Sunday, March 18, 2018

Syrian Kurdish fighters have pledged to launch a guerrilla war against the Turkish army and their Syrian proxies after Operation Olive Branch forces seized the center of Afrin city on Sunday.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have pledged to launch a guerrilla war against the Turkish army and their Syrian proxies after Operation Olive Branch forces seized the center of Afrin city on Sunday.

Othman Sheikh Issa, a People’s Protection Units (YPG) official from the town of Afrin, told a press conference on Sunday: “Our people over the past 58 days have showed stiff resistance against the second most powerful NATO member.”

“We worked hard to help evacuate civilians from Afrin city in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.”

“The resistance and fight against invading Turkish forces and extremist forces in the name of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that have entered Afrin has reached a new phase.”

“We will from now rely on a new tactic in order to protect civilians,” he said. “Our forces are everywhere in Afrin areas and they will target the enemy’s positions.”

Erdogan’s declaration that his forces have entered Afrin does not “mean they have achieved a triumph,” he said.

“Our forces everywhere in Afrin will become a nightmare to them. Resistance will go on in Afrin until we have liberated every span of territory in Afrin and the people of Afrin have returned to their areas and villages.”

Issa criticized the failure of the international community to pressure Turkey and halt the offensive. He urged the UN to act to stop the “ethnic cleansing” of Afrin.

“Democratic parties and forces in the world left Afrin in limbo. We salute those who threw their support behind Afrin. We are conveying our voices to everyone to help stop the ethnic cleansing being committed against Afrin.”

“We are calling on the UN and the Security Council to break their silence and put pressure on Turkey to stop this genocide and help return the people of Afrin to their areas.”

“Many civilians who had returned to their villages were killed by Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies,” he claimed.

“Until now, 500 civilians including women and children, elderly and youth have been killed by artillery fire and airstrikes and more than a 1,000 wounded,”

“Their blood will not go wasted. Our path is only resistance.”

The Turkish military announced on Sunday morning that its forces had seized the center of Afrin city.

“Arfin city center is under the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army. The search for mines and handmade explosives is underway,” read a Turkish military statement.

However, Kurdish forces claim the fight is not over. They say resistance is ongoing in neighborhoods around Afrin.

Hediye Yusuf told the Associated Press that Turkey has not captured Afrin and fighting continues on Sunday.

Yusuf, a founding member of the self-declared Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, said Kurdish forces evacuated civilians from the city because of the “massacres” by Turkish and Ankara-aligned forces.

Mustafa Bali, a former spokesperson for the SDF, believes the events in Afrin are occurring because Afrin did not strike a deal with the Assad regime.

“Now Afrin, with its legendary resistance pays the price of our insistence on refusing to bargain over the fate of Afrin and refusing to hand it over to the regime," wrote Bali on Facebook.

He accused the Kurdish National Council (KNC/ENKS) of dualism, as Kurdish sites like the Kawa statue are being destroyed.

He said ENKS is not "criticizing" its non-Kurdish allies of the FSA.

“In general, the resistance in Afrin is entering a new phase and will continue. Our choices are either victory or victory," wrote Bali.

Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main ruling party in Rojava, has meanwhile tweeted that the Kurdish withdrawal from Afrin does not mean the war is over.

“The struggle will continue and the Kurdish people will keep defending themselves,” he tweeted on Sunday.

Muslim was detained in Prague in February at the request of Turkey and was released with the condition he cooperate with possible extradition proceeding


Internationalist British YPG fighter has a message to the international community for Afrin


Murderous FSA and Turkish Army enter Afrin - Street by Street Fighting continues - The Resistance will Never End

Afrin fights alone against invading gangsters of FSA and Turkish Army  - curse the silence of the international community - curse the European Union - curse the geopolitics - Russia withdrawing Air Cover from Afrin has blood on its hands along with the other powers - self reliance is the only way - smash the capitalist imperialist geo- political conspiracy.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official has denied Turkey's claim to have captured the northern Syrian town of Afrin, saying fighting is still underway.

Hadia Yousef told The Associated Press on Sunday that the Kurdish militia evacuated civilians from the town because of ongoing "massacres" by Turkish and allied forces. 

Tens of thousands have fled Afrin in recent days as Turkish forces and allied Syrian fighters have advanced.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey-backed Syrian forces have taken full control of the town. 

Turkey's military said it is combing the town for land mines, and tweeted a video showing Turkish soldiers in the town's center.


Sergey Mikheev : US and UK Want To Make a Rogue State Out of Russia - Top Russian Expert On Salisbury Plot

Sergey Mikheev is a Russian political scientist banned as "undesirable" by European Union

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Russia’s Long Road Toward Resurgence

Democracy and Class Struggle Publish this video for information and as a backgrounder to current situation in Russia - we do not endorse its political perspective - we see the return of socialism to Russia as the way to continue resurgence in Russia and way to over come internal contradictions which are still very serious.

Russia does not need conservatives or liberals but the real patriots revolutionary communists certainly not the oligarchic profit patriots

Afrin continued massacres committed by Turkish occupation army against the people

With the continued massacres committed by Turkish occupation army against the people of Afrin,

Turkish occupation targets the city of all types of weapons and aircraft, and its goal is “burning Afrin”, as well as information on the presence of 3 civilians in a shelter under the ruins of a building destroyed by Turkish occupation.

The video shows inside the city how the smoke rises inside Afrin city, which shows that Afrin burning, as a result of the bombing of Turkish occupation army of the city, and targeting the residential building, hospitals and public utilities.

Video shows that there are 3 civilians in one of the shelters under the ruins of one of the buildings destroyed by the bombing of Turkish occupation, and that their fate is still unknown



Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr says we are facing the same silence and blindness that we had in May 2009 when the Sri Lankan Army genocided the Tamils but this time it is the Turkish Army with the Kurds.

When will the world learn to speak out and speak up ?

We live in a shameful epoch where morality is dead and geo-politics rules and enforces global silence for its murders.

200 Years of Marxism : The Social Function of Science by J.D. Bernal

WHAT IS THE contemporary, and what may be the future, function of science in society? Some things about science already win general acceptance. Science is an integral part both of the material and economic life of our times and of the ideas which guide and inspire it. Science puts into our hands the, means of satisfying our material needs and also the ideas which will enable us to understand, to co-ordinate, and to satisfy our needs in the social sphere. 

Beyond this science has something as important though less definite to offer: a reasonable hope in the unexplored possibilities of the future, an inspiration which is slowly but surely becoming the dominant driving force of modern thought and action.

To see the function of science as a whole, it is necessary to look at it against the widest possible background of history. Our attention to immediate historical events has, up till very recently, blinded us to the understanding of its major transformations. Mankind is, after all, a relatively late emergence on the scene of terrestrial evolution, and the earth itself is a late by-product of cosmic forces. Up till now human life has only undergone three major changes: the foundation of society and of civilization both of which occurred before the dawn of recorded history, and that scientific transformation of society which is now taking place and for which we have as yet no name.

The first revolution was the foundation of society by which man became different from the animals and found, through the new habit of transmission of experience from generation to generation, a means of advance altogether faster and more sure than the haphazard evolutionary struggle. 

The second revolution was the discovery of civilization, based on agriculture, and bringing with it a manifold development of specialized techniques, but above all, the social forms of the city and trade. Through these mankind as a whole was removed from parasitic dependence on nature and a certain section of mankind liberated altogether from the task of food production. The discovery of civilization was a local event. It had acquired nearly all its essential features by the sixth millennium B.C. but only at its centre, somewhere between Mesopotamia and India. 

We cannot trace in the succeeding thousands of years right up to the Renaissance and the beginning of our own times, any substantial change in the quality of civilization. The whole of this period of recorded history marks only relatively small cultural and technical changes, and these for the most part of a cyclic character. Civilization after civilization rises and decays, but each one, though different, is not essentially in advance of the one before. 

