DEBATE: For or Against Marxism?

Two sub-editors debate in favour of or against Marxism.

Harry Jones
16th December 2021
Karl Marx. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.
For Marxism: by Harry Jones

With the burgeoning crisis of climate change and the rise of capitalist monopolies such as the monolith that is Amazon, the discourse on how we combat these threats to the world’s wellbeing remains ever more relevant. However, solace can always be found in the philosophy posited by Karl Marx.

Covid-19 has revealed to us in full the failures of the major figures of the bourgeoisie. This has been supplemented by the exacerbated exploitation of the working class, all during a time of fatal crisis. With the rising stocks of Amazon creating a stark contrast to global cuts across essential sectors and rises in unemployment, their concerns are steeped in classism and nepotism. The net worth of Jeff Bezos, former Amazon CEO, rose over $100 billion while unemployment in the UK soared from 4% pre-Covid to 5.2% between November 2020 and January 2021.

Jeff Bezos. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The cause of the working class is their responsibility alone. It is clear then that the working class must take their fate into their own hands. They must establish a state in which the working class is the only class and remove economic exploitation based on the appropriation of the means of production. This is paramount.

In conclusion, Marxism is great. Also Marx had a cool beard.

Against Marxism: by Emily Kelso

Marxism, as a practical ideology, has several flaws. One such reason concerns the historical context in which Marx penned his works. Marx lived in cities such as London in the 19th century, which coincides with the Industrial Revolution. Such a period is notorious for the poor working conditions in which physical labourers/blue-collar workers operated, which can help explain why Marx advocated seizing the means of production to aid workers in improving their quality of life. Times have changed, however. Most workers do not engage in physical labour and reforms have been introduced such as the 1998 Human Rights Act. Can Marx have relevance in a workplace which barely resembles its 19th century equivalent?

A further flaw is that our social structure has changed. The traditional three-tier model of upper class, middle class and working class might have had relevance in the past, but in the 21st century it cannot be applied with ease. A study by RSA found seven separate groupings in the workplace, thus suggesting we cannot simply refer to employees as ‘the working class’ any more. It is too broad a term. Granted, such a flaw can be overcome by simply dividing the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, but such an approach is hardly helpful.

Hammar, Sickle and Star. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, one need only look at the number of nations following Marxist ideals which have since altered their economy to function privately instead of publicly. Following the dissolution of the USSR, most of the 15 post-Soviet states transitioned to a market-based economy and have remained that way since. Even modern day communist nations have permitted a degree of privatisation in their economy, such as Cuba who in 2021 legalised private businesses in most sectors; such a policy is in direct opposition with Marxist dogma and gives me the impression Marxism is too flawed to be useful.

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