We have had a class war against the capitalists lasting many generations with many defeats. Marx never promised victories. All that he predicted was that there was going to be a struggle between classes and which should – if civilization did not in the meantime collapse into barbarism – lead to the dissolution of capitalism and the emergence of socialism. Marx wrote that where the struggle of the classes does not end in a ‘revolutionary change in the whole structure of society’, it ends ‘in the common ruin of the contending classes’ He also foresaw in parallel with this that there has also been a mobilisation of all the forces of reaction and the counter-revolution of the status quo. Marxism is the anathema of the ruling class. What Marxism means has been interpreted by literally thousands of writers on the subject, sympathetic supporters as well as virulent opponents.
Marx himself made clear what he considered his own central thought in 1852 a letter to Georg Weydemeyer:
“... as for myself, no credit is due me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society nor yet the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historic phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.
The phrase ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ has long ago been understandably and wisely discarded by socialists. It had acquired connotations with the Bolshevik and similar regimes, which was nothing but a dictatorship over the proletariat. The basis of Marxism is political and economic democracy.
We are not among those who are out to destroy personal liberty, who wish to turn the world into one huge barrack or into a gigantic workhouse. Marxism, above all, is a call for sharing and caring, and a product of our solidarity and affinity for other people. Regards the environment, Marxists do not rape the planet and do not worship efficiency at the expense of people and nature. The kind of economy we live in determines the nature and level of our laws, government, culture, ideas, feelings and ethics. The competitive, jungle warfare system of capitalist production produces a destructive, anti-human science and culture. Socialism is infused with equality, fraternity and liberty. Scarcity and privation need not be the future. There is a better way for suffering humanity – to go forward together to establish the democratic common ownership of the means of producing life’s necessities.
In Capital, Marx developed the labour theory of value which proved “…the value of every commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary labour time spent in its production.” From this, Marx revealed the creation of surplus value as the basis of capitalist exploitation of workers. The worker spends one part of the day covering the cost of maintaining oneself and his or her family (wages), while the other part of the day the worker toils without remuneration, creating for the capitalist surplus value, the source of profit, the source of wealth of the capitalist class. The doctrine of surplus value is the cornerstone of Marx’s economic theory.