by David A. Noebel
The Marxist/Leninist worldview’s theology is atheism; its philosophy is dialectical materialism; its economics is socialism/communism. It is probably safe to say that before Karl Marx, people did not view economics and modes of production as crucial to either their consciousness or the quest for utopia. Since Marx, economics has never been the same.
Marx’s counterpart, Frederick Engels, best demonstrated the primacy of economic theory in Marxism’s worldview when he declared, "the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men’s brains, not in man’s better insight into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch."1 This claim obviously has far-reaching implications—not only in the economic discipline, but in psychology, sociology, philosophy, ethics, and history. This chapter will focus on the economic aspects of Marxism.
Because the Marxist assumes that the mode of production forms the foundation for society, he concludes that any ills extant in society are the result of imperfect modes of production. Further, societies have been gradually improving because the economic systems on which they have been founded are gradually improving (thanks to the progressive forces of evolution and the dialectic). Slavery was imperfect, so the dialectical process led society into feudalism, which in turn has formed the new synthesis of capitalism. Unfortunately, capitalism, too, has inherent flaws and contradictions that have led to the oppression of the working class by the bourgeois.
Marxists believe that the proletariat (those without property) and the bourgeois (those who own private property and/or the tools of production) are clashing within the framework of dialectical materialism and that their clash eventually will result in a new, more highly evolved synthesis. This synthesis, which has already been achieved in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China (among other countries), is known as socialism. With the advent of socialism, a whole new society evolves. Marxists argue that all other social institutions follow the economic institution. Socialism removes the means of production from the hands of the minority (the bourgeois) and puts it in the hands of the State, the Party, or the people. Recent reports have revealed that the East German Communist Party, for example, was worth billions of dollars. Thus, in a socialist society, all private property will gradually be abolished and man no longer will oppress his fellow man in an effort to protect his private property. When all private property and, consequently, all class distinctions have withered away, the slow transition from socialism to the highest economic form, communism, will be complete. What economic form will follow communism will be determined by the eternal workings of the dialectic, but Marxists are hoping that once communism finally arrives it will remain for many, many years—some Marxists place the figure at millions of years.
For now, communism is the ultimate economic system because it adheres to the maxim, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."2 Whereas socialism is tainted by capitalism and thus will still reward resources to workers according to their labor, communism will create a society in which work becomes "life’s prime want,"3 thereby doing away with the need for incentives to work. Man will produce abundantly because he will be freed from coercion, and scarcity will become a distant memory.
The ultimate aim of Marxism/Leninism is the creation of a political world order based on communism that will solve the economic problem of scarcity so efficiently that each individual will see his every need and most of his wants fulfilled. Once communist man evolves, he will not want more than he knows is best for the new world order. Marx pictured the perfect communist society as one that would require a few hours of work each morning, with afternoons free for recreation, and evenings set aside for cultural activities.
- Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (New York: International Publishers, 1935), p. 54.
- Karl Marx, On Historical Materialism (New York: International Publishers, 1974), p. 165.