CHRIS HARMAN HOW MARXISM WORKS PDF

We know there is a crisis. We know we are being robbed by our employers. We know we need socialism. All the rest is just for the intellectuals. You often hear words such as these from militant socialists and trade unionists. Such views are strongly encouraged by anti-socialists, who try to give the impression that Marxism is an obscure, complicated and boring doctrine.

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So it is hardly surprising that many socialists who work 40 hours a week in factories, mines or offices take it for granted that Marxism is something they will never have the time or the opportunity to understand.

In fact the basic ideas of Marxism are remarkably simple. They explain, as no other set of ideas can, the society in which we live. Marx wrote well over a century ago. He used the language of the time, complete with references to individuals and events then familiar to virtually everyone, now known only to specialist historians.

I remember my own bafflement when, while still at school, I tried to read his pamphlet The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. How many socialists have abandoned attempts to come to grips with Marxism after such experiences! This is the justification for this short book. It seeks to provide an introduction to Marxist ideas, which will make it easier for socialists to follow what Marx was on about and to understand the development of Marxism since then in the hands of Frederick Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and a whole host of lesser thinkers.

Much of this pamphlet first appeared as a series of articles in Socialist Worker under the title Marxism Made Easy. But I have added substantial fresh material. One final point. Space has prevented me from dealing in this pamphlet with some important parts of the Marxist analysis of the modern world. I have included a substantial further reading section at the back.

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How Marxism Works

So it is hardly surprising that many socialists who work 40 hours a week in factories, mines or offices take it for granted that Marxism is something they will never have the time or the opportunity to understand. In fact the basic ideas of Marxism are remarkably simple. They explain, as no other set of ideas can, the society in which we live. Marx wrote well over a century ago.

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Introduction

How Marxism Works Class struggle We live in a society that is divided into classes, in which a few people have vast amounts of private property, and most of us have virtually none. Naturally, we tend to take it for granted that things have always been like this. But in fact, for the greater part of human history, there were no classes, no private property, and no armies or police. This was the situation during the half a million years of human development up to 5, or 10, years ago. What was the point of keeping slaves if all that they produced was needed to keep them alive? But beyond a certain point, the advance of production made class divisions not only possible but necessary. Enough food could be produced to leave a surplus after the immediate producers had taken enough to stay alive.

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How Marxism Works

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