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Essay: Exploring the Relevance of Marxism for Global Politics: “Marxism: From 19th Century Revolution to 21st Century Politics – Exploring its Relevancy in Global Politics

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Irina Andreeva


How relevant is Marxism for analyzing contemporary global politics?

„The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true „


Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany in 1818 and died in London in 1883. He has been enormously influential in shaping the 20th-century political landscape. From the Mexican revolution of 1911 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, political debates have revolved around the Communism and Capitalism axis – a move away from the ideological debates of the 19th century which were equally about revolution and counterrevolution.

Marxism arose in the 40s of the XIX century during the first Industrial Revolution, in times where were made important scientific discoveries, which created the technical basis of the capitalistic system. The western world has experienced three major political and economic crises  during the 19th century (1825, 1836, 1847), where a huge part of the European continent was in turmoil (Germany, France, Austrian Empire etc). Worker’s strikes and revolutions were the main aspects of that specific period, which triggered enormous political demands and changes (for example the creation of new states). Assumptions of Marxism were German philosophy (Hegel, Feuerbach), French utopian socialism (Owen, Fourier, Saint Simon), English classical political economy (Smith, Ricardo).

Marxism is a philosophical, economic and political doctrine. This theory has been considered inadequate or insufficient by mainstream theorists for the task of explaining international relations. Even recently, debate on the contribution of Marxist-related scholarships sometimes verged on the vitriolic. Despite this inhospitable academic climate, however, some important work has been completed and there are hopeful signs that in the post Cold War period, new thinking in IR have a constructive input from previously marginalized scholarship.

There are different interpretations of the teachings of Marx that are associated with various political parties and movements in social theories and political ideas. Political Marxism is one of the variants of socialism with left anarchism, Christian socialism. Marxism are not the main part of the democratic socialism and social democracy.  

In the twentieth century Marxism was one of the most influential social, political and economic idea, economic. For more than a century all countries from all over the world inspired by the ideas of Marx. The government of different countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America have adhered to the principles of Marxism. More than 70 years Marxism was the dominant ideology in the USSR. To this day it remains so in China, Cuba and North Korea.

Marxism has gained extraordinary popularity and has spread to all continents, affecting many countries. In the late 20th and early 21st century popularity of the principle of his teachings has gained in Latin America. Over the past decade in Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile were elected the leaders of those parties that based their elections programs on the revolutionary teachings of Karl Marx. After all, the greatest philosophers in their work pointed out fact that the whole history of society was a history of class struggles. Thus, the proletariat is becoming the economically dominant class in Latin America.

For some, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the triumph of capitalism marked the death of Marxism. But in the 1990s, a number of scientists argued that the relevance of Marxism had increased with the passing of bipolarity and with accelerating economic globalization. A biography of Marx in the late 1990s argued that his analysis of capitalism had broken down Berlin walls and unified the human race finally came of age with the collapse of the Soviet Union. For others, the resurgence of national security politics since eleventh of September, coupled with the increasing importance of religion in international affairs, provided a reminder that Marxism has little grip on the most basic realities of international politics.

First of all, in my essay I will begin with a look at Marx's basic understanding and main ideas.

To understand view of Marxism we should separate his ideas on political sociology and economy. Let’s begin with the first one. What Marx thought about state?

Marxism regards classes, not states, as key actors and regards class conflict, not war or economic competition, ask the main form of conflict.

Marx believed that the most important and most exploited class of society is the industrial proletariat, at the expense of which all other social classes live, by redistributing the value created by the proletariat.

Marx also created an economic theory due to which he explained the "rule of motion" of production and exchange under capitalism. This theory was used to argue against the middle classes of economic theories common at the time. Marx wished that it was an instrument for the working class (the proletariat) used to overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism, then with communism. Socialism would be a step towards the disappearance of the state, and communism would, according to Marx, be a society in which goods and services would be distributed "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability.” He links political economic development. Through revolution, a poor nation can break out of the enslaving, global structures, harness the forces of History, telescope the process of evolution, and transform its poor, feudal-state societies into socialism without passing through the stage of capitalism. Marxism, in other words, offered a blueprint for development. The example of Soviet Russia’s economic progress in the 1930s and its victories in World War II provided convincing evidence for the revolutionary model of development.

Marxism was the official ideology of one of the two major protagonists in the Cold War. The IR literature concerned itself, among author things, with explaining the relationship of Marxist thought to the foreign policy of countries which utilized Marxist-derived approaches to develop ideological perspectives which shaped both domestic and foreign policy. 63Marxist-inspired theorizing has been prevalent in the study of US foreign policy and the Cold War. The Cold War generated a corpus of historiography and analysis in which Marxist-influenced scholarship considered causes, process and likely outcomes.  56,55,110,111

The major impact of Marxism on the study of international relations, however, has been neither in terms of classical Marxist theoretical investigations, nor in empirical interpretations of contemporary international relations. Another, less studied phenomena, has been the impact of Marxist thought on those scholars concerned with the interrelationship of race, class and International relations.88

The history of socialism is also an attempt to overcome capitalism. For socialism, inevitability was standing against bourgeois relations and capitalism. For centuries the whole, Marx's theory was the object of criticism. Regimes that claimed to be followers of this theory were defeated, and the theories of Marxism was catastrophically discredited. In spite of all this, the theory of Marx still retains certain positions and influence on minds, the exclusively reason is that ideas of Marx still relevant.

For example, today Marxism demanded political and ideological currents. Good example is bourgeoisie. The largest economists of the bourgeois are all based on Marx’ theory. You can see that Keynes has a lot of references to Marx in his works. Modern bourgeois society is largely based on taking into account the lessons of socialism, taking into account the danger of preserving poverty, leading to revolutionary upheavals, changing the regime and state power. In modern society poverty is overcome, and this is the significant impact of competition with the socialist camp. Rich people preferred to share wealth, but not to lose everything.

The promise of the "welfare state" has largely become a reality. However, this was due to the export of poverty to the Third World countries. As for the Third World countries and for the countries of an industrial society within a postindustrial society, Marxism is actual even in its classical form.

How said Moishe Postone „Marx's mature social theory provides the point of departure for precisely such a reconceptualized critical theory of capitalism. I am the outline of aspects of the reinterpretation of Marx's mature social theory that reconceptualizes his analysis of the basic nature of capitalism„.

Marxism has been a key resource in the critique of realism and neorealism, in efforts to explain the inter-relations between the development of the modern states-system and the evolution of industrial capitalism, and in analyses of capitalist globalization and the national and other divisions and conflicts that have developed alongside it. In the main, rival approaches that investigate the politics of gender, ethnicity or race do not down on historical materialism or its classical vision of universal emancipation. One must doubt that critical theory can be based entirely around historical materialism, but there is still much to be said for the thesis that it should proceed in the spirit of Marxism, and aim to understand the process that have drawn societies into longer webs of interconnectedness over the millennia, and especially over the last few centuries and decades.

Marxism is relevant as the classical methodology and theory, the remaining „still working" to the principle of public life. First of all, in this case, we can talk about economic theory and his famous book "Capital" as the most important work on this topic. If we consider "Capital" as a work, adequately characterizing capitalism as it was in England in the mid nineteenth century, we can state that the fundamental basis of this system has not changed today, "Capital" is still used in out time.

The contribution of Marxist to economic and political theory is recognized by modern scientists and from the last decade. Many of the conventions of Marx's concept are used by economists and politics today. Therefore, Marxist political economy can be considered an important direction of world economic thought. We can agree with the opinion of those Western scientists who declare that understand the main goals of the economy as a science, the best way is to look at books of the three greatest economists: Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Keynes.

Without any doubts capitalism is changing, but the reason why Marx's work remains constantly and invariably in demand is because it analyzes the fundament of capitalism, the basic principles, which can exist.

In my opinion, this theory will last forever . The processes that are described in Marx’s books  there are repeated. Marx wrote that during the capitalist system every 10-15 years there will be a crisis, this is a cyclical process. The situation in the world proves this. Also, during socialism, much attention has be paid to scientific progress. Today we can see it is as a consumer nature, we are trying to release the new gadgets and everything that we can sold.

On the other hand, it is also worth noting the Marxist political economy of capitalism was created mainly in the middle of the XIX century. Since then, significant changes have taken place in the capitalist economy. Today's World has changed and the theory continued to remain largely as it arose from time when Karl Marx was alive. The difference between those two times shows the real state of affairs. The economic theory of Marxism, in the form in which it continued to be stated, is clearly obsolete. But this does not mean that it should be completely abandoned.

For example, Marxist philosophy in general, with a materialist conception of history is more relevant at that time than Marxist economy. All aspects and principles of the philosophy of Marxism still remain used today. This, however, of course, does not mean that it does not need further development on the basis of generalization of the latest scientific data. Marx's historical materialism continues to be the best of the existing approaches to understanding theories of the social sciences.

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