Roosevelt and Wilson’s Attitudes and Ideologies towards Blacks
It is with no doubt that Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt are amongst the greatest presidents of America. I feel that both presidents were equally important to blacks in what they said, pursued and did. In different ways, both contributed a lot to make the country what it is today. They had their own beliefs on ways to make reforms, empower the people and strategic ways to accomplish foreign policies.
Holding the position of the president both had the objective to serve the American people in the best ways they felt Americans deserved. They symbolized the hope and desires of American people during a crucial time in the United States history. They expressed their opinions on corruptions and the roles that could be assumed by the government control over businesses. (Weiss & Nancy, 1983)
Only a few of the American presidents have been exceedingly distrusted and misunderstood by the people and their opponents than Mr. Woodrow Wilson and Mr. Roosevelt. For apparent similar reasons, the two have distrusted and misinterpreted by the American society by their way of administration. In part of their reforms they aspired to transform the chair of the presidency into a representative agency which would enable changes in which they had proposed, and as a result of this act in office, both contributed immensely to the increase of the president’s powers. On the other hand, their opponents accused them of arbitrary personal government and an unhealthy desire to have a popular favor. None the less they exercised their power as president on transformation and enabling a better working environment to American national life.
At the beginning of his career, Mr. Wilson was racist. As he was president of Princeton University he would deny the entry of black students to the university and after gaining presidency he, later on, segregated the federal workers in Washington D.C. At the peace conference in Paris, He also prohibited the Japanese proposal to include racial equality as a principle in the League of Nations. For this reasons, early of his work supporters such as Du bois disagreed with him but later he formed the Democratic Party that would protect people against unseen consequences of capitalism that was positive for blacks an ideology earlier initiated by Roosevelt.
There is no usually actual connection between the two progressive presidents in their work as Mr. Woodrow would often underestimate his debt to the accomplishments of Mr. Roosevelt as Mr. Roosevelt came out as the most outspoken of Mr. Wilson antagonists. However, both these men were similar in that they radically applied progressive practices to solve different problems. Both of Mr. Roosevelt administrations address domestic affairs. His initiatives and skills as an agitator vowed to incorporate public opinions on the act of democratizing the political stature and socializing the economic system existing in the country.
After he left office, he was replaced by a Republican president and he expected his successor, Mr. Taft, to carry on with his work. Unfortunately, his works couldn’t proceed due to powerful reactionary impacts in his own party. The work was neglected until Mr. Woodrow came to power and was backed by the Democratic Party which was more united (Blum & John, 1980) As a Democratic president, he was opportunistic the in four years and he incorporated progressive concerns into the economic system of the country, this even exceeding what his predecessor has accomplished in twelve years. In this order, Mr. Wilson’s work was a clear continuation of Mr. Roosevelt initiatives and by tactical and skillful use of the presidential power sustained by popular public opinion, Mr. Woodrow legislated the link between progressive economic policies and the national unity.
- 1 Mr. Woodrow Wilson’s ideas on foreign policy
- 2 Mr. W.E.B Du Bois’ political ideologies
Mr. Woodrow Wilson’s ideas on foreign policy
Mr. Wilson confronted in places such as Mexico and Europe with issues of foreign policy. His given situation was different as per these situations. As the head of the nation and the diplomatic affairs, he held more initiatives and assumed a great measure of preference while he was tackling them than he was doing with the domestic issues. In the practice of this preference, he was disadvantaged by his setbacks, those of his democratic party and the opposing public opinion’s nature. Similar to the domestic issues in the nation, issues of industrialism demolished the equilibrium that existed between the customary, social and the legal system that then emphasized on reforming of the country’s unity on the basis of a sensible democracy, and hence in connection to other foreign countries, similar adjustments had been done and a gap existed for developing a more accountable and representative foreign policy. The association to Mexico incorporated a critical form that had all the controversial problems concerning the foreign relations of the country’s democracy put a crossed.
The association with the happening European war resulted into the questioning of the nation’s neutrality on the basis of isolation that resulted to indifferences with European internationals concerns or informal interest with them. Mr. Wilson hadn’t enough experience in accordance with these problems, the party was also ignorant of these and the general public too hadn’t been amused with these ideologies. As the president, he regularly forced to make choices that committed the country to specific costly line of actions in the foreign affairs despite the fact that he was ignorant to the public opinions.
Despite the mistakes done by Mr. Wilson that his party deservedly criticized particularly by Mr. Roosevelt, his initiatives can be summarized as attempts to incorporate a national foreign policy with accordance to the progressive representative concerns which were formerly utilized by Mr. Roosevelt to the domestic issues. By his refusal, not to back up interests of American concessionaires at any cost, he has applied to business ventures in foreign nation’s elements which Mr. Roosevelt would apply to domestic ventures. He let not the government support any business ventures under suspicion. In his act on the Mexicans, he was exceedingly influenced by a component that is expected to be used by every progressive and in spite of the helpless anarchy of the Mexican revolution; it was an important rebellion against economic and political suppression. Conclusively in the handling of these problems, Mr. Wilson be held one key aspect of the progressive principle which Mr. Roosevelt seemed to ignore. His detractors should never forget the fact of great importance that which is the president’s massive enterprise of preference in shaping foreign policy, but its range only heightens the necessity of surety of attributed popular support.
Mr. W.E.B Du Bois’ political ideologies
W.E.B Du Bois is regarded an important thinker, poet, historian sociologist and a social critic. He contributed much in philosophy and to an extent a great social leader. He made remarkable efforts towards a specific goal which was the equality to the people of color. He worked towards eliminating the white privileges that exist in the service of a greater humanity. Later on in his life, Du bois believed as communism to the means of achieving equality. He opted for a communist society that would promote the well-being of all its members. Du bois realized that the economic state of the African Americans was among their primary ways of them being oppressed and that adopting a communist society with impartial distribution of wealth was the mitigation to the concern. (Du Bois & William, 2014)
Du bois focused much energy on the socioeconomic analysis of the African- American concerns. He believed in a proper understanding of the situation might help in racism elimination. For instance, if all people understood what the people of color were going through, they would appreciate them better and would collectively work to their liberation.
In 1903, du bois published the most important of his work called The Souls of Black Folks that pointed the direction of his new thinking line. What is unique about this particular work is how culturally he passionately speaks out the spirit of African Americans. He put emphasis on their humanity and strengths despite the odd time of worst oppression. He furthermore challenged the most African American intellectual, Washington Booker T, to relay the notion that industrial education alone would lead to equality. Du bois’ political ideologies are clearly brought out in the writing of Souls of Black Folks. His main aim was to relay the spirit of black people in the United States by illustrating the plight that has challenged their humanity. Du bois state that the assumed color lines divide the people in the country, posing great harm to its inhabitants and ruining its aspiration to democracy. He claims that African Americans perceive themselves as both aliens and themselves, with own lawful feelings and traditions. He referred this dual self-prospect as double consciousness.
In du bois’ understanding, human beings are capable of splitting at the same time have the ability to grow back together forming a true better bond, thus why du bois hold on to the idea of a more genuine person. Du bois ideologies are that African Americans are gifted with a literary a distinctive high-priced identity but these concerns hinder full exploitation of this identity. Du bois calls for allowance of the African Americans to participate in American culture, as America could much benefit in the inclusion of its all genuine members. By saying this, he does neither intend to abolish the White nor the Negro American culture but wishes to fuse the two cultures into one element. (Notter & Harley, 1965)
Du bois then had the concept of second sight and the privileged prospect of minorities. By this he foresees the Standpoint theory that argues that minorities are best in a position to gain knowledge about the world more than the other members of the dominant cultures.
