When Karl Marx published Das Kapital in 1867, the world had seen just capitalism and exploitation of masses. It was the time, the capitalism was looked down for its labour exploitation . The exploitation gave way to the thought of equality. The feudalism, capitalism and class culture started melting down across Europe and gradually elsewhere. In some societies, the class distinction was not very visible like in Americas (North and South). In place of feudalism, there the capitalism took roots as neo rich people wanted to achieve the same social status which was denied to them in their European home countries from where they had emigrated. The new class system based on wealth now took root in all countries. The wealthy people wanted to see capitalism to flourish and therefore abhorred those who wanted to finish this off. Marx’s economic theories were changing the thought process . His books had affected the minds of Russians first as Russia was emerging out of profound serfdom. The book had got translated in Russian first before in English. Whether Marx got the inspiration from the French Revolution(1789), melting away of slavery around the world (1833 in UK, 1865 in US) and serfdom abolition in Russia (1861) to expound that theory on the use of capital, one can not be sure.
Somehow, that theory from Marx led the Russia and the world to try communism . While the neo rich and capitalists in US and other countries carried on fighting to establish whether capitalism and wealth should be worshipped or the equality (socialism).The Marx has infected the minds of millions . A new social order has become desirable where those people who work are not looked down upon by wealthy and indolent people and they have more freedom.
When colonialism was giving way to democracies in late 20th centuries, all the leading lights of the day were embracing socialism like Nehru, Tito, Bhutto, Nasser etc. But, after the 1989 breakdown of communist bloc , the communism is now considered a failed ideology whose time is gone. The socialism as being associated with communism is therefore a word people want to retreat from even though every body still wants to bring equality to masses.
In recent past, the socialism was just used by many to come into power and then forget about it. The socialist halo was also present in Sukarno, , Indira Gandhi and in military men Gaddafi, Suharto, Nasser & Anwar Sadat. The socialism led many leaders to nationalise the production assets, the banks etc. However, the nationalisation was on the retreat after the Margret Thatcher‘s show in UK to claim back the world from that ideology of socialism where the labour unions had virtually paralyzed the country. So, for operational aspects the world began to see the folly of putting everything under the state control. But this retreat of socialism has also affected the effort in elimination of exploitation by few of the masses.
Arab Spring of 2011 began to claim back the rights of have-nots in Muslim world and let people have freedom. The democracy which was thought is not suitable model by some Muslims was now wanted by them. It also inspired other countries too by stressing that however entrenched any govt or system may be, it can be thrown away. The trigger was a single incident of Mohamed Bouazizi self immolation in Tunisia for the start of Arab Spring.
The advent of internet and means of mass communication like mobile phone has allowed people to see that the things can be changed . So, the aspirations of people are changing too. Why would they be willing to put up with the same exploitation and denials of their rights which they had in the past. But there are always those who have the capital, the power . They would not be willing to change and give it away so easily without struggle. So, Syria has simmered on and on. While some struggles have started in some countries and some will have it some day but the danger lurks that it may come suddenly to that country causing widespread misery and chaos.
Recently, this struggle manifested in a movement to claim back proper gender equality in India after the death of a woman following a rape but the govt muzzled the protest. The govt may have had success in controlling the protest by closing lots of metro stations, water cannoning the protesters etc. but any such success of govt and the failure of masses to register protest stores the mass fury for the next time.
In Pakistan, there was a march scheduled to the capital Islamabad calling for the end of feudalism. The march organisers have been under tremendous pressure to scrap the march in case it derails the democracy and allow the military to usurp power again. So, whether anti-feudal struggle remains in abeyance will become clear on Jan 14, the March date to see if it has any effect. China is still waiting for something to happen as it is yet keeping the individual freedom at bay. If its new leadership of 2012-13 does not take small steps now to let people allow some protests, there is a danger that it will boil over in big way one day which will then also affect the whole world.
So, some govts will be changing a little and some will remain the same until the mass fury visits that country one day. But it is thanks to Karl Marx and his ushering a thought of socialism, the world after about 150 years of his book looks lot better place to live and breathe in as it is little more equal and allows lot more freedom.