Updated: Feb 27
This is Part 1 on Marxism, here the focus will be on explaining the philosophical underpinnings of Marxism. Part 2 will be Marxist history and later topics will cover relevant economic problems with the theory.
The obvious place to look to see how bad Marxism is where it has been implemented. Over 100 million dead. To put that in perspective that is the equivalent of the world being hit by 41 Covid-19 plagues as of February 2021.
If you think that people should cover their mouths with masks lest they spray out Covid-19 you should definitely agree that people’s faces need to stop spraying out Marxism too.
If you want to distance yourself from those with a deadly virus. May I suggest you distance yourself from Marxists
If you sneer at those who myopically ignore tragedies that aren’t immediately affecting their area. Let me introduce you to the millions worked to death in Soviet death camps or the millions starved or tortured in China. Generations were ground into the dirt by the boot of the State as slaves.
If there were people who suggested Nazi socialism ought to be brought back, they would be dismissed out of hand. Why? Because that ideology has well known and disastrous consequences. It killed 6 million Jews. We know how evil it is. Lets never bring it back.
But Marxism and its derivatives have killed far more. Yet it is praised in elite universities, championed in the streets and baked into political platforms.
Still some say, “It’s great on paper, it just doesn’t work in reality”. No, it’s an absolute dumpster fire on paper and its a dumpster fire in reality.
Let's pretend for a moment that those 100 million starved, enslaved, beaten, raped, or murdered bodies don’t exist (This step may have already have been taken by some),
hold our noses, examine this filthy ideology, and find out just why it has its obvious and predictable consequences. What makes Marxism so bad?
We begin with everyone’s favorite subject, Philosophy. Feel free to skip this one if you just don’t care. There is boredom ahead for the determined reader, but come on, what else are you going to do? Watch cat videos? You can do it!
I consider myself fairly well versed in philosophy for an amateur. That said there are many different philosophical schools and the one undergirding Marxism is not one of my specialties. So my apologies to all those who know continental philosophy much better than I. I mean it when I say, what is written below is just scratching the surface.
Personally, I think that much of the complexity of Hegelianism comes from purposeful obfuscation of its actual claims, incoherence of the system and finally, constant use of over intellectual jargon for the purpose of making people feel smarter than they actually are. I’ll do my best on this topic, here we go:
Under the hood of Marxism purrs the philosophical engine of Hegelianism to power it off the proverbial cliff of rationality.
Hegelianism is a type of Idealism. This means it takes ideas or logical propositions as real things. But it is goes even further. Hegel believed in absolute idealism. This means that the only things that exist are these ideas. Hegel says, “The rational alone is real”.
This takes the form of ontological monism. Which is a pretentious way of saying that things which have being are ultimately unified into one thing. In Hegel's case this one thing is the “Absolute Spirit”. Everything unfolds out of this one thing through a process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis (Not that he every used that language specifically). Essentially, the basis of being, consciousness, and thought emerge from a conflict that creates a synthesis of contrary things. These new things intersect again with further things and the cycle continues.
To explain what's above a bit further:
Step one: A thesis is put forward. For example: Things exist.
Step two is a negation of the thesis. This can take three forms (explored below)
Step Three: New synthetic knowledge is created.
This is the division of “being” where pairs of things that seem to have nothing to do with each other are shown to be interrelated.
The pair of: Existing things vs Qualitative properties
One might explore the interconnectedness of qualitative properties like redness using the concept of a thing in existence. A question may be, what type of existing thing is redness? This could yield a conclusion that redness is a type of being even though it is also a qualitative property therefore the two seemly disconnected things are unified in this conflict. We are left with a synthetic knowledge as a result.
In this system we must be careful not to use the traditional Aristotelian logic of A=A or Not A = Not A. This is seen as a mutilation of the thing studied, and a move away from finding the unity that ultimately is reality as reality itself.
This is the division of “Essence” with this method the goal is to show how the two imply one another.
