Dictionary.com

Marxism

[ mahrk-siz-uhm ]
/ ˈmɑrk sɪz əm /
Save This Word!

noun
the system of economic and political thought developed by Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, especially the doctrine that the state throughout history has been a device for the exploitation of the masses by a dominant class, that class struggle has been the main agency of historical change, and that the capitalist system, containing from the first the seeds of its own decay, will inevitably, after the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, be superseded by a socialist order and a classless society.
QUIZ
IS THIS EIGHTH GRADE VOCAB QUIZ FEASIBLE FOR YOU?
Prove that nothing is amiss with your vocabulary skills by taking this quiz on popular eighth grade vocabulary.
Question 1 of 10
What does the word “confiscate” mean?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of Marxism

First recorded in 1895–1900; Marx + -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

HOMEWORK HELP

What does Marxism mean?​

Marxism is the collective term for the economic, social, and political philosophy of Karl Marx. In particular, the philosophy states that capitalism is a self-destructive system that eventually leads to a revolution of the working class so that they can establish a classless society.

Karl Marx was a German radical socialist thinker who lived from 1818 until 1883. He worked with his friend, Friedrich Engels, to develop his ideas, which are very complex. Because of this and the various political ideologies Marxism inspired, Marxism is an extremely controversial topic today.

Marx was extremely critical of capitalism, seeing it as an oppressive, flawed system that would inevitably collapse. According to Marxism, capitalism is a system in which an elite, wealthy upper class, known as the bourgeoisie, exploits the labor of the working class, known as the proletariat.

Marx argued that because the wealthy desired only to make money, it was inevitable that they would try to get workers to work as hard as possible for as little money as possible. The inevitable result of this, according to Marx, was that the workers would grow to hate the wealthy and would unite to revolt against their oppressors.

Marxism states that the workers’ (often violent) revolution would destroy the upper class and establish a socialist or communist society, in which there would be no more economic classes dividing people.

Marxism is based on the theories of socialism, and Marx himself was a radical socialist. Marxism is also very closely related to the political ideology of communism. Many communist thinkers and leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong were inspired by Marx’s ideas and based their own political ideas off his work.

Why is Marxism important?

The first records of Marxism come from around 1895. The term combines Karl Marx’s last name and the suffix -ism which indicates an ideology or philosophy. Marxism is a collective name for Marx’s ideas and his work.

Marxism has had a tremendous effect on the world. The current variations of communist political parties that exist today can all be traced back to Marx’s ideas. In particular, Marx’s 1845 book The Communist Manifesto was his most widely read work and shaped the thinking of some highly influential historical figures.

Today, you will find incredibly heated debates about Marxism. Modern communists and Marxists will agree with Marx’s ideas and argue that political leaders throughout history have distorted Marxism or have created their own version of it that aligns with their political viewpoints. Opponents of Marxism, especially capitalists, will argue that Marxism has led to the deaths of millions of people thanks to ruthless Communist dictators that based their political philosophy on Marxism.

Did you know ... ?

Regardless of their beliefs, most historians agree that later Communists had their own ideologies that were noticeably different from Marxism. They will instead use terms such as Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism to refer to the specific doctrines of each of these particular figures.

What are real-life examples of Marxism?

Here is an illustration of Karl Marx, the creator of Marxism.

Portrait of Karl Marx by John Jabez Edwin Mayal. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Marxism is an extremely controversial topic.

 

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

According to Marxism, capitalism is a flawed system that will inevitably fall.

How to use Marxism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Marxism

Marxism
/ (ˈmɑːksɪzəm) /

noun
the economic and political theory and practice originated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that holds that actions and human institutions are economically determined, that the class struggle is the basic agency of historical change, and that capitalism will ultimately be superseded by communism
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for Marxism (1 of 2)

Marxism

The doctrines of Karl Marx (see also Marx) and his associate Friedrich Engels on economics, politics, and society. They include the notion of economic determinism — that political and social structures are determined by the economic conditions of people. Marxism calls for a classless society (see class), where all means of production are commonly owned, a system to be reached as an inevitable result of the struggle between capitalists and workers. (See communism.)

Cultural definitions for Marxism (2 of 2)

Marxism

The doctrines of Karl Marx (see also Marx) and his associate Friedrich Engels on economics, politics, and society. They include the notion of economic determinism — that political and social structures are determined by the economic conditions of people. Marxism calls for a classless society in which all means of production are commonly owned (communism), a system to be reached as an inevitable result of the struggle between the leaders of capitalism and the workers.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
FEEDBACK