Whether from distant or recent memories of classrooms and discussions, the term ‘Marxism’ is familiar to most of us. We’ve all heard about Marx: the philosopher, the economist, the sociologist, the journalist. We may even know the basics of Marxism: about the belief that capitalism generates a struggle between the working class and upper class; how the working class do all the work and create wealth in our society while the upper class own the majority of it, and control the economy. We’ve all heard the theories, and we’ve heard the stories of revolutions and uprisings. But what about Marxism today? The LUU Marxist Society is a vibrant society that holds weekly meetings and discussions– and I’ve found that most students believe members of this society are “just radicals”. Eager to find out more about Marxism and the society itself, I attended their Give It a Go session on Thursday, the 20th of October.
The first half of the session was information about Marxism itself. What is Marxism? I was glad they asked this – it’s a big question, after all. The president of the society, Owen Walsh, summarised the answer in one simple sentence: “Marxism is the doctrine of the struggle of the working class”. Listening to him talk about the concept of capitalism and its consequences for the working class, I became increasingly convinced of the unfairness of the system. And learning about Marxism’s origins and history, and how the theories within it developed, was certainly eye-opening. And then came the big question: how is Marxism still relevant today? He gave us his insights, pointing out that after the 2008 financial crisis, people have begun to realise the reality of the inequality between the two social classes. What’s happening in the world today, due to this crisis, is exactly as Marx had predicted in his book – and this is why Marxist ideas are still essential today: maybe it’s time to move on to socialism, and work out a system that will benefit everybody, not just the upper classes.
After the speech, we all engaged in a discussion, sparked from a question a girl asked: “What does prosperity look like under socialism?”. While many questions didn’t have answers in the end, everybody voiced their opinions – and there were certainly a wide variety of opinions, not just socialist or Marxist ones. People were so eager to discuss different ideas that they continued to do so on the way back home. The session was not so much a “group of radicals” imposing their ideas on others, as many believe, but instead an opportunity to discuss politics and economics – an opportunity, mostly, to learn.
(Image courtesy of John Pilger)