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The Secret Truth About Karl Marx and His Disciples Part 3

Economics / Economic Theory Oct 26, 2009 - 06:10 PM GMT

By: Murray_N_Rothbard

Economics

Karl Marx: Apocalyptic Reabsorptionist Communist

Karl Marx was born in Trier, a venerable city in Rhineland Prussia, in 1818, son of a distinguished jurist, and grandson of a rabbi. Indeed, both of Marx's parents were descended from rabbis. Marx's father Heinrich was a liberal rationalist who felt no great qualms about his forced conversion to official Lutheranism in 1816. What is little known is that, in his early years, the baptized Karl was a dedicated Christian.[43]


In his graduation essays from Trier gymnasium in 1835, the very young Marx prefigured his later development. His essay on an assigned topic, "On the Union of the Faithful with Christ" was orthodox evangelical Christian, but it also contained hints of the fundamental "alienation" theme that he would later find in Hegel. Marx's discussion of the "necessity for union" with Christ stressed that this union would put an end to the tragedy of God's alleged rejection of man. In a companion essay on "Reflections of A Young Man on the Choice of a Profession," Marx expressed a worry about his own "demon of ambition," of the great temptation he felt to "inveigh against the Deity and curse mankind."

Going first to the University of Bonn and then off to the prestigious new University of Berlin to study law, Marx soon converted to militant atheism, shifted his major to philosophy, and joined a Doktorklub of Young (or Left) Hegelianism, of which he soon became a leader and general secretary.

The shift to atheism quickly gave Marx's demon of ambition full rein. Particularly revelatory of Marx's adult as well as youthful character are volumes of poems, most of them lost until a few were recovered in recent years.[44] Historians, when they discuss these poems, tend to dismiss them as inchoate Romantic yearnings, but they are too congruent with the adult Marx's social and revolutionary doctrines to be casually dismissed.

Surely, here seems to be a case where a unified (early-plus-late) Marx is vividly revealed. Thus, in his poem "Feelings," dedicated to his childhood sweetheart and later wife, Jenny von Westphalen, Marx expressed both his megalomania and his enormous thirst for destruction:

Heaven I would comprehend
I would draw the world to me;
Loving, hating, I intend
That my star shine brilliantly

and

Worlds I would destroy forever,
Since I can create no world;
Since my call they notice never

Here, of course, is a classic expression of Satan's supposed reason for hating, and rebelling against, God.

In another poem Marx writes of his triumph after he shall have destroyed God's created world:

Then I will be able to walk triumphantly,
Like a god, through the ruins of their kingdom.
Every word of mine is fire and action.
My breast is equal to that of the Creator.

And in his poem "Invocation of One in Despair," Marx writes,

I shall build my throne high overhead,
Cold, tremendous shall its summit be.
For its bulwark – superstitious dread.
For its marshal – blackest agony.[45]

The Satan theme is most explicitly set forth in Marx's "The Fiddler," dedicated to his father.

See this sword?
The prince of darkness
Sold it to me.

and

With Satan I have struck my deal,
He chalks the signs, beats time for me
I play the death march fast and free.

Particularly instructive is Marx's lengthy unfinished poetic drama of this youthful period, Oulanem, A Tragedy. In the course of this drama his hero, Oulanem, delivers a remarkable soliloquy, pouring out sustained invective, a deep hatred of the world and of mankind, a hatred of creation, and a threat and a vision of total world destruction.

Thus Oulanem pours out his vials of wrath:

I shall howl gigantic curses on mankind.
Ha! Eternity! She is an eternal grief.
Ourselves being clockwork, blindly mechanical,
Made to be foul-calendars of Time and Space,
Having no purpose save to happen, to be ruined,
So that there shall be something to ruin
If there is a Something which devours,
I'll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins –
The world which bulks between me and the Abyss
I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses.
I'll throw my arms around its harsh reality:
Embracing me, the world will dumbly pass away,
And then sink down to utter nothingness,
Perished, with no existence – that would be really living!

And

…the leaden world holds us fast
And we are chained, shattered, empty, frightened,
Eternally chained to this marble block of Being,
… and we – We are the apes of a cold God.[46]

All this reveals a spirit that often seems to animate militant atheism. In contrast to the nonmilitant variety, which expresses a simple disbelief in God's existence, militant atheism seems to believe implicitly in God's existence, but to hate Him and to wage war for His destruction.

Such a spirit was all too clearly revealed in the retort of militant atheist and anarchocommunist Bakunin to the famous protheist remark of Voltaire: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him." The demented Bakunin retorted, "If God did exist, it would be necessary to destroy Him." It was this hatred of God as a creator greater than himself that apparently animated Karl Marx.

