What examples are there of Marxism in society today?

In a society like the United States, most examples of Marxism occur in theory and not in practice. A handful of politicians have gained popularity by offering Marxist-like critiques of capitalism and globalization. However, in practice, American laws and policies continue to reflect a society committed to free markets and wealth accumulation.

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Marxism in Western society is generally quite rare, being confined mainly to the groves of academe, where many professors still proclaim themselves to be followers of Marx.

To some extent, this is a by-product of the failure of Marxism as a political movement to gain much support among the people it is supposed to serve. Having been decisively rejected by the electorate in numerous countries, Marxism has largely retreated to the confines of academia, where it nonetheless continues to generate much theoretical work on the various aspects of capitalist society. Such research constitutes a powerful critique of capitalism, but without necessarily providing the practical tools necessary to effect revolutionary change.

This process has further widened the gap between Marxist theory and Marxist praxis, or political practice. As such, Marxism's ability to form a practical alternative to free-market capitalism has been somewhat undermined.

Although there are some self-professed socialists in the Democratic Party, it's not entirely clear that they could reasonably be described as Marxists. The kind of radical policies endorsed by Marxists would most probably not be advocated by self-proclaimed democratic socialists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In fact, she's gone on record as saying that her brand of socialism is more akin to the kind of social democracy one sees in Scandinavia.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 31, 2020
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In society today, it might be hard to find laws or policies that link to the socialist beliefs of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In practice, the laws and stances of a society like the United States reflect an entrenched capitalist, free-market philosophy.

While Marx and Engels advocated the eventual abolishment of classes, a society like the United States contains a rigid class structure with a continual decline in economic mobility. More so, while Marxism entails a just and equal distribution of resources, America (and other Western, capitalist societies like it) continually enacts laws and policies that foster greater inequality. Neither major political party seems inclined to seriously adopt Marxist ideologies, and with president-elect Joseph Biden assuring affluent donors that “nothing would fundamentally change,” it doesn’t appear as if there will be concrete examples of Marxist policies in the United States anytime soon.

However, while it might be hard to find Marxism in practice in America, there is an increasing amount of political rhetoric and debate that reflects the beliefs of Marxists. Some of the most popular politicians are those who acutely criticize the rich and draw attention to the inequalities of capitalism.

The Independent Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has gained a large following due to his critiques of wealth and support of socialist policies such as Medicare for All, free higher education, an emphasis on workers’ rights, and significantly higher taxes for the wealthy. It is important to note, however, that socialism and Marxism are not synonymous, though they share some similarities. Other politicians—including Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican senator Josh Hawley—have also earned notice for their critiques of globalization and defense of workers.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 17, 2020
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Very few societies today are thoroughly Marxist, but many, if not all, have employed Marxist theory to some extent in progressing and making societal change. Some nations, like China, officially describe themselves as communist or one-party socialist states. China is a highly regulated society, though some of their social and economic practices are not strictly Marxist communist. Other nations, like North Korea, have grown out of Marxist-Leninist ideology. Today, North Korea practices Juche (or "self-reliance") as a rejection of the traditional Marxist-Leninist form of Communism. Other nations may consider themselves to be socialist or practice socialism in the form of universal access to healthcare, education, and a minimum wage as a means of providing for the people and the state.

Outside of economics, Marxism has become a favored theoretical framework in the social sciences. The study of present-day class inequality as well as the studies of race, ethnicity, gender, and disability have all experienced major shifts with the introduction of Marxist theory. Marxism no longer solely applies to economic class struggle, but that experienced when any segment of society is systemically oppressed. For this reason, Marxism has become a significant force in academia today.

Many of the tangible examples of socialism (and Marxism) that one might experience today pass by in such a way that we do not readily identify them as being socialist. If your country has any of the following, you've experienced socialism to some degree:

  • Government-provided support for the young, elderly, and disabled, such as Social Security in the United States
  • Universal healthcare
  • Free education
  • Subsidies on housing or utilities
  • Public libraries
  • Public roads and highways
  • Emergency services like police and the fire department
  • Government-provided support for the impoverished, like the food stamps program in the United States

 

Even though not all of these things are explicitly outlined in Marx's writings, they have been developed as a way of providing support to the people in the interest of equality.

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