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Volume 48 Number 8, March 24, 2018 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

135th Anniversary of the Death of Karl Marx

Revolutionaries Take Up Marxism As a Guide to Action

Reprinted from The Marxist-Leninist Weekly, March 17, 2018

Mankind is shorter by a head, and that the greatest head of our time. The movement of the proletariat goes on, but gone is the central point to which Frenchmen, Russians, Americans and Germans spontaneously turned at decisive moments to receive always that clear indisputable counsel which only genius and consummate knowledge of the situation could give. Local lights and small talents, if not the humbugs, obtain a free hand. The final victory remains certain, but the detours, the temporary and local deviations - unavoidable as is - will grow more than ever. Well, we must see it through; what else are we here for? And we are far from losing courage because of it. - Frederick Engels, March 15, 1883 [1]


The unveiling of the Marx Monument in Highgate Cemetery, 1956

Many changes have taken place since the life-long friend and close collaborator of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, wrote those words on March 15, 1883, one day after Marx passed away. And despite all the twists and turns the working class has gone through since then in its struggle for empowerment, the life and work of Karl Marx remain a "central point" to which all communist revolutionaries and all those who aspire for a new society must turn. Today, as was the case 135 years ago, only Marxism can provide the kind of "clear indispensable counsel which only genius and consummate knowledge of the situation could give." Turning to Marxism means paying attention to the concrete analysis of the concrete conditions, to ensure that the "central point" of the contemporary world is established around which everybody else can rally and unite.

Today, even though there is one International Communist and Workers' Movement, there is no one central point as existed at the time of the First International established by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels on September 28, 1864, at which time the authority of Marxism was established, or later at the time of the Third International, established by V.I. Lenin on March 2, 1919, when the authority of Leninism prevailed. The lack of one central point today is consistent with the state of affairs which prevails as a result of the retreat of revolution where communist parties the world over have their own central points. While this reflects the existence of different tendencies within this movement, it also underscores the need to elaborate Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought as the central point which develops and becomes profound only in the course of practice.

In this regard, the greatest achievement of Karl Marx was to be a revolutionist who could not carry on his activities without revolutionising social science. Social science was a body of knowledge scattered into various sections and claimed as the property of this or that individual or sect. With his two discoveries of the general law of motion of nature and society, the theory of dialectical and historical materialism, and the specific law of motion of capitalist society, the theory of surplus value, Karl Marx revolutionised social science as the body of knowledge of all those in whose interest it will be to organise proletarian socialist revolution. Revolutionised social science could no longer be merely the domain of some philosophers or ivory tower intellectuals. It became the preserve of those who would revolutionise society.

These achievements of Karl Marx, who remained a revolutionist in all fields, served as a guide to action for V.I. Lenin who further revolutionised social science, confirming what Marx had predicted, that without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This issue which posed itself at the time Karl Marx carried out his work, and after him V.I. Lenin, continues to pose itself today. All those who wish to be revolutionists have to follow Marxism as a guide in their practice.

On the occasion of the 135th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx, TML Weekly repeats what Engels wrote on March 15, 1883: "The final victory remains certain, but the detours, the temporary and local deviations - unavoidable as is - will grow more than ever. Well, we must see it through; what else are we here for? And we are far from losing courage because of it."

Note

[1] Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, p. 361


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