The real perceptible advance is only in area. Every breakdown of the civilization internally and through barbarian invasions meant in the long run, after a period of confusion, the spread of that civilization to the barbarians. By the end of the period all the easily cultivated lands of the old world were civilized.

It is apparent to us now, though it was certainly not then, that by the middle of the fifteenth century something new was beginning. We have come to look on the Renaissance as presaging the rise of capitalism, but it was not until the eighteenth century that any fundamental change was generally recognized. 

By then, through the application of science and invention, new possibilities were available to mankind which were likely to have an even larger effect on his future than those of agriculture and the techniques of early civilization. 

It is only recently that we have been able to separate in our minds the development of capitalist enterprise from that of science and the general liberation of human thought. Both seemed to be inextricably connected parts of Progress but at the same time, paradoxically, their appearance was greeted as evidence that man was returning to his natural state, freed from the arbitrary restrictions of religion or feudal authority. 

We now see that though capitalism was essential to the early development of science, giving it, for the first time, a practical value, the human importance of science transcends in every way that of capitalism, and, indeed, the full development of science in the service of humanity is incompatible with the continuance of capitalism.

Science implies a unified and co-ordinated and, above all, conscious control of the whole of social life; it abolishes, or provides the possibility of abolishing, the dependence of man on the material world. Henceforth society is subject only to the limitation it imposes on itself. There is no reason to doubt that this possibility will be grasped. The mere knowledge of its existence is enough to drive man on until he has achieved it. 

The socialized integrated scientific world organization is coming. It would be absurd, however, to pretend that it had nearly arrived or that it will come without the most severe struggles and confusion. We must realize that we are in the middle of one of the major transition periods of human history. Our most immediate problem is to ensure that the transition is accomplished as rapidly as possible with the minimum of material, human, and cultural destruction.

Although science will clearly be the characteristic feature of the third stage of humanity, its importance will not be fully felt until this stage has been definitely established. Belonging to an age of transition we are primarily concerned with its tasks, and here science is but one factor in a complex of economic and political forces. Our business is with what science here and now has to do. The importance of science in the struggle, moreover, depends largely on the consciousness of this importance. 

Science, conscious of its purpose, can in the long run become a major force in social change. Because of the powers which it holds in reserve, it can ultimately dominate the other forces. But science unaware of its social significance becomes a helpless tool in the hands of forces driving it away from the directions of social advance, and, in the process, destroying its very essence, the spirit of free inquiry. To make science conscious of itself and its powers it must be seen in the light of the problems of the present and of a realizable future. It is in relation to these that we have to determine the immediate functions of science.

We have in the world to-day a number of palpable material evils — starvation, disease, slavery, and war — evils which in previous times were accepted as part of nature or as the actions of stem or malevolent gods, but which now continue solely because we are tied to out-of-date political and economic systems. There is no longer any technical reason why everyone should not have enough to eat. 

There is no reason why anyone should do more than three or four hours of disagreeable or monotonous work a day, or why they should be forced, by economic pressure, to do even that. War, in a period of potential plenty and ease for all, is sheer folly and cruelty. The greater part of disease in the world to-day is due directly or indirectly to lack of food and good living conditions. All these are plainly remediable evils and no one can feel that science has been properly applied to human life until they are swept off the face of the earth.

But that is only the beginning. There are a number of apparently irremediable evils, such as disease or the necessity for any kind of unpleasant work at all, which we have very good reason for believing could be dealt with if a serious and economically well-supported scientific drive were made to discover their causes and eliminate them. The starving of research of potential human value is but one step removed from the starving of man.

These are all, however, but negative aspects of the application of science. It is plainly not enough to remove as much of present evil as lies in our power. We must look to producing new good things, better, more active and harmonious ways of living, individually and socially. So far science has hardly touched these fields. It has accepted the crude desires of a pre-scientific age without attempting to analyse and refine them. It is the function of science to study man as much as nature, to discover the significance and direction of social movements and social needs. The tragedy of mankind has too often lain in its very success in achieving what it imagined to be its objects. 

Science, through its capacity for looking ahead and comprehending at the same time many aspects of a problem, should be able to determine far more clearly which are the real and which the fantastic elements of personal and social desires. Science brings power and liberation, just as much by showing the falsity and impossibility of certain human aims, as by satisfying others. In so far as science becomes the conscious guiding force of material civilization it must increasingly permeate all other spheres of culture.

The present situation, where a highly developed science stands almost isolated from the traditional literary culture, is altogether anomalous and cannot last. No culture can stand indefinitely apart from the dominating practical ideas of the time, without degenerating into pedantic futility. It need not be imagined, however, that the assimilation of science and culture is likely to take place without very serious modifications in the structure of science itself. Science of the present day owes its origin and much of its character, to the precise needs of material construction. Its method is essentially a critical one, the ultimate criterion being experimental, that is, practical verification. 

The really positive part of science, the making of discoveries, lies outside scientific method proper. Discoveries are usually unthinkingly attributed to the operations of human genius which it would be impious to attempt to explain. We have no science of science. Another aspect of the same defect of present day science is its inability adequately to deal with phenomena in which novelty occurs and which are not readily reduced to any quantitative mathematical description. 

The enlargement of science to cover this defect is needed for its extension to social problems, and will be more so the more science becomes assimilated with general culture. The dryness and austerity of science, which had led to its widespread rejection by those of literary culture and, among scientists themselves, to every kind of irrational and mystical addition, is something which must be removed before science can fully take its place as a common framework of life and thought.

To a certain extent this transformation will represent a fusion of existing tendencies inside and outside of science. Particular scientific disciplines; the dispassionate assembling of evidence; the acceptance of the existence of multiple causation, each factor having a definite quantitative part to play in the final result, and the general understanding of the elements of chance and statistical probability, will tend to become the background of every kind of human action. At the same time, history, tradition, literary form, and visual presentation will come more and more to belong to science. 

The world picture presented by science which, though continually changing, grows with each change more definite and complete, is bound to become in the new age the foundation of every form of culture. But this change by itself is not sufficient, the transformation of science and not the mere assimilation of other disciplines is required for the new tasks which science will have to face.

The stages of scientific advance have marked a progress from the large and simple to the small and complex. The first stage of science, that of the description and ordering of the available universe, is already essentially completed. The second stage, the understanding the mechanics of this universe, is on its way to completion, for already we can see in principle the general scheme of this explanation. There remain unknown, and indeed in part necessarily unknowable, possibilities beyond this, though we can already glimpse a little of this future development. 

It is quite clear that, if humanity does not in the near future destroy that elaborate co-operative effort, which distinguishes civilization from the previous purely biological existence of man, it will have to tackle a universe which will become more and more itself a human creation. Already the chief difficulties both in the theory and practice of science lie in the problems that human society has created for itself in economics, sociology, and psychology. In the future, as the simpler conquest of non-human forces is brought to its completion, these problems will become increasingly important.

This process will bring new aspects into evidence. The more thought deals with the problems of a rapidly developing society, in part consciously motivated, and in part moving by the indiscernible interaction of the different forces working within it, the more the methods of coping with problems will need to be modified in order to deal with the novel and the unexpected. The first sciences to emerge into rationality were those of the simplest operations — mechanics, physics, and chemistry. 

Our pattern of rationality is founded on the study of systems where everything is uniform and nothing really new happens. In biology already this mode of thought is beginning to break down. The theory of evolution not only marks an advance in our understanding of nature, but is also a critical step in our method of thinking, because it involves the recognition of novelty and history in science. 

True, men have studied history already for millennia, but in a very different spirit from that of science. Indeed, they have gone so far as to deny that history could be a science at all because of the very possibility of novelty in it. But there is no intrinsic reason why science should not learn to deal with the novel elements in the universe, which after all are as characteristic of it as the repetitive and regular ones. Science has not done so up till now because it has not had to. 

