While it is absurd to blame Marx for something he did not foresee and certainly would have condemned if he had foreseen it, the distanced between Marx's predicted communist society and the form taken by 'communism' in the twentieth century may in the end be traceable to Marx's misconception of the flexibility of human nature.
The moralist and the revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in place to blow Marx at the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him, will come back with yet more dynamite, and so the process continues, to an end we cannot foresee.
The two most far-reaching critical theories at the beginning of the latest phase of industrial society were those of Marx and Freud. Marx showed the moving powers and the conflicts in the social-historical process. Freud aimed at the critical uncovering of the inner conflicts. Both worked for the liberation of man, even though Marx's concept was more comprehensive and less time-bound than Freud's.
To paraphrase Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx, a specter is haunting the streets of Copenhagen...Capitalism is the specter, almost nobody wants to mention it...Socialism, the other specter Karl Marx spoke about, which walks here too, rather it is like a counter-specter. Socialism, this is the direction, this is the path to save the planet, I don't have the least doubt. Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the world.
Mr. Marx does not believe in God, but he believes deeply in himself. His heart is filled not with love but with rancor. He has very little benevolence toward men and becomes... furious and... spiteful... when anyone dares question the omniscience of the divinity whom he adores, that is to say, Mr. Marx himself.
Most of Marx's predictions have failed to materialize, and his labor theory of value and other ideas have been proven wrong. Marx failed to recognize the incentive system built into the capitalist model - consumer choice and the profit motive of the entrepreneur. The irony is that capitalism, not socialism or Marxism, that has liberated the worker from the chains of poverty, monopoly, war, and oppression, and has better achieved Marx's vision of a millennium of hope, peace, abundance, leisure, and aesthetic expression for the 'full' human being.
Turgenev saw human beings as individuals always endowed with consciousness, character, feelings, and moral strengths and weaknesses; Marx saw them always as snowflakes in an avalanche, as instances of general forces, as not yet fully human because utterly conditioned by their circumstances. Where Turgenev saw men, Marx saw classes of men; where Turgenev saw people, Marx saw the People. These two ways of looking at the world persist into our own time and profoundly affect, for better or for worse, the solutions we propose to our social problems.
Marx wrote about finance and industry all his life but he only knew two people connected with financial and industrial processes. One was his uncle in Holland, Lion Philips, a successful businessman who created what eventually became the vast Philips Electric Company. Uncle Philips' views on the whole capitalist process would have been well-informed and interesting, had Marx troubled to explore them. But he only once consulted him, on a technical matter of high finance, and though he visited Philips four times, these concerned purely personal mattes of family money. The other knowledgeable man was Engels himself. But Marx declined Engel's invitation to accompany him on a visit to a cotton mill, and so far as we know Marx never set foot in a mill, factory, mine or other industrial workplace in the whole of his life.
This popular picture of Marx's 'materialism' - his anti-spiritual tendency, his wish for uniformity and subordination - is utterly false. Marx's aim was that of the spiritual emancipation of man, of his liberation from the chains of economic determination, of restituting him in his human wholeness, of enabling him to find unity and harmony with his fellow man and with nature. Marx's philosophy was, in secular, nontheistic language, a new and radical step forward in the tradition of prophetic Messianism; it was aimed at the full realization of individualism, the very aim which has guided Western thinking from the Renaissance and the Reformation far into the nineteenth century.
The Rulers of Russia, then, are Jewish Politicians, and they are applying to the world the doctrine of Karl Marx (Mordecai). Marx, was a clear and lucid Talmudist...full of that old Hebrew (sic) materialism which ever dreams of a paradise on earth and always rejects the hope held out of the chance of a Garden of Eden after Death.
My closest friend, who died not long ago, is buried near Marx's grave in Highgate cemetery, so I see the gaggle of admirers laying roses at the foot of his tombstone regularly. I have never been tempted to leave flowers there myself. Great theories, shame about the practice. Marx did many things. But inventing class was not one of them.
Mr. Speaker, in 1848, Karl Marx said, a progressive income tax is needed to transfer wealth and power to the state. Thus, Marx's Communist Manifesto had as its major economic tenet a progressive income tax. Think about it, 1848 Karl Marx, Communism.... I say it is time to replace the progressive income tax with a national retail sales tax, and it is time to abolish the IRS, my colleagues. I yield back all the rules, regulations, fear, and intimidation of our current system.
But my knowledge of Marxism was limited to knowing that Marx was a Jew, and that he had a long white beard. I said to Lunatcharsky (the political communist commissar for Education, 1918, fh) 'Whatever you do, don't ask me why I painted in blue or green, and why you can see a calf inside the cow's belly, etc. On the other hand you're welcome: if Marx is so wise, let him come back to life and explain it himself'. I showed him my canvases.
Both Marx and Nietzsche understood that moral outrage is the last resort of the powerless. That is why Marx refused to issue moral condemnations of capitalism, preferring instead to lay out, calmly and ruthlessly, his reasons for believing that it is destined to be replaced by socialism. And that is why Nietzsche mocks Christianity for portraying its crucified Saviour as bait wriggling on a hook to catch unsuspecting souls.
