Marxism is the political and economic theories of Karl Marx which was then developed by Marx followers to form the basis of communism. In this essay we will be talking mostly about the political impact and secondly, the economic impact of Marxism. In addition, we will be assessing whether Marxism is still relevant politically and economically.
Marxism has shaped politics and world politics permanently due to the Russia Revolution and the establishment of an authoritarian Communist state in Russia. Communist regarded Marxism as their official dogma and it is under the Russian Communist that it spread through the world. It’s “concepts of class struggle and exploitation have helped to determine alternative policies of welfare and development in many nations besides those adhering to Communism.” In addition, due to Marxist ideology being the foundation of the Soviet Union it was fiercely objected by the USA whose foundational ideology was capitalism which was in stark contrast to communism. This led to the Cold war between the two nations which have caused destruction to many countries such as Afghanistan, Cuba etc. The after effects of the Cold war can be seen today with rising tensions with Russia and the USA and this shows how Marxism shaped the political landscape of the world. In addition, Marxist ideology still exists within society as seen by the hundreds of thousands of people who support communism and sympathises with Marxism. Moreover, anti capitalist movements still exist as seen by the aftermath of the financial crises in 2008 and more thereafter.
But the area in which Marx contributed the most and in which Marxism is still relevant is the political economy. Marx investigated the production and circulation processes of “industrial capitalism, from which he formulated a labour theory of value for analyzing the exploitation of workers by the capital-owning class.” In his research and analysis, Marx found out the cause of “surplus value, the methods employed by capitalists to increase surplus value, and the role of the price system in redistributing the surplus value among capitalists.” Marx concluded that the “working class was bound to suffer impoverishment relative to the growing wealth around it, and, at times, absolutely.” This conclusion is still relevant today, albeit more subtly, the class system is not as strong as it used to be but the working class are still the ones who are suffering the most compared to people around them and this could explain why there has been a rise in populist movements across the western world. The election of Donald Trump and Brexit are two incidents which shows how the working class feel like they have not reaped the rewards of globalisation which shows how the conclusion of Marx that the “working class was bound to suffer impoverishment relative to the growing wealth around it” still hold true. In addition, trans-national corporations are taking advantage of people in China where there workers are paid death wages which again shows how Marx was right about what will happen to the working class.
Third, Marx studied the processes of “capital accumulation-that is, of investment, growth, and cycles-in capitalist societies.” Marx showed that, during the “accumulation process, there was a strong tendency for the rate of profit to fall and hence for the eventual retardation of capital accumulation.” Marx concluded that business cycles were “endemic to capitalism, as natural and as inevitable as changes of the season; there was no remedy for them within the system of capitalism itself. The cycles were also functional for the (temporary) survival of the system.” His conclusion is very relevant today as we have seen the capitalist system that the western world runs upon always has a boom and a bust period and the most recent bust period was the 2008 financial crisis.
As can be seen Marxism is still very relevant today especially in the political economy where many of Marx is conclusions has bared fruit in today’s economy.