Now for the first time the problem is fairly presented. If we are to master and direct our world we must learn how to cope with not only the orderly but also with the novel aspects of the universe even when that novelty is of our own making.

Karl Marx was the first to realize this problem and to suggest how it might be solved. He was able to draw from the study of economics, in the place of the superficial regularities that sufficed for the orthodox school, a profound realization of the developments of new forms and of the struggles and equilibria from which still newer forms derived. 

We have here the beginning of a rational study of development as such but it is one in which it is no longer possible rigidly to separate the observer from the observed, and which consequently identifies the student with the forces he is studying. In the turmoil and struggle which our social and political world is passing through, these ideas are rapidly winning their way even into the camp of their most violent enemies. 

They have found their justification, not only in predicting but also in moulding human development, a task which would have been impossible within the limits of a science based on the conception of an ordered and invariable world.

Now as science itself has proceeded almost entirely by the method of isolation, the Marxist method of thinking has often appeared to scientists as loose and unscientific, or, as they would put it, metaphysical. 

Isolation in science, however, can only be achieved by a rigorous control of the circumstances of the experiment or application. Only when all the factors are known is scientific prediction, in the full sense, possible. 

Now it is quite clear that where new things are coming into the universe all the factors cannot be known, and that therefore the method of scientific isolation fails to deal with these new things. But from the human point of view it is as necessary to be able to deal with new things as with the regular order of nature. 

Science may be perfectly right in restricting itself to the latter. 

But then it is wrong if it implies that outside this regular order the human mind is helpless, that if something cannot be dealt with “scientifically” it cannot be dealt with rationally.

The great contribution of Marxism is to extend the possibility of rationality in human problems to include those in which radically new things are happening

It can only do so, however, subject to certain necessary limitations.

In the first place, the degree of prediction where new things are concerned can never be of the same order of exactitude as in the regular and isolated operations of science. 

Exact knowledge, which has been looked on as an ideal, is, however, not the only alternative to no knowledge at all. 

There are even very large regions inside science itself where exact knowledge is impossible. 

The whole trend of modern physics has, for instance, shown that it is hopeless to expect it in atomic phenomena. But there the difficulty is circumvented by relying on the exactness of the statistical knowledge of a large number of events. 

In a similar way, the exact dates and localities of the critical changes, the wars and revolutions which effect human society, are unpredictable, but here statistical methods are not fully applicable, there being only one human society. 

Nevertheless, the intrinsic instability of certain economic and technical systems is something which can be generally established and their breakdown becomes, within a wide range of years, inevitable.

There can be no question, even to those completely unaware of the methods by which the Marxist predictions are reached, that the Marxists have some way of analysing the development of affairs which enables them to judge far in advance of scientific thinkers what the trend of social and economic development is to be. 

The uncritical acceptance of this, however, leads many into believing that Marxism is simply another providential teleology, that Marx had mapped the necessary lines of social and economic development which men willy nilly must follow. 

This a complete misunderstanding. Marxist predictions are not the result of working out such a scheme of development.

 On the contrary they emphasize the impossibility of doing this.

 What can be seen at any given moment is the composition of the economic and political forces of the times, their necessary struggle and the new conditions which will be the result. But beyond that we can only foresee a process which has not ended and will necessarily take on new and strictly unpredictable forms. 

The value of Marxism is as a method and a guide to action, not as a creed and a cosmogony. 

The relevance of Marxism to science is that it removes it from its imagined position of complete detachment and shows it as a part, but a critically important part, of economic and social development. 

In doing so it effectively separates the metaphysical elements which throughout the whole course of its history have. penetrated scientific thought. It is to Marxism that we owe the consciousness of the hitherto unanalysed driving force of scientific advance, and it will be through the practical achievements of Marxism that this consciousness can become embodied in the organization of science for the benefit of humanity.

Science will come to be recognized as the chief factor in fundamental social change. The economic and industrial system keeps, or should keep, civilization going. The steady process of technical improvements provides for a regular increase in the extent and commodity of life. 

Science should provide a continuous series of unpredictable radical changes in the techniques themselves. Whether these changes fit in or fail to fit in with human and social needs is the measure of how far science has been adjusted to its social function.

For the full value of these seminal ideas we must wait until the ending of the struggle, which, though it may seem to us interminably drawn out, will appear in history as an episode, though a great and critical one. 

Then mankind will come into its material heritage and, far from needing science less, will make even greater demands on it to solve the greater human and social problems which have to be faced. To meet this task science itself will change and develop and in doing so will cease to be a special discipline of a selected few and become the common heritage of mankind.

Already we have in the practice of science the prototype for all human action. The task which the scientists have undertaken — the understanding and control of nature and of man himself — is merely the conscious expression of the task of human society. The methods by which this task is attempted, however imperfectly they are realized, are the methods by which humanity is most likely to secure its own future. In its.endeavour, science is communism. In science men have learned consciously to subordinate themselves to a common purpose without losing the individuality of their achievements. 

Each one knows that his work depends on that of his predecessors and colleagues and that it can only reach its fruition through the work of his successors. In science men collaborate not because they are forced to by superior authority or because they blindly follow some chosen leader, but because they realize that only in this willing collaboration can each man find his goal. Not orders, but advice, determine action.

Each man knows that only by advice, honestly and disinterestedly given, can his work succeed, because such advice expresses as near as may be the inexorable logic of the material world, stubborn fact.

Facts cannot be forced to our desires, and freedom comes by admitting this necessity and not by pretending to ignore it. 

These things have been learned painfully and incompletely in the pursuit of science. 

Only in the wider tasks of humanity will their full use be found



Friday, March 16, 2018

200 Years: Marxism from MLM Textbook from CPI Maoist


From the earlier account of the early life of Marx and Engels it is clear that they were both very extraordinary and brilliant men. 

However, it is also very clear that Marxism was not some invention that suddenly emerged from the thoughts of these magnificent brains. The socioeconomic changes of that time provided the basis for the emergence of the true proletarian ideology.

The actual content and the form of that ideology, however, were the product of the struggles waged in the most important fields of thought of that time. 

Marx and Engels being deep intellectuals had a wide and deep grasp of the latest advancement of thought in the most advanced countries of the period. They, thus, could stand on the shoulders of the great thinkers before them, absorbing whatever was good, and rejecting what was wrong in them. And it was thus that they built the structure and content of Marxism.

Let us see which were the main fields of thoughts on which they based their ideas. Thus therefore we can also understand the main sources of Marxism.

1) The first source of Marxist thought was German Classical Philosophy. Any ideology has to have its grounding in some philosophy and both Marx and Engels, as we have seen, had a strong base in German classical philosophy.

German philosophy had, during the period 1760 to 1830, grown to become the most influential school in European philosophy. It had its base in the German middle classes. This class was intellectually very advanced but had not developed the political strength to make revolution, or the economic resources to make an Industrial Revolution. This was what probably inclined them towards elaborate systems of thought.

However, this class, having many civil servants, had many contradictory aspects. It sometimes leant to the industrial bourgeoisie and proletariat on the one side and sometimes to the feudal classes on the other. This was thus reflected in German philosophy having both a progressive as well as an anti-progressive aspect. 

This was particularly seen in Hegel’s philosophy upon which Marx and Engels largely based themselves. They therefore rejected all the anti-progressive aspects that upheld the existing feudal society, and developed upon the progressive and revolutionary parts, to lay the foundations of Marxist philosophy.

2) English Political Economy was the second important source of Marxism. England being the centre of the Industrial Revolution it was but natural that the study of the economy and its laws should reach its peak in this country. It was a new field of study, which basically started with the growth of modern capitalism. It had its firm basis in the modern industrial bourgeoisie and played the role of justifying and glorifying capitalism. It also provided the intellectual arguments for the rising bourgeoisie in its struggles with the feudals.

