‘A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism’
is the first line of the Communist Manifesto that Marx co-authored with his friend Friedrich Engels in 1848. Marx’s ideology made two types of claims, economic and moral. Economically, it stated that capitalism was driven by an evil force of competitive exploitation that would cause its eventual collapse. On Moral front, it claimed that capitalism was evil because of the self-interested motives of those engaged in capitalist competition that would result in exploitation of workers. On the other hand, communism would be based on selfless sacrifice and mutual sharing. Years later the ideology that Marx preached birthed revolutions not just in Europe but around the world. Events such as Russian Revolution which forced Nicholas II to abdicate the throne or Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China, as the followers of Marx emerged victorious; his position became that of demigod who would free the masses of poverty and oppression. Gradually, Marxism was the dominant ideology of those on the left of political spectrum. Once, about four of every ten people on earth lived under governments that claimed to be Marxist but most of these governments did not last long. When the communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and its satellites states most of the communist states did not receive any assistance which they used to get earlier from Soviet Union. These countries abandoned Communism as the official state ideology and were forced to open their markets to the world. The influence of Marx gradually decreased with the passage of time. Only a handful of Communist states exist in world today. May 5, 2018 marked Marx 200th birth anniversary. After all these years, it would not be wrong to say that most of his predictions have been proven wrong, his theories discredited, and his ideas have become obsolete.
Marxists, however, are pretty much the only thinkers who accept no responsibility whatsoever for real-world approximations of their ideas. According to Marx, the technology of mass production would result in the homogenization of labor skills required for industrial activity. It would reduce the demand of workers and they would have to live on minimum “subsistence” wages. The truth is ‘Industrialization’ has in fact, worked in the exact opposite direction. The developed market economy has generated a demand for a wide variety of labor skills and talents. The result has not been a homogenization of labor, but the heterogeneity of labor varying in skills. Therefore, different kinds of tasks have different wages. There is not a common “level” of wages but a structure of relative wages which distinguishes workers according to their specific talents and abilities in the market place. As economies became more advanced both the wages and standard of living rose to levels that were not even comprehensible in Marx’s days. This has increased stability in many countries which were unstable under communist governments.
Marx believed that the private property was the source of all evil in the emerging capitalist countries of his day. In his view, only by abolishing it a society’s class divisions could be fixed and a prosperous future be guaranteed. His friend and partner in crime Friedrich Engels claimed that the state itself would become unnecessary and crumble. These assertions were not made as some sort of speculation, but rather scientific claims about the future. Needless to say, it was all full of crap which can be thrown in the dustbin of history today. The countries that embraced capitalism and shunned socialism in the twentieth century are in better position today. Any country that has rejected capitalism completely in the name of Marxism has failed or is on the verge of it. It’s not the interpretation of Marx’s doctrines that is the reason but the doctrines themselves are the problem.
Marx gave a theory of history which is known as dialectical materialism. Dialectical Materialism analyses progress into the concept of there being a Thesis, an Antithesis and consequentially a Synthesis. Thesis is the starting point and can be considered to take place at any point and every. By virtue of its very nature, Thesis always contains a contradictory element within it that is its antithesis. The idea is that the conflict between the thesis and antithesis results in the synthesis. Many experts believe that this is an overly simplistic model of society which really does not create any intellectual value. On the contrary, it encourages the concept of conflict which may be emotionally attractive to young gullible minds. In any society, challenges from competition and the desire to improve things are the main drivers for progress which can happen best without any class conflict. By removing competition, one not only deprives society of the entrepreneurship needed to propel it forward; one also abolishes freedom itself.
Societies built on Marxist ideals abolished private ownership and established state control on the economy. By doing so they deprived the society of the entrepreneurship which is the engine for the growth of that country. The governments became murder machines in the countries that plead their allegiance to Marx. The worst thing was people were not lined up and shot for their opposition to the Marxist revolutions but they were starved to death in prison camps. Many of those sent in prisons were Marxists themselves who tried to raise their voices against tyranny. Irony is that Marx’s reputation has been severely damaged by these Marxist governments the most.
Communism collapsed in the Soviet Union because of the way it was practiced. Instead of feeding its citizens, the Soviet Union spent money on arms to fight Cold War with USA. In China under Mao, communism failed to provide people with a standard of living that could compete with that of most people in the capitalist economies. It’s a bitter truth that under Mao most of the Chinese lived in poverty. The Chinese economy started to grow rapidly only after 1978, when Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping allowed private companies to be established .His reforms eventually lifted 800 million people out of extreme poverty. Deng once said “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” Although China today proclaims that it is building “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” it is difficult to find anything socialist or Marxist, about its economy. If China’s development is being held back by anything today, it is the remnants of Marxism that are still there in inefficient state-owned enterprises and no freedom of expression. So, if China is no longer significantly influenced by Marx’s thought, we can safely conclude that in economics, he is indeed irrelevant today. In politics, he still holds some sway but that’s a matter of time. China’s centralized single-party system is simply incompatible with a modern and diverse society.
The murders in communist regimes ranging from 60-65 million in China, 20 million in Soviet Union, 2 million in Cambodia, 2 million in North Korea, 1.7 million in Ethiopia,1.5 million in Afghanistan,1 million in the Eastern Bloc,1 million in Vietnam,150,000 in Latin America are Marx’s only intellectual and political legacy. Today, when hundreds of editorials are brimming praising Marx, one must steal time to ponder over these deaths. At best Marx must be studied to know the crimes committed in his name. Marxism can be put in category of creed if not a religion and Marx as its Prophet. Yes, a false one.