Protests, activism and radical thinking are almost a rite of passage for many university students. This is as true now as it was almost 200 years ago when a young student in Germany called Karl Marx was challenging the status quo. He went on to develop his own set of ideas about how society should work. His ideas would spread and become known as Marxism. To understand Marxism, it’s helpful to grasp how Karl saw the world.
From Karl’s point of view society was plagued by class struggles. The rich owned companies that produced vital goods, while the poor drove the production of these goods in exchange for meagre wages. And so the rich became richer with profits made off the backs of the poor. He believed this situation could not go on forever and would eventually lead to a violent revolution by the working classes.
The society that would rise up after this revolution would be fairer. Rather than a few profit-hungry individuals controlling the production of goods, there would be cooperatives. These cooperatives would drive production not for profits but simply to meet the needs of the people. This would ultimately create a classless society. This is the foundation of Marxism.
Karl thought this new world order was not only needed but was inevitable. History proved him wrong but Marxism survives today as different aspects of it have been incorporated into other schools of thought, including communism and socialism.