When Marx came to the University of Berlin, the heart of Hegelianism, he found that doctrine regnant but in a certain amount of disarray. Hegel had died in 1831; the Great Philosopher was supposed to bring about the end of history, but now Hegel was dead, and history continued to march on. So if Hegel himself was not the final culmination of history, then perhaps the Prussian State of Friedrich Wilhelm III was not the final stage of history either. But if he was not, then mightn't the dialectic of history be getting ready for yet another twist, another aufhebung?

So reasoned groups of radical youth who, during the late 1830s and 1840s in Germany and elsewhere, formed the movement of the Young, or Left, Hegelians Disillusioned in the Prussian State. The Young Hegelians proclaimed the inevitable coming apocalyptic revolution that would destroy and transcend that State, a revolution that would really bring about the end of history in the form of national, or world, communism. After Hegel, there was one more twist of the dialectic to go.

One of the first and most influential of the Left Hegelians was a Polish aristocrat, Count August Cieszkowski, who wrote in German and published in 1838 his Prolegomena to a Historiosophy. Cieszkowski brought to Hegelianism a new dialectic of history, a new variant of the three ages of man.

The first age, the age of antiquity, was, for some reason, the Age of Emotion, the epoch of pure feeling, of no reflective thought, of elemental immediacy and hence unity with nature. The "spirit" was "in itself" (an sich). The second age, the Christian Era, stretching from the birth of Jesus to the death of the great Hegel, was the Age of Thought, of reflection, in which the "spirit" moved "toward itself," in the direction of abstraction and universality. But Christianity, the Age of Thought, was also an era of intolerable duality, of alienation, of man separated from God, of spirit separated from matter, and thought from action.

Finally, the third and culminating age, the Age aborning, heralded (of course?) by Count Cieszkowski, was to be the Age of Action. The third post-Hegelian age would be an age of practical action, in which the thought of both Christianity and of Hegel would be transcended and embodied into an act of will, a final revolution to overthrow and transcend existing institutions.

For the term "practical action," Cieszkowski borrowed the Greek word praxis to summarize the new age, a term that would soon acquire virtually talismanic influence in Marxism. This final age of action would bring about, at last, a blessed unity of thought and action, spirit and matter, God and earth, and total "freedom." With Hegel and the mystics, Cieszkowski stressed that all past events, even those seemingly evil, were necessary to the ultimate and culminating salvation.

In a work published in French in Paris in 1844, Cieszkowski also heralded the new class destined to become the leaders of the revolutionary society: the intelligentsia, a word that had recently been coined by a German-educated Pole, B. F. Trentowski.[47] Cieszkowski thus proclaimed and glorified a development that would at least be implicit in the Marxist movement (after all, the great Marxists, from Marx and Engels on down, were all bourgeois intellectuals rather than children of the proletariat). Generally, however, Marxists have been shamefaced about this reality that belies Marxian proletarianism and equality, and the "new class" theorists have all been critics of Marxian socialism, (e.g. Bakunin, Machajski, Michels, Djilas).

Count Cieszkowski, however, was not destined to ride the wave of the future of revolutionary socialism. For he took the Christian messianic, rather than the atheistic, path to the new society. In his massive, unfinished work of 1848, Our Father (Ojcze nasz), Cieszkowski maintained that the new age of revolutionary communism would be a Third Age, an Age of the Holy Spirit (shades of Joachimism!), an era that would be the Kingdom of God on earth "as it is in heaven." This final Kingdom of God on earth would reintegrate all of "organic humanity," and would be governed by a Central Government of All Mankind, headed by a Universal Council of the People.

At that time, it was by no means clear which strand of revolutionary communism, the religious or the atheist, would ultimately win out. Thus, Alexander Ivanovich Herzen, a founder of the Russian revolutionary tradition, was entranced by Cieszkowski's brand of Left Hegelianism, writing that "the future society is to be the work not of the heart, but of the concrete. Hegel is the new Christ bringing the word of truth to men."[48] And soon, Bruno Bauer, friend and mentor of Karl Marx and leader of the Doktorklub of Young Hegelians at the University of Berlin, hailed Cieszkowski's new philosophy of action in late 1841 as "The Trumpet Call of the Last Judgment."

But the winning strand in the European socialist movement, as we have indicated, was eventually to be Karl Marx's atheism. If Hegel pantheized and elaborated the dialectic of the Christian messianics, Marx now "stood Hegel on his head" by atheizing the dialectic, and resting it not on mysticism or religion or "spirit" or the Absolute Idea or the World-Mind, but on the supposedly solid and "scientific" foundation of philosophical materialism.

