For the past seven years of school, I think the only person who made my life bearable was Karl Marx.
This Prussian-German Philosopher is one among the many profound revolutionary socialist who had a firm believe in socialism and communism. However, his work transverses disciplines from religion to economics to social sciences. He tackles a large number of disciplines from division of labor to capital relations to the establishment of social movements and collective strength. In THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, he maintains that the history of man and power is based on class struggle between the owners of the means of production and the workers and that this class struggle can only be suppressed by revolutions that restructure the society or a common ruin of the contending class. This is because it is the only way to ensure that the elites have not the upper hand through their revolutionizing of the modes of production which they do through “the accumulation of wealth in private hands, the formation and increase of capital“, and creating a competition among the workers that creates wage-labor whose sole function is to increase productivity and thus profits. He says that the only way to save man from this man eat man society where a few are filthy rich and the masses are severely poor is through revolutionary democracy. He put it this way: “Democracy is the road to socialism”. But for this to be achieved, the place of women in the society has to change…women have to be viewed and appreciated for who they are and what they do- the movers who move society- “Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included”.
In THE CAPITALIST, he defended the worker by claiming that people should be paid in equal measure to the amount of work they produce. This is hard to measure and I found it a little bit disconcerting but then he defended his position saying that the unpaid surplus labor is the source of profit to which the capitalist cannot do without. The owners of the modes and means of production claim the surplus value as theirs because they lay sole claim to the production process and the worker can only be content with what the owners of production dictate to him. Hence the owners of production exploit their workers by demanding an ever increasing target output from the worker and paying them the most acceptable minimum wage. This owners of production ensure that they are protected by the state through legal constitutionalism and maintaining a clique of a few elite who ensure that their rights are protected and that any bill that passes the house of commons has their interest at heart: not the interest of the common man.
Marx believed in the rise of a socialist/communist society where wage and profit would be equal and shared by all. Where private ownership would be abolished and where all would get equal opportunities at production and use. He also believed that use of machines to replace manual labor is a tax on human productivity that lenders people jobless through over production of commodities that in turn has to be utilized by the same masses that have been replaced by machine labor.
Despite loving to listen to Marx too much, I disagree with him to a great extent. For one, there will never be a society that has equality. Equity is acceptable but equality is a dream that can never be achieved. Every society has to have a hierarchy of leadership and with it comes power to some over others.
Examples, in Tanzania, the Ujamaa was a total fail. Despite Mwalimu Nyerere’s efforts to make it work, the nationalization of all industries and the collectivization of agriculture lead social loafing which in turn lead to the lowest agricultural turn over that the country had ever experienced. This created the start of poverty which has impacted on the country to this day. However, we have to give it for them the detribalization and social unity that resulted from it.
When Marx mentioned the transitional state from the bourgeoisie capitalist rule to the proletariat dictatorship, he meant, in the broad sense, that every state is a dictatorship through the rule of an elite class, not in the political dictatorial dimension as in th form of government. He clearly describes the workers’ government as a “democratic republic”.
Cuba, after the collapsed Soviet union, is one of the socialist communities that had a lot of promise of a successful socialist/communist society. It too, like Tanzania, has its major strengths. it has an excellent medical institution that offers free medical service to all, an elaborate education system that offers limited and restrictive education and food rations for all that were supposed to be free but are now sold cheaply assuming that everybody can afford. With all this you will ask what the down side is. Well, here it is. Workers earn a wage of between 10 and 20 USD because they are servants to the state. Dene, a Cuba national, has this to say about the wages “This money hardly is of use to set some food on the table. If a family is formed by 4 persons, parents and children, and they plan to eat each one a banana for breakfast that means they will use the half of a salary only to eat a banana each!” well, isn’t that enough to explain why every Cuban is in a hurry to leave their country now that there is a possibility of immigration that wasn’t there before. “The Cuban regime is called many things as people try and categorize it, and excuse it for its policies and glaring faults. The working class did not create the revolution and they have been crippled since Castro and his cohorts installed a new bureaucracy. The aspirations of the workers are low and so is their confidence……The American ruling class hate his regime, not because it is some sort of ‘socialist’ paradise but because its very existence challenges Washington’s political monopoly in Central and South America. Their hope is to replace Castro with a government obedient to their wishes, like those of Guatemala or El Salvador” (Dermot Sreenan). It is thus is safe to say that, Castro, hiding behind communism and the ideas of Marxism used the spirit of nationalism and the ideologies of Leninism to create the mess that is Cuba today simply because his own foreign investments failed. American in return suffocated their supply channels of every commodity and service creating a futile future for Cubans.
Hence, despite Marx being right in so many ways, he was so wrong in even more ways but I owe him a hug thanks for making my campus time worth the time and efforts.