5 Important Features of Karl Marx’s Class Approach to the Study of Politics

The Marxian Approach is based largely on the writings of Karl Marx and Engels. It is also called Marxist-Leninist Approach because it was explained, developed and productively used for the first time by Lenin, who was followed by Stalin and Mao Tse Tung.

Marxian Approach is also known as Class Approach because it seeks to study politics and society in terms of relations between two economic classes—the haves (Rich) and have-nots (Poor) or the owners and the workers.

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It regards class struggle between these two economic classes as the reality of all relations in all human societies. It is based on the view that political relations are determined by economic relations between the two economic classes, which have always been present in every society.

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“All political actions represent attempts by the dominant class (Rich or Haves) to maintain its mastery over the subordinate class (Have-nots) or efforts of the oppressed (Poor Have-nots) to throw off their chains”.

Almond and Powell have well summarised the main idea of this approach. “.Marxist theory presents the argument that the class structure of a society determines the structure and process of the political system and its performance in society.”

1. Values and Action as the two main pillars of Marxian Approach:

The fundamental features of Marxian approach are very different from the behavioural approach. Whereas the latter advocates an empirical and largely value-free study of politics, the Marxian Approach has been a value-laden approach.


It stands based upon several values what is real is matter in the form of material conditions, matter is evolutionary, its process of evolution is dialectical, history is determined by material forces, struggle is the natural form of relation between the rich and the poor, working class is the most important and revolutionary class in every society, capitalism is a system of exploitation and state is its tool, and society is evolving towards its final objective of becoming a classless and stateless society.

Marxian Approach is a normative approach which not only prescribes values but also lays down the methods and the path through which the desired values are to be realised.

The attempt is both to understand and explain: What has been happening? What is happening? What shall be happen ring? And what is to be the final stage of social revolution?

It surely lays down the way to realise the desired goal of socialism. It rejects the concept of a value-free political science. It stands for the end of capitalism and the securing of socialism.


In fact, it regards the coming of socialism as inevitable and therefore wants the workers to work for securing it. It stands for workers revolution against capitalism. It advocates action towards the attainment of Socialism and describes the exercise as Scientific Socialism/Communism.

2. More emphasis upon Practice than Theory:

The Marxist Approach seeks to discover the objective laws of historical evolution and social change. It also postulates action to bring about all changes aimed at securing the end of class exploitation and for pushing forward the march towards the attainment of communist society—the classless and stateless society. Action, including revolution of the have-nots against the haves is accepted as the method of securing the final goal.

3. Close Relation between Theory and Practice:

Marxist Approach advocates that theory and practice are intimately related. Theory must lead to practice, otherwise it is useless. The aim of the revolutionary theory is to guide and lead revolutionary movement. That theory is meaningless which is incapable of producing results in actual practice. Theory has value only in so far as it can lead to action.

“If we have a correct theory, but merely know about it, pigeon-hole it and do not put it into practice then that theory, howsoever good, has no significance.” “Knowledge starts with practice, reaches the theoretical plane via practice and finally returns to practice.”

4. Political Relations are the Product of Economic Relations:

Marxist conception of politics is entirely different from the Western and non-Marxist view of politics. Western scholars view, politics as a natural process of struggle for power involving all individuals and groups which leads to the making and implementation of binding and authoritative laws and policies for the entire society. Against it the Marxist thinkers regard politics as a product of the economic relations between the two economic classes—the haves and have notes.

The haves, in order to maintain their system of control and exploitation of the have-nots, use state power in the form of laws, rules and policies. The whole exercise is controlled, regulated and run by the haves for exploiting and keeping the have-nots under their ‘superior’ control.

The economic relations (or relations of production) constitute the fundamental structure upon which is based the super structure of all other types of relations—political, social, cultural, religious and others. Politics has its roots in economics.

5. State as a Class Institution:

Marxian Approach views state as a class mechanism, a tool of the rich for exploiting the poor. As an instrument of the rich, State is a creation of the haves. It is an “instrument of exploitation in the hands of the rich for exploiting the poor.”

State is not a natural social institution. It is a class instrument or machine, created at a particular stage of social evolution by the rich for exploiting the poor. Marxist Approach assigns no place to state in the communist society which is essentially to be a classless and stateless society.


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