Karl Marx is a failed philosopher (circa 1845), who didn't understand human nature. He is often called an economist by those who don't know what economics is:. A prolific dreamer and writer, and in a poetic irony, while living in London, mooching off his rich son-of-a-capitalist friend Friedrich Engels, he regurgitated (stole others) ideas of Communism/Socialism and put them down in many infamous books. Despite spending a lifetime trying to prove any of his theories, his theories lacked any evidence or support, and History disproved virtually all of his predictions. Yet, he's still popular among the illiteratti, elites and far left perpetual college students of all ages -- because his premise is that we need elites like them to rule the rest of us, to make life fair. It's ironic that all the communist adherents don't see themselves becoming one of the farm or factory hands in utopia, but as part of the elites/planners that will exist as equals, by telling everyone else what to do, and how to do it.
Marxism (Revolutionary Socialism) is the ideals of Marx, which can be hard to nail down, as with many flim-flammers his views were mercurial and shifted as fast as they were debunked. Often faster. He basically just elaborates on Plato's The Republic, or Acts of the Apostles in Christianity. With a little 16th century, Sir Thomas More treatise Utopia, and some primordial tribal societies systems being thrown in. Part of this is the North European rural/tribalistic view towards the Law of Jante: that the individual is shit, and that the collective matters -- many don't recognize that his whole philosophy stems from cultural narcissism, magnified through an ego inflated by a lack of actual accomplishments, and the self esteem only possible from the terminally insecure.
Some the key tenets of Marxism / Communist Socialism (as written in the Communist Manifesto) could be summed up as:
- There's inherently a class struggle and status-quo authority (implying the most important drivers in a persons life is jealousy, and the need for change), and thus a utopian society must be classless and stateless
- to get there requires revolution to overthrow the existing government, and replaced in the short term by a Dictator or elite(s) to gain absolute control over the proletariate, in order to enact the policies of utopia -- once utopia is achieved, the leaders/state will give up power and become a stateless society where everyone shares everything (AKA Socialism), and since everyone was educated and agrees, you don't need authority any more (they will self govern through hyper-democracy)
- This would happen first in liberal industrialized countries like the U.K. -- because Capitalism allowed the rich to get richer, and since they were doing so on the backs of the poor, the poor would keep getting poorer, until the differences of class would be so great that the poor workers (wage slaves) would rise up and revolt
- The state (autocrat) must use elite central planners to control the central banking system, education, transportation, communication, and means of production (agricultural, factories, and labor). Labor would be controlled via Unions and Syndicates (trusts), redistribute wealth through eliminate all private property, heavy taxes, elimination of inheritance. This will result in "fairness" (equality of outcome), and since that matters more than equality of opportunity, you achieve utopia.
- This utopia is collectivism (or communism): everyone is equal because nobody has any rights to life, liberty or property. All property is shared. All liberty and even life is provided only for the benefit of the collective (and can be taken away accordingly) - so it is first authoritarian under a dictatorship, and later authoritarian under the tyranny of the majority. But everything is distributed according to need: as defined by the elites/state/majority -- so in their mind, it's not authoritarian to being beholden to either a dictator or the tyranny of the majority, because both are striving for equality of outcome (instead of equality of opportunity).
Of course all of that is wrong, and been disproven -- none of it is based on economic observation. Nor social/cultural, or historical observation. Let's go through the points and discuss the flaws in each:
- 1 - The class struggle is not the most important aspect of people's lives -- this is proven by the fact that the boats came from Cuba (where all classes are equally poor), to the U.S., where there was HUGE income disparity -- because people don't care about class, as much as improving their own lives. Would you rather be the poorest rich person in the richest city -- or exactly even with everyone else in a favela in Brazil or a mud hut in Sub Saharan Africa? If you answered the former, then class struggle may be an issue, but not THE issue that Marx and Engles wrote about. So the whole premise that the the class struggle, and income inequality will drive revolution in thriving and growing capitalist societies, is false. It may contribute to it in France, but they're French -- in more successful countries where they aren't raised from birth to resent everyone else, envy is not the key driver of their lives.
- 2 and 3 - Many countries voted in socialism, and most industrialized capitalist countries didn't have the separation of the classes: the poor got richer along with the rich, more than they did in Socialist/Communist countries. So the industrialized world didn't get worse faster than the agrarian countries -- and the revolutions were happening in the non-industrial monarchist countries (like the Soviet Union) and not the liberal/Capitalist ones. Once Socialists/Progressives recognized that #1, 2 and 3 were wrong (starting at the turn of the 20th century), they knew that the class struggle wasn't going to bring revolutionary socialism. And they needed something that was more primal, and a more incremental socialism. So they created the idea that nationalism/racism (Tribalism) was more important to control the masses than the class struggle, and instead of revolution (which had failed in the Soviet Union and elsewhere) they would just have the state control the means of production indirectly (instead of nationalization) through use of taxes/laws/regulations. This new idea was called National Syndicalism branch of incremental Socialism (after a Syndicate being a cabal of Unions), and their symbol was a bundle of sticks: Fasces -- thus they got called Fascism.
The other thing is every place that tried Communism, did not ever get to the final stage, where the state/dictators, once empowered to micromanage the lives of the adherents, would voluntarily give up power and let the people self-govern. To the left, they use this as an excuse to say, "Real Socialism/Communism has never been tried", because it never got to the final stage -- but that's because they can't accept the reality that it is the most tried system in history, it just always will fail. Since some people will not tolerate equality of outcome: they'll work harder and outperform/produce and not want to share -- then you need authority to punish them. Once you empower an authoritarian regime, it will not give up power. Even if it ever did (while that's never happened in history, yet), it wouldn't matter, because the system is designed to be corrupted, and for one bad apple, to seize the reigns of power and then abuse it. The system of a benevolent autocracy is inherently unstable, and there's no ability for power to be passed, without the potential for it being abused and corrupted. So the reason it has never achieved end game, is because it's way too improbable to ever get there from the stage before it -- and if it did, it wouldn't last long based on the instability and inefficiencies of group rule.