CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

ARTICLE


Why the Objections to Marxism are Mistaken


The Marxists around the globe must be having variedinterests in music but 'the death and irrelevance of socialism in 21st century would have now become a tune to their ears. The idea of Marxism has been maligned by its opponents since its inception to such an extent, that the visuals of Gulags and bloodshed reach out to the society much faster than developmental statistics of socialist countries. Nevertheless, it can't be denied that it is the only ideology which has been supported by people of all races, religions, nations and civilisations, unlike fascism. This ideology had taken various shapes in various regions like former USSR, Latin America, China, DPRK, and Africa but the governments of these regions later on went into an ideological stagnation. There were many things wrong with what happened in USSR and I cant defend Stalin or his strange decisions. Obviously, Marx's reference to "communism" has nothing to with the monstrous totalitarian states of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which go against the central concepts of his writings. Karl Marx was fully aware of the ever changing system of the society. Every individual believing in the Marxist ideology also believes in the concept of evolution. Marx had himself predicted the decline of the working class and rise of white collar work and foresaw globalisation. Yet, Marxists are being accused of being outdated by bourgeois reverting to levels of inequality every single day.

The international rights group Oxfam claimed that richest 1 per cent in India cornered 73 per cent of the wealth generated in the 2018. Furthermore, a panel headed by the then RBI governor C Rangarajan in 2014 stated that those spending over Rs 32 a day in rural areas and Rs 47 in towns and cities should not be considered poor[1]. Apart from inequality crisis, the world is heading towards a nuclear arms race and destabilisation of states in the middle east over scarcity of resources which is a result of Capitalism itself. It is a common notion that Marxism is well in theory but whenever it has been put in practice it has resulted in terror and genocide on large scale. But, the nations like USA who have championed Capitalism itself has a history of slavery, violence and genocide which was as worse as Stalin's USSR and Mao's China yet it has been overlooked because it had survived the Cold war. The USSR and China, though at a dreadful human cost, had uplifted its citizens out of backwardness into a modern industrial world. The capitalist model cannot exist without inequality, deprivation of resources, it also doesn't have the morality to promise a future for humanity and it wont as it has already pushed the planet on the verge of extinction. The War in Iraq which was for the sake of gaining oil controlling petroleum exports and with the interest of advancing US imperialism has left 500,000 dead Iraqis and 4,500 dead US soldiers dead. The War in Vietnam to "beat Communism" and maintain an Asian sphere of influence had left 3,800,000 Vietnamese[2] between 1955-1984 dead and the Korean War to "beat Communism" had about 700,000[3] casualties. There is endless list of genocides committed to spread capitalism yet it is ignored. In all fairness, capitalism has led to the death of millions of people through brutal wars in Vietnam and Cambodia and tens of thousands in totalitarian regimes in Chile and Brazil, as well as the two great world wars. Going back two centuries, capitalist expansion led to the deaths of millions of native American Indians and African slaves. In USA, the country that announced the end of socialism, a major poll[4] released in January 2016 revealed that 43% of citizens under 30 in the country view socialism positively compared to only 32% who view capitalism favourably and it proves that in spite of vigorous efforts to smother the ideas of Marx who died 135 years ago, his analysis remains extremely relevant today.

I always get this brisk question; "Where has socialism worked?" My sincere opinion is that the question that needs to be asked is; "Where has capitalism worked?" Since the latter question carries much more weight as compared to the former question as capitalism has been in existence for more than 500 years. Socialism, since the USSR has only taken root in developing countries which have been much more gullible to outside, hegemonic forces. Similarly, the socialist movements in developed countries have been systematically crushed by state and police brutality. The Socialist model has not been a failure. I don't attribute methodological failure as an ideological one. The first attempt to build an alternative socialist society was in the most hostile and adverse conditions. Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, socialism was exported in various nations in the world. Even during the existence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), capitalism continued to be a powerful economic system in the world. Today, millions of people in United Kingdom reap the benefits of NHS at some point. The Food Security Act in India has provided about two-thirds of the population[5], the ration to live a life with dignity and there are numerous examples of these socialist principles in various countries which owes it origins to Karl Marx who foresaw the evils of free market capitalism in the 19th century. If we want to survive on this planet we cannot go on exploiting and polluting the natural resources for it will eventually destroy our ecosystem. A free market capitalism grabs every piece of resource it possibly can and doesn't care about environmental prospects. A collective principle where we care for everybody does give us the opportunity to protect our environment. Magnificent inequalities of power and wealth, imperial warfare, exploitation, a repressive state are the issues which depicts today's world and Marxism has also reflected on the same for two centuries. One hundred and sixty years ago, when we did not even know the meaning of automation, Karl Marx predicted that robots would replace humans in the workplace. 200 years later, we can say that we are, in many ways, living in the world Marx predicted.  

