To what extent is Marxism a flawed political ideology? Ever since Marxism was established as a political ideology it has been subject to much scrutiny; as Karl Marx gave his opinions of society based on either scientific evidence or personal belief, it was only natural that some would disagree and thus criticise his convictions. The majority of Marx's ideology was based on the idea that the superstructure of society was totally dependent on the economic base (and any changes made to it), and that the capitalist society in which we currently live would create a revolutionary working class which would ultimately lead to a communist society.
Essentially, Marx claimed that communism was inevitable, and this was a heavily criticised aspect of Marx's overall ideology. As this suggested that human history is not something that individuals have any control over, critics argued that Marxism was more comparable with a religion rather than a scientific theory. This was further reinforced by Karl Raimond Popper's argument that Marxism was unscientific as it could not be disproved.
Defenders of Marx claimed that although Marx had publicly used the term 'inevitable' on several occasions, it was only to emphasise the importance of his ideas; in his more serious works he did not suggest that communism and other stages of history which he discussed were inevitable. For example, it is argued that one of his ideas that was often misconstrued was the idea that a capitalist society would eventually collapse and become a communist society, when in reality he was simply saying that there are social pressures which gives capitalist societies a 'tendency' to collapse, rather than it being an inevitable process.
Marx also claimed that his theories could be scientifically investigated i. e. to take an objective and rational approach to the investigation of economic history to prove that socialism was more efficient than capitalism. Those opposing this approach i. e. taking an emotive irrational approach argued the case for socialism in moralistic and humanistic terms. Marx objected greatly to this view has he never claimed that communism was necessary because capitalism caused suffering, but because it could be scientifically proved that capitalism was a flawed economic system that would eventually lead to crisis.
He supported his argument by trying to explain features of society by exploring firm evidence, rather than supernatural forces as well as acknowledging verifiable natural and social laws. Additionally, he viewed issues beneath superficial appearance in order to investigate their real nature. "All science would be superfluous if the forms of appearance of things coincided with their essence. "
Another result of Marx's fundamental theory that the superstructure is entirely dependent on the economic base has caused critics to call him an 'economic determinist' in that he refuse to attribute any other factors in the outcome of society. "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary, it is their social existence which determines their consciousness. " Quotes such as this have led critics to believe that Marx suggested that human thought cannot be controlled by human choice, and that individuals are merely puppets of the environment in which they live.
In Marx's defence, it was argued that he believed that the working class would only be able to revolt and create communism once they realised their position in society, and false consciousness was eliminated. Moreover, it as also argued that although Marx believed that a truly democratic society could only be created once the economic base (in a capitalist society) was changed, he never suggested that the economic base was the only factor, but had a significant influence on how the struggle between classes would occur in each society.
"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. " One defender of Marx, Friedrich Engels argued this point when he said that "if someone twists this into saying that the economic base is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract and senseless phrase.
" He supported and developed Marx's argument that the economic base was a crucial, but not the sole factor in terms of the outcome of the superstructure of any one society. Marx's ideology did not solely revolve around the societies of the 19th century, he also explored how society itself was formed, and how he believed it developed into the current state of capitalism, which would eventually collapse and go into a state of communism.
Marx's theory of history (as it was known) argued that human history was a series of struggles and struggles between different classes, and therefore religion, important/famous historical figures, and chance had no influence on the creation and development of society throughout history. Critics disputed that this deterministic approach to describe the progression of human history was too simplistic, and that it does not comply with what has actually occurred throughout history.
In opposition to Marx's idea that history was a progression of ever improving stages which would eventually lead to the final (and 'best') stage of communism, it was argued that critical accidents and mistakes e. g. Hitler's decision to invade Russia in 1941, which led to his downfall, played an important role in history. Others argued further that human history was not a series of ever improving stages, but cycles whereby social development could have gone backwards or forwards in improvement.
Additionally, some believed that G-d has an overall plan and decides the development and fate of human history. Once again Marx was defended in the argument that his concepts had been misconstrued to be more deterministic than they seemed; Marx's theory of history was not supposed to reflect every period of human history, as he acknowledged that society could go backwards and forwards in development. Marx's concepts examined the key turning points in history, mainly the r/evolution of society charting transitions from feudalism, to liberalism, then capitalism, and eventually communism.