Karl Marx and Democracy

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a famous German philosopher who drew attention of the human civilization to the needs and problems of the most vulnerable and poorest social group, the working class, which he called proletariat. His study on emancipation turned a new page in the development of the philosophical science, which forced scholars think of ways to reform capitalist society in order to avoid future bloodshed revolutions and riots. Working with other scholars, Karl Marx founded a new science, sociology. He also studied political economy, history, and philosophy, prevailing in the age of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. It helped him understand relations between work forces and their managers. Consequently, Marx came to the conclusion that any society would be democratic when each member contributed to the society according to his abilities and could satisfy all his needs. Marx called such social order as communism, which could emerge as a result of the worldwide revolution of the working class. Although Karl Marx renounced his idea about the world’s proletarian revolution at the end of his life, his materialist philosophical study, Marxism, was adopted by some extremist leftist leaders as Lenin, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, and other Communists. They committed successful Marxist revolutions in their countries, but established totalitarian regimes because their Communism violated such human rights as freedoms of the press, beliefs, entrepreneurship, religion, and thinking. Economy will not develop successfully without private property, fair competition, market relations, and private investments. In the result, all population in those countries faced bad social conditions, which caused the economic collapse. Therefore, the Marxist study helped improve social conditions of the working class and strengthen democracy via economic reforms in developed countries. Less-developed countries will be doomed to revolutions and totalitarian regimes, if they follow the Marxian study.

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Under the influence of the Industrial Revolution, which aggravated social conditions of the working class in European countries, Karl Marx considered that democratic society would emerge as a result of uniting proletariat with progressive representatives of bourgeoisie. He stated that the Communist League should organize such a social and political movement of the working class with the progressive bourgeoisie to overcome the feudal aristocracy, which he condemned for retarding the governmental reforms. Karl Marx insisted on establishing republics, which should replace monarchies. He wanted elections to be universal, when all male citizens could freely elect local and republican authorities. Of course, it was a very progressive idea in the capitalist European society. Karl Marx considered that during the elections, the overwhelming number of workers and progressive bourgeoisie would elect representatives of the Communist League to the future republican authorities. Communists would conduct all necessary political and economic reforms for building a democratic political system. As Karl Marx stated in his works, it could be possible only in the most developed European countries. In the less-developed countries, like the Russian Empire, the working class led by Communists should seize the power by means of revolutions. At the same time, Marx stated that Communism could exist when Communists won in all countries in the world. He denied the existence of any Communist country in the Capitalist world.

Karl Marx emphasized in his works that Marxism was the unity of its theory and practice. Therefore, it will be fair to compare what Karl Marx stated in his works about democracy with what it became in the real life of the Communist totalitarian regimes. The first contradiction in the Marx’s definition of democracy, which he considered as the synonym for Communism, emerged when both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels stated that middle class’s virtues of freedoms of the press, beliefs, or protective duties “do not touch the working classes at all, who have a movement of their own – a knife-and-fork movement”. Therefore, the Marxists acknowledged the necessity of the censorship in the press for the sole purpose of manipulating public opinion as Communists did in the former Socialist countries. Their mass media had to “educate” individuals, advertizing advantages of the Communist regimes as a real democratic political system, and condemning the Capitalist political and economic system. Marxists considered the middle class as an obstacle for their future development of a new Communist society because the middle class was a class of entrepreneurs, who possessed private property and had material interests from their business activities. Of course, the middle class cannot exist without individual liberties. Contrary, any administrative interference in its business can cause liquidation of private enterprises. As a matter of fact, Karl Marx wanted to liquidate all social classes that possessed private properties. It is quite easy to imagine what fate had waited for the world’s middle class, if all dreams of Karl Marx would have come true. Of course, it was not a democratic approach to solving social problems of the working class by killing or imprisoning representatives of the middle class or “a knife-and-fork movement”, as Communists did in the former Socialist countries.

