Marxism – A Critical Theory

HISTORY OF COMMUNISM 

Karl Marx is considered the Father of Communism. Marx was a German philosopher and economist who wrote about his ideas in a book called the Communist Manifesto in 1848. His communist theories have also become known as Marxism.

It’s basically the idea of living in a society with an economic divide. Interestingly which can also be called proletariat, hence where the names of the proles comes from.

Marx described ten important aspects of a communist government:

  • No private property (Very little personal items)
  • A single central bank
  • High income tax that would rise significantly as you made more
  • All property rights would be confiscated
  • No inheritance rights
  • The government would own and control all communication and transportation (Big Brother – constant surveillance)
  • The government would own and control all education (Newspeak)
  • The government would own and control factories and agriculture
  • Farming and regional planning would be run by the government
  • The government would tightly control labor (The people aren’t worth anything to the government, it’s their labor which is useful) 

LITERARY THEORIES: MARXISM

‘It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness’

  • reflected in the novel by the quotes Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” Referring to the proles to show how they could easily over through the party with a series of good decisions. And  “Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” shows how the state controls the peoples’ existence and therefore determines their consciousness.

The base of a society – the way its economy is organised, broadly speaking – determines its superstructure – everything that we might classify as belonging to the realm of culture, again in a broad sense: education, law, but also religion, philosophy, political programmes, and the arts.

Its outlook is materialist, as opposed to the idealist perspective, whose claim that matter is basically subservient to thought is one of the fundamental assumptions of modern Western culture: we tend to assume that our thinking is free, unaffected by material circumstances. In our minds we can always be free. Wrong, says Marxism, minds aren’t free at all, they only think they are.

  • reflected in the novel by the fact that the party pretends to have the continuous war with East-Asia and Eurasia in order to justify the economic status of the society and therefore able to keep the divide in which the government can control everything.
  • reflected in our lives through advertising and consumerism, more subtle form of manipulation. We think we are in control of of decisions but we are so heavily influenced by the media.

A third Marxist method is to explain the nature of a whole literary genre in terms of the social period which ‘produced’ it. All the same, Marxist literary criticism maintains that a writer’s social class, and its prevailing ‘ideology’ (outlook, values, tacit assumptions, half-realised allegiances, etc.) have a major bearing on what is written by a member of that class.

A fourth Marxist practice is to relate the literary work to the social assumptions of the time in which it is ‘consumed’, a strategy which is used particularly in the later variant of Marxist criticism known as cultural materialism.

  • reflects the time period of time after the war where George Orwell had fears for the future. His projections were entirely based on his own social class, which undermines his creativity and imagination. Based on the idea that the message portrayed in any form of work is a result of the social and economic consciousness of the person and tends to only offer a generalist view of historic events.

A fifth Marxist practice is the ‘politicisation of literary form’, that is, the claim that literary forms are themselves determined by political circumstance. For instance, in the view of some critics, literary realism carries with it an implicit validation of conservative social structures: for others, the formal and metrical intricacies of the sonnet and the iambic pentameter are a counterpart of social stability, decorum, and order.

  • referring to the political views regarding a totalitarian society in the novel

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