Tracy Chapman may or may not be a Marxist, but the song lyrics from this 1988 tune certainly are.
She sings about people wasting their lives waiting for government assistance and better jobs. To Marx, the capitalist class – the bourgeoisie – owned the companies and factories. These means of production were used to exploit workers for their labour. At the same time, unemployment lines for government help such as welfare can’t be too generous because those workers – the proletariats – are needed to earn profit for their bosses. Generous social programs would get in the way.
Thus, the people in the song are whispering about change. Major change. They are talking about a revolution. Karl Marx believed that workers would organize against the capitalists. That some capitalists would even join the good fight. And that ultimately, the workers and their supporters would revolt and overthrow the ruling class. When Tracy Chapman sings, “I said you better run, run, run,” she is referring to the bourgeoisie that are being taken out. Finally, the tables are turning, she sings.
Really, Marxists still wait for this natural “end of history” to organically occur, this substitution of the capitalist system with communism. Under communism, people wouldn’t exploit each other. People would contribute what they could to others, and get back what they needed. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” wrote Marx (and his buddy, Friedrich Engels). In various countries, impatient rulers instead stage managed such revolutions, such as in Russia, though even modern Marxists today have got to admit, with out bringing the Marxist utopia. Delivering equality in every way for every one is a wonderful goal, but consequences of rushing revolution instead have been millions murdered and starved to death.
How should we measure political theories then: by the intentions or outcomes? By theory or in practice?