Later in life Du bois came to a conclusion and turned to communism. This referred to a manner of life in which the creation of wealth and efforts purposed for enhancing a state whose preference is attaining the best possible quality fortune of its people rather than just the profit of a segment. He further added insights on the communism traditions claiming that communism had no particular straight forward means of rescuing Africans or African Americans but it would center attention and efforts toward this point.
China’s Historic Transformation from a Dynasty to Communism
China as a regional power in Asia carried the reputation as The Middle Kingdom as its name literally translates. This reflects the historical position of power China held in the region. This enabled the nation to greatly influence the political affairs of other countries in the region.
This status of power of power that China had in the days of its Glory as The Middle Kingdom is is particularly synonymous with that Ancients Rome’s influence on the European continent. The Chinese were able to reinforce their dominance by establishing themselves as culturally, ethnically, and religiously superior to their neighbors. This tactic was, in fact, customary for every major civilization of the past as well as those of present. This ideology was perpetuated by every sitting emperor of The Middle Kingdom and remained central to the Chinese identity and perception of the changing world around them. This attitude would eventually lead to their ensuing calamity and subsequent downfall but not before they’ve enjoyed great success trading with the West.
Early into the 18th century, The Middle Kingdom prospered tremendously in their trade relations with Europe leading into rapidly growing economies in both sides. This success came during the Qing dynasty. In the terms of the trade, the Chinese government mandated silver as the only material of value to be traded for commodities with the western powers. This would go on for years until the British silver reserves were almost deplenished. This particular trade deficit would have the British East India company restrategize its trading terms with China with the introduction of opium – otherwise Heroin – for silver into the Chinese economy. This was essentially done to reverse the transference of precious metals back to the British reserves. The opium trade would official kick off in the year 1719 with about 200 chests and a 200 percent increase later in the year 1838, essentially amounting to 40000 chests. Each chest of opium would account for 63kg of the addictive substance. This would prove to be catastrophic for the Chinese economy as thousands of hours would be lost in productivity thereby severely inhibiting economic success and industrial output. The populace would be hooked on the drug and China was now running out of silver itself.
Later in the year 1839, the sitting emperor, Daoguang, would have had enough the madness going on in his country. He imposed an import ban on the British opium which also resulted in the destruction of tons of the drug. This act would infuriate the British Kingdom that would later take up arms. Little did Daoguang know that his action would cause a political uproar against his government.
The British Kingdom responded aggressively with its Navy that was sent to China to demand compensation for the loss of trade and economic deprivation. This conflict would escalate to what is now commonly regarded as the opium wars. The Chinese Navy was no match for the British counterpart and they lost the war. The Chinese would later cede the island of Hong Kong to the British and in an interesting twist, post first opium war, the import of opium increased by more than 350 percent from the initial 200 chests to an astonishing 70000 chests. Perspectively, this number can be equated to the total heroin traded between the start of the millennium and 2010. The humiliation served by the British Navy to their Chinese counterpart was brought about by only 44 battle-ready ships. This perceived vulnerability of the Chinese army would leave them under potential threats. It did in fact, lead to the second opium war which let the French and Americans gain several additional trading ports which gave them unrestricted access to The Middle Kingdom. This would also result in the annexation of the Northeastern regions of China by their far eastern neighbors, Russia, as today’s Vladivostok and Sakhalin Island. With opium also came Christianity.
Smaller European nations would also attempt to subjugate China by carving up a coalition in Asia. This placed China on the limelight as they became a thing of ridicule. The aggression of the small European nations would later force the Qing dynasty to cede the port City of Macau for an indefinite amount of time to the Portuguese.
Following these events, China would suffer what is known as the Yellow River Flood that ended up claiming the life of an estimated 1 million people with over 2 million more without shelter and basic amenities. A pandemic and famine ensued throughout The Middle Kingdom shortly after that escalated and cause a particularly historic social unrest which resulted in the more aggression from the Korean Peninsula. During this period, China would experience a severe form of social unrest. Later in the years 1894 and 1895, the ruling Qing dynasty would lose influence over the Korean Peninsula and subsequently Taiwan. This period would be followed by the First Sino-Japanese War where the Japanese troops of about 240t,000 would deal a great blow to the 630,000 strong Chinese military. A historic defeat, this would lead to The Middle Kingdom ceding both Taiwan and the Korean peninsula in Perpetuity. Later in the year 1899, the Chinese civilians from the boxer rebellion would take up arms to bring the spread western religious identity and China’s enslavement to an end. The former ultimately became analogous to foreign presence. The rebellion rallied around the now emboldened Empress Cixi in Beijing to support her will to retake the kingdom. The boxer militia became united in their course under the rule of the Empress and she seized the opportunity and ultimately declared war on the countries that threatened the sovereignty of The Middle Kingdom and the dynasty. These countries include Germany, Japan, France, Russia, United States, Italy, Austria, and the United Kingdom. The Empress’s plan, however, failed and the western coalition quickly brought the kingdom’s imperial army to its heels.
The result was particularly dramatic and some of the biggest cities of Beijing and Tianjin continued to remain occupied for what seemed like forever. The coalition wreaked havoc on these cities and against the local dwellers. The atrocities committed was beyond overwhelming for ruling dynasty. It seemed the realm was coming to an ultimate downfall. Later in the year 1912, the last imperial dynasty would be overthrown in a revolution wherein the emperor was made to abdicate his throne and The Middle Kingdom would begin the process of transformation to a democratic system of governance. Sun Yat-Sen would assume the position as the first democratically elected president of the Republic. However, this progress would be short-lived given that after about 30 years, there’d be an uprising from the regional warlords that’d connive against the central government. Sun who let the ruling Kuomintang party, would come up with the initiative of unifying the revolutionary groups which included the communist party as one coalition as they shared the same principles. Sun presidential tenure would come to an end in 1925 and shortly after, the formed alliance of the communist party and the Kuomintang came crumbling down and this development would result in a civil war. Russia and China would take advantage of this situation and violate the Chinese sovereignty by launching an attack in the Manchuria regions while the Chinese government sought to settle its internal conflict. This was all in the 1930s and in the same period, China would be plagued with an episode of severe flooding that left over 4 million people dead.
Mao who was the leader of the communist party at the time was faced with the challenge of consolidating power and bringing the entire internal and external conflict to a halt while threatened with extinction by the opposition, The Kuomintang. This presented a challenge as Mao Zedong and his forces were further driven east while the country remained mostly unattended to. Fast forward later in the year 1937, Japan that was on an expansionist agenda at the time would invade the rest of China that was under the control of the The Kuomintang and vulnerable due to the ongoing conflicts the Chinese government was involved in. The Japanese forces dealt a severe blow on The Kuomintang killing 300,000 Chinese forces and citizenry. This famously became known as the Nanking massacre which markedly changed the relations between the government of China and Tokyo. Later in the year 1940, China’s luck would would turn for the better when Mao Zedong would find a new footing in challenging the status quo by using the economic disparity amongst the Chinese citizenry to his advantage. He had the poor peasants from the eastern region to take on military ranks and formulate an actual army that was capable of standing up to western aggression. Mao was able to achieve his goal of sending the The Kuomintang’s leader and his loyals off the Chinese Mainland to the Island of Taiwan. They were also able to challenge the Japanese aggression and had them packing in no time as well. The Kuomintang vacated the Mainland of China with over two million people who continued to maintain the identity of China while Mao Zedong declared the Mainland of China as The People’s Republic of China.
Under Mao’s government, a lot of reforms were introduced but the one that particularly struck a cord was the Great Leap Forward. This policy was essentially established to revitalise the Chinese economy with industrialization at the forefront of this effort in rural areas. The government put an end to subsistence farming and seized all the farmland and had millions of people relocated from the agriculture industry to work in China’s growing heavy machinery industry. The agricultural industry output would fall as a result and The Communist Party representative were forced to overstate the actual output of the agriculture sector. This would lead to a five year long famine. The famine was severe and spread like wildfire claiming the lives of an estimated 23 to 55 million people. This brought Mao’s Great Leap Forward initiative to an abrupt halt which subsequently and steadily led to an economic decline that lasted for over two decades. These series of unfortunate events made people question Mao Zedong’s leadership capabilities. This would lead to his temporary marginalization from the Chinese ruling elite who later requested him stepping down from his position as the overseer of The People’s Republic of China. He, however, continued to enjoy significance as the symbol and face of the Republic. He essentially took a break while The Communist party general secretary, Deng Xiaoping took control over the governance of the nation and sought to roll back some of the failures of Mao’s Great Leap initiative.
Later in the year 1966, Mao Zedong would launch a comeback against his political party with a quest to rid the party of his rivals and was able to accomplish this be introducing revolution in perpetuity. This way, he was able to launch a cultural revolution by galvanizing citizens of a lower socioeconomic status, including students, soldiers, mobilizing the lot of them to do bidding for restoring his position as the chairperson of The Communist Party and subsequently regaining control of the People’s Republic of China. This movement became known as the Red Guards and they were brutal in their quest as they rounded up millions of targeted citizens rounding them up to reeducation camps in remote areas of China. The people rounded up included teachers, intellectuals and anyone that stood against the cultural revolution.
Mao Zedong later consolidated power in all of China for a second time till his death in 1976. Mao’s legacy would continue to outlive him for most of the 20th century despite efforts by his successors to undo some of his work. The Communist Party’s image essentially revolved around the era of opium wars; a period that was referred to as the century of Humiliation. This period of humiliation was essentially in the shaping the of China’s geopolitics and perception of their immediate neighbors and the international community as a whole. It was also such that a total of 21 historic documentations were officiated during the China’s opium saga as the Unfair treaties. This dark history has thereby caused most of the lawmakers in Beijing to have a distrust of the western civilization outside of it geopolitic space and has nurtured the idea of emulating the west – it’s main adversary – in order to be able to counter their plans if there were to ever be an attack on their sovereignty again.
China’s. however, focused on it’s geoeconomics objective which it believes will help it grow its sphere of influence and make new allies as opposed to taking an aggressive military stance like its counterparts in the west do. This is, however, unlikely to remain the status quo as China has taken a rather emboldened approach with what is a supposedly newfound expansionist mindset as they continue to lay territorial claims around Asia threatening their original geoeconomics objective. These latest steps taken by Beijing under the current Xi Jinping have been perceived by potential allies as an aggressive posture and has been condemned by the international community as a violation of international laws.
Over 200 Members of the Department of State are Communists
In his speech delivered on February 9, 1950 in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy declared that over 200 members of the Department of State are communists and claimed that he had a list with each of their names. His speech elevated McCarthy to national prominence, as well as triggered a nationwide paranoia about traitorous communists in the U.S. government.
- 1 How does he define communist nations and what are the threats they pose?
- 2 Were his charges accurate?
- 3 Do you believe it is valid to draw comparisons between anti-communist rhetoric and anti-Islam rhetoric?
How does he define communist nations and what are the threats they pose?
In his speech, Joseph McCarthy defines communist nations as those nations that want to dismantle the Christian democracy and substitute it with communistic atheism (Digital History, n.d.). McCarthy declares that Americans will be engulfed by communist forces from within the nation citing our threat lies from the enemies within. He further warns that the U.S. borders will therefore be weakened, leaving the nation vulnerable to be easily uprooted and overtaken by communist nations (Digital History, n.d.). In order to support his claim of how fast communism has grown in such a short period of time, McCarthy states the 400% increase of people in the domination of Soviet Russia (Digital History, n.d.). The goal of including these facts was to attest that the odds are no longer in the favor of the U.S. and that the threat of communism takeover is imminent. In his speech, McCarthy warns that the people of the world will see mass murder, the destruction of defenseless and innocent people, and all of the crime and lack of morals which go with war (Digital History, n.d.).
Were his charges accurate?
I do not believe that the McCarthy’s charges that communists have infiltrated the U.S. government are accurate. His accusations that more than 200 members of the Department of State are communists were a scare tactic that created a temporary controversy that was short-lived. McCarthy’s reputation was discredited when the inconsistencies of how many communists he declared were in the Department of State changed from 57 to 81 and even 10 at one point (History, n.d.). Unfortunately, his strategy was successful at initiating a nationwide hysteria and paranoia that became known as the second Red Scare (History, n.d.).
Replace the word communism in his speech with Islam. Are there similarities between what McCarthy said about communism and what has been said about Islam, particularly shortly after the attacks of 9/11?
When replacing the word communism with Islam in McCarthy’s speech, there is clear evidence of similarities. After the tragedy of 9/11, there was nationwide state of hysteria and paranoia in the U.S., just as there was when McCarthy instilled the fear of communists present among the members of the U.S. Department of State. There was a presence of heightened suspicion and fear of Muslims or anyone who looked Arab, referring to their skin color or clothing. The term Islamophobia has been coined as early as the 1990s but was strongly present among Americans following 9/11 (Samari, 2016). Samari (2016) reports that over 60% of Americans reported unfavorable attitudes towards Muslims after 9/11. Unfortunately, after the attack on 9/11, associating Muslims with terrorists has become prevalent in American society. This association with terrorists has led to countless incidents of assaults on Muslims or anyone who appeared to be Muslim, as well as raids on mosques and other hate crimes that began immediately after 9/11 and are still occurring today (Clay, 2017).
Do you believe it is valid to draw comparisons between anti-communist rhetoric and anti-Islam rhetoric?
I do not believe that it is valid to draw comparisons between anti-communist rhetoric and anti-Islam rhetoric. I do believe that the anti-Islam rhetoric that is present today is far worse than the anti-communist rhetoric in the past. Anti-Muslim and Islamophobia attacks have been present in many elections around the country. There have been multiple campaigns across the U.S. where candidates, primarily Republicans, have engaged in anti-Islam campaign attacks. These campaign attacks take it as far as calling for Muslims to be denied basic rights or deny Islam as a religion. Our current president, Donald Trump, has publicly warned of the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism, and has slammed Obama and other Democrats for not acknowledging the threat and taking appropriate action (Hilal, 2017). From Muslim bans to countless wars in the Middle East, there is a new era of undisguised Islamophobia, as well as extreme and violent rhetoric about and towards Muslims, present in today’s American politics and society (Hilal, 2017).
The Evolution of Political Thought: From Conservatism to Communism
Hobbes: Language In Contracts, the right passeth, not onely where the words are of the time Present, or Past; but also where they are of the Future: because all Contract is mutual translation, or change of Right; and therefore he that promiseth onely, because he hath already received the benefit for which he prosimeth, is to be understood as if he intended the Right should passe: for unlesse he had been content to have his words so understood, the other would not have performed his part first. (Hobbes, Thomas, Richard Tuck, Raymond Geuss, and Quentin Skinner 1996) Hobbes delineates a social contract through the use of fixed, universal language in order to facilitate the transfer of authority to a sovereign to attain security in an otherwise chaotic state of nature. In this state of nature, humans have an affinity towards self-preservation which is contrasted with the imminent fear of death.
