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Summary: the Political Theory Marxism as an Ideology

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Karl Marx was born in Germany in 1818 and went on to become a philosopher, economist, journalist and historian. He wrote two books, ‘Das Kapital’ and ‘Communist Manifesto’ with Fredrick Engel which formed the basic ideology known as Marxism. Marx and Engel believe that political power is distributed according to wealth and class. Marxists view the world through a dialectical materialist interpretation and Marx’s believes that the majority of history’s conflicts and major events were caused by social and wealth inequality. Korde  states that Marxism is the name for a “set of political and economic ideas” and it is a “method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation”.

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It can be suggested that Marxism provides an alternative outlook on capitalism and also persuades us to investigate the process associated with social revolution, so we become aware of the past, present and future. It can be implied that Marxism is a social theory based on the idea that all of history is based on the struggle of class. He wrote the ‘Communist Manifesto’ in the 19th century, amidst the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Nationalism. Marx believed that working people were seen as objects rather than humans by their employers. His opinion was that they were slaves to their employment and worked under awful conditions which could lead to death all while the employers lived a luxurious life. Marx believed the Industrial Revolution promoted a capitalist way of thinking and also created two distinct groups of people, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, meaning the middle and working-class groups of people. In Marx’s opinion, society is run by the bourgeoise and the government policies are in favour of them.

Marx was on the side of the working-class people and he believed that they were being treated unfairly. He hoped that eventually they would rise up against all political and social class systems and over time form a society without any class structure. This involved the complete equality of all citizens. Marx believed that “socialism/communism could only work if there existed a massive abundance in the society concerned”  Marx did not describe the perfect society he imagined but instead explained the cause and effects sequence that would lead to it. Simon  points out one of Marx’s famous expressions which Marx states that “the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is, to change it”. Marxism contends that it is not only possible to change the world, but it is necessary.

It can be up for discussion how a Marxist approach to social policy would be reflected in provision for healthcare, education and housing. Marx believed in equality for all in which people are not separated into classes. It can be suggested that a Marxist perspective on healthcare, education and housing is righteous in theory. It would ensure equality and inclusion in all these areas regardless of class and could reverse income inequality and provide a basic quality of life to all of its citizens, although this does come along with drawbacks. It fails to understand a fundamental fact of human nature, selfishness, as it can be suggested that most humans are economically motivated. Marxists maintain that ‘healthcare workers assist the capitalist state through encouraging workers to seek a biomedical reason for all ill health, which detracts from the real causes of most ill health’ such as social and economic disadvantage according to Clouston and Westcott. Navarro  also suggests that the role of healthcare professionals is to act as well-paid agents of the bourgeoisies and uphold the capitalist system.

Marxists have the belief that the education system, both public and private, is controlled by the state and it can be implied that Marxists can view this as a positive in a socialist society but negative in capitalism as it pertains to education policy, teacher education, and assessment. In a capitalist society, this means that the education system is structured with a capitalist ideology, the need for hierarchy. It promotes the segregation of classes sending the richest to the “best” schools and leaving the lower class struggling to find a good education. In a socialist society, education is vital in shaping humanity encouraging equality to produce peace in the long run. During Marx’s time, the schools were under the control of the church and was only available to middle and upper classes. Marx wanted to separate education from the church and demanded poor children go to school rather than work in factories. In practice, Marx’s ‘free’ education is education paid through taxes and controlled by the state and should not be confused with actual freedom.

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