In England its period started with the publication in 1776 of the world famous book The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith. He basically argued that if capitalism were given the fullest freedom to grow it would lead to the greatest progress of humanity. He thus provided the argument for the reduction of controls of any sort by the feudals on the capitalist class.

David Ricardo was another famous classical economist who played a crucial role in the battles of the bourgeoisie with the landlords. He was the one who pointed out that as capitalism progressed the average rate of profit of the capitalists fell. His very significant discovery was the development of the labour theory of value, which showed that all economic value is created by labour. Other later economists analysed the causes of economic crises under capitalism.

English political economy basically served the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie. It therefore played a revolutionary role against the feudal classes. However the economists very often did not carry forward their analysis beyond the point where it hurt bourgeois class interests.

Thus, for example, Ricardo, though he developed the labour theory of value, did not expose the exploitation of labour by the capitalist class. This was done by Marx. He took ahead the work of the English economists beyond the limits of the capitalist class and drew the necessary revolutionary conclusions from them. It was thus that Marx developed the principles of Marxist political economy.

3) The third source of Marxism was the various socialist theories, which mainly originated from France. These theories represented the hopes and aims of the newly emerging proletariat class. They were both a reflection of, as well as a protest against capitalist exploitation and oppression of the working class. France at that time was the main centre for revolutionary groups and revolutionary theory, which inspired the whole of Europe. It was therefore natural that socialist theories too mainly came out of France.

Most of these theories had major defects, as they were not based on a proper scientific analysis of society. Nevertheless, they represented a break with the individualism, self-interest and competition of bourgeois revolutionary theory. They also pointed the way forward for the proletariat from capitalist society. Marx thus made a study of these theories of socialism and communism before formulating the Marxist principles of scientific socialism.

While in Paris, he spent a considerable amount of time with the leaders and members of the numerous French revolutionary and socialist groups. Marx took what was best in socialism and gave it the scientific basis of the doctrine of class struggle. He thus developed the principles of Marxist scientific socialism.

This then is the story of how Marxism emerged from the three great sources of ideas in the then most advanced countries of the world. The three Sources of Marxism – German philosophy, English political economy and French socialist theories – corresponded to the three main component parts of the new ideology – Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism, Marxist political economy and Marxist theory of scientific socialism. In the following pages we will try to understand the essence of each of these parts.

The Basic Formulations of Marxist Philosophy : Dialectical and Historical Materialism

As we have repeatedly seen earlier, Marx and Engels always insisted that all philosophy should be practical and linked to the real world. This was expressed in the most clear manner by Marx in his famous saying, “The philosophers have always interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” 

By this, Marx meant that he did not want to become a philosopher like our rishis and munnis sitting on some mountain and meditating regarding supernatural things. He did not see much point in thinking and contemplation unless it was linked to the practical world. His basic search was to try to understand how the world was changing and thus to participate in actual practice and change today’s world and society. 

He thus was interested in a philosophy that would be applied in social practice.

In order to do this Marx had to take a stand with regards to the basic division in all philosophy – the division between idealism and materialism. This division is regarding the basic question as to, which is primary – spirit or nature. Those who take the stand that spirit is primary belong to the camp of idealism, whereas those who take the stand that nature is primary belong to the camp of materialism. Idealism is always connected in one way or other to religion. Being men of practice, who were absolutely opposed to religious beliefs, it was but natural that Marx and Engels established Marxist philosophy firmly in the camp of materialism.

In doing so they were definitely influenced and aided by the writings of Feuerbach and other materialist philosophers of that time. However these philosophers were mechanical materialists who understood nature and society to be like a machine turning round and round without any development or real change. Marx rejected mechanical materialism because it did not give any understanding of historical change and development.

For this Marx had to turn to dialectics, which is the science of the general laws of motion. The essence of dialectics is that it understands things in their inter-connections and contradictions. Dialectics thus was able to provide the science of development that Marx knew was necessary to change the world.

At that time Hegel’s philosophy and laws of dialectics (which Marx studied deeply) were the most advanced in Europe. But Hegel had developed his philosophical laws in an idealist way by only making them applicable to the field of thought. He belonged to the camp of idealism and refused to recognise that nature and material social being are primary, and spirit and ideas are secondary. He thus did not accept that his system of thought itself was a product of the development of human society to a definite stage. He refused to understand that his laws of thought were themselves reflections of the laws of nature and society.

Thus, as Marx said, Hegel’s dialectics, by being idealist, was standing on its head – that means it was absurd and illogical. Marx turned Hegel’s dialectics the right side up – that means he made it rational – by putting it on the basis of materialism. Marx took Hegel’s dialectical laws and gave them the approach of materialist philosophy. He thus made Hegel’s laws of thought also into laws of nature and society. He thus formulated Dialectical Materialism, which is the essence of Marxist philosophy.

By giving dialectics a rational and materialist basis Marx changed it into a philosophy of revolution. Marx and Engels applied dialectical materialism to the study of society and history and thus discovered the materialist conception of history. The materialist conception of history was a new and revolutionary way of understanding society and social change. 

It explained the basis of social changes and political revolutions not as an invention of some brilliant men’s brains but as the product of the processes within society. It showed all revolutionaries that the path to social change lay in understanding society and accordingly formulating the ideas to bring about change.

The starting point of the materialist conception of history is the level of development of the material productive forces i.e. tools, machinery, skills, etc. Marx says that according to the stage in the development of the productive forces we get definite relations of production i.e. relations of ownership and control over the means of production.

Thus, for example, backward productive forces like the wooden plough, and wind, hand and animal operated mills give us feudal relations; modern productive forces like tractors, harvesters, etc., when they are widespread, give rise to capitalist relations of production. These relations of production constitute the economic structure of society, or the economic base of society.

On top of the economic base of society arises a legal and political superstructure with definite forms of social consciousness. Further, Marx says that it is the mode of production (consisting of the productive forces and relations of production) that conditions the social, political and intellectual life in general.

Thus, for example, the feudal mode of production gives rise to very severe oppression on women and lower castes and a very undemocratic political system; the capitalist mode of production, on the other hand, reduces social oppression and brings some bourgeois democratic rights.

At a certain stage in the development of the productive forces they come into conflict with the existing relations of production. These old relations of production start preventing the development of the productive forces. Unless these production relations are changed the productive forces cannot develop. This period when the relations of production start acting as chains on the development of the productive forces is the beginning of the epoch of social revolution. 

Revolution is needed to change the relations of production i.e. the relation between the various classes in society. Once this happens and the relations of production or property relations are broken i.e. the economic base is changed, then the change in the whole superstructure follows quite quickly.

This materialist conception of history was the first great discovery of Marx, which he accomplished in 1844-45. It was the foundation on which the other great pillars of Marxist theory were built.
In later years Marx and Engels, and the other Marxist Teachers further developed Marxist philosophy. However its essence remained the basic principles of dialectical and historical materialism mentioned above.

Struggle Against Utopian Socialism and the Establishment of Scientific Socialism

Utopian socialism is the term used to describe the main trends of pre-Marxist socialism, which arose and became prominent in the first half of the nineteenth century. The terms ‘utopians’ (derived from the idea of Utopia, which is supposed to be a state of things where everything is perfect) and ‘socialist’ became popular first in the 1830s. 

They were used to describe a group of thinkers who developed theories to transform society on a more egalitarian basis by removing the individualism, selfishness and competitiveness in human nature. Many of these thinkers or their followers tried to implement their theories by setting up ideal communities where all the members worked, lived and shared the fruits of their labour on a cooperative basis.

They believed that such ideal communities would provide the example that would then be followed by the rest of society. They thus did not rely on the actual processes in society for building their schemes of socialism. Rather they thought that the rationality of their plans and ideas itself was sufficient to convince people and change society.

