Thursday, February 28, 2013

Marxism for beginners

If you want to learn something else about Marxism, here you have some more information: 

- You can start reading the following post I wrote last year. It includes information about dialectical materialism, class struggle, Marx´s conclusions about private property and how it alienates people and his opinion about women´s submission and need for emancipation:

- On the following link you can read the book Marx for beginners, written by a Mexican cartoonist called Rius in 1972. Rius used cartoons to explain the main ideas of Marxism, making them easier to understand:

If some of you is interested in reading this book in Spanish, I can lend it to you.

- This is another link  from the Marxists Internet Archive, which includes different websites to start reading some Marx´s selected texts:

- This is a video I´ve found, made by a high school student, which explains in a very simple way some concepts developed by Marx and Engels, like the surplus concept and how extreme differences of wealth lead to impoverishment and cyclical crises in capitalism. This student based her video on Sophia´s World (El Mundo de Sofía), a book of Philosophy for teenagers. She made a really good work and you can draw inspiration from her work to do your projects: 

And finally, this is a Marx´s quote about the oppressed and the oppressors and their role in society:

- Karl Marx and his wonderful views on society


Roxana said...

I would like to read the book... Can you lend it to me, please?

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

O.K. I´ll take it tomorrow. Did you like the video?

Roxana said...

I like the video because it explains in an easy way overproduction, the cyclical crises, the working conditions of workers... and the vocabulary is not difficult neither.

Salva Fuentes said...

I have read the book. I have enjoyed with it. The cartoons make the read funnier and with them you can understand things that you couldn’t understand if you read, for example, The Capital.
I think that Marx is a very interesting person. The best part of the book is the final part because it contains the economic thinking of Marx. I think that some postures of Marxism are worthy of been discussed like the abolition of inheritance and the expropriation of the land.
Marxists also want the nationalization of the media, the means of production and a public bank. The nationalization of means of production have positive aspects, for example, workers receive all the profit of their work, no division of work and working conditions are better. But every economic system has bad consequences. With communist system, production and research and development fall a lot, so prices are higher and economic growth stop. Society is fair but people have less money.
Marx said that history has five stages:
-Primitive communism.
-Society of slavery.
-Capitalist system.
-And finally socialist society. This is interesting but I think that the final stage will be a mixed system based on a more participative democracy and free market economy with social rights.
Regarding to the public bank, I think that bankers are usually bad guys but many politicians are usually like them, so maybe a public bank will be bad too. Marx also said that without revolutions and wars, society won’t progress. Maybe he was right if we look to the USA. But in this case violence is not justified. I prefer peace and pacific demonstrations.
Communism was adopted by some countries in the 20th century and they didn’t have good results. All of them had to change their economic policy into a more mixed system.
See you!

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Salva,

Rius‘ books are really interesting, because they explain complicated concepts in an easy way. You were very brave, reading The Capital ! I´ve only read some parts, because it´s difficult to understand. But I’ve read other books that explain it. The main contribution of Marx and Engels was a solid criticism to capitalism, because they showed its main problems even when many of them hadn´t appeared. But you don’t have to forget that most of what they wrote were predictions, not guidelines about what to do. Other people used their predictions as a recipe of what to do. The supposedly proletarian revolution which led the Bolsheviks to power in Russia and the communist society they said they had established in the USSR didn´t have anything to do with a place where there are no classes, State or private property. Property belonged to the State and a small elite controlled the State. Most of the people were submitted to this elite. It was rather a State capitalism, more than the communist society described by Marx. A communist society requires a deep change of mentality in the population. From an early age we are educated in the idea of private property, inequality, competition… and we act in this way. It’s very difficult to extend the idea of the distribution of wealth among the population, but this is the only way to finish with poverty, hunger, illnesses, illiteracy, slavery and exploitation. The distribution of wealth in the world has almost always been achieved using force or taking advantage of the others’ weakness. And many problems of our world come from this unequal distribution. Free market economy is based on self-interest and this is the opposite of altruism and cooperation. And evidence shows that free market economy doesn’t contribute to extend social rights. Every day we can see that “the markets” earn a lot of money when social rights are cut, that economic freedom means freedom to fire, exploit, cheat, close companies or outsource them where “freedom” is bigger, that there is no limit for greed …
Some days ago I read about a public bank in the USA. It belongs to North Dakota State and it works very well, because their statutes oblige them to promote local economy

The savings banks (cajas de ahorros) we had were created with the idea of promoting local development, but they became a nest of political fights, corruption and greed. Now we only have banks, although there are also different ways of doing things. Here you have a link to a documentary broadcasted some months ago on La 2 about ethical financing:
See you!

