.. the genius of Marx consists precisely in the fact that he furnished answers to questions which had already engrossed the foremost minds of humanity. His teachings arose as a direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.
The philosophy of Marxism is materialism. Throughout the modern history of Europe, … materialism has proved to be the only philosophy that is consistent, true to all the teachings of natural science and hostile to superstition, cant and so forth. The enemies of democracy therefore tried in every way to "refute," undermine and defame materialism, and advocated various forms of philosophical idealism, which always, in one way or another, amounts to an advocacy or support of religion.
Marx did not stop at the materialism of the eighteenth century; he advanced philosophy. He enriched it with the acquisitions of German classical philosophy, especially of the Hegelian system, which in its turn led to the materialism of Feuerbach. The chief of these acquisitions is dialectics, i.e., the doctrine of developments in its fullest and deepest forms, free of one-sidedness - the doctrine of the relativity of human knowledge, which provides us with a reflection of eternally developing matter. The latest discoveries of natural science-radium, electrons, the transmutation of elements - have confirmed remarkably Marx's dialectical materialism,.
Deepening and developing philosophical materialism, Marx completed it, extended its knowledge of nature to the knowledge of human society. Marx's historical materialism was one of the greatest achievements of scientific thought. The chaos and arbitrariness that had previously reigned in the views on history and politics gave way to a strikingly integral and harmonious scientific theory, which shows how, in consequence of the growth of productive forces, out of one system of social life another and higher system develops-how capitalism, for instance, grows out of feudalism.
Having recognized that the economic system is the foundation on which the political superstructure is erected, Marx devoted most attention to the study of this economic system. Marx's principal work, Capital, is devoted to a study of the economic system of modern, i.e., capitalist, society.
Classical political economy, before Marx, evolved in England, the most developed of the capitalist countries. Adam Smith and David Ricardo, by their investigations of the economic system, laid the foundations of the labor theory of value. Marx continued their work.
Where the bourgeois economists saw a relation of things (the exchange of one commodity for another), Marx revealed a relation of men. The wage-worker sells labor power to the owner of the land, factories and instruments of labor. The worker uses one part of the labor day to cover the expense of maintaining himself and his family (wages), while the other part of the day the worker toils without remuneration, creating surplus value for the capitalist, the source of profit, the source of the wealth of the capitalist class.
The doctrine of surplus value is the cornerstone of Marx's economic theory. Capital, created by the labor of the worker, presses on the worker by ruining the small masters and creating an army of unemployed. In industry, the victory of large-scale production is at once apparent,.
By destroying small-scale production, capital leads to an increase in productivity of labor and to the creation of a monopoly position for the associations of big capitalists. Production itself becomes more and more social-hundreds of thousands and millions of workers become bound together in a systematic economic organism-but the product of the collective labor is appropriated by a handful of capitalists. The anarchy of production grows, as do crises,.
Capitalism has triumphed all over the world, but this triumph is only the prelude to the triumph of labor over capital.
utopian socialism could not point the real way out... the stormy revolutions which everywhere in Europe … accompanied the fall of feudalism, … revealed the struggle of classes as the basis and the motive force of the whole development.
The genius of Marx consists in the fact that he was able before anybody else to draw from this … the doctrine of the class struggle.
People always were and always will be the stupid victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class behind …. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, …a power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new.
Independent organizations of the proletariat are multiplying all over the world, …. The proletariat is becoming enlightened and educated by waging its class struggle; ..is steeling its forces and is growing irresistibly.
written by V.I. Lenin in March, 1913.