Marx was born in a Jewish family, although his father did convert to protestantism for career purposes. In those times Jews were divided into “southern” and “northern”, and the difference between the two was so distinguished that it was even specified in the laws of revolutionary France. The first kind were educated European folk, the second were spherical hucksters from the Middle Ages. Marx’s family belonged to the former. Heinrich Marx was a patriot of Germany and even participated in uncovering some shady deals amongst other Jews. And despite the “Jewish mother” stereotype, Marx actually loved and respected his father more, and considered himself a German.
In school Marx mostly wrote rhymes trolling his classmates, in later years he became a co-chair of Trier Tavern Club drinking society, a post that required substantial alcohol consumption skills. He didn’t even dream of communism in those days, spending most of his time participating in brawls, breaking street lights, even bought himself a handgun, for which he almost went to prison. After school Marx went to study law in the University of Bonn. He got bored fast though and after a year transferred to the Berlin University, where instead of going to classes decides to self-educate, finishing 12 courses in 9 semesters. At this point Marx realizes that grown-up life is around the corner, gets his shit together, starts working on his PhD, planning to become a professor. But when Bruno Bauer gets canned for a non-PC by those times’ standards post about origins of Christianity, it becomes obvious that with his ideas Marx doesn’t have any prospects there.
He decides to become a journalist instead and gets a job in a low-budget opposition newspaper in Cologne, where he spends his time trolling people in power, exposing the dirt they committed under the cover of the laws they passed. Surprisingly, it turned out the authorities of independent German states didn’t appreciate his constructive criticism even a bit. They closed the newspaper, leading to Marx’s abrupt descent from the philosophical sky back to earth, where he wrote his manuscripts of 1844, raising for the first time the subject of alienation. Alienation during the Era of capitalism is when a hired worker due to economical need performs labor for a salary, but he doesn’t see a point in this everyday labor, doesn’t understand who needs it and for what purpose. Because of this he first stops giving a shit about his work, which he performs without any motivation, and later about anything else he does in his life. Alienated from his labor, he gives up on himself and everybody around, becoming a voiceless cog, crushed, emptied out and completely subdued by incomprehensible social force, which he himself helps to create.
“Because Marx enters into an essential dimension of history as he discovers this alienation, for that reason the Marxist view of history is superior to other views of history.”
Martin Heidegger. “Letter On Humanism”
In 1843 Marx left the Fatherland for Paris, where he met interesting people like Bakunin and Engels, who later became his sponsor and life-long friend. He already managed to get married, and frankly speaking he got very lucky. They got engaged when Karl was 18 and Jenny was 22, but got married only 7 years later. During all this time Jenny, who was notoriously beautiful, ignored propositions from very wealthy and influential men in favor of a poor student without any prospects.
In 1845 Marx got the boot from Paris, and had to move to Brussels, where he wrote his Theses on Feuerbach.
“Lenhen is down with some kind of fever. I can’t call a doctor since I don’t have any money for medicine. For the last 8-10 days my family was eating only bread and potatoes, and I don’t even know if I can get them today”
Marx asks for money
“If I got to start my life all over again I would do everything the same, except I never would have gotten married”
The extent of Marx’s poverty went down in history and deserves to be mentioned in more detail. Both Marx and his wife came from relatively privileged backgrounds. Jenny was a well-educated aristocrat (a baroness), her father was a civil servant, and it was he who introduced young Marx to socialist literature. Many years later Jenny will be handwriting and sending to Germany forbidden manuscripts while her stepbrother Prussian field marshal Ferdinand will intercept them. Jenny received a lot of silverware with Argyle Family Crest as her dowry, and one time Marx will get arrested because of it: more than plainly dressed he will try to pawn it.
By the time of his exile from Paris to Brussels he already was penniless, while working at the limit of exhaustion. He didn’t even have money for the move itself, Engels was borrowing from his friends, while Marx was selling his bedsheets. Truly if it wasn’t for the altruistic nature of Engels, Marx would have died of poverty much sooner.
Marx didn’t just enjoy giving lectures to the working class though, so in Brussels he fathers two more children. Soon he is forced to run back to Paris. In turbulent 1848 he returns to Germany, and while Engels joins the rebels fighting down south, Marx spends ALL of his money on the revolutionary newspaper, gets arrested, gets acquitted, is forced to run to Paris again with three children and a pregnant wife just to get kicked out of there as well. He ends up moving to London, where for six years he settles on Dean Street in one of the most notorious slums in the history of Victorian England. At the time London was swarmed by political refugees from the continent, many of whom for weeks were forced to live without food, roof over their head and without any means to bury their dead. Marx’s dwelling resembled a crack-house. Those houses were heated by burning coal, and in the next seven years four of Marx’s children died from respiratory illnesses. To bury Guido he pawns his winter coat, to bury Franziska he has to run around the city looking for money for three days while his daughter's corpse lies back at the house. His heart-breaking letters to relatives and friends are running over with tears and words like “credit”, “bill”, “pawn”.
“Let me describe to you just one day of this life, the way it was, and you will see that not many immigrants get to experience something of the sort… Since the day he was born he hasn’t slept through a single night. He sleeps two-three hours at most. He started getting bad cramps, so the poor child was hanging between death and his miserable little life the whole time. Because of that suffering he was sucking so hard that my breasts started to crack, and often blood from the wounds would get into his small trembling mouth. One day I was sitting with him like that, when the landlady showed up, demanding the 5 pounds we owed her for rent. Since we didn’t have the money to pay the bailiffs confiscated what little I had: the bed, the sheets, the clothes, even the cradle and some of the better toys of my little girls, while they cried their eyes out. They threaten to take everything we have left if we don’t come up with the rent in two hours. I am lying on the bare floor with my shivering from cold kids and my aching breasts.”
Jenny asks for money
“Marx lives in a foul and therefore cheapest neighborhood of London. He occupies two rooms… In the center of the dining room stands a large old-fashioned table covered with oilcloth, on top of it manuscripts, books, newspapers, also children’s toys, clouts and other Jenny’s sewing accessories. When you enter the room your eyes get clouded by smoke from coal and tobacco, so you just wander around like you are in hell until your eyes get used to it a little so you can start to discern objects.”
From police protocol
“I don’t think anybody ever has been writing about money while needing them so much”
They also had Helene Demuth living with them, who was a commoner and came to live with Westphalens when she was nine and kind of became part of the dowry. Marx loved playing chess with her, and one time they played so hard that she became pregnant. Luckily for him, Engels re-appeared just in time, and the child suddenly turned out to be his.
To feed Marx’s children Engels starts working at his father’s mill. Only in 1864 he gets a share, which he sells in 1869, and after that (20 years since the immigration) he is finally able to sustain Marx at a decent level. By that time Marx has already been writing the “Capital” for 10 years while periodically suffering from hunger, like many other members of the working class at that time. Sometimes he couldn’t go to the British Museum because he pawned his last coat, other times he didn’t have enough money to mail his writings to the newspaper where he worked. It wasn’t because he was financially stupid, it’s just that people didn’t have stable income in those times. Monthly salary became a norm of life only when marxism migrated from books to reality. Still Marx lived better than an average proletarian: spent his days in the British Museum Reading Room instead of working at a factory, left at 10, came back at 19, while an average worker was being hired for a single day. Getting hired for a week was considered huge luck.
Not many people know that Jenny was the censor of Marx’s literary style. Like all great philosophers Marx had a very peculiar way of thinking, which was reflected in a very particular, concentrated and therefore obscure and incomprehensible to regular jackoffs language, that needed to be translated to human dialect. Besides that, since his childhood Marx was afflicted with a bad case of cerebral sarcasm, which often showed even in his serious works. Jenny, who’s wit was strongly appreciated by none other than Heinrich Heine himself, was very serious about the subject. Stylistically the “Capital” is their joint work, Marx took her criticism seriously.
“Few days ago we were visited by that clown Edgar Bauer... His attempts at wit were so horrible, that I was close to fainting, and Karl literally, not metaphorically got sick.”
