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Communism, Marxism and Leninism


Communism is a quite complex scientific theory of evolution of human societies toward a pure democratic system. It has been grossly misrepresented and misunderstood in the United State because of the fierce capitalistic advocacy against it. This essay, in four parts, tries to present the essence of communism-Marxism in a highly simplified manner for general public since Marxism is going to remain a hugely effective force for foreseeable future in the world affairs. People in every society need its proper understanding. Part I is an introduction to the subject and its present standing in the world. Part II introduces Karl Marx's personality and background, a philosopher, a scientist, Marx and the nature of humanity. Part III, presents in a brief and simplified form, his famous theory of historical materialism. Part IV, Communism the Ultimate Objective. Each part can be read independent from the others.
A brief reference to the theory of communism is necessary for two reasons. First, some aspects of communism, procedural as well as substantive, have relevance to the author's theory of technological democracy; second, very few people in capitalistic societies, the United States in particular, are properly knowledgeable about communism, its Marxist, Leninist, as well as Maoist versions. There are earnest efforts worldwide by the communist scholars to update the theory from the unworkable concept of Leninism as well as Maoism to some kind of democratic socialism. Its true characteristics are not yet known. Though different versions are being developed in each region, the tendency is toward democratization. It seems that regardless of transition to democratic process, tendencies toward decentralization of the means of production and distribution willcontinue, allowing certain degree of private ownership and operation, experimenting with somehow limited market economy, the extent of public ownership and operation of production and distribution. All these will remain dominant factors in the modern interpretation of the theory
In this writing, we are concerned with capitalism and Marxism, two extreme economic models. We do not focus on communism because there is not and never has been such society in existence. In reality, it has been the objective of Marxism as a perfect democratic society in the far future. That is why countries referred to by the capitalist regimes as communist called and are calling themselves socialist such as Union of Socialist Soviet Russia (USSR). They consider this system of socialism as the first stage of development toward communism.
While we can claim that Leninism labeled as "dictatorship of intelligentsia" is dead, we cannot say the same about Marxism. These are two quite different ideologies. Leninism is a dictatorship of a very small group of "intellectuals" taking over the operation of an underdeveloped society and forcibly attempt to accelerate its development toward communism by bypassing the stage of capitalism. The idea in itself is in contrast to Marx principle of dialectic materialism where capitalism is an inevitable stage of development following feudalism and preceding socialism which is to happen as a result of proletarian revolution.
There is also two essential differences between Lenin's dictatorship of intelligentsia and Marx's dictatorship of proletariat. While the former occurs in an underdeveloped and mainly illiterate society, the latter can happen only in an advanced, well educated, and socially conscious society. Looking upon present state of labor forces in advanced societies we don't yet find general social consciousness among these forces to the extent that will tend to unify them against capitalist with a demand for economic equalization or economic democratization. It seems that the stage of development that Marx thought inducive for unified labor uprising has not been yet attained. We still cannot tell for sure that Marx was wrong in his prediction of the proletarian (working class) revolution.
There is another substantial difference between Lenin's dictatorship of intelligentsia and Marx's dictatorship of proletariat. The former is the forced rule of a very small minority over the large masses of population. The latter is the rule by vast majority of labor force and its allied groups suppressing a small group of capitalists. This may be considered a majority dictatorship where minority rights are not paid attention, yet if we consider, as Marx did, that people at this stage were highly advanced, highly educated, and socially conscious, we may doubt that their government would brutally eliminate the capitalist group. More likely the capitalists will be stripped of their capital, ownership, and operation of the production process and assimilated into the labor society. Because in such advanced civilization reason is supposed to dominate over emotions. It will not tend to impose physical brutality. Leninism, on the other hand, is synonymous with brutality simply because a minority government has to push the whole of a backward society to achieve impossible. It seems clear that these two forms of dictatorship are not comparable at all.
The socialist system established in countries so called communist is known in character as "Leninist-Marxist" in which there is nearly a total public ownership of means of production controlled by the government on behalf of the people. The whole economy operates under a centralized system according to a national plan. The workers comprising the whole population within working age, except for a negligible number, are considered public employees, paid standardized salary at different levels of occupation.
Communism and a communistic society as developed and envisioned by Karl Marx is the basic objective of these socialist countries. It is likely for this reason that they are called communist rather than socialist. Marxism is not the process by which they intend to reach this goal but takes its roots from the concepts developed by Lenin labeled later as Leninism. It seems appropriate that we take a brief look at these concepts which appears essential in understanding the operational conditions of the existing socialist systems prevailing over one-third of the world population which also includes communist parties with loyal followers in nearly all other countries, quite large and influential in some such as Russia, Italy, England, India and Indonesia.
The term socialist in its strict meaning refers to societies with Marxist goal of communism. Other countries which are usually referred to as socialist such as Sweden and Switzerland do not fall under this term. They are mixed economies of state and private capitalism with extensive social welfare functions.
From a capitalist viewpoint, nothing is more devastating to the order of a capitalist society than Marx's idea of communism. Based on this conviction, Marx and his ideas are presented to be evil and dangerous for the wellbeing of so-called "democratic-capitalist" society. In no country is this adverse feeling stronger than the United States. Thus by this advocacy, the study, discussion and analysis of Marx's ideas are almost totally and systematically prevented. Except for a very small group of academicians, in philosophy and social science disciplines, who are briefly exposed to Marxism, the rest of the society, particularly the working class, is kept in total ignorance regarding the works of a giant philosopher and his enormous contribution all intended for the wellbeing of humanity within a just and fair societal system.
For this reason and for proper understanding of the ideas presented in this writing, a brief explanation of Marx's ideas seem imperative. However, a study of his original writings is a must for those seeking consciousness regarding the evolution of human societies and trends toward their future from Marx's viewpoint. Among the three giants of the nineteenth century---Darwin, John Stuart Mill and Marx---one can quite assuredly choose the latter as being the most significant in shaping world history. Regardless of one's political or ideological orientation to the contrary, impartial attention to Marx's contribution to political philosophy is imperative for an understanding of communism and its place in the contemporary and future world arena.
There is no question about the magnitude of Marx's unchallenged contribution to social sciences. His genius is well recognized by economists for his development of a macroeconomic model long before John Maynard Keynes. The explanatory power of his method for delineating the operation of capitalism and the nature of social change is well understood by philosophers, historians, political and other social scientists. Based on his early writings many scientists and philosophers have come to view him as a great humanist.
Intentional efforts by capitalist scholars to denigrate Marx's scholarly contribution to intellectual history are still strong in the United States. However, their credibility has been increasingly questioned as the study of Marxism has gained wider attention and fairer analysis. In capitalistic societies the complexity of Marx's personality has not been fully appreciated likely for two main reasons. One is the results of distorted presentation of his ideas and motivations; the other is his contradictory and paradoxical character. He was, at the same time, a brilliant scholar and a political activist, a philosopher and an ideologue, a Victorian gentleman and a revolutionary, an economist and historian, a devoted father yet an agitator of the masses. For all these reasons it is important to have a glimpse at his life and personality in our next essay comprising Part II.

