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Marxism, to put it rather simply, is a type of economic system proposed by Karl Marx in which there are no classes. The government would control all resources and means of production to, in theory, ensure equality. It's worth noting there are many variations of "communism," and all such types of governments to date have yet to truthfully/successfully implement it as idealized by Marx.


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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At its simplest, Marxism is the opposite of capitalism. In capitalism, everyone tries to get as much for himself as you can. He who has the most toys wins. In communism, everyting is owned collectively, and each person works for and benefits from the good of the group.

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jdoarsinkfield eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Marxism is a particular type of social and economic system in which the means of production are not owned by the wealthy but by the producers themselves.  It is the idea that people own their labor and input labor and get out the equal amount of product, value and resources.  That way, people are not paid less than they produce so that others can profit off of their labor instead of off of their own.  It eliminates the notion of profit for profits sake and postulates that if everyone puts in labor and the products, value, resources that result are then redistributed back to the laborers in equal value to their imputs then everyone owns their own labor, effort and time rather than others being able to "exploit" laborers by essentially skimming the excess off the top which continues to propagate the status quo.  Laborers can only work at one place at a time because time is one dimensional but owners can own multiple businesses at once and, therefore earn more than laborers for less physical effort. 

Marxism is an idealistic economic philosophy in that it assumes that all people rich and poor want to work and will work to get what they need.  It does not allow for corruption, organized crime, moochers, scam artists and the like.  It has at its basis a very pro-human notion that assumes human nature is to be honest and earnest at all times.  And, that by equalizing every person, no individual will possess the power that is said to corrupt. 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I don't think there can be anything simple about Marxism.  I think that an underlying element of the philosophy is how the focus of economics underscores everything in human consciousness.  Human identity, conflict, social arrangement, and political orders are all predicated upon the impact and role of economics.  I would think that this becomes where Marxism places its largest amount of focus.  The discussion of who owns these various modes of economic production and material acquisition is of critical importance to Marxism and forms an essential part of the philosophy.  In its analysis of what is, Marxism hopes to pose an equally viable reality of what can be.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Marxism is a theory of economics and of history.

It says that all of history consists of conflict between various classes.

At all times, societies are divided up between people who own the "means of production" and those who do not.  The means of production are the things needed to make products -- so this means factories and machines and things like that.  The people who do not own the means of production will always struggle against the people who do own them.

Eventually, Marxism argues, the workers will win the class struggle permanently.

Marxism also argues that capitalism is evil because the workers produce all the value of goods through their labor while the owners get most of the money.

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rcpalermo | Student

Put as simply as possible, Marxism is a theory of history, economics and politics based on class relations and class conflict, articulated in the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism's foundations lie on the concept of historical materialism. Historical materialism holds that a society's fundamental organization and development is determined by how it produces and reproduces the goods necessary for human existence. Class interests, politics, and even social norms are all thus a reflection of a society's economic activities according to Marxism.

As a philosophy, Marxism is based in the much older Greek dialectical method, which asserts that objects and ideas can only be understood and analyzed in relation to other objects and ideas and to the whole system within which they exist. Marxist dialectics presuppose that ideas and social relations exist in an evolutionary, not static, state. This contrasts with metaphysics, which examines ideas and objects individually, in a static state.

Marxism is closely associated with the political and socioeconomic theory of communism and the various historical movements that have tried to bring it about (most notably in Russia in the 1917 October Revolution). In Marxist theory, communism is the final stage of the evolution of human socioeconomic relations. In the Marxist model, the feudal state is overthrown by the rise of the bourgeoisie, ushering in the capitalist epoch. Capitalism is then overthrown by the rise of the proletariat, which ushers in not communism, but the socialist state. Each previous step is the necessary precondition for the next.

The socialist state is thus the pre-condition for communism, and its function is to alter the state of human material conditions in such a way that communism can work. The socialist state then "withers away," leading to the end of political power in any centralized form––including nation states, as communism as envisioned by Marx is to be an international system. Equally important is the disappearance of class distinctions, which goes hand in hand with the end of political power:

When in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. [The Communist Manifesto]

These conditions all have to be met before the communist society can develop. Marx summarized communism in this way: "an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."

krishna-agrawala | Student

Marxism refers to a political and economic ideology of some people who claim to follow ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels regarding a fair economic and social systems and the methods of transformation intended to make the countries all over the world conform to such models. It should be noted that there are many variations in the ideologies and methods of different groups of people who profess follow the ideas of Marx and Engels, which are broadly classified as socialist or communist ideologies. Frequently Marxism refers to just one particular variation of these ideologies.

The central theme of Marxism is public ownership and control of all means of production. Thus Marxism calls for abolition of the capitalist system of economy in which chief means of production are privately owned. Marxism also supports development of a classless society. These changes, according to Marxism will lead to prosperity and freedom for all.

In practice, the ideas of Marx could not be implemented wholly by any of the countries claiming to follow them. In reality, the country is ruled by a very strong political party, which frequently acts like a dictatorship of a few rather than implement the wishes of the majority. The means of production are also in effect controlled by the members of the party, who have become the privileged class. Also the central control of economic activities, has prove to be highly inefficient and ineffective. Thus the common people have not received any of the benefits envisaged in the Marxist system.

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