On the 200th Birth Anniversary of Karl Marx

THE 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) calls upon every Party unit and all Party members and sympathizers to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx in a fitting manner from May 5, 2018 to May 4, 2019.

Karl Marx (May 5, 1818–March 14, 1883) was born into a Jewish lawyer's family. His origins were anything but revolutionary. Yet by the end of his life he had left his mark on the history of humanity and human thought, as one of the great revolutionaries of all time.  Within thirty-five years of his passing away, an entire country, the Soviet Union, would claim his vision of the future of humanity as their own. Millions more from other nations would join them in the years and decades to come. Mourned by no more than eleven persons at his graveside in 1883, his day of birth and the day of his passing away would soon be commemorated by people in their thousands and eventually millions across the world and over the years.  This year of his 200th birth anniversary will be the occasion of massive celebrations across the world and in our own country.

What was the origin of his extraordinary legacy and why is his life and work celebrated by the masses even today? Marx was the first great thinker of the working class in the era of capitalism and, along with Frederick Engels, the first to enquire scientifically into their condition. In doing so he uncovered the manner in which all exploitation had begun centuries before capitalism was known and how it had evolved into the form that he saw before him. But it was enquiry that not only explained why exploitation had come to be and the manner of its evolution but he showed how exploitation would be overcome by the very circumstances that gave rise to it in the first place. It was Marx who redefined our understanding of the relationship between theory and practice when he wrote, in his 11th Thesis on Feuerbach: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

In Marx's view, exploitation was not something that stood apart from what was right or just in society or was an aberration in society. The very mode of existence of society depended on the form of exploitation that characterised it. All societies were divided into classes, of the exploiter and the exploited, and all recorded history the history of class struggle. As his lifelong comrade-in-arms, Frederick Engels noted in his speech at his friend's graveside: “Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history.” But that was not all. “Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production, and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created. The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark.”

Marx pointed out that capitalism, evolving as a new social system at the time of his writing, brought along with it a new class – the proletariat – that would eventually dig capitalism's own grave. As any great scientist, Marx himself fashioned the tools required for his study of society, namely dialectical and historical materialism. Marx unravelled the mode of existence of capitalism dialectically and brought out the inevitability of deep and recurrent economic crises under it. And as the untenability of the capitalist mode of production becomes increasingly visible and widely perceived, the working class would act as the social force to overthrow it and bring into being a new mode of production, namely socialism. Marx, with Engels, realised that with this the stage would be set for the eventual overcoming of class society itself. Marx's inspiring vision was not that of abolition of the exploitation that he saw before him, but the laying of the foundation of a new stage of human society. Marx developed the inspiring concept of a Communist society, a society of abundance, in which the State will wither away and the prospects for individual self-realisation are infinite.

Marx’s works across a number of fields of study have inspired generations of working women and men, of revolutionary students inspired to transform society, of scientists and intellectuals seeking to understand the natural and social world. But it was the proletariat that occupied a special place in his work that of the vanguard of the revolution and it would be his theories, ideas and views that would form the basis of its self-awakening. Marx's work continues to be a living legacy, extended by other revolutionary thinkers such as Lenin, but also extended by the millions who have been inspired by his vision and have sought to use the tools that he fashioned to understand and transform the world around them.

In particular, generations of communists, who stand by the viewpoint that they now call Marxism, have contributed to the legacy we value. Today, when we celebrate the 150 years of first volume of Capital, 170 years of the Communist Manifesto and the 200th year of the birth of Karl Marx, we have a rich collection of experiences of the Paris Commune, the Great October Socialist Revolution, the defeat of fascism, the experiments of East European socialism, the Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions and the Cuban revolution, as also numerous national liberation struggles against imperialism.  Along with this, there is a vast trove of theoretical studies of Marxist methods of analysing various branches of knowledge: the physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, culture, literature, feminism, environment, artificial intelligence etc.

In our own experience in India, we communists as well as many others have sought to creatively use Marx’s thoughts and ideas in understanding our own society. While our achievements on the scale of achievement of communists elsewhere may be modest, we have nevertheless strived to enriching the understanding of Indian society and empowering the working masses with the revolutionary spirit and content of Marx's thought.

Drawing critically correct lessons from all these experiences and studies, we have to chart our course of action in the coming days as true inheritors of Karl Marx and his revolutionary doctrine.

As part of the bicentenary celebration of Karl Marx, the 22nd Congress of the CPI(M) calls upon all Party units and sympathizers to organise multifarious activities, including the following:

  • public meetings, processions and other activities in public spaces;
  • seminars on the relevance of Marxism-Leninism in the present world;
  • cultural activities and programmes linked to the life and contribution of Karl Marx;
  • publish/republish, in all the national languages of India, the important works of Marx and Engels;
  • publish/republish works of eminent Marxists of later times, in all the national languages of India as part of study programme;
  • publish/republish works to expose falsification of Marxism-Leninism;
  • publish edited works on major debates related to Marxism-Leninism; and
  • introduce people, particularly young people, to the rich legacy of Marxist thought as developed by Marxist revolutionaries and thinkers after Marx.

 

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