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Part II: Karl Marx: Personality and Background

To properly visualize Marx's enormous contribution to humanity and science, it is imperative to learn a bit about his personality and background. Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Trier, Germany as the oldest son of a middle-class prosperous Jewish family. During his youth, he suffered the sting of German anti-Semitism and witnessed the hypocrisy of his father, a lawyer, in adapting Christianity for commercial reasons. He was disowned by his mother, an orthodox Jew, upon learning that he has become as atheist.
In 1835, Marx entered the University of Bonn Law School, where, instead of studying, he spent much of his time with friends relaxing in beer gardens and writing poetry. In 1838, his father, dissatisfied with his academic performance, transferred him to then more disciplined and strict University of Berlin. The romanticist Marx soon became subject to two powerful influences of Hegelianism and the thoughts of Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872).
Feuerbach, a student of George Hegel and the successor to Hegel's professorial chair at the University of Berlin, consistently criticized Hegel's idealistic thoughts. Going along with Feuerbach's criticism of Hegel, Marx rejected the giant philosopher's conclusion while maintaining the validity of his analytical dialectic method. Marx, however, criticized Feuerbach's ideas claiming that he did not give enough attention to social and historical elements in formulating his philosophy.
After completing his doctorate in philosophy, because of his radical ideas, Marx found it nearly impossible to acquire an academic chair. In 1842, he finally secured a position as the editor of a radical newspaper, Reminisce Zeitung. Soon thereafter, in 1843, mainly because of his articles which were critical of reactionary attitudes of government, the paper was closed down and he went into exile. Again, Marx cannot be fully understood unless we acquaint ourselves with the socio-political conditions of the time.
Political Environment:
Marx belonged to the post-Napoleon era. Napoleon's conquest of Europe had completely dislocated the traditionally established order, by eliminating the Holy Roman Empire, modifying territories, and replacing the hereditary monarchs with common people. As children of French Revolution he and his solders spread throughout Europe the principles of that revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Napoleon's defeat and exile did not resolve the problem for the European leaders. People were openly demanding democratic reforms. The Vienna conference of the European leaders, skillfully led by the Austrian Prince Metternich (1773-1859), decided to establish autocratic monarch systems. The crowned heads of Europe cooperated in suppressing their people. They agreed to use force against any attempt to establish democracy.
Despite this coordinated and often very brutal suppression, the demand for democratic reform was not silenced. Through repression of each rebellion made the next one inevitable. These were the conditions under which Marx grew up. Feeling the heavy hand of reactionary repression, he fled from one country to another in search of freedom.
The Scientific Environment:
Marx was exposed to a scientific method which had reached its peak at his time. Science had revealed many unimaginable secrets leading to a growing confidence that it soon will reveal the mysteries of the universe. These scientific discoveries as those of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin led people to assume that since there were laws governing natural elements, there might also be natural laws that govern human beings. Persuaded by this idea, Marx developed his theories of Scientific Socialism and believed that he had found the key to human social development.
The Industrial Revolution:
The scientific method had crystalized a new frame of thought and had developed a new technology and mechanized production system. People with capital employed the new technologies which tended to make old skills obsolete, forcing self-employed artisans to work in huge factories. Depersonalized labor worked 16 hours a day in summer and 13 and a half hours in winter in dark and unventilated factories. Many thousands died from asthma, tuberculosis and other deceases because the air they breathed was contaminated by steam, dust, smoke and filth.
The most desirable laborers were women and children because they were paid less and were least likely to resist harsh conditions imposed upon them and cruelties brought on them. Small children were left unattended. Fathers were the first to be fired. They often had to depend on the earnings of their wives and children. Disgraced and humiliated, they often either got drunk or committed suicide.
It will not be difficult to understand Marx's radicalism under these conditions of political suppression, economic exploitation and accompanying social evils. It seemed that nothing short of radical reforms could remedy the situation.
Despite all these adverse conditions, Marx was optimistic about the future of humanity. From a historical viewpoint, Marx believed individuals were destined for freedom and creativity. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, human productivity had not been sufficient to provide people with their basic needs and free them from forced labor. They had remained the slaves of these basic needs. The advent of capitalism along with industrialization allowed, for the first time, abundance of goods through mass production. Individuals now had the opportunity to devote more time to development of their own humanity. On this assumption Marx built his theories in order to guide the masses in this venture toward a bright future which he thought was waiting for them.
A knowledge of the ideas of Marx through his original writings in virtually indispensable to an educated person in modern industrial society, because the thoughts of Marx have profoundly affected people's views about history, society, economics, culture, ideology, political science, and the nature of social inquiry. No other intellectual influence has so deeply affected and shaped the mind of modern left-wing radicalism in most parts of the world and no other societal thoughts are developed and experimented more than those based on Marx's ideas. Furthermore, from a purely intellectual viewpoint, classical Marxism expands one's knowledge by linking it to a greater intellectual tradition extending back into the eighteenth century British Enlightenment, German post-Kantian philosophy, British political economy, and early- nineteenth-century European Socialism.
