The term Marxism derives its name from Karl Marx, who is the chief exponent of this theory. He was a famous German economist and social philosopher of the 19th century. Marxism comprises a set of ideas and practices about man and society that originated in the writings of Marx and Engels and later firmly developed by Lenin and Mao. But it is interesting to recall that this term “Marxism” was unknown in Marx’s lifetime. Another interesting fact is that four of Marx’s writings were written in collaboration with his comrade friend Friedrich Engels. After Marx’s death, Engels edited and published some of his works as Marx’s discipline and worldview.
Meanwhile, we must also know that they developed a theory of the society, explaining how the present social order had come out, and how it would be transformed into a better one in the course of history. They attempted to discover laws of historical changes, where they showed that social development was inevitably moving in the direction of social revolution which would ultimately lead to the establishment of a communist society.
Communism, as stated by Karl Marx, was founded to assume power in Russia by the Bolshevik Party. In 1916, V I Lenin, who was the firm follower of Karl Marx and his ideas, wrote a book titled “Imperialism, the final stage of Capitalism”, and started the Bolshevik Revolution, best known as Russian Revolution in 1917. But very soon it turned autocratic. The political situation in Russia influenced by Lenin to modify the inadequacies of the Marxian ideology to cope up with the changing circumstances without effecting any change in his fundamental philosophy. Lenin had also stated that Marxian cannons are more theoretical and less practical. But as a disciple of Marx, he was successful in overthrowing the Czarist regime from power in Russia. Later on, inspired by the Russian revolution, Mao-Tse-Tung created a Chinese or Asiatic form of Marxism. Mao was also convinced that unless the Marxian philosophy was interpreted to suit the conditions, the revolution could not be brought out in China. Again, an Italian political thinker Antonio Gramsci, who was devoted to Neo-Marxist ideas occupies a unique space in the realm of political thought. He gave a new interpretation of Marxist ideas. According to Gramsci, the dominant classes used their ideological superiority to subordinate groups and continue domination over other classes. There were several political thinkers who advocated the Marxist ideology from time to time. Ralph Miliband, Nicolous Powantaz, N. Bobbio to name a few.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in the early 1990s dealt a major blow to the credibility of the Marxist theory, it went out of fashion on university campuses and in mainstream left-wing political parties that aspired to gain power in the West, such as the Labor Party. After the breakdown of Soviet Union, the critics mostly pointed out that Marxism as a political theory had lost its significance. By celebrating the victory of liberalization and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama wrote in “The End of the History and the Last Man” (1992) that there is no alternative to liberal democracy.
Marxism underwent something of a revival in the wake of the 2008 global financial crash. However, some saw it as a classic example of capitalism in crisis just as Marx had predicted. After the breakdown of Soviet Russia, the world ended up with one hegemon – the USA. To compete with the US hegemony and liberal economic inequality, a revolution is much needed. Therefore, Marxism is still relevant as an alternative ideology to capitalism- liberalism. It is also important to see that the revolutionary potential of Marxism continues to inspire the people.
Marxism as a political ideology made its way to India when we were struggling for independence. Many political parties believe in Marxism and Communism but they aren’t as popular as the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Indian National Congress. Marxism as a social phenomenon or economic postulation is also not very popular. But, Marxism is still relevant not only in India but most of the underdeveloped nations around the world.
In the Indian context, there are large numbers of people who still live in conditions of extreme poverty, poor health and sanitation, illiteracy, caste oppression and economic exploitation. There’s a huge economic disparity between the rich and the poor. Hence, economic, social and political exploitation still exists.
Briefly put, Marxism will always be relevant and will keep returning as a popular movement as long as there is poverty, inequality, and exploitation. Not only in India, but in the rest of the world too. If we consider India, only a handful [CPI, CPI (M), CPI (ML)] of political parties follow different strains of the Marxist ideology. These parties haven’t been performing very well in the elections. The communist parties’ influence in South India and North East India is very less, except for Kerala and Tripura. Now, all they have is Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal and their role in other states is minimal.
According to me, the core reasons for the decline of the Communist parties’ decline in India are the following:
A few years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) broom came into action during the Delhi elections. It was bigger than what was expected of an infant party. The AAP has somewhat changed the style of political processes in India. This is also a good sign for democracy as well as Marxism in India. A large section of AAP’s voter base are citizens from the working class. So, we may say that the uprising of AAP in Indian politics brings a new ray of hope for the Indian Left parties. But they will have to improve themselves and adapt to the current political scenario.
Marx was a revolutionary and a socialist, but above all, he was a humanist who believed in genuine emancipation and liberation of human beings. He registered protest against all kinds of domination. Therefore, in this article, a non-Marxist person is showing the gratitude to Karl Marx and his visionary ideas or thoughts. Francis Fukuyama wrote on his work, “The End of the History and the Last Man” (1992) that there is no alternative to liberal democracy, but reality reveals that Marxism continues to inspire millions who feel that capitalistic enterprises and its ethos cheat them.