The Evolution of Marxismby Alyssia Cousins

The Beginning:


Often today many persons have associated Marxism with communism; however his idea of communism and what we believe it to be today have been skewed from Marx’s original thought of communism. Marxism was named after Karl Heinrich Marx who was born on May 5, 1818 in Moselle, Germany to a middle class family. Marx was influenced by the men in his family and both of his parents had many Rabbis’ in their lineage, so as a result his father knew the teachings of Lessing and Voltaire, in which later these influences, that were engraved into him from his native environment, led him to go on to becoming what is described by some today as one of the [1] “most influential socialist thinkers to emerge in the 19th century”.

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, revolutionist, social scientist, and historian whose ideas were largely dismissed by the academics of his time and it was not until after his death in 1883 was his ideas truly seen as plausible by scholastics and everyone else. As stated previously, Marx was heavily influenced by his father and the other men in his family and it was not until after he was sent to study at the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin was his principles cemented. While in attendance at the University of Bonn he became very acquainted with Romanticism, in which he abandoned after he later transferred to the University of Berlin; it was there that he aligned himself with Hegelianism. He became a member of a Hegelian society called the Young Hegelian Movement, which was a group that's primary purpose was to pinpoint the inconsistencies of the Prussian government, where they highly opposed them; the group also heavily criticized Christianity. Marx went on to becoming a writer for a radical newspaper in cologne, where the newspaper was subsequently shut down due to the pressure placed on them by the government. Marx moved to Paris which was only the beginning of a series of emigrations. He continued on his path of writing for radical newspapers and he was exiled from Paris to Brussels and exiled again, so he moved to London with his family. It was in Paris where he officially declared himself to be communist and wrote a series of manuscripts called the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts it was also in Paris where he met Fredrick Engels who became a great confidant of his later on in his life . In these manuscripts Marx "...outlined a humanist conception of communism, influenced by the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach and based on a contrast between the alienated nature of labor under capitalism and a communist society in which human beings freely developed their nature in cooperative production."


It was through his heavy skepticism of the system of capitalism that became his driving force to push for what he believed was a better system, communism. Marx believed that the capitalist system promoted the exploitation of the proletariat class (working class) by the Bourgeois (the upper class). He felt that once, man made goods for himself and that would make him happy and in turn led to his satisfaction, however, through capitalism man had been forced to produce goods and services in which Marx felt alienated man from these good and service he provided. He felt that capitalism "was able to perpetuate the illusion of freedom even though its raison d'etre relies on those who have nothing to sell but their labor and those, who through the power of capital and property exploit such labor for profit." He also believed that eventually the Proletariat's would rise up against the Bourgeois, due to tensions caused by the exploitation of the working class, and become the ruling class where by the system of capitalism would be replaced by Socialism, through a social revolution, and then later by pure communism, which is a classless society, almost like a Utopian society. Socialism as described by Marx is a concept in which the Proletariat now own the means of production, unlike in the capitalist system where the Bourgeois owns the means of production, however the economic activity will still occur through an incentive system. A communist state on the other hand would be a state where people will no longer have to be motivated through monetary incentives and they will work in order to satisfy themselves, and "consumes according to his or her needs" (Colander, 2002)

The Influences of Marx:

Karl Marx had many theories that have been used over and over again as a foundation for many scholars. It is said that some of Marx's theories have survived 128 years after his death and that his theory on the relationships have, more than any other theory, survived all these years. We can see that there is more exploitation in the work place now than in any other era. Marx came up with the Labor Theory of Value in which he said that the labor time used to produce a commodity must equate to the relative price of the good/service. In this epoch people have stopped making goods and producing services for the betterment of themselves and his community; they now are producing commodities in mass quantities and have subjected themselves to the working in sweatshops in order to survive, in which their labor time does not equal the value in which the goods and services are being sold for. Hence the laborers are not being paid the money they justly deserve and as a result they are being exploited. We can see that the rich continue to become richer and the poor, due to many factors such as lack of education, have somehow manages to maintain the same type of lifestyle, not climbing on the socioeconomic ladder. The proletariat class (owning no property) continues to seek employment from those with employment. Class struggle can be seen around various parts of the world.

