Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 48 Number 15, May 19, 2018 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

A Call to Build the New

200th Anniversary of the Birth of Karl Marx

Marx Memorial, Highgate Cemetery

May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, the great revolutionary thinker, leader and teacher of the working class, who was born in Trier, Germany in 1818.

Karl Marx further developed and with genius elaborated a new synthesis of the main ideological currents of his time, philosophy, political economy and socialism. He made two great discoveries in the field of social science - 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.

Marx was not the first to identify the importance of the class struggle. However, his work proving that capitalism did not just give rise to the bourgeoisie but also to the working class which is its gravedigger is crucial to opening a path for society to progress. It recognises that the working class is such an historical material force because it is a thoroughly revolutionary class, and it is in its interest to end all exploitation of persons by persons. In so doing, it puts an end to all backwardness, all darkness and ignorance, and ushers in an entirely new stage in the development of the society, the highest advance of the high road of civilisation, bringing into being the new epoch of history in which the working people become the decision makers. Karl Marx thereby revolutionised social science as the body of knowledge of all those in whose interest it will be to advance society by organising socialist revolution. Socialism was no longer merely a utopian dream, nor simply an aspiration. Revolutionised social science could no longer be merely the domain of some philosophers or ivory tower intellectuals. It became the preserve of all those who would revolutionise society.

In summary, as V I Lenin explained: "Marx deduces the inevitability of the transformation of capitalist society into socialist society wholly and exclusively from the economic law of motion of contemporary society."

As Marx himself said:

Marx and his wife Jenny von Westphalen at the end of March 1866

... as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society

Marxism, the body of ideas first developed by Marx and his comrade and close collaborator Frederick Engels, therefore reflects the objective laws of social development. It is a guide to the working class in its struggle for emancipation, a great inspiration and a vital spiritual force for the working class to accomplish its aims. Not only do these ideas reflect the laws of social development, they are also a great material force to change the world. As the class struggle becomes more acute and the class and national contradictions sharpen, these ideas continue to be taken up by an ever greater number of people. They are being further developed and enriched in new conditions and in the course of revolutionary practice throughout the world.

Marx, who was not only a great thinker but also a revolutionary strategist and organiser, showed that the working class cannot march on the high road of civilisation just because it is the working class. The working class must be organised and have its vanguard in the form of a revolutionary political party, a communist party, which is a trusted and tested general staff which sees in the struggle to open society's path to progress the greatest advance on the high road of civilisation.

Marx showed that without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement of the working class. The working class must become a conscious fighter for its own emancipation and the emancipation of the whole society and all humankind. Thus the merging of the Marxist theory with the working class movement is one of the most important tasks of the communist party, one of the most important factors in the preparation of the human factor/social consciousness, which is a necessary material condition to open society's path to progress.

Today, two hundred years after his birth, the name and work of Karl Marx live on in the hearts and minds of millions who aspire to build the New, a society in which all humans will flourish, a world of socialised humanity. Those who wish to organise the working class to take up its leading role in building that society must use Marxism as a guide to action.


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