Jenny complains to Engels
Marx planned to devote the first volume to Sir Charles Darwin, because he did for the exact science, what Marx felt he did for the study of society and culture. But Englishman Darwyn didn’t get the dialectic method, didn’t manage a book on political economy, sidestepped politics all his life and asked Marx in a personal letter to not devote the “Capital” to him, so Marx had no choice but to appease the noble sir. By the way, talkers like to talk about how the economics changed so much in the last 150 years, that it’s pointless to read Marx today, not understanding that it’s the same as saying that Darwyn is outdated because dinosaurs and mammoths died out millions of years ago.
In 1864 Wolff died, leaving Marx his main inheritor. Marx devotes the first volume of the “Capital” to him, while working on newspaper articles during the day, and on the manuscript during the night. Fanatically diligent 16-hour a day work even led to him fainting in the museum one time. Being exceptionally strong from birth he starts falling apart by his fifties, due to sedentary lifestyle, not spending much time outside in fresh air, smoking tobacco. He starts getting furuncles on his ass, forcing him to write the “Capital” while standing. His liver disease gets worse and Marx can’t write at all anymore, but still he keeps dictating the manuscript while lying down.
The work really stopped only when Engels gifted him 50 bottles of wine for medicinal purposes. For 1867 the “Capital” was an equivalent of discovering electricity in physics, but the first edition revealed something unexpected: all the readers can be divided into two categories: the first don’t get it, the second don’t give a fuck. Most letters he got came from the businessmen, who took the book to be some kind of a manual for making money. While in reality the “Capital” is not a testament, it is a scientific study, and to understand it without necessary background would be just as easy as a study on quantum mechanics.
Marx kept working on the second, third and fourth volumes, but he never got to finish them. The work front kept growing due to the marxist scientific method itself: Marx had to and was trying to read everything that was written on the subjects before him. During this process he naturally ended with more questions, that led to more questions, and then more until he could finally say to himself that he fully understood the subject.
In 1881 Jenny died, and Marx broke inside. The last year and a half of his life he barely works, leaving out his days in deep depression.
“... old communist Phillipp Becker… gifted me from Marx himself with a first volume of his just published study, an extremely important one, scientific, deep even if a bit abstract, name “Capital”. I made a bad mistake at the time: I forgot to write a thank-you letter to Marx”
Marx didn’t live to hear the words of recognition, instead he witnessed the dissolution of the International he devoted his life to. His funeral was attended by 11 people. The only inheritance he left was debts: financial and moral. Called Lassalle a yid, had a lisp.
“If facts contradict my theory, so much the worse for the facts.”
Pseudo-quote by Hegel
“During my illness I read all of Hegel and most of his students”
Young Marx fucking around in the University
“...in one of Marx’s old notebooks I found 11 theses on Feuerbach, which are printed as the introduction. These are just hastily sketched notes that demanded further development and were not intended for print. “
The main philosophical problem at the time was Hegel's seemingly beautiful system, which for some reason contradicted the method leading to it. To put it simpler, the Germans suddenly realized that in the spherical logic in a vacuum, which is de-facto hegelianism, every conclusion is logical. But let’s take a step back.
In his youth Marx wanted to become a professor, deeply studied history, trying to make his thesis into “just like Hegel’s, but better”. At the same time he savagely mocked his contemporaries, but soon he got bored with that and gave creative birth to his “theses on Feuerbach”, the first of them laid the foundation for basically his entire philosophy.
“The main defect of all hitherto-existing materialism — that of Feuerbach included — is that the Object, actuality, sensuousness, are conceived only in the form of the object, or of contemplation, but not as human sensuous activity, practice, not subjectively.”
That literally means the following: common materialists like Democritus, Toland or Feuerbach saw real world objects as something separate from themselves - objective. All they could do was look at them and argue - contemplate. The division on contemplative activity and practical activity already existed before Marx. All he says in the first thesis is that it’s not the intellectual activity - contemplation, but the sensory activity - practice, that creates the image of the world inside your head.
Men generation after generation create the image of the world themselves. But not through passive attention to it, like animals do, quite the opposite, from the beginning of mankind he actively, practically, sensorially, subjectively changes the world, and only because of that he empirically faces its laws and absorbs them with his brain. Man creates the Matrix around him, because he creates the world. And trying to learn it while contemplating the phenomena of some objective incomprehensible world, like philosophers do, is like trying to find a hidden meaning in an article you wrote yourself.
Contrary to “vulgar” materialists, Marx doesn’t start with superiority of nature (matter) over mind (consciousness), he graduates to it. For him the beginning of a man and entire humanity is in a transformative act towards an object with hands and feet (practice). Before Marx the idea was that a man thinks only during meditative reflections, but when he builds a chair, he’s not thinking, and definitely not learning. Hegel indirectly, and Marx after him thought otherwise: it is the transformative objective manual act that contains both ideal (contemplated meaning) and material (sensory, the hand) in a yet joint state. That act forced a brainless caveman to create a copy of itself (the idea and purpose behind it) in his brain, gave him food for thought. It led to the conception of human culture, a glimpse through which creates the entire perspective and sensation of nature.
“The entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the creation of man through human labor, nothing but the emergence of nature for man…”
“We know only a single science, the science of history”
Core concept in two quotes
Before Marx philosophers had to ask “Why is that?” like children, instead of asking “What is it for?” like grown-ups. Practice, transformation are the notions of the same level as “life” and “matter”, with them begins what sets us apart from other organisms and stones. So, right here to everybody’s surprise the “materialism vs idealism” holy war ended forever, since both are basically two parts of one whole. The ideal defines the image of nature, like idealists say, but is itself at the same time derived from nature, like the materialists say. The win is that Marx was the first to describe the nature of consciousness scientifically without any mysticism and naive naturalism.
Today the thesis about the role of labor in the transition from ape to man can be considered conditionally proven (it’s arguable whether to consider australopithecus an ape, but it definitely applies to habilises), which means Marx’s conclusions don’t contradict “real” science. In philosophical terms, practice is considered by Marx to be subject-substance. To put it even simpler, as paradoxically as that might sound, but the closest concept to a transformative act would be “God - the Creator”, who made the world out of nothing (although to compare the two would be like comparing astrology to astrophysics).
It is worth talking a little more about the relationship between idealism and science, to better understand the gravity of Marx’s crime. Ancient materialists loved practice, and by default believed in the primacy of nature over mind. In contrast, ancient idealists loved theory, and asked a freshly-caught materialist with a cunning glint in their eyes: here are two chairs, how do you know there are actually two of them? They were hinting to that naive man, that their amount isn’t written on the chairs, you can’t derive it from the number of its atoms, which means that not only all of his qualities, numbers, ideas are not dependent on nature, but quite the opposite. Somewhere in the spherical vacuum beyond time and space exist spherical horses, axioms, mathematical laws, beauty and kindness, the human souls themselves. And all the real objects, quite obviously, depend on them. The position of idealists was simply more logical. And all of that must have had a reason, what made the truth true, and everything else not true, some spherical truth in itself. Before Marx it was simply impossible to explain consciousness without mysticism, theology, etc. One of the greatest scientists Leonhard Euler wasn’t being facetious when he tried to prove the existence of God to atheist Diderot saying “a squared plus b squared equals c squared, therefore God exists.”
5 cents about the opposition
Of course his contemporaries-idealists didn’t make him wait for a symmetrical response. They united idealism and materialism, by, in their own fashion, repeating Fichte, who in his own fashion repeated Kant, who in his own fashion repeated Berkeley and Budda: “There is no object without subject, the entire Universe is a creation of mind.” It doesn’t deserve any further discussion other than a quote by Plekhanov: “When the Earth was inhabited by dinosaurs, was it the archaeopteryx’s mind that dedicated the laws of nature?”.
Marx’s accomplishment is in discovering such a scientific method that made questions like “theory or practice”, “system or experiment” absurd even in humanities, not just natural sciences. By reinventing hegelianism, marxism becomes the only scientific method of thinking = source of scientific concepts. Many, like the successors of analytical positivists and philosophers of mind, like and respect scientific approach to study, but don’t have any particular method for extrapolating scientific concepts of thinking, forced instead to interpret interpretations and expose each other in talking about words. Trying to briefly explain it is like trying to show how Einstein discovered relativity in five minutes. Anyway it all boils down to Hume, Kant and Hegel.
