Understanding Marxism and Neo-Marxism

What is Marxism and Neo-Marxism? A Contemporary Analysis


Marxism is a political and economic theory developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-19th century. The theory is based on the idea that capitalism, in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit, leads to exploitation of the working class and a class struggle between the capitalist class and the working class. Marxists believe that the only way to overcome this exploitation and create a more just society is through a socialist revolution in which the means of production are collectively owned and controlled by the working class.

Neo-Marxism, also known as Western Marxism, is a revision and development of traditional Marxism that emerged in the early 20th century. It emphasizes the role of culture, ideology, and other non-economic factors in shaping the class struggle and the transition to socialism. Neo-Marxists also tend to reject the idea of a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and instead advocate for gradual social and political change through reform and the building of alternative institutions.

In contemporary society, Marxism and neo-Marxism continue to be influential in academic and political circles. One of the key contemporary Marxist theorists is David Harvey, who has written extensively on the concept of \”Neoliberalism\” as a new form of capitalism which emerged in late 1970s and early 1980s as response to stagflation and competition from newly industrializing countries. He argues that it is characterized by a focus on deregulation, privatization, and the withdrawal of the state from economic activity, resulting in increased inequality and precarity for the working class.

Another prominent contemporary neo-Marxist is Antonio Gramsci, whose theory of cultural hegemony emphasizes the role of dominant ideas and cultural institutions in maintaining the power of the ruling class. Gramsci\’s ideas have been influential in fields such as cultural studies, postcolonial studies, and critical race theory.

In reference to the current state of Marxist and neo-Marxist thought in the academic world, in an interview with Jacobin Magazine David Harvey argued that \”Marxism is alive and well and more relevant than ever\”. The rise of inequality, the persistence of poverty and the ongoing environmental crisis have led to renewed interest in Marxist analysis and critique of capitalism.

In summary, Marxism and neo-Marxism continue to be important theoretical frameworks for understanding and critiquing contemporary society and its economic and political systems. Contemporary theorists such as David Harvey and Antonio Gramsci have made significant contributions to the development of these theories and continue to be widely read and cited in academic circles.


Harvey, D. (2007). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press.

Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Lawrence and Wishart.

\”David Harvey on the Relevance of Marxism Today\” Jacobin Magazine

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