Inside-ness implies outside-ness. Or Redness is the mode of self awareness of a being that has the being of redness existing in itself as an idea.
In this case the mode of being of existing implies the quantitative property in the form of redness.
This is the division or contradiction according to “Notion”. If you thought the last two where confusing, hold on to your hat…
The identity of a thing is broken into its parts where the parts are evaluated according to universality or particularity.
A Human being is both individual and a member of a universal kind. Remember, we are in Hegel world where only the rational exists and being, consciousness, and ideas are roughly convertible. Hegel might say humanity represents the content of the idea of humans in the context of something-others. These something-others are in a process of passing back and forth the thesis and negation bringing forth the unity of the many humans into the clarity of the human kind.
What all of this is meant to be an alternative to is the more Platonic or Aristotelian form of dialectic where premises are offered then logic is used to reach a conclusion. Hegel would say that this type of process can only lead to radical skepticism. Negation of premises in the ways above on the other hand can reassemble ideas ultimately into the one spirit.
In hegelianism there is a division between the old school and the young hegelians. In the latter camp they defend a liberal order and embrace either pantheism or flat out atheist.
Marx makes the system a bit worse, here is a quote:
My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of 'the Idea', he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of 'the Idea'. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought
Hold on to your brain for a second…… now take all that I explained about dialectic in the abstract and translate that into a materialist worldview. Got it? Great!
Marx now precludes himself from the type of pantheistic idealism of the young hegelians and is committed to an atheist materialist position.
Here is the crazy part though, the philosophical system was built to unify ideas into the great spirit by directing ideas into conflict. The result is a more holistic truth for the mind to know / merge into in a self reflective way.
Remember how I said that being and idea where basically convertible into one another in this view? From a materialist atheist Hegelian view the height of man as a self reflective thing is a material merger into the one, in the form of the State.
Applied to material people, negation method 1 may seek to take two beings that are distinct and merge them into one, for example Man and Woman. The result is the trans-gender movement
An example of negation 2 in a material Marxist young Hegelian system could be power structure vs minority. Based on the essence of power structures the subjugation of a less powerful entity such as a minority is entailed. The existence of a minority implies a power structure of oppression.
Negation 3 Could go something like this: Wealth of a nation is through the labor of the people of that nation. The wealth is a product of a interconnection of the many individuals in their labor. The implication is the equal sharing of wealth because all have participated is individuals to the whole.
Here is what is right and wrong with theories above:
Ideas and Being;
Right: Ideas have being
Wrong: All beings are ideas
Right: There are material beings that have ideas
Wrong: Ideas are material
The right view:
Ideas have being, We have being as both ideas (Form) and Matter. Ideas have being in our intellect which is immaterial.
The use of logic and deduction:
Right: Premises must be generated to reach truth
Wrong: Logic applied to premises to rationally reach conclusions leads to radical skepticism.
Wrong : Breaking down things into logical formulations to apply reason leads away from ultimate truth.
Right Truth is instantiated in reality
Wrong Ideas or other transcendent don’t really exist thus they cannot have bearing on reality. Therefore purely abstract reasoning and deduction does not reflect reality as instantiated in matter.
The right view:
All information comes through our material senses. Our intellects then abstracts from this “sense knowledge” to come to an understanding of the whole. Separating things that have been come to be known into premises and applying logic to reach a conclusion is a valid form of expanding the knowledge of the whole and does not lead to skepticism.
And will you look at that. I read so much darn Hegel that when I go to lay out my position I accidentally set up a dialectic.
Hegel could have made the jump to classical theism with a few tweaks. Divine simplicity says that God is one and completely unified in a similar way that Hegel thinks that the Absolute Spirit is one and unified. Further, Theists say that God is the pure act of existence from where all existence comes. Hegel would say that the “Absolute Spirit” is a being, an intellect and an idea.
Here is the cool part. I am not sure if Hegel gets any credit for this or if he accidentally