Simply, in societies where its members are free and able to discuss the vital issues, by not being well grounded in the writings of Marx, one unavoidably is insufficiently attuned to modern thought and self-educated to a substantial degree from continuing debate by which contemporary societies live in. As it will be clear through this writing, there are only two basic ideologies in the world: capitalism of which the United States is an example, and left socialism with much greater adherents including Russia, China, most of Latin America, India, Vietnam and more, equivalent to over five times of the U.S. population. No other literature than Marx's would provide for appropriate comprehension of these two extreme settings and those in between. It would shed light toward people's future and its humanistic existence. A profound knowledge of Marx's thoughts by any member of modern industrialized society is imperative.
In order to place Marx's ideas in appropriate perspective, they must be looked upon from three different viewpoints: humanistic, scientific-economic, and historical-philosophical.
Humanistic: Marx and the Nature of Humanity
As a member of a diffuse group of young scholars known as the "Left-Hagelian,"Marx considered Hegel's ideas too remote from real life experience. This group's critique of Hegel's abstract idealism shaped Marx's early thinking, and the influence of one of its members, Ludwig Feuerbach, provided them with a definitive form. To Marx humanity was a species-being, meaning that people, as distinct from animals, focus their consciousness on the entire species through which social interactions and labor become humanized. Marx rejects the idea that people are positive beings interested only in seeking happiness, as claimed by utilitarian writers of the nineteenth century. Marx asserts that people are makers and achievers; they realize their humanity through their labor not only by changing the material world but also by changing themselves.
Marx continued to believe in the absolute essential quality of human labor. In fact, it always remained his central concern. It was this commitment of Marx to the creative nature of human labor that obliged him to reject capitalism. Under capitalism, human labor is alienated and thus his or her very existence as a human being is threatened. Labor has no contribution in the creative aspects of production. He or she has no say as to what is to be produced and how it is produced. Labor is simply made an instrument of production. Alienation results from this separation of the idea of what is to be produced from the mechanical process of producing it. Under capitalism, according to Marx, this alienation is the basic cause of most social ills. From his viewpoint, the same is true in modern capitalistic societies of today like the United States.
Scientific-Economic: Marx as a Scientist
Like many other scientists of his time in Germany, Marx was strongly influenced by the dialectical philosophy of Hegel which dominated German intellectual thought. Marx, however, was not a loyal follower of Hegel. He accepted the idea that history moved in a dialectical manner with continual change. In order to understand the reality of this ever-present change, one had to understand the process of change, the manner by which the change occurred. Marx also accepted the idea that the process of change was progressive, not linearly but in a dialectical manner. This idea of progressive dialectical simply meant that nothing was as appeared to be, but all things (thesis) were constantly in the process of becoming something different. They were always in the process of producing contradiction, thus, "negating" themselves, tending to change into their opposite (antithesis) and taking new forms (synthesis). The cycle is then continued endlessly. On this base, the human condition was taken as one of constant unrest, denying what then was and striving to be what was not yet.
These abstract Hegelian ideas, central to his philosophy, was adopted by Marx, lifted from the sterile atmosphere of academic abstraction and given vitality by relating them to everyday life experiences and societal struggles in historical perspective. In changing Hegelian dialectic, Marx held that it is not ideas as claimed by Hegel, but the material conditions of life that shaped humanity's destiny as well as human ideas. It is the material condition of life that determines the nature of existence. There is a definite relationship between technology and organization of the material world and the nature of the social, political, and spiritual life. In his study of historical materialism, Marx was primarily interested in the development of a modern mode of production and the relationship between the substructure and superstructure of modern industrial society.
Of particular interest to Marx and the core of his contribution was the discovery of the way the mode of production, and social relations pertaining to that mode, conditioned and determined the superstructure of the social system. He describes this relationship as follows:
"My investigation led to the result that legal relations as well as forms of state are to be grasped neither from them nor from the so-called general development of human mind, but rather have their roots in the material conditions of life. . . In the social production of their life men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life processes in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."
Historical and Philosophical: Marx as a Philosopher
From Marx's viewpoint, philosophy is not to understand history, but to change it. One ought to read his original works if one intends a true understanding of the depth and scope of his comprehension of history. In the evolution of his thoughts, while continuing the inquiry into the idea of alienation, Marx also pursued the understanding of the process of change and evolution in history. His writings are reflective of his command of language, depth and originality of ideas, the course and evolution of history, the astonishing sharpness of mind and critical intellectual method of inquiry, unquestionable integrity and compassion.
Marx is the most important single figure in the development of the modern philosophy of communism. His human vision, profound creativity and his intense critical power enabled him to establish the theoretical base for social revolution and societal reforms which have continued to change the world for more than a century.
In 1844, when only twenty-six, he wrote the Economic and philosophical Manuscripts which is considered his finest philosophical work, though he never published it in his lifetime. Applying the Hegelian thought to social needs and circumstances, he points out the philosophical faults of capitalism of his time. With his bitter and vivid criticism of capitalistic system and his vision of a new framework for future society, Marx presents the best account of his genuine humanism. These "manuscripts" are today the most common source of reference for Marxists.

