In the context of the festival, the KNE organised an international seminar: ‘200 years since the birth of Karl Marx – the timeliness and the importance of the importance of the teachings of Marx on the capitalist exploitation’. The contribution of the CJB to this seminar is published here.
Together with all communist youth organisations around the globe, the Communist Youth Movement of the Netherlands (CJB) this year commemorates the 200 years since the birth of Karl Marx. The world has changed a lot since Marx wrote his works in the 19th century. There have been major developments in technology and science, in economic production and distribution, in politics, in culture and in every sphere of society. What has not changed, however, is that the vast majority of the people cannot enjoy the wealth that they created. At the one hand, we can see that most people face increasingly worse working conditions, unemployment and uncertainty. With the so-called ‘flexible jobs’, the labour market is organised according to the needs of the big employers. At the other hand, a small number of people are accumulating the wealth that the working class creates. The young workers and students can accept their ‘fate’, accept that their generation will face worse living conditions than the previous ones, even though the economic possibilities are more impressive than ever before. But we call on them to dismiss this perspective, because the youth can choose to fight for an alternative.
However, in order to change society, one must understand how society works. One must understand the character of society with all its internal contradictions and the laws that determine its course of development. Karl Marx was the first who accomplished to study society in accordance with a consistent scientific worldview, dialectical materialism. Together with his friend Friedrich Engels, Marx was inspired by the findings of the dialectical method as it had been developed – amongst others – by Hegel, and materialist philosophy. However, Marx and Engels did not just encompass and combine dialectics and materialism. Taking into account all the major achievements of the natural sciences and history at the time, they also surpassed and further developed both the dialectical method and the materialist worldview. Dialectical materialism and its application on the study of the development human society (historical materialism) allowed Marx and Engels to scientifically study and uncover the laws of development of society.
Marx and Engels spend a lot of years to discover the contradictions and laws of the capitalist mode of production. They uncovered the fundamental contradiction that capitalism creates. At the one hand the increasingly social character of production. Hundreds and thousands of workers are involved in the production process of the products that are consumed. At the other hand, the result of this production has a private character, as it is appropriated by a small group of persons, the capitalists, due to the fact that they own the means of production. In capitalism, a small minority that does not contribute to the production process enjoys the wealth that the majority has produced. On this basis, the capitalist mode of production inevitably produces problems for the working class. Exploitation, unemployment, anachronistic working conditions and working relations, poverty, the extra exploitation of ethical minorities, women and other social groups, and not to forget the imperialist wars that are driven by the capitalist’s hunger for profit.
Thanks to the scientific study of Marx and Engels, socialism is no longer a utopian theory. They pointed out the possibility and necessity of a different organisation of the economy and society, where the means of production are owned by those that produce wealth and where the economy is no longer governed by profit. Instead, the needs of the people will determine what is produced and how wealth is distributed. In that way, Marx and Engels provided the working class with an alternative.
They also examined issues related to the strategy of the workers movement to realise such an alternative. They emphasized the need for an autonomous political organisation of the working class, the communist party, where the revolutionary theory meets the revolutionary movement of the working class. They participated in the struggles of the worker’s movement and studied its results, delivering valuable contributions to the strategy of the worker’s movement, especially after the Commune of Paris.
In the Netherlands, we were not the only ones to commemorate the 200th birthday of Marx. Various bourgeois and opportunist forces spent a lot of effort to promote their ideas on the relevance of Marx nowadays. They take quotations from Marx, without providing the necessary context, completely altering the meaning of what Marx was trying to say. In that way they dismiss every revolutionary aspect of Marxism (which is the very essence of Marxism). They describe Marx as a supporter of bourgeois democracy and a social democrat. Amplifying the phenomenal changes in society since the 19th century, they hold that the essence of the most important writings of Marx is outdated. They support that Marxism-Leninism is a dogmatic interpretation of Marx that tries to apply a theory that is no longer relevant. Anything related to the construction of socialism in the 20th century is labelled as dogmatic and criminal. With quotations form Marx himself, they mobilise Marx against Marxism, against the revolutionary theory. In this way they try to reach young people that are confronted with the problems created by capitalism. They try to avoid the radicalization of their consciousness, guiding them to a path that is unharmful for the current order.
The CJB considers it as its duty to confront the distortion of Marxism. In general, we consider it of utmost importance to confront the ideology of capital. This year we organised movie nights, where we watched and discussed films such as ‘The young Marx’. We concluded the series of lessons in all sections on basis of the ‘Communist manifesto’ that started last year and are preparing a more complete education programme for next year. We published a list of works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and some other authors, in order to ease the process of self-education of our members and sympathisers. At the moment, we are preparing a national event on the 6th of October to commemorate both the 200 years since the birth of Karl Marx and the 15 years since the foundation of our organisation, the CJB.
We live in difficult times. Sometimes we make important steps forward. Other times we are obliged to take some steps back. Nevertheless, we are determined to become a strong youth movement, with deep roots in the workers and student movement, and to contribute to rebuilding the communist party in the Netherlands, the NCPN.