understanding of history from Hegelianism, but opposed Hegel's idealism with a supposedly-scientific dialectical materialism.
The key to understanding Marx is his class definition.1 A class is defined by the ownership of property. Such ownership vests a person with the power to exclude others from the property and to use it for personal purposes. In relation to property there are three great classes of society: the bourgeoisie (who own the means of production such as machinery and factory buildings, and whose source of income is profit), landowners (whose income is rent), and the proletariat (who own their labor and sell it for a wage).
Marxism made people think about the society they lived in. Ironically, Marxism produced many ideological offshoots – those who agreed with eight of his ideas but criticised two, for example, or supported five but not the other five. As a result of this, Marxism as an entity came under strain.
The main criticism of Marx was that he undervalued non-economic forces and that he wrapped a great deal of his beliefs in an economic shell at the expense of non-economic issues. Those who criticised Marx said that he failed to take into account patterns of culture and a country’s traditions.
Another criticism of Marx was that what he wrote was very vague and open to interpretation, especially what would happen after a proletariat revolution.