What's Wrong with the Marxist Approach to History?
Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Part 2: History (There is a Summary at the end)
We all have lenses through which to see history, but some are better than others. The Marxist lens for explaining history is hell-bent on destroying identity, fomenting violence between groups, conflating evil ideas or actions with the evil of people and institutions, denigrating heroic individuals, and mistaking material and economic well being as all that matters.
If you haven't read Part 1 on what's wrong with Marxist philosophy, I would encourage you to do so. If not, you can certainly still follow along, but you may think that I am jumping to conclusions regarding Marxist thinking. I have taken care to not do that; if you see a leap in logic check the Philosophy section because it may have been covered there.
If you are reading this and are not a Christian, thanks for reading. Be aware that I will be referencing the Bible at various times, especially in the beginning. The main purpose is for illustration and contrast. Arguments will not in large part be from the Bible since I don’t expect many Marxists to share Biblical or theistic premises. I hope this will at least give clarity about the differences between western Christian culture which all of us, religious and non-religious alike, have inherited and our society’s natural enemy, Marxism.
Throughout the Bible one of the most common commandments is to “remember”. Why is this one of the core commands of the Bible?
Quite simply, God wasn’t just starting a movement or creating a set of doctrines. He was cultivating a people across generations...slowly, sometimes painfully slowly. For example, He draws them out of Egypt and rids them of evils, superstitions, and false practices and gives them a new identity. A great example is the Passover. At the time, sheep were reverenced as divine in Egypt. To kill a sheep warranted the death penalty. What did God ask the Israelites to do before leaving Egypt? Yep, kill a sheep and eat it.
In fact, all 10 plagues were targeting the authority or power of a specific Egyptian god. God was showing them that all these other “gods” were just superstitions and that even killing a divine sheep would not bring anything other than the earthly anger of Pharaoh and his armies.
The giving of the Law is another 10 yard play advancing the kingdom of God. One of my favorite examples is the law that says if you have a wicked and disobedient child you are to bring him before the elders of the town and the people are to stone the child to death. Behold the first law that protects children from domestic violence in history! How so? Up until this point, parents could and would kill their own kids. In many middle eastern nations this is still more common than you might think.
What this law does is prohibit parents from killing their own kids. In all of Jewish history, there was never a recorded case of this death penalty being applied. Instead, these wicked parents, who were evil enough to want to kill their own children had to stand before the elders of the city, surrounded by all the men of the town holding rocks. This method ensured parents like that would be met with the strength of the townsmen and wisdom of their elders. The law was a brilliant means of exposing and restraining evil.
Contrast this slow cultivation of society to the radical revolutions of Marxist history. God is using his law to stitch back together relationships, so that the fabric of society can again be whole. God's law is dealing with the oppressor and the oppressed, but not in a revolutionary way or a violent way. The Law is designed to reveal the sin of the person for the purpose of bringing peace. Marxism reveals sins to prompt retaliation. God’s interventions as described above are both meant to clarify the identity of his people and redirect them to truth so that they can live life in common with both God and Neighbor.
If a generation forgot how the gods of the Egyptians were proved false, they might be tempted to worship them. When they forgot how awful slavery was, they were tempted to return to that slavery. If they forgot the Law which God gave them they might turn back to violence against God and neighbor.
We are commanded to “remember” so that we don’t return to sin and slavery. Instead we begin to build a civilization where God is the highest good and relationships built on loving our neighbor create a network of peace.
So called Marxist interpreters of Scripture ask us to remember the God of the Old Testament as angry, vengeful, cruel and capricious. Their limited imaginations see every power relationship as one of oppressor and oppressed. Thus they read into the text that God must have been oppressing His people. If you have at least one eye, half a brain, and the first part of the Bible, I invite you to disprove this with a quick read and a modicum of honesty. But people don’t care to read or study, they like to repeat and look around for nodding heads of approval. The Marxist view has become our current popular view. Do an experiment sometime and ask a non-Christian what they have heard about the God of the Old Testament. The propaganda war is in full-swing.