Marx adopted his materialism from the Left Hegelian Ludwig Feuerbach, particularly from his work The Essence of Christianity (1843). In contrast to the Hegelian emphasis on "spirit," Marx would study the allegedly scientific laws of matter in some way operating through history. Marx, in short, took the dialectic and made it into a "materialist dialectic of history."

By recasting the dialectic into materialist and atheist terms, however, Marx gave up the powerful motor of the dialectic as it supposedly operated through history: either Christian messianism or Providence or the growing self-consciousness of the world-spirit. How could Marx find a "scientific," materialist replacement, newly grounded in the ineluctable "laws of history," that would explain the historical process thus far, and also – and most importantly – explain the inevitability of the imminent apocalyptic transformation of the world into communism?

It is one thing to base the prediction of a forthcoming Armageddon on the Bible; it is quite another to deduce this event from allegedly scientific law. Setting forth the specifics of this engine of history was to occupy Karl Marx for the rest of his life.

Although Marx found Feuerbach indispensable for adopting a thoroughgoing atheist and materialist position, Marx soon found that Feuerbach had not gone nearly far enough. Even though Feuerbach was a philosophical communist, he basically believed that if man foreswore religion, then man's alienation from his self would be over.

To Marx, religion was only one of the problems. The entire world of man (the Menschenwelt) was alienating, and had to be radically overthrown, root and branch. Only apocalyptic destruction of this world of man would permit true human nature to be realized. Only then would the existing un-man (Unmensch) truly become man (Mensch). As Marx thundered in the fourth of his "theses on Feuerbach," "One must proceed to destroy the 'earthly family' as it is both 'in theory and in practice.'"[49]

In particular, declared Marx, true man, as Feuerbach had argued, is a "communal being" (Gemeinwesen) or "species being" (Gattungswesen). Although the State as it exists must be negated or transcended, man's participation in the State comes as such a communal being.

The major problem comes in the private sphere, the market, or "civil society," in which un-man acts as an egoist, as a private person, treating others as means, and not collectively as masters of their fate. And in existing society, unfortunately, civil society is primary, while the State, or "political community," is secondary. What must be done to realize the full nature of mankind is to transcend the State and civil society by politicizing all of life, by making all of man's actions "collective." Then real individual man will become a true and full species being.[50]

But only a revolution, an orgy of destruction, can accomplish such a task. And here, Marx harkened back to the call for total destruction that had animated his vision of the world in the poems of his youth. Indeed, in a speech in London in 1856, Marx gave graphic and loving expression to this goal of his "praxis." He mentioned that in Germany in the Middle Ages there existed a secret tribunal called the Vehmgericht. He then explained:

If a red cross was seen marked on a house, people knew that its owner was doomed by the Vehm. All the houses of Europe are now marked with the mysterious red cross. History is the judge – its executioner the proletarian.[51]

Marx, in fact, was not satisfied with the philosophical communism to which he and Engels had separately been converted by the slightly older Left Hegelian Moses Hess in the early 1840s. To Hess's communism, Marx, by the end of 1843, added the crucial emphasis on the proletariat, not simply as an economic class, but as destined to become the "universal class" when communism was achieved.

Ironically, Marx acquired his vision of the proletariat as the key to the communist revolution from an influential book published in 1842 by a youthful enemy of socialism, Lorenz von Stein. Stein interpreted the socialist and communist movements of the day as rationalizations of the class interests of the propertyless proletariat. Marx discovered in Stein's attack the "scientific" engine for the inevitable coming of the communist revolution.[52] The proletariat, the most "alienated" and allegedly "propertyless" class, would be the key.

We have been accustomed, ever since Stalin's alterations of Marx, to regard "socialism" as the "first stage" of a communist-run society, and "communism" as the ultimate stage. This is not the way Marx saw the development of his system. Marx, as well as all the other communists of his day, used "socialism" and "communism" interchangeably to describe their ideal society. Instead, Marx foresaw the dialectic operating mysteriously to bring about the first stage, of "raw" or "crude" communism, to be magically transformed by the workings of the dialectic into the "higher" stage of communism.

It is remarkable that Marx, especially in his "Private Property and Communism," accepted the horrendous picture that von Stein drew of the "raw" stage of communism. Stein forecast that communism would attempt to enforce egalitarianism by wildly and ferociously expropriating and destroying property, confiscating it, and coercively communizing women as well as material wealth. Indeed, Marx's evaluation of raw communism, the stage of the dictatorship of the proletariat, was even more negative than Stein's:

In the same way as woman is to abandon marriage for general [i.e., universal] prostitution, so the whole world of wealth, that is, the objective being of man, is to abandon the relation of exclusive marriage with the private property owner for the relation of general prostitution with the community.

