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Marxist Social Theory

4. Politics: Communism and Revolution

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the transition from capitalism to communism in Marx’s work, and his understanding of politics in capitalist society, focusing in particular on: (i) the gravedigger thesis - an important idea in Marxist thought which says that the inherent contradictions in capitalism means that it creates its own means of destruction; (ii) the nature of this contradiction: capitalism creates competition, which drives down the rate of profit, which intensifies exploitation, which creates a proletariat class who will lead the revolution against capitalism; (iii) the role of the ideological superstructure in this, as the means by which revolution is averted; (iv) Marx’s writing on revolution and the transition to communism.


In this course, Dr Ross Abbinnett (University of Birmingham) explores Karl Marx’s theory of society. In the first lecture, we consider Marx’s analysis of labour, its importance to humanity, and alienation from labour under capitalism. In the second lecture, we look at how Marx approaches history and social change, particularly his base and superstructure model and his notion of modes of production. In the third lecture, we think about Marx’s account of capitalism’s emergence and characteristics. Next, we think about the political forces which lead society from capitalism to communism. In the fifth and final lecture, we consider efforts to bring communism about in the real world, such as those of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.


Dr Ross Abbinnett is Senior Lecturer in Social and Political Theory at the University of Birmingham. His recent publications include The Neoliberal Imagination: Politics, Aesthetics, and Economics in the Evolution of Hyper-Industrial Capitalism (2021), The Thought of Bernard Stiegler: Capitalism, Technology and the Politics of Spirit (2018) and Marxism After Modernity: Politics, Technology and Social Transformation (2006).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Abbinnett, R. (2021, August 31). Marxist Social Theory - Politics: Communism and Revolution [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Abbinnett, R. "Marxist Social Theory – Politics: Communism and Revolution." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 31 Aug 2021,

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