In Christianity, God is revealed as a Trinity of persons. This means the most fundamental fact about the source of all reality is a relationship of love. God the Father’s eternal act is, in a sense, an act of remembering. When God remembers Himself, the image that He remembers or calls to mind is the person of the Son (see Pt 1 for a fuller description of the traditional definition of the Trinity). So, precisely in the act of remembering, God initiates a community of persons interior to Himself.
Marxism tells us the opposite: “Forget!” it cries. Lenin says, “The cultural revolution is... a whole revolution, a whole strip of the cultural development of the whole mass of the people.” In China, there was also a cultural revolution that Mao encouraged to destroy all remnants of traditions. China (one of the oldest and most complex civilizations on earth) had its history, culture, and traditions destroyed and replaced by propaganda. Same is true everywhere Marxism takes hold.
Go ahead, look into these revolutions. They are absolutely disgusting and evil. That is what forgetting does, it sends whole peoples back into slavery, oppression, superstition, evil, and sin.
Marxism denies all transcendentals and denies God. Religions of all types are persecuted. Atheism becomes enforced by the state. How far from the Jewish story that we started with! In that story, God is progressively revealing Himself and coaxing that people out of their evil and into a properly ordered society, all the while respecting their free-will. Contrast that with violence of the state mandating a betrayal of our Creator, and a history that denies peace through love of neighbor.
There is one thing that Marxism still calls us to remember. Marx says that “the proletariat are to be armed with the history of injustices done to them.” (paraphrase) History has one purpose in Marxism and that is to dredge up the evils and offenses of the past. Today we see people constantly being called to apologize for something they said years ago in an obscure tweet or Facebook post. This type of hyper-focus on the evil of others in their history and the militarization of that history against them is Marxist.
In Judeo-Christian thought, these evils are the one thing that we are told to forget. In Judaism, one is to make sacrifice for wrongs, make amends to one’s neighbor and the sins are, “As far as the East is from the West.” God even says that He remembers our sins no more. In Christianity, baptism and the confession of sin do the same job.
Far from being forgiven when people are charged with a evil action from the past, any admission of guilt seems to spark a feeding frenzy. Marxism is a religion with no grace, no mercy, and no forgiveness. Why would they lay down their revolutionary weapons of history?
In Christianity, Jesus allows all of the sin, hate, and violence of the world to be spent on Him so that He can swallow it up in mercy. In Marxism, the violence done to us becomes our weapons of retaliation.
Is it any surprise that Marxists of today remember all of Jefferson’s slave relations and forget his role in founding a nation where “All men are created equal”? These Marxist “scholars” of history find Christopher Columbus’ one quote about how the indigenous people would make good slaves...and conveniently forgets that because of that he baptized as many of them into Christianity as he could (and asked Spain for more priests to help!), because baptized people by law could never be enslaved. They have ignored the orphan child from the new world which he adopted and raised as his own. They forget that when he found his sailors were cruel to the natives, he sided with his friend (the chief of the local peoples) against his own men. Of course Marxists, who think nothing of killing millions, also think nothing of slandering great men like Columbus by making up lies accusing him of genocide.
Remember in the philosophy section I described the one dimensionality of Marxist thought? This is why there is no forgiveness in Marxism. Normal people might say that a good person may have done an evil deed or thought an evil thought. In Marxism that distinction does not exist. Thoughts are not immaterial and separable, but instead literal and embodied. The person that said a racist thing in the past IS a racist. In Christianity, it is commonly said “Love the sinner and hate the sin.” This is nonsense to the Marxist. The person IS his sin. If the person IS his sin, then what room is there for forgiveness? Furthermore, if you want to get rid of the sin, there is only one thing to do: destroy the sinner.
This is why members of the LGBTQ community often think Christians hate them. Many of these people are looking at Christians through a Marxist lens. If the Christian believes that homosexuality is evil, Marxist logic would conclude that the Christian thinks the homosexual IS evil. Furthermore, if the Christian states there should be no more homosexuality in society, Marxist ears hear this as a declaration of violence against homosexual people. But of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
The same twisted logic that applies to individuals also applies to the nation as a whole. Because America at its beginning included the dreadfully evil institution of slavery, this must mean that America is evil and racist. Just like in the case of the individual, the nation and all its institutions deserve no mercy and can be granted no forgiveness.