A new rhetoric of the West to slander Marxism is that China is a capitalist country. Our doctrine, said Frederich Engels, referring to himself and Marx is not a dogma, but a guide to action. The right wing today has reduced Marxism to bloodbath and undemocratic forced abolition of private property. People make up their mind about Marxism without even flipping through a couple of pages of Marxist literature, same as people making generalised notion about Islam without even touching Quran. Marxism is bound to reflect the astonishingly abrupt change in the conditions of social life. The application of this ideology varies from regions to situations. The China we know today is not a capitalist country. When Deng Xiaoping took over the Chinese Communist Party after Mao's death he acknowledge the need of switching over to economic growth from the existing class struggle. His iconic statement was 'It does not matter if the cat is black or white until it catches mice". The socialist planning and public ownership of key sectors including banking have been the basis for China's phenomenal growth. In India and US the big business and conglomerates influence the state however it is just the opposite in China. The state owned companies still produce over 50% of output employing over half of the workers in the country. In 2014 the 95 companies in the American business magazine, Fortune's 500 list, were Chinese State owned companies. The western technology is utilised on a big scale but under strict state control and the country has lifted 800 million people out of poverty according to the World Bank. Now the people of Venezuela and Bolivia are taking their own roads to their own forms of socialism.

In India, again, the right wing has created a rhetoric that socialism is about abolishing private property and advancing atheism. If ever fully implemented socialism would mean providing all people food security, full employment, access to education, health and housing. It would mean the economic, political and social empowerment of the people by vastly improving the living conditions of workers, peasants and the hitherto marginalised sections. It would mean the end of caste oppression by abolishing the caste system. It means the true equality of all minorities and marginalised sections and ending gender oppression. Now before you think socialism in India is impractical and that we won't ever have resources to implement such ambitious welfare schemes, realise the fact that we are economically well off. There are crony capitalists who takes billions of rupees as loans and leave the country. We have a government who has written off loans worth rupees 2.2 lac crores of corporates. I believe if we want to live in a decent world then it's highly problematic that the world economy is dominated by a group of unaccountable multinational corporations who are exercising more power over the people than the nation state.

Capitalism has taken centuries to establish itself as the world's predominant social and economic system after many failures and atrocities including slavery. It was the USSR and socialism that rescued not only Europe but the world from fascist barbarism of the Nazi Germany. Much of the reason why people believe that socialism doesn't work is because of the narrative of capitalism being comparatively better. Capitalism has indeed created prosperity in some sectors of the world which will be unmatched to Socialism, but at an enormous cost of humanity. The world has witnessed many evil things in the name of communism and socialism it shouldn't have witnessed. The mere existence of word socialist in an organisation's name doesn't necessarily mean that it is created upon the ideals of Marx. The next time you judge something by its name remember that the Nazi Party also stood for National 'Socialist' German Workers Party.  


[1]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/New-poverty-line-Rs-32-in-villages-Rs-47-in-cities/articleshow/37920441.cms

[2]https://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-tirman/the-real-cost-of-vietnam_b_7159976.html

[3]http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/korea_hickey_01.shtml

[4]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2016/02/05/millennials-have-a-higher-opinion-of-socialism-than-of-capitalism/?utm_term=.e2365618e50e

[5]http://dfpd.nic.in/nfsa-act.htm



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