THEORY OF SOCIAL CHANGE IN MARXISM: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE HISTORICITY OF REVOLUTION
Marxism has for more than two centuries been identified not only as a philosophy that tend to promote change among men but an ideology of social consciousness that warms the soup of hope for the common masses, most especially the working people.
Marxism there hence based this process on dialectics which necessitates tension between the “Thesis and “Anti-thesis to produce “synthesis” being the goal of goal as it forms the beginning of another process of change. Dialectics to Marx and Engels, the prophets of Marxism explains every development in social reality. This is called class antagonism or class struggle. This struggle is the reason for change to come and in its practical approach, it lead to revolution.
Revolution means change in its literary context but more of a system succeeding another one in Marxist socio-economic system. This expresses how an oppressive system of exploitation in capitalism is transformed to a socialist system through the power of the working class by seizing control of economic power from the capitalist. This approach has been helpful in France and its Paris commune which set the pace of revolutionary reality of Marxist postulation before Russia, Poland, China, Cuba etc. took it. The yearning for more of this is in progress as many still put their faith in Marxism as the hope of common masses.
TABLE OF CONTENT
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of Study
1.2 The Statement of Problem
1.3 The Purpose of Study
1.4 The Scope of Study
1.6 Conceptual Analysis
1.7 Literature Review
CHAPTER TWO: MARXIM AND THE THEORY OF SOCIAL CHANGE
2.1 Karl Marx and Marxism
2.2 Theory of Social Change in Marxism
2.3 Marx’s Analysis of Capitalism
2.4 Revolution as Historical Necessity
CHAPTER THREE: CRITICAL AND HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT OF MARXIAN REVOLUTION
3.1 Proleterianism as a vehicle of Change
3.2 Some Marxian Revolution in World History
3.3 Communism and it utopian Stance
3.4 Importance of Existential Marxism above
CHAPTER FOUR: RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION
1.1 THE BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Marxism is a worldview and a method of societal analysis that focuses on class relations and societal conflict that uses a materialist conception of historical development, and dialectical view of social transformation. Marxist methodology uses economic and sociopolitical inquiry and applies that to the critique and analysis of the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systematic economic change. Marxism encompasses an economic theory, a sociological theory, a philosophical method, and a revolutionary view of social change. Marxism builds on a materialist understanding of societal development, taking as its starting point the necessary economic activities requires to satisfy the material needs of human society.
According to Marxist theory of social change, class conflict within capitalism arises due to intensifying contradictions between highly productive mechanized and socialized production performed by the proletariat, and private ownership and appropriation of the surplus product in form of surplus value (profit) by a small minority of private owners called bourgeoisie. As the contradiction becomes apparent to the proletariat, social unrest between the two antagonistic classes intensifies, culminating in social revolution. The eventual long-term outcome of this revolution would be the establishment of socialism which is empowered by the “dictatorship of the proletariat”.1 No wonder Marx explained in “the communist manifesto”2 that national differences and antagonism between people are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie to freedom of commerce, to the world market, to uniformity, in the modern of production and in the condition of life corresponding thereto; the supremacy of the proletariat will cause them to vanish faster. Also in the “poverty of philosophy”3, Marx made known this same point that the working class, in the course of development will substitute for the old bourgeoisie society, an association which will preclude classes and their antagonism, and there will be no more political power proper, since political power is precisely the official expression of class antagonism in burgher’s society. Hence socialism is a socioeconomic system based on cooperative ownership of the means of production, distribution based on one’s contribution, and production organized directly for use.
Karl Marx further hypothesized that, as the productive forces and technology continued to advance, socialism would eventually give way to a communist stage of social development. Communism would be a classless, stateless, humane society erected on common ownership and the principle of “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs”.
1.2 THE STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Although there has been an exposition through the background of study, there is not much awareness concerning what constitutes the theory of social change within the society. Also there is not much consciousness about the role and impact of revolution since the term “revolution” is commonly perceived as violence and destructive, not beneficial for human society. Hence there exists much misconceived notion pertaining to this study that needs much enlightenment. It is on this basis that this research work seeks to fill the vacuum which is yet to receive the attention of scholars with misconceived notions.
1.3 THE PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this research work is simply to vividly express the notion of social change in the society and how the idea of revolution partake within to create a qualitative transition which will lead to an atmosphere of benefits for all the working people. Moreover, this research work seeks to instill seriousness and awareness about the idea of revolution in today’s world which is still filled and consumed with economic exploitation.