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Communism Misunderstood in America:
A Perfect Democracy Though Utopian
Part III, Theory of Historical Materialism

For proper understanding of Marx's analysis of the societal system, it is utmost important to note that nothing discussed by him is static. Nearly, all of his writings should be read and comprehended in terms of the operation of the dialectical process. His method is an attempt to comprehend the nature of the change, the transformation of all that is becoming, without losing the essence of that it is. Living human beings are subject to factors within and shapers of material production. Through their presence, they all effectuate formal economic, social, and political structures and their interdependence.
Historical materialism, thus, relates all changes in human and community relationship to development of material means and relationship on class struggle. In his view, in every society since the beginning of human history there have been two distinct classes, the ruling and ruled. The former has ruled through the control of production under a specified mode of production. The latter has been ruled for the lack of control over the means of production.
For example, in the slavery mode of production, the two classes comprised of the master who ruled by owning all the means of production, including labor, and slaves who were ruled by their owners; in the feudal mode of production. He ruling class consisted of the landed aristocracy and the ruled class comprised of the peasants and serfs; in modern times, under the capitalist mode of production, the ruling class is the bourgeoisie, the capitalist, who controls the capital and technology, and the ruked class consists of the workers or proletariat as referred to by Marx.
This classification is very general. In fact, each class is composed of several subclasses. Since here our concern is the capitalist mode of production, it will serve our comprehension of the subject matter if we take a look at the stratification within each of the two classes of capitalist and proletariat in a modern industrial capitalist society like the United States.
The working class or the proletariat is composed of blue-collar workers or "commodity producing" class, comprising about 40 percent of the total labor force. "White-collar" class, having advanced education and sophisticated skills, work in production related scientific or technical positions. It constitutes about 13 percent of the total labor force, is known also as the "new working class" since it did not exist as such in Marx's time. Furthermore, there are service and clerical workers amounting to about 35 percent of the total labor force. Added all together, these three groups of workers approximate 88 percent of the total working population.
The remaining 12 percent constitute the capitalist or bourgeoisie class which is also subdivided. The larger sector within this class consists of the private entrepreneurs and the small businessmen, petite bourgeoisie as labeled by Marx. It comprises about three-fourths of 12 percent capitalist class or 9 out of every 12 persons which tend to maintain the myth of competitive market. Another group consists of the professional intellectual class, the legal and medical professions, making up an enlarging sub-capitalist class, who, through private practice, high administrative and academic positions serve capitalism. There remains a very small but enormously significant group, the real capitalist class. Comprising about one percent of the working population, it controls the means of production and distribution. Yet, a very small segment of this small group, only around 7300, controls the major industrial firms, financial institutions, retail business, insurance, utility companies and government.
Marx focuses on two main classes differentiated but related to one another. Tis relationship, however, is antagonistic and based on a power struggle. In order to play its historic role as an agent of change, each class must develop its own class consciousness. But, under ordinary conditions, isolation, and illusion along with alienation, presents a kind of material and social conditions that is not inductive to the development of class consciousness. However, it is in times of sharp contradictions and crises that through the increasing pressure of changing material conditions of the proletariat, circumstances for class consciousness are generated.
From this viewpoint, class relations as a whole: economic, political, and social, are not static but dynamic. They are fluid expressions of dialectic historical materialism which expands into social and political conditions causing the transformation of society as a whole. Thus, social transformation, according to Marx, is both historical and a mass concept. Its two main objectives are freedom and material well-being for the masses, through the rational use of the material conditions of human life. Marx's uncompromising character in regard to evolution of modern society may be attributed to the realism of his ideas in delineating power relations in a capitalist society, and to the recognition of the tenacity of class relations with both capitalism and socialism.
Inevitably, this is a dialectical process in which the proletariat assumes its own historic role in the continuing struggle between itself and the material conditions established and controlled by the capitalist class. The aim of the struggle is for the capitalist to maintain the existing mode of production and for the proletariat to transform it into another. Thus, it is a struggle over the direction of human history. From Marx's viewpoint, the transformation of society and mode of production pursuant to revolution resulting in a true victory was fundamental and irrevocable. Proletarian victory, however, did not mean domination by a new class. The condition for emancipation of the working class is the abolition of all classes.
Regarding the ultimate disappearance of the government and class Marx argues that in the course of development, class distinctions disappears and all production has been concentrated in the hands of vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is only the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstance, to organize itself as a class, and sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with those conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonism and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.
Gradually, labor becomes not only a means of life but life's prime want. After the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, only then the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and the life's aim will be "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", which is the ultimate stage of communism.
We must take note that our world is not only what we have made it to be, but also, maybe more so, a product of the accumulated efforts of earlier generations. This fact emphatically suggests that for full and proper comprehension of the present we must acquire a deep understanding of the past. The writings of the great thinkers were substantially influenced by the history of their past generations and experiences of their own time. The extracts were then put together in the form of new ideas by employing their unusual talent and intelligence. Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Marx, Hitler, Mao and a score of others can fully be understood only in the light of their intellectual, historical context and prevailing political, social, and economic conditions and norms. In the next essay (Part IV) we will examine Lenin's life, ideas, and experiences from these viewpoints and the present status of communism and Marxism in the world with a projection for the future.