Being an atheist, Karl Marx claimed to abolish religion because, as he stated, it was “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless condition. It is the opium of the people”. Karl Marx insisted that the humanity would be happy when it abolished religion. From the very beginning of the statehood, all religious establishments were the first educational, cultural, and social centers to maintain moral virtues in a certain human community. Every human from his birth and till his death was connected with a certain religious establishment: a Christian church, Muslim mosque, Jewish synagogue, or other religious temples. Priests looked for their parishioners to observe the Saint Script and all virtues. Communists destroyed all religious establishments and assumed the role of judges to punish individuals for not observing the so-called rules of the Socialist community life. Therefore, each state enterprise had a Communist organizer who could punish even a director by removal from office if he had a certain complaint on an employee’s behavior. The rudest misconduct of a Communist was to attend religious establishments. Therefore, religious social group was in worse situation, comparing to the atheists. Of course, when one social group could not enjoy its freedom of religious belief, then it was not democracy. Karl Marx stated that the working class had to capture the means of production from its exploiters, abolishing their class. Marx believed it would make all individuals equal, put an end to cyclical crises in economy and the working class’s dependence on the labor market. As a matter of fact, the abolishment of the capitalist ruling class will cause the collapse of the whole political and economic system. It will lead to establishing of a totalitarian political regime and a command system in economy of the country. In the market economy, a country successfully develops when a fair competition, private investments, and market economic laws exist. It creates necessary conditions to increase a national GDP, which is used to fulfill various social programs. It also leads to the emergence of democratic relations when ruling political parties can successfully solve various social and economic problems in the societies.

Karl Marx suggested the working class to elect the Communist authority, abolishing private property, investors, and the middle class with capitalists and landowners. As he stated, “We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things”. Naturally, Communists abolished the ruling capitalist class by killing people and seizing their wealth, which served as investments for the communist economy. Of course, it was not democracy. Moreover, Karl Marx always stated, “between capitalism and the establishment of a socialist/communist system, a dictatorship of the proletariat… would exist”. Karl Marx called a dictatorship of the proletariat as a necessary historical period to transform the capitalist society into the communist one. Moreover, he emphasized that it was also a “political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”. No political necessity can justify any dictatorship for the sake of the future democracy. Actually, Karl Marx sentenced to death millions of private owners, landlords, successful peasants, investors, entrepreneurs, and other representatives of the middle class and capitalists. It was done for the sake of the Communist regime, which covered its evil deeds under the high-pitched ambitions to improve social conditions of the working class.

As for the free elections, Communists seized power and created a single-party political system. They liquidated other political parties. Actually, a group of individuals, who was unable to create anything useful for the society, came to power. They gave no opportunity to its people to alter political and economic situation in the country by means of elections. Of course, it was not democracy. Moreover, the economic system of any country needs private investments, fair competitions, and free market relations based on the private property. Any country will collapse without observing the abovementioned conditions as it happened with the former Socialist countries. Moreover, Karl Marx understood the significance of the developed economy and its successful functioning for solving social and economic problems in any society. He could understand advantages of the capitalist system over the feudal one. Therefore, a new democratic society should emerge only after certain political and economic reforms in each country, irrespective of its economic development. Otherwise, a bloodshed proletarian revolution could take place; however, it would not be a democratic way of the political development of any human society.

Marxism is not a democratic study because any successful economy cannot exist without private property, free market relations, fair competitions, private investment, and individual freedoms. Karl Marx denied any private property, suggested eliminating all classes except the working one, and wanted to establish a command economy. Also, Karl Marx wanted to create a single-party political system, in which the Communist party would occupy all ruling positions. Actually, the working class could not take part in ruling process of the country. Moreover, it could be only a tool in a bureaucratic Communist system, when all individual freedoms were violated. Furthermore, Karl Marx denied any religion, but he could not suggest any social institution, which could support morality of citizens. The Communist party assumed this role to look after people, as if a prison guard. Any country could easily turn into a huge penitentiary, in which each individual should be punished as a public enemy, if he shows some signs of freethinking. At the same time, Marxism helped the human society gain the right on universal free elections. Moreover, Marxism made the ruling class in the capitalist society think about the improvement of the working class’s social conditions lest a bloodshed proletarian revolution should take place.

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