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Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism.Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th century by two German philosophers, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism encompasses Marxian economic theory, a sociological theory and a revolutionary view of social change that has influenced political movements around the world.
The Marxian analysis begins with an analysis of material conditions, taking at its starting point the necessaryeconomic activities required by human society to provide for its material needs. The form of economic organization, or mode of production, is understood to be the basis from which the majority of other social phenomena — including social relations, political and legal systems, morality and ideology — arise (or at the least by which they are greatly influenced). These social relations form thesuperstructure, for which the economic system forms the base. As the forces of production, most notably technology, improve, existing forms of social organization become inefficient and stifle further progress.
These inefficiencies manifest themselves as social contradictions in society in the form of class struggle. Under the capitalist mode of production, this strugglematerializes between the minority (the bourgeoisie) who own the means of production, and the vast majority of the population (the proletariat) who produce goods and services. Taking the idea that social change occurs because of the struggle between different classes within society who are under contradiction against each other, the Marxist analysis leads to the conclusion that capitalism oppresses theproletariat, the inevitable result being a proletarian revolution.
Marxism views the socialist system as being prepared by the historical development of capitalism. Capitalism according to Marxist theory can no longer sustain the living standards of the population due to its need to compensate for falling rates of profit by driving down wages, cutting social benefits and pursuingmilitary aggression. The socialist system would succeed capitalism as humanity's mode of production through worker's revolution. According to Marxism, Socialism is a historical necessity (but not an inevitability).
In a socialist society private property in the means of production would be superseded by co-operative ownership. A socialist economy would not base production on the creation ofprivate profits, but would instead base production and economic activity on the criteria of satisfying human needs - that is, production would be carried out directly for use.
Eventually, socialism would give way to a communist stage of history: a classless, stateless system based on common ownership and free-access, superabundance and maximum freedom for individuals todevelop their own capacities and talents. As a political movement, Marxism advocates the creation of such a society.
A Marxist understanding of history and of society has been adopted by academics studying in a wide range of disciplines, including archaeology, anthropology, media studies, political science, theater, history, sociological theory, art history and theory,...