Given the inclination to reside in a state where one may be able to live out their desires without the constant threat of death, there arises the need for safety in an anarchic natural state. The progression of sensations to desires within humans is ultimately developed into the need to communicate these wills. The transference of wills under the mechanism of language is central to Hobbes’s notion of a social contract. Thus, this comes about through communicating that very inclination for safety to those who can provide stability”in Hobbes’ interpretation, a monarch.
In this relationship between the constituent and the ruler, trust is the mechanism to make a political society a viable option. However, the question of the communication of fundamental instinctual desires”which a government must make possible for one to pursue”is essential to the formation of language. Contracts as mutual translation subsequently rely on accurate communication. For stability to exist in a constant condition of disorder, the consent of the ruled under their sovereign must be clearly determined. This, as in the excerpt above, is where Hobbes highlights the importance of perfect language rooted in the universal understanding of the meaning of words themselves. He realizes that there is a need to have universally set definitions of words for language in order to be able to establish a covenant that will outline the order of a civil society. To uphold the credibility of a contract of the utmost importance”in this case, pertaining to the way people submit to authority to ensure civil security”the role of language is crucial to the implementation of a government. In a modern sense, the importance of language in the development of political institutions is epitomized in one document: a constitution. It can generally be acknowledged that nations view these contracts as holding the highest degree of value in the formation of what the state is founded upon. Therefore, Hobbes’ conception of language’s role in terms of the political organization of society is further demonstrated time and time again.
Moreover, historical conflicts arising from the misinterpretation of the meaning of what such contracts translate to demonstrate the validity of the argument in this work. Hobbes’ implementation of such a perfect language is meant to institute theoretical peace. Under the protection of a sovereign with a rigid political structure is the solution to a world where entropy reigns supreme, his proposed government seems to be a far better option than the state of nature. What is ironic about Hobbes’ argument for the covenant of giving up liberty to attain security is that in a primarily ideal state, all citizens consent to this. However, the reality of this transference of power to a sovereign is not guaranteed to be accepted by all. Rousseau: Equality … The other, which may be called moral, or political inequality, because it depends on a sort of convention, and is established, or at least authorized by Men’s consent. It consists in different Privileges which some enjoy to the prejudice of other, such as to be more wealthy, more honoured, more Powerful than they, or even to get obeyed themselves by them. (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, and Victor Gourevitch 2012) To prompt a new structuralization of modern unequal political institutions, Rousseau’s account of political inequality is rooted in the awareness that this is not a natural phenomenon”it is a construct based upon distinctions between individuals through linguistic conventions that create the capacity for comparison in a civil society. Rousseau’s use of a secular hypothetical state of nature concerning mankind is used to explore the origin of social inequalities. This particular passage begins with the fundamental truth that the only inequality found in the state of nature is that which cannot be changed, that which is found in physical distinctions between individuals.
Transcending this fact, the moral inequality that is spoken of is that which has proliferated society through disparities amongst people via the economic and political structures of power. What is most concerning about the origin of this situation present in modern civilization is the fact that individuals view the matter as a result of nature. Thus, social conditioning of the acceptance of subsequent Privileges is viewed as being authorized by Men’s consent, in that the current political framework is able to perpetuate the inequalities present. Conceptually, this relates to the establishment of power on the basis of the ability for humans to be conditioned to accept the current state of inequality as normal under this political organization. In understanding the development of humanity from its original state to the present civilization which places individuals in a state of inequality, it is then evident that the notion of social inequality itself is not a purely natural phenomenon. For Rousseau, the hierarchies that dominate the rigid social conventions through the acceptance of this system of oppression are present through the means of comparison; this account of inequality begins with distinctions. Language is a means to articulate humanity’s key capacity: comparison. With the possession of the means to make distinctions acquired from language, humans are propelled into a constant state of competition. However, one must remember that although distinctions may exist in a natural state, the comparisons and inequality derived from the ability to differentiate are not entirely natural. For it is through language that individuals have the intellectual capacity to make distinctions. The mere capacity for comparison, then, is the the beginning of inequality.
Although Rousseau’s conception of the natural state of humans is characterized by being free, they are bound to inequality in the present conditions. The political nature of such artificial inequality is indicated in the fact that as humans progress, there is an immense need for institutions to make the matter right in establishing equality. Rousseau’s cry to Geneva in this work is a plea for humanity to establish a peaceful state through a republican system of government. Recognizing this allows one to realize the extent to which Rousseau’s notions in regard to the unnatural conception of inequality are rooted in the reorganization of political societies to ensure that the course of modern civilizations shall no longer proceed in the way in which they have for centuries leading up to the present. Marx: Alienation Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, monotonous, and easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and the propagation of his race. (Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels 2012 ) Under Marxist theory, there must exist a radical overthrow of the socio-political factors that give rise to the alienation of the individual through the capitalist system which creates the mechanistic existence of the proletariat. The criticism of the bourgeois’s systematic dehumanization of the proletariat class demonstrates the reality that the individuals in this society must face in the context of their daily lives: they are a means to an end for the gain of profit.
According to Marx, what we do is connected to who we are; therefore, the actions which one commits are a sort of definition of one’s essential being. Thus, the economic outputs of a human are an extension of their essence. But, under the economic system of capitalism, the individual has lost their most fundamental sense of self through their isolation from society as they lose the value of their work under the model of industry. As individuals are lost in the masses of a mechanistic existence, they are alienated from what it fundamentally means to be human. They are denied the right to live for themselves. The proletariat becomes the property of the bourgeois. As slaves to this system, those who make up the proletariat class are dehumanized in how they are seen not only by those under the hierarchy of the capitalist society but in the fact that they become alien to themselves. The value of the individual is reduced to their equivalence to a machine in their expenditure of energy for products. Therefore, as the individual is lost at the hands of industry, the cyclical exploitation of their wage labor is demonstrated in the notion of property. Those belonging to the proletariat class are valued less than the property, the commodity, they produce. As individuals are only valued for the work that can be exploited from them, the human becomes less than an inanimate object. Marx’s primary concern is that bourgeois society is able to systematically instill a livelihood of the proletariat that perpetuates their dehumanization at the hands of the few to increase the property of what does not even belong to those creating the object.
The irony of this deeply destructive system in modern times is the fact that once one is not in an industrial setting, consumerism is set in place as compensation for alienation in the workplace. Hence, the political nature of Marx’s argument is embedded in the solution to the problem. His proposition to abolish private property is a way for humans to radically develop their ideal state in an inevitable force of history. From a political standpoint, Marx conceptualizes an inevitable revolution through a call to materialize the natural force of history in the fight for the final stage of development. Following this logic, Communism is the final stage in the evolution of mankind. The premise of his analysis of the conditions of humans in this system ruled by industry is political at its core in recognizing the exploitation of power by one over the other: the oppressor and the oppressed. By understanding this relationship of power in a much more historically dynamic way, Marx’s proposition for a revolution in the evolution of humanity is expected to come naturally. His argument against alienation relies on recognizing that if the past has seen the overturning of power, why can’t the present? Nietzsche: Genealogy … it was rather out of the most rudimentary form of legal rights that the budding sense of exchange, contract, guilt, right, obligation, settlement, first transferred itself to the coarsest and most elementary social complexes (in their relations with other similar complexes), together with the custom of comparing, measuring, and calculating power against power. (Nietzsche, Friedrich, and Walter Kaufmann 2000)
Nietzsche is concerned with the genealogy of morals in the examination of passing down social constructs as values through historical development in that individuals must reassess values in recognizing that man has the power to rewrite the moral playbook. According to Nietzsche’s central suspicion of society, there is a fundamental reality that nothing is natural in the concept of human progress. This conclusion relies on recognizing that political power has developed through false contracts. For it is the will to power that drives one’s concept of morality today. Furthermore, these assertions are merely random and the idea of a social contract is a facade. Instead, this is a romanticization of a constant underlying human search for power. This is damaging to individuals in that the instinct of freedom is repressed in social order. As citizens under established governments are meant to give up their freedoms to ideally attain a more perfect society, Nietzsche is critical of this a merely calculating power against power. In this sense, Nietzsche serves to deconstruct moral values in order to analyze their origin. The evolution of such morals in terms of the system of power set in place is subsequently a continuation of assigning a given morality to what has no value beyond the realm of the human mind. Hence, it is not natural for humans to create social contracts apart from their independent state of nature. Acknowledging the role of power throughout history in the formation of the present perception of values through the use of genealogy is the key to moving past the idea that the history of morality is one driven by a natural progression of thought.