Long story short, Marx turned Hegel’s dialectics upside down, and here’s how. For Hegel any studied phenomenon is based on unity of opposing forces, which constantly develop, improve and because of this perpetual creative struggle are necessary part of this world, simply according to the laws of divine dialectic logic. For Marx - according to the very nature of the matter itself, that a man copies in his brain as dialectic logic. That’s why his scientific method is called materialist dialectics.
A canonic example would be two legs, two wings, man and woman, DNA’s double helix, etc. That’s why nor Hegel nor Marx were never satisfied with simple answers like a diagram, Maslow's pyramid, or even a mathematical model, instead they looked for a dialectic contradiction that would predefine this diagram or model (like Heraclitus who told pythagoreanists, that they express pure harmony with numbers, but fail to see the secret behind, that actually creates this harmony).
Thanks to him science and religion/philosophy/ideology/demagogy finally went their separate ways, allowing scientists to not simply ignore creationists but to make a logical argument for them to get the fuck out.
“The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.”
For a marxist-scientist “modern philosophy” means the same as “modern theology”. If men were created by labor, and the manual transformative action towards objects defines what thinking will be like, then the truth isn’t simply something predefined from the first day of the Universe. What is true in general and what is true in a particular application is established in practice first, and only after that in axioms, models, calculations and arguments, which only reflect and express, are being reflected and expressed. The reason for scientific progress lies not simply in the genius of Newtons and Darwyns, which Ancient Greece was already full of, but also in the practical demand for this knowledge and their development. The truth isn’t learned, it is manufactured. It is created and then re-created by every man every time he transforms the world around him. The laws of logic and math are the result of millions of iterations of the same actions of transforming nature and their reflections between the ears. Cognition and humankind itself do not exist for the truth, like in religion or philosophy of Aristotle or Hegel, but for life itself, for transformation, actions, practice, because that’s where it is born for that specific purpose. This philosophical approach, that leaves philosophy locked in the closet, was named dialectical materialism.
Dialectic materialism drew a dividing line between history of philosophy and history without philosophy. Before it the society was thought to live by some absolute laws, like in physics or chemistry, after - it became obvious that everything in the universe works more like in biology, where one species replaces another because it creates a new stage from the old, and starts living according to new laws while using the old laws to its benefit. Recent curious discovery that the laws of physics could vary in the space-time continuum, wouldn’t seem so unbelievable to a dialectical materialist. While non-dialectical materialists are cursed to reinvent the wheel for the n-th time, since they despise Marx and Hegel so much.
It means that scientific truth in any science is historically-specific (at a certain stage in the development of society, psychic, galaxy, universe), not because we are infinitely approaching some absolute truth, but because the society recreates the truth on every step in its progression. For example, Engels once said that life is the mode of existence of protein bodies, but today we know about autocatalytic reactions. So from his time he was speaking the truth, but from our time he’s only conditionally right.
The scientific method
Marx never got tired of mocking the rapidly spreading after Hegel enthusiasts to divide something in three stages or four aspects. And what’s more important is that he did it methodically: in logical, mathematical and geometrical detail, unlike poets and pseudo-scientists. For example: sexual selection wants what a female wants, sexual selection wants want male wants. So what does sexual selection want?
Hegel answered simply: the victory will be behind the most adequate to the laws of nature variant, i.e. the most logical. Each aspect of reality and each action have their “on one hand” and “on the other hand” factors, and it is the one that is more adequate to the world’s mind that ends up winning, the one that more reasonably contemplates this world.
Hegel, for whom dialectic contradictions exist in God’s mind, finds a way out of two wrong choices inside his mind, critically, through recognizing the contradiction (“contradiction is the criterion of truth”). Marx’s novelty is that the contradiction exists in life itself, and therefore a way out is through destroying or transforming it IRL, with actions, practically (“practice is the criterion of truth”). And only post factum it is declared to be logical and rational.
Music defines its audience, and a listener chooses his music. You have to work in order to eat, and you have to eat in order to work. This contradictory loop was forever, and never has a beginning. Marx and Hegel both tell us that life develops through these contradictions. The difference is that for Hegel the reference conceivable circle, a particular instance of which every other circle would be, exists because of a mystical reason in the primordial timeless spherical vacuum, constituting the axis and the essence of the matter (its opposite), that’s why Hegel is a dialectical idealist. And for Marx this dialectical circle comes from matter itself, it is a drawing of the material contradictions and the contradictoriness of matter itself on a human’s brain, made by the hand of a painter-man. That’s why Marx is a dialectical materialist.
The material reason why a man has drawn them and continues to do so is revolution in relation to nature, meaning manufacturing of things. The common purpose for development of both ape’s hand and stone chisel is transformation of nature. For the same reason both social conscience (culture) and social environment (circumstances) develop only together through the same paradoxical contradictions, whose basis is transformation of nature. “Revolutionary practice” is the alpha and omega of humankind, it is the engine of everything big and small, while evolution is simply the inertia, just the unfolding of the advantages on a way to the next revolution. Just like life itself began from a paradoxical breakthrough out of inanimate nature, in the same manner the history of humankind began from a revolutionary breakthrough from the laws of animal life - manufacturing of things.
“Revolutions are the locomotives of history”
“With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations, a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the material conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophical – in short ideological – forms in which men become conscious of the conflict and fight it out… Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness.”
The starting point of this method is called “critique of ideology”: Marx tells us “forget everything you’ve been taught”, words are only words. You can logically prove absolutely anything, multiple times over, which is exactly what philosophers, believers and unbelievers, politicians and economists do. Hegel over here is trying to comprehend the mind of God in order to marry contradictions inside of something higher and brighter and more spiritual, which in itself gives plenty of space for speculations, while you should be doing quite the opposite - push the contradiction to its limit, to total absurdity, dissect it like a pathologist and look closely what forms the basis of its life, what’s essential to its survival, what makes it transform. For Marx behind every dialectic contradiction hides much more alive and interesting reality.
To put it simpler, marxism has no room for dogmas, none. Dogmas make ideology, and ideology has to be deconstructed into actions - critiqued, the grain should be separated from the chaff in order to make a step forward - change the world.
“Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.”
By peeling ideology layer after layer you can with scientific certainty tell more about a man or even entire society, than they know about themselves, and you don’t even need to ask them any questions. This approach to studying human history was named “historical materialism”. Historical materialism is a school of humanities that denies humanities. For historical materialism a human is an ape with a hammer, AR-15 and a scalpel, and also rationally cognisable spirituality. A correctly organized study of humans and their unique as snowflakes personalities isn’t any different from any exact science.
It doesn’t at all mean that people are by definition brainless puppets. Quite the opposite, but not while they consciously subdue themselves to the social machine or don’t understand its rules. Even the wildest of perversions and weirdest acts will appear strictly logical , if you look at them from a practical perspective.
When all words about words have been incinerated, only then you can start the specifically-historical study itself. And the first thing you need to do is find the most basic internal contradiction of the studied object. For example, in modern production the most basic atom is a commodity. The entire world capital was built step by step out of a commodity's contradictory relation between its practical usefulness and its market value, which you can read about in the “Capital”. For a language this atom is a phoneme. For psychic - a subjective image of an act. For a living organism this atom is a cell. You just have to analyze historically and logically the first form of an object in scientific terms. A single-cell organism and the most complex daphnia both live between the same rock and a hard place: on one hand it needs to repeat inherited reactions inside itself, on the other hand it needs to change them to adapt to a changing surrounding. So to repeat or to change? The creative, qualitative, revolutionary solution to this material contradiction is called adaptation, or on the scale of billions of years - evolution.