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Communism Misunderstood in America
A Perfect Democracy Though Utopian
Communism the Ultimate Objective (Part IV)

Marx's theoretical work along with his empirical inquiries led him to the discovery of "scientific laws of development" illuminating stages beyond capitalism. His theory relied on the concept of historical materialism involving the analysis of the past as well as future developments. His findings toward the future indicated that as industrialization advances, continually better educated and more conscious working class will rise and eliminate the capitalist class structure replacing it by a mono-class society of proletariat. Further advancement in technology and means of production wil bring an abundance of goods which would be equitably distributed based on individual needs. After all remnants of capitalism are eliminated by the ruling proletariat, this working class will also disappear, since there will be no need for government, and humanity will reach its ultimate stage of freedom and democracy --- a stateless and classless namely a communist society.
For Marx, communism differed from all previous movements because it overturns the basis of all earlier relations of production and intercourse, and for the first time consciously treats all natural premises as the creatures of men, strips them all of their natural character and subjugates them to the power of individuals united. Its organization is , therefore, essentially economic, the material production of the conditions of this unity, it turns existing conditions into conditions of unity. The reality which communism is creating is precisely the real basis for rendering it impossible that anything should exist independently of individuals, is so far as things are only a product of the preceding intercourse of individuals themselves.
Only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions: only in community, therefore, is personal freedom possible. In previous substitutes for the community, such as the state or government, personal freedom has existed only for the individuals who developed within the relationships of the ruling class. The illusory community, in which individuals up to now have been combined, always took on an independent existence in relation to them, and was at the same time, since it was the combination of one class never against another, not only completely illusory community, but a new fetter as well. In the real community the individuals obtain their freedom in and through their association.
Marx visualized that communism will not materialized immediately after the proletarian revolution because of defects of the capitalist society with its inequalities and injustices which will persist for a while. He understood that these defects would be inevitable in the first phase of communist society. Right can never be higher than economic structure of society and its cultural development thereby. In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antitheses between mental and physical labor has vanished, labor has become a means of life as well as life's prime want with full commitment to the principle of "from each according his ability, to each according his needs."
Regarding the ultimate disappearance of the state and government, Marx vision was that in the course of development, class distinctions will disappear, and all production will be concentrated in the hands of vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is meryly the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, and as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production then it will, along with those conditions, sweeps away the conditions for the existence of class antagonism and of classes generally, and will thereby abolish its own supremacy as a class.
As it has been noticed by now, Marx's theory of communism, including its start with the proletarian revolution, is possible only in a highly advanced industrial capitalist society. This is the very outcome of his theory of dialectical-historical materialism. Accordingly, Marx's proletarian revolution could not have occurred in any society except in that advanced technological capitalism. Certainly, then, it could not have happened in an underdeveloped feudalistic society such as that of Tsarist Russia.
The Concept of Marxism-Leninism
The Russian revolution was not proletarian but something more like that of French Revolution of the late eighteenth century. The difference was that the system was taken over by a group of Marxists headed by Lenin through organized uprisings of the workers and peasants.
Vladimir Ilv ich Ulianov, known later as Nikolai Lenin (1870-1924), was born in the small town of Simbirsk located in the central Volga Basin .His father was the regional superintendent of schools. Among his five brothers and sisters, Lenin was particularly fund of his oldest brother, Alexander, who was arrested as a revolutionary by the Tsar's secret police, tried and executed in 1887. Profoundly affected by this tragic event, Lenin turned into a dedicated activist.
After graduating from high school, he was admitted to the University of Kazan from which he was soon expelled because of becoming increasingly involved in radical activities. However, he continued to study law and political science on his own, and in 1892 he took and passed the law examinations at the University of St. Petersburg. He continued his revolutionary activities which caused him to be arrested in 1895. He Was imprisoned for fourteen months and then exiled to a Siberian village on the Lena river. While in exile he encountered and married Nadezhda Krupskaya, a fellow radical in exile.
As a radical from the upper class noble intelligentsia, Lenin was not subjected to the savagery and harsh torture used on the exiled revolutionaries and other offenders from the lower class. Like other aristocratic intelligentsia in exile, with a great deal of leisure time, Lenin asked and received books to read. From 1897 to 1900 in exile, Lenin devoted his time to an excessive study of Marxism as well as developing his own revolutionary thoughts. It was during this period that Lenin prepared himself for the future years and produced his first important work, The Development of Capitalism in Russia.