In fact, the past remains relevant to the future in understanding that such social complexes are not purely positive values. This is evident in which power has a hidden reality of negativity that must be ignored (or forgotten) in the creation and implementation of ideologies in the foundations of civil societies. What current civilizations deem as moral and such is merely a culmination of random events that have perpetuated the social conditioning of such beliefs. Thus, the future is nothing more than the manifestation of consequences of the manipulation of power in the time prior. To Nietzsche, excavating the meaning of values through the genealogy of morals entails turning away from accepting such concepts as natural in the course of human evolution. The revaluation of values is dependent on recognizing that what is held to be the ultimate image of morality merely is a matter of a long history of aspiring to grasp power through the institution of such falsely originated ideals. The genealogy of morals set forth bring one about to question the notion of morality under systems of government. For if such moral originate out of falsehood, what is the true origin of what individuals have been fed to believe as natural? To Nietzsche, the birth of such moral is merely a symptom of the strong will to power. One is set free from harsh social complexes when the conclusion is arrived at for oneself that none of such morals truly matter nor exist in the natural state of being.
Hobbes, Thomas, Richard Tuck, Raymond Geuss, and Quentin Skinner. 1996. Hobbes: “”Leviathan””. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 2012.
Communist Manifesto: a Modern Edition. London: Verso. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Walter Kaufmann. 2000. Basic Writings of Nietzsche. New York: Random House International.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, and Victor Gourevitch. The Discourses And Other Political Writings. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Communism and Marxist Theory
“To begin, Communism or the Marxist theory was founded Karl Marx, a German philosopher who turned turned to journalism after being turned down for teaching jobs due to his political views. Marx’s investigations as a journalist led him to believe that there was systemic injustice and corruption in Germany where he lived. Leaving Germany a few years later, Marx met an old friend named Friedrich Engles in Paris, where they would soon collaborate and write the book: Manifesto of the Communist Party(1848).
Marx and Engles felt that the poverty, disease, and early death that plagued the working class was a result of Capitalism, and that the only way of solving it was to replace Capitalism all together. As an alternative, they wanted the means of production, things like factories, railroads, and mines, to be owned by the government and used to benefit everyone, not just the owners. After Marx died in 1883, Engles become the main representative of the Marxist theory.
Engles simplified Marxism is several areas, more or less transferring it, making it more rigid and determinant than Marx had intended it to be. After Engles died in 1895, supporters of the Marxist theory split in to two groups, revolutionists and revolutionary. Revolutionists favored Marxism before Marx’s passing, which had a more peaceful and gradual approach to the transition in to socialism. On the other hand, the revolutionaries would produce the front men of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and later define what we know as Communism today. Edward Bernstein, a revolutionist who became the foremen of the new Marxian theory, revised the theory in two main areas. Bernstein added an ethical element, where felt that humans should be treated with worth. He didn’t like that individuals were being used as human working machines by capitalists as well as being thought as expendable for war purposes by Communists.
Bernstein also felt that trade-unions and working class political parties would provide opportunities for growth in societies, which was added in later down the line. On the other side, Bernstein’s biggest critic was Vladimir Lenin. Lenin, was head of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party took control over the Russian government in October 1917. Lenin made two radical changes to the Marxian theory, one of which being that instead of having a working class lead the party, Lenin wanted an elite party the was made up of extremist working-class people similar to hisself. Lenin wanted his party be secretive, tightly organized, and disciplined. The second change he made was that communism would be uprise in capitalist societies, because of a labor force that was used to trade-unions. Instead, communism would rise in failing countries like Russia at the time when Lenin took over the USSR. These beliefs show in what communism is today.
Communism as a Form of Government
In this paper I will be explaining the type of government called Communism. Communism has several different interpretations. I will explain the basics of Communism. I will also explain some of the complex areas of it. I will explain how it was formed and where it is put into practice.
Karl Marx was German. He was an economist, philosopher, sociologist, and socialist revolutionary. He is the father and know for introducing communism to Germany. He introduced the writing called the Communist Manifesto. He introduced it to Germany in 1848.
The Communist Manifesto that Marx wrote was kind of like a set of rules saying what you could and could not do. There are four sections in the Communist Manifesto. The preamble, Bourgeois and Proletarians, Proletarians and Communists, Socialist and Communist Literature. Through these four sections you get the laws for Communism. It is practiced in several countries including China, North Korea, Vietnam, Loas and Cuba. One early way it was started was with religion. Some believe that Christians practiced a form of Communism, with having no worldly possessions.
Karl Marx’s goal of Communism was to get rid of all private property. He believed through Communism that no one should own anything and belong to the government. He was trying to produce a classless society in which there was no rank and all people worked for nothing but only to support the government. In a sense that would be the perfect type of government for a country to have.
Communism wasn’t introduced until the 1840’s. It comes from the Latin word communis, which means to share or common opinion. The works of a government that may be considered communist appeared about the time of the 4th century. The governing class of leaders works to serving the concerns of the entire country. Private ownership of things would encourage selfishness on the owners of the products. The people must live as one large family that shares ownership on everything, not only of material goods but also of spouses and children.
One issue that came from the communist government was the creation of the black market as a response to having no free market. The black market was created as an underground trade system in which citizens could buy and trade things illegally. In a comparison, a free market is an economic system where prices are determined by the competition between privately owned businesses. In a communist government, only the leaders of the government can decide these factors. The trading in the black market has led to a community of crimes such as smuggling, bribery, and stealing.
The government of Communism has several different ways of electing officials to be in charge. The most common way is self appointed through politics. The second most common way is through force. Vladimir in Russia and Mao Zedong in China were both forced into the position by the citizens of their own country.
A concern for Communism was that information wasn’t really getting between government leaders and the citizens of the country. Some of the issues were, limiting outside media, closely watching educational programs, and making threats and intimidation tactics as a way to regulate people’s everyday lifestyles. Lastly, the communist government is typically ruled by one person that is either self-appointed or came to power from political revolutions. Karl Marx created a government that would encourage a proud sense of nationalism that would encourage the common good. Today, communism is an economic system that has changed more into a political system that has little similarities to Marx’s original ideas for Communism.
How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed
The book How we Survived Communism and Even Laughed is written by Slavenkia Drakulic. Based in 1990, Drakulic shares her journey about traveling to various Eastern European countries to converse with women about their lives in their communist countries. This essay will be discussing and exploring the hardships men and women had to face under their communist countries, specifically the lack of goods/products, the challenges/burdens women faced, and the authors reasoning on why she believed communism failed.