For all living organisms the way out of internal contradictions, i.e. adaptation, totally depends on external changes: adaptation is always passive, never has a purpose, always depends on the Great Random and is basically a mechanism of dealing with it. Transformative object act (practice) is that same adaptation to nature, that same way of simultaneously repeating and changing because of external changes, only paradoxical. By the power of the Great Random first ape-men started changing external conditions around them, breaking rocks with other rocks, and through this uninherited act formed in their heads (in the morphology of the brain) a skill to break rocks with other rocks, the purpose of this act, an idea of hardness, the Culture (system of meanings) and the Truth (meaning of all meanings). They learned to literally predict the natural progression of events and to perform them artificially. To eat with a spoon and to evacuate in the toilet, to adapt to nature paradoxically, from within themselves, actively: rationally, purposefully, freely - like a Homo sapiens.
“Freedom is learned necessity”
Spinoza, Hegel, Marx
“Freedom is central problem of psychology”
Using this materialistic dialectical method, starting with empirical facts a scientist breaks down and learns the subject in terms independent from his personal experience, without fantasies and guessing, using 100% of available material accumulated to this day. This method doesn’t see any difference between humanities and exact sciences (both are parts of the same natural historical process), and its predictive capability isn’t any different that math’s ability to predict physical phenomena.
It means that a real scientist should not think about proof or words, but instead look at the material history of the studied object, starting with its first appearance in this world. Intellectuals who aren’t well familiar with the subject usually interpret it this way: “if it works, it means it's right”. But even people who built the ziggurats already knew that, and they didn’t even bother to prove the Pythagorean theorem. If it worked, they kept building it this way, and why did it work… doesn’t matter, practice is the criterion of truth. In this sense Marx’s aphorism extends Hegel’s aphorism and means this: all the answers to the problem have already been discovered, just read the specific historic literature and you will see everything step by step. If Hegel’s discourse is pure beautifully logical deduction not based on concrete research, then Marx’s discourse is a study of how the world materialistically “deduced” itself.
“Form doesn’t have any value without content”
Marx sends his regards to Hegel
Putting the question this way doesn’t leave room for any deeper meanings and philosophical schizophasia: all the different scientific fields are now directed to their specific researchers, while ideology is replaced by transformation of society in accordance with science, scientific socialism, which from within capitalism is the same as scientific theory of revolution, science - not utopia. If for Hegel philosophy was the absolute king of all other sciences, now all that’s left of it is a scientific method, which allows turning any unstudied until now nonsense into another ordinary specific and what’s important applied science, whose purpose is to improve society’s way of life. Philosophy finally killed itself, and what was left in it’s place was a study about the harm of formalism in scientific theoretical thinking - dialectic logic.
For Marx or any competent marxist like Lenin, extremes are a dead end, not a way out, while middle ground exists only in words. But it is through comprehension of extremes we reach the most correct and logical answer to a question - extrapolate the answer from the question itself.
To think dialectically means to know how to identify, create and erase such real contradictions, in which the opposites amplify each other, specifically because they constantly fight and use each other. For example, a scientist spends his entire life writing articles that another scientist spends his life refuting. Or a journalist who is trying to expose a politician, but gives him valuable PR instead, and at the same time without this politician the journalist himself would be unnecessary. The culture of dialectic thinking is what allows us to spend less time on this bullshit and spend more time outside this closed loop.
There’s no point to go any deeper into the subject, for self-education read Hegel’s “Propaedeutic”, “Phenomenology”, “Science of Logic” and study the dialectics of scientific thinking. In a letter to Dietzgen Marx said that he wanted to write his own “Dialectics” instead of dull Hegel’s books, so that any regular jackoff could understand its essence, but only after the “Capital”. Because anybody can be a communist, but to become a marxist means to understand his logical method.
Sometimes Marx is mistakenly interpreted this way: economy and circumstances define thinking, just like an algorytm defines a machine’s work process, but actually it was Marx who buried this point of view. Centuries before him there were people who were saying that a man isn’t a soul, created by God, but was merely a product of circumstances. An Arab Ibn Khaldun 500 years before Marx said that everything boils down to banal economic relations.
“The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself” (preferably under Robert Owen)
If circumstances make men, and men create new circumstances, that in turn create new men, then who raised the first men, who taught them to change circumstances? Where does freedom of choice come from, and everything else that isn’t made according to old rules?
“The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.”
For Marx the main and governing part of the social machine, from the smallest domestic to the most heroic acts, is what’s between the seat and the steering wheel. But it’s important to understand that since any ideological, philosophical, religious or scientific problem has its final cause in revolutionary practice, it can only be finally solved there and only there. You don’t need to seek harmony with the world around you anymore, you don’t need to create a beautiful scheme of women’s behavior (another “ideology”) and expect that women’s behavior will finally fit it. Just do what is already objectively happening. What you can and should do is raise a contradictory definition of womanhood from previously described material contradictions, and you will se that there is no such thing as womanhood at all, instead there’s a material world, where a man is means for woman’s survival and woman is means for man’s. This contradiction is in nature itself, it forces them both to better themselves or become outcasts, and ask the same of their “means”. It is the internal mechanism of the development of humankind, without which there’s no renovation of it in time.
“If you love without evoking love in return - that is, if your act of loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent— a misfortune.”
In hegelian terms it is called “the opposites simultaneously cancel each other”. And while moralists-idealists complain about the imperfections of this world, look for their ideal second half and try to improve relationships, instead of working on improving themselves and learning the world as it is, the development through real existing contradictions rejects them as ecstatic intellectuals (nerds). They don’t want to be needed, so nobody needs them. To summarize: “don’t argue, just do”, learn from all the archetypal alphas, who criticize by practice.
“The great appear great to us because we are on our knees”
This leads to the well-known Marx’s conclusion:
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”
To solve a problem it is not enough to understand it, you have to break the material contradiction that creates it. Meaning “don’t try to understand from outside, instead learn and prove by actions” - which is important to understand for all the omegas of this world. It’s not enough to fight the dogmas in your head, you have to fight the way of life that complements these dogmas.
And concerning any other methods of scientific study, without the acceptance of materialism, emergence of mind out of practice, critique of ideology and dialectic thinking there is no scientific study. In the beginning of the 20th century there were many people who disagreed with all four. Today the majority of scientists acknowledge the first three and pause at the fourth - which kind of gives you an idea who laughs at whom.
“Feuerbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyses belongs to a particular form of society.”
“All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.”
Finally a couple words on the worldview this method creates. Marxism doesn’t contradict Hegel, Plato, catholicism, taoism, tantric sex, primordial fetishism or existance of mana. It consumes them, digests and expels what’s left where it belongs. Only that, which is related to the real material transformation of the world, to practice, adds any meaning to a human life, because the practice itself is what defines the meaning: and it should only serve the humankind itself, because it is not outside this world, like christian God, but in the men themselves. This thought is really old and you can comprehend it free of charge here. Though it is of course a naive oversimplification, because for Marx everything that is important comes into life through brutal struggle, violently. Everything that is true takes its right to live. The meaning is in creating, in protection and apologia of those who create, and even the world revolution is not a mutiny of believers in the bright future without bourgeoisie, it’s an extreme measure of self-defense against the property-holding cannibals.
The meaning of life itself according to Marx is really simple, compared to all the world’s religions, philosophies and ideologies, in which some “truth” precedes the action itself. Before his birth and after his death and during his life a man lives primarily in his actions, and only in them he can live eternally. The more he participates in real life, the more he learns, understands, the more objective and subjective meaning his life has. Unlike philosophers, mystics and gurus, for Marx these are not parallel worlds. The more a man knows and understands, the more interesting and pleasant the life seems to him, and the life itself is the more interesting, the smarter and freer are people surrounding him.
If we were to translate marxism to the language of religion for comparison it would go like this: we all live inside a dream of an almighty God, and everything around us is his thoughts. Why is he sleeping? We don’t know yet, but year after year his thoughts become brighter and more astute, the dream weakens, and the thoughts will soon turn towards reality, transform it, and then the almighty God will tell us what happened before the dream began. It is obvious, that the only thing in life that has meaning, is what leads towards the awakening. So, “God’s thoughts” are forms of human acts, the awakening is the world revolution, and the almighty God is the community of people without class contradictions.
