Before I start my text I would like to show my appreciation to Amanda Aucoin, professor of Western Civilization at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, from whose class notes I borrow most of what I present in this text.
The 19th century was a thriving time for political “isms” to flourish. Edmund Burke sparks Conservatism, John Mill gives birth to Liberalism, Tomas Malthus has a strong influence in Economic Liberalism, and our friend Karl Marx comes up with Communism.
The West Germanic exile compiled a small booklet to be kept in the worker’s pocket at all times–the Communist Manifesto (1848). While in his exilic times in Belgium he began to solidify the ideas that would turn socialism into communism. But beyond story-telling, my goal is to give a fairly simple response to a complicated question: “why did communism fail to become actual?” I believe actualization never came about because Marx’s predictions were simply mistaken.
Marx, in his hate for religion, rejected human depravity and believed that humans have an inherent power to change. [In the perfect society], “we will have from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” which really sounds good and I believe anyone with a good heart would love this idea to actually come about. The problem number 1 is, Marx was wrong about humanity. Humans are not good, and education after the “revolution” would” not exclude the need for government while we all live in the happy land. But we will get there soon.
Of course, I do not believe in economic determinism; I do not believe the sub and superstructure can be as easily defined. But Marx was not trying to present a system for 21st-century people like us, he was talking to 19th-century workers! His system, in the way he intended, would never come about in our good America.
The base of Marx’s system is this: in the base (sub), the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat, and it does so by owning the means of production. Here is where a great name, often forgotten, comes into play: J. W. F. Hegel. Hegel believed in the Idea of the Dialect, which basically affirms that society thrives and determines its history in the notion of opposition. This dialect of going back and forth with ideas is the engine in which we drive our world. Marx simply changed that to class struggles. And class struggles is the false vacuum that will eventually come to a resting point in the true vacuum of Communism.
The synthesis, unless the one of Communism, always has an antitheses. It, then, generates a new thesis. This new thesis, the synthesis, is now capitalism, and the proletariat and working classes are the antitheses. The new thesis to solve this? Communism. And from this point on there is no improvement because we are in the true vacuum–all are satisfied with Communism (in Marx’s head).
How will this new synthesis come about? Through a revolution. The International Associations of 1864 and 1889 debated this with high hopes. Marx believed that Capitalism was dying, that the middle class was declining, and that the working class was languishing. Based on these beliefs is his idea of Communism coming about. If his ideas on this are correct, then Communism can come about successfully. The problem is, his presuppositions and predictions are as bad as Malthus’ predictions of world hunger. Workers would eventually rise up because the working conditions would only get worse. Problem is, they did not. Vacations were implemented, less working hours were granted, higher wages, work safety policies, higher class housing, in summa, everything got better. Why would the working class rebel with better conditions? In fact, do you know what better conditions mean? It means the working class was moving up on life. Exactly, the proletariat was now closer and closer from becoming the bourgeoisie. What’s the suggestion, Marx? Rebellion against one’s own status?
Marxism was intended to be implemented naturally from the bottom up. And every time Communism was “implemented” it fail to have both essential properties: it was not natural, and it did not start from the bottom. It started with greedy people who realized they could become powerful and implement the dictatorship for as long as they want. According to Marx, they will eventually be educated and understand that Communism is the way, right? No, they can not because Marx was wrong in his anthropology. And they will not, because the Leviathan’s desire (sorry for that, Hobbes) is not to educate, but to perpetuate his dictatorship.
Marx was wrong in his presuppositions, his anthropology, his sociology, and his understanding of what was going in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Things did not get worse, things got better, and because of this the proletariat would never revolt. To hope for a worldwide “working class conscience” in good conditions is foolishness. Marxism wanted heaven on earth, but the Industrial Revolution showed that people can be content with less that perfection. The “proletariat” now have much more to lose than its own chains, Mr. Marx. Not only this, but such state of affairs proved his view on Christianity to be wrong because people were still not working for heaven on earth, but simply for stability. A revolution would never happen, and this is why Communism has to be implemented from the top, which is contrary to Communism’s own premise!
A system that works against its own premises? Sorry, I’ll pass.