Utopian socialism was first and foremost a reaction to the oppression and exploitation of the working class under capitalism. The working people had fought bitterly for the overthrow of feudalism. However the bourgeoisie’s slogans of freedom, equality and fraternity had only meant freedom for the capitalist class and intensified exploitation of the workers. The various socialist doctrines arose as a result of the emerging class contradictions between the capitalists and workers and as a protest against exploitation.

They attempted to build a system that would provide justice to the toilers.

The anarchy of capitalist production was another cause for the new socialist theories. The utopian socialists attempted to build rational systems that would provide for the needs of humankind in an orderly and harmonious fashion. Some of them even tried to convince capitalists and government officials that their socialist systems where much more rational, planned, and therefore desirable than the existing capitalist system. They even thus attempted to get funds from the rich for their projects.

The main defect of pre-Marxist socialist doctrines was that they did not have a real basis in the class contradictions and class struggles unfolding in society. Though their ideas were themselves the product of the class contradictions within society, the utopian socialists did not realise that it was absolutely necessary to wage the class struggle in order to achieve socialism.

Though their ideas were in reality a reflection of the aspirations of the infant proletariat, the utopian socialists did not recognise the central importance of the revolutionary role of the proletariat in bringing about socialism.

When Marx and Engels came into contact with the socialist and communist groups they started trying to convince the followers of the utopian socialist theories of the incorrectness of their ideas. 

They participated intensively in the debates in the various revolutionary and working class groups where these theories and ideas were being discussed. 

Their main aim was to give a scientific basis to socialist theory. For this they had to expose the defects and wrong understanding of the earlier socialists and place socialism on the sound basis of the Marxist theory of class struggle.

As Marx himself pointed out the theory of class struggle was not something new invented by him. In fact the earlier socialists and even bourgeois writers were quite conscious about and wrote about classes and class struggle. However the essential difference of the Marxist theory of class struggle is that it showed how the class struggle led inevitably to socialism and communism.

Marx first of all showed that classes are not something that have always existed in human society. He showed that there was a long period in human history when there were no classes at all (i.e. during primitive communism).

There would also be a period in the future when there would again be no classes. Secondly Marx particularly analysed the present day class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and showed how this class struggle would inevitably lead to revolution by the workers and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat i.e. socialism. Thirdly, Marx pointed out that this dictatorship of the proletariat was itself a period of transition to a new society.

The proletariat could only develop by destroying itself as a class, by abolishing all classes and establishing a classless society i.e. communism.

It is this theory of class struggle that Marx and Engels developed, propagated and brought into practice throughout their lives. It is this Marxist theory of class struggle that converted socialism into a science, which laid the basis of scientific socialism. With this, socialism was no longer to be seen as the product of some brilliant mind, but it became the necessary outcome of the struggle between two historically developed classes – the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. 

Because of scientific socialism the task of the socialists did not become one of trying to develop the most perfect, harmonious and rational system of society like the utopian socialists had tried to do. Under scientific socialism the task was to analyse society, to analyse the history and economic basis of the class contradictions in society, and from this economic basis to find the way to end all class conflict and bring socialism and communism.

The scientific clarity of Marxist socialist theory was so great that most sincere elements in the various socialist and communist organisations of the 1840s soon rejected the pre-Marxist and non-class varieties of socialism. Marx and Engels soon became ideological leaders within the socialist movement. When a new international organisation was formed in 1847 uniting workers, intellectuals and revolutionary socialist groups of various countries they at once became its leaders.

 They suggested its name, The Communist League, and it was they who were appointed to draft its programme. This programme is the world historic Communist Manifesto.

The Communist Manifesto was not only the first programme and general line of the international proletariat. It also laid down the basic principles of scientific socialism and the approach to all other types of socialism. With its quick translation into numerous languages, the Manifesto soon spread the basic ideas of Marxist scientific socialism throughout Europe and then throughout the world. The basic principles outlined in this document have in essence remained firm for more than 150 years, upto this day.

As we have seen earlier Marx developed his principles of political economy in continuation of and in opposition to the bourgeois political economy of the English economists. Most of Marx’ earlier economic writings from 1844 to 1859 were in the form of a critique of bourgeois political economy. He countered the claims of the bourgeois political economists that capitalism was a permanent and universal system.

On the other hand he proved that capitalism could exist only for a limited period and was destined to be overthrown and replaced by a new and higher social system. His later economic analysis, particularly the various volumes of his main work, Capital, concentrated on discovering the economic laws of capitalism. The in-depth analysis of the relations of production in capitalist society, in their origin, development and decline, thus forms the main content of Marx’ political economy.

Bourgeois political economists always made their analysis in the form of a relation between things i.e. the exchange of one commodity for another. Marx however showed that economics deals not with things but with relations between persons, and in the last resort between classes.

Since under capitalism it is the production of commodities that dominates, Marx started his analysis with an analysis of the commodity. He pointed out that the exchange of commodities was not a mere exchange of things but actually an expression of the relation between individual producers in society who have been linked by the market.

Though commodity exchange has existed for thousands of years, it is only with the development of money and the birth of capitalism that it reaches its peak linking up the entire economic life of millions of individual producers throughout society into one whole. Capitalism even converts the labour power of the worker into a commodity that is bought and sold freely in the market place.

The wageworker sells his labour power to the owner of the means of production, i.e. the capitalist. The worker spends one part of his working day producing the equivalent of his wage, i.e. producing what is necessary to cover the cost of maintaining himself and his family. The other part of his working day is spent producing for the maintenance and growth of the capitalist. The worker gets absolutely no payment from this production which is for the capitalist. This additional value which every worker produces, over and above the value necessary to earn his wage and maintain himself, Marx called surplus value.

It is the source of profit and the source of wealth of the capitalist class.

The discovery of the concept of surplus value exposed the nature of exploitation of the working class. It also brought out the source of the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. This class antagonism was the principal manifestation of the fundamental contradiction of capitalist society: the contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of ownership. This discovery of surplus value was referred to by Engels as the second important discovery of Marx (along with the discovery of the materialist conception of history). Lenin called the doctrine of surplus value as the corner stone of Marx’ economic theory.

Marx also analysed in detail the periodic economic crises that repeatedly affected capitalism.

He explained capitalist crises also as another manifestation of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism. He thus exposed the falsehood of the bourgeois economists who at that time propagated that capitalism could not face any crisis, as the operation of the market would solve all problems. They tried to present that whatever was produced by the capitalist would automatically be sold in the market place.

Marx however exposed that the nature of the working of capitalism itself would lead inevitably to crisis. He showed how capitalists in their desperate urge to earn more and more profits went on madly increasing production. However at the same time every capitalist tried to maintain a higher rate of profit by cutting the wage rates of his workers and throwing them into poverty. The working class composes the largest section in society and the poverty of the working class automatically means the reduction of their capacity to buy the goods available in the market.

Thus on the one hand the capitalist class goes on increasing the production of goods being supplied to the market, whereas on the other hand it goes on reducing the buying capacity of a large section of the buyers in the very same market. This naturally leads to a severe contradiction between the expansion of production on one hand and the contraction of the market on the other hand. 

The result is a crisis of overproduction where the market is flooded with unsold goods. Numerous capitalists are thrown into bankruptcy. Lakhs (100,000s) of workers are thrown out of their jobs and forced into starvation at the same as the shops are filled with goods that remained unused because there is no one to buy them.

Marx further concluded that the anarchy of these crises of capitalism could only be resolved by resolving the fundamental contradiction of capitalism between the social character of production and the private character of ownership. This could only be done by overthrowing the capitalist system and establishing socialism and communism, and thus giving a social character to the ownership of the means of production. 

Marx showed that the social force that would bring about this revolution had been created by capitalism itself; it was the proletariat class. It was the proletariat alone who had no interest in continuing the present system of exploitation and private ownership. It alone had the interest and capacity to establish socialism.

