Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The history of Marxism can be encapsulated in a number of paradoxes. Karl Marx (and Friedrich Engels) called for a society in which all its members would be free. Yet his later followers (Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, and Pol Pot, to name a few) established deeply authoritarian and often barbaric regimes. This paradox may be explained, in part, by another: Marx firmly believed that proletarian revolutions would occur in advanced capitalist societies. Yet apart from having a formative influence on the German labor movement and, before that, World War I, in world-historical terms Marxism has been much more enthusiastically embraced by relatively undeveloped countries (Russia, China, Cuba), in their quest for independent economic development and opposition to Western imperialism. Although communist parties have been influential in Europe (in inter-war Germany and in postwar France and Italy), they have never managed to dominate the political agenda. Here is another paradox: Whereas ...