In the previous post I suggested that the most influential “prophets” whose creative thinking gave birth to the toxic new religion—were Karl Marx and Antonio Gramsci. Both were products of Western culture, so to speak, but were solidly in the atheistic stream. Their ideological forebears included the continental philosophers Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), and significantly, Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). Their ideological assumptions were drawn from the schools of thought known as “Idealism” and “Romanticism.” I won’t go into the contribution each of these great philosophers and schools of thought made in shaping the thinking of Marx and Gramsci. If you want to explore it further, I recommend Nancy Pearcey’s outstanding book, Finding Truth.
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Wikipedia describes Marx as “a Prussian-born philosopher, economist, political theorist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist.” He was also an avowed atheist. He argued that religion is merely an illusion, and once said, “The first requisite of the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.”
Marx developed an elaborate and powerful social and economic theory known as dialectical materialism, or simply “Marxism.” It functioned as an all-encompassing worldview, and indeed, many came to see it as a kind of secular religion.
Marxism is primarily focused on power, oppression, class and economics. For Marx, economics is the key driver of history. “Evil” in Marx’s worldview is sourced in capitalism and the ownership of private property. The property owning class (or “bourgeoisie”) was, in Marx’s view, selfish, greedy, powerful and oppressive. Capitalism was their tool to amass wealth and power at the expense of the subjugated working class (the “proletariat”).
For Marx, Christianity was used by the powerful and wealthy to subdue the working class. Marx famously described religion as “the opium of the people,” a crafty means of imposing control, keeping the lower class in a kind of contented stupor by means of a false millennial hope.
Marx, obviously, was a revolutionary. He loudly advocated the overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat to set the stage for a kind of societal perfection—a utopian vision of a classless society of radical equality, where wealth and power are distributed equally, and where everyone’s needs would be perfectly met by an all-powerful State. In Marx’s vision of the perfect society, “the state becomes the provider, sustainer, protector, and lawgiver for every citizen; in short, the state is viewed as God.”
In this, Marxism differs little from Fascism. Both are atheistic systems that elevate the State to a god-like status. In both systems, the individual (and the family) is wholly subject to the State. There is no ground for individual freedom or human rights. Parents do not have authority over their children. The State is all-important. It is “a glorious, living entity that is more important than any individual. All individuals are part of the State, but the State is greater than the sum of its parts.” No “higher law” or other power can limit the authority of the State. The individual must allow his interests to dissolve into the greater good of the collective.
With God out of the picture, Marx was free to define “good” as “whatever contributed to realizing this utopian vision.” The ends justify the means. Over time, the means became horrifyingly bloody and inhumane. Millions of so-called “capitalists” and property owners were stripped of their property and hounded into prison camps and death camps, their property meanwhile forcibly “redistributed” by the all-powerful State.
At his funeral, Marx’s collaborator and friend, Friedrich Engels, delivered a eulogy that provides helpful clarity on what drove Marx:
Marx was before all else a revolutionary. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, tenacity and a success such as few could rival.
- Scott Allen