3 Important Ideological Theories of Marxist Approach to Study Political Science

Marxian Approach is based on several ideological theories which were formulated by Karl Marx and Engels.

1. Dialectical Materialism:

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Dialectical Materialism is Marxist philosophy. It constitutes the philosophical foundations of the Marxian Approach. According to Marx what is real is matter and ideas are manifestations of matter i.e. material conditions of society.


Marx adopted the laws of dialectical evolution, as developed by Hegel, and applied them to the field of matter. According to Karl Marx, matter, in the form of material forces evolves according to the three laws of dialectics:

(i) The Law of Transformation, (ii) The Law of Unity of Opposites, and (iii) The Law of Negation of Negation.

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(i) The Law of Transformation:

The first law, when applied to the field of social evolution, specifies that the social change is a continuous process which after evolving gradually leads to the highest point—the Node, (the point at which the revolution comes) the revolution is followed by the next stage of evolution in which the process begins all over again.


(ii) The Law of Unity of Opposites:

The second law explains the composition of society as a society of two opposing economic classes (Haves and Have-nots) existing together, but always in struggle against each other.

The haves always try to perpetuate their dominance and exploitation of the have-nots. The have-nots always work for the overthrow of the system of exploitation.

(iii) The Law of Negation of Negations:


The third law specifies that the process of change is a zigzag one and moves from thesis to anti-thesis and then to synthesis. Synthesis always involves the best in the thesis and anti thesis.

Feudalism is the thesis, Capitalism is its anti-thesis and Socialism is the synthesis. The coming of Socialism was inevitable and it is destined to come through workers revolution against capitalism.

2. Historical Materialism:

Marxian theory of Historical Materialism offers a materialistic interpretation of history. Material factors i.e., material means of production, determine the economic relations and the economic class structure of society which in turn determines all other aspects of social relations and social change.

“In the social production of their means of existence men enter into definite necessary relations, i.e. production relationships, which correspond to a definite stage of development of the material productive forces.

The aggregate of these productive relationships constitutes the economic structure of society, the real basis on which a legal and political super- structure arises. The economic structure determines the social consciousness and provides to it a particular definite form.

The mode of production of material means of existence conditions the whole process of social, political and intellectual life. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary, it is their social existence that determines their consciousness.”

“Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production. In changing their mode of production and in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The land will give you a society with the feudal lord; the steam mill, a society with the industrial system.”

3. Economic Determinism & Class Struggle:

Marxian concept of historical materialism involves the concepts of economic determinism and class struggle. Economic determinism holds that economic factors and economic (production) relations determine all other forms of social relations.

As such, by analysing the material productive forces which are at work at a given time and the production relations between the two economic classes, all types of social relations can be analysed, explained and predicted.

Such a study can be very helpful in securing the final stage of social evolution i.e. the communist society. Political relations and all political developments are determined by economic relations.

Politics is determined by class structure, the production relations between the haves and have-nots, and the ensuing class antagonism. Class struggle between them is the cause of political antagonism. Classes themselves are determined by the system of production and the mode of ownerships, which in turn, is produced by the productive forces.

Marxian Approach interprets social change in terms of the evolution of material factors and holds that the all social changes are the results of changes in material means of life.

To sum up we can say, the Marxist Approach holds:

(i) Politics has its roots in Economic/Production relations. It is determined by economic structure (the fundamental structure) of society.

(ii) Production relations/Economic relations are relations between the two economic classes—Haves or owners or the rich, and Have-nots or workers or the poor.

(iii) By analysing the class structure, we can analyse the nature of production relations and thereby the political relations.

(iv) Class struggle between the Haves and Have-nots is the cause of political antagonism.

(v) State is an instrument of exploitation in the hands of the class which owns the means of production and by which it exploits and controls the workers.

(vi) The social evolution is heading towards its final goal of classless and stateless society. Capitalism is just one stage, as feudalism was, in the evolution of the society towards socialism. Socialism was destined to finally develop into the communist society—the classless and stateless society.

(vii) Class struggle is the course through which the society evolves. “History of hitherto existing classes has been a history of class struggle.”

(viii) Revolution constitutes an essential step in social evolution. It is a means for pushing the existing stage towards its next stage.

With all these features, Marxian Approach involves a socio-economic analysis of politics.


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