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Marxism and Its Significant Impact on Literature and Critical Theory

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This week we learned about the term Marxism and its significance in literature and critical theory. Marxism is all about “who benefits and who suffers”; it assumes that class struggle is the root of all struggle, and aims toward a “classless society”. The power structure of Marxism lies between the working class and their labor vs. the elite and those who benefit off others.

In literature, class struggle is frequently the root of all tension; usually there are opposite forms of status such as the rich and the poor, black and white etc. Human culture always was and always will be determined by economic and material realities, history was/is eternally about resources and material gain. Rarely, if ever, is history about outside forces such as God and spirituality, nor is it ever determined by individual circumstance. In fact, societies often separate themselves from the very individuals that it has produced. When applying the Marxism lens its important to remember that politics refers to power structured relationships; or any arrangement where another group controls one group of persons.

Ideology is described as a “representation” of the imaginary relationship of an individual to her/his real conditions of existence. The best way for me to explain the definition of ideology is to give a religious example: In America, Christian ideology keeps Christians from dealing with the weight of their problems and keeps them from holding themselves accountable for the magnitude of issues happening around the world today. Why? Because Christians are transferring any problems they have, or any suffering they see …onto a deity. Religious ideology leads that person into believing that this is a “natural” way of living or the way God intended it to be, when really nothing will change unless action is taken. The reality is Christian ideology or any religious ideology is just a depiction of the relationship this person holds with reality and their current condition of existence. Tyson p.54 states “By posing as a natural ways of seeing the world…” In my comparison change the word natural to religious; “…repressive ideologies prevent us from understanding the material/historical conditions in which we live because they refuse to acknowledge that those conditions have any bearing on the way we see the world”.

Another example is The American Dream. In this ideology you believe that any and everybody can make it, all they have to do is put the work in and success will follow. This is a false ideology because even with hard work in America plenty of people still fail. Or if you work too hard and do something illegal money may come but not without a price (prison). The sole purpose of Marxism is to expose these power structure that are in control and get rid of them ultimately resulting in a classless society.

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