Teaching Global Marxism

I introduced my World history students to the origin of industrialism and the expansion of global Marxism. I do a nice job simplifying this concept. To make it a bit interesting, I show them this creative clip of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

To get a greater understanding of global industrialism outside of the West, this chart highlights the climate for why Marxism reached certain regions in the 20th century.

Source

In the 19th century a number of social critics in England, continental Europe, and the US came to fix their attention on the nature of industrial work. They “slowly” realized that factories and machines degraded the status of workers, denying them any joy at life. Government’s reaction to this in the US kept strong elements of Marxism out. Marx called for the proletarians to unite. In England and the US, they did by formulating unions. However, due to the historical emphasis on the rugged individual notion, a wave of Calvinistic conservatism dictated the order and operation of society.

Terms such as socialist and Marxist are often used synonymously, much to the bitterness of non-Marxist socialist.  My major aim in teaching such terms is to address matters of racial inequality, as well as political and economic inequality throughout global history. Marxism, in academic circles, has been victorious in helping both students and academicians categorize various social and historical conflicts. Though, the German philosopher Christian Wolff might ask individuals and academics to rethink their teleology. [1]While surfing news show last night, I saw that Sean Hannity was hosting a quasi town hall meeting at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; I could not help but note his frequent misuse of terms. Case in point, he equated liberalism and socialism to that of Marxism; in an aforementioned way, he alluded to the fact that liberalism was collectivization.

Currently in my World History classes, we are exploring the concept of global Marxism and the expansion of industrialism. Knowing that said terms mean very little to students, I organized a power point outlining the role of industrialism in promulgating Marxism. Furthermore, I asked students to define terms such as liberalism, socialism, Marxism, and communism. Much of what students know are things heard from misinformed news pundits or bad generalizations. Thus, I saw a need to explain how historians and other social scientist define such measures.

First, I did state that I do not believe communism or anarchy have ever existed in human society. I realize there are communists and anarchists, but not in a true sense seeing that both cannot exist in a world made up of individuals. Moreover, I went on to state that the phrase “liberal socialism” is too synonymous. Again, my case as noted by historian Carlo Rosselli, articulates that liberalism has been used to smuggle so many different kinds of merchandise and has been so much the preserve of the bourgeoisie in the past, that today a socialist has difficulty bringing him or her self to use it.[2]


[1] A look a one’s perspective and sense of self in and of the universe; it has meaning but that meaning is defined by the person creating such meaning.

[2] Carlo Rosselli, an essay on Liberal Socialism, can be found in Twentieth Century Political Theory edited by Stephen Eric Bronner.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Global Marxism

  1. Think about it. China, USSR, Cuba, N Korea. Laos, Venezuela. All doing really really well, aren’t they. Not to mention all the Soviet satellite countries — which have done quite well once they dropped a Marxist economic approach.

    But, it is interesting that these nations are not industrial like that of others in later times. China. They are going through it now.

  2. This is such a touchy subject, but I love it (as I’m sure you know by now). When I taught history the students had a hard time with terms like liberal (I’m a liberal in the original sense of the word), progressive, socialist, marxist, etc… I often am annoyed when people call themselves a liberal and refer to me as a conservative.
    Anyway, it’s great to see someone else out there discussing these things.

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