The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx
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And yet, despite their best efforts to bury him again and again, Marx’s specter continues to haunt his detractors more than a century after his passing. As another international economic collapse pushes ever growing numbers out of work, and a renewed wave of popular revolt sweeps across the globe, a new generation is learning to ignore all the taboos and scorn piled upon Marx’s ideas and rediscovering that the problems he addressed in his time are remarkably similar to those of our own.
In this engaging and accessible introduction, Alex Callinicos demonstrates that Marx’s ideas hold an enduring relevance for today’s activists fighting against poverty, inequality, oppression, environmental destruction, and the numerous other injustices of the capitalist system.
rather seem miraculous that he was able to complete so much. Marx’s sufferings undoubtedly made him more suspicious of other people, and harsh and bitter in what he said about them. The brutal and sometimes anti-Semitic remarks in his correspondence with Engels concerning the German socialist leader Ferdinand Lassalle reflect not only their political differences, but also Marx’s resentment of a man who moved in the smartest social circles, was wealthy, and basked in popular acclaim. Their
the demand of the Third Estate—all those who belonged to neither of the two great feudal Estates, the nobility and the clergy—to have the dominant say in the nation’s affairs. But the chief beneficiary was one particular section. Although the common people of Paris, the shopkeepers, artisans and laborers, gave the revolution its impetus, and although the peasantry provided the republic and the empire with its armies, the French bourgeoisie emerged strongest from the turmoil of 1789–1815. The
struggle.” Marx himself did not regard the class struggle as his most important discovery. In a famous letter to Joseph Weydemeyer of March 1852, he wrote: And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had HISTORY AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE 101 described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did
stoppages and crises in the production process (C iii, 249). There are other ways in which crises serve to offset the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Marx writes that “crises are always prepared by . . . a period in which wages rise generally and the working class actually gets a larger share of that part of the annual product which is intended for consumption” (C ii, 414–15). This reflects the fact that at the height of economic booms many commodities become scarce because they are in
to introduce reforms on behalf of the workers. Social Democratic and Communist parties all over the world have espoused such a view of socialism, whether they see members of parliament or the party as the actual agent of change. Marx, however, stood for “socialism from below,” for workers liberating themselves through their own activity. GRAVEDIGGERS OF CAPITALISM “The condition for the emancipation of the working class is the abolition of all classes,” Marx wrote (CW vi, 212). In other words,