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Dissecting Marxism

Lal Khan
The 199th birth anniversary of Karl Marx was celebrated on May 5 this year. Once again Marx has been the subject of criticisms, and the raucous din of ‘Marxism has failed’. Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and reversion of the Chinese bureaucracy to a market economy, there has been a barrage of vicious propaganda to debase the ideology of scientific socialism developed by Karl Marx. Yet every so often Marxist ideas prop-up recurrently as the solution to the exacerbating economic crisis and political chaos of capitalism.Ever since the writings of Marx challenged the exploitative system, it has evoked the utmost hostility and hatred of all bourgeois propensities. There can be no “impartial” political doctrine in a society based on class conflict. All official and liberal science defend capitalist drudgery in one way or the other, whereas Marxism declared a relentless war against class oppression. It is naïve even to think that these capitalist vultures scavenging the toilers can ever be impartial in a society where profits are basically the appropriated labour of the working classes.However, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a gigantic event with negative impacts across the world, particularly in the former colonial countries. But what the corporate media conceals is the fact that it was only the Marxists who scientifically predicted the fall of the Soviet Union. None of the renowned universities ‘learned ideologues of the bourgeois’ ever had this foresight. Above all, it was the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin who posed clear tasks for the Soviet leadership and warned that if these were not accomplished “the Russian revolution would be doomed”, as far back as 1921. Trotsky in his brilliant analysis, ‘The Revolution Betrayed” had graphically predicted the demise of Soviet Union from a Marxist perspective in 1936.Hence, for the genuine Marxists, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was not surprising, and their struggle for revolutionary Marxism persisted in those adverse objective conditions. New generations of youth have come to the fore in this post-Soviet period of more than quarter of a century.Revolutionary periods are historical exceptions. In ordinary times such as the one we are passing through, the retrogressive and conservative tendencies seem to dominate the social and political milieu. But then revolutions can erupt suddenly surprising even the most advanced thinkers. Trotsky wrote in his epic work ‘The History of the Russian Revolution’, “But why, after all, is political slander as such so poor and monotonous? Because; the social mind is economical and conservative.
It does not expend more efforts than are necessary to its goal. It prefers to borrow the old, when not compelled to create the new. But even when so compelled, it combines with its elements of the old… A bold imagination lives in the same skull with a slavish adherence to trite images. Audacious flights reconcile themselves with crude prejudices. Shakespeare nourished his creative genius upon subjects handed down from the deep ages. Pascal used the theory of probability to demonstrate the existence of God. Newton discovered the law of gravitation and believed in the Apocalypse. After Marconi had established a wireless station in the residence of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ distributed his mystic blessing by radio. In ordinary times these contradictions do not rise above a condition of drowsiness, but in times of catastrophe, they acquire explosive force. When it comes to a threat to their material interests, the educated classes set in motion all the prejudices and confusion which humanity is dragging in its wagon-train behind it. ” Marx had predicted more that 160 years ago that capitalism would reach a stage in its evolution of globalisation where wealth accumulation will be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and the vast majority of the humanity will be shoved into the abyss of destitution and deprivation. There has never been a greater gulf between the rich and the poor in the history of humanity. While the development of science and technology have for the first time created a capacity of production that if the modes of production were liberated from the shackles of private ownership and rate of profits production would exceed human need.

In Marx’s life, the only revolution that erupted was the ‘Paris Commune’ of 1871, which was drowned in blood by the joint crusade of the arch-imperialist rivals, the French and the German ruling classes. But Marx never lost hope in the revolutionary transformation of society and the prosperous and bright future of humanity. He was firmly convinced of the socialist victory that would lead humanity from the “realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.” In one of his epic works, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx had expressed his revolutionary optimism in these words: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all previous generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

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