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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Marxism \Marx"ism\, prop. n. A system of economic and political thought, originated by Karl Marx, and elaborated by others. It holds that the state has been the a device for suppression of the masses, allowing exploitation by a dominant (capitalistic) class; that historical change occurs through class struggle; and that the capitalist system will inevitably wither away to be superseded by a classless society.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1885, probably immediately from French marxisme; see Marxist + -ism. From 1884 as Karl Marxism.


n. 1 The socialist philosophy and political program developed by and 2 Any social or political philosophy or ideology derived from the thought of Karl Marx.


Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis, that analyzes class relations and societal conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the mid-to-late 19th century works of German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Marxist methodology originally used a method of economic and sociopolitical inquiry known as historical materialism to analyze and critique the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change. According to Marxist perspective, class conflict within capitalism arises due to intensifying contradictions between the highly productive mechanized and socialized production performed by the proletariat, and the private ownership and appropriation of the surplus product (profit) by a small minority of private owners called the bourgeoisie. As the contradiction becomes apparent to the proletariat through the alienation of labor, social unrest between the two antagonistic classes will intensify, until it culminates in social revolution. The eventual long-term outcome of this revolution would be the establishment of socialism – a socioeconomic system based on social ownership of the means of production, distribution based on one's contribution, and production organized directly for use. As the productive forces and technology continued to advance, Marx hypothesized that socialism would eventually give way to a communist stage of social development, which would be a classless, stateless, humane society erected on common ownership and the principle of " From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".

Marxism has since developed into different branches and schools of thought, and there is now no single definitive Marxist theory. Different Marxian schools place a greater emphasis on certain aspects of classical Marxism while de-emphasizing or rejecting other aspects, and sometimes combine Marxist analysis with non-Marxian concepts; as a result, they might reach contradictory conclusions from one another.

Marxist analyses and methodologies have influenced multiple political ideologies and social movements, and Marxist understandings of history and society have been adopted by some academics in the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, media studies, political science, theater, history, sociology, art history and theory, cultural studies, education, economics, geography, literary criticism, aesthetics, critical psychology, and philosophy.

Usage examples of "marxism".

Social Darwinism was, not unnaturally, compared with Marxism and not only in the minds of Russian intellectuals.

When he left Austria for Germany in 1913 at the age of twenty-four, he was full of a burning passion for German nationalism, a hatred for democracy, Marxism and the Jews and a certainty that Providence had chosen the Aryans, especially the Germans, to be the master race.

After a few months at Eastern, Deng switched to the newly opened Sun Yatsen University, where the curriculum was devoted entirely to Marxism, Leninism and other subjects designed to mold effective cadres.

The Modern State arose indeed out of the same social imperatives and the same constructive impulses that begot Marxism and Leninism, but as an independent, maturer, and sounder revolutionary conception.

The tariqat was a far older tradition than Marxism, more staunchly rooted, in some ways harsher in its discipline.

The only system of thought open to them at that time was official Marxism, which demanded a nationalistic loyalty towards Russia and forced the writer who called himself a Marxist to be mixed up in the dishonesties of power politics.

Each year shows more and more clearly that Marxism and Communism are divagations from the path of human progress and that the line of advance must follow a course more intricate and less flattering to the common impulses of our nature.

His vulgarised Marxism was an attempt to reconcile reform and revolution.

Lenin had attempted to educate a leadership, to instil into the cadres of Bolshevism the basic ideas, method and programme of Marxism.

In order to outline, approximately in a few words, the nature and extent of those former disagreements of mine with Bolshevism, I will say this: During the time when I stood outside the Bolshevik party, during that period when my differences with Bolshevism reached their highest point, the distance separating me from the views of Lenin was never as great as the distance which separates the present position of Stalin-Bukharin from the very foundations of Marxism and Leninism.

It became a classical centrist party, wavering between the ideas of Marxism and reformism.

But, in fact, the entire method of Monty Johnstone's Cogito article is alien to Marxism.

  Here he was, sitting in the corner booth of a fine, expensive restaurant with a ten-page wine list in his hands - Cortez thought himself an authority on wines - instead of a rat-infested barrio shack eating beans and mouthing revolutionary slogans with people whose idea of Marxism was robbing banks and making heroic taped pronouncements that the local radio stations played between the rock songs and commercials.

Yet attempts by student radicals to base a social program on a pastiche of nineteenth-century Marxism and early twentieth-century Freudianism have revealed them to be as resolutely chained to the past and present as their elders.

For Descartes it had been mind and body, for Sartre, Freudianism and Marxism, for Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and evolution-the list could be extended, and it seemed to him that the particular quality of French philosophy, its heroic tension and its tendency to be a long march of magnificent failures, came from this repeated attempt to yoke together impossible opposites.