Worlds I would destroy for ever, Since I can create no world
From “Feelings”, a poem by Karl Marx, 1836, Aged 18
Karl Marx and Marxism profoundly affected the shaping of the world in the 20th Century.Though he died in 1883,his theories on Capitalism led to the largest Country on the planet and many other nations,adopting and adapting his doctrine to their own ends.The resulting misery,repression and bloodshed,a direct result of Marxism and it’s followers has not been matched in human history.
In a series on Marxism and Fascism, we begin with
Marxism as a religion
Marxism is essentially Dialectic materialism.
It is a mixture of Hegel’s Dialectics and Feuerbach’s Materialism.
Hegel believed in a Weltgeist or world spirit, which is a philosophy of history that suggests a world spirit constantly changing it’s mind and in the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, the general feeling of a certain time or certain group.
Hegelian Dialectics is a form of the dialectic method, ,of reasoning through dialogue between two or more poeple who hold different points of
view, who establish a consensus point of view through reasoned argument
Materialism asserts the primacy of the material word, that matter precedes thought, that the world is material and that all phenomena in the
universe consists of “matter in motion”, whereby everything is interconnected and that the world exists independently of our perception.
Karl Marx wrote a thesis on Feuerbach in 1845, where he asserted that philosophy had to stop interpreting the world in endless debates and
instead start changing the world.
He and his writing partner and sponsor Engels saw this “change” in the worker’s movements in England, France and Germany
Marxism central premise is that there is an economic “base” aroud which a “superstructure” is constructed.
Therefore, the non economic features of a society are seen as being an outgrowth of it’s economic activity
Marx believed in the concept of Alienation,the separation of things that naturally belong tegether.
This follows on directly from Feuerbach’s “Essence of Christianity” (1841).
The Creator and the creation were once one and the same thing, now sparate through either the creation of God by Man, or the creation of Man by God
This is where some observers believe that Marx was essentially speaking about man’s longing to return to the Garden of Eden, where God and Man were not separated
Marx applied this theory of alienation to Capitalism.If capitaism was the economic base, then it’s superstructure, i.e. the rest of capitalist society, Marx believed,created alienation in the following ways;
It separated the worker from the product of his labour;
It alienates the worker from the act of producing itself through the division of labour, resulting in meaningless jobs, full of repetition and lacking any satisfaction;
It alienates the worker from his own essence an from other workers or producers
The Labour Theory of Value
Marx believed that Capital could be reduced to labour and other inputs
He believed that all tradeable goods and services had one common denominator,the labour involved in producing it.
Products could therefore be measured in terms of hours of labour involved in producing them, although this theory starts to unravel when we
deal with skilled and unskilled labour.
Thus,surplus labour, the amount of labour produced by a worker in excess of what he needs to live(necessary labour) is the source of profit
for entrepreneurs or “exploiters” in capitalist society
Marx’s obsession with labour is derivative of Adam Smith’s Calvinist approach.It is interesting to note that no Catholic country ever had
this labour theory of value and is limited in the fact in that work is not all there is to human existence and work is in fact,a means to an end, a human action to achieve a goal.
As Ludwig Von Mises would say;a human only exchanges if they perceive what they currently have to be less valuable to them than what they
could have, therefore, a worker would only exchange his free time for paid labour, if he valued the pay associated with the labour or the engagement of the labour itself as more valuable to him/her than not working at all.
In Part 2, we will continue to explore Marx’s deep but ultimately flawed impact on society and why Marxism should be seen as a religion rather than as a political movement.