The only way to destroy the evil of racism and slavery is to destroy America and all its corrupt institutions. This is how the Marxist view of history arms the people with the sins of the past and motivates the violence of revolution.
Marxist history traditionally focuses on class and the material/economic oppression of the proletariat. In the Industrial Revolution, the appeal was made to the workers to rise up. In the US, it is an appeal to those of slave ancestry. After all, what greater oppression and material deprivation is there than slavery?
Today, this class story is extended. The record of sins is not forgotten and the poorer classes (particularly the black poor) are targeted with propaganda telling them to overthrow institutions- and the nation- because of the oppression from classes above them. The class of slave owners is being conflated with today’s police, schools, and companies, to name a few.
Back in the old law that I referenced at the beginning, it says that, “The son shall not be held guilty for the sins of his father”. While it is true that the effects of evil continue to the “tenth generation” it is not true that guilt for sin does the same.
It is possible to both accept that the legacy of racism and Jim Crow laws have lingering negative effects AND maintain that people generations removed from those who did these evil things in no way bear guilt.
Further, just because one identifiable group (be it class, race, or otherwise) did evil to another group in no way means the guilt of the original action permanently attaches to the class. This is just another form of the same confusion as earlier. If a class did an oppressive act, it is marked permanently as a built-in facet of being an oppressor. This is why white guilt is a Marxist idea.
History and Identity:
1 History confers identity
2 Identities are the precondition for relationships with others
3 Relationships with others create peace and build a society
4 Marxism destroys history so that identity is destroyed
5 Without the former differentiation of persons, there is no relationship except what is defined by law
6 That law is upheld by violence
7 All relationships of peace have been replaced by mandatory relations of “comrades” enforced by the top down violence of the State.
The most common command in the Bible is to “Remember”. In Marxism, the revolution is never complete until a cultural revolution arrives to destroy history, culture, religion, and every other mark of identity or group belonging.
History and Power:
1 According to Marxists, all relationships of power entail oppression (this is a conclusion derived from the second means of negation. See the philosophy section)
2 History is a record of power relationships
3 History must be a story of oppression and the oppressed.
How ridiculous is it that Marxist thought doesn’t seem to have a category for a power structure that works for the good of those below. Let me name a few: mothers and children, teachers and students, good bosses and employees, priests and laity, fathers and daughters...the list goes on and on.
The Use of History:
1 Classes or groups oppress other classes or groups in history
2 Past oppression must be punished by violent overthrow
3 The record of wrongs done to the oppressed group must be known in order to appropriately direct such violence
4 The oppressed classes must be armed with the knowledge of all of their past injustices and encouraged to seek vengeance on the class or group of people that oppressed their class or group in the past.
It is this terrible logic that makes people think (for example): Because there were white people who oppressed black people in the past, this means white people must be overthrown by black people today.
One of the many problems with this logic is the word “people”. Continuity of race is not the same as continuity of person-hood. A black person of the past is just as much a different person from me as a white person of the past. Why? Because it is not my membership in a race or class that confers person-hood, it is my human nature...and all races of humans share the same human nature.
Watch as this same line of argumentation is applied to billionaires, religious people, the police, the government, and more.
Marxism and Forgiveness:
1 Only material exists
2 Evil exists
3 Evil has material existence.
4 people, classes, races, and nations have been evil
5 people, classes, races, and nations exist materially
6 people, classes, races, and nations have evil material existence
7 Evil should be destroyed
8 Evil exists in evil people, classes, races, and nations
9 evil people, classes, races, and nations should be destroyed as the only means of destroying evil.
That is why revolution and violence is always the answer in Marxism. In Western thought, good and evil are separable from what a person is. Without that distinction being made, there is no place for forgiveness.
In Christianity, we are supposed to forget the sins of others as an act of mercy. In Marxism, we are told to remember other people's sins as a means of violence and retaliation. In Christianity, we are meant to turn our enemies into friends through self-sacrifice, thereby healing the wounds of ourselves and our society. In Marxism, we are told to destroy our enemies in a way that tears the whole of society apart with violence.