What are the elements of Marxism

Three sources and three components of Marxism


Printed and read in: Lenin Werke, Volume 19, Pages 3-9; Dietz Verlag Berlin, 1977

W.I. Lenin

Three Sources and Three Components of Marxism (1)

The teaching of Marx encounters in the whole civilized world the bitterest hostility and the greatest hatred of all bourgeois science (official as well as liberal), which sees in Marxism a kind of "harmful sect". One cannot expect any other behavior, because there cannot be an "impartial" social science in a society based on class struggle. In any case, the fact is that all official and liberal science defends wage slavery, while Marxism has declared a ruthless war on this slavery. To expect impartial science in a society of wage slavery would be just as foolish naivete as to expect impartiality from manufacturers on the question of whether one should not increase workers' wages by reducing the profit of capital.

But not that alone. The history of philosophy and the history of social science clearly show that Marxism contains nothing that resembles "sectarianism" in the sense of some encapsulated, ossified doctrine that has arisen off the road to world civilization. On the contrary: the whole genius of Marx consists precisely in the fact that he gave answers to the questions which the advanced thinking of mankind had already posed. His teaching arose as a direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest exponents of philosophy, political economy and socialism.

Marx's teaching is omnipotent because it is true. It is self-contained and harmonious, it gives people a uniform worldview that cannot be reconciled with any superstition, no reaction, no defense of civil servitude. She is the rightful heir to the best that humanity produced in the 19th century in the form of German philosophy, English economy and French socialism. We want to briefly address these three sources and simultaneous components of Marxism.


The philosophy of Marxism is materialism. Throughout all of recent European history, and particularly in France at the end of the 18th century, where a decisive battle was being fought against all medieval junk, against feudalism in institutions and ideas, materialism proved to be the only consistent philosophy that remains true to all the teachings of the natural sciences, which are hostile to superstition, bigotry, etc. The enemies of democracy therefore did their utmost to "refute", undermine and defame materialism, and defended the various forms of philosophical idealism, which always, in one way or another, on a defense or support of Religion boils down to.

Marx and Engels resolutely championed philosophical materialism and repeatedly demonstrated how fundamentally wrong any deviation from this foundation is. Their views are laid down most clearly and in detail in Engels' works "Ludwig Feuerbach" and "Anti-Dühring", which - like the "Communist Manifesto" - are the handbooks of every class-conscious worker.

But Marx did not stop at the materialism of the eighteenth century; he developed philosophy further. He enriched it with the achievements of German classical philosophy and especially of the Hegelian system, which in turn had led to Feuerbach's materialism. The most important of these achievements is dialectics, i.e. the doctrine of development in its most complete, deepest and most one-sided form, the doctrine of the relativity of human knowledge, which gives us a reflection of eternally evolving matter. The latest discoveries in natural science - the radium, the electrons, the transformation of the elements - have brilliantly confirmed Marx's dialectical materialism, contrary to the teachings of the bourgeois philosophers with their constantly "new" return to old and lazy idealism.

Marx, who deepened and developed philosophical materialism, completed it and extended its knowledge of nature to the knowledge of human society. Marx's historical materialism was a tremendous achievement of scientific thought. The chaos and arbitrariness that had prevailed in the views of history and politics until then were replaced by an astonishingly uniform and harmonious scientific theory, which shows how one form of social life, as a result of the growth of the productive forces, becomes one another, higher form developed - as, for example, capitalism emerges from feudalism. Just as the knowledge of the human being reflects the nature existing independently of him, i.e. the developing matter, so the social knowledge of the human being (i.e. the different philosophical, religious, political etc. views and doctrines) reflects the economic structure of the society. The political institutions are a superstructure on the economic basis. We see, for example, how the various political forms of today's European states serve to consolidate the rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat.

Marx's philosophy is the perfect philosophical materialism that has given humanity - especially the working class - powerful means of knowledge.


Having recognized that the economic structure is the basis upon which the political superstructure rises, Marx turned his attention primarily to the study of this economic structure. The main work of Marx - "Das Kapital" - is devoted to researching the economic structure of modern, i.e. capitalist, society.

The vormarxsche Classical political economy originated in England, the most developed capitalist country. Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who studied economic structure, laid the foundation for labor theory of value. Marx continued her work. He justified this theory exactly and developed it consequently. He showed that the value of any commodity is determined by the amount of socially necessary labor time required to produce the commodity.

Where the bourgeois economists saw a relationship between things (exchange of goods for goods), there Marx revealed a relationship between people. The exchange of goods expresses the connection between the individual producers through the market. Money means that this connection is becoming ever closer and that the entire economic life of the individual producers is inextricably linked into a whole. Capital means a further development of this connection: man's labor becomes a commodity. The wage laborer sells his labor to the owner of the land, the factories and the equipment. The worker uses part of the working day to cover the expenses necessary for his and his family's maintenance (wages), but the other part of the day the worker works for free; he creates the added value for the capitalist, the source of profit, the source of wealth of the capitalist class. The doctrine of surplus value is the cornerstone of Marx's economic theory.