Not only that, but, as Professor Tucker puts it, Marx concedes that "raw communism is not the real transcendence of private property but only the universalizing of it, and not the abolition of labour but only its extension to all men. It is merely a new form in which the vileness of private property comes to the surface."

In short, in the stage of communalization of private property, what Marx himself considers the worst features of private property will be maximized. Not only that, but Marx concedes the truth of the charge of anticommunists then and now that communism and communization is but the expression, in Marx's words, of "envy and a desire to reduce all to a common level." Far from leading to a flowering of human personality, as Marx is supposed to claim, he admits that communism will negate that personality totally. Thus Marx wrote,

In completely negating the personality of man, this type of communism is really nothing but the logical expression of private property. General envy, constituting itself as a power, is the disguise in which greed reestablishes itself and satisfies itself, only in another way.… In the approach to woman as the spoil and handmaid of communal lust is expressed the infinite degradation in which man exists for himself.[53]

Marx clearly did not stress this dark side of communist revolution in his later writings. Professor Tucker explains that "these vivid indications from the Paris manuscripts of the way in which Marx envisaged and evaluated the immediate postrevolutionary period very probably explain the extreme reticence that he always later showed on this topic in his published writings."[54]

But if this communism is admittedly so monstrous, a regime of "infinite degradation," why should anyone favor it, much less dedicate one's life and fight a bloody revolution to establish it? Here, as so often in Marx's thought and writings, he falls back on the mystique of the "dialectic" – that wondrous magic wand by which one social system inevitably gives rise to its victorious transcendence and negation; and, in this case, by which total evil – which turns out, interestingly enough, to be the postrevolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and not previous capitalism – becomes transformed into total good, a never-never land absent the division of labor and all other forms of alienation.

The curious point is that while Marx attempts to explain the dialectic movement from feudalism to capitalism and from capitalism to the first stage of communism in terms of class struggle and the material productive forces, both of these drop out once raw communism is achieved. The allegedly inevitable transformation from the hell of raw communism to the alleged heaven of higher communism is left totally unexplained; to rely on that crucial transformation, we must fall back on pure faith in the mystique of the dialectic.

Despite Marx's claim to be a "scientific socialist," scorning all other Socialists whom he dismissed as moralistic and "utopian," it should be clear that Marx himself was even more in the messianic utopian tradition than were the competing "utopians." For Marx not only sought a desired future society that would put an end to history, he claimed to have found the path toward that utopia inevitably determined by the "laws of history."

But a utopian, and a fierce one, Marx certainly was. A hallmark of every utopia is a militant desire to put an end to history, to freeze mankind in a static state, to put an end to diversity and man's free will, and to order everyone's life in accordance with the utopian's totalitarian plan. Many early communists and socialists set forth their fixed utopias in great and absurd detail, determining the size of everyone's living quarters, the food they would eat, etc. Marx was not silly enough to do that, but his entire system, as Professor Thomas Molnar points out, is "the search of the utopian mind for the definitive stabilization of mankind or, in gnostic terms, its reabsorption into the timeless."

For Marx, his quest for utopia was, as we have seen, an explicit attack on God's creation, and a ferocious desire to destroy it. The idea of crushing the many, the diverse facets of creation, and of returning to an allegedly lost unity with God began, as we have seen, with Plotinus. As Molnar summed up,

In this view, existence itself is [a] wound on nonbeing. Philosophers from Plotinus to Fichte and beyond have held that the reabsorption of the polichrome universe in the eternal One would be preferable to creation. Short of this solution, they propose to arrange a world in which change is brought under control so as to put an end to a disturbingly free will and to society's uncharted moves. They aspire to return from the linear Hebrew-Christian concept to the Greco-Hindu cycle – that is, to a changeless, timeless permanence.

The triumph of unity over diversity means that, for the utopians, including Marx, "civil society, with its disturbing diversity, can be abolished."[55]

Substituting in Marx for God's will or the Hegelian dialectic of the world-spirit or the Absolute Idea, is monist materialism; its central assumption, as Molnar puts it, being "that the universe consists of matter plus some sort of one-dimensional law immanent in matter." In that case, "man himself is reduced to a complex but manipulable material aggregate, living in the company of other aggregates, and forming increasingly complex super aggregates called societies, political bodies, churches." The alleged laws of history, then, are derived by scientific Marxists as supposedly evident and immanent within this matter itself.