Marx analysed how every crisis intensified the contradictions of the capitalist system. He described the process with each crisis of centralisation of capital into the hands of a smaller and smaller handful of capitalists. This proceeded alongside the immense growth in the misery and discontent of the vast mass of workers. As the contradictions of capitalism sharpened, the revolutionary upheavals of the proletariat grew in strength, finally resulting in revolution, the confiscation of the capital of the capitalists and the building of a socialist society with a social character of ownership suited to the social character of production.

In this way, Marx, starting from the economy’s most basic unit – the commodity – brings out the nature of the economic laws governing capitalism. He thus exposes the scientific economic basis for the socialist revolution and the road to communism.

Marxism Fuses Its Links with the Working Class

As we saw earlier Marx and Engels were deeply involved in the revolutionary communist groups of the eighteen forties. They thus came to lead the Communist League which was an international body uniting the revolutionaries of various European countries. They also drafted its programme – the Communist Manifesto –, which acquired world historic significance. However at that time – in 1848 – the influence of Marxism had yet to reach the vast working class masses. The influence of the Communist League was limited and it consisted mainly of exiled workers and intellectuals. In fact at that time Marxism was just one of the many trends of socialism.

The 1848 Revolution, which spread insurrection throughout the European continent, was the first major historical event where Marxism proved itself in practice. Marx and Engels were in Brussels when the Revolution first broke out in France. 

The Belgian government fearing the spread of the Revolution immediately expelled Marx from Brussels and forced him to leave for Paris where he was soon joined by Engels. 

However as the revolutionary wave spread to Germany, both decided to immediately move there in order to directly participate in the revolutionary events.

There they tried to consolidate the work of the Communist League and the workers’ associations.

They brought out a daily newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, which served as an organ of propagation of the revolutionary line. The newspaper took a line in support of radical bourgeois democracy as the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution was then the main task in Germany.

However the paper simultaneously served as the organiser of the emerging revolutionary proletarian party in Germany. Marx and Engels even tried to form a mass workers’ party by uniting the workers’ associations of various provinces of Germany. The paper lasted for one year. With the collapse of the revolution in Germany and other parts of Europe, the paper was forced to close down and Marx was expelled by the Prussian King.

He retreated to Paris but had to soon leave from there too because of persecution by the French authorities. Engels continued in Germany fighting as a soldier in the revolutionary armies till the very end. After military defeat, he escaped, and towards the end of 1849, joined Marx, who had by then settled in London. England then continued to be their centre till the end of their lives.

The defeat of the 1848 Revolution had spread confusion among the revolutionaries and proletarian activists throughout Europe. Most of the earlier dominant trends of socialism could not provide any proper understanding regarding the reasons for the course of events during the revolution. It was in such an atmosphere that Marx took up the task of explaining the social forces behind the initial victory and later defeat of the Revolution. Since France was the centre and principal starting point of both the upsurge and decline of the revolution, Marx concentrated his analysis on the French events.

This he did through his brilliant works, The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850 and the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. They were Marx’ first attempts to explain current historical events by means of the materialist conception of history. He analysed with complete clarity the class forces behind each of the major turns and twists in the revolution. He thus provided the class basis for revolutionary proletarian tactics. By exposing the role of various classes at various stages, he showed who were the friends and enemies of the revolution and therefore the approach of the proletariat to each of them.

In the following period, Marx continued his writings on all the major political events throughout the world. In all these writings he presented a clear perspective from a proletarian viewpoint. This distinguished them from all other varieties of socialism, which proved incapable of providing real answers to the continuously changing world situation. It clearly established the superiority of Marxism over other brands of socialism as a practical tool for understanding and changing the world.

Simultaneously, Marx and Engels worked energetically to unite the weak and fragmented organisations of the working class.

 The Communist League, which had its main centre in Germany, faced severe repression from the Prussian police. Many of its members in Germany were put behind bars and the organisation itself was finally dissolved in November 1852. During the long period of reaction after the failure of the 1848 Revolution Marx and Engels tried continuously to reorganise and revive the working class movement. Besides writing and publishing their works extensively, they maintained constant contact with the working class organisations in various countries, particularly England, France and Germany. Their constant attempt was to form an international organisation of the working class and to set up separate parties of the proletariat in the industrially developed countries.

The main work in this respect was done by Marx. He worked throughout this period under very difficult conditions. After having been driven out by the governments of various countries, even after Marx settled in London he was under constant surveillance of the secret police, particularly of Prussia. Besides the political repression Marx’ economic situation was always very bad. Due to the poor and disorganised state of the revolutionary working class movement at that time it was unable to support him as a full-timer.

Thus his only source of earnings was the small payment per article which he got for writing for a large American newspaper The New York Tribune. This was of course totally insufficient for Marx’ large family. They thus faced constant poverty, debt and even starvation. Many a time things from the house had to be pawned to provide for food. Marx had six children but only three survived beyond childhood. When his baby daughter died the burial had to be delayed for a few days till some money was collected for the burial. Marx himself faced constant serious illnesses, which he had to struggle against to complete his work.

Throughout all these economic difficulties the main support for the Marx family was Engels. After the failure of the 1848 Revolution Engels had been forced to take up a job in his father’s Manchester firm. He worked there for twenty years, first as a clerk and then for the last five years as a partner in the firm till 1869. During this period he had a substantial income, with which he would regularly help Marx.

Engels’ help however was not merely economic. Though he did not get much spare time because of his job he put in all efforts to continue study and help Marx. They corresponded very regularly and constantly exchanged ideas. Marx always consulted Engels on major questions, particularly on decisions regarding the international working class movement.

Their efforts finally bore fruit in 1864 with the formation of the International Workingmen’s Association – the First International. Marx soon became its leader and was primarily responsible for drawing up its first programme and constitution. The International’s programme however did not contain the strong words of the Communist Manifesto.

The First International, unlike the Communist League, was not an organisation limited to small groups of revolutionaries. In fact many of the sections of the International, especially those of England and France, represented organisations with a vast mass following of workers. However, most of these organisations did not have a clear and correct understanding.

Though they were composed predominantly of workers the level of consciousness was normally lower than that of the selected revolutionaries of the Communist League. The programme and constitution thus had to be formulated keeping this in mind. 

The correct line had to be presented in a manner acceptable to the member organisations of the International. Marx, with his great ideological depth and practical organisational experience was at that time the only person capable of thus drafting these documents and was therefore given this task. In subsequent years too, it was he, who drafted all the most important documents of the First International.

It was thus Marxism alone that could provide the ideological, political and organisational perspective for the First International. Implementation of this perspective meant constant struggle against the various anarchist and opportunist trends that arose within the movement.

Among other things the anarchists opposed a strong organisation whereas the opportunists opposed resolute struggle. Fighting both deviations, Marx and Engels worked to build the International into a mass organisation of struggle, uniting the workers in both Europe and America. This they largely succeeded in, doing leading at the same time to the formation of independent proletarian parties in many of the industrialised countries of the world.

By the time of the historic Paris Commune of 1871, Marxism had advanced very far from it’s position at the time of the 1848 Revolution. Marxism no longer remained as merely one of the trends of socialism. The earlier brands of Utopian Socialism had been swept away by history and it was Marxism alone that retained full practical significance. Marxism also was no longer restricted to small groups but had become a mass phenomenon. Its influence extended to the proletarian movements in various industrialised countries.

It provided the ideological leadership to independent proletarian parties.

It headed a massive proletarian movement, which had begun to challenge the bourgeoisie. Marxism had fused its links with the vast working class masses.