The book discusses the author’s personal experiences she has endured in a communist country, but primarily focuses on the stories of other women’s personal journeys, feelings, opinions, and hardships they had to face.
Throughout the book Drakulic maintains a huge dislike for her communist country. A huge problem that people had to face was the lack of goods and products they could obtain. A considerably important product Drakulic discusses in her book is the shortage of toilet paper. In the United States, we see toilet paper as a necessity, a day to day product used by the whole nation. However, the citizens of these communist countries are denied to this necessity and our forced to accommodate with what they have. In these European countries toilet paper is considered a luxury item, and if that is the case we know there is a huge problem. Drakulic states Progress in communism was marked by better and better quality toilet paper. (Drakulic 72) People were forced to use other items such as newspaper in replace of toilet paper thus revealing the way these people had to survive and be resourceful. Aside from this dire necessity women where denied the basic products they should be provided, and therefore humiliated. Tampons and sanitary were luxury items and many did not have access to them. Ultimately leading women to a state of humiliation and feeling degraded.
Alongside the lack of these necessities came along with the undesirable living situations. Drakulic goes into detail about how families were forced to live in cramped apartments with their family members and sometimes people they didn’t know. Families who were lucky where the ones who had grandparents/parents whom already obtained an apartment. The outrageous price of the apartments and the lack of them made it difficult for families to move on with their new families or out of their parents’ home. Again, showing how limited and impossible it was for people of communist counties to explore the possibly of freedom and life on their own.
The lack of privacy was another huge disadvantage for the people of communist countries. Everywhere people went, their lives were monitored from their phone calls to eating out at a restaurant. They were always being watched. Their only escape was at home. And although they wanted their own freedom, the citizens did not desire such thing because of the principles placed upon them. Overall, the lack of children’s toys, privacy, food, and apartments to the lack toilet paper, men, women, and children were denied important, normal, and crucial items and products they needed to live a healthy/normal life.
It appears that in a communist country, all are said to be equal both men and women.
However, though they semi- accomplished this by making it hard for women to access cosmetics and create their own sense of style, women were often degraded, humiliated and treated as less than. Cosmetics were luxury products to women and an ideal way to separate your looks from
the rest. Women had a huge desire to create an identity for themselves. Women not being able to feel different led to low self-esteem and depression. Drakulic states Without a choice of cosmetics and clothes ..it wasn’t at all hard to create the special kind of uniformity that comes out of an equal distribution of poverty and the neglect of people’s real needs. There was no chance for individualism ” for women or men (Drakulic 23).
Sexism was huge problem in communist countries, because though the government tried to create equality between the two there was question about who would do what type of work ex. house work, office work. Drakulic states What is one supposed to call hand-washing of laundry, scrubbing floors, or ironing? The answer is: just women’s work (Drakulic 46). This quote shows that although equality was the goal, their standards would never be met because of deep-rooted sexism towards women. Overall women were faced with many challenges and burdens. They were denied the ability of individualism, were treated as less then, and denied the necessities a woman needs.
Lastly Darkulic discusses why she believes communism has failed. A variety of reasons were believed to have caused such failure. One being the lack of consideration and support for the people. Darkulic states it failed because of distrust, because of a fear for the future. True people did collect out of povertya poverty in which the whole country is deprived, everybody is poora state of life that hardly changes…because deep down nobody believed in a system that was continuously unable to provide for its citizens basic needs.( Drakulic 189)
Communism under Ceausescu
Communism can generally be defined as a regime enforced by conquerors. However, it was not characterized only by terror and oppression, as such an establishment would not be possible to function. Some form of commanding or to the least a number of social categories were also necessary.
Communism implied the birth of a world turned upside down (Boia, page 111) and attracted those who sustained higher hierarchy and believed to profit due to their own advancements on the scale as those on the less fortunate end would decrease even less than the little they had; in other words the process of some moving up while others were moving down. (Boia, page 111) As equality and liberty were considered to be the target of a democracy, Communism highlighted equality at the expense of liberty. Communism claimed to create this so-called world in which equality prevailed by taking out of existence factor such as exploiters and social discrepancies. The ironic factor is that, in fact, it established the opposite. The most prevalent problem with Communism is that society could not function without several crucial factors such as competition and individual motivation.
Romania was taken by surprise by this new form of regime. Communism was a foreign idea to this country as it was mostly rural, which went against Marxist economical and historical values which considered that this form of establishment was more appropriate to happen in the industrialized West, such as Great Britain, rather than the agrarian and pre-Capitalist East like Russia and Romania. What happened with the Communist initialization in Romania was rather sudden and forced. Such forced industrialization absorbed a large number or the agricultural population and redistributed it into so-called town. These people became known as town-dwellers as they were a rather median division between rural and urban civilization.
In terms of democracy, Romanians had limited understanding of what it meant. Their generalized reaction to authority was that of a mixture of both respect and fear. Thus, it was easy or Communism to take full advantage of mentality and came down on Romanians in a sudden and brutal manner. The process was forcefully introduced in order to make Romania integrate and adapt to the Communist ideal. The purpose was to rapidly turn an agrarian country into an industrialized one and to promptly idealize Communist values and attitudes in a country that had barely previously even heard of the concept of Communism. But as Stoia puts it, this was the drama of Romania; and already fragile social body was struck harder than in other countries.: (page 120)
In order to insure the rise of Communism in a rapid manner several factors were introduced, such as women’s voting rights. Now that everyone was able vote, the Communists and their allies won an astounding victory following the voting of November 1946. However, this victory was actually achieved through propaganda, intimidation, and falsification of votes. In the following years, particularly in the year of 1948, a merging with the Socialists led to the creation of the Romanian Workers Party, which was in fact just another name for the Communist Party.
Communism achieved in its pursuit of power by fusing democratic discourse with totalitarian practice. The alleged purpose of this establishment was to create a new kind of word devoid of inequality, hardship, and prejudice. It proclaimed freedomfree man living in a free world. Communism in fact replaced normal reality with a parallel reality which became almost impossible to escape.
Even though the Communist regime had established itself throughout Easter Europe and even the rest of the world, Romania was one of the countries that had suffered one of the most terrorized version of it. The first part of the Communist regime was sustained during Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, who expressed his power in a direct manner: through terror, This dictatorship not only affected the civilization as a whole but all aspects of social and economic categories, as well as ethnic and religious groups. When Nicolae Ceausescu took over the regime, all this terror became in a way more clandestine from the eyes of the world. The Romanian people were still under censorship, yet they had freedom to be nationalists, but certainly no freedom to express themselves in any form or circumstance otherwise permitted by the Communist tyrants. In other words, the best solution to ensure one’s safety was to keep your mouth shut. (Boia, 131)
An important and intriguing problem with Communism is the rapid economic development. Compared to the West and even the other Communist countries in the East, Romania’s development and growth was rather fascinating. It has become known as the Romanian miracle, however, the true fact of the matter is that after half a century of impulsive growth, Romania was still one of the poorest countries in Europe. Sadly, this rapid growth was once again based on the exploitation of the peoples. One such example was the elimination of villages, which were to be replaced with centers composed of flats such poor quality that some even lacked running water. Another example is the fact that Ceausescu despised churches. He took advantage of the systematization of towns in order to justify his decisions to demolish many of the churches, including historical monuments. His vision was to create an urban setting in which churches did not fit. This included all types of churches, not only the ones pertaining to the Orthodox religion. As a matter of fact, the other religious groups were considered traitors and even hunted and tortured in attempts to force them to to renounce their beliefs, obvious and brutal religious oppression.
