“Worlds I would destroy for ever,
Since I can create no world,”
From “Feelings”, a poem by Karl Marx, 1836, Aged 18
Marxism is essentially Dialectic Materialism. It is a mixture of Hegels’ Dialectics and Feuerbachs’ 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 people who hold different points of view, who establish a consensus point of view through reasoned argument.
Materialism asserts the primacy of the material wor;d, 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/sponsor Engels saw this “change” in the workers’ 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 directly from Feuerbach’s “Essence of Christianity” (1841). The Creator and the creation were once one and the same thing, now separate 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 capitalism was the economic base, then its superstructure (i.e. the rest of capitalist society), Marx believed, created alienation in the following ways…
a. It separated the worker from the product of his labour.
b. It alienates the worker from the act of producing for himself through the division of labour, resulting in meaningless jobs, full of repetition and lacking any satisfaction.
c. 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 in relation 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.
Marxs’ 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 by the fact that work is not all there is to human existence. Work is in fact a means to an end – a human action to achieve a goal – such as the accumulation of wealth.
As Ludwig Von Mises pointed out, 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.
How is Marxism a religion?
Religion if not tested and constantly evolving can become Dogma, particularly in it’s premodern, mythological tendendies which are not open to question and which cannot be questioned by “true believers”.
Marx, however, believed in a world in flux, a constant struggle and revolution.
Part of this revolution was, perversely, to allow Capitalism to grow to a state of maximum efficiency and wait for it’s internal contradictions and weaknesses that contribute to this success to cause it to implode.
After this implosion, Marxism would be ready to pick up the pieces. In essence, this is what Marxism shares with many religions, in the fact that it is tribulatory or pre-millenialist. That there must be great suffering before Man is reunited with God on earth, before the end of alienation.
Unusual, however to most religions, is the fact that Marxism saw the world through the eye of the flesh, not the eye of the mind, the contemplative eye…
“The Idea is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought”
Marxism, in an attempt to assert itself above other religions, decided to flatten the world reducing every aspect of life to an expression of the current mode of production. If Marxism simply succeeded in changing the mode of production from the accumulation of capital to the simple matching of human needs and wants – it would change the world.
This in it’s essence was Marxism’s great undoing as a religion, to wait until capitalism eats itself and let the working class take over the means of production.
Class Warfare or Killing God?
Marx believed in the destruction of the Nation State. Most think this was a means to and end – to destroy the class system that it supported. This, however, would is a wrong assumption.
Marx believed that the Nation State supported three main classes; the Proletariat, the Lumpen Proletariat and the Bourgoises, though he saw the State truly as an instrument of one class – the ruling class, who used the State to secure it’s rules and enforce the exploitation of other classes.
Marx, wanted to destroy the Nation State and it’s heirarchical class system so that the new order, which would be imposed by the consciousness of the working class, would supercede the need for any supernatural – neither State nor God.
Many have argued however, that the working class were only ever capable of trade union consciousness and that Marx himself who, in his time, would have been part of what we would consider part of “the 1%”, was of the ruling class which his writings wanted to remove from power.
The “Ideal Type” and Polylogism
“The present generation is like the Jews whom Moses led through the wilderness. It has not only a new world to conquer, it must go under in order to make room for the men who are able to cope with a new world.”
- Karl Marx
The Class Struggles in France,
The irony of the above statement is that it is clear from what we know of history that a man like Marx would not in fact have been able to cope with this new world which his writings espoused.He was of the wrong social class to begin with!
Marx, labelled and therefore limited the scope of what a human being actually was.His “homo oeconomicus”, was what Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises would describe as a person “being driven exclusively by economic motives”
Marx’s divide and conquer strategy and simplification of human needs and wants was based on polylogism,similar to racism, in the sense that it asserted that your logic was irrevocabloy associated with what social class you belonged to.
This not only implied that those who were born of a certain “class” and remained in that “class” all had a similar logic and behaved in a similar way, it also ridiculously suggested that social mobility, in some way,could transport you not just from one class to another, but that the logical structure of your brain would also change,automatically putting you on the other side of the battelines in the coming “class warfare”.
The one true God of Labour
Marx quickly set his sights on the competition;other organised religions:-
“Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every Pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets.”
- Karl Marx
“The Russian Loan,” New York Daily Tribune,
January 4, 1856
Marxism would rely on mass coercive indocrination as much as any other organised religion.
A dictatorship of the proletariat,is a dictatorship, nonetheless, and whereas the Catholic Church would decide who or who could not become priests, who would go to heaven and who would go to hell,Marxism would dictate who had access to the means of production and the surplus of labour.Marxism would take human life and earth, if the various faiths had monopolised the afterlife.
In essence, this also meant that a Marxist society would also decide who would be assigned certain types of employment,the extent of their property rights and their level of subsistence.
While religion offers hope aswell as dogma to it’s followers, Marxism offered none, only the promised class warfare.
Some historians would cite universal social welfare and womens’ rights as two Marxist philosophies turned into concrete achievements,others would point to the horrors of state communism in Eastern Europe and the failure of it’s planned command economy as two fundamental flaws of Marxism.
A religion should not need to build walls around it’s people to keep them from leaving the worker’s utopia.
For further information on the true legacy of Marxism, please visit