The Marxian process toward utopia, then, is man acquiring insights into his own true nature, and then rearranging the world to accord with that nature. Engels, in fact, explicitly proclaimed the Hegelian concepts of the Man-God:

Hitherto the question has always stood: What is God? – and German Hegelian philosophy has resolved it as follows: God is man.… Man must now arrange the world in a truly human way, according to the demands of his nature.[56]

But this process is rife with self-contradictions; for example, and centrally, how can mere matter gain insights into his [its?] nature? As Molnar puts it, "for how can matter gather insights? And if it has insights, it is not entirely matter, but matter plus."

In this allegedly inevitable process of arriving at the proletarian communist utopia after the proletarian class becomes conscious of its true nature, what is supposed to be Karl Marx's own role? In Hegelian theory, Hegel himself is the final and greatest world-historical figure, the Man-God of man-gods. Similarly, Marx in his own view stands at a focal point of history as the man who brought to the world the crucial knowledge of man's true nature and of the laws of history, thereby serving as the "midwife" of the process that would put an end to history. Thus Molnar wrote,

Like other utopian and gnostic writers, Marx is much less interested in the stages of history up to the present (the egotistic now of all utopian writers) than the final stages when the stuff of time becomes more concentrated, when the drama approaches its denouement. In fact, the utopian writer conceives of history as a process leading to himself since he, the ultimate comprehensor, stands in the center of history. It is natural that things accelerate during his own lifetime and come to a watershed: he looms large between the Before and the After.[57]

Thus, in common with other utopian socialists and communists, Marx sought in communism the apotheosis of the collective species – mankind as one new superbeing, in which the only meaning possessed by the individual is as a negligible particle of that collective organism. Many of Marx's numerous epigones carried out his quest.

One incisive portrayal of Marxian collective organicism – what amounts to a celebration of the New Socialist Man to be created during the communizing process – was that of a top Bolshevik theoretician of the early 20th century, Alexander Alexandrovich Bogdanov. Bogdanov, too, spoke of "three ages" of human history. First was a religious, authoritarian society and a self-sufficient economy.

Next came the "second age," an exchange economy, marked by diversity and the emergence of the "autonomy" of the "individual human personality." But this individualism, at first progressive, later becomes an obstacle to progress as it hampers and "contradicts the unifying tendencies of the machine age." But then there will arise the Third Age, the final stage of history: communism. This last stage will be marked by a collective, self-sufficient economy, and by

the fusion of personal lives into one colossal whole, harmonious in the relations of its parts, systematically grouping all elements for one common struggle – struggle against the endless spontaneity of nature.… An enormous mass of creative activity … is necessary in order to solve this task. It demands the forces not of man but of mankind – and only in working at this task does mankind as such emerge.[58]

Finally, at the apex of Marxian messianic communism is a man who fuses all the tendencies and strands analyzed thus far. A blend of Christian messianist and devoted Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist, the 20th-century German Marxist Ernst Bloch set forth his vision in his recently translated three-volume phantasmagoria The Principle of Hope (Daz Prinzip Hoffung).

Early in his career, Bloch wrote a laudatory study of the views and life of the coercive, Anabaptist communist, Thomas Müntzer, whom he hailed as magical, or "theurgic." The inner "truth" of things, wrote Bloch, will only be discovered after "a complete transformation of the universe, a grand apocalypse, the descent of the Messiah, a new heaven and a new earth."

There is more than a hint in Bloch that disease, nay death itself, will be abolished upon the advent of communism.[59] God is developing; "God himself is part of the Utopia, a finality that is still unrealized." For Bloch, mystical ecstasies and the worship of Lenin and Stalin went hand in hand. As J. P. Stern writes, Bloch's Principle of Hope contains such remarkable declarations as "Ubi Lenin, ibi Jerusalem" [Where Lenin is, there is Jerusalem], and that "the Bolshevist fulfillment of Communism" is part of "the age-old fight for God."

In the person of Ernst Bloch, the old grievous split within the European communist movement of the 1830s and 1840s between its Christian and atheist wings was at last reconciled. Or, to put it another way, in a final bizarre twist of the dialectic of history, the total conquest of the Christian variants of communism, at the hands of the superior revolutionary will and organizing of Karl Marx, was now transcended and negated.

The messianic, eschatological vision of heretical religious and Christian communism was now back in full force, within the supposed stronghold of atheistic communism, Marxism itself. From Ernst Bloch to the fanatical cults of personality of Stalin and Mao to the genocidal vision and ruthlessness of Pol Pot in Cambodia and the Shining Path guerrilla movement in Peru, it seems that, within the body and soul of Marxism, Thomas Müntzer had at last triumphed conclusively over Feuerbach.

Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School. He was an economist, economic historian, and libertarian political philosopher. See Murray N. Rothbard's article archives. Comment on the blog.

Notes

[1] Ernest L. Tuveson, "The Millenarian Structure of The Communist Manifesto," in C. Patrides and J. Wittreich, eds., The Apocalypse in English Renaissance Thought and Literature (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1984), pp. 326–27. Tuveson speculates that Marx and Engels may have been influenced by the outburst of millenarianism in England during the 1840s. On this phenomenon, particularly the flare-up in England and the United States of the Millerites, who predicted the end of the world on October 22, 1844, see the classic work on modern millenarianism, Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism, 1880–1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970). See Tuveson, "Millenarian Structure," p. 340, n. 5.

[2] Thus, in the highly touted work of Thomas Sowell, Marxism: The Philosophy and Economics (London: Unwin Paperbacks. 1986), there is scarcely any consideration whatsoever paid to communism.

[3] The official Soviet textbook on Marxism treated its own proclaimed goal with brusque dismissal, insisting that all Soviets must work hard and not skip any "stages" on the long road to communism. "The CPSU [the Communist Party of the Soviet Union], being a party of scientific communism, advances and solves the problem of communist construction as the material and spiritual prerequisites for them to become ready and mature, being guided by the fact that necessary stages of development must not be skipped over." Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, 2nd rev. ed. (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1963), p. 662. Also see ibid., pp. 645–46, 666–67, and 674–75.

[4] See the illuminating work of Robert C. Tucker, Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx (1970, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1961).

[5] What Marx Really Meant was the title of a sympathetic work on Marxism by G. D. H. Cole (London, 1934).

[6] Alexander Gray, The Socialist Tradition (London: Lougmans Green, 1946), pp. 321–22.

[7] Another example of what may be termed "religious" behavior by Marxists is the insistence of thinkers who have clearly abandoned almost all the essential tenets of Marxism on calling themselves by the magical name "Marxist." A recent case in point is the British "analytical Marxists," such as John Roemer and Jon Elster. For a critique of this school by an orthodox Marxist, see Michael A. Lebowitz, "Is 'Analytical Marxism' Marxism?" Science and Society, vol. 52 (Summer 1988): pp. 191–214.

[8] Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism: Its Origins, Growth and Dissolution, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981) pp. 9–39.

[9] The great orthodox Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton brilliantly illuminated the difference between Christian individualism and pantheistic collectivism in the following critique of the Buddhist Mrs. Annie Besant, one of the founders of the Fabian Society, "According to Mrs. Besant the universal Church is simply the universal Self. It is the doctrine that we are really all one person; that there are no real walls of individuality between man and man.… She does not tell us to love our neighbor; she tells us to be our neighbors.… The intellectual abyss between Buddhism and Christianity is that, for the Buddhist or the theosophist, personality is the fall of man, for the Christian it is the purpose of God, the whole point of His cosmic idea." G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York, 1927), pp. 244–45. Quoted in Thomas Molnar, Utopia: the Perennial Heresy (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967), p. 123.

[10] Alexander Gray has a lot of fun with the concept of "negation" in the Hegelian and Marxian dialectic. He writes that the examples of the "negation of the negation" in Engels's Anti-Dühring "may be sound Hegelianism, but otherwise they appear rather silly. A seed of barley falls into the ground and germinates: negation of the seed. In the autumn it produces more grains of barley: negation of the negation. A butterfly comes from an egg: negation of the egg. After many transformations, the butterfly mates and dies: negation of the negation.… Hegel is surely something more than this." Gray adds a comment that Marx's admiring summary of Hegelianism in his Poverty and Philosophy is "not without entertainment value": "yes becomes no, no becomes yes, yes becomes at the same time yes and no, no becomes at the same time no and yes, the contraries balance, neutralize, and paralyze each other." (My own translation from Gray's original French quote, which he found "especially" entertaining.) Gray, Socialist Tradition, p. 300, n. 1 and n. 2.

[11] See M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York: Norton, 1971), p. 161.

[12] Most of the Protestants held the very different, and far more correct, view that the Norman Conquest had imposed a state-created feudal-type landed estates on an England that had been much closer to being an idyll of genuine private property.

