Karl Marx was born 195 years ago and died 120 years ago, but the science that he gave to the world continue to inspire us in a very live way. Marxism is alive because it is a science that guides the action of the working class and its vanguard Communist Party on the basis of analyzing contemporary phenomenon. The Communist Manifesto, which Marx wrote with Friedrich Engels in 1848, is the foremost political manifesto of the working class, and continues to inspire workers of all countries. “Workers of all countries unite! Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. We have a world to win” are slogans that continue to reverberate in the working class movement across the world.
Today, the world over, the working people are faced with tremendous difficulties because capitalism is in severe crisis and it is shifting the burden of the crisis on to the backs of the working masses. Marxism is the science that can help us to understand this crisis and its very basis and organize to end it once and for all by the working class taking over the means of production from the capitalist class and reorienting the economy to fulfill the growing needs of the present and future generations. As Marx said, “philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it”. And conditions are demanding change today, as never before. We will be impotent to effect any change without the science of Marxism.
The essential lesson of Marxism that can assist us to not only explain the contemporary world but to change it is the law of class struggle. Society is divided between two classes – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The struggle between these two classes is over political power. The bourgeoisie wants to retain political power in its hands, while the working class has to seize the reigns of power from the hands of the bourgeoisie in order to liberate humankind from capitalism and all its fellow travellers, including unemployment, and imperialist wars. This class struggle is being denied by those who do not want to change the present conditions. Today, we are constantly being bombarded that there are no classes but just good people on the one side and evil people on the other. We are told that the struggle is between good and evil ideas, between good and evil minds and it is only a matter of the triumph of this good over evil!
Marxism scientifically explains the underlying basis of the crisis – the contradiction between the social process of production and the private ownership of the means of production. This is the very essence of the capitalist mode of production which ensures that the rich get richer on one pole and the poor get poorer on the other. It is the source of the periodic crisis of the capitalist system, one which cannot be resolved without overthrowing the capitalist system itself. Karl Marx concluded that just like earlier social systems, the capitalist system is also a transient system that will be replaced by the socialist system, which will eventually lead to the creation of a classless communist society. Class struggle is the motive force of development, and this class struggle in capitalism must necessarily lead to the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Long live Marxism! Uphold the teachings of Karl Marx!
MEL is reproducing the speech of Frederick Engels (a contemporary and life time collaborator and friend of Karl Marx, a scholar and teacher of the modern proletariat, who devoted his life to the same cause as his friend – the cause of the liberation of humanity through class struggle) rendered at the graveside of Marx, in 1883 at the Highgate Cemetery in London:
“On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep -- but for ever.
An immeasurable loss has been sustained both by the militant proletariat of Europe and America, and by historical science, in the death of this man. The gap that has been left by the departure of this mighty spirit will soon enough make itself felt.
Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.
But that is not all. Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production, and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created. The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark.
Two such discoveries would be enough for one lifetime. Happy the man to whom it is granted to make even one such discovery. But in every single field which Marx investigated -- and he investigated very many fields, none of them superficially -- in every field, even in that of mathematics, he made independent discoveries.
Such was the man of science. But this was not even half the man. Science was for Marx a historically dynamic, revolutionary force. However great the joy with which he welcomed a new discovery in some theoretical science whose practical application perhaps it was as yet quite impossible to envisage, he experienced quite another kind of joy when the discovery involved immediate revolutionary changes in industry, and in historical development in general. For example, he followed closely the development of the discoveries made in the field of electricity and recently those of Marcel Deprez.
For Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival. His work on the first Rheinische Zeitung (1842), the Paris Vorwarts (1844), the Deutsche Brusseler Zeitung (1847), the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-49), the New York Tribune (1852-61), and, in addition to these, a host of militant pamphlets, work in organisations in Paris, Brussels and London, and finally, crowning all, the formation of the great International Working Men’s Association -- this was indeed an achievement of which its founder might well have been proud even if he had done nothing else.
And, consequently, Marx was the best hated and most calumniated man of his time. Governments, both absolutist and republican, deported him from their territories. Bourgeois, whether conservative or ultra-democratic, vied with one another in heaping slanders upon him. All this he brushed aside as though it were a cobweb, ignoring it, answering only when extreme necessity compelled him. And he died beloved, revered and mourned by millions of revolutionary fellow workers -- from the mines of Siberia to California, in all parts of Europe and America -- and I make bold to say that, though he may have had many opponents, he had hardly one personal enemy.
His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work.