Robert Paul Wolff
Marx's Kapital is not a treatise on socialism; it is a gerrymand against the bourgeoisie. It was supposed to be written for the working class, but the working man respects the bourgeoisie and wants to be a bourgeoisie. Marx never got a hold of him for a moment. It was the revolting sons of the bourgeoisie itself, like myself, that painted the flag red. The middle and upper classes are the revolutionary element in society. The proletariat is the conservative element.
George Bernard Shaw
China is now suffering from poverty, not from unequal distribution of wealth. Where there are inequalities of wealth, the methods of Marx can, of course, be used; a class war can be advocated to destroy the inequalities. But in China, where industry is not yet developed, Marx's class war and dictatorship of the proletariat are impracticable.
This is what the bourgeois political economists have done: they have treated value as a fact of nature, not a social construction arising out of a particular mode of production. What Marx is interested in is a revolutionary transformation of society, and that means an overthrow of the capitalist value-form, the construction of an alternative value-structure, an alternative value-system that does not have the specific character of that achieved under capitalism. I cannot overemphasize this point, because the value theory in Marx is frequently interpreted as a universal norm with which we should comply. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people complain that the problem with Marx is that he believes the only valid notion of value derives from labor inputs. It is not that at all; it is a historical social product. The problem, therefore, for socialist, communist, revolutionary, anarchist or whatever, is to find an alternative value-form that will work in terms of the social reproduction of society in a different image. By introducing the concept of fetishism, Marx shows how the naturalized value of classical political economy dictates a norm; we foreclose on revolutionary possibilities if we blindly follow that norm and replicate commodity fetishism. Our task is to question it.
Kessler depicts his developing intimacy with a handful of dairy goats and offers an enviable glimpse of the pastoral good life. Yet he also cautions, "Wherever the notion of paradise exists, so does the idea that it was lost. Paradise is always in the past." The title Goat Song is a literal rendering of the Greek word traghoudhia, tragedy. Reading it, I was reminded of Leo Marx's analysis of Thoreau's Walden. In The Machine in the Garden, Marx names Thoreau a tragic, if complex pastoralist. After failing to make an agrarian living raising beans for commercial trade (although his intent was always more allegorical than pecuniary), Thoreau ends Walden by replacing the pastoral idea where it originated: in literature. Paradise, Marx concludes, is not ultimately to be found at Walden Pond; it is to be found in the pages of Walden.
The theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin is universally applicable. We should regard it not as a dogma, but as a guide to action. Studying it is not merely a matter of learning terms and phrases but of learning Marxism-Leninism as the science of revolution. It is not just a matter of understanding the general laws derived by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin from their extensive study of real life and revolutionary experience, but of studying their standpoint and method in examining and solving problems.
Failure to recognize the historical specificity of the bourgeois conception of rights and duties leads to serious errors. It is for this reason that Marx registers... a vigorous indictment of the anarchist Proudhon... Proudhon in effect took the specifics of bourgeois legal and economic relations and treated them as universal and foundational for the development of an alternative, socially just economic system. From Marx's standpoint, this is no alternative at all since it merely re-inscribes bourgeois conceptions of value in a supposedly new form of society. This problem is still with us, not only because of the contemporary anarchist revival of interest in Proudhon's ideas but also because of the rise of a more broad-based liberal human rights politics as a supposed antidote to the social and political ills of contemporary capitalism. Marx's critique of Proudhon is directly applicable to this contemporary politics. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 is a foundational document for a bourgeois, market-based individualism and as such cannot provide a basis for a thoroughgoing critique of liberal or neoliberal capitalism. Whether it is politically useful to insist that the capitalist political order live up to its own foundational principles is one thing, but to imagine that this politics can lead to a radical displacement of a capitalist mode of production is, in Marx's view, a serious error.
You see, the bodily resurrection of Jesus isn't a take-it-or-leave-it thing, as though some Christians are welcome to believe it and others are welcome not to believe it. Take it away, and the whole picture is totally different. Take it away, and Karl Marx was probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring the problems of the material world. Take it away, and Sigmund Freud was probably right to say that Christianity is a wish-fulfillment religion. Take it away, and Friedrich Nietzsche was probably right to say that Christianity was a religion for wimps. Put it back, and you have a faith that can take on the postmodern world that looks to Marx, Freud and Nietzsche as its prophets, and you can beat them at their own game with the Easter news that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(...) Marx explique que les droits de l'homme sont les droits de l'individu separe de l'homme (...), c'est l'egoisme de l'homme bourgeois, qui se meut selon ses intereªts individuels, l'homme separe de sa communaute, de son passe, de sa classe, de son pays. Selon Marx, les droits de l'homme refle¨tent (...) le triomphe de l'individu et de ses intereªts e court terme sur son environnement, naturel et social.
The first comedians I became fascinated with were the Marx brothers. I couldn't get enough of them. Later in life, I thought, "Well, maybe it's because they were so rebellious and they were just flipping the bird to society and all the rules we're supposed to follow." They were saying that none of it is fair.