Engels and other historians and anthropologists saw the original Early Communism, or Golden Age, in primitive premarket tribal societies. Modern anthropological research, however, has demonstrated that most primitive and tribal societies were based on private property, money, and market economies. Thus, see Bruce Benson, "Enforcement of Private Property Rights in Primitive Societies: Law Without Government," Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 9 (Winter 1989): 1–26.

[13] In M.H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism, p. 517n.

[14] Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (London: Penguin Books, 1975), p. 136. Also see F. D. Dow, Radicalism in the English Revolution 1640–1660 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985), pp. 74–80.

[15] See the superb work by the leading literary critic of Romanticism, Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism.

[16] Hegel was nominally a Lutheran, but Lutheranism in Germany at that time was evidently latitudinarian enough to encompass pantheism.

[17] Robert C. Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, pp. 53–54.

[18] See Raymond Plant, Hegel (Bloomington Indiana University Press, 1973), p. 120.

[19] Ferguson furthermore, used his phrase in a fashion very similar to that of Hegel, and was originally far from the Hayekian analysis of the free market. Ferguson, as a young Calvinist minister, enlisted in the suppression of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 in Scotland. After the rebellion was at last put down, Ferguson preached a sermon in which he tried to solve the great puzzle: why did God permit the Catholics to pursue their evil goals and almost triumph? His answer was that the Catholics, even though consciously pursuing evil ends, served as the unconscious agents of God's good purpose; i.e., rousing the Presbyterian Church of Scotland out of its alleged apathy. Hence, a prototype of the "cunning of Reason" in history, except for theist rather than pantheist goals. See Richard B. Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 40–44.

[20] As Paul Craig Roberts has rightly emphasized, "alienation" in Man is not simply the capitalist wage-relation but, more deeply, specialization, the division of labor, and the money economy itself. But as we see, alienation is even more rootedly the cosmic condition of man's state until the reabsorption of collective man-and-nature under communism. See Paul Craig Roberts, Alienation and the Soviet Economy (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1971); and Roberts and Matthew A. Stephenson, Marx's Theory of Exchange, Alienation and Crisis, 2nd ed. (New York: Praeger, 1983).

[21] Plant, Hegel, p. 96.

[22] See Plant, Hegel, pp. 122, 123, and 181. Also see Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, vol. 2 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1963), p. 31.

[23] Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, pp. 54–55. E. F. Carritt points out that, for Hegel, "freedom" is "desiring above all things to serve the success and glory of their State. In desiring this they are desiring that the will of God should be done." If an individual thinks he should do something which is not for the success and glory of the State, then, for Hegel, "he should be 'forced to be free.'" How does a person know what action will redound to the glory of the State? To Hegel, the answer was easy. Whatever the State rulers demand, since "the very fact of their being rulers is the surest sign of God's will that they should be." Impeccable logic indeed! See E. F. Carritt, "Reply" (1940), reprinted in W Kauffmann, ed., Hegel's Political Philosophy (New York: Atherton Press, 1970), pp. 38–39.

[24] Tucker offers an amusing comment on the reaction of the eminent Hegelian W. T. Stace, who had written that "we must not jump to the preposterous conclusion that, according to Hegel's philosophy, I, this particular human spirit, am the Absolute, nor that the Absolute is any particular spirit, nor that it is humanity in general. Such conclusions would be little short of shocking." Tucker adds that this "argument from propriety" does not answer the question "why we must assume that Hegel could not be 'shocking.'" Or, we might add, preposterous, or megalomaniacal. Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, pp. 46n., 47n.

[25] On the influence of Schiller's views on organicism and alienation upon Hegel, Marx and later sociology, see Leon Bramson, The Political Context of Sociology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 30n.

[26] See Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism, p. 311.

[27] As the historian Norman Cohn put it, the Joachimite new "world would be one vast monastery in which all men would be contemplative monks rapt in mystical ecstasy and united in singing the praises of God." Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), pp. 108–09.

[28] Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, p. 182.

[29] Ronald A. Knox, Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion (1950; New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 132–34.

[30] Quoted in Igor Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon (New York: Harper and Row, 1980), p. 57.

[31] Gray, Socialist Tradition, pp. 90–91.

[32] Gray, Socialist Tradition, pp. 62–63.

[33] See the revealing article by Paul Gottfried, "Utopianism of the Right: Maistre and Schlegel," Modern Age, vol. 24 (Spring 1980): pp. 150–60.

[34] James H. Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith (New York: Basic Books, 1980), p. 73.

[35] For this phrase and other translated quotes from the Manifesto, see Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon, pp. 121–24. Also see Gray, Socialist Tradition, p. 107.

