On May Day: Marx unmasked capitalism, plunder and prosperity
Two centuries after his birth and 135 years after his death, Karl Marx and his works still remain relevant as the world re-examines the alleged triumph of capitalism, which marketed bondage as freedom
“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”
Karl Marx (5.5.1818-14.3.1883) had reached this conclusion quite early in his life when he was still in his late twenties. Till his last breath he worked relentlessly to this end, producing the richest and most inspiring legacy of human endeavor, geared towards both comprehending and transforming the world we live in.
From the Communist Manifesto, jointly produced with his lifelong comrade-in-arms Friedrich Engels in 1848, when he was only thirty, to his magnum opus Das Kapital (Capital), which was published in full only after his death, Marx remained steadfast in his spirit of ‘ruthless criticism of all that exists’ – ‘ruthless’, as he said, ‘both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and … of conflict with the powers that be’!
This spirit of ‘ruthless criticism of all that exists’ and the indomitable resolve to change the world put Marx in conflict with most governments of his day. Exiled from several countries of Europe he eventually made London his home. In those days, London was also the capital of the world’s most advanced capitalist country and the biggest colonial power in the world. Sitting in London, Marx immersed himself not only in study, research and writing but also in promoting revolutionary working-class movements across the world and building international solidarity among them. From the anti-colonial revolt of 1857 in India to the Paris Commune of 1871, he keenly watched, analyzed and encouraged the stirrings for freedom and socialism in every part of the world.
During his lifetime and since his death, time and again Marx has been declared irrelevant and obsolete. But every time he has come back, with every successive generation discovering some new light in his writings, helping it to try and understand and overcome the problems of the day
War as peace, plunder as prosperity
“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force,” wrote Marx in his celebrated work ‘The German Ideology’ way back in 1845. The Marxist framework of class struggle thus challenges the domination of the ruling class from every angle – economic and political and also social, cultural and intellectual.
The ruling idea in the era of capitalism is the idea that mystifies capital as something eternal and natural, magical and invincible, that glorifies the capitalist class as the most civilised class, and bourgeois rule as superior and democratic.
All through his writings Marx tore apart this mask, analyzing every contradiction that challenges this claim of bourgeois rule being natural, permanent and supreme, laying bare the hitherto unknown laws of motion of capital that inevitably lead to periodic crises, and exposing every hypocrisy that seeks to sell bondage as freedom, war as peace, plunder as prosperity, devastation as development.
During his lifetime and since his death, time and again Marx has been declared irrelevant and obsolete. But every time he has come back, with every successive generation discovering some new light in his writings, helping it to try and understand and overcome the problems of the day.
For bourgeois triumphalists who believed they had finally managed to bury the ideas of Marx with the collapse of the Soviet Union, history proved a cruel teacher. No sooner had they proclaimed the end of history, than global capitalism encountered a massive shock. Dogged by the most protracted and severest crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, today even bourgeois thinkers are once again returning to Marx to make sense of the present state of chaos and churning.
The author is General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram
Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- Soviet Union
- May Day
- Karl Marx
- Friedrich Engels
- Communist Manifesto
- Das Kapital
- The German Ideology
- Great Depression
- Paris Commune
- revolt of 1857
- Labour Day