In !900 Lenin left Siberia and went to Switzerland to join other Russian Marxists including Georgi Plekhanov (1857-1918) known as the father of Russian Marxism. Idealogical debates between these two most brilliant Marxists polarized the followers, leading to the Balshevic-Menshevik split. Mensheviks followed Plekhanov's Two-Stage Theory and insisted that the dialectic had to run its course. This meant that the socialist revolution could not occur in Russia until Russia passed from the feudal stage to the bourgeois stage which could only cause the development and bring it to power. The Bolsheviks challenged this view arguing that under certain circumstances the working class and peasant forces could be brought together to take control of the system and transform it into socialism. Thus the former view required the final revolution to be one of the masses involving the whole society. The latter suggested an elitist coup to seize power by organizing the labor and peasant forces together.
Unlike Marx who devoted most of his time and energy to analyzing capitalism, Lenin attempted to develop a revolutionary doctrine by applying Marxism to a real situation. Accordingly Lenin , in the first place, restored the revolutionary spirit of the early Marx; then modified the theory significantloy, attempting to answer question arising from realm situations which contradicted Marx's theories; and amended Marxism to apply to developing countries; and finally, adjusted it in a way that it would be practical in its application in a real situation. Thus, in reality, by these substantial changes, Lenin transformed Marx's original theories into a new ideology known as Marxist-Leninism.
Also unlike Marx, who thought that revolution would erupt automatically after the working class had developed consciousness, ending the bourgeois state, Lenin believed that violent revolution was the only action that would bring about transformation. Rejecting Marx's conviction he argued that the proletariat could not develop class consciousness without the help of a revolutionary group which would stimulate revolution.
Thus, for Lenin it was the test of the vanguard revolutionary group to overthrow the regime and establish a socialist state even before the working class's self-consciousness. Here lies the significant disparity between Marx and Lenin. Marx had concluded that proletariat should rise only after it was clearly aware of itself as a class when it had become an overwhelming majority in society. On this ground, he believed that the dictatorship of proletariat wouold be for a brief period needed primarily to re=educate or eliminate the small group of non-proletarians necessary for the establishment of a classless society.
Contrary to this theory, Lenin argued that a small intellectual revolutionary group would bring about a revolution long brfore the self-awareness of the working class and then would impose a socialistic system which would embark in proletarianization of the masses. Accordingly, the dictatorship of this elite may last for quite a long time.
Lenin described the required characteristic of this group as small, highly disciplined, and totally dedicated to the cause of revolution. From this viewpoint, Lenin's elitist approach was substantially different from marx's more democratic approach. The outcome of this strict approach was the victory of 1917 and the collective dictatorship of the Bolsheviks in Russia since then until its disintegration in late 1980s. After nearly seven decades of dictatorship there was no indication as to when the Soviet society would be prepared to enter the utopian stage of Marx's theory --- a classless and stateless democratic and communistic society.
Lenin specifically prescribed the governing procedures for this small Bolshevik elite group which he named the Communist Party. He called the system "democratic centralism" based on three functional processes. Two of them were to be democratic and the third centrist. First, the election of the party leadership had to be carried out by membership from the bottom up; second, issues requiring a decisionwere to be placed before the membership and subject to open debate; third, after viewpoints of the membership were clarified during the debate, the policy decision for the party had to be made by the leadership alone and be accepted and executed by the membership without question. Even though democratic centralism did not work in practice as it was intended, it was applied with certain integrity under Lenin's leadership. Its democratic aspects for all practical purposes disappeared under Stalin. The Idea continued to be an important part of the operational concept in the Soviet Union until the concepts of Perestroika and Glasnost were put into operation in the late 1980s under the leadership of President Gorbachev.
Communism: The Dominant Societal Ideology Today
Marxist Communism continually receives devoted followers every day in most countries of the world. It is already the dominant ideological force affecting all aspects of daily life --- Economic, social, political, and cultural. Outstanding Marxist scientist have been working on different version of it for years all tending to make it applicable to real situations of life through democratic process and cultural compatibility. It has been an arduous and painful effort to give a new life to this marvelous ideology of individual freedom, equality and true democracy. Some from many Marxist scientists capable of causing change in their society are: Victorio Codovilla (1894-1970) an Italian-Argentinian, a member of Italian Socialist Party and Argentine Communist Party, caused Marxist influence in Italy, Spain, and Argentine through political process. Alfredo Palacios, first socialist elected to the legislative body in Latin America working hard, seven days a week for realizing his Marxist aims. Salvador Allende (1908-1973),a physician and politician, helped the founding of Chilean Socialist Party and the first democratically elected communist president of Chile; Fidel Castro, a lawyer, (1926- ) promoter of many theories supportive of development of Marxist theories under new circumstances known as Castroism. Ernesto ( Che ) Guevara (1927-1967) a physician well known through his activities and scientific writings in Marxism and humanity.
Communism and a communistic society as developed and visualized by Marx is the basic goal of these Marxist scientists and the nations in the process of transition toward that goal; Within these nations generally there is a total public ownership of the means of production controlled by the government on behalf of the people. It is aimed to develop self-consciousness in population toward realizing people's power and by leading and preparing them for taking over the ystem for forming and sustaining a democratic Marxist society. The process by which they intend to reach this goal is not Marxism but takes its roots from the concepts developed by Lenin though labeled differently in nearly all socialist systems prevailing over one-thirds of world population and substantially influencing the rest of the Third World.