Capitalism vs. Communism: A Comparison
Many people growing up in the 1980s remember the Cold War between Russia and the United States, two ideologies pitted against each other, a time of tension between the two countries. Baby boomers might remember the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The two economic systems seem to be diametrically opposed. In comparing the architects of the two systems, it is easy to see why there was so much friction between countries that adhered to these economic systems.
Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, explained his vision of capitalism in the 1700s in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Jack Russell Weinstein conveys that Smith believed that government should not intervene except on three accounts: to protect its citizens from foreign invasion; to protect citizens from each other and deliver justice; and to maintain property and institutions for the public to benefit from and enjoy. This is a laissez faire approach, with as little government intervention as possible in the market, because Smith believed that the market would govern itself (Weinstein).
This means that everyone has free will to participate in the economic market as they please, and that the forces of supply and demand determine what goods are sold and for what cost. When the supply is plentiful and demand slackens, prices fall, and when demand outpaces supply, prices rise (Comparing Economic Systems). Thus, a working definition of capitalism is, an economic system in which all or most of the means of production are privately owned and operated, and the investment of capital and the production, distribution and prices of commodities (goods and services) are determined mainly in a free market, rather than by the state (Defining Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism). The end goal of capitalism is to operate at a profit.
These economic goals and forces are not the same in the communist economic system, and were more ideally based. As Foursov observes, communistic ideas are most likely as old as the bible, but came to fruition as the anti-capitalism system (103), a negation of capitalism (108). Communism, then, was born out of response to the capitalist system. Bertel Ollman quotes Marx as saying we do not anticipate the world dogmatically, but rather wish to find the new world through the criticism of the old. Thus, communism is in a sense, born of the old system, capitalism. Marx expressed that communism would be an inevitable movement that would rise and overtake capitalism (Ollman). While Marx’s ideas were an envisioning of the future, the now-defunct economic system operated on principles of community ownership of all property. Since everyone owned everything, in a sense, then everyone would become equal through this universal ownership (Defining Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism). The first phase of communism, a proletariat state taking over and running society until society was able to make its transition from capitalism to communism, was considered the first phase, and is what occurred throughout the communist states in the world. However, the second phase was never carried out, and led to the collapse of the communist systems throughout the world (Ollman).
Therefore, it is easy to see why the environment was one of fear and trepidation during the time of Communism. Capitalism was the established system that allowed anyone the freedom to participate in the economic market, allow market forces to control the market, and with little government intervention. Today’s capitalism, though, is not a pure form of this system. The government has many programs for the public that help society at large (Defining Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism). Communism was an ideology that was born out of criticism of capitalism, with its primary purpose to overthrow capitalism in society, and for everyone to own everything in a utopia society. This was not realistic to maintain in the long run. Through comparing the two systems, it is easy to see why the two were enemies from the birth of communism.
Comparing Economic Systems. US History.org, 2018, US History.org.
Defining Capitalism, Communism, Fascism, Socialism. University of Idaho,
Foursov, Andre. Communism, Capitalism, and the Bells of History. Review (Fernand Braudel Center), vol. 19, no. 2, 1996, pp. 103-130.
Ollman, Bertel. Marx’ Vision of Communism.
Weinstein, Jack Russel. Adam Smith (1723-1790). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://www.iep.utm.edu/smith/
Marxism After the Collapse of Communism
- 1 Abstract
- 2 Socialism, Communism & Marxism
- 3 Communism in former USSR & its downfall-
- 4 Marxism After 1990-91
- 5 Conclusion
In February 1848, a twenty-three page pamphlet was published in London and it created history. It revolutionized the society with a mammoth of power of feasible thoughts in the form of predictions. The writer who made this prediction was, Karl Marx, and the pamphlet was named as “The Communist Manifesto”.
Even the disintegration of former USSR in 1990-91, did not dig the grave for Marxian ideology. Indeed, some of its principles have become more relevant today. Marxism has in-fact amplified its sphere in this contemporary era and is well suited to explain multiple social inequalities such as those of gender, race, ethnicity and rights. This paper seeks to underscore the existence and relevance of Marxist ideology after the collapse communism in the 1990s.
Socialism, Communism & Marxism
The Oxford English Dictionary defines socialism as a ‘theory or policy that aims at or advocates the ownership or control of the means of production by the community as a whole and their administration in the interest of all’. It arose as a reaction against the social and economic conditions generated in Europe by the growth of industrial-capitalism. Industrial revolution had widened the gap between the owning-class(Bourgeoisie) and the working/labor class(Proletariat). Bourgeoisie had control over the resources and exploit the working class. The primary motive of the ideology was to abolish the capitalist-economy (an economic & political system in which market is controlled by private-players for profit, instead by state) and replaces it with socialistic pattern of society, usually based on the principle of common-ownership along with some other basic tenets like community, fraternity, social-equality, social-class, etc.
Karl Marx, German philosopher and economist was the most influential representative of socialism and laid the foundation for communism in the twentieth-century. Marxism gained currency in the mid nineteenth-century in response to the exploitation of the Proletariats by the Bourgeoisie. Just like socialism, Marxism also came to be viewed as a major enemy of capitalism. It is a set of socio- political and economic precepts laid down by Engel and Marx to establish ‘scientific-foundations’ of socialism through its tenets of dialectic-materialism, historical-materialism, teleological theory/class conflict, theory of surplus value; alienation and revolution. Marxism aims towards the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ which will eventually lead to the emergence of communist society. Such a society would be both classless and stateless.
Fundamentally, communism is the communal organization formed for the existence of the society based on the principle of collective-ownership of the property. Marxism is as much about theory as it is about practice. It is a practical programme. Though in the twentieth-century, communism in practice became divorced from classical Marxist notion of a classless & stateless society and the characteristic of communist-state during that period were as follows- Marxism-Leninism was an official ideology Communist party entrenched its rule as a sole authority over the state Economy was planned and state controlled.
Communism in former USSR & its downfall-
The first two Soviet leaders- Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin wanted to establish communism in the USSR, but with certain drastic modifications. For instance, Marx believed in spontaneous development of revolutionary class consciousness among Proletariat. Antithetically, Lenin suggested that a Vanguard or Revolutionary Party would govern the state and comprise of intellectuals only. Furthermore, Karl Marx anticipated that socialist revolution was inevitable as it would be a result of impersonal process while Lenin substituted this idea with the personal intervention of the Revolutionary party for the objective forces of Marxism. In this way, Twentieth- century communism can be best understood as Marxism-Leninism.
Revolution in 1930s metamorphosed the Soviet Society as Stain established the system of orthodox communism. The system completely effaced the existence of private property and intrudes the collectivization of agriculture. All the resources came under the state’s control. During 1930s, Stalin turned USSR into a totalitarian-dictatorship. This model of USSR fed into the cold-war as the world was divided between the two ideologies that are communism and capitalism.
However, the system of Marxism-Leninism (orthodox communism) had put the socio-political system of USSR into dire-straits and the economy became fragile. This deplorable political- economic condition provoked the exorbitant masses to demand reforms. As a result, in 1985, then USSR leader Gorbachev prospected the policy of Perestroika (restructuring) and Glasnost (openness). These policies were aimed to transform the Soviet economic-political modules by liberalizing and democratizing the political-system and integrate their economy with that of world. Nevertheless, this painful transition from orthodox-communism to capitalism had ruined the economy of the USSR and resulted in the disintegration of the USSR into several republics.
