In A Nutshell
One of the most enduring stereotypes about Marxism is its supposed opposition to and rejection of capitalism. However, Marx’s explanation of communism is not as simple as rejecting capitalism. Marx saw history as a progression of societies attempting to produce as much capital as possible through exploitation of class differences. Communism was Marx’s idealized society, the ultimate realization of human progress: Humans produce as much capital as possible, sans classes. For this reason, Marx saw capitalism as a massive improvement on previous modes of production, especially since it would lead to communism.
The Whole Bushel
Karl Marx, the infamous father of modern communism, cannot be spoken of without an attached stigma in many Western nations. Along with Friedrich Engels, Marx developed and popularized communism for a modern audience, ultimately giving rise to numerous revolutions and social changes, which may or may not have deviated from his precepts.
To many, Marx is seen as a great enemy of capitalism, one of the core principles of industrialized nations like the United States. However, Marx hated feudalism and tribalism much more than he did capitalism. That’s because capitalism and communism had one major thing in common: the ability to produce material abundance.
For Marx, history was a progression. All of human history was the result of class struggle and exploitation, and that class struggle and exploitation was done in order to produce more material goods for a ruling class. Societies in prehistory were equal, without class, but were subject to material scarcity. After leaving prehistorical conditions, humanity could produce more material abundance, but were divided by class. Tribalism led to ancient modes of production, which lead to feudalism, and finally, capitalism.
Capitalism did away with the superfluous class boundaries of feudalism (which Marx detested) and created an extremely successful economic mode of production based only on two classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie control the means of production and therefore the profit; the proletariat control the labor.
Marx loved materialism and consumerism. He loved industrialization and hated rural life. He wanted all of humanity to be able to live in the material abundance of the bourgeoisie. For this reason, he liked capitalism; it had eliminated the perceived uselessness of the classes of the Middle Ages, created a government only for managing bourgeoisie affairs, and produced vast amounts of capital for more people. Only with capitalism is communism possible, for only capitalism produced enough material abundance to satisfy everyone’s needs and wants.
Communism is capitalism controlled by the masses, putting an end to class exploitation. Once the proletariat controlled all aspects of capitalism, Marx believed humanity would be free.
Capitalism and Marxism aren’t so diametrically opposed after all: Their end goal is to produce huge amounts of capital, in the name of materialism and consumerism, by means of industrialization.