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Dehumanization and Distortion of Marxism The Most Powerful ideological and Political Force on Earth Communism Misunderstood in America, Part V

The first question to ask would be the precise meaning of “communism” in Marx’s teaching. Marx thought that any attempt to write a detailed blueprint for the society of the future would be utopian and irresponsible. Should its fundamental feature be understood in egalitarian or libertarian ground. Marx attempted to answer the question, hiding it under a philosophical veil by describing communist person as the “social individual”, or “species-being”, which makes the “re-establishing of society” as an abstraction facing the “individual”. Only in his later writings a more egalitarian tendency appears by talking about a vast association of people, the establishment of “industrial armies”, and necessity for a “directing authority” in production in the future. However none of these resolves the problem of conflict between egalitarianism and libertarianism. The egalitarian objective leads to elimination of the “individual” in all its forms and its ultimate absorption by the community. On the other hand, the libertarian objective tends to the elimination of “society” making it meaningless and irrelevant. Consequently, Marx’s solution of the problem was only theoretical and the ambiguity remained unsolved. Later Marxist movements have been pressed to employ egalitarianism in different levels and forms.

In order to properly understand the complexity of the creation and development of Marxism we have to look at its different stages from its initiation. Marxism arose in mid-nineteenth century, as a practical political struggle, in opposition to three opposing concepts in workers movement, namely, anarchism, utopian, and doctrinaire socialism, along with overt bourgeois operation. At the time, the advocates of socialism were somehow charismatic individuals promoting some particular vision of the future society with certain associated set of doctrines, forming different small groups. They shared more or less the same vision of a socialist future while being involved in the ongoing struggles of the day. The movement having no theoretical or scientific base forced Marx and Engel to make a decisive move towards critique of the existing ideologies in order to found a revolutionary working class movement based on sound ideas.

The pre-eminent philosopher of Marx’s youth was G.W.F. Hegel, who showed how the “forms” by which human beings grasp reality are themselves historical products, meaning that, the history of philosophy contained within it an ongoing critique of all the cultural and ideological forms that have succeeded one another through human history.

According to Marx, a philosopher is an “alienated human being”, a kind of theologian, who is dealing with ideal entities as if they had some existence separate from the material life of human beings. The study of philosophy, however, allows a deeper way into the nature of the social reality from which theoretical ideas are abstracted. Philosophy does not express social reality; it is purified voice of reality. Marx’s concern was not to expand further on it but criticize philosophy of his time to expose the ideological content of the ideas through which class rule is sustained. [1]

Buying and selling being the daily reality of bourgeois society, Marx found in the theories of political economists, a distilled essence of the ideology and ethics actually governing the way people live under capitalism. It makes market relations appear natural, and allows people to actively give their consent to their own exploitation, entering into relations of exchange commodities as if this was a non-political value free activity.

From the beginning of his studies, Marx almost singlehandedly pursued his critique of political economy. He brought out the internal contradictions of the notion of value among the political economists showing how these contradictions had their roots in the nature of commodity production itself. He also showed that the commodity relations, namely, working in order to make a living and buying in order to make a profit, lay the very base of bourgeois society and the accumulation of “capital”.

It must be noted that Marx did not confine himself to scientific study to set up a theory, but was deeply involved in active participation and leadership in the struggle of the workers. His revolutionary behavior caused him either deported or imprisoned in several occasions, obliging him to settle in London in order to avoid continued persecution. Some of the very successful results were the establishment of the First International and Second International, providing a solid leap forward in the self-organization of the working class, uniting them all together in many countries as a single union. Marx and Engels lived to see their works to be translated into many languages. Through the efforts of the Second International, Marxism became known and understood all over the world, it also deeply penetrated the heart of workers and their unions united together in a single organization across the world.

As presented in the previous essays, Marxism and communism are based on the theory of Dialectical Materialism created and developed by Marx through years of hard work and study. It is the whole body of historical research that Marx and other Marxists have carried out studying the development of forms of social organization and consciousness, the ways they have succeeded one another in history and their interconnection with the development of the forces of production mobilized by social formations at each stage in the unfolding of history. The interest in and close study of history is an integral and necessary part of Marxism. From a Marxist viewpoint, it is human beings that make history and not the other way; while philosophical materialism shows that changed people are the product of changed social conditions, it is the people that change conditions. Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach sums up these conceptions quite clearly.

The outcome of these years of hard work was the publication of Capital which became , for the Marxists of Second International, a work of political economy, explaining how capitalism was created and developed; it offered an approach to predicting the course of its future development and helping revolutionaries with a better understanding of economic norms.

The Russian Revolution unleashed enormous unseen resources. At the wake of the Revolution, millions were drown into Marxism from every walk of life from masses of workers and artists to scientist and other intellectuals. It brought about a flood of creative Marxist scholarship, following Lenin’s criticism of the non-belligerent Marxism of the Second International. Marxism, now, instead of waiting for a long historic struggle, went after the immediate conquest of socialism.

The other outstanding Marxist among the leaders of the Russian Revolution was Leon Trotsky, who had not definitely sided with Lenin in his dispute with the Menshevik (minority) wing of the Russian party and join the Bolshevik (majority) Party, siding with Lenin, on his return to Russia in April, 1917. However, he brought to Marxism a number of insights, broad experience and leadership comparable with Lenin.

The Russian Revolution was subject to disastrous devastation at the hands of imperialist armies, and isolated, while the rising tide of revolution in Europe and across the world was open to be checked. Lenin died in 1922, Stalin assumed absolute power in a Soviet State already tiered of revolution and gripped by bureaucratization. Trotsky was exiled and isolated from the revolutionary workers’ movement and ultimately assassinated in 1941. The Marxist leaders of USSR, now, were promoting the “Dialectical and Historical Materialism”, in such a way that became synonymous with repression and betrayal of the organized labor movement. Under Stalinism, all the weaknesses of the Marxism of the Second International were extended into the cruelest parodies.

After the Second World War, Stalinism emerged in total control of the revolutionary workers movement and that of the leadership of the national liberation movement, exerting considerable influence over “academic Marxism”. It is impossible to describe the development of capitalist ideology during this period without including Marxism as a component part where its influence was everywhere. None of today’s philosophers of “post-modernism”, “post-structuralism”, ”post-colonialism” and many others can be understood without the component of Marxism within their thinking, regardless of their hostility to communism and remoteness from the workers movement.

Consequently, the current concept of Marxism is marked by extreme diversity with hardly two persons describing themselves as Marxist being able to agree on what it meant. What has happened is in itself the history of the workers movement. Marxism, evidenced by Marx’s theory of “dialectical materialism”, never set out to build a movement of followers all adhering to a set of pre-established and constant ideology.

