Karl Marx, one of the great revolutionaries and political philosopher held that “the philosophers have always interpreted the world. What matters however is to change”?
His commitment to change led him to synthesize the political and economic outcome of the French and Industrial revolutions and create a coherent system of thought that led to revolutions after his death.
Speaking about the relevance of Marxist concept of revolution Lawrence Kaplan says “because Marxism does not merely interpret the world but also seeks to change it, almost every revolution in the twentieth century has been carried out in his name”. It is concentrated expression of his view of historical development.
1. What is Revolution?
According to Marx revolution means seizure of political power by the oppressed class by use of force. They are inevitable in class divided societies.
To him, “In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces.
At a certain stage of development, the material forces of production in the society come into conflict with the existing relations of production leading to a new mode of production”.
2. Revolution in Capitalist Societies:
Marx notes that while revolutions in the past were accomplished by a minority, proletarian revolution would be a revolution of the majority.
Moreover, its aim is not to win power exploiting another class. Rather, its aim is to end the system of exploitation itself.
Although he believes that “of all the instruments of production, the greatest productive force is the revolutionary class itself’, but he advises them to become a “class for itself’ by developing class consciousness.
According to Marx, Proletarian revolution would be the final revolution in the history of mankind. It will replace capitalism by socialism and establish dictatorship of the proletariat in the intervening period between socialism and communism.
State is retained but with difference. It is a state majority of property less for the liquidation of private property along with its ideology and culture. Slowly and gradually there will emerge a classless society and withering away of the state
1. Engaged in crude economic determinism. It fails to see the multidimensional role of state and neglects the aspect of culture, ethics and ideology on social linkages.
2. It sees proletariat revolution as the final revolution in the history of mankind. It will give way for communism. Which won’t require revolution, because there does not exist any exploitation? But, Mao Tse Tung saw revolution as a perpetual and continuing process undergoing even under communism.
3. Contrary to Marx’s optimistic vision of polarization of classes under capitalism, there has occurred a split. Many of hitherto working classes have shown upward mobility in the social hierarchy. The middle class has grown in number, strength and influence.
Marx’s concept of revolution is noteworthy for showing his commitment, to change. It helped in enlightening the minds of downtrodden, underprivileged, exploited lot of the industrial capitalism. But, under finance capitalism of today his theory has limitations.
It needs to take cognizance of the role of transnational corporations of super national agencies in building revolutionary strategies.