The capital created by the labor of the worker oppresses the worker, ruins the smallholder and creates an army of the unemployed. In industry, the victory of the large enterprise is visible at first glance, but we also see the same phenomenon in agriculture: the superiority of the capitalist agricultural large enterprise grows, the use of machines increases, the peasant economy gets caught in the loop of money capital, they falls under the weight of their technical backwardness to decline and ruin. In agriculture, the decline of the small business is taking different forms, but the decline itself is an undeniable fact.

By destroying small-scale production, capital brings about an increase in labor productivity and the creation of a monopoly position for the associations of big capitalists. Production itself is increasingly becoming social production - hundreds of thousands and millions of workers are grouped together into a systematic economic organism - but the product of common labor is appropriated by a handful of capitalists. The anarchy of production, the crises, the mad hunt for markets, the insecurity of the existence of the mass of the population grow. The capitalist order, which increases the workers' dependence on capital, creates at the same time the immense power of united labor.

From the first beginnings of the commodity economy, from the simple exchange, Marx followed the development of capitalism to its highest forms, up to large-scale production.

And the experiences of all capitalist countries, old as well as new, clearly show to a growing number of workers from year to year the correctness of this doctrine of Marx. Capitalism has triumphed all over the world, but this victory is only the preliminary stage to the victory of labor over capital.


When feudalism was overthrown and the "free" capitalist society was born, it was immediately apparent that this freedom meant a new system of oppression and exploitation of the working people. Various socialist doctrines soon emerged as a reflection of this oppression and as a protest against it. But the original socialism was a utopian socialism. He criticized capitalist society, condemned and cursed it, dreamed of its annihilation, fantasized about a better order and tried to convince the rich of the immorality of exploitation.

However, utopian socialism was unable to show any real way out. He could neither explain the essence of capitalist wage slavery, nor discover the laws of development of capitalism, nor find that social force capable of creating a new society.

Meanwhile, the stormy revolutions which accompanied the downfall of feudalism and serfdom everywhere in Europe, and especially in France, more and more conspicuously revealed the struggle of the classes as the basis of all development and as its driving force.

Not a single victory of political freedom over the class of feudal lords was won without their desperate opposition. Not a single capitalist country was formed on a more or less free, democratic basis without a life and death struggle between the different classes of capitalist society.

The ingenuity of Marx consists in the fact that he knew earlier than anyone else how to draw from this and consistently develop those conclusions which world history teaches us. This conclusion is the doctrine of class struggle.

In politics, people have always been the simple-minded victims of fraud and self-deception, and they always will be as long as they do not learn to look for the interests of this or that class behind all sorts of moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises , Reform and improvement advocates will always be duped by the defenders of the old unless they understand that any old institution, no matter how pointless and lazy it may seem, is asserting itself by the forces of one or that ruling class. But there is only one way to break the resistance of these classes: to find, enlighten and organize forces within the society around us that are capable - and, as a result of their social situation, compelled - to form the force that to sweep away the old and create the new.

It was Marx's philosophical materialism that showed the proletariat the way out of the spiritual slavery in which all oppressed classes had previously eked out their lives. It was only Marx's economic theory that explained the real position of the proletariat in the overall system of capitalism.

All over the world, from America to Japan and from Sweden to South Africa, the independent organizations of the proletariat are increasing. It advances in its enlightenment and upbringing by waging its class struggle, it gets rid of the prejudices of bourgeois society, comes closer and closer together and learns to apply the right yardstick to its successes, it strengthens its strength and grows inexorably.

"Prosweschtschenije" No. 3, March 1913,

Signature: W.I.


1 W.I. Lenin's article "Three Sources and Three Components of Marxism" was published in No. 3 of the 1913 magazine "Prosweschtschenije", which was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Karl Marx's death.

"Prosweschtschenije" (The Enlightenment) - theoretical organ of the Bolsheviks, was legally published in Petersburg every month from December 1911. The magazine, which was founded at Lenin's suggestion, replaced the Moscow Bolshevik magazine "Mysl" (The Thought), which was banned by the tsarist government. Lenin was the director of the Prosweschtschenije magazine from abroad; she published his works: "Principles of the election campaign", "The results of the elections", "Critical remarks on the national question", "On the right of nations to self-determination" and others. A.M. Gorky. The magazine had a circulation of almost 5000 copies.

Shortly before the First World War - in June 1914 - the magazine was banned by the tsarist government. In the autumn of 1917 the "Prosweschtschenije" was published again, there was only a double issue of the magazine in which Lenin's work "Will the Bolsheviks assert state power?" and "On the revision of the party program" were published.