The fact is that Marxists strive to enhance the freedom of working class mainly by expanding the scope of collective action with the chance for individual growth and creativeness within that sphere. At the same time, Marxism is a component of the workers movements open for both theoretical and practical critique. These two aspects of Marxism, are generally separated from one another, the first being “academic Marxism” concerned with theoretical questions in isolation from the workers movement, while in “practical Marxism”, genuine communists would be fighting for the workers class, remaining isolated from the revolutionary ideas of Marxism and related creative developments.

Marxism was founded in 1848 with the publication of the Communist Manifesto. Though it bears the name of its creator Marx, it is a movement which can be understood only through critical examination of its history. It is a movement, integrally concerned with the interconnected set of theoretical and political writings traced back to Marx as the initiator.

Another ambiguity in Marx’s brand of socialism relates to the inherent conflict between rationalism and moralism. What really determines the movement of history at the present? Theoretically, there is no reason why the features from these two concepts cannot be properly fused together to satisfy the “unity of theory and practice”. Yet, political influence of Marx’s socialism has depended on the retention and adoption of the very moralistic stance which he sought to eradicate from the socialist vocabulary. In reality, the moral concerns of socialism have been more important for Marxism in its worldly successes than its own scientific doctrines. We must also note that Marxism at no point in time has been able to control all spectrum of socialism. However, today, Marxism is unquestionably the leading ideological and political force in the world. Attempts are continually being made to socialize and reduce the democratic nature of Marxism and stretch it to accommodate new concerns and departures and operational process in different societies which have been attempting to make it compatible with the existing governmental process. Thus, Marxism, in its global spread and increasing weight in the socialist movements, has caused within itself many tensions and conflicts in describing the essence and principles of socialism. [2]

Marx’s “scientific socialism” was based on environmental determinism resulting from the effect of economic and social laws. Social institutions as well as human nature were shaped by economic forces. Marx viewed private property as the source of all the evils in human society and the cause of the oppression of workers by the bourgeois capitalists. It ensued a class struggle in which all possible elements such as religion, morality, law, political structures as well as cultural factors, were used as tools by the propertied classes to oppress the poor as well as working class masses.

Marx’s primary motivation in crystallizing his socialist philosophy was liberating humanity from oppression and tyranny, though it also helped in advancing equality. His complaints would be found reasonable if one reads his Capital or Friedrich Engels’ Conditions of the Working Class in 1844. Many factory workers and those unemployed lived in extreme poverty and misery. Marx, correctly, criticized the dehumanizing effect of the Industrial Revolution.

In the twentieth century, many existentialist philosophers, such as Heidegger and Sartre, went along with the general tenets of Nietzsche’s philosophy, which denied that humans have any fixed essence and stressed radical free will in human decisions. Later in twentieth century, for many postmodern thinkers and literary scholars, human intent became irrelevant in interpreting human actions. Dehumanization spiraled further downward, as all human values were construed to be socially constructed, along the same line as Marx’s scientific socialism. [3]

In the successive phases of development of Marxism during Marx’s life, there have been various polarizations of Marxism based on different interpretation of his teachings. Broadly speaking, we may consider three phases: philosophical humanism, revolutionary communism, and scientific socialism. The West European social democracy was established with substantial contribution from Marx’s theory of scientific socialism. In the rise of militant Marxism in Eastern Europe, the emphasis was placed in “revolutionary” aspects of his teachings, from Capital to the Manifesto. In recent years there has been shift farther back from Manifesto to Manuscripts, his earlier writings. It demonstrates another conflict within Marxism, this time between established Marxist-Leninism and the moderate Western “New Left”. [4]

We may properly assume that there is no “real Marx” or “authentic Marxism”, neither a single “true” socialism. There has been, for certain, a gap between theory and practice, between Marxism of the workers, activists, party functionaries on the one side and the polished Marxism of intellectual on the other. Contrary to the Marx’s expectations and intentions, the sophisticated theories of Marxism developed by the Marxist intellectuals, such as Salvador Allende, Fidel Castro, Bloch, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Guillermo Lora, Lukacse, Adomo, Goldman, Carlos Marighela, Marcuse, Godelier, Althusser, Colletti, and Nahuel Moreno, are producing an inward-looking literary culture, far from being understood by ordinary readers.[5]

Marxism remains oriented toward struggle for socialism in and through the organized working class. It is the struggle for the working class, united in its material existence as a social class, continuing the essential thread of the Marxist movement. There are over one billion ardent followers of Marxism, though under its different interpretations, spread all over the globe. It is the greatest ideological, social, and political force on earth, expanding and progressing ceaselessly. It must be noted that, presently, in all interpretations made of Marxism, it has been diluted in order to make it practical in application. It has resulted in dehumanizing of the ideology as well as degrading, in different degrees, its democratic nature. Considering that communism is analogous with perfect democracy, any intrusion in its interpretation will cause corresponding undemocratization. For this reason, there has been no true communism, which is the association of people under a perfect democratic way of life, any place in the world. This is beside the fact that communism itself is utopian by its nature, though it is a perfect democracy in theory, it cannot be materialized in practice. Sientific socialism was developed by Marx to lead societies toward communist self-consciousness mainly by employing his theory of dialectical materialism. The biggest obstacle has been the misunderstanding of communism in capitalist societies, the United States in particular, by the capitalist use of all necessary instruments under its control to keep people misinformed or keep them ignorant about the democratic nature of communism as presented in previous four essays.

  1. Blunden, Andy.
  2. For more details on materials presented see R. N. Berki, Socialism (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), Ch. 4.
  3. Discovery Institute, Science Culture. , pp. 2-5
  4. Ibid., p. 3
  5. “Marxism and anti-Imperialism in Latin America”,

Dr. Reza Rezazadeh (B.S.M.E., LL.B., J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., S.J.D.)


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