Monday, June 21, 2010

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Caption From the Picture : Statue of Marx and Engels in Alexanderplatz, Berlin The statues acquired the unofficial nickname "the Pensioners," and were also said to be sitting on their suitcases waiting for permission to emigrate to the West.

Marx and Engels' work covers a wide range of topics and presents a complex analysis of history and society in terms of class relations. Followers of Marx and Engels have drawn on this work to propose a political and economic philosophy dubbed Marxism.

Nevertheless, there have been numerous debates among Marxists over how to interpret Marx's writings and how to apply his concepts to current events and conditions (and it is important to distinguish between "Marxism" and "what Marx believed."

Essentially, people use the word "Marxist" to describe those who rely on Marx's conceptual language (e.g. means of production, class, commodity) to understand capitalist and other societies, or to describe those who believe that a workers' revolution is the only means to a communist society.

Marxism has influenced Christian thought, too, especially liberation theology, which argues in favor of God's special concern for, or bias towards, the poor and advocates that when the poor become conscious of their exploitation, they will then be empowered to demand and achieve their rights. Liberation theologians do not necessarily support violence as part of this process, although many have.

Six years after Marx's death, Engels and others founded the "Second International" as a base for continued political activism. This organization collapsed in 1914, in part because some members turned to Edward Bernstein's "evolutionary" socialism, and in part because of divisions precipitated by World War I.

Further Reading : Marx, Karl -

Monday, June 7, 2010

Karl Marx Tomb

Caption from the picture : Karl Marx tomb in High Gate Cemetery, London

Karl Marx died at 2.30pm on 14 March - in 1883, although that's not particularly important, as it's the time and the day that counts. Each year, on that day and at that time, the Marx Memorial Library stages a simple commemoration, as it has been doing for 70 years now, at the family grave in High Gate cemetery. A small crowd gathers, perhaps 30 people, usually including a couple of ambassadors from what used to be broadly called socialist countries, a speech is made on behalf of the library, flowers are laid at the foot of the monument, people chat and then disperse.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Paris Commune

Paris, the central seat of the old governmental power, and, at the same time, the social stronghold of the French working class, had risen in arms against the attempt of Thiers and the Rurals to restore and perpetuate that old governmental power bequeathed to them by the empire. Paris could resist only because, in consequence of the siege, it had got rid of the army, and replaced it by a National Guard, the bulk of which consisted of working men. This fact was now to be transformed into an institution. The first decree of the Commune, therefore, was the suppression of the standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people.

The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time.

Instead of continuing to be the agent of the Central Government, the police was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the responsible, and at all times revocable, agent of the Commune. So were the officials of all other branches of the administration. From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workman’s wage. The vested interests and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves. Public functions ceased to be the private property of the tools of the Central Government. Not only municipal administration, but the whole initiative hitherto exercised by the state was laid into the hands of the Commune.

Further Reading : : The Civil War in France