“It is the answer to the main question of history, and it knows that it is the answer.”
Marx about Communism
The source of his almightiness is a wholesome man, not mutilated by alienation from surrounding people, nature and himself.
“Let us assume man to be man and his relation to the world to be a human one. Then love can only be exchanged for love, trust for trust, etc. If you wish to influence other people you must be a person who really has a stimulating and encouraging effect upon others.
“Marx's concept touches here the Kantian principle that man must always be an end in himself, and never a means to an end. But he amplifies this principle by stating that man's human essence must never become a means for individual existence.”
“If a man labors only for himself he can probably become a great scientist, thinker or poet, but he will never become a great truly complete human being”
17-year old Marx writes a school essay about his future profession
This new man is opposite to a previous alienated one, socialized, social, a communist. Not caged inside the schizophrenic scope of his petty unsolvable philistine problems, but instead a kind for whom personal grudges, revenge, dickmeasuring and sexual jealousy are insignifact in comparison to much more important matters. He who never knew alienation never had to overcome it (“original sin”, “karmically-conditioned ignorance”, etc.) and he wouldn’t care for the old idealistic fairy tale about the imperfection of the diagnostic methods of measuring happiness, i.e. “the problem is not the world, it’s you”.
You can say that the socialized man of the future will be “saint”, “enlightened” and “wise” from the moment he is born, because dilemmas like “anyhow right need or my bad want” will never exist in his life since there would be no ideology and class society to invent them. A conscious revolutionary (not a political rebel “for all the good”, but an innovator in any field, who lives and labors to destroy everything obsolete in its origin, i.e. the class society itself) is an attempt to socialize yourself, escape from the oppressive alienation right here right now, and between a suicide and a slow suicide in the cacoon of a spectator and a regular jackoff he choses his own one meaningful life.
In the end Marx just believes in practice and challenges anybody who believes in something else to disprove it… in practice. De-facto even the most twisted of them acknowledge practice, since they somehow make a living. This is, by the way, where the epic Lenin’s meme comes from - “the Marxian doctrine is omnipotent because it is true”, practice proves itself, it is the only kind of argument that doesn’t give a fuck whether the opponent agrees with it or even understands it. Thanks to thick-skulled intellectuals it has become a common understanding, that marxism is something purely economical and politicized up to its ass on top, while in reality marxism isn’t some set of moral, political or economical beliefs (ideology), but actions. Marxism is a method, which innovators use to predict and engineer revolutions.
Marx was 27 when he wrote these theses. What did you achieve at this age?
Marx’s socioeconomic theory
“This latent slavery in the family, though still very crude, is the first property, but even at this early stage it corresponds perfectly to the definition of modern economists who call it the power of disposing of the labour-power of others. Division of labor and private property are, moreover, identical expressions: in the one the same thing is affirmed with reference to activity as is affirmed in the other with reference to the product of the activity.”
The German Ideology
About a year after the theses Marx writes “The German Ideology”, where he continues doing what he loved doing most in his youth - dips his contemporaries into their own shit. Only this time he does it strictly methodically. The argumentation has too many letters, so let’s just mention the 3 main points:
Take religion for example. It will come as a revelation for many commies that propaganda of atheism was never amongst Marx’s goals, even though every enlightener before him thought that you just have to open people’s eyes and religion will disappear on its own. They even tried to start a Cult of Reason. But if you accept that if religion is a product of the way of life, then it isn’t an illusion, but a part of real life itself and you can’t just cancel it separately. You can argue against it if you want, but it is absolutely pointless.
What it means is you have to look deeper, where its roots are, and remove not even them, but the ground from under them. This is what sets marxists apart from some kind of catholics or any other ideologists, which spent centuries frying everybody who disagreed with them to a crisp. At the same time Marx dissects a few known in certain circles philosophers, showing what they are saying, and what is speaking through them. He gets really excited and begins to forge the theoretical basis of his political economy in order to finally understand what everything depends on, so that he can change everything altogether.
By that time he had already moved to London and got to enjoy all the pleasantness of living in a working neighborhood, burying four children and living amongst those who were born in poverty and spent their entire lives filing gears. Engels was blunt when he wrote that the English working class were intellectually and morally dehumanized animals, and it was with them that Marx planned to build communism!
In short, his thought process went something like this:
Even if Marx decided to whisper about it in a thickass book, there would still be found people willing to die for it. For example, Wolff , to whom Marx dedicated first volume of the “Capital”, was a son of a serf and spent all of his life preaching in the slums, and there were becoming more and more Wolffs like that across Europe simply because of the industrial progress. More than that, every ten years or so a crisis happened, when vast masses of people found themselves without work or a roof over their heads. For the revolutionaries of his time Marx was kind of like a prophet amongst clowns, designing steam guillotines for beheading aristocrats on industrial scale (sic!) and printing pamphlets about the benefits of desertion.
But first he had to sort out the theoretical basis of political economy, which wasn’t particularly consistent at the time. The typical question that haunted the economists at the time was: how is it possible that the invisible hand makes you sell something for its value, but the seller still gains profit? To answer that question Marx had to conjure up the first scientific theory of wages and the first scientific theory of value - labor theory of value. Let’s not waste daylight and jump straight to conclusions:
“... what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who is power over the clever not more clever than the clever?”
Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
After these arguments, a few stacks of economic textbooks found themselves on the way to the incinerator, but the fun had only just begun. Human labor itself can be viewed as a specific kind of wealth, and it does not belong to the worker himself. He doesn’t sell to his employer the result of his labor, he simply lets him use his skills and his health for a certain period of time. Labor is a process of consumption of a certain kind of commodity offered by the un-employed - workforce. Now we can answer the above question: the owner gains profit by consuming the workforce, through exploitation. For the first X hours the worker produces what he will get back in wages, and the rest Y hours he labors for free.
When you buy a pop tart for money, you are really buying a little time of life for your body. To make this pop tart that will extend your pointless life for a while a bunch of people spent their labor and time. In exchange you give them money - a symbolic equivalent of your labor and time. But there are some people who get this equivalent of labor and time without spending any of their own labor and time, simply because they have a right of ownership for the place where you work. They buy the pop tart without paying for it with their labor, meaning they get it for free, or to be more specific, they get it at your expense. Their only problem is that they are not immortal.
At first glance it might seem that the employer pays the employee for his labor, but really it’s the employee who pays the employer to whip him up. Long time ago when the first capitalists of the heroic era were only starting up, that’s actually exactly how it was. But the more automated and organized the labor became the less need there was for the overseers.
So the capitalist gains profit from production and exploitation, while the sales (supply and demand) are simply the means for this gain. What the worker created, minus his wages, is surplus product. The value of this product is called surplus value, unpaid labor. From this unpaid labor grows the entire capital, it supports the life of all the unproductive classes of society, from the capitalist to a school teacher, who don’t create anything material, it is destroyed during wars and is used to maintain the army, government, politicians, cops. And what’s most interesting, it doesn’t work any way, other than by creating the rich and the poor, simply because it needs people who are willing and able to sell themselves, read: personally free but without capital.
It is important to understand what the hell is proletariat, since it’s not as obvious as it might seem. There’s hired management like Brandon and his administration. There’s the working class that creates surplus product somewhere in the manufacturing sector. Your therapist and yoga instructor don’t actually belong to the working class, while an engineer at a factory does, even though he works with his head instead of his hands. Proletariat are such representatives of the working class, that completely lack any lucrative property, meaning any other source of income, except the salary. They are the most vulnerable and therefore economically profitable class. They don’t have a garden, they don’t uber at night and don’t live off welfare - without work they will die. In the modern day USA the percentage of proletariat inside the working class is negligible and is mostly represented by freshly arrived illegal immigrants. The “proletariat” is not the 99% of the population and is not some noble title, like the commies think, it’s a long-lasting punishment, a tragedy, a curse. It is an oozing sore of a capitalist society, proletariat is the cancer without gender or nationality. Despite the fact that the product they create builds the foundation of everything and feeds everybody, they stand themselves on the edge of a cliff for every day of their life, however it is, without illusions. In the times of crisis they are the first to suffer and rebel - not for some greater justice, but simply to survive.
