Marxist Ethics and Old Morality

QUESTION: Marxist Ethics – Old Morality

ANSWER:

Marxists wholeheartedly reject moral codes that are founded in religious beliefs, including traditional universal moral ideals. They reject and label such ideals as “old morality,” as products of the bourgeoisie invented and used by the propertied class to oppress the propertyless proletariat. G.L. Andreyev, in What Kind of Morality Does Religion Teach?, states, “In the reigning morality under capitalism that act is considered moral which promotes the preservation and strengthening of the system of exploitation and the acquirement of profits. Religion merely justifies this unjust and oppressive, bloody, and inhuman system in the name of God.”1

Marxist Ethics – Classless Society
Marxists believe that what is generally regarded by society as moral directly contradicts the Marxist goal of a classless society. Nikita Khrushchev states, “So long as classes exist on the earth, there will be no such thing in life as something good in the absolute sense. What is good for the bourgeoisie, for the imperialists, is disastrous for the working class, and, on the contrary, what is good for the working people is not admitted by the imperialists, by the bourgeoisie.”2 This, then, is the whole problem with the old morality as perceived by Marxists—the old morality is simply a tool used by the oppressing classes to maintain their position in society. Christian ethics is the means by which the rich control the working class poor.

Marx says that for the proletariat, “Law, morality, religion, are...so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.”3 Lenin agrees with Marx: “The old society was based on the principle: rob or be robbed; work for others or make others work for you; be a slave-owner or a slave.”4

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 G.L. Andreyev, What Kind of Morality Does Religion Teach? (Moscow, USSR: 1959). Cited in Raymond S. Sleeper, A Lexicon of Marxist-Leninist Semantics (Alexandria, VA: Western Goals, 1983), 174.
2 Nikita Khrushchev, “The Great Strength of Soviet Literature and Art,” Soviet Booklet, no. 108, (London: UK: Farleigh Press, 1963), 30. Cited in James Bales, Communism and the Reality of Moral Law (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1969), 5.
3 Marx and Engels, Collected Works, 6:494.
4 Lenin, Collected Works, 31: 293.

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