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Marxism and the third position part 1:the state by controversial thinker

Disclaimer: Everything I say in this article is still up for debate in Marxist circles so don’t expect marxists you know to agree with you if you start saying the points made in this article. This is a very controversial topic and marxists all have their vision what of Socialism, Marxism, and/or communism is and they all think theirs is the correct one. Keep that in mind as you read this.

“Hence the abolition of private property and communism are by no means identical…”

-Karl Marx in a letter written in 1843. This letter would be later referenced as “A Ruthless Critique of Everything”

“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. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.”

-Excerpt From “On the German Ideology” by Karl Marx.

For those reading who understand what communists say on the internet or even in modern parties within capitalist countries, you have probably heard that communism has a set a of rules/characteristics that MUST BE FOLLOWED. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx defined communism in one sentence: the doctrine of the liberation of the proletariat. In this series of articles I’ve titled “Marxism and The Third Position”, I will be picking apart what modern marxists attribute to what a communist society should look like. I hope to show you that reading Marx is useful and will not leave you rambling about how the state must wither away or how we have to kill rich people. I am trying to separate Marx from his dogmatic followers.

Dogmatic followers of Marx have, since the 20th century, have quoted excerpts from Marx’s works attempting to define some sort of communist society. They quote Marx from his Critique of the Gotha Programme in order to justify a stateless, classless, and moneyless society. This work is primarily why I have decided to write this series of articles. We need a new outlook on Marx that really captures his logic and critique of capitalism.

Before I pick apart why what modern marxists are doing is a terrible thing to do if you respect any of Marx’s work, let us analyze what their definition of communism means. The term “state” within Marxist circles is very different from the fascist definition or the hegelian definition. The modern Marxist interpretation can be summed up as “a legal institution that is wielded by one class to subjugate another through things like property laws.” This is obviously very different from the hegelian state. Marx’s full commentary on the hegelian state has been lost. Which is very tragic for these dogmatists as that means they will have to think for themselves for once. Marx wrote a criticism in 1843 about Hegel’s philosophy of Right. While doing so, Marx started to critique religion and he stated, “This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world.” He then went onto say a few sentences later, “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” This is important as it is key to understanding Marx’s view of the state compared to those who claim to follow him now.

Marx defines The State differently here than in his other works because earlier in the text he refers to state and society as seperate which is something Hegel did in the work that Karl Marx is criticizing. So we will assume he is using the basic Hegelian definition of The State. For those unfamiliar with the definition an easy summary I can offer is, “the sum of all the will and self-consciousness of each individual under it manifested into reality.” Marx says that The State creates religion. This is true to some degree as the will of man, his ethics, and his understanding of himself create spirituality and The State institutionalizes this spirituality into an organized religion. So Marx does grasp Hegel’s state in its basics. Marx however thinks that religion is a sign of suffering and in order to destroy religion, one must destroy suffering. In other works Marx goes onto say how capitalism makes people miserable and therefore perpetuates religious authority. While people like me who are religious have a different interpretation of spirituality and religion, Marx is correct to say that hard times do allow religious authorities, such as corrupt priests and church leaders, to flourish.

This is where many modern marxists messed up Marx. For example, The Soviet Union thought that eliminating religion would end the pain peasants went through in Ukraine from the priests extorting them and such. So they enforced State Atheism. This led to a terrible understanding of spirituality and increased atheism embedded in the population which only increased hostility to anything associated with religion. Instead of eliminating the pains in the material world that upheld these atrocious religious regimes, the Soviet Union attacked religion itself. They abandoned Marx’s critique of religion to skip ahead to an ideal Marx liked. This is why taking ideals such as stateless, classlessness, and moneylessness and pursuing them is a terrible option. Marx said in the letter mentioned at the top of this article that “we do not dogmatically anticipate the world, but only want to find the new world through criticism of the old one.” This is why a healthy view of Marx is important. He makes a good point. In order to create a new system, we must make it from our critiques of the old. We must not try to establish it from our anticipations or aspirations as to what it shall look like. That leads to things like war, famine, state atheism, etc.

Karl Marx has some grasp of The State when he talks specifically about Hegel. He is however, not Hegel. He can never replace Hegel with his class reductionist analysis. His analysis however should not be ignored. We see the effects of it being ignored. One of which was State Atheism. The Third Positionists have a chance to fix what the old marxists and what the new marxists have gotten wrong, are getting wrong, and will keep getting wrong. We reject dichotomy. We can correct the parties that claim to represent Marx’s critique and expose them for the dangers they present.


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