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Essay/Term paper: Why the marxist ideal cannot work

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Philosophy

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The Marxist ideal, a highly appealing, almost Utopian
society, is impossible to achieve due to the fact that it
demands that the human mind be almost without flaws. It
asks of society and its members to be absolutely without
ranks, without greed or leadership. This has been clearly
impossible for society. Each step to achieving a communist
establishment has been, continues to be, and will be, in
actuality, a step towards the totalitarian societies of past
and current so-called communist countries. Communism
became popular solely in under-developed countries,
contrary to Marx's beliefs as to what should happen, and
its rise in these countries was the beginning of its fall. Marx
believed that the only way to overthrow capitalism was to
create a revolution of the proletariat and in essence this
revolution carries the cause even farther away from true
communism. Equality is the next issue that Marx tackled,
and in the communist ideal, it is absolutely crucial. In the
real world of distorted ideologies, it hovers in the
background. The ultimate in communist ideologies,
however, is that eventually there will be no need for
government. This essay will illustrate how, as communist
societies in the real world progress, nothing could be
further from the truth. Currently, communism, as exercised
in the few Communist countries left in the world, is far from
the Marxist ideal. From its beginnings to the present day
and into the future, communism has become distorted into
something that would be Marx's worst nightmare. Due to
"quirks" in the human mind that just can't seem to be
worked out, the Marxist ideal simply cannot work.
Marx's prediction was that communism would prevail in
the highly industrialized countries of Western Europe.
Instead, it took place in Russia, a country troubled by its
corrupt head of state.
By definition a Communist revolt demanded an
industrialized country as its focus, where a militant and
organized proletariat had had a chance to develop. The
revolution of 1917, however, exploded in Czarist Russia,
one of the most backward countries in Europe.i
Russia in the early 20th century was mainly agricultural,
rather than industrial, but through their exasperation and
strong leadership, the Communists prevailed. The head of
state, Czar Nicholas II, was overthrown, and later that year
Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik Party established the first
Marxist government in the world. With the formation of this
Communist government began the downfall of Marx's
Ideal. Lenin had established a so-called Marxist
government, but he felt that Russia was not yet ready for
the Marxist idea of Communism. He believed that the
country first had to be industrialized. That had been one of
Marx's stipulations. Secondly, Lenin felt that the new ruling
class, the proletariat, was not yet ready for ruling, so he
took up the position. That is where the chief problem lies,
in the implementation of the Marxist Ideal. From the very
beginning, even prior to the foretold revolution, the ideal is
fitted to the leaders' viewpoints, which is completely
opposite to what Marx had envisioned. The problem with
capitalism, as Marx saw it, was that leaders were taking the
lives and futures of others in their hands and using them to
their advantage and this was forever escalating. As Leninist
Russia progressed, Lenin guaranteed that people did not
gain too much freedom and implemented such forces as the
secret police and one-party rule. Thus, through initial
adaptations of the system as envisioned by its creator, the
distortion of the ideal is present even in its beginnings.
Following the first step towards communism is the
revolution that Marx predicted would ultimately occur.
However, through a revolution, especially a violent one that
Marx deemed would sometimes be necessary, power is to
be had and, as the infamous saying goes, "power corrupts."
In order for a revolution to occur there must be a leader
and inevitably this leader will assume a greater power and
use this to his advantage, destroying Marx's Utopia of
equality from the beginning. In keeping with how this
analogy relates to Communist Russia, Lenin and his
Bolsheviks exercised this type of leadership. They
advocated, equality and the wonderful society predicted by
Marx, but as it became evident that they were about to win
the revolution, they realized that there were slightly
modified principles by which their type of Communism
would abide. Unfortunately, the remainder of the quote is,
"and absolute power corrupts absolutely" and the
"modifications" of the Russian Communist system, and all
others that have endured, became more and more major.
Marx believed that absolute equality was the key to the
communist ideal and, through good leadership, this could
be achieved.
In the various stages of development which the struggle of
the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass
through, they always and everywhere represent the
interests of the movement as a whole.ii
He also felt, as illustrated above, in order for Communists
to succeed, they must work as a whole, and that the Party
must represent all viewpoints. However, equality and
