Marxist Politics – Introduction
Frederick Engels painted a clear picture of Marxist politics and the ultimate reason for revolution, “the State is nothing more than a machine for the oppression of one class by another.”1
In Marxism, the struggle to control the forces of production is the dynamic force behind human development. The economic system determines other features of a society, including its political structure. To Karl Marx, the “economic structure of society [is] the real foundation on which rise moral, legal and political superstructures and to which definite forms of social consciousness correspond.”2
Thus, to a Marxist, particular political systems are grounded in and arise from particular economic systems. A socialist economy, therefore, lays the foundation for genuine democracy (although an “impure” form of democracy does exist in capitalist nations). Genuine democracy is not the aim of Marxist politics, and in fact Marxists view democracy as little more than a necessary evil. V.I. Lenin explains, “Democracy is a state which recognizes the subordination of the minority to the majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of force by one class against another, by one section of the population against another.”3 This definition of democracy is consistent with Marxist emphasis on class struggle.
Marxist Politics – Class Antagonism
When it comes to Marxist politics, Marxists see the world as a struggle between the bourgeoisie (owners of private property and the means of production) and the proletariat (workers), with economics as the foundation on which the rest of society is built. Marxists believe the state is an arena in which the haves and the have-nots struggle. Thus, Marxists see a democratic state or republic, especially in a capitalist economic system, as undesirable. According to Engels, “The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine.”4 This “machine” is an unacceptable state since it so clearly focuses on exploiting its citizens.
In a socialist society, the mode of production does not exploit its citizens to the extent that capitalism does and thus encourages a less exploitative political system. Socialist governments tend to discourage class antagonism since they are founded on economic systems that are close to abolishing class distinctions. This less exploitative nature of government makes the democracy more genuine and socialism more appealing than capitalism. Socialism, however, still lacks several factors of the ideal state of communism.
The ideal state for the Marxist is no state at all, since any government (whether a democracy or a dictatorship) is a vehicle for maintaining class antagonism. Marx says, “Political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another.”5 The state exists, therefore, because class antagonism exists. Once class antagonism is eradicated, the state will no longer be necessary. Lenin says, “According to Marx, the State could neither arise nor maintain itself if a reconciliation of classes were possible.”6
Marxist Politics – The State Withers Away
In Marxist perception of human social development, the state evolved at a point in history when it was necessary, and it will cease to exist when it is no longer necessary for society. It is a mere transitory phenomenon. Engels says, “The State is...simply a product of society at a certain stage of evolution.”7
Lenin supports the idea that the state is necessary only in a capitalist society because it is responsible for engendering class antagonisms. He stresses the necessity of eliminating the bourgeoisie, which in turn will eliminate the need for the state: “Only in communist society, when the resistance of the capitalists has been completely crushed, when the capitalists have disappeared, when there are no classes...only then ‘the state...ceases to exist,’ and ‘it becomes possible to speak of freedom.’”8 Since freedom to Marxists means no government at all, until the classless society is established freedom is an illusion. Lenin continues, “So long as the state exists, there is no freedom. When there is freedom, there will be no state.”9
Marxists believe “only communism makes the state absolutely unnecessary, for there is nobody to be suppressed...”10 Communism must be established worldwide in order for Marxists to consider their political ends achieved, and at that time in history, the state will wither away completely. If the state exists anywhere in the world, then classes still exist as a threat to a completely classless society.11
Marxist Politics – The New World Order
Marxist politics ends with the establishment of global communism as a new world order and the dissolution of the state – these are inevitable evolutionary steps. In the same sense that humans, societies, economies, and politics are evolving, so the new world order is an evolutionary advance over former nations, states, tribes, and other race or class distinctions.
Georgi Shakhnazarov, a top aide to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, writes, “Our epoch is the epoch of the revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into communist.”12 In tracing the beginnings of the revolution, he says, “the building of a new world order...was begun in October 1917 by revolutionary Russia, proclaiming socialist principles.”13 The establishment of world communism, the ultimate aim of Marxism, puts the means of production in the hands of the people, abolishes classes, abolishes the state, and leads to a world society of cooperation and consensus.
Marxist Politics – Conclusion
In the Marxist view of politics, all forms of government are ugly reflections of the fact that class antagonism exists. Marxists advocate a form of democracy they call the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as the first step toward socialism. When socialist society evolves into communism, class distinctions will no longer exist, which will eliminate the need for the state in any form.
Until world communism is a reality, however, conflict between socialist societies (whose states are in the process of withering away) and capitalist societies will be a reality. This conflict will include wars as an extension of class antagonism. Just as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat clash, so nations controlled by capitalists and nations controlled by socialists will clash. Thus, the establishment of global communism and the abolition of all forms of government are the unabashed goals of Marxists. To this end they are willing to suppress, persecute, and wage war against the enemy.
The political and military history of Marxism from the October Revolution of 1917 to the Tiananmen Square student uprising of 1989 is one of the most ruthless, efficient killing machines the world has ever witnessed. The death toll of this “scientific socialism” experiment has exceeded the 100 million mark, according to University of Hawaii professor R.J. Rummel, author of Death By Government. Rummel summarizes the period by saying it is “as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague.”14