200 Years: Remembering the Early Life of Marx and Engels until they became Marxists

Obviously nobody can be born a Marxist – not even Marx. There has to be a process through which ideas and views are developed and formulated and take a basic shape which can be called an ideology. Naturally Marx and Engels too had to go through such a process before they came to discover and themselves grasp the basic truths of what we today know as Marxism. This process of thought was naturally determined to a great extent by the concrete experiences that both of them went through. In order therefore to understand this in some depth let us briefly look at the early life experiences of these two great teachers.

Karl Marx was born on 5th May 1818, in the town of Trier, in what was then called Rhenish Prussia, and which is today part of Germany. His father, Heinrich Marx, was one of the top lawyers of the town. The family was well to do and cultured, but not revolutionary. Both Marx’ parents came from a long line of Jewish priests. Thus, though they were economically well off, they had to face social discrimination in the anti-Jew atmosphere of Prussia.

In 1816, Marx’ father was forced to convert to Christianity because the Prussian government had then brought out a rule stopping Jews from practicing law. Similarly, in 1824, another Prussian law was passed to prevent non-Christians from being admitted to public schools. To overcome this, again Heinrich Marx was forced to baptize his son Karl, along with all his brothers and sisters.

Thus, though he was no believer in organised religion, Marx’ father was forced to adopt a new faith just in order to pursue his profession and give his children a good education.

Marx’ hometown, Trier, is the oldest town in Germany, which for many centuries had been the residence of Roman emperors and later the seat of Catholic bishops, with a religious administration for the town and surrounding area.

In August 1794 the French armies captured the town, instituted a civil administration, and brought in the ideas and institutions of the French Revolution. The town only went back into the hands of the Prussian king after the defeat of France’s Napoleon in 1815.

Thus during the time of Marx’ birth and youth it still carried the definite impact of twenty-one years of French revolutionary ideas.

Trier was a small town, similar in size to our smaller taluka towns, with a population then of around 12,000. It was principally a market town for the surrounding area, which for centuries has been a famous wine-growing area. Its population was composed of occupations typical to a ‘service’ town – civil servants, priests, small merchants, craftsmen, etc.

It had remained untouched by the Industrial Revolution and was thus economically relatively backward. During Marx’ youth it also had a high degree of poverty. Official statistics in 1830 gave an unemployment figure of one in every four, though the actual figure must have been much higher. Beggars and prostitutes were common and the figures of petty crime like stealing was extremely high. Thus Marx from a very young age was witness to the misery of the poorer labouring classes.

After attending elementary school, Marx entered the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium (secondary school) in 1831, from which he passed out in 1835. Within three weeks he was sent for further studies at the law faculty of the university forty miles away from Trier, at the city of Bonn (an important centre which is today the joint capital of Germany).

Marx, with a desire to learn as much as much as possible, immediately registered in nine courses that besides law, included poetry, literature, art, etc. He was at first regular at lectures but gradually lost interest, particularly in the law lectures, which he found dry and unsatisfying. He reduced his courses first to six and then to four.

He decided to study on his own and soon got involved in the stormy life of the students of whom he soon became a leader. Being deeply interested in writing poetry he also joined the Poetenbund, a circle of young writers founded by revolutionary students. In the constant struggle between the sons of the feudal nobles and the bourgeoisie, he soon became a leader of the bourgeois group. He was often involved in fistfights and sometimes in sword-duels.

He carried a stiletto knife (somewhat similar to our gupti knives), for which he was once arrested and had a police case put on him. He was also sentenced to one day in the university’s student prison on charges of “nightly uproarious disturbances of the peace and drunkenness”. Marx, in one sword-duel was even injured on his right eyebrow. This led to his father withdrawing him from the Bonn University and bringing him back to Trier in August 1836.

While he was in Trier he got secretly engaged to Jenny von Westphalen, the daughter of Baron von Westphalen a nobleman and senior Prussian government official. Jenny, who was four years elder to him, and Marx, were childhood loves who had decided to get married while Marx was still in school. They now got engaged with the approval of Marx’ parents, but without Jenny’s parents approval, which was only obtained in 1837.

In October 1836 Marx moved to the University of Berlin, which was the capital of Prussia. The university was much larger than Bonn and was renowned as a major centre of learning. After registering for his University courses, Marx immediately jumped into a storm of work. He stayed up night after night, eating irregularly, smoking heavily, reading heavy books and filling up notebooks. Instead of formal classes Marx pursued his studies on his own. Working at a tremendous pace he moved from law to philosophy to poetry to art and then to writing plays and stories and then back to philosophy and poetry.

His overwork had a bad effect of his health, particularly his TB affected lungs, and he sometimes was forced to take a break. But he was always back to his excessive work habits, reading up everything, from the ancient to the latest works of scientists and philosophers. His bent was towards philosophy, always trying to find universal meaning; always searching for the absolute in principles, definitions and concepts.

During his second year at the University he joined a group of philosophy students and teachers called Young Hegelians. They were followers of the famous German philosopher, Frederick Hegel, who had taught at Berlin University and died in 1830. They tried to give a radical interpretation to Hegel’s philosophy and for this were sometimes called Left Hegelians. One of Marx’ friends in this group, its intellectual leader, was a professor called Bruno Bauer who was a militant atheist who constantly attacked the church’s teachings.

Such attacks, along with the radical political views of the Young Hegelians, made them a target of the Prussian authorities. Thus when Marx completed his doctoral thesis he could not obtain his degree from the Berlin University, which was dominated by reactionary appointees of the Prussian government. After completing his studies in Berlin, he submitted his thesis and obtained his Ph.D. in April 1841 from the liberal leaning University of Jena that was outside Prussian control.

After obtaining his degree he had hoped to become a lecturer at the Bonn University where Bruno Bauer had shifted to in 1839. But Bauer himself was in trouble because of the student disturbances his anti-religion lectures were causing. Finally the King himself ordered the removal of Bauer from the Bonn University. This meant the end to Bauer’s teaching career as well as any hope of a teaching job for Marx.

Marx started concentrating on journalism, which he had already started immediately after leaving University. This also helped him to participate more thoroughly in the rapidly growing radical democratic opposition movement then developing in his Rhineland province and the neighbouring province of Westphalia. These provinces which had experienced the liberating influence of the French anti- feudal reforms were major centres of opposition to the Prussian king. Industrialisation had also led to the growth of the bourgeoisie, particularly in Cologne, the richest city of the Rhineland. This meant strong support for this radical opposition movement by the industrialists, who were fed up with the excessive controls of the feudals.

Marx first started writing for, and then, in October 1842, became the chief editor of The Rheinische Zeitung, a daily newspaper supported by such industrialists. In Marx’ hands the newspaper soon became a fighter for radical democratic rights. This however brought Marx into constant conflict with the Prussian censors who were very repressive. Finally, when the paper published a criticism of the Russian Czar’s despotism, the Czar himself brought pressure on the Prussian King to take action. The paper was banned and had to be closed down in March 1843. Marx then started involving himself in a plan to bring out a new journal The German-French Yearbooks.

During this period, from 1841 to 1843, Marx was deeply involved in the stormy political life of that period. However he was basically a radical democrat and did not at that time hold communist views. At the level of philosophy his major transformation during this period was in 1841 after reading a book The Essence of Christianity by Ludwig Feuerbach which presented a criticism of religion from the standpoint of materialism. This book played a major role in shifting Marx’ ideas from the idealism of the Young Hegelian group to materialism. Another philosophical work of 1841 (The European Triarchy) that influenced Marx was the attempt by his friend, Moses Hess, to develop a communist philosophy by combining French socialist and Left Hegelian ideas.

However at that time Marx yet had only a limited knowledge of the ideas of the socialists and communists. His first contact was in 1842 when he read with interest the works of many of the leading French socialist theorists. He was however not converted to communism or socialism by these readings. This change came about more through his contact with working class communist groups and study of political economy, both of which took place mainly after moving to Paris at the end of 1843.

