Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ben Franklin Would Be Proud of the Violence in Marxism.

It's said and believed by a vast populace that Marxism is a violent revolutionary dogma hell bent on the overthrow of the ruling class by whatever means possible. Is this a truly unbiased approach?

Or is this the a technique of it's enemies, defenders of the constitution, casting a potential adversary out from the realm of mainstream thought?

It should be noted to the defenders of American Liberty that Marx was no more pro-violence than our founding fathers. "The Founding Fathers?" you will ask mouth agape.

It's not like one couldn't think of a counter example to America's Independence that does not require the use of terror. Perhaps another vast wilderness that was being exploited by Kings. Taxation with no representation. A land that used a constructive dialog, consisting of piecemeal democratic reform, and yet still were able to obtain thier ends.--Oh yea, Canada.

We too often forget the historical nature of the claims Marx makes. In the days of the founding fathers and Karl Marx there were kings. And I am not talking Prince Charles, but real kings who had the power to raise armies, start wars, and have your head chopped off at a whim.

Democracy was in short supply in the early part of the 19th century, most of the masses could not vote: women, minorities, the poor and landless were pretty much on their own. This is also well before the time of Gandhi or Martin Luther King. Non-violence as an agent of change had never truly been seen on any vast scale like that. Marx was and has always been seen as a pragmatist, but did he insist that violence was the answer?

We know that in the case of England, Sweden and USA where he specifically addressed it, he thought Socialism could be won without a violence. (He thought Russia would likely turn violent because of the Tsars.) Marx also thought it was more likely that the ruling classes would be driven to start the fight if they felt uprovoked "and if we are not so crazy as to ourselves be driven to street fighting in order to please them, then in the end there is nothing left for them to do, but themselves break through this fatal legality."

The Right likes to paint Lenin as the standard bearer to Marxism due to Lenin's insistence that his brand of state controlled command economies were based on Marx's principles. But a case could be made that Kautsky is the true heir if self-proclamation is the standard. (The German and European Model of Reformists, New Dealers-Keynsians, the Welfare State proponents also shout their love of Marx.) Few among us would give up Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment benefits which sprang from the democratic impulses of these Marxists.

Of course few people have any constrain knowledge of Marx . If they are at all familiar with him it is through reading the Communist Manifesto. The Manifesto though was a political programme that was commissioned by the Communist League and was not a theoretical text of Marx's. It should also be noted that nowhere in the manifesto does Marx suggest that workers use terror, on the contrary, Marx proclaims that "the time for surprise attacks by small minorities is past."

It is difficult to conclude that Marx was hell bent on Violence and Terror, but was rather a man who lived in a time of crushing despotism. Marx himself was a victim countless times to this and championed democracy and the rights of the working people well before it was fashionable to the elites of his era.

1 comment:

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