Karl Marx, the man who first laid bare the economic law of motion of capitalist society, was born on 5th May, 1818. He and his comrade-in-arms, Frederick Engels, published the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848. The Manifesto laid down the task of the communists – namely, to provide the working class with the organised leading consciousness required to become the ruling class and carry out the transformation in ownership of the means of production, from private ownership of property to social ownership.
The 18th and early 19th centuries witnessed a whole lot of scientific work carried out by the greatest brains in the fields of philosophy, political economy and socialism. Marx developed materialist philosophy to a higher level, drawing on the achievements of German philosophy, especially the dialectics of Hegel. Engels summed up the essence of materialist philosophy in his speech at the graveside of Marx – “Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of 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 of subsistence 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.”
In every single field which Marx investigated — and he investigated very many fields, none of them superficially — he made independent discoveries. He was a great man of science. More importantly, for Marx, Science was 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.
The philosophy of Marxism is dialectical materialism. The dialectical method considers the process of development not as a linear unfolding of phenomena, but as a result of the contradictions inherent in things, as a struggle between opposite tendencies which operate on the basis of these contradictions. Development does not proceed uniformly along a straight line, but by small, imperceptible quantitative evolutionary changes building up to a critical point at which a qualitative revolutionary change takes place.
Marx and Engels elaborated historical materialism, which is the application of the principles of dialectical materialism to the study of human society and its development. Tracing the development of human society from its primitive communal stage through different forms of class divided society, they showed how the contradictions inherent to capitalism will inevitably lead to a qualitative change, from capitalism to socialism.
Marx developed a comprehensive doctrine and a guide to action for advancing society beyond its class divided and exploitative stage. He was above all a revolutionary, whose thirst for knowledge was driven by the need for social change. In his own words,“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”
The intense contradictions on the world scale reveal that capitalism has become an anachronistic and moribund system. The unlimited greed of monopoly finance capital for the maximum rate of profit at all times is throwing the whole system of social production into one crisis after another. Capitalism is unable to prolong its life without intensifying exploitation and poverty, without falling repeatedly into crisis, without spreading violence, terror, death and destruction on a colossal scale.
The solution remains that which Karl Marx advocated – namely, the proletarian revolution that would dig the grave of capitalism and open the path to socialism and to classless communist society.