[36] Billington, Fire in the Minds, p. 75. Also see Gray, Socialist Tradition, p 105n. As Gray comments, "what is desired is the annihilation of all things, trusting that out of the dust of destruction a fair city may arise. And buoyed by such a hope, how blithely would Babeuf bide the stour." Ibid., p 105.

[37] Cabet had been a distinguished French lawyer and attorney-general of Corsica, but he was ousted for radical attitudes toward the French government. After founding a journal, Cabet fled into exile in London during the 1830s and initially became an Owenite. Despite Cabet's nationality, the book was originally written and published in English, and a French translation was published the following year. A peaceful communist rather than a revolutionary, Cabet tried to establish utopian communes in various failed projects in the United States, from 1848 until his death 8 years later.

[38] Billington, Fire in the Minds, p. 243.

[39] Billington, Fire in the Minds, p. 257.

[40] Billington, Fire in the Minds, p. 251.

[41] See the standard biography of Marx by David McLellan, Karl Marx: His Life and Thought (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 118.

[42] See J. L. Talmon, Political Messianism: The Romantic Phase (New York: Praeger, 1960), p. 157.

[43] Friedrich Engels was the son of a leading industrialist and cotton manufacturer, who was also a staunch Pietist from the Barmen area of the Rhineland in Germany. Barmen was one of the major centers of Pietism in Germany, and Engels received a strict Pietist upbringing. An atheist and then a Hegelian by 1839, Engels wound up at the University of Berlin and the Young Hegelians by 1841, and moved in the same circles as Marx, becoming fast friends in 1844.

[44] The poems were largely written in 1836 and 1837, in Marx's first months in Berlin. Two of the poems constituted Marx's first published writings, in the Berlin Atheneum in 1841. The others have been mainly lost.

[45] Richard Wurmbrand, Marx and Satan (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1986), pp. 12–13.

[46] For the complete translated text of Oulanem, see Robert Payne, The Unknown Karl Marx (New York: New York University Press, 1971), pp. 81–83. Also excellent on the poems and on Marx as a messianist is Bruce Mazlish, The Meaning of Karl Marx (New York, Oxford University Press, 1984).

Pastor Wurmbrand points out that Oulanem is an anagram of Emmanuel, the Biblical name for Jesus, and that such inversions of holy names are standard practice in Satanic cults. There is no real evidence, however, that Marx was a member of such a cult. Wurmbrand, Marx and Satan, pp. 13–14 and passim.

[47] In B. F. Trentowski, The Relationship of Philosophy to Cybernetics (Poznan, 1843), in which the author also coined the word "cybernetics" for the new, emerging form of rational social technology which would transform mankind. See Billington, Fire in the Minds, p. 231.

[48] Billington, Fire in the Minds, p. 225.

[49] Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, p. 101.

[50] Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, p. 105. It is both ironic and fascinating that the dominant intellectuals in contemporary Hungary who are leading the drive away from socialism and toward freedom are honoring the Marxian concept of "civil society" as what they are moving toward while going away from the collective and the communal.

[51] Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, p. 15.

[52] Stein was a conservative Hegelian monarchist, who had been assigned by the Prussian government to study the unsettling new doctrines of socialism and communism becoming rampant in France. Marx displayed a "minute textual familiarity" with Stein's book, Lorenz von Stein, Der Socialismus und Communismus des heutigen Frankreichs (Liepzig, 1842), a book that remains untranslated. Stein spent his mature years as professor of public finance and public administration at the University of Vienna. See Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, pp. 114–17.

[53] Quoted in Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, p. 155. Italics are Marx's.

[54] Tucker, Philosophy and Myth, pp. 155–56.

[55] Thomas Molnar, "Marxism and the Utopian Theme," Marxist Perspectives (Winter 1978): p. 153–54. The economist David McCord Wright, while not delving into the religious roots of the problem, stressed that one group in society, the statists, seeks "the achievement of a fixed ideal static pattern of technical and social organization. Once this ideal is reached, or closely approximated, it need only be repeated endlessly thereafter." David McCord Wright, Democracy and Progress (New York: Macmillan, 1948), p. 21.

[56] Molnar, "Marxism," pp. 149, 150–51.

[57] Molnar, "Marxism," pp. 151–52.

[58] Quoted in S. V. Utechin, "Philosophy and Society: Alexander Bogdanov," in Leopold Labedz, ed., Revisionism: Essays on the History of Marxist Ideas (New York: Praeger, 1962), p. 122.

[59] J.P. Stern, "Marxism on Stilts: Review of Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope," The New Republic, vol. 196 (March 9, 1987): pp. 40, 42. Also see Kolakowski, Main Currents, vol. 3, pp. 423–24.


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