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Useful Notes / Marxism

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Marxism is an umbrella term for several different political philosophies, almost all of which are characterized by the pursuit of a moneyless, classless, and stateless society.

Marxism was invented by (surprise) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the book The Communist Manifesto.

Schools of Marxism include:

  • Classical Marxism: The grand-daddy of them all. Marxism as Karl Marx and Frederich Engels conceptualized it. According to it, the economic basenote  controls human society while the superstructurenote  justifies the current arrangement. As technology revolutionizes the economy and workers' lives, the superstructure is discarded when it outlives its usefulness and replaced with one suited to the new base. Due to its rapid technological growth and ruthless exploitation of workers, capitalism will make itself obsolete when the working masses seize the factories and run them for the good of humanity. Classical Marxism is also called Orthodox Marxism when contrasted with Marxism-Leninism.
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  • Analytical Marxism: An Adaptation of Marxism with modern political science applied to it, pioneered by G.A. Cohen and others.
  • Instrumental Marxism: The idea that Government tends to be ruled by people of a certain class background, and thus, the Government only seeks to benefit people of the same background.
  • Marxism-Leninism: Named after Vladimir Lenin, but coined by Joseph Stalin later on. Lenin disagreed with Marx that socialism needed advanced industrialization and advocated the socialists seizing power in agrarian Russia. A revolutionary vanguard holding a "Dictatorship of the proletariat" would industrialize the nation by themselves. Said Vanguard would themselves govern and vote on issues, while people not in the party would not have Democracy. Due to the Soviet Union's political and economic power, most 20th century Communist nations adopted it for themselves. Concepts that derive from this are Stalinism and Maoism.
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  • Libertarian Marxism: A type of Libertarian Socialism. Not at all to be confused with Right-Libertarianism. Emerged in opposition to Marxist-Leninism. Libertarian Marxism emphasises the anti-state elements of Marx's ideas and generally rejects the importance of the revolutionary party.
  • Trotskyism: Named after Leon Trotsky. Strongly opposes Stalinism and sees itself as the true inheritor of Lenin's ideas instead of Marxism-Leninism. Supports Trotsky's ideas such as his theory of permanent revolution, which argued that the proletariat could come to power in a backward country first, and his analysis of the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers' state where the isolation of the revolution had lead worker's democracy to be eliminated and usurped by a bureaucratic caste.
  • Situationist International: An international organization and movement started during the late 1950s, which derived it's central philosophical and socio-politcal tenets from anti-authoritarian Marxism and other leftist movements such as Dada and Surrealism. Concepts associated with this movements include Détournement and the spectacle, which is essentially a unified critique of advanced capitalism.
  • Frankfurt School: Easily the most controversial and misunderstood schools of Marxism. The Frankfurt School was a school of social theory which pioneered critical theory. Made up of Western Marxist dissidents, They were inspired by thinkers as diverse as Immanuel Kant, Max Weber, Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel, and of course, Karl Marx. They wished to synthesize the ideas of these disparate thinkers by way of critical theory, which opted for a more idiosyncratic examination of society via critiquing the underpinnings and uncovering the assumptions made by society itself.

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