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The mention of Socialism has been increasingly frequent in American politics as well as our everyday lives. Marx can be interpreted in many different ways and I will provide some clarification on the basics of Marxism. Very few people truly understand what Socialism is, or even, what Marxist philosophy is. This article is a new analysis of Marxism and Socialism as a whole. I hope to define, clarify, and reexamine the key elements of Marxism to help others understand what it really means to be a follower of Marx today.
Before we go any further, let me clarify the biggest stigma in Marxism, The Means of Production. The Means of Production is not just the factories; the Means of Production is how we produce what we produce. The Means of Production refers to the historical relationship between how we produced goods in the middle ages, versus how we produced in the industrial revolution, versus how we produce goods now. It is a historical relationship with respect to economics, not an economic relationship with respect to history.
The following is a new take on Marxism:
Marxism is primarily structured around a sort of ‘triangular flowchart’ between the lower level ‘Base’ and the higher level ‘Superstructure.’ The Base is the Means of Production and societal norms of the historical era. The Superstructure is the institutions, both formal and informal, of any society, such as the government, organizations, religions, education systems, traditions, and so forth. In this way, the Base is rather constant over longer periods of time, hence cultures and languages like Latin, French, or English play a key role in defining the nature of large segments of history often called Epochs. The Superstructure is composed of governments and nation-states, thus entities that are more prone to change over shorter periods of time but whose nature is still defined by the Base. Therefore, the Base dictates the nature of the Superstructure, in other words, the culture and society dictates the nature of their overarching governments. But in turn, over time, the Superstructure has an effect on the Base changing it incredibly slowly as technology and lifestyles change.
Thus, Marxism is less a political ideology concerned with the here and now, and more a force of history acting as an analysis of how human culture and society changes and develops over time. The relationship between the Base and the Superstructure and how these forces work though history is called Dialectic Materialism. Marxism applies this across history to analyze, quite literally, how history works. Henceforth, history can be divided into several sections where the Dialectic is different (in other words where the relationship between the Base and the Superstructure is different). The Dialectics change over time from the Slave Epoch where the relationship is defined between the slave and the master, the Feudal epoch (serf and lord), the Capitalist Epoch (Worker and Capitalist), and finally the Socialist Epoch which, as Marx views, has yet to begin. In this way each Epoch develops humanity to a certain point, then, as technology, science, and culture progress, the dialectic changes on a very fundamental level progressing history into the next Epoch.
In this way, Marxism recognizes that Capitalism is a necessary part of human development but will ultimately be phased out as technology and culture progresses. Capitalism has not run its course quite yet in human society, but with technological developments like the internet, increasing education rates worldwide, and the societal effects of globalization, the next Epoch is not far off.
When most of us hear the word Marxism, our minds picture workers and factories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead, we should picture worlds straight out of science fiction. The key element is that Marxism is not a political ideology, it is a force of history. As technology and society progress we will tend towards Socialism.