Yesterday at Uni, I was studying Marxism and Modernity. Marxism, the basis of Communism, is seen by many to be the solution to an oppressive and exploitative capitalist world, and Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’ is certainly an insightful and very interesting look at capitalism and class. As an analysis of history, Marxism is pretty much bang on the money, but as a political, cultural, and societal ideology to “fix” this, it just doesn’t work. Now I’m not basing this claim off the examples of “marxist” states that haven’t worked out, but they are interesting to look at to see the ways in which the ideology falls short when transferred from paper to reality.
I’m no Marxist Scholar, but I don’t think I need to be to see the large flaws with this concept.
So why can’t Marxism work? Marxism says that somewhere along the line, humanity became a race of “economic utility maximisers”, i.e., people who, out of self-interest, greed, and so on, try to work to their own advantage and suck “surplus” (capital, profit) out of a system. To be able to get surplus, somebody’s work is being undervalued, and thus they are being exploited.
The solution, says Marx, is class consciousness. When the Proletariat (working class) realise they are being exploited, they will rise up and deconstruct capitalism. Apart from being vague about the practical way to actually do this, the communist manifesto says that in order to be fair, equal and non exploitative, private property must be abolished.
Essentially, this is a teleological (telos = end point) view of history; the best, most equal society will be reached, and this will be a utopian finality. In the perfect communist state, there would be no class struggle, no exploitation, everyone w0uld be on an equal footing.
I see 2 problems, before you even get to the mechanism, timing etc.
Firstly, that humanity would not lapse into greed, selfishness etc. Marxism seems to assume that the Working classes themselves, once the capitalist class is brought down, would not seek such a form of power for themselves. Somewhere in the future, somehow, the urge to serve oneself above the community will be completely reduced. Now I think that is against human nature, as it is made clear biblically that we are caught in our “sinful nature” (See galatians chapter 5), and in Eden, the very first humans chose self-service and greed.
So this first issue ignores the fact that all of humanity has been sinful and self-serving.
Secondly, it suggests humanity can overcome this itself. The bible is clear, especially in revelation, that discord and evil will be around until the “end times”, and that ultimate justice, and order, will not prevail until Jesus returns. It is then that the perfect world will be achieved. And this is only possible because the power of sin and death has been broken, Satan has been defeated, and Jesus has promised life.
So Marxism doesn’t work because it fails to account for sin, and because it assumes that humanity can achieve perfection and “utopia” without God’s help.