Marxism and the Struggle for Democracy Socialist Reading Group 11/1/2016 What do we mean by Marxism? Body of knowledge associated with Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Vladimir Lenin that has three sources and three components: 1. Philosophy (Dialectical Materialism): Materialism - a scientific outlook that acknowledges an objective world discoverable through the scientific method of testing truth from verifiable facts Dialectics universal laws governing the development of nature and society where everything
is interconnected, interdependent, constantly in motion and ever changing based on internal contradictions inherent in all of nature, including human society 2 What do we mean by Marxism? 1. Philosophy (Historical Materialism): The chaos and arbitrariness that had previously reigned in views on history and politics were replaced by a strikingly integral and harmonious scientific theory, which shows how, in consequence of the growth of productive forces, out of one system of social life another and higher system develops
how capitalism, for instance, grows out of feudalism 3 What do we mean by Marxism? 1. Philosophy (Historical Materialism): Just as our knowledge reflects nature (i.e., developing matter), which exists independently of us, our social knowledge (i.e., our various views and doctrinesphilosophical, religious, political and so forth) reflects the economic system of society Political institutions are a superstructure on the economic foundation. We see, for example, that
the various political forms of the modern states serve to strengthen the domination of the Capitalist class over the working class 4 What do we mean by Marxism?) 2. Political Economy: Marxs principal work, Capital, is devoted to a study of the economic system of modern, i.e., capitalist society Capitalist political economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo, by their investigations of the economic system, laid the foundations of the labor theory of value Marx showed that the value of every
commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary labor time spent on its production 5 What do we mean by Marxism? 2. Political Economy: Where the Capitalist economists saw a relation between things (the exchange of one commodity for another) Marx revealed a relation between people Capital signifies a further development of this connection: the wage workers labor-power becomes a commodity The wage-worker sells his labor-power to the owner of land and factories. The worker spends one part of
the day covering the cost of maintaining themselves and their family (wages), while the other part of the day they work without remuneration, creating for the capitalist surplus-value, the source of profit, the source of the wealth of the capitalist class 6 What do we mean by Marxism? 2. Political Economy: The doctrine of surplus-value is the corner-stone of Marxs economic theory By increasing the dependence of the workers on capital, the capitalist system creates the
great power of united labor Capitalism has triumphed all over the world, but this triumph is only the prelude to the triumph of labor over capital 7 What do we mean by Marxism? 3. Scientific Socialism: Early socialism, however, was utopian 8 socialism. It criticized capitalist society, it condemned and damned it, it dreamed of its destruction, it had visions of a better order and
endeavored to convince the rich of the immorality of exploitation But utopian socialism could not indicate the real solution. It could not explain the real nature of wage-slavery under capitalism, it could not reveal the laws of capitalist development, or show what social force is capable of becoming the creator of a new society What do we mean by Marxism? 3. Scientific Socialism: the stormy revolutions which everywhere in Europe, and especially in France, accompanied the fall of feudalism, of serfdom, more and more clearly revealed the struggle of classes as the
basis and the driving force of all development Not a single victory of political freedom over the feudal class was won except against desperate resistance. Not a single capitalist country evolved on a more or less free and democratic basis except by a life-and-death struggle between the various classes of capitalist society 9 What do we mean by Marxism? 3. Scientific Socialism: The genius of Marx lies in his having been the
first to deduce from this the lesson world history teaches and to apply that lesson consistently. The deduction he made is the doctrine of the class struggle People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises 10 What do we mean by Marxism? 3. Scientific Socialism: Champions of reforms and improvements will
11 always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is kept going by the forces of certain ruling classes And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of those classes, and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, the forces which canand, owing to their social position, mustconstitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new, and to enlighten and organize those forces for the struggle. Summary of Marxism
Marxs philosophical materialism provides a critical thinking method showing workers the way out of wage slavery Marxs economic theory alone has explained the true position of the worker in the general system of capitalism Independent organizations of the workers are multiplying all over the world and have won real socialism in a number of countries. The working class is becoming enlightened and educated by waging its class struggle; it is ridding itself of the prejudices of capitalism; it is rallying its ranks ever more closely and is learning to gauge the measure of its successes; it is steeling its forces and is growing irresistibly 12
What is Democracy? Democracy is a form of the State. Other forms are Monarchy, Fascist, Military Dictatorship. The State is a product of society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel In a democratic republic, wealth exercises its power indirectly, but all the more surely", first, by means of the direct corruption of officials (America); secondly, by means of an alliance of the government and the Stock Exchange" (France and America) Universal suffrage is the gauge of the maturity of the
working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the present-day state." 13 Marx and Engels on the State According to Marx, the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another. Engels: the state is a special coercive force. 14 Lenin on the State We are in favor of a democratic republic as
the best form of state for the proletariat under capitalism But we have no right to forget that wage slavery is the lot of the people even in the most democratic bourgeois republic 15 The Struggle for Democracy The aim of the democratic struggle is to widen the democratic space for all working people as much as possible so long as capitalism exists The democratic struggle brings together the working class and other class and social forces for common struggle against one or another sector of
the capitalist class. The democratic struggle is where alliances and coalitions between labor and other forces take place. This is one reason why the ultra-right seeks to curtail and limit democratic rights. As the battle against the ultra-right intensies, ultra-right attacks on democratic rights also intensify. 16 The Struggle for Democracy The struggle to protect and expand democracy is the way to defeat the ultraright. It is the way to prevent fascism Our countrys revolutionary traditions and history are lled with sharp struggles to protect and expand democracy
17 The Struggle for Democracy The desire of all people to actively participate in the decision-making of society drives battles for voting rights, for expanding the electorate, for reforming the electoral system, for protecting civil liberties, for guaranteeing civil rights, for an end to all forms of discrimination, and for eliminating the power of large nancial contributions, which enable the rich to dominate elections These democratic struggles are often entered into by working-class forces that see the value to workers of expanding their political power and opportunity The democratic struggle embraces class and social forces
other than or in addition to the working class in struggles against one or another sector of the capitalist class and its dominant transnational monopolies 18 The Struggle for Democracy Protecting and expanding democratic rights are crucial struggles which Communists support But we go furtherwe demand economic democracy and freedom from exploitation and oppression We want the lives of all working people to be free not only of unwarranted governmental power but also to be free of
unwarranted corporate power 19 The Struggle for Democracy and the Path to Socialism Every democratic struggle, by weakening the capitalist class or a section of it, objectively helps shift the balance of forces, strengthening the working class The struggle to defend and enlarge democracy is therefore the only path to socialism in our countryany other path will fail and is politically indefensible. As Lenin said, All democracy consists in the proclamation and realization of rights which under capitalism are realizable only to a very small degree and only relatively.
But without the proclamation of these rights, without a struggle to introduce them now, immediately, without training the masses in the spirit of this struggle, socialism is impossible. 20
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