And so, inside of a free market each individual bourgeois simply cannot, even if he sees how immoral it is, to stop exploiting. The only true goal of capitalism and the bourgeoisie becomes the augmentation of the capital itself at any cost, while everything else (animals, people, cultural heritage, traditions, mentality, state, planet, bourgeoisie itself) ends up as resources, means. The capital controls them in a much more real way, than imaginary God. The bourgeois keeps expanding the quantity and quality of production without any restraint, while simultaneously multiplying the proletariat in exponential proportion, but not because he is trying to feed or clothe someone. It’s actually quite the opposite, since a poorer person agrees to work for lesser wages, meaning work more hours for free. Due to competition the bourgeoisie gets smaller, while the proletariat gets angrier and more conscious. Technological advances combine it into a single global organism, controlled by hired management, and developed by hired scientists and engineers. The more knowledge they materialize in the machines and relations, the more organized and productive this single organism becomes, the lesser fraction of the surplus value comes from the exploitation of labor and the bigger - from the integration of new knowledge. By the way, those interested in the subject of knowledge economy and post-industrial society might find it useful reading the 10th chapter of economic manuscripts of 1857-1858.
Until finally one day, when another cyclic crysis for the n-th time brings the proletariat to realization, that those greedy cynical and completely unrelated to actual production three and a half cannibals had their way for far too long, they finally shred their masters to pieces and build a new world of free labor and public property - communism. What was going to follow Marx didn’t say, because he died.
“The only novel part of what I did, was proving the following: 1) the existence of classes is connected to a certain phase in the development of production, 2) the class struggle inevitably to the dictatorship of proletariat, 3) this dictatorship is only a transition towards the elimination of classes and a classless society”
Letters to Weydemeyer. March 5th, 1852.
“He took part in both the French and the German revolutions of 1848, but the reaction compelled him to seek refuge in England in 1849. He spent the rest of his life, with a few brief intervals, in London, troubled by poverty, illness, and the deaths of children, but nevertheless indefatigably writing and amassing knowledge. The stimulus to his work was always the hope of the social revolution, if not in his lifetime, then in some not very distant future.”
Bertrand Russell. The History of Western Philosophy
Marx’s sociopolitical theory
It should be obvious by now that Marx wasn’t an economist, just as he wasn’t a theologist, nor wasn’t he a propagandist of atheism, nor politologist, nor anarchist, nor democrat nor anti-democrat. He didn’t offer the only true economic or political program, nor did he attempt to create one, because he wasn’t interested in ideology, words or even thoughts, he was interested in the critique of ideology, meaning the immediate actions behind it, which are inevitably expressed in words and in thoughts. He said it himself, that all that’s needed is to think what is the difference between political economy (knowledge at hand) and the critique of political economy (breaking it down to fundamentals and then…) He is not interested in economics, but in the causes of thought, which were laid through economic relations between labor and value, that's why the “Capital” isn’t so much economic or political study, as it is a study of the causes of thought.
To understand it fully one needs to thoroughly smoke Hegel and other Germans: Hegel has spirit comprehending its unity in the “Phenomenology of Spirit”, Marx has capital fulfilling its internal contradictoriness offline, while comprehending it in the “Capital”, Hegel has this happening through interaction of spherical forms of consciousness in a vacuum, Marx has it happening through materialized in real objects forms of consciousness of the people who created them and through their real relations in real exchange of commodities (it’s like thoughts and metabolism, but in mankind instead of a single man). Explaining this to an unprepared mind is like explaining category theory to a fourth-grader, but Marx never set himself a goal to explain anything to anybody. To put it simple, things are in essence inorganic extension of human organs, each thing has specifically for you its own meanings, you are relating to it in some ways, it tells you something, for things are embodied forms of human consciousness.
“...all that our analysis of the value of commodities has already told us, is already told to us by the linen itself, since it begins communicating with another commodity, the coat. Only it expresses its thoughts in the only language it is familiar with, the language of commodities.”
Talk to the commodity!
The point is that through these meanings and relations is how a man actually thinks, for daily he voluntarily-compulsively participates in commodity-money relations. If capitalism is the only life he knows, of course. To be more precise, men don’t think anything, it’s His Majesty Capital that thinks with men. Aka value, aka property. And the less you resist it personally, the less you actually live, as a free man.
It’s characteristic that Marx isn’t urging anybody to participate in politics, because everybody already participates in it as it is. He urges us to stop participating in it in the area of words and ideologies, and instead engage in actual deeds, for the purpose of which all these words and ideologies were made up in the first place. Marxism has absolutely nothing to do with speculations about justice either, for the lack of any eternal or forever proven truths, as in religions or philosophies. Even morals and duty begin from historicity and finiteness of capitalism - “everything is moral, that serves the course of liberation of the working class”.
There’s not enough keys on the keyboard to explain the “Capital” in its entirety, so let’s just mention the main commonly known theses that already became memes of their own:
“At best, pre-Marxist “sociology” and historiography brought forth an accumulation of raw facts, collected at random, and a description of individual aspects of the historical process. By examining the totality of opposing tendencies, by reducing them to precisely definable conditions of life and production of the various classes of individual aspects of the historical process. By examining the choice of a particular “dominant” idea or in its interpretation, and by revealing that, without exception, all ideas and all the various tendencies stem from the condition of the material forces of production, Marxism indicated the way to an all-embracing and comprehensive study of the process of the rise, development, and decline of socio-economic systems. People make their own history but what determines the motives of people, of the mass of people—i.e., what is the sum total of all these clashes in the mass of human societies? What are the objective conditions of production of material life that form the basis of all man’s historical activity? What is the law of development of these conditions? To all these Marx drew attention and indicated the way to a scientific study of history as a single process which, with all its immense variety and contradictoriness, is governed by definite laws… Marxism has provided the guidance —i.e., the theory of the class struggle—for the discovery of the laws governing this seeming maze and chaos.”
Lenin. A Brief Biographical Sketch With an Exposition of Marxism
“We should abolish law, and instead let our culture become the norms of the future society”
“For I doubt not, but if it had been a thing contrary to any man's right of dominion, or to the interest of men that have dominion, that the three angles of a triangle should be equal to two angles of a square, that doctrine should have been, if not disputed, yet by the burning of all books of geometry”
Thomas Hobbes, the founder of the social contract theory.
Natural sciences remain the only field of study where marxism didn’t leave its footprint after 150 years of existence in the mainstream, despite the fact that this field is overabundant with proof of marxism’s correctness. Some marxist even try to brush aside this matter, as if marxism wasn’t invented for exact sciences, only for humanities. Of course like always it comes from a lack of understanding of the history of the subject.
It is hard to argue that the marxist method was successfully applied in for example psychology. It is also hard to call this psychology a “liberal art”, because its calculations aren’t inferior to those of exact sciences. Nevertheless, marxism doesn’t seem to have left its mark in the exact sciences themselves, which surprises and confuses marxists and its critics. And again, it comes from a lack of understanding of the history of the subject.
To a surprise of many, Marx didn’t start his new day with Kant's categorical imperative or with current problems of modern science, but with the practical interests of the working class, i.e. people, whose lives the Capital daily processes into commodities and waste. He’s goal was to write an analog of “Phenomenology of Spirit” to scientifically prove that the foundation of our culture isn’t some spaghetti monster, but self-expanding value (capital), progression of which inevitably leads to abolition of the institute of property and liberation of the working class. Unfortunately he croaked before he could finish it. Didn’t have time to write his “Science of logic” either, because considered working on theory at the expense of practice to be academic onanism. And he wasn’t very concerned about it, because at his time any educated person already knew Hegel and Kant - the entire German mainstream was founded on them.
