Certain concepts are key to an understanding of Marxism, a political theory that has shaped world politics for over 150 years. Key Marxist concepts are diametrically the opposite to capitalism and some believe have created a mentality of a society that is very much a ‘them and us’ one.
Marxism believes that capitalism can only thrive on the exploitation of the working class.
Marxism believes that there was a real contradiction between human nature and the way that we must work in a capitalist society.
Marxism has a dialectic approach to life in that everything has two sides.
Marxism believes that capitalism is not only an economic system but is also a political system.
The profit difference between what goods are sold for and what they actually cost to make, Marxism refers to as a “surplus profit”.
Marxism believes that economic conflict produces class (rich, middle and poor) and inherently class produces conflict.
A Marxist analysis called ‘Polarisation of the Classes’ describes the historical process of the class structure becoming increasingly polarised – pushed to two ends with noting in the middle. It says that soon classes will disappear and be absorbed either into the bourgeoisie or the proletariat.
Capitalism largely shapes the educational system, without the education system the economy would become a massive failure as without education we are without jobs and employment which is what keeps society moving. Education helps to maintain the bourgeoisie and the proletariat so that there can workers producing goods and services and others benefiting from it. Schools transmit an ideology which states that capitalism is just and reasonable. Ruling class project their view of the world which becomes the consensus view (hegemony).
Marxists believe that a key part in the control of the Proletariat is the use of alienation in all aspects of society, including the family, the education system and the media. This provides the Bourgeoisie with a supple mass of workers who do not mind working for the external rewards of a constant wage.
Marxists believe that deviance is any behavior that differs from the societal norm. It is seen as deviant because as a society, we do not accept it. Deviance can vary from simply odd behavior to behavior that can harm society or is considered dangerous or disrespectful.
Neo-Marxism is based on ideas initially projected by Karl Marx. Marx believed that economic power led to political power and that this is the key to understanding societies. Neo-Marxists believe the economic system creates a wealthy class of owners and a poor class of workers. They also believe that certain social institutions such as churches, prisons and schools have been created to maintain the division between the powerful and the powerless.
Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex