Socialism Part 2: Marxism

 Introduction

In Part 1 of this 6 part series on socialism, I examined the potential dangers and effects of unchecked, destructive populism. I illustrated that historically, those intent on seizing power and control will almost always manipulate and use the often volatile and disgruntled ignorant masses—through populist appeals to base emotions and jealousy, blatant pandering, propaganda, demagoguery, and “vote buying”—as a means of achieving these ends. It is the age old tactic of agitating, rallying, and manipulating the “mob” in order to suit one’s own agenda and ulterior motives. Tactics that we can still clearly observe in use today. The ignorant masses are used and manipulated by the power elites and the utopians, with the promises of making their lives better and creating a better world, but in the end all the elites really do is consolidate their own power while the situation of the masses stays the same—or deteriorates.

In Part 1, I also discussed how the inevitable sociocultural rot and populism inherently found within democratic systems can also very easily be used to create these volatile conditions, which can then easily be exploited by those hungry for power. And while these populist tactics cannot be attributed to socialism alone, for other nefarious ideologies are guilty of exploiting them as well, one simply cannot deny that socialism at its core is inherently an ideology of populist manipulation. And it is from this fundamental core and foundation of populism and mass manipulation that socialist ideology can be further broken down into its two most basic distinctions: Marxist Socialism and National Socialism.

The Two Main Distinctions Of Socialism

Socialism, as a general political and economic ideology and system, can be further broken down into two main sub-ideological and systemic distinctions: Marxist Socialism and National Socialism. And while these two distinctions may share many similarities, they also have many inherent and distinct differences as well. I therefore intend to explore, compare, and contrast these two main distinctions on an academic, intellectual, and historic level over the course of the next 4 parts of this series.

And while to the layman it may not be overly important to get bogged down in the minutia and nuance between the various forms and implementations of socialism—so long as they fully understand that socialism as a whole is a destructive totalitarian ideology which moves a nation further along the spectrum towards both political and economic authoritarianism—to anyone with an academic interest in the matter, there are key differences worth noting and understanding. These next 3 articles are therefore an attempt to explore these differences in a detailed but general sense of the idea. These articles are not an attempt to place every system neatly into a box, because as I have already stated, variations obviously exist in the countless implementations of these systems—both historically and contemporarily. This is instead an examination of the “big picture” macro ideological principles.

This article—part 2 of the series—will be a detailed examination of the basic fundamental principles of Marxism and Marxist Socialism. For to understand Marxism is to understand and make sense of the toxic ideologies and agendas of modern progressivism, liberalism, and the modern Socialist Democrat Party.

Marxism And Marxist Socialism

The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggles”—Karl Marx

Marxism has been one of the most destructive, oppressive, and deadly ideologies the world has ever known. Yet very few people actually understand what Marxism really is, or how destructive it can truly be. Some may support Marxism unknowingly, indirectly, or ignorantly, through their support of liberalism, progressivism, and the Socialist Democrat Party. Others may knowingly support Marxism, but may do so with a glamorized and sugarcoated understanding of what it really is and what it really calls for. On an emotional level, Marxism sounds “good” and “fair” to them, so they support it. They may do so by picking and choosing the parts they like, or they may just be completely oblivious to the truth behind the ideology. Others still may support Marxism due to a complete and utter lack of understanding and comprehension of basic economic principles and fundamentals. Finally, there is a small percentage of people who do fully understand what Marxism really is, and they seek to exploit its populism and tactics for their own personal gain and power—as Marx intended. These are the power elites, the authoritarians and totalitarians, the utopians, and the social engineers, and history has shown them to be some of the most vile, damaged, and destructive people the world has ever known.

So, what is Marxism? Without question, Marxist inspired and Marxist based socialism/communism is the most common, popular, and dominant form of socialist/communist philosophy, ideology, and implementation in the world today. The socialist/communist ideas, theories, and writings of Karl Marx have inspired, and are the root philosophy of, the majority of leftist, progressive, radical, reformist, and revolutionary socialist/communist movements throughout the world today. Therefore, to fully understand Marxism is to fully understand the modern left’s statist, totalitarian-authoritarian agenda. If you think that I am being overly dramatic, then you don’t yet understand Marxism.

And while there were countless other socialist philosophers and theorists that arose during Marx’s time of the Industrial Revolution of the early 1800’s, the ideology and brand of Karl Marx has since won out and has become the undisputed godfather of them all. Even socialist/communist ideologies that claim to be non-Marxist based (with the exception of National Socialism, as I will explore in Part 4) or divergent from Marxism, are still undeniably rooted and inspired by at least some elements of Marxism. As such, Marxism has practically become synonymous with, and the predominant root and inspiration for, practically all socialist/communist ideologies, at least in a general sense of the idea.

In fact, the political, sociocultural, economic, and socialist/communist theories of Karl Marx are considered so influential, that he is credited as being one of the “founding fathers” of the academic discipline of Sociology itself, along with other prevalent early social theorists such as August Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. Along with this distinction, Marx’s “conflict theory” is also considered to be one of the key “macro theories” of Sociology”—kind of like a unified theory for you physics people out there. And finally, Marx’s writings and works—most notably “The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital”—are still highly regarded and glamorized among socialists, liberal academics, leftists, radicals, and social justice warriors around the world, and they are still widely taught today in universities. So, despite the many accounts that he was a spoiled, petulant, vain, arrogant, violent, and hateful man, there is still no denying the influence of Karl Marx.

Yet this article is not a biography or profile of the man Karl Marx, but rather an examination and exploration of his theories and ideology. My intention was to do so honestly and accurately. So, lets begin.

The philosophies of socialism as a whole were born from, and influenced by, several key events and sociocultural/philosophical changes that occurred roughly around the beginning of the 19th century, most notably, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the newfound radicalism of the European Romantic Era. As I discussed in Part 1, the Enlightenment principles regarding liberty and the natural inalienable rights of man were corrupted by the radicalism of the French Revolution, evolving into the early socialist mantra of “liberté, égalité, fraternité”. The Industrial Revolution of the day witnessed radical changes in economic production, as traditional tradesmen and guilds gave way to industrialization, mechanization, and the division of labor. And finally, the logic, rationalization, prudence, and intellectualism of the Age of Enlightenment gave way to the emotionalism, relativism, radicalism, and romanticism of the aptly named Romantic Era.

Karl Marx, a man of his time, was heavily inspired and influenced by these events, as well as by the early socialist philosophies and leftist radicalism that had emerged out of the French Revolution—such as the Jacobins. However, Marx viewed the end result of the French Revolution as a failure, because it ultimately allowed for bourgeois self-determination and “class consciousness”. For as Marx wrote, “The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal property in favour of bourgeois property”.

A) The Bourgeois

The core principle in Karl Marx’s socialist/communist theories and ideology, was the fundamental belief in “class conflict”. Or essentially, the notion that the driving force behind all history, politics, culture, and society can be broken down to an eternal conflict and competition between the classes for finite resources and material interests, and that the “unequal distribution” and relationships towards those material interests defines an individual’s experience. Marx referred to this underlying historical division and conflict over resources as “materialism”, and further stated that these material circumstances, interests, and conditions were the dominant factor in shaping an individual’s worldview and perception. Marx wrote, “Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conception, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence”.

This incredibly simplistic view of social stratification and culture basically theorized that all suffering, inequality, and conflict throughout history was due solely to a fundamental conflict between the “haves” or “oppressors” (the bourgeois) and the “have not’s” or “oppressed” (the proletariat). According to Marx, the “bourgeois” were the wealthy upper classes who owned the “means of production”, or essentially all industry, agriculture, property, and wealth. And the “proletariat” were the poor wage workers forced to sell their labor for their very sustenance and survival, and were therefore exploitable by the bourgeois under the capitalist system.

Marx believed that the Industrial Revolution was responsible for greatly compounding this “class conflict”, as well for increasing the material disparities between the classes, because industrialization ultimately led to drastic changes in the techniques and “modes of production”, thereby forever altering the relationship between labor and production. Marx wrote that the increased efficiency of mechanization, mass production, and the division of labor—Marx was extremely critical of the division of labor—as a result of the Industrial Revolution essentially replaced traditional individual skilled trades and craftsmen, as well as the merchant and manufacturing guilds of feudal, mercantile, and early capitalist society. This increase in the overall efficiency of production, along with the increased efficiency of industrialized and mechanized agriculture, led to an overall increase and surplus of capital, which in turn allowed for greater economic and trade power—both domestic and international markets. All of which in turn contributed to greater wealth and power for the “owners”. Therefore, according to Marx, in this new system the control and possession of capital equated to not only economic power, but political and social power as well. As Marx put it, “Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power”.

This newfound “centralization” of capital, wealth, and economic power, as a result of the increased efficiency of production, led to the creation of a new “manufacturing” class of power elites. Marx referred to this new manufacturing class of factory owners, land owners, and tycoons—or those who owned and controlled “the means of production”—as the “bourgeois”. Marx wrote that as this new “bourgeois” class became “conscious”, or basically began to assert and consolidate their own power and interests, they began to take over not only the economic power from the old feudal aristocracy and nobility, but the political power as well. This is of course not to say that the new bourgeois class was not comprised of many of the same men from the old aristocracy, but merely that the system of economic and political power and influence was changing from feudal to capitalist.

Marx also believed that the continued expansion of industrialization and bourgeois power would inevitably lead to the destruction of the middle classes—artisans, tradesmen, craftsmen, and small business merchants—because they could not compete on the scale of the industrialists. Or, as Marx put it, “modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist”. He wrote that through conservatism, the “lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, [would] fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class”, but that ultimately they would be unsuccessful and would inevitably be absorbed into the lower class. This would then result in only two remaining classes: the “bourgeois” and the “proletariat“.

Marx believed that as this new industrialized capitalist system continued to gain power—both politically and economically—the “bourgeois” power elites also began to consolidate said power by establishing institutions and instituting laws and policies—political, economic, and cultural—that would help to further maintain the system and fortify their own power. Marx wrote that all new state power was therefore becoming nothing more than a “committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeois”. In essence, what this meant was that Marx felt that all state power, as well as the state protection of private property rights, was becoming nothing more than another means of “bourgeois” control and dominance over the “proletariat“.

Marx also believed that the entire culture of a society—the sum of all traditions, values, norms, perceptions, customs, beliefs, etc—was yet another purposeful means of institutional dominance and control imposed by the ruling class—in this case the “bourgeois“—upon the masses. He wrote, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force”. He essentially believed that all prevailing mainstream cultural traditions, values, and beliefs were designed solely as another means of maintaining the “bourgeois” capitalist system, and for keeping the “proletariat” docile, in their place, and preventing them from becoming “conscious” as a class. Marx’s associate, Friedrich Engels, described this cultural dominance as a “false consciousness”, which prevented the “proletariat” from fully understanding and identifying their oppression. This idea of cultural dominance later came to be known as the “third face of power”, with overt political and economic policies and agendas comprising the other two “faces”.

Marx therefore equated “bourgeois” culture with all societal culture, stating that, “the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture”. He went on to further illustrate the oppression of bourgeois culture, by describing it as, “for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine”. Furthermore, Marx’s well known, and often quoted, belief that religion was the “opiate of the people”, is another perfect example of how Marx perceived all “bourgeois” culture, morality, and tradition as just another means of enslaving and controlling the proletariat. These concepts of cultural dominance would be greatly expanded on by later Marxist scholars, and would later come to be known and defined as “cultural” and “ideological hegemony”.

B) The Proletariat

Marx theorized that as “bourgeois” political and economic power increased, so too would the ranks of the lower class “proletariat“. As a result of both the middle class inability to compete with big industry, and also out of an intentional necessity for the expansion of the “bourgeois modes of production”, which Marx believed required a surplus of wage labor. Marx also believed that the private property and capital required for the “bourgeois modes of production” was nothing more than yet another means for the “bourgeois” to dominate, subjugate, control, and ultimately exploit and enslave the “proletariat“. Marx wrote:

Does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labour”.

Marx wrote that because the “proletariat” possessed little wealth and capital of their own, along with their having no access to the “means of production” or “private property”, they were therefore left with no other options but to sell their labor for a wage in order to survive. Marx referred to this concept as the “commodity of human labor”. Marx whole heartedly believed that the capitalist system inherently required this surplus of “propertyless proletariat” in order to function, because it was fueled solely on the exploitation of human labor with no other options.

Marx believed that because of this intentional surplus (supply) of workers in relation to the demand for labor, the “bourgeois” owners were thereby able to exploit their workers by paying them as little as possible, and only what the workers truly needed to survive on—thus maximizing their own profits—because the owners knew that there were plenty of other desperate workers waiting in the wings willing to take their place. Marx wrote that, “the average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer”. According to Marx, this surplus of labor also left the individual worker with very little bargaining room in the labor contract. Marx referred to this worker surplus and expendability as  “the magic of labor power”. Due to this “magic of labor”, Marx felt that the “proletariat” workers were able to create far more wealth and capital for the “bourgeois” than they were compensated for and worth. He referred to this as the “surplus value” of labor. What this essentially meant is that Marx believed that the increase in “bourgeois” wealth was directly correlated to the “surplus value” and exploitation of the “proletariat“.

Marx believed that the “intentional” and “purposeful” inequality of capitalism, which he believed was required in order to sustain and increase the “bourgeois modes of production”, led to a proportional deterioration of the conditions and quality of life for the “proletariat“. This inevitable deterioration of conditions was referred to as the process of “immiseration”—or becoming miserable. According to Marx, this “immiseration” and deterioration of the “proletariat” took on many forms.

Primarily, Marx wrote that as industrial production continued to increase, thus creating more wealth and capital for the “bourgeois” owners, the “surplus value” of the workers in relation to the owners would also proportionally increase. This was due to the fact that the workers were creating increased wealth for the owners, but were still not being fairly compensated for their labor in proportion to this new wealth, so as to maximize the overall profits for the “bourgeois“. He believed that this was nothing but a blatant exploitation of the “proletariat“. Marx believed that this wage stagnation and exploitation largely contributed to the “immiseration” and deterioration of the quality of life for the “proletariat“, in that often times they were unable to afford many of the very items that they were producing.

He also believed that this “bourgeois” maximization of “surplus value” and low wages contributed to the overall “immiseration” and deterioration of the “proletariat” because it contributed to poverty, hunger, urban slums, and an overall decrease in the living conditions and quality of life for the “proletariat“.

C) Alienation

Marx also believed heavily in the idea of “alienation” contributing to the overall “immiseration” of the “proletariat“. Or essentially that capitalism contributed to the “alienation” of individuals within the “proletariat” in many forms, and that this “alienation” was another major factor contributing to their overall deterioration. According to Marx’s concept of “species being”—or basically the fundamental characteristics that made us human—he believed that people were naturally social, cooperative, productive, creative, and self-determined individuals, but that capitalism and “alienation” robbed people of these qualities.

C1) Social Alienation

Marx felt that one of the first major forms of “alienation” that afflicted the “proletariat” was “social alienation”. He believed that one of the first major factors contributing to this “social alienation” was the increased urbanization, class stratification, disparity, and division as a result of industrialization and capitalism, which Marx of course believed was intentional and inherently required in order for capitalism to function. He felt that the poverty, deterioration of urban slums, and the overall deterioration of proletariat living conditions, as a result of capitalism, left people socially isolated and “alienated” from one another. This then resulted in break-downs in cooperation, socialization, traditions, shared values, and cohesive neighborhoods.

Marx also believed that the capitalist surplus of readily available and exploitable workers—“the magic of labor”—led to competition and resentment among individual workers of the “proletariat“, as they were forced to compete with one another for limited available work. Marx viewed this competition as another form of “class conflict” and “materialism“. He also saw it as another contributing factor to the “social alienation” of the “proletariat“.

Marx further viewed the promotion of some workers to positions of power over the others—supervisors, foremen, managers, etc—and the special privileges and slightly higher pay that went along with those positions, as simply another means of fostering resentment and “social alienation” among the “proletariat“, as well as another “bourgeois” means of subjugating and controlling them. Marx described the “proletariat” workers as:

Privates of the industrial army.…placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.

This passage illustrates that Marx believed that the “bourgeois“, by occasionally awarding token rewards for loyalty and offering the possibility of advancement, were able to sow resentment and “social alienation” among the “proletariat” by enticing them to be loyal, and especially by forcing them to police themselves. Through the use of certain higher ranking workers acting as slave masters for the “bourgeois“, Marx felt that any resentment and hostility was contained among the “proletariat“.

Finally, he believed that the entire concept of “labor as a commodity”—i.e. working for a wage—contributed to “social alienation” because it eliminated the social and cooperative aspects of the individual, and of the community and collectivist good, and replaced it with the competition between isolated individuals as a commodities. Essentially, Marx wrote that the capitalist ownership of private property and the production of capital led to competition, exploitation, and ultimately “social alienation”.

With all of these factors contributing to “social alienation“, Marx believed that absolute worst consequence of said “alienation” was that it presented a major obstacle towards the achievement of “class consciousness” among the proletariat.  “Class consciousness” of course being the uniting, self-determination, and awareness of oppression among the “proletariat“. This obstacle, Marx felt, was largely due to the fact that individual workers were so focused on competition and their own daily survival, that it left little time for socialization, cooperation, community building, and “class consciousness“.

C2) Alienation From Self

The second major form of “alienation” that Marx believed afflicted the “proletariat” was an “alienation from one’s self”. Marx felt that this self “alienation” was due to the fact that the “proletariat” worker lost all sense of self, identity, choice, and self-determination due to his extremely limited options under the “bourgeois” capitalist system. According to Marx, these limited options fostered a profound sense of hopelessness because the worker, as a self-aware human being, was fully aware of the fact that he was not in control of his own destiny. This sense of hopelessness was compounded further by the fact that his individuality was “objectified” as he is forced to sell his “labor as a commodity”. Marx viewed this lack of self-determination practically as slavery.

C3) Alienation From One’s Labor

The final form of “proletariat” “alienation”, and perhaps the one most emphasized by Marx in many of his writings, was the sense of “creative” and “productive alienation”, or basically an overall sense of “alienation from one’s labor”. What this essentially meant is that due to the increases in industrialization, mechanization, and the division of labor, Marx felt that the individual labor of the worker had “lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine”. Marx believed that due to these new industrialized “modes of production”, production and labor no longer required the skill, creativity, or passion that it once did. According to Marx, this then turned workers into nothing more than interchangeable and expendable parts of the production process—“appendages of the machine”—since most jobs required little to no skill or training anymore.

Marx also wrote that since production had become so dehumanized, it no longer even mattered whether the individual worker was a man, woman, or child anymore, or that “differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class”. Therefore, because most industrialized labor had become unskilled and interchangeable, Marx described this labor as monotonous and degrading torment, as opposed to psychologically fulfilling labor, transforming workers into but “fragments of men”. He referred to this as an “alienation” of the worker from the act of production.

Marx also wrote that because this new industrialized work tended to be unskilled, or at the very least the division of labor often left the individual worker detached from the final product, this too then contributed to their overall sense of “alienation from one’s labor”. Or essentially that the worker was often left “alienated” from the ultimate fruits of his labor or the final finished product. According to Marx, this too then contributed to the individual worker feeling psychologically unfulfilled, with the sense that his labor is pointless and in vain, due to the lack of connection with the final product. Marx believed that it was the new industrialized “modes of production” (such as the assembly line) which created this lack of pride and psychological fulfillment on the part of the worker, because most were left isolated from the full process of production, participating in only a limited and repetitive part of the process. This thereby deprived them of the pride and fulfillment of the final product.

On top of this “alienation from one’s labor”, Marx felt that the “proletariat” workers were then further exploited and “alienated” since the products of their labor were subsequently sold by the “bourgeois” for profit, while the workers were only paid a menial wage.

Marx also went so far as to write that the new industrialized “modes of production” even “alienated” skilled workers—engineers, designers, draftsmen, etc—from the full process of production—conception, design, testing, producing, building, etc—as well as the final product, because the industrialized division of labor robbed even the most skilled worker of the creativity, cooperation, skill, and pride found in the process of producing by “dividing” the entire process into separate stages. Marx further believed that semi-skilled to skilled workers—such as carpenters, engineers, machinists, mechanics, etc—were “alienated” because, although they were intellectually or skillfully laboring, they were still selling that skilled labor as a commodity” for a wage from a “bourgeois” capitalist, with still little connection to the final product. Although these skilled workers may have been less of an “appendage of the machine” than the unskilled workers, Marx still felt that, in the end, they were selling their labor all the same under the enslavement and “alienation” of the capitalist system.

Honestly, an entire article could be spent just discussing Marx’s concepts of “alienation” alone, for it was something that he wrote a great deal about, but I believe that I have addressed the key points here. In a nutshell, Marx believed that people were naturally intelligent, productive, hardworking, creative, social, cooperative, and psychologically fulfilled by their labor, but that the capitalist “modes of production” “alienated” them from this inherent “species being” by forcing them into competitive, limited, unskilled, degrading, monotonous, and interchangeable parts of the production process, while at the same time leaving them isolated from the ultimate fruits of their labor.

D) Revolutionary Marxism

D1) The Ruling Class

Marx adamantly believed that the fall of capitalism and the “bourgeois” was inevitable. He believed that the system was unsustainable due to the inherent inequality, exploitation, and oppression, and that it was therefore sowing the seeds of its own inevitable destruction. Marx famously wrote, “what the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable”.

Marx theorized that things like collective bargaining, unions, promotions, pay raises, and other workplace reforms could be considered small victories for the “proletariat“, but that ultimately these things still would not stop the inevitable fall of capitalism. Marx felt that the continued “immiseration“, “alienation“, and deterioration of the “proletariat“, despite the occasional minor victory, would eventually render a “proletariat revolution” inevitable. And it was only by means of this violent and bloody revolution that Marx believed the “proletariat” could ultimately be emancipated, and all remnants of the “bourgeois” capitalist society swept away. Marx wrote, “there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror”. In fact, Marx viewed past historic revolutions and uprisings as abject failures because, despite all of the upheaval, they still managed to leave the old systems largely intact, and merely replaced who ruled and dominated over them:

In all revolutions up till now the mode of activity always remained unscathed and it was only a question of a different distribution of this activity, a new distribution of labour to other persons, whilst the communist revolution is directed against the preceding mode of activity, does away with labour, and abolishes the rule of all classes with the classes themselves”.

Therefore, Marx intended his communist revolution to be the complete and utter destruction and purge of all elements within the current society and system. Marx openly declared war on all elements and people of the traditional free society. The final paragraph in Marx’s most famous work, “The Communist Manifesto”, makes this point abundantly clear:

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things…The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win”.

Marx went so far as to view with contempt any other socialist/communist philosophy that did not embrace his vision of the violent “proletariat revolution“, “Hence, they reject all political, and especially all revolutionary action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, necessarily doomed to failure”.

However, despite its perceived inevitability, Marx knew that organizing a successful “proletariat revolution” would still be a difficult task. Marx felt that the capitalist system, culture, and “bourgeois” power structure was intentionally set up to keep the “proletariat” in their place, and was therefore a difficult force to overcome. Marx believed that things like “ideological” and “cultural hegemony”, “proletariat social alienation”, “immiseration”, and pretty much every “bourgeois” established institution, was designed solely to maintain and increase the wealth and power of the “bourgeois“, while at the same time keeping the “proletariat” enslaved “in chains” and preventing them from becoming “class conscious”.

Due to these “bourgeois” obstacles, Marx wrote that in order for a revolution to be successful, the “proletariat” had to first be organized, managed, and led by a revolutionary communist party—what would later come to be known as the vanguard—who acted on behalf of the entire “proletariat” and represented their interests. This would enable the “proletariat” to become “class conscious”. Or as Marx put it:

The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole…The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement. The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat”.

Marx felt that a “proletariat“, organized and led by a strong communist party vanguard, would ensure the ultimate success of the revolution. According to Marx then, the goals of this communist revolution were to, by force, emancipate the “proletariat” and seize all political and social power from the “bourgeois“, “Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation”. This would then establish the “proletariat” as the new ruling class, with the communist party vanguard placed in charge.

D2) Culture, Religion, And Family

Upon achieving this power, the next goal was to then abolish and destroy any and all remaining remnants of the “bourgeois” capitalist system, including social institutions, society, and cultural. Which, according to Marx, was “an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution”. This cultural and systemic purge included the abolition and destruction of all traditional notions of liberty, economic liberty, civil liberty, free-markets, free-trade, individuality, self-determination, current laws and jurisprudence, education, traditional values, morality, religion, and even god. Marx described this cultural purge as follows:

Our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, &c. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class….There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience”.

Marx made his totalitarian point abundantly clear in this passage. He felt that all previously established notions of liberty, law, justice, morality, and religion were nothing more than the institutional means of maintaining the will of the “bourgeois” and the capitalist “modes of production“, while at the same time keeping the “proletariat” oppressed. He especially viewed Christianity—and religion in general—as one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of communism, because traditional Judeo-Christian ethics, morals, and values were completely antithetical to communism since they promoted and maintained the traditional society and family. Marx bluntly stated that “instead of constituting them on a new basis“, the new communist system should outright destroy the aforementioned traditional cultural values, and institute a completely new paradigm in their place.

Yet these were not the only cultural elements which Marx unequivocally stated should be purged upon the conclusion of the revolution. Marx went further to state that all traditional gender roles, traditional male female relationships, marriage (which Marx referred to as “private prostitution”), and the family unit as a whole, should also be abolished and destroyed. As Marx notably stated, “Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists”, yet that was exactly what he intended.

And as radical as that proposal was—which Marx clearly acknowledged—it made perfect sense from his ideological view point. Marx viewed the family as the smallest basic unit of inequality, exploitation, oppression, and capital gain under the capitalist system. He saw parents as oppressors of their children, “their children [are] transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour”, husbands as oppressors of their wives, and men as oppressors of women, “the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production”. And it was for these reasons that Marx stated the traditional values of family, relationships, and marriage must be destroyed under the new socialist/communist system.

Marx was not overly specific on what exactly should replace the family, although he briefly touched on the idea of collectivist free love and a “community of women”. Marx stated that this notion was not as radical as it may seem, because through adultery and prostitution, he believed that this “community of women” already existed in the shadows under the current system. He merely wanted to legalize it:

Not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives. Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women”.

Furthermore, Marx not only viewed the traditional family as a source of inequality, but also as the purveyor of the traditional cultural values which he believed maintained the “bourgeois cultural hegemony” and capitalist system. Children were educated by their parents and extended family, and cultural values, traditions, morality, and religion—which Marx believed only benefited the “bourgeois“—were passed down from generation to generation. This was unacceptable to Marx. He wrote:

But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, &c.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class”.

Marx believed that all education should be social and communal, or administered through the socialist/communist state, as opposed to through the family and home. He stated that all education, whether home or public, was already inherently social, because it was influenced by the hegemony of the ruling class. Marx therefore sought to replace the alleged “bourgeois” hegemony and influence in education with that of the “proletariat“.

All in all, Marx made his point very clear. The “proletariat” revolution must not just be a seizure of political power, but a full onslaught, war, and destruction of all traditional society and culture. All of the sociocultural elements which Marx called for the destruction of, were things which he then advocated should be completely re-written from scratch, according to his own radical, statist, totalitarian, egalitarian, collectivist, communist ideas. Ideas which Marx fully acknowledged and embraced the radicalism of ,“The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involved the most radical rupture with traditional ideas”.

D3) Property

Yet of all the radical reforms he listed for this new “egalitarian” society, perhaps none was more important to Marx than the ultimate abolition of all private property. Or, as Marx put it, “In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property”. For Marx adamantly equated the ownership of private property and capital with the enslavement and domination of one class over another. He wrote that, “Modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few”.

Marx also equated the exploitation of “proletariat” wage labor with the creation and amassing of said capital and wealth by the “bourgeois“. Marx believed that it was this surplus of wealth and capital under the capitalist system, which in turn lead to the further exploitation of labor, as capitalist businesses expanded and the cycle of surplus and exploitation continued. As I mentioned above, Marx viewed the surplus of private property and capital as “not only personal; it is a social power”. Therefore, Marx wrote that if private property and capital were abolished, and all capital was “converted into common property”, then property and capital would lose its “class character” and power, and wage labor would no longer be exploitable in the attainment of surplus capital.

Marx did however draw a slight distinction between private property and personal property. Marx was adamant about the need to abolish all private property—i.e. capital, wealth, the “means of production”, and “bourgeois property“. He wrote, “The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property”. This essentially meant the abolition of all private property, while still allowing for the possession of small amounts of personal property—i.e. small personal effects and household items. Marx described it as such, “Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that”. The reason for this distinction was due to the fact that Marx believed that small personal property was not the property that could be used to enslave others:

What, therefore, the wage-labourer appropriates by means of his labour, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it”.

Yet despite this distinction, it is clear from his own words that Marx still possessed a deep-seated hatred towards the concept of property as a whole, both private and personal. His entire theory of “materialism” and “class conflict” demonstrates this disdain for property quite well. No matter what else he may have written, statements like this, “In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend”, belie Marx’s, and the communists’, true intentions. Intentions which were very clearly spelled out in Marx’s work.

So, although Marx made a distinction between private and personal property, it is quite evident from his writing that his true intentions were the abolishment of almost all property rights, with perhaps the exception of a very small amount of personal effects. Marx wrote that capitalist rights to property should then be replaced with the “communistic mode of producing and appropriating material products”, which was essentially a state run and centrally-planned method of producing and distributing material goods, staple items and food products, and wealth to the general public.

E) Authoritarian-Communism

Marx wrote that upon the successful conclusion of the communist revolution, the destruction of all remnants of “bourgeois” society and culture, and the ultimate seizure of all political, economic, and social control from the “bourgeois“, then the “proletariat“, led by the communist party vanguard, should then establish a socialist/communist single-party controlled state. This new communist state was to be ruled by the single-party communist vanguard that organized and led the revolution. Once this government was established, Marx wrote that all former “bourgeois” capital, property, wealth, and land should then be taken by force as quickly as possible, and then nationalized and centralized in the hands of the state. He wrote:

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible”.

By his own admission, Marx acknowledged that such actions, as well as the aforementioned cultural and social purges, could not take place “except by means of despotic inroads”…i.e. authoritarianism. This system came to be known as the “dictatorship of the proletariat“.

Marx wrote that this new “dictatorship of the proletariat“, ruled by the communist party vanguard, should then establish a heavily centralized, nationalized, totalitarian-authoritarian state. A state with a centrally-planned economy, society, and populace, in which individuality and liberty was eliminated in favor of classless, faceless, and soulless collectivism beholden to the authoritarian state. Marx bluntly wrote that:

The abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! And rightly so. The abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly aimed at. By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying”.

Marx was thereby trading the individual liberty and self-determination found under an albeit imperfect traditional free society, for the faceless collective slavery of totalitarian-authoritarianism. In the above passage, Marx is very clearly acknowledging the intrinsic connection between liberty, individuality, private property, and free-markets, and yet is blatantly calling for their abolition and destruction under the new centrally-planned state. Marx was therefore unabashedly calling for the elimination of all traditional notions of individual liberty and free citizenship in favor of statist servitude, believing that somehow authoritarian equality is more liberating than the liberty of an imperfect free society. Although he stated “the abolition of bourgeois individuality and freedom”, he was actually referring to the abolition of all individuality, liberty, and freedom found within a traditional free society—which he referred to as “bourgeois society“—and not simply just the abolition of the rights and liberty of the upper class.

This free society and capitalist system was of course to be abolished and replaced with the new centrally-planned, totalitarian-authoritarian, “dictatorship of the proletariat“. This new totalitarian-authoritarian state would then begin instituting the aforementioned “communistic mode of producing and appropriating material products” and “the Communistic abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeoisie itself”. This meant that the new state would be in charge of overseeing the economic transition from private free-market to centrally-planned.

This also meant that along with the elimination of all individual liberty, the new authoritarian state must also eliminate all previous notions of economic liberty. This is what Marx meant by the elimination of  the “bourgeois modes of production”, and the institution of the “communistic” ones. Under the new system, all traditional notions of economic liberty were to be replaced with the collectivist idea that people were merely just another economic implement of the state, an “industrial army” of faceless, classless, serfs to fuel the centrally-planned economy. All previous notions of free-trade, free-markets, voluntary interactions, contracts, the production of surplus capital, and the private ownership of property, was to be replaced with a centrally-planned economic model dictated by the state. A model in which all property, production, and wealth was concentrated, controlled, and distributed by the state, and one in which all people became mere pawns beholden and subject to the whims of the state.

Marx then laid out a list of ten other initial policies that this new “dictatorship of the proletariat” should immediately implement as well, to include:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

If some of these policies sound hauntingly familiar, they should, for many have already been implemented in various ways—directly or indirectly—here in the US, but that’s a subject for another article altogether.

Marx envisioned that through the implementation of all of these totalitarian policies, the groundwork for communism could then be established and managed by the new authoritarian state.

The forceful seizure, nationalization, and centralization of all industry, agriculture, land, property, capital, and wealth at the hands of the state would allow for the rapid establishment of a centrally-planned and managed economy. The establishment of a graduated income tax, and the abolishment of all rights of inheritance, would ensure that any surplus of wealth that was privately attained under the communist system would then be largely redistributed back into the hands of the state. The confiscation of all property belonging to emigrants and rebels would allow for the authoritarian state to punish, and forcefully seize the property of, anyone who tried to leave the country or of anyone whom the authoritarian state deemed an “enemy” or “rebel”. The establishment of a central bank would ensure the centralization and monopolization of all credit and wealth in the hands of the state, while at the same time allowing for the centrally-planned redistribution and reallocation of said credit and wealth. The centralization of all media and press—i.e. a state controlled and monitored media—would ensure the continuous indoctrination of the public through a constant stream of state approved media and propaganda, while at the same time clamping down on any dissenting information, or information that may be damaging to the state. A state controlled and monitored media would also be useful in assisting with the recreation of a new “cultural” and “ideological hegemony”, by disseminating media and propaganda which promoted the new values supportive of the state. The establishment of “industrial armies” and “equal liability” would turn all people into slaves of the state, devoid of individuality, self-determination, and liberty, and completely beholden to the demands of the authoritarian state. The forceful relocation and redistribution of this population of slaves by the state—against their will—would allow for this army of workers to staff the centrally-planned economy, while at the same time acting as another means of state control and domination over the public. Furthermore, the nationalization of all education at the hands of the state—public schools and academia—allows for the continuous state indoctrination of children, to ensure orthodoxy to official party doctrine, internalization of state approved values, and loyalty and subservience to the state for generations to come.

Yet despite laying the unambiguous blueprint for an oppressive authoritarian-totalitarian state, Marx wrote that the ultimate result of the proletariat communist revolution should be the establishment of a completely free, collectivist, egalitarian, classless, and ultimately stateless society, also known as “true”, “pure”, or “anarchist-communism”. However, Marx was realistic. He understood that the transition from capitalism to “anarchist-communism” would not happen right away, and therefore there had to be an intermediate transitional system. Marx referred to this “dictatorship of the proletariat” and intermediate transitional system as “socialism”, however the system that he actually laid out and advocated for—as described above, as well as what we have seen historically implemented in places like the Soviet Union—is, in reality, “authoritarian-communism”. Marx foolishly—or disingenuously—believed that although this new “dictatorship of the proletariat” was to be authoritarian, it would still be more just and legitimate than the previous system, because at least it was ruled by the party of the majority party. This kind of thinking is exactly what Plato, and the later Enlightenment philosophers, warned about, and what I described in Part 1 about the dangers of destructive populism.

Marx then also naively, credulously, and foolishly believed—or worse, disingenuously believed—that this so-called “transitional” system would only last until the means of production became totally communal and class distinctions therefore no longer existed, and thus there would no longer be a need for the state as a whole anymore. For as he wrote in the “Communist Manifesto”:

When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organise itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”.

What this passage illustrates, is that Marx, again, naively—or disingenuously—believed that the “authoritarian-communist” state, government, and system would one day just simply dissolve itself and fall away into a “true-anarchist-communist” utopia of collectivist liberty. In his extremely simplistic understanding of history, politics, and power, Marx wrote that the only reason political power even existed or had any “character” in the first place, was for the sole purpose of one class to “oppress”, “antagonize”, and dominate the others. Therefore, Marx believed that once an egalitarian classless system emerged, the centralized authoritarian power structure that implemented it would simply just fall away, as it was longer necessary anymore.

This is of course a notion so preposterously absurd that it defies all logic, but more on that in Part 3.

Karl Marx was not the first, nor was he the only, socialist/communist philosopher of his day. There were many others, proposing many different—and perhaps more moderate—socialist and communist philosophies and ideologies during that time. However Marx, well known for his extreme arrogance and contempt towards those who disagreed with him, was highly critical of most of these other philosophies, even going so far as to refer to some of them as “emasculated”. Marx’s main issue with many of these other more moderate competing ideologies was that they denied—or failed to acknowledge enough—the importance of his theory on “class conflict”, or the inherent antagonism between the “bourgeois” and the “proletariat“. For example, Marx wrote that “the French Socialist and Communist literature was thus completely emasculated…since it ceased in the hands of the German to express the struggle of one class with the other”.

Marx also hated the fact that many of these other philosophies, namely the more moderate social-democrats of the day, wanted to work within their existing political, economic, and social frame works in order to reform these systems from within to establish socialism and communism, as opposed to violently overthrowing and destroying these systems via violent revolution. Many of these “reformist” philosophies did acknowledge many of the same issues and problems that Marx did, but instead viewed them as a social problem that needed to be solved. They therefore did not believe that a violent revolution was the best course of action to solve them.

Although the works of Marx have been interpreted in many different ways over the years, and some apologetic revisionist scholars may try to argue that Marx’s views on the revolution and violence may have evolved and moderated over time, if he is to be judged by his most important and influential works—“The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital”—then it is hard to deny that Marx remained steadfast in his views that a violent and bloody revolution was the best means for the proletariat to successfully emancipate themselves. For example, take this passage from “Das Kapital”, the last major work Marx wrote before he died:

Let us not deceive ourselves on this. As in the 18th century, the American war of independence sounded the tocsin for the European middle class, so that in the 19th century, the American Civil War sounded it for the European working class. In England the process of social disintegration is palpable. When it has reached a certain point, it must react on the Continent. There it will take a form more brutal or more humane, according to the degree of development of the working class itself”.

In it, Marx is acknowledging the potential for peaceful “social democratic” change in some societies, while still promoting the inevitability of a “brutal” revolution. Therefore, in my opinion, Marx’s well documented belief that anything less than a violent revolution was doomed to failure was not just merely just a product of fiery youth, but rather a longstanding belief that he held throughout his entire life, and one which he still referred to even in his later works. Based on this, it is not at all unreasonable to maintain that Karl Marx remained a radical, violent revolutionary, who promoted, justified, and inspired violence and bloodshed, in his advocating of the “proletariat revolution“.

So then, based on this assessment, it is clear that Marx’s main criticisms of the other more moderate “reformist” socialist/communist philosophies of his time were essentially that:  they denied his view of inherent “class conflict”, they were focused on reforming current systems instead of violently overthrowing and completely replacing them, and finally that they were opposed to the violent “proletariat revolution” as a means to affect this change. Yet despite Marx’s objections to the more moderate “reformist” approaches towards socialism/communism, these various ideologies did gain ground throughout Europe and the rest of the world during the latter half of the 19th century and on into the 20th.

F) Reformist-Marxism

Karl Marx died in 1883, however his influence and place within the socialist/communist movement did not end with his death. To the contrary, the influence of Karl Marx only continued to increase and expand. His writings, ideas, and philosophies continued to be read, studied, and interpreted well after his death, as his popularity and influence continued to increase well into the 20th century. In fact, it can safely be said without question that the ideas of Karl Marx would eventually go on to become the most common, most popular, and most dominant form of socialist/communist philosophy, ideology, and implementation in the world. As I stated above, Marxism would eventually become synonymous with, and the predominant root and inspiration for, practically all socialist/communist ideologies, at least in a general sense of the idea. Hailed as one of the founding fathers of the new academic discipline of Sociology, with his “conflict theory” deemed one of the main macro-theories of Sociology as a whole, there is simply no denying that Karl Marx went on to become the absolute godfather of socialist/communist ideology.

After his death, his works, ideas, and philosophies would continue to be studied, analyzed, and interpreted, leading to countless different breakaway factions, disciplines, schools, interpretations, and implementations of Marxism. The nuances and differences between these spin-offs and off-shoots are irrelevant, because once again, the root inspiration and ideology is Marxism. Even those factions that may claim to be divergent from Marxism are still undeniably rooted in the ideology—with the exception of National Socialism. Again, there is simply no overstating the influence that Marx had in developing modern socialist/communist ideology and thought.

However, to simplify the main distinctions between these various factions, two main umbrella camps can be used: Revolutionary-Marxism and Reformist-Marxism. Consequently, this divide largely mirrors the divide between the implementations of eastern and western socialism. Obviously, Revolutionary-Marxist ideology maintains the belief that a violent revolution or civil war is necessary to enact socialism/communism, while the Reformist-Marxists take the more moderate social democratic and social change approach. Both camps ultimately desire the same end result, an all-powerful, single-party, centralized, centrally-planned, totalitarian-authoritarian state, they merely have different approaches on how to best achieve them.

So, even though Marx during his lifetime was openly opposed to the more moderate reformists, who wanted to work within the framework of their existing systems, ultimately these reformist ideologies would go on to become major offshoots of Marxist ideology. As the works of Marx were further studied and interpreted, the social democratic reformists found a legitimate place in Marxist ideology. They have used various passages written by Marx, such as, “We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy”, to make the case that Marx was open to the possibility of democratic social change to bring about socialism/communism, instead of a violent revolution.

Efforts were made at the Second International during the First World War to unite the different camps—the revolutionaries and reformists—in order to create and promote a united front to advance the worldwide socialist/communist agenda. However, the effort was ultimately unsuccessful because the reformists tended to align with their respective countries during the war, while the more militant revolutionaries were calling for the war to become a united “proletariat revolution“. This created a schism between the revolutionaries and reformists that did not really heal until an unwritten fusion occurred between the two camps during the latter half of the 20th century.

Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci

G) Revolutionary-Reformists, Cultural-Marxism, And Hybrid Marxism

After the failure and breakup of the Second International, a sort of ideological schism remained between the two camps of revolutionaries and reformists. The revolutionaries in Russia went on to demonstrate and claim success by touting the outcome of the Russian Revolution and the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist state in Russia, while the reformists sought to make socialist gains in the ruins of post-World War One Europe. The so-called “progressive era” of the 1920’s and 30’s saw the reformists gain ground in the midst of the Great Depression, especially in the United States, by enacting many new laws, regulations, policies, and entitlements. Yet despite these gains, theses “progressive” reformists generally had to mask their true statist, totalitarian-authoritarian, socialist/communist agendas in the non-threatening populist veil of “reform”, because the totalitarian-authoritarian ideologies of socialism/communism still remained a repulsive concept to many in the West with its history of free-markets and parliamentary or republican democracy.

Marx would have called these Western attitudes of liberty, democracy, free-markets, and an overall aversion to socialism/communism an example of the “cultural hegemony” imposed on the “proletariat” by the “bourgeois” power-elites, in order to maintain their own power and system. Marx would have also said that this “cultural hegemony” was preventing the “proletariat” from becoming “class conscious”, and therefore acting in their own best interests. A prominent Italian communist during the 1930’s named Antonio Gramsci agreed.

Although other communist intellectuals may have proposed similar ideas—such as the Frankfurt School—the credit for developing the ideology that would later come to be known as “Cultural-Marxism” generally goes to Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was a prominent Italian communist, who penned his most influential works while he was locked away in prison under Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime. Gramsci took Marx’s ideas about cultural domination, “false consciousness”, the “third face of power”, and “hegemony”, and greatly expanded upon them. In his writings, Gramsci further elaborated on the Marxist theory that “third face” cultural institutions, although not directly related to the government or economy—like religious institutions, schools, universities, the media, and entertainment—were still established and dominated by the ruling class, and therefore still played an integral role in shaping the perceptions and reality of the masses, preventing “proletariat consciousness”, and maintaining the overall capitalist system. However, Gramsci elaborated and took these ideas much farther than Marx, and he also completely turned them on their head.

Gramsci wrote that organizing and initiating a successful “proletariat revolution” would be extremely difficult in the face of the solidified “bourgeois cultural hegemony” and power structure, even with an organized communist party vanguard. He therefore wrote about the need to first win the “war of position”, before winning the “war of attack and maneuver”. What Gramsci essentially meant was that first a “new” or “counter hegemony” of beliefs and values conducive to socialism/communism had to be established in order to ensure the long term success of any reform, or an eventual revolution. Simply put, this meant first winning the “culture war”. This of course meant changing the public perception and consciousness, altering and influencing the culture, reshaping beliefs and values, and ultimately changing the dominant “cultural” and “ideological hegemony” into one that supported and demanded socialism/communism. In essence, it meant first laying the cultural groundwork and foundation for Marxism.

Gramsci proposed achieving this by first infiltrating the “third face” cultural institutions—churches, religious institutions, schools, universities, labor unions, journalism, media institutions, entertainment, etc—with influential academics loyal and allied to the cause of Marxism. This of course included school teachers, university professors, actors, union bosses, journalists, and even religious leaders and clergy, really any position that wielded any kind of cultural influence. Once this initial infiltration was achieved, a prolonged culture “war of position” could be initiated, by steadily influencing, indoctrinating, and altering the dominant culture through a prolonged culture war of subterfuge, propaganda, and both overtly conscious and subliminal messaging.

Gramsci understood that this was a slow measured approach, for to alter the entire dominant culture and values of a society was to embrace the long game strategy. Gramsci also understood that as this strategy began to work and take hold, the affects would begin to multiply exponentially as newly indoctrinated Cultural-Marxists became new proselytizers of the message. Gramsci knew that any cultural changes would lead to more cultural changes. Change that would rot and destroy traditional society, and would replace it with the toxic ingredients necessary for Marxism to thrive.

Gramsci did not live to see the eventual advances in Marxism, or the extraordinary success attributed to, and resulting from, the implementation of his ideas. But his influence in Marxist ideology cannot be overstated. The sum of his insidious ideas would eventually come to be known as “Cultural-Marxism”, and they have played an integral role in altering the culture and contributing to the destruction and cultural rot of the United States—and western civilization as a whole—during the latter half of the 20th century and on into the 21st. So much that—as I have stated before—Cultural-Marxism and the modern progressive or liberal agenda have essentially become synonymous, with progressivism and Cultural-Marxism acting as the sociocultural arm of the overall Marxist political and economic agenda.

The cumulative effects of Cultural-Marxism have therefore been widespread, and the sociocultural damage inflicted devastating and most likely irreversible. The extremely toxic and corrosive effects of Cultural-Marxism spread broadly, and seep deeply into the cracks of society and culture. There, they further ferment and corrode, sowing the seeds of continued cultural decay, and causing various new fractures to appear to be exploited later. Cultural-Marxism, by design, poisons and rots a culture from the inside out, much like a rotting apple.

As such, Cultural-Marxism is less of a specific ideology, and more so an abstract Marxist tactic or strategic doctrine. It, like progressivism, can also be used as an umbrella term, to define and encompass the totality of destructive cultural effects that it has caused and resulted in. Cultural-Marxism, in its relentless pursuit to infiltrate and transform traditional western cultural institutions and values, has also spawned many different off-shoots or cultural sub-movements during the latter half of the 20th century, such as: feminism, liberation theologies, reform religious denominations, environmentalist movements, LGBT movements, social justice movements, journalistic and media activism, judicial activism, and various other institutional counterculture movements, just to name a few. Regardless of one’s opinion on any of these movements, it is disingenuous or ignorant to deny that they are heavily rooted in Cultural-Marxism and progressivism. Certain liberals and leftists may scream that Cultural-Marxism is merely a made up or manufactured conservative conspiracy, but the facts, evidence, and history supporting this claim—as usual—are not on their side.

As the ideas, tactics, and advances of Cultural-Marxism matured and gained footholds in the latter part of the 20th century, the agendas of the Cultural-Marxists started to become quite clear. Through cultural subterfuge and indoctrination, they sought to advance and achieve many of the goals that Marx advocated for in his writings. They realized that Marxist end goals, like the destruction of religion, morality, family, child education, traditional gender roles, traditional male/female relationships, jurisprudence, property rights, and free-markets, could be achieved through the Cultural-Marxist promotion and indoctrination of various sociocultural concepts such as, but not limited to: secularism, humanism, relativism, multi-culturalism, globalism, feminism, free love and promiscuity, political-correctness, environmentalism, fairness, egalitarianism, tolerance, gender neutrality, and collectivism.

Essentially, anything that could be used to culturally indoctrinate the masses towards dismissing traditional values and beliefs, and embracing socialism/communism. As Gramsci intended, this sort of hegemonic reversal would allow for either the success of a revolution, or the implementation of Reformist-Marxist policies. Either one was fine, in that they both furthered the advancement of Marxism.

The ultimate success and advancement of Cultural-Marxism in the United States came during the social turbulence of the late 60’s and 70’s, with the eventual fusion of radical Revolutionary-Marxists embracing the Reformist and Cultural-Marxist tactics. I like to refer to this as a sort of Hybrid-Marxism, or Revolutionary-Reformism. Initially, the radical and Revolutionary-Marxist movements of the late 1960s and 1970s—the new left, the anti-war movements, the hippie movement, the feminist movement, various anti-establishment movements, various liberation movements, etc—did not really make much political or revolutionary headway in their advancement of Marxism. Sure, they made a lot of noise and stirred up plenty of agitation, but if anything their tactics and attitudes turned off a lot of people in mainstream America.

The dominant culture of the time was still firmly traditional, pro-American, patriotic, and anti-communist. Notable—and more mature—Marxist agitators of the era, such as Saul Alinsky, noticed and understood this cultural reality. In order to circumvent that cultural reality, Alinsky famously stated that, “True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within”. This statement, in a nutshell, sums up the goals and tactics of Antonio Gramsci’s Cultural-Marxism.

As the 1970’s came to a close, and the tumult and chaos finally began to subside, the former students and youth agitators of the era were growing up as well. Yet age did not dissipate their radicalism and Revolutionary-Marxist views. However, in their newfound maturity, many began to embrace the prudence of the Cultural-Marxist tactics of Gramsci and Alinsky. Many of these former students and youth graduated, and went on to become journalists, media personalities, lawyers, businessmen, bureaucrats, teachers, professors, and politicians. From these new positions of influence and power, they realized the effect that they could have on altering the culture, and transforming the system from within. This was the realization of the power of combining their Revolutionary-Marxist ideology, with the more subtle approach of Reformist and Cultural-Marxist tactics.

A perfect example of this fusion can be seen in tactics and life of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Ayers went from committing acts of bombing, violence, and terrorism as a radical, Revolutionary-Marxist, domestic terrorist with the “Weather Underground” group in the 1960s, to a “respected” college professor in his later years at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He understood full well that he could wield infinitely more credibility, legitimacy, and influence as a college professor than he ever could as a radical terrorist. He also fully understood that he could further the Marxist cause far greater by indoctrinating foolish college kids, than he ever could by committing acts of violence. Obama, Ayers’ Marxist protégé, is living proof of the power this influence and change of tactics could have. And that is exactly what Antonio Gramsci, and the tactics of Cultural-Marxism, had in mind. That violence and radicalism could only be successful after the dominant culture was, in the words of Obama, “fundamentally transformed”. Perhaps then, violence would no longer even be necessary.

Again, certain liberals and leftists may claim that Cultural-Marxism is merely a made up or manufactured conservative conspiracy, but the facts, evidence, and history supporting this claim are in no way on their side. Sadly, however, the end results of the Cultural-Marxist agenda are very much on their side. The effects of the Cultural Marxist agenda on western culture are very plain to see, for those who know what to look for and how to interpret it.

Conclusion

Marxism has been one of the most destructive, oppressive, and deadly ideologies the world has ever known. Karl Marx unambiguously wrote the blue prints that would be followed by populist tyrants for decades. Through his understanding of populist manipulation, Marx perfectly laid out an ideology which could exploit the ignorant masses sense of discontent, jealousy, greed, and hate. In doing so, he openly declared war on traditional society, and mapped out the path for the violent destruction of said society, hierarchy, liberty, economics, values, and culture.

He called for the eradication of an imperfect, ordered liberty, to be replaced with the implementation of totalitarian-authoritarianism. As a historian, Marx fully understood the power of manipulating the masses through populism, to be used as nothing more than a means of securing one’s own total power. And although he himself never capitalized on this power, he wrote the bible that other tyrants would follow and use to justify their actions for decades to come. Therefore, Marx was either a naive, idealistic, utopian, who believed that he was simply “fighting for the little guy”, and that tyranny was simply a transitional means to an end. Or, he was a fully aware advocate for the full-fledged violent, authoritarian tyranny that he laid out. Based on his own statements, its hard not to argue the latter. To anyone with a shred of academic honesty and humanity, the parts of Marxism that may come across as reasonable and fair must be de-legitimized by the blatant calls for violence and tyranny.

Yet despite his gross justification for violence and tyranny, there is simply no denying the influence that Karl Marx has had in the populist ideology and philosophy of socialism/communism. Marxism has become the undisputed godfather and root of all socialist/communist theory. For all intents and purposes, Marxism is essentially synonymous and interchangeable with socialism/communism, and any subtle differences or nuance is practically irrelevant—with the exception of National Socialism. Furthermore, there is also no denying the influence and connection of Marxism with the destructive agendas of modern liberalism, progressivism, and the Socialist Democrat Party. The two agendas are one in the same. Sadly though, most people have no idea just how destructive these ideologies really are.

The following was intended as a condensed explanation of the philosophy, ideology, goals, and tactics of Marxism. In Part 3 of this series on socialism, I will delve deeper into the goals and tactics of Marxism, in a detailed critique, criticism, and destruction of Marxism.

Sources

The Communist Manifesto

Das Kapital 

The German Ideology

© 2015 By AB Frank, All Rights Reserved

 

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