Marx can be thought of as having offered two sets of ideas, the first of which we can accept if we wish to, without accepting the second. 1. Marx gave us a theory of society, i.e , an explanation of how society works, of how and why history has unfolded, and especially an account of the nature of capitalism. These are of great value for the task of describing what is going on in the world and for understanding the problems and directions of our society today. 2. But Marx also regarded capitalism as extremely unsatisfactory and he was very concerned with getting rid of it, via violent revolution and the establishment of a communist society. Marxism is therefore also about political goals and action. Obviously very few people in western society today accept this second set of ideas; most seem to think capitalism is desirable, most do not want to see it destroyed and most do not like the idea of revolution or communism. The following notes are intended to show the value of the first of these sets of ideas. One can accept Marx's concepts as being very useful for the purpose of understanding our society without accepting his condemnation of capitalism, his political values or his recommendations for political action. In other words, if you do not agree with Marxist social ideals and implications for action, don't let this interfere with your evaluation of Marxist theory about how our society works. Marxist ideas on how to change society are also strongly criticised by the Anarchists. Marxists thought capitalism must be fought and overthrown through violent revolution, because the capitalist class will never voluntary give up any of its privileges. There must be leadership by a vanguard party prepared to be ruthless and to use violence, and which will rule in an authoritarian way after the revolution. Eventually, when people have developed the right ideas and values the state can dissolve and there will be a communist society. - Even if you get rid of...
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