Marxist ideas about man and matter are generally known as Marxism. Marxism constitutes the general views about the world and the human society. Marxism developed as a protest against the idealist conception of man and the world as represented by Hegel (1770-1831). Hegel represented Dialectical Idealism.
Marx was influenced by Hegelian dialectics, French socialism and English economics. But Marxism is a fundamental and total philosophy of life. Marxism is on the one hand a social and political theory and on the other it is a scientific plan for complete social change and revolution. In recent years Marxism has brought tremendous changes in human thought and action throughout the globe. All other philosophies are not complete without Marxist philosophy.
Hegel is an idealist philosopher. According to Hegelian concept all realities are nothing but manifestations of one single, unchangeable and absolute reality. It is a spiritual concept of reality. To Hegel human history of civilisation is nothing but the unfoldment of the ‘Will’ of the Absolute. But Marxian idea of history is altogether different.
Marx attaches importance to matter and not idea or spirit. Marx aimed to end spirituality. Hegel started from spirituality and ended in matter. Marx interpreted human history from reality (matter) to spirituality. Hegel started quite opposite to that idea.
Hegel interpreted history from spirituality to reality. According to Marx, ‘History is the product of material existence’ whereas according to Hegel ‘History is the product of spiritual existence’. The Marxian conception of history is called Historical Materialism.
Both Hegel and Marx have applied dialectical concept of development. But in their interpretations of history they are pole apart where Marx ended, Hegel started there. Both of them recognise the existence of contradictions (thesis and antithesis) in the fields of ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’. These thesis and antithesis are nothing but positive and negative aspects of the same matter or idea.
There is constant struggle between these two opposites. As a result a new matter or idea comes into existence (synthesis) with unity of opposites and again the struggle starts. The history or the civilization changes or evolves due to this continuous struggle. According to Hegel this concrete world is the product of ‘Abstract Idea’ through the Dialectic Method.
According to Marx this concrete (real) world is the product of ‘Matter” through the Dialectic Method. Marxian interpretation is commonly known as Dialectic Materialism. That is why it is said ‘Marxism is Hegelianism turned upside down’. Hegelian interpretation is known as Dialectic Spiritualism. Dialectic Materialism simply means that this real world is only true reality.
Beyond this there is no existence of spirit or idea. Idea comes from matter. There can be no existence of mind without body. Physical existence is the only true existence. All elements of this material world are intimately related or connected. Man establishes connection among these elements with the help of idea or imagination.
Marx said, ‘To Hegel the real world is the external phenomenal form of the Idea. With me the Idea is nothing else than the material reflected by the human mind and translated into forms of thought’. Material world and ideal world are intimately connected and the latter is the product of the former. ‘It is impossible to separate matter that thinks. Mind is the specific quality of the specifically organised matter, i.e. brain’, said Engels.
Values in Marxism:
A Marxist is dedicated to the welfare of the state and the people. He is guided by certain values which may be briefly stated:
(a) To develop a respect for public property.
(b) To develop a respect for authority.
(c) Patriotism is an important Marxist value.
(d) To develop respect for parents, elderly people and all classes of labourers.
(e) Common goods occupies an important position in Marxism.
(f) In Marxist state there is no existence of private property.
(g) Discipline in public life is another important value in Marxist philosophy.
(h) Marxism attaches highest importance to the value of labour.