Salva Fuentes said...


I have only read around two hundred pages of The Capital. I think that there are people who wanted a fairer world but most of the people are a little egoistic and want high productivity. People should be more informed and educated in these aspects, but we can't change their minds. More information, democracy and popular control over the rulers can be the solutions for most of the negative consequences of capitalism. Real democracy can find and establish the point of balance between altruism and cooperation, and productivity. Regarding to the public bank of North Dakota State, I think we can learn with it, but we have to remember that as you have said: power corrupts.

I like the documentary broadcasted about ethical financing. I think many people will put their money in banks like Triodos Bank. The problem is that most of the people haven't heard about this type of companies.


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hi again,

Debating with you is a pleasure. You're very sensible. The problem is that the mainstream media and the educational system reproduce the system (this is another fact Marx and Engels foresaw). If we are educated in competition, in measuring everything in numbers (as the marks), we will conclude that figures, productivity, competition economic growth, earning more and so on are the most important things. Here you have a paragraph of the preamble of the following law of education we are going to endure:

“La educación es el motor que promueve la competitividad de la economía y el nivel de prosperidad de un país. El nivel educativo de un país determina su capacidad de competir con éxito en la arena internacional y de afrontar los desafíos que se planteen en el futuro. Mejorar el nivel educativo de los ciudadanos supone abrirles las puertas a puestos de trabajo de alta cualificación, lo que representa una apuesta por el crecimiento económico y por conseguir ventajas competitivas en el mercado global”.

The world is a market, competition is the main principle, countries are brands ("la marca España"), the main goal of education is getting a job, the subjects that contribute to the development of rational thinking are useless and freedom is something reserved to the individuals who can deserve it, not for the peoples. This is the coming future for us.

If you haven´t read it, I recommend you to read "1984", by George Orwell. He wrote it to criticize Stalin's Soviet Union, but it also serves to understand the contemporary world. It is one of my favourite books. If you want it, I can lend it to you.

By the way, I´ve moved to Triodos. It's a different bank. Here you have their blog:

See you!

Salva Fuentes said...


Thanks. I like these debates too. You know a lot of things about every of political and historical matter. You're very informated.

Yes, you're right; the educational system should be more objective and destined to produce real rational and thinking people too. Education for citizenship was a good subject to improve these qualities, but as you have shown, the government seems to want education to get an economic profit and more conformist citizens. I also think that a more rational education can give origin to economic growth. The paragraph of the law of education is too much new-liberalistic. In class, you said that you suppose that the liberal politicians are liberal-democrats. Maybe they change their minds when they get power.

I was thinking about a book to continue reading when I finish the Ken Follett's one. So, OK. I have read the Wikipedia's article about it and I think I will enjoy with it.

I have some money in a bank. I would like to change it to Triodos.

See you!

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

History teachers have to be informed and be interestesd not only in the past, but also in the present and the future. I like reading the press, but I learn more when I read books or listen to intelligent people. There is a very good history program on the radio on Sundays. It´s called "La historia de cada día" on Radio 5. Here you have the link to the podscasts:

I think you would like them.

As for the new liberals, they are supposed to be liberal democrats, but I doubt it, because they seize the opportunity to restrict the rights of those who don´t have money enough.

I´ll bring you the book when we come back from the holidays.

Triodos works on the Internet. You don't need to go to Madrid to open an account. You can open an account from their website and they will send you all the documents to your home. I suppose you would need your parents' signature. You can operate from any ATM which accepts Servired credit cards. You can deposit money of extract it wherever you want and you can also decide if you want to receive the full interest rate they give or dedicate part of it to the NGOs you choose. I have a newspaper the bank sends where they explain their history and some projects they have financed. If you want to have a look, I can lend it to you.

And finally, congratulations for all the Oscars you´ve received in French! You deserve them!

Salva Fuentes said...


Yes, I think that books are often more reliable than the press. I also think that public TVs should include more opinions of intelligent people and professors. The debate programs of "La 1", for example, are usually formed by members of the media and politicians. I'll listen to the program of Radio 5.

Thanks for the information about Triodos but at the moment I prefer to leave my parents to do these things.

Thanks and see you!