"...Beyond the wealthy countries, the picture is very different. Open and violent struggles are commonplace in much of the world; strikes, lockouts, and beatings of workers in places like China, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, and violent peasant conflicts in places like Nandi gram, India. Look around class struggle is everywhere and almost every human relation" (Amies, 2008).

Marx's prediction on the working class rising up against the ruling class have been said by some to have, or is taking places in various parts of the world, it has been proved that from majority of the world, his theory that the working class would move towards communism have not occurred and on the contrary, countries that have previously adopted the socialist system, like the USSR and the eastern satellites, have failed. It was concluded that systems need democratic control and management of the working class especially in the modern and more complex societies, as they will eventually seize up without it. In fact, the system seemed to have caused economic and social disasters. This evidence was gathered through the use of statistical evidence. Russia’s industrial production fell about [1]40-45%. Russia’s investment fell by 45% in 1992, 12% in 1993, and continued to fall.

Classical, Orthodox, and Neo-Marxism:

Classical Marxism refers to Marxian theory that was established during his lifetime. It represents all his original thoughts and theories from him and with the contributions of Fredrick Engels. Classical Marxism includes his theories such as the historical materialism and the theory of alienation. So in essence, classical Marxism is the thought that was deducted during the time of Marx.

Orthodox Marxism on the other hand is the Marxism that emerged after the death of the Karl Marx. Orthodox Marxism primarily focuses on class divisions and capitalism between the capitalists and the working class. After the death of Marx, Engels translated some of his work that he was in the process of completing but never got to finish due the decline of his health and his subsequent death. Orthodox Marxian theories were popularized by Engels where he added to Marx's theories by including the division of labor based on gender issues and capitalism labor market. There have been said that other Marxian theorists developed, while using Marx's labor theory of value, theories of domestic labor. Overall Orthodox Marxian theory was the predecessor of Classical Marxism. And it was said to have been better because it cleared up the inconsistencies of classical Marxism.

Neo-Marxism has been greatly associated with Marxist theories of the twentieth century. It has been said to explain the resistance to the inequalities of the developing nations to the stresses of the nature of monopolies of capitalism today. Neo-Marxian tries to further fill in the gaps of the Orthodox Marxian theories while expanding the theories. Gender division is another branch that falls under the Neo-Marxian theory that has been explored.


It can be concluded that through the many influences, interactions with people and trial and tribulations that Marx went through have made him the man that we see him as today. We can see that he started out from early through the influence from his family members and this influence is what led Marx to formulate his many theories, some in which have survived until today. Marxism has evolved from different stages. It started off with his theories that he deducted from the environment he was in, which was the ruling party, the capitalist systems. It was through his heavy objections to the systems that further allowed for him to come up with theories such as his labor theory of value or alienation theory.

He became s influential that after his death his works became popularized by this longtime friend Fredrick Engels who added on to his theories and published his unfinished works for him. It was through this popularity that there became different branches of Marxism, i.e. Classical, Orthodox and Neo-Marxism. Ach different stage had been improved upon and sought to fix the inconsistencies of the previous thoughts. While Marx’s theories are not as used as hi predictions that the world would be moving towards a communist system, it is still seen as relevant to the current time because

"Marx's influence on today's cultural theorizing derives more from his social theory, which forms a useful context to theorizing culture, and his philosophical ideas in general, including his method of investigation and reasoning," said Johan Fornas, director of the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden (ACSIS) (Amies, 2008).//

Figure Sources

Figure 1. Portrait of Karl Marx. Source:

Figure 2. Marx’s “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts”. Source:

Works Cited

Marxian Economics . (2008, May 12). Retrieved from Internet Archive Way Back Machine:

Amies, N. (2008, March 14). Marx Continues to Influence 125 Years After His Death. Retrieved from,,3190306,00.html

(2002). In H. L. Colander, History of Economic Thought (p. 193). Boston, Toronto: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Grant, A. W. (n.d.). The Relevance of Marxism Today. Retrieved from

Kreis, S. (2008, January 30). Karl Marx 1818-1883. Retrieved from The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History:

Lukacs, G. (n.d.). What is Orthodox Marxism? Retrieved from

Tumino, S. (n.d.). What is Orthodox Marxism and Why it Matters Now More Than Ever Before. Retrieved from The Red Critique:

[1] (Grant)