1.4 THE SCOPE OF STUDY
The study covers majorly on the Marxist theory of social change in relation to revolution. Despite the facts that the work is divided into four chapters, it covers strategic areas. The first chapter gives a brief on how the research work will be achieved together with it purpose. The second chapter delves into Marxism and the theory of social change itself. The third chapter discusses in details the critical and historical assessment of Marxist revolution while the fourth chapter consists of the recommendation and conclusion.
For the success of this research work, the method of critical assessment in conjunction with historical appraisal would be adopted.
1.6 CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS
Dictatorship of the proletariat: This refers to a state in which the proletariat (workers) has control of political power which must be understood within the context of historical materialism.
Burgher: Though an archaic and humorous term, it means a citizen of a town or city, typically, a member of the wealthy bourgeoisie.
1.7 LITERATURE REVIEW
The first book reviewed for this work is “the communist manifesto” written by Karl Marx and Engels. It was commissioned by the communist league and published in London. It was later recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts, presenting an analytical approach to the class struggle (history and present) and the problem of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production. It also briefly features their idea on how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism and then finally communism through revolution. In this book, Marx exposed the long chain of the development of the human epoch throughout history and the injuries which the bourgeoisie has inflicted upon his society. According to Marx, “the bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil and has reduced the family relation to mere money relation”.4
The second book reviewed for the study is “state and revolution” written by Vladmir Lenin. It describe the role of the state in society, the necessity of proletariat revolution and theoretic inadequacies of social democracy in achieving revolution to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. The book is relevant to this study since it describes the inherent nature of the state as a tool for class oppression, a creation born of a social class desire to control the other social classes of its society when politico- economic disputes cannot otherwise be amicably resolved, if a dictatorship or a democracy, the state remains the social-control means of the ruling class. The ruling class will never relinquish political power even in a democratic capitalist republic, hence communist revolution is the sole remedy for such demagogy. Lenin declared that the task of the revolution is to smash the state in order to undergo an advance condition of decomposition. As he said ”the supersession of the bourgeoisie state by the proletarian state is impossible within a violent revolution”.5
The third book reviewed is “Das Kapital” written by Karl Marx. The book is a critical analysis of political economy with the aim to reveal the economic pattern underpinning the capitalist mode of production. It unveiled the motivating force of capitalism (which is exploitation of labour) as the employer is able to claim right to profit since he owns the productive capital assets which are legally protected by the capitalist state through property rights. The relevance of this book to this research study is that it reveals the contradiction of capitalist mode of production, how it was the precursor of the socialist mode of production and of the class struggle rooted in the capitalist social relation of production.
The fourth book reviewed is, “Marx Engels Marxism” written by V.I Lenin. It focuses more on the development of Marxism as a result of the evils for capitalism and how these evils can be remedied by advocating for the introduction of classless society with equal opportunities and privileges. V.I Lenin, in his book, remarked that capitalism breeds and encourages class distinction which expands the gap between the rich and the poor. According to him, “our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie possess, however, this distinct features, it has simplified the class antagonism. Society as a whole is more and more spitted into two great hostile classes directly facing each other; bourgeoisie and proletariat”.6 Hence we can recognize that the author of this book emphasizes that the matter of the conflict arising from the dissatisfaction of the working class is and would remain a major course of the change in history.
The fifth book reviewed is, “Socrates to Satre and beyond: a history of philosophy”, written by Samuel Enoch Stumpf, and James Fieser. They held the view that Karl Marx looked upon “history as the product of conflict and relied heavily upon the Hegelian concept of dialectics to explain it”.7 Hence we can deduce from their point of view that Karl Marx makes use of Hegel’s dialectics to explain the different epochs of history and as well his focus on capitalism, his core problem.
The sixth book reviewed is, “philosophy made simple”, written by Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll. In this book, proper attention was made to Karl Marx political philosophy as regards his critique of capitalism. According to them, Marx predicted the coming of classless society and that Marx’s attack upon capitalism is based upon a careful descriptive amount of how capitalist societies have worked”.8
1. V.I Lenin, The State and Revolution, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1949), p.82.
2. K. Marx and F. Engels, The communist Manifesto (London: 1948).
3. K. Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, (Moscow: Progress Publisher 1847).
4. K. Marx and F. Engels, The communist Manifesto. P.98.
5. V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution. P.24.
6. V.I. Lenin, Marx Engels Marxism (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1978), pp.16-17.
7. S. Enoch and J. Fieser, Socrates and Satre and Beyond: A History of Philosophy, 2ed (Bermont Wadsworth: Thomas Learning, 2001), p.368.
8. R.H. Popkins and A. Stroll, Philosophy Made Simple, (Oxford: Oxford book 1993), p.101.