Is the study of Karl Marx still relevant today? After all, all the communists regimes have fallen and failed, except for a few that persist amidst difficulties, and reading Marx today therefore seems irrelevant to us. Yet, there is much in Marx that can be drawn out if we know what his goals were.

Marx is known to us as the father of the communist doctrine, i.e. the socio-political regime founded on the proletariat after these had overthrown the capitalistic class. An aspect of the new form of society that Marx imagined is the equality of all resulting from the common possession of the means of production, ushering in a new age of happiness for all–as oposed to happiness only for the few capitalistic owners of the means of production. But this aspect only comes at the end of Marx’s analysis, it is what he thought the world should be. It is the product of a reflexion on how the ultimate utopian society would come into being. Marx’s interest lies primarily in the philosophy of History. For sure, his vision of history is typical of that of the 19th century man: History progressed in a straight line representing evolution from a primitive to an evolved, perfected stage or state of being.

Marx saw the birth of his own age–industrial capitalism–in the feudal society; rather, it is the end thereof that made the birth of capitalism possible. He sees the genesis of primitive capitalism when small artisans started to expand “exploitation of wage-labor and corresponding accumulation.” Yet, the feudal economic relationship and guilds prevented this capital from being turned into industrial capital. It is the end of the feudal regime that made this possible. Dixit Marx,

“These fetters vanished with the dissolution of feudal society, with the expropriation and partial eviction of the country population. […] The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the east Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rost dawn of the era of capitalist production.
Capital, Vol. I, Chap. XXXI