Critically analyze Marxism

Marxism is an ideology associated with Karl Marx, a primary theorist and historian who after examining social organization, perceived that human history consists of a series of struggles between classes that are, between the oppressing and the oppressed. According to Marx, historical materialism is the main driving force, the notion that involves the distribution of resources, production, gain and other related matters. Marx also theorized that when profits are not reinvested in workers but used to create more factories, workers grow poorer and poorer until there is no solution. Marx proposes that at a crisis point, only revolt can restructure the system. In regard to communism, Marx proposes that for a political system to be regarded as communist, the means of production should be owned by the under-classes rather than the government or the police force. As such, communism has not yet existed. Marx also proposed that religion is the opiate of the people (Kreis, 2008, p1). This paper will critically analyse Marxism on the ideas that the society is based on unequal class divisions and exploitation among others.

Marx and Engel’s communist manifesto suggested that historically, the society consisted of class struggles and that a slave and freeman, serf and lord, oppressed and oppressor were in a constant opposition. The two theorists also said that the ruling class and the wage-earning class of the current capitalist society would eventually have a class struggle resulting from the proletariat becoming the bourgeoisie (Kolak & Garrett, 2006, p8). This state would last until the formation of a communist state where there would be class equality. Marxism is very idealistic in that it addresses the injustices that are experienced in the world. It has a great appeal to equality. However, it fails to address important issues such as conformity and obedience. The idea that someone will ever agree to equality in society is overcome by the fact that people are greedy and selfish.

Marxism ideas are depicted in today’s society. The society is exploited by the ruling class. People have even agreed to class divisions and have let themselves be used by the structures which they believe support them (Callinicos, 2010, p99). For example, political leaders who the people believe in elect them end up doing nothing for the people instead they exploit societal resources during their time of tenure. To a large extent, some compromises have included some major socialist ideas into capitalism, for example, free national education and worker unions. This has not led to equality among the societal divisions. Rather, they have benefited the working class.

In some respects, humans are equal, but in others, they are desperately divided. In order to ensure equality, it will require heavy compromises and more work than is practicable. Without the full homogenization of the human race, equality will never be achieved. Many communist regimes have attempted to achieve equality. Contrary, this has led to dictatorships, genocide and restrictions on civil liberties. Class divisions and struggles will continue to be dominant in the human society until the psychology of humans evolves beyond its primitive and impulsive ideas. Until people stop environmental exploitation, which is the main thing that spearheaded their evolution, they cannot anticipate it to stop taking advantage of its population. Marx was a brilliant thinker of his time together with Engels. There socialistic and communistic ideas have been supported by many people. There are still socialist and Marxist thinkers today. Marxism is a seed planted in the society and is still yet to mature.

Marxism’ view about labor is that a labor, which is focused and divided into groups is dehumanizing. Labor puts people into one particular creative section of society. This creative power is supposed to be developed and expressed in the world. However, labor division crushes it. In Marx’s German ideology, he says “for as soon as labor is distributed, each man has a particular special sphere of action which is forced upon him and from which he cannot run away from. (Shagor, 2005, p9)” Work is seen as enslaving and binding. People do not have freedom to do whatever they want, and they are not even free to be whatever they want. Division of labor is the basic problem with capitalism. It is the basis of all problems connected with it. Division of labor results to promotion of ideology and class conflict. Marx is true when he says that work is limiting and binding. This does not mean that dissection of labor is bad. However, people should be free to choose occupations and freely bind themselves to them. The Communist Manifesto explains that “And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie” (McLellan, 2007, p19). Marx and Engels are true. Today, everyone in the society feels that their lives are dominated by forces that are beyond their control. Society is filled with a sense of uncertainty and fear. Mood of insecurity has spread through the whole society. Mass unemployment is now experienced which is worse than anything Karl Marx foresaw.

About religion, Marx says, “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature” (Shagor, 2005. P4). In this quotation, Marx says that the purpose of religion is to create fantasies for the poor. Religion makes people see that things are alright since they will find true happiness in the next life. Distressed people find solace in religion. Religion helps people forget about their suffering and forces them to look towards their imaginary future. Religion does not solve or change people’s circumstances. This idea of religion is true in some aspect. His quote is not a criticism of religion. Marx depicts religion in a way that it becomes the heart of a heartless world. The today’s society is full of pain and distress. The religions that are present today are many compared to during the time of Marx. However, their ideas are the same, better afterlife. Religions make people ignore their problems and focus on imaginary life.

Though Marxist ideas are true, to some extent, they are false or half true. Many people have criticized its ideas. Marxism’s emphasis on historical materialism is a narrow base for understanding the variety and the complexity of power structures across places and time. The proposition that all power is grounded eventually in the control and ownership of the means of production, with the resulting class struggle, does not fit the times of civilization when property was owned by the state and when there was no class conflict. Another criticism is based on Marxism’s societies. His societies do not work. Also, rather than leading to equality, Marxist’s societies lead to totalitarian governments. The predictions of the theory of history are not fulfilled.

In Marxist regimes, the working class is pauperized. To oppose Marxist views, it can be said that wealth is created solely from innovation, creativity and new technologies among others rather than production of commodities and progressive creation of new markets. There are other conditions that arose during the 20th century and which Marxism did not foresee. For example, Marx and his friends did not foresee the rise of totalitarianism in Italy and Germany. They also did not account for future technologies such as nuclear energy and how such how political power would be restructured by such technologies. Just like Karl Popper stated, it can be said that Marx was a false prophet because his theory emphasized on changing the whole society. This was wrong since it was not scientific and that it could not be tested.

Marx was wrong about capitalism. Many people reflect on his theory on how capitalism can be replaced. Marx’s ideas are based on confronting capitalism, class conflict, taking power from the capitalist class, seizing the state and destroying capitalism, a venture which would involve violence. Contrary to Marx, change could be achieved through increasing capitalism provided that it’s coming difficulties will reveal its inability to provide for all. Also, Marxism did not take into account matters of ecological sustainability. Marx believed in industrial progress and development, rising living standards and economic growth. He thought that capitalism is responsible for all problems, and its elimination would release restricted power of the industry and eliminate waste to enrich all the people. He does not understand the concepts of “limits to growth” (McLellan, 2007, p23). Marxist ideas should acknowledge that it is not enough to get rid of capitalism there is a bigger problem caused by the commitment to growth, industrialism and affluence. He did not understand that there will come a time when the world would be faced with the problem of over-consumption.

Though Marxism has been criticized by many anarchists, its ideas are still applicable in today’s society. People are experiencing class struggle in almost all areas of life. Companies are exploiting their employees for their benefit while such employees are living poor. Marx’s description of religion has not yet changed because today, religion creates fantasies in people’s minds. Marxism is present today and continues to impact the future.


Callinicos, A. 2010. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx. Bloomsbury, London: Bookmarks.

Kolak, D. & Garrett T. 2006. The Longman Standard History of Modern Philosophy. New York: Pearson/Longman. Print.

Kreis, S. 2008. ‘Karl Marx, 1818-1883‘, [Online] Available: HYPERLINK “”>> [Accessed 05 august 2014]

McLellan, D. 2007. Marxism after Marx. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Shagor, H. 2005. Marx and religion: A brief study. The German Ideology, Marx-Engels Collected Works, Vol. 5.