In principle, when examining any historical theory or philosophy, the following issues are brought in question:
The theme of the theory? Whether the theory is applicable in the present era or not? But the case of Marxism, for bourgeois world, is different where the orders of questions are not only changed when the theme is often ignored, leaving only the question of applicability of Marx’s doctrine in the present era. Numerous articles, books and documents are evident of the same.
The reason behind this is the nature of philosophy, Marx presented, wherein exposure of real aims and objects of the ruling elite and of their intellectuals was inevitable. Hence, Marx is criticised being not a philosopher unlike those who could not go beyond their thoughts. Wilhelm Liebknecht the contemporary of Karl Marx and father of Karl Liebknecht (the famous German revolutionary), in his ‘Reminiscences of Marx’ argued well as under:
“Science is not a marketable value. And bourgeois society cannot be expected to pay a reasonable price for the drawing up of its own death sentence”.
Hence censure seems mandatory for bourgeois for the sake of capitalism ignoring the doctrine of Marx. But as Paul Lafargue had said “Marx could no longer be ignored”, the bourgeois world adopted the conflict attitude towards the founder of conflict science. Marx is ignored despite being not ignored. Along with his followers the opponents also approach him to trace way out from the crisis of capitalism such as the Dialectical Research Methodology being introduced by Marx is recognised as best one in the universities in Europe. On other hand, above cited both sections also are found afraid of Marx, especially in crisis of capitalism. Criticising Marx despite terming him failed one is one of the evidences of his success.
The failure on part of the critics in denouncing Marx forced his opponents to portray different kind of images of Marx, completely harmless to the bourgeois, monetary capitalism, transnational corporate, big businessmen, ruling elite, world’s states, religious priests and scattered feudal and tribal lords transforming the former as acceptable and tolerable to the latter having no antagonism towards the above cited forces. As per their desire, they shaped him reformative critic of bourgeois or prevailing social conditions. Marx could be tolerable for exploiters and oppressive classes but without his revolutionary essence.
No doubt, Marx may be understood well by his works but much has been being misinterpreted and distorted for decades in order to create harmless, peaceful, humanist and non-violent image of Marx. It is not ‘conspiracy theory’ but is evident by going through the numerous books and articles posing Marx as liberal and even theist. Many sections emphasise, that Marx derived his theory against exploitation from Christianity or Islam or teachings of Moses. Even the liberals alleged that Marx reproduced the ideas of Adam Smith.
Those who have watched the decades of 1950s to 1980s were/are well aware of certain liberals, nationalists and even racists had been being termed as Marxist or Communist. Drinking wine, appearing as professional lawyer in Labour Courts, trade union activities and even introducing and promoting certain policies or trends on behalf of Transnational Corporates were sufficient to get anyone known as Marx’s follower, especially in a conservative society. The main object was to divert the people’s attention from the basic teachings of Marx; therefore, the bourgeoisie finance capitalism opted to choose only the things which are necessary to ensure the people at large that capitalism, irrespective of its shape, is the only way of progress of humankind and Marxism could not be alternate of the same.
Lenin exposed such tactics of bourgeois in his marvellous book “The State and Revolution” starting with following phrase:
“What is now happening to Marx’s theory has, in the course of history, happened repeatedly to the theories of revolutionary thinkers and leaders of oppressed classes fighting for emancipation. During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonise them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the “consolation” of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarising it. Today, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists within the labour movement concur in this doctoring of Marxism. They omit, obscure, or distort the revolutionary side of this theory, its revolutionary soul. They push to the foreground and extol what is or seems acceptable to the bourgeoisie. All the social-chauvinists are now “Marxists” (don’t laugh!). And more and more frequently German bourgeois scholars, only yesterday specialists in the annihilation of Marxism, are speaking of the “national-German” Marx, who, they claim, educated the labour unions which are so splendidly organised for the purpose of waging a predatory war!”
(Collected Works, Vol-25, pp 390, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1974).
So, on his 200th Birth Anniversary it is necessary to explain and demonstrate the actual, original and true image of one of the founders of scientific communism.
Karl Marx was not the first philosopher to introduce dialectics but what distinguished him from the others is his theory of dialectical and historical materialism being formulated with the equal participation and contribution of his life-long comrade-in-arms, Frederick Engels. Marx standing firmly on his solid scientific ideology, even, declared himself as a product of history who could never be sacred at all in view of the theory of conflicts, i.e. thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis according to which being in the constant process of change and modification, nothing in universe is sacred or eternally true.
Breaking the narrow sacredness of the philosophies of contemporary metaphysical and vulgar materialist philosophers, Karl Marx asserted that the material or productive relations of a society are the base of any ideology or thoughts. So from Marxist point of view, philosophy or any ideology, whether in shape of individuals’ ideas or collective ideas, stands upon the material relations of the individual, or a group of individuals, with the society in which they live.
Nevertheless, the interpretation for the sake of interpretation was not acceptable for him so in his critics upon Feuerbach, Karl Marx incorporated basic and vital point of his philosophy:
“Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however, is to change it”.
In French Revolution of 1789 when the poor hungry working masses overthrew the king and his queen from the palace and dragged them on road shouting repeatedly that “Now the cook and maid cook are with us who would provide us bread”. Marx was going to repeat the similar events in the philosophical revolution which could never be acceptable for the philosophers of any time: a great sin not able to be pardoned in any era of history.
Nevertheless, the same presentation appeared as a decision of Marx to choose most difficult way for himself.
Beside the same, Marx discovering the laws of the motion of society or social evolution expanded the theory relating to the laws of natural science (of dialectics and of physics) to the social evolution. In other words, historical materialism and dialectical materialism are branches of one single ideology.
Marx’s ideas are interrelated with each other as he taught to realise and understand the world as a whole not in parts. While at the same time, Marx instead of philosophers, scholars and intellectuals, declared the proletariat as the vanguard, the driving force and the leader of the forthcoming social revolution. According to Marx, the emancipation of the working class was the basic condition to change the world and also the responsibility and historical duty of the workers themselves. Thus the scientific theory of Marx could only be revolutionary. And when it comes to the question of revolution, Marx clearly stressed the use of force of the working masses to change the existing productive relations especially in the Manifesto of the Communist Party and in the Civil War in France.
The revolutionary spirit of Marx was reminded by Frederick Engels in his speech on the occasion of burial of Marx at High Gate cemetery in London, calling him a leader of militant proletariat:
“An immeasurable loss has been sustained both by the militant proletariat of Europe and America, and by historical sciences, in the death of this man”.
So after his death, the revisionists and opportunists, disguised as Marxists, started distorting the revolutionary essence of Marx’s doctrine even by using extracts from his writings and by converting the revolutionary philosophy of Marx into reformist demagogy. But such distortions were well responded by Engels, Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and especially Vladimir Lenin. Nevertheless, Marx’s image still is portrayed as a defender of bourgeois democracy by presenting his quotation that ‘democracy is the way to socialism’.
No doubt that in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels cast liability upon communists to stand with the democratic forces against the reactionary powers, but in the same booklet they openly declared that the communists can achieve their goal only by overthrowing the prevailing social system with force. Marx repeatedly termed revolution as an act of force, while in practice, Marx supported every workers’ uprising since 1848. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels in envisaged a communist society without politics. The question of democracy and politics may not be alienated from the question of the role of state and the Marxist approach towards the state.
Marx though did not write anything in his popular writings of replacement of bourgeois state with the brotherhood of the proletariat but he and Engels had agreed after the uprising and the experience of Paris Commune in 1871 that the state being a tool in the hands of the oppressive class could never be used by the revolutionary proletariat. Marx learnt from the revolutionary workers of Paris and also advised them during the revolutionary events to smash the old state structure and to occupy the Central Bank. Marx termed Parisian workers the heroes storming the heaven. Even in his early writings, Marx denounced the bourgeois state terming the same as agent of the capitalists. In his article published in 1844 in Vorwarts, Marx resembled the state with slavery:
“The existence of the State and the existence of Slavery are inseparable”.
Marx neither ever participated in any campaign for human rights or to eliminate any kind of exploitation remaining within the structure of capitalism nor he ever defended such in his writings. He was an ardent opponent and an unkind critic of such political and social theatrics. Despite living in the depth of immense poverty and leading a miserable life, Marx never compromised upon his guiding principles and always criticised and exposed the capitalists and their hypocrisy through his sharp writings. In 1853, Marx, while exposing the connections between the slavery of the Dutches and the Dukes who had been pretending themselves as the (so-called) agitators against Negro slavery, summed up his article in these words:
“The enemy of British wage slavery has a right to condemn Negro slavery: a Duchess of Sutherland, a Duke of Atholl, a Manchester cotton lord …. never”.
Marx’s ideology was not product of his sentimental approach and sympathy with the working masses as he never mourned upon the miseries of the poor people rather on the basis of reason, vast critical study and scientific approach, he reached the conclusion that the emancipation of mankind and real progress and history of the human being is possible only through emancipation of the proletariat. He had no concern with the alien liberal, lazy Sufi, priest or with any feminist belonging to such class of exploiters who consider woman as productive tool.
Despite that he was born in a middle class family, while married with the girl whose brother, later, became interior minister of Germany, Marx had no affiliation with the elite class. His hero was the proletariat and he devoted his life for them, it is the reason why he had to suffer the miseries of life such as hunger, living in utmost poverty, forcible expulsions, diseases, eviction form rental house and even deaths of his beloved children.
During his research in London in 1853, Marx had to abandon his work for four years during which he and his family had to plumb the depth of “middle class poverty”. The year of 1853 was “beginning of long night exile”. In his letter dated 8th September 1852 Marx narrated his condition to Engels as under:
“My wife is ill, little Jenny is ill, Leni has a sort of nervous fever. I cannot and could not call the doctor, having no money for medicines. For the last week I have fed my family on bread and potatoes, but I wonder if I shall be able to buy any today”.
But the iron man of time never halted and fought throughout his life. In case of any break Marx always approached to new sciences and new discoveries.
The popular slogan in many countries that one should change his thoughts to change the society is a utopian one when change in individual or collective thoughts is subject to change of productive relations, as Marx clearly affirmed that prevailing thoughts of mankind rests upon the class nature of any society. In other words, the relation of someone with the sources of production determines her/his approach towards the society because productive relations create specific social thoughts. In such ways, Marx explained that not only the proletariat but also the capitalists, despite being the owners of the means of production, are not the masters of their own lives and the sources of production and productions rule upon them as well, forcing the bourgeoisie to do everything necessary for the sake of profit and capital irrespective of its moral, legal and social status. So it is not possible to convince any capitalist to accept socialism when he/she cannot think in any way other than what is imposed upon him/her by the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
The same theory of Marx made us able to understand the prevailing unrest in the world. Someone who has deep study of alleged terrorist forces such as ISIS, can realise the reasons forcing the ruling classes and transnational corporate to create them or support them. Referring T.J Dunning in his splendid work Das Capital that with adequate profit capital become so much bold even to commit any crime and even let its owner being hanged, Marx wrote:
“If money, according to Augier, “comes into the world with a congenital blood stain on ones check.” Capital comes dripping from head to foot from every pore, with blood and dirt”.
So in Marx’s philosophy in the emancipation of the workers, there is emancipation of capitalists as well.
Marx explained that the poverty of the working class is a condition of the capitalism, as in Das Capital he writes:
“The capitalist system presupposes the complete separation of the labourers from all property in the means by which they can realise their labour”.
On the basis of such separation, the worker becomes victim of alienation, as Marx explained.
Marx was man of science so that he was man of revolution. He was philosopher of workers so that he worked always hard. After lapse of almost one and half century the words of Frederick Engels at the time of burial of Marx seems true:
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“His name will endure through the ages and so also his work”.