Marxism (Film Discussion & Review)

“Marxism- The Theory That Split a World” (Part of the “Shaping  theWestern World” film series on Kanopy)

Part I Discussion:
Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Germany. He attended university in Bonn and Berlin, where he studied law, poetry and academic philosophy.

During the Victorian period (1837-1901), Europeans began to question their origins as well as their faith. This was influenced by science and industrialization. The middle class bourgeoisie had destroyed the kings and there was fertile ground for revolutionary theories due to the numerous exploited workers.

  • “Class struggle”- when the exploited overthrows the exploiters (but the process repeats)

This film really emphasized how ground-breaking and important Marx’s ideas were. History was described as being subjected to laws of economics since economies produce and divide wealth–making Marx’s theory just as influential as Darwin’s (Theory of Evolution.)

  • Marx believed that without capitalism, industrialization would have been impossible. However, there is no escape from poverty of the proletariat since their only significant material-power is their labor.
  • He also believed that under benevolent state ownership, there will be enough for everyone and socialism will develop into communism.

The chief concern was industrialization. The French Revolution of 1848 led to some confusion and doubts about the idea of revolt. Communism didn’t take over because working-conditions improved and work unions were created.

  • However, in one country communism was able to take-off. The nation was still a feudal country of peasants and aristocratic landlords ruled by a Czar. Does the name Vladimir Lenin ring a bill? Yes, the nation was Russia.
  • World War I weakened Russia (1914-1918) and by 1917 the Bolsheviks (under Lenin’s lead) were in power. Their intentions were to modernize and industrialize–to build a strong, simple state (by copying the capitalists)
  • They were able to accomplish this but not without the cost of personal freedom and human values. Many people were executed (or imprisoned) due to being “political opponents.”

Part II Review:

I really enjoyed this short history lesson. The film was under thirty minutes. Historic figures were portrayed by actors and they spoke to the audience explaining what was happening in their time. I thought that was pretty entertaining.

I also thought the topic (Marxism) was presented in a very interesting way. The focus was to explain what his ideas were and how this lead to different types of economies in the world. Some historic information was covered about Marx himself, but a lot was left out.

Finally, I was able to learn a few new things about Russian history. As the film said, Russia was one of few countries where such a revolution was still possible. The film shows how interconnected German and Russian history has been at certain times. I can recommend this film if you are just looking for an introduction to Marxism, but if you are discussing something specific and would like more intricate details, this short film will most likely not be enough.

That’s it!

Thanks for reading,

Stephanie F.