teamwork do not function in an already corrupt society. As
a communist society, already ridden with its
"modifications," progresses, the leader is not content with
having the same privileges as the common street-cleaner.
He doesn't feel that he should work together with the
street-cleaner, or represent his views, since they no longer
have the same goals. By this time, he is a dictator, and will
go through any means to retain his absolute power. In
George Orwell's novel Animal Farm (a satire of the Russian
Revolution), the ideal begins as "All animals are created
equal," and, inevitably, ends with "All animals are created
equal, but some are more equal than others." In Communist
countries, human shortcomings have distorted Marx's ideal
so that it is nearly indistinguishable. The few Communist
principles that remain (for example,
state-owned/owned-by-the-people property) have become
horrible distortions (state-owned capitalism). Instead of
becoming more and more like Marx's ultimate ideal,
because of an escalating effect of twisted human minds,
Communist countries plunge deeper and deeper into a cave
of totalitarianism. Due to human flaws, greed and abuse of
power, equality and teamwork is dead in a communist
The ultimate ideal of communism entails that after a
while, the system will run so smoothly that government is no
longer needed.
The new state, dictatorship of the proletariat, would
repress the former bourgeoisie until it disappeared. Then
society would be classless. Once this had occurred, the
state itself no longer would be needed. It would, according
to Engels, "wither away." Communism would have been
In reality, the power which leaders exercise grows and
grows and this is definitely not a step towards the
abolishment of the state. In a communist state the abuse of
power has escalated so that government control is crucial
to the way that society functions. To continue the analogy
of communist Russia (by now the United Soviet Socialist
Republics) with Lenin's successor, who has become almost
infamous, Joseph Stalin. He illustrates an amazing example
of the way in which a totalitarian government that is
supposedly communist is not even remotely close to Marx's
ideal. Stalin exercised the ultimate in absolute power, with
complete, and deliberate, disregard for even the lives of his
own people.
Millions of peasants died anonymously during Stalin's drive
to rivet the countryside to state control. Political rivals
within the Communist Party died more spectacularly,
following rigged trials featuring bizarre confessions of guilt
by men whose only crime was to disagree with Stalin.iv
In this supposedly Communist nation, which was already
corrupt, Stalin did whatever suited his staying in power and
punished whoever challenged this power. The U. S. S. R.
was still called a communist state. It is clear that there is no
way in which the ideal of no need for government can be
accomplished in a communist state. Instead of government
gradually intervening less and less, in real communist states,
the opposite occurs. The power available is not something
that is easy to give up.
In the present day, The Communist Manifesto is a work
of philosophical merit or great literature. Communism, in
practice, is something that has been tested and has failed
bitterly. The tragic flaws of the human mind have distorted
it so that instead of the Utopian society that Marx
envisioned there exists a totalitarian society that calls itself
Communist. In each country that communism has been
implemented, there has followed a downward spiral into
totalitarianism and an absolute decay of human rights. As
the dictator's power grows stronger, it is only logical to
assume that his subjects' grows weaker. In Russia, China,
North Korea, Cuba and all other communist countries, the
word communism has a meaning that is distinctly different
from Marx's ideal. In each country there have been leaders,
who have changed the principles of communism and
twisted it to suit their motives. Through their "ingenuity,"
there remains the communism that is known today.
Communism was supposed to be the ideology that
created the Utopia of society. That was the ideal.
However, Marx underestimated the way in which the
human mind works. Without a doubt, the flaws in the minds
of the leaders of the communist states that have existed,
and continue to exist, have ensured that this ideal will never
be realized. From the very beginnings of a communist
state's existence, to the revolution that brings it about, to
the equality that it lacks, and the impossibility of the ultimate
ideal, Marx's vision is being distorted the whole way
through the process. In theory, communism is a good idea.
However, it fails to anticipate the flaws of the human mind.
It is a good idea that doesn't work out well in practice.

i Ellis, Harry B. (1972). Ideals and Ideologies:
Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism. Nelson, Foster
and Scott Ltd. Pg. 31
ii Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich. (1964). The
Communist Manifesto. Monthly Review Press. Pg. 25.
iii Ellis, Harry B. (1972). Ideals and Ideologies:
Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism. Nelson, Foster
and Scott Ltd. Pg. 31
iv Ellis, Harry B. (1972). Ideals and Ideologies:
Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism. Nelson, Foster
and Scott Ltd. Pg. 36

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