On May 5, today, it is 200 years of Karl Marx’s birth, in Tréveris, Germany. He was, without a doubt, one of the man with most influence in the history of the XIX, XX and XXI centuries. Together with Frederich Engels, his friend and comrade of theoretical, political elaboration and militancy, they built a current of thought and action (Marxism), today more current than ever.
By Alejandro Iturbe.
Of course, this includes his critical studies on capitalist economies and his laws of functioning. Especially, Capital, a monumental work that he did not finish and still has not been surpassed so far (although it was complemented by other works, like Lenin’s book on imperialism).
Whoever wants to understand deeply the current situation of capitalism (and the necessity of overcoming it as a stage of economic-social development of humanity) must begin, necessarily, from Marx’s elaborations.
He also has several philosophical studies. Based on materialist studies, Marx fights the idealistic visions and religious points of view of History. At the same time, it releases materialism from the formal-mechanic methodology it was imprisoned in, and he takes it to a superior level by incorporating the tools of dialectics, building a synthesis, so far not surpassed, of the construction of thought to understand reality: Dialectic Materialism.
Finally, there is the central body of his ideas; the one that orders his multiple ideas and complex elaborations: Marx, the revolutionary militant. A path that begind with a philosophical premise during his youth: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it” [Feuerbach Thesis, 1845].
This conclusion on the necessity of transforming the capitalist world took him, based on a scientific study of reality, to another conclusion, expressed in the Communist Manifest (1848): the subject of such historical transformation was the modern working class born from capitalism itself. And the path was the revolution: seizing the power through a working class’ insurrection and the destruction of the bourgeois state as the beginning of the radical transformation of the socio-economic bases, to reach a socialist society and, later, a communist society.
From it, since he founds, together with Engels, the Communist League (1847), he intervenes and helps orienting (and debates with other currents what he considered a necessary orientation) the most important processes of organization and struggle of the working class of the epoch, like the foundation of the International Workers’ Association (IWA, or Forst International, 1864) and the first attempt of workers’ revolution (the Paris Commune, 1871).
The Commune was defeated. Marx himself wrote conclusions and lessons to extract from the mistakes made during the experience. Developing these conclusions and bringing new considerations, a new generation of followers (Lenin and Trotsky) lead, in 1917, the first triumphant workers revolution and the construction of the first workers’ state in History. The balance of this experience and its posterior course are still object of intense debate in the present. But it is an inseparable part of the long road initiated by Marx.
The ideologists of capitalism and their mercenary journalists affirmed, during the 90s, that “Marx was death and buried” (like Joan Manoel Serrat’s song said ironically) because “capitalism has triumphed”. The posterior course of capitalist reality showed that, far from this literary bravado, his analyses and conclusions keep an absolute currency, and his works should be more studied than ever (at least to understand reality).
Some alleged “Marxists” aimed to sterilize the revolutionary Marx, and they deform his ideas to propose a “humanization of capitalism”. Others say that the revolutionary aspect of his proposals is still valid but to implement in an undetermined future. They propose the current task of “democratizing” capitalism… and end up together with the first ones.
Because of the deep content of his theoretical elaboration and political action, we are certain that Marx would repudiate these proposals, as deeply, harshly and ironically as he responded to other polemics.
On our side, we are still proudly “orthodox Marxists”. This is, we try to me marxists in our way of thinking and also in our action of “transforming the world” through the class struggle, with a socialist, workers’ revolution.