Theresa May’s appeal to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to resolve her Brexit crisis has infuriated many Tories.
Brexit secretary Dominic Raab complained that May had “teamed up with the Marxist Labour Party leader”. He compared Corbyn’s approach to Brexit to “a drunk stumbling home from a Communist Party knees-up”.
Corbyn isn’t a Marxist who wants to see a revolution and the end of capitalism. But the attacks on him reflect fear among the elites. They know their system means war, poverty, racism and environmental chaos.
They are terrified that people will look to other ways of running society, and they use “Marxist” and “socialist” as insults to discredit left ideas. But being a Marxist is something to be proud of.
Karl Marx, who wrote and organised in Britain in the mid-19th century, showed how capitalism works for a minority against the majority. It is based on bosses getting rich off the backs of workers, or proletarians.
Workers have to sell their labour to bosses who own all the factories, offices and so on. Bosses pay workers a fraction of the value they create—and keep the rest as profit. And they are driven to constantly attack workers to compete with other bosses.
Some invest in machines to cut labour costs. But because bosses’ profits come from workers’ labour, this means the rate of profit for the system as a whole goes down.
Marx explained that capitalism will go into repeated economic crises that get deeper over time.
He described how capitalism harms people. He argued that humans’ ability to use their labour to transform the world distinguishes us from animals. But under capitalism this ability is out of our control. Marx said this means people become “alienated” from their true selves.
He showed how the rich use racism to divide working class people.
His collaborator, Frederick Engels, explained how class societies produced women’s oppression.
The competition at the heart of the system leads to brutal wars. And the short-term goal of making money undermines sustainable ways of living and damages the environment.
It’s no wonder that the rich and their backers hate Marxists. Marx exposed their system for what it really is—a disaster for the majority of people and for the planet.
But more terrifying for the rich, Marx also identified how the system can be smashed. He said capitalism creates its own “gravedigger” by producing a vast working class that is repeatedly pushed to fight back collectively.
The appeal that Marx and Engels made in their Communist Manifesto, written in 1848, remains true today.
“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains,” they wrote. “They have a world to win.”