 Seven years after their engagement, Marx and Jenny were married in June 1843. They had a short honeymoon in Switzerland during which Marx wrote a booklet where he presented his initial criticisms of Hegel. After the honeymoon he started the study and preparations for moving to Paris from where the earlier mentioned German-French Yearbooks was to be brought out. This move to Paris was planned in order to avoid the Prussian censors. However, though the journal was planned as a monthly, it collapsed after only one issue that came out in February 1844.

Marx’ period in Paris was however marked by very significant new experiences. Of the greatest importance was direct contact with the various socialist and communist groups of which Paris was a hot centre. Besides meeting a large number of theoreticians and revolutionaries Marx benefited greatly by regular contact with the many working class revolutionaries in Paris. At the same time Marx started a study of political economy in which he read most of the works of the famous English economists. The revolutionary contacts and further study had their impact. These were reflected in Marx’ writings.

The only issue of the Yearbooks was of crucial importance because it contained Marx’ first broad generalisation of a Marxist materialist understanding of history that was contained in an article criticising Hegel’s philosophy. It was in this article that Marx made the highly important formulation regarding the historical role of the proletariat. He also here made his famous formulation that religion is the opium of the people. The same issue also contained an article by Engels on political economy, which also gave a materialist understanding regarding the development of modern capitalism.

It was Marx’ interest in Engels’ writings that led to their meeting in Paris between August 28 and September 6 1844.This turned out to be a historic meeting that helped the two great thinkers to clarify their ideas and lay the first foundations of Marxism. Though they had both independently come to similar conclusions earlier, this meeting helped them to achieve complete theoretical agreement. It was at this meeting that they more clearly came to an understanding regarding the materialist conception of history, which was the cornerstone of Marxist theory.

Frederick Engels was born on 28th November 1820 in the textile town of Barmen in the Rhine province of Prussia. His father was the wealthy owner of a cotton-spinning mill and was a fiercely religious Protestant Christian with a reactionary political outlook.

Barmen, like Marx’ Trier, also belonged to the part of Prussia which had seen twenty years of French conquest. It thus also had progressive influences on it. However its main characteristic was that it was one of the biggest Rhenish industrial centres. Thus Engels from a very early age saw the severe poverty and exploitation of the working class. To survive against factory competition craftsmen were forced to work from morning to night. Often they tried to drown their sorrows in drink. Child labour and occupational lung diseases were rampant.

Engels attended the Barmen town school till the age of 14. He was then sent to the gymnasium at the neighbouring town of Elberfeld (today both Barmen and Elberfeld are merged into one town). This gymnasium (secondary school) had the reputation of being one of the best in Prussia. He was an intelligent student with an early flair for learning languages. He was also part of a poetry circle among the students and wrote his own poetry and short stories. He was planning to study economy and law but his father was more interested in making his eldest son learn the family business. At the age of 17 he was suddenly removed from school and made to join as an apprentice in his father’s office.

 Though this was the end of Engels’ formal schooling he continued to use his free time to study history, philosophy, literature and linguistics and to write poetry, which he was attracted to. The next year, in July 1838, Engels was sent to work as a clerk in a large trading firm in the large port city of Bremen. The big city atmosphere brought Engels in contact with foreign literature and the press. In leisure he started reading fiction and political books. He continued learning new languages and besides German got some knowledge of Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Dutch, etc. This ability to learn languages continued throughout Engels’ life during which he learnt to be quite fluent in over 20 languages including Persian and Arabic. Also in Bremen, Engels became a good horseman, swimmer, swordsman and skater.

While at school itself Engels had been a fighter against bureaucracy. Now as a grown youth he was attracted to the radical democratic ideas of the bourgeois democratic revolution then taking shape in Germany. The first group he was attracted towards was the Young Germany literary group that stood for radical political views. He soon started writing for a journal being brought out by them from the port city of Hamburg, not far from Bremen. He wrote two articles on the situation in his home district. He exposed the severe exploitation of the workers in Barmen and Elberfeld, the diseases suffered by them, and the fact that half the children of the town were deprived of school and forced to work in the factories. He particularly attacked the hollowness of the religiosity of the exploitative industrialists (which included his own father).

Towards the end of 1839 he started a study of Hegel, whose philosophy he tried to link with his own radical democratic beliefs. However he only made further progress in this when he finished his clerkship in Bremen in 1841, and, after a few months gap, moved to Berlin for one year’s compulsory military service.

While in military service he joined the Berlin University as an external student and did a course in philosophy. He then became closely connected with the Young Hegelian group which Marx had been part of. He, like Marx, was also influenced greatly by the materialist views in Feurbach’s book that came out in that year. Engels’ writings now started to have some materialist aspects. The main thing he always stressed was political action. This was what made him split, in 1842, from his earlier Young German group, which he felt restricted itself only to empty literary debate. He however continued to strongly be linked with the Young Hegelians, particularly Bruno Bauer and his brother.

It was this closeness of Engels with the Bauers that prevented a friendship with Marx, when they met for the first time in November 1842. Engels at that time had finished his military service and was on his way from his hometown to join as a clerk in his father’s business in Manchester, in England. On the way he visited Marx at the newspaper office in Cologne where Marx was then the chief editor. Marx, by then, had however started criticising Young Hegelians, and particularly the Bauers, for concentrating their propaganda too much on religion rather than politics. Hence Marx and Engels, having different political affiliations, could not come close at this, their first meeting.

 It was Engels’ experiences in England that made him a communist. He developed very close links with the workers of Manchester, as well as the leaders of the revolutionary workers Chartist movement. Manchester was the main centre of the world’s modern textile industry and soon Engels undertook an in-depth study of the working and living conditions of its workers. He would regularly visit the working class areas to gain direct knowledge. In this process a love grew between him and Mary Burns, young Irish factory worker, who would later become his companion and wife. Besides collecting material for his future book on the conditions of the working class in England, Engels came to understand the revolutionary potential of the proletariat. His regular participation in the movement convinced him that the working class was not merely a suffering class, but a fighting class whose revolutionary actions would build the future.

Besides working class contact, Engels also made a deep study of the various socialist and communist theories and even met many of the French and German leaders and writers who had formulated these theories. Though he did not adopt any of these theories, he made an analysis of their positive and negative points. At the same time he started a deep study of bourgeois political economy. This was in order to help him analyse the economic relations of society, which he had started feeling was the basis of all social change. The initial results of his study he put down in his article that was published by Marx in his journal brought out from Paris. As we have mentioned earlier, this led to correspondence between Marx and Engels and their historic meeting in 1844.

Engels was then on his way back from Manchester to his hometown Barmen, when he stopped on the way to meet Marx who was then staying in Paris. Their discussions helped Marx to better formulate the materialist understanding of history which they had both started believing in. They also, at this meeting, started work on their first joint book, which was an attack on Bruno Bauer and the Young Hegelian group, which they had both earlier belonged to.

Engels spent the next eight months doing intensive communist propaganda and organisational work in Germany. During this period he was in constant revolt against his father who opposed his communist work and tried to get him to work in his factory. After just two weeks at his father’s office Engels rejected it completely and left Barmen to join Marx. Marx by that time had again become the target of feudal authorities. The Prussian King had brought pressure on the French King, who expelled Marx from Paris. Marx was forced to move to Brussels in Belgium along with his wife and eight-month-old child. This is where Engels came and set up house right next to Marx’s house.

Marx in the meantime had done deep work and had developed the main features of the new world outlook, which they had discussed at their earlier meeting. In Brussels both Marx and Engels started intensive joint work. This was, as Engels said, to develop the new outlook in all possible directions.

The result was the historic book, The German Ideology, which however only got published almost a hundred years later. The main purpose served this book served at that time was for the two great thinkers to self – clarify regarding their old understanding and set up the pillars of the new world outlook, which later came to be known as Marxism.

Marx and Engels had become Marxists!

Source : MLM Textbook from India

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