Marx wanted to become a professor, but somehow unwanted after they sacked Bauer, and for strictly political reasons there wasn’t a single marxist department chair in Germany during the entire 19th century. At the same time marxism was the only method, for which the words “dialectics” and “jibberish” didn’t become synonymous. In the end happened what you would expect to happen: hegelianism was ridiculed and mocked and finally ceased being understood. Marx himself considered it to be a natural course of things: scientific socialism is a direct successor to German classics, and bourgeois conformists and cravens, shielded from reality in their comfortable studies, will inevitably transcend from the real world to imaginary. What’s interesting, that’s exactly what happened: there was a total blank in German philosophy between 1840 and 1860, and after that the universities of the world’s first scientific nation became dominated by neokantianists and other interesting characters that cared about the scientific content of their studies less every day.
And what happened with time is what we still witness today: if somebody even wanted to get something useful out of Hegel, he wouldn’t be able to find anybody who truly understands him. And even if he solved that problem independently, he would still be forced to write, speak and think in a language that is adopted by the guild of conformists and cravens. Marx called it a “grave of science” and “academic form of deconstruction of theory”.
Even though 19th century scientists appreciated idealistic theories less every day, they didn’t rush to become mindless lab geeks and still actively studied philosophy if it was useful to them as a methodology of scientific study. It is for that hill marxism and positivism will continue their sci-pop battle until the end of capitalism. Engels hated the first positivism in Duhring, Lenin - the second in Bogdanov and Mach, Ilienkov - the third in Dubrovsky and Popper.
In short, a true marxist never goes to work for the universities, because he desires to change the world, instead of spending his life writing articles that are only read by a small circle of his peers. At the same time a naturalist, who thinks and speaks according to the rules of a guild of kinda scientists-conformists, can’t become a marxist. That’s why he opens Hegel, reads him once and closes forever.
“Marx died in London nearly forty years ago; the propaganda of his views has been going on for over half a century. It has spread over the whole earth and finds in nearly every country a small but enthusiastic following. It is a natural result of world-wide economic conditions. Everywhere it expresses the same limited ideas in the same distinctive phrasing. It is a cult, a world-wide international brotherhood. No one need learn Russian to study the ideas of Bolshevism. The enquirer will find them all in the London Plebs or the New York Liberator in exactly the same phrases as in the Russian Pravda. They hide nothing. They say everything. And just precisely what these Marxists write and say, so they attempt to do…
But Marx is for the Marxists merely an image and a symbol, and it is with the Marxist and not with Marx that we are now dealing. Few Marxists have read much of Das Kapital. The Marxist is very much the same sort of person in all modern communities, and I will confess that by my temperament and circumstances I have the very warmest sympathy for him. He adopts Marx as his prophet simply because he believes that Marx wrote of the class war, an implacable war of the employed against the employer, and that he prophesied a triumph for the employed person, a dictatorship of the world by the leaders of these liberated employed persons (dictatorship of the proletariat), and a Communist millennium arising out of that dictatorship. Now this doctrine and this prophecy have appealed in every country with extraordinary power to young persons, and particularly to young men of energy and imagination who have found themselves at the outset of life imperfectly educated, ill-equipped, and caught into hopeless wages slavery in our existing economic system. They realise in their own persons the social injustice, the stupid negligence, the colossal incivility of our system; they realise that they are insulted and sacrificed by it; and they devote themselves to break it and emancipate themselves from it. No insidious propaganda is needed to make such rebels; it is the faults of a system that half-educates and then enslaves them which have created the Communist movement wherever industrialism has developed. “
H. G. Wells. Russia in the shadows
“I think that one day our party due to helplessness and passiveness of all other parties will be forced to take power, so that at least someone will finally begin acting in the interests of revolution, however peculiar and petty bourgeois they will be; in that scenario under the pressure of the proletarian masses, bound by our own and to a certain degree falsely-interpreted and declared in the heat of political struggle printed statements and programs, we will be forced to conduct communist experiments and take leaps, that we know to be premature. With that we will lose our heads, and I hope only in the physical sense, - then the reaction will begin, and, before the world will be ready to give a historical evaluation to theses events, we will become considered not only monsters, which we wouldn’t care about, but also fools, which is much worse.”
“There has been a students' revolt in the German party. During 2 or 3 years a crowd of students, literati and other young déclassé bourgeois invaded the party, arriving just in time to take most of the editorial posts in the new papers that were then proliferating. In their usual fashion they regarded their bourgeois universities as socialist Saint-Cyrs entitling them to enter the party in the rank of officer, if not of general. These gentry all dabble in Marxism, albeit of the kind you were acquainted with in France ten years ago and of which Marx said: 'All I know is that I'm not a Marxist.' And he would doubtless say of these gentry what Heine said of his imitators: 'I sowed dragons and I reaped fleas.'”
Even Marx had to write “The great men of immigration”, where he unmasked the posers and tried to educate the ignorant, but still their numbers grew. Marx is generally respected by most anarchists, socialists, communists, and all of them most of the time only superficially familiar with his views, but still they love to put his face on their banners. Frankly, if you don’t want to become a victim of propaganda, second-hand sources and valuable opinions of the internet experts, all you need to do is read 10-page “principles”, the “Manifest”, power through the biography and of course the “Phenomenology” and the first volume of the “Capital”.
In the USSR
Soviet dialectical materialism was shat out of marxism in the 1930-s along with its three laws, that presumably explain everything in the world - nature, society and thinking:
Absolutely all of its theses copy the theses of marxism, which bred a whole plethora of freaks who are trying to find falsification or inconsistency in Stalin, and if not in Stalin, then in Lenin, and if not in Lenin, then in Marx. Seriously, how did this happen that the “bulletproof method” turned into sad scholasticism? Well, the mere attempt of searching for a discrepancy in words of an ideology is itself sad scholasticism, and that shows the lack of understanding of the problem. Letter by letter soviet books seemed to repeat marxism, but then again the Great Commandment didn’t change since the first century either, they were simply read by different people with different class interests.
The point of communism is co-management: “two heads are better than one”, “we planned, we executed”. The difference between Marx and all previous communists (christians, mazdakists etc.) is that based on his templates communism is impossible without super-technological manufacturing, cold fusion, nanobots and skynets, but how do we know that we advanced enough? Marx and Engels and Lenin were saying that there are no linear schemes here. Born in a feudal society Marx outlived the invention of a lightbulb by 9 years and was perfectly aware, that the technological conditions for communism are not met yet, but since life progresses through the struggle of opposites, then there’s no other way of social development except class struggle, anything else is regression. Or like Lifshitz said:
“Reproach ‘you shouldn’t have taken up arms’ should perhaps be directed to the single-cell organisms”
“Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks that it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation."
The more acute the class struggle, the more expensive the workforce becomes, the more reason to develop technologies that make it cheaper. And if the necessary technologies do not yet exist but the labor is already organized enough to take reigns into their own hands in the entire world (socialism), then they will somehow master the skynet with nanobots themselves without wasting resources on palaces and yachts for the bourgeoisie.
In real life, after the epic fail with the world revolution, communists found themselves in the countries that were either just entering capitalism or even pre-capitalist, which weren’t even a collective farm, instead they were small individual homesteads. Uniting millions of people into soviets didn’t give any results, since political interests of individual peasants didn’t extend farther than their crop fields, and the ideas of freedom, equality and self-governing amongst the fires of civil war were as appealing to them as a poster of a perspiring glass of beer to a man dying of thirst in the desert.
Communists didn’t give up and decided to build their own large-scale industrial manufacturing in a form of nationwide private corporation, but they were faced with a hard choice without choice: either dictatorship of educated minority with the attempt to expedite the transition of mass mentality from feudal to at least progressive-capitalist, or total democracy, demagogy and death. That’s how the idea of soviets died and the dictatorship of the Party amongst the ocean of peasants was born. By the way, the “dictatorship of real democrats”, which is a wet-dream of every modern neoliberal, is a plagiarism for selfish ends.
“Party apparatus takes over the party, central committee takes over the apparatus, and finally a dictator takes over the central committee”
Trotsky criticizes Lenin in 1904
De jure the reigns belonged to a democratic party, while de facto the labor in the USSR Private Corp. was controlled by “upper management”. Meaning even though on paper a small bunch of educated revolutionaries had monopolistic authority, in reality it belonged to people who commanded the workforce - the bureaucracy.
