We all know how fun it is to speak of Marxism: Unlike politics in general, Marxism has great breadth. It is teleological without stating that it is necessary to have external deities, as in religion. It is militant, like countries out to fight battles for great causes. It is salvatory, since it can prescribe an improved order of society, and finally, it is sociological, in that it can be, and is used to explain many customs and events.
Stating that mankind has classes, which are forever doomed to fight, unless a historical resolution takes place at some juncture, what is empirical in Marxism is that it shows up and points to the upheavals which apparently must occur when classes do not anticipate and participate properly in the amelioration of existing evils in a society.
Karl Marx would react and anticipate my last sentence by stating that classes are not people and don’t react with a conscience. According to Marx, classes do not care about the evils done to others, but rather, unlike moral individuals, always act in their own interests. I don’t mean to imply here that men always act in the interests of others, but what I will imply is that men and women whom are aware of their existence as part of a self-conscious race, do tend to side with others on occasion, even if this is only the, “do unto you…,” moral phenomenon in action.
So Marx’s assertion that classes must always act in their own interests, would seem to apply based on empirical principles and carefully collected 18th and 19th century data, but only in that sense. In other words, teaching someone to be a Marxist is a lot like teaching someone to be a religious convert: The convert must be led to bridge this divide between individuals-like-himself whom are for-each-other, and classes which are against-each-other-for-themselves. Being able to accomplish this mental maneuver is indeed, a little bit like mastering a religion.
To be fair, Marxism also does assert that there was a precise tendency for people to become more, “for-each-other,” as they are “proletarianized.” The idea of a family moving from an originally well-balanced social habitat to the city to find work, or even to become social refugees and move from one country to another, could be the idea behind this notion. If I work as a peasant, which many people have done in the past, and because of mechanization or some other cause, find it inconvenient to continue my current existence in the country, I may decide to move to a city and find work there. The lifestyle of a poverty-stricken family in that new situation in a strange city may not always be comfortable, but it may tend to bring the individuals closer. Conversely, the proletization of the working individual and family could just be a convenient illusion based on the communal attitudes and ethics of people coming from the country. Whether Marx was right, or deluded in his concept of the, “revolutionary proletarian,” is in this way, something quite in doubt.
Marxism can be seen as an interesting 19th through 20th century trend in social and historical science. The possibility of assigning class causes for everything from historical movements and art trends through contemporary signs of progress has always been a favorite pastime of Marxists.
Wait a second. Even if all of that stuff is true, but what about the interesting points that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels made about changing society? Isn’t it important that they predicted Feminism as, “The Community of Women”, and explained that roles in society would be reversed with a Dictatorship of the Proletariat? These ideas bear a careful further look.