The disintegration of former USSR marked the ‘collapse of communism’ in the contemporary era. However, it would be spurious to take the collapse as the death of Marxian ideology. In fact, we can say that the Marxist ideology got freed from the ideas and personal beliefs of Lenin and Stalin and could be an independent ideology.
Most often, people equate orthodox-communist model of former USSR with that of original communism. Therefore, it becomes important to highlight difference between the two. Communism that prevailed in former USSR was manipulated form of socialism wherein the resources were not owned and controlled by the public; instead were controlled by the Communist party. Moreover, Communist party was dominated only by few and masses had no role to play in the political processes. Communism is the more rigid form of socialism where people were barred from owning personal and private property and Communist Party had an absolute control over the state.
Marxism After 1990-91
Disintegration of former USSR ostensibly drove the final-nail into the Marxist coffin. Instead, it marked the end of Marxist-Leninist Communism. 1990 onwards, numerous countries were compelled by the circumstances to transform their economic-models and adopt the policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG), that are part of capitalist-model of development. With the passage of time, Marxism has widened its base to address the pressing issues of contemporary world like- inequalities of caste, class, religion; injustice, wealth-concentration etc.
Marxist ideology was very much concerned with prevailing inequalities between Proletariat & Bourgeoisie and wanted to establish parity between the two. According to Marx, economic inequality was the fundamental cause for class-division. Similar is the case in today’s world where inequality is not confined only to economics but also includes aforementioned inequalities into its domain. Moreover, integration of world economies has generated enormous wealth for several countries, but simultaneously the problem of wealth concentration and its unequal distribution emerged. For instance, around 10% of US population holds around 80% of their total wealth. Fight by the LGBTQ for their rights, Colin Kaepernick’s Nike controversy, Sabarimala incident etc are examples of the voices raised by the oppressed against the oppressors demanding their rights.
If we talk about China, where Mao established his own form of Marxism (Maoist-Marxism), has also transformed its socio-economic substantially. In 1982, Deng-Xiaoping has done significant changes to the constitution by laying emphasis on liberalization and modernization without disturbing the principles of Marxism-Maoism-Leninism. As a repercussion, ‘Planned-Economic System’ has been replaced by ‘Socialistic-Market Economy’ in 1992. Successors of Deng have not made any substantial changes, indeed they liberalized the economy further but without liberating their political system. In 2016, Chinese president XI-Jinping in concurrence with the leaders of Communist-party became the president for indefinite time. The antithetical relation between the economic and political system has given an ambiguous shape to Marxism. Therefore, the term ‘Market-Socialism’ can be used instead of ‘Communism’ for the current Chinese system.
Capitalism is implicitly based on the principle of Darwinism (Survival of the Fittest). Fittest and prosperous capitalists have acquired all factors of productions. As market expand its base, income of the industrialists increase. But they distribute only a modicum of their profits among the workers. Moreover, resource concentration and labour exploitation has kept the ‘Theory-of-Alienation’ relevant and alive even in this contemporary era.
Globalization has connected the world economies in a single-thread but at the cost of state’s liberty. It is the duty of the state to contemplate all socio-economic and political aspects while formulating policies. But the forces of globalization has eroded the state’s capacity to take independent decisions and made it an organization, governed and ruled by the elites for the benefits of the few. Additionally, Creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) by countries to promote rapid industrialization has made the situation worse for the workers as their rights get effaced in SEZs and are intrude to work in inhumane conditions.
Neo-Marxist theories have also contributed significantly in perseverance of Marxist ideas in this era. Dependency theory describes the dominant-dependent relationship between the states. Where Developed nations (core) are exploiting the developing nations (periphery) by extracting resources from them and have ostensibly provided jobs and income in return. Neo-Marxist thinker Herbert Marucse, extended the Marxist theory-of-alienation and said that Capitalism has completely comodified our lifestyles and workers are merely consumers of the commodities. Industrialists have created fallacious needs solely to expand their market. Group of unemployed, marginalized, exploited and other subservient groups collectively could challenge the capitalist dominance. Poulantzas argued that modern states are functioning in a way to ensure the smooth operation of capitalist society, and therefore benefiting the capitalist-class. Miliband said that bourgeoisies are controlling the states and intrude them to frame policies favorable to them. According to Antonio Gramsci, bourgeoisie dominated the society by using their ideology rather than using violence or economic force. Through their hegemonic culture, capitalists were succeed in propagates their own norms and values so that they become “common sense”. This hegemony become inevitable and is still prevailing in today’s world.
Two major agreements are signed under WTO in 1995, TRIPS and TRIMS. Under TRIMS, signatory countries have to abandon the subsidies given to a particular sector or industry in order to create a level playing field for free-trade across the globe. But USA is still protecting its textile industry and India is protecting its farmers by giving subsidies in these fields. Issues raised by WSF against the ostensible attitude of WTO for the promotion of free-trade. Stringent attitude of Donald Trump against immigration & free trade have raised the question on global acceptability of laissez- faire. Whether it’s ObamaCare or Modi’s ‘Ayushman-Bharat’, unemployment allowance in Scandinavian countries or MGNREGA in India, scheme of old-age pensions or Sarva-Shiksha- Abhiyaan, all these policies eventually aim towards the reduction of economic-divide and to enhance the standard of living. State intervention in free market economies to reduce inequalities is concrete evidence for the perseverance of Marxist idea in today’s world. Ironically, staunch supporter of laissez-faire and capitalist model of development- USA is providing social-security to its citizen like free primary education, basic healthcare facilities, sufficient food, etc to ensure their meaningful survival.
All these examples are proof that states have acknowledged the fact that in Laissez-Faire, the dominant-dependent relation between haves and have-nots will prevail forever. In a nutshell, we can say that the state’s interventions in socio-political and economic-management are done with the objective to reduce the peril of amplifying economic-divide, as foreseen by Marx.
To recapitulate, we can say that almost every country of the world has witnessed or is witnessing some or the other tent of Marxism/socialism. Subsidies/Concessions provided by the state on utilities, free healthcare facilities, education, maintenance of law & order and other welfare programs are eventually pointing towards the development of all, especially that of the less- fortunate and helming the country toward equality.
In his concept of historical-materialism, Marx said that in future, we’ll see that there will be a dominance of the working-class (Proletariat) over the owning-class (Bourgeois). As we are witnessing the tremendous increase in income inequality between the workers and owners, the prediction by Max may come true in near future. Formation of trade unions, movements/protests led by farmers, existence of international-organizations like ILO and WSF, movements against various aforementioned inequalities are helming the world towards the eradication of the dominant- dependent relationship.
Nevertheless, the last stage of historical materialism is ‘utopian’ in nature which states that ultimately classless and stateless society will establish. This stage can also be equated with anarchism or Hobbes ‘State of nature’ which will ignite the struggle for power. Moreover, other Marxist ideas like community ownership, resources sharing based on needs etc are very difficult to implement because of self-centric and acquisitive nature of human beings.
To conclude, we can say that Marxism is relevant and its principles are still prevailing in this contemporary era. To an extent, it can be equated with socialism in today’s world, but it would be a blunder to equate it with the Orthodox Communism that was prevalent in USSR and China. Communism in these countries is highly influenced by the personal stance of Lenin and Mao respectively. Similar is the case of North Korea where Kim-Jong-Un is ruling the state as per his will, not in accordance with the Marxian principles.
Indeed, many modern European countries like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark along with Canada could be taken as an example of modern Marxist states as these countries are trying their best and have been successful to a great extent in reducing the inequalities and ensuring quality life to their citizens.