After Lenin’s death the revolutionaries attempted to preserve their monopoly on power at any cost and therefore they killed the reform of Rabkrin that Lenin pushed for. The first bolsheviks began to democratically and legitimately play populism against each other: the “Lenin Enrolment” began. Enrolling peasants and bureaucrats into their ranks, the bolsheviks passed the power to them de jure, while remaining the puppeteers. Little by little they continued to recruit the members of the intellectual majority until in 1927 the power was taken by the loyal to bureaucrats and peasants Stalin and Bukharin. The party of the majority legitimately and democratically took over the party of bolsheviks.
From now on the party membership required an invite from a moderator, and all who opposed received a ban, more often an indefinite one. The soviets became a mere decoration by 1936, and in 1937 everybody talking shit about the party of the majority was taken by this majority behind the shed and put down amid general rejoicing.
When modern day stalinists and trotskyists start whining about evil Khrushchev or Stalin who set the USSR down the path which ended at the bottom of the river, they show total lack of understanding of the history of the subject. USSR was embezzled to shreds by bureaucracy, which was appointed by Stalin, who was legitimately and democratically elected by millions of these same modern stalinists’ and trotskyists’ grandmas and grandpas, who were put into a position of voters but not equals by the first eight bolsheviks who killed the reform of Rabkrin.
From the books at hand, purely for the purpose of organizing the industrialization and with a consideration for local mentality, a set of rules is created: what is good and what is bad - meaning ideology, which Marx himself despised. “The History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks): Short Course” is written, a cult of Lenin is established. Everything that’s going on is named “socialism in one country”, since it’s kind of hard to call it a “dictatorship of proletariat” without the proletariat, and socialism is by definition what follows after the victory of the worldwide revolution.
As a part of typical ideology a typical philosophy is introduced. Philosophy-diamat from the start was designed to be a servant of the party ideology. A soviet philosopher was expected to acknowledge, believe and explain instead of act-transform. And this philosophy was paradoxically named “dialectic materialism”. In the future it led to endless arguments about who was a true-marxist and who was a poser. In accordance with centuries-old christian traditions, only things approved by the party would be considered dialectic materialism and everything else unorthodox heresy, with predictable consequences. Lifshitz responded to that: “I am a marxist communis”, hinting that Stalin didn’t consider himself stalinist, Lenin didn’t consider himself leninist, and Marx considered himself a materialist and dialectic-hegelianist instead of a marxist.
With rare exceptions, marxism was more like a tradition for soviet people, rather than something they understood personally. Overfilled with meanings and examples the “Capital” became for them a book, that you have to have on your shelf, but don’t actually have to read, kind of like a licensing agreement, which you scroll through without reading and click “I accept”. Marxism transformed in the heads of soviet erectuses according to the environment and became a dogma, a canon instead of a scientific method. It wasn't considered schizophasia saying “communist by convictions” (convictions are ideology, and communist is only ever a member of communist party) or even “marxist by convictions'' (convictions are ideology, and marxistis only ever he who understands the marxist scientific method). For a bunch of old-school marxists of the revolutionary era it sounded like a “mathematician by convictions” or “school teacher by convictions”, but they couldn’t do anything with the party of the intellectual majority.
Characteristically, the schism of the Second International into communists and social-democrats happened because the future communists wanted to build a party strictly around the scientific socialism, while all the other socialists (christians, right-wing social-democrats, national-socialists, Pilsudski, Mussolini and other Strassers) rejected the science in favor of their own personal ideas, i.e convictions, i.e. ideology. In the USSR in 1927 a very peculiar kind of socialists took power, a kind with scientific convictions. It is of course better than anti-scientific, but still you end up with lysenkoism.
“Idiots in general are extremely dangerous, and not simply because they are inevitably evil (good and evil are indifferent qualities in an idiot’s mind), but because they are impervious to reasoning and always force their way through, as if the road they happened to be on only belongs to them”
To be specific, there were only 2 (two) people in the entire USSR who de-facto understood marxism: Ilyenkov and Lifshitz, amongst a variety of clever enough people like Zinoviev and Shchedrovitsky, who in their youth sincerely considered themselves marxists, and later in their lives sincerely criticized him for things they made up about him in their own heads. The stumbling block was knowledge of the German classics from Kant to Hegel, who were forbidden to understand in an incorrect way. The philosophical faculty in USSR’s universities was considered political and offered higher scholarship benefits.
It led to the situation, where the closer science was to the holy scripts, the less science was actually left in it. Meanwhile the best advancements were made in practical sciences: archeology, psychology, pedagogy. No political, philosophical or sociological advances were made since the 20-s, just like not a single book was printed that could explain the essence of dialectics. The reason why Stalinism remained the peak, is that it caused the downfall - you can’t create anything new by following the rules, templates and canons, meaning in accordance with ideology, which Marx critiqued (shredded) for this exact reason instead of arguing with it. Figuratively speaking marxism and diamat are like a live person and a person on a picture, and in its core diamat is just a soviet version of positivism, which is primarily just a set of political dogmas, which, being dogmas, don’t work without sophistics. Of course not everybody in the USSR was happy about it, and smart people quickly found a point where the problem was obvious. But it's a different story, and those who are interested in the topic are welcome to read Ilienkov’s articles on the subject of “ideal”.
To summarize: marxism is a scientific method and a scientific theory of revolution, while diamat is a philosophy. Diamat = marxism - actions. You can read more on this subject in Korsch’s “Marxism and Philosophy”.
In US and EU
Global victories of the USSR raised interest to the subject amongst the western intellectuals and quite often regular jackoffs as well. The first - mostly thanks to the pre-war anti-stalinists and mainly Orwell (who by his own admission by the way described in “1984” the future of western capitalist society, not stalinist USSR) - got quickly disappointed, but soon found themselves new idols in Mao, Sartre, etc. It was accompanied by the “hippie” movement and student riots a la May 68.
At the same time western veterans of intellectual onanism produced a wave of muddy stinking shit, consisting of struggling with each other weird hybrids of marxism with freudism, existentialism, postmodernism, environmentalism, struggle for the rights of different minorities and animals, oppressed by capitalism. The only ones that really deserve reading are Adorno and Marcuse. And maybe Sartre if you can keep in your head an astute definition of existentialism by a badass soviet psychologist-marxist Vasily Davydov - “whiny truth”.
After the demise of the second world, the planet was once again divided into developed bright elfish west and uncouth, occupied by various savage untermenschen orcish east, that was put into the appropriate for all evil genupectoral position. Export of the manufacturing to China decapitated once almighty social-democrat unions, and it suddenly turned out the office plankton and freelancers aren’t very keen on fighting for their labor rights. In China itself, the most bourgeois country of the modern times, the unions took a very toothless position towards the government and the party. Under such pressure most marxists either mutated into tolerant social-democrats or migrated to the internets where they don’t pose any threat to the regime.
Recently it became obvious that all the cookies won in the cold war have been successfully eaten, and it’s time to go back to the good old system of pillage and swindling on the planetary scale. The cryses, the first since the period of bipolarity when all the overproduction was burned in the furnaces of the arms industry, came back the same as they were in the 19th century - increasingly devastating. All this led to the disappearance of the “golden billion”, which sent some shock waves amongst the office plankton and the creatives, ending with a few riots amongst the unemployed greek, portuguese, spanish, american, etc. youth, that had no effect on the increasing profit margins of the capitalists. And since the first-world economies continue to parasite on the third world, while their parties argue about how much of the booty plundered from the various heathens give to the local bottom-feeders, what we have in the end is completely morally and intellectually degenerate euro-marxism with get-together euro-marxists, who aren’t any different in values, tastes and knowledge from their bourgeois antagonists. A good example of what comfortable hedonistic nonpartisan lifestyle leads to would be harmless to the elites popular movie critic Slavoj Zizek, or long-dead bald poofter Foucault and his merry men.