As said in our more practical blogs on Marxism as the left wing of Twentieth Century Totalitarianism, Marxism is no more an economic theory than Nazism or fascism is a biological theory. Both are reductionist, reducing all human things to a much lower, material basis. The theory is very simple, though the “economic” part is only one section. Long ago we collected the basic points of the theory, into these axioms . We have a different understanding of things as an “intellectual” perversion, or an inversion of the imagination. But as was said, both forms of twentieth century totalitarianism begin in atheism. They then combine to this a strange historicism and an understanding of a necessary march of history, from Hegel, as though what is were not in the beginning. The reason can be described in terms as a throwing of the baby out with the bathwater in rejecting the medieval assumptions.
Marx is 1) an inversion of “religion, 2) an inversion of Hegel, 3) an economic determinism setting principles of Locke into historical or dialectical motion, and 4) A strange revolutionary conclusion, since, to be sarcastic, all history is class struggle, and this in the final opposition, that of the bourgeois and Proletariat.” But Marx taught us to see ourselves, our constitution in the broadest sense, as Capitalism,” an utter absurdity if one considers any of the greats of the American Revolution, let alone all of them.
And for the many who are poor and the few who are rich, Aristotle notices that these are in every human polity. Or, as Jesus says, the poor you will always have with you…” But it is not at all clear, for example, that if there were no rich, simply everyone might be poor, no reason to assume some constant store of natures goods for equal distribution. If income inequality were to increase, it still might be true that the many are twice as rich and the rich four times, etc….
Within each of these four categories or axioms, there is an account with three or four points in each, so that as we say, Marx has only 12 or 16 thoughts.
In the first, Marx considers the “criticism of religion” to have been completed by Hegel and Freurbach. Religion is now known to have been all along an illusion, an expression of human unhappiness with the world, and flowers on the chains of slavery or the opiate to keep the many pleased with their condition. The truth is that man is the supreme being for man. Knowing this, “religion” can now be resolved into its secular basis, its human core.
In the second, Hegel was correct that history develops “dialectic-ally,” but was wrong, about the priority of “spirit” to mater. Hence the Marxist dialectic is dialectical materialsm as opposed to the Hegelian dialectic of spirit or “phenomenology of the mind.”The end of history is not in mind but in matter or economic realities, again simply assumed axiomatically to be so, as if by perception acquiring first principles. “Philosophy” is now to “become active, transforming the human material conditions, and here we say that Marxism is a spiritual atheism. Consequently, all history is the dialectical history of class struggle.
Third, All profit or value comes from human activity, or human labor in making or producing value out of the nearly worthless contribution of material nature. Therefore all “capitalist” profits come from the “exploitation” of labor. Marx does not want to hear about Henry Ford meta-making a system that makes the labor of each one more productive of value, nor about the difference in value of our labor in the project of some brainy guy, like labor for a craftsman, compared to the value of our labor in our own back yard, so that we leave home and go to work each morning, if we are able. It is all “exploitation.” Further, as technology increases, and the owners of the “factors” of production become larger, fewer workers are needed, so that an “industrial army of the unemployed” is formed necessarily. Again, Marx does not want to hear of labor unions formed to oppose the owners politically should their use their wealth to compel or tyrannize the workers, nor about the stock ownership that might cultivate a middle class. An impoverished proletariat is a revolutionary proletariat, and Marx just knows this is the last stage of a long history of class conflict.
And here in the fourth section Marx becomes obviously spiritual, if in a materialistc sense, as there is absolutely no empirical reason to think that because of factories in early eighteenth century London, the last stage of the historical dialectic is soon to arrive. But man, the supreme being for man, produces his own essence, which is then “alienated” when he does not himself own the factors of production, as he would, one imagines, if he chased down rabbits and devoured them for himself alone, without cooking. Indeed, since the present condition is, we just know it, the last and most essential class conflict, the present condition is that of the alienation of the human essence, and hence the proletariat will embody the human essence, and the bourgeois the opposite. Here all ethics is subjected to class, as in fascism, all human ethics becomes a matter of race. But the seizure of the means of production is to be the “return of man to himself, and one of the few things said about the communist utopian condition is that the lack of division of labor allows man to contemplate his own essence in the products of his labor. One imagines that young fellow in the Catskill mountains who burned a hole in the center of a tree large enough to make a house, but Marx does not go this far, because the theory is a delusion, or an inversion of the things said about the coming of the kingdom, or the things imagined from the things said. He talks of each holding every sort of job randomly, which again might make any sensible person consider the value created by expertise and the division of labor.
But for the sake of this delusion, or as said, perversion of the imagination, a “dictatorship of the proletariat” is to be instituted not by persuasion but by force, through a violence called spiritual, or philosophy become active, a tyranny for the purpose of transforming human nature by eradicating the character of the bourgeois. This condition is universal, occurring everywhere, and involving a magical transformation of the senses. Private property and private families are to no longer exist, as in the Acts of the Apostles or among the few guardians in Socrates’ description of the best regime, though this has nothing to do with many. There is to be no tension between man and the state, nor between man and nature. Nature is to be conquered or subjected by the revolutionary proletariat. And until then, there is to be literally a tyranny with an aristocracy of those who know the march of history, a vanguard elite., in every communist nation. That is Marxism in a nutshell.
Hence, as it would not be possible to present so concisely the thought of a genuine philosopher, we say that Marx is not a philosopher at all.