• ZzzoneiroCosm
    The point of this thread: Marx's vision of communism has been corrupted in various ways. Here I set about busting some of the more salient myths.

    Please provide direct quotes from Marx or Fromm wherever possible.

    Excerpts from Marx’s Concept of Man, by Erich Fromm, published in 1961. (Just a barebones intro.)

    Available here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/works/1961/man/

    “There is continuous reference to Marx and to Marxism in the press, in the speeches of politicians, in books and articles written by respectable social scientists and philosophers; yet with few exceptions, it seems that the politicians and newspapermen have never so much as glanced at a line written by Marx, and that the social scientists are satisfied with a minimal knowledge of Marx. Apparently they feel safe in acting as experts in this field, since nobody with power and status in the social research empire challenges their ignorant statements.”

    “Marx’s philosophy, like much of existentialist thinking, represents a protest against man’s alienation, his loss of himself and his transformation into a thing.”

    “Marx’s aim was that of the spiritual emancipation of man, of his liberation from the chains of economic determination, of restituting him in his human wholeness, of enabling him to find unity and harmony with his fellow man and with nature.”

    “How can it be, then, that Marx’s philosophy is so completely misunderstood and distorted into its opposite?...There are no properly acknowledged authorities who would insist on respect for the facts, for truth. Hence everybody feels entitled to talk about Marx without having read him...Another reason lies in the fact that the Russian Communists appropriated Marx’s theory and tried to convince the world that their practice and theory follow his ideas. Although the opposite is true, the West accepted their propagandistic claims…”

    “...in fact, historical materialism is not at all a psychological theory; it claims that the way man produces determines his thinking and his desires, and not that his main desires are those for maximal material gain. Economy in this context refers not to a psychic drive, but to the mode of production…”

    “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their social being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”

    “...Marx, like Spinoza and later Freud, believed that most of what men consciously think is “false” consciousness, is ideology and rationalization; that the true mainsprings of man’s actions are unconscious to him...Only if false consciousness is transformed into true consciousness, that is, only if we are aware of reality, rather than distorting it by rationalizations and fictions, can we also become aware of our real and true human needs.”

    Excerpts from Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, published in 1844 and translated into English in 1961 as a part of Fromm’s Marx’s Concept of Man. (Again, just a barebones intro.)

    Available here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/preface.htm (A 1959 translation. Quotes below are from the 1961 translation.)

    “...we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity, and to a most miserable commodity; that the misery of the worker increases with the power and volume of his production; that the necessary result of competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands, and thus a restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form; and finally that the distinction between capitalist and landlord, and between agricultural laborer and industrial worker, must disappear and the whole of society divide into the two classes of property owners and propertyless workers.”

    “...the worker is related to the product of his labor as to an alien object…the more the worker expends himself in work the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, the poorer he becomes in his inner life, and the less he belongs to himself…The worker puts his life into the object, and his life then belongs no longer to himself but to the object.”

    “What constitutes the alienation of labor?...the worker does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery rather than well-being, does not develop freely his mental and physical energies but is physically exhausted and mentally debased. The worker therefore feels himself at home only during his leisure time, whereas at work he feels homeless.”

    “...communism is already aware of being the reintegration of man, his return to himself, the supersession of man’s self-alienation.”

    “Private property has made us so stupid and partial that an object is only ours when we have it, when it exists for us as capital or when it is directly eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc., in short, utilized in some way...Thus all the physical and intellectual senses have been replaced by the simple alienation of all these senses; the sense of having.”

    “Communism is the positive abolition of private property, of human self-alienation, and thus the real appropriation of human nature through and for man. It is, therefore, the return of man himself as a social, i.e., really human, being, a complete and conscious return which assimilates all the wealth of previous development.”
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    ...communism as such is not the aim of human development..." — Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, p. ?

    Quite clearly the aim of socialism is man. It is to create a form of production and an organization of society in which man can overcome alienation from his product, from his work, from his fellow man, from himself and from nature; in which he can return to himself and grasp the world with his own powers, thus becoming one with the world. Socialism for Marx, was, as Paul Tillich put it, "a resistance movement against the destruction of love in social reality." — Fromm, Marx's Concept of Man, p. 51
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    Marx (says Fromm) binds socialism to political and industrial democracy.

    ...Marx expresses [ ] all essential elements of socialism. First, man produces in an associated, not competitive way; he produces rationally and in an unalienated way, which means that he brings production under his control, instead of being ruled by it as by some blind power. This clearly excludes a concept of socialism in which man is manipulated by a bureaucracy, even if this bureaucracy rules the whole state economy, rather than a big corporation. It means that the individual participates actively in the planning and in the execution of the plans; it means, in short, the realization of political and industrial democracy. — Fromm, Ibid, p. 52
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    That Marx could be regarded as the enemy of freedom was made possible only by the fantastic fraud of Stalin in presuming to talk in the name of Marx, combined with the fantastic ignorance about Marx that exists in the Western world. — Fromm, Ibid, p. 53

    If anyone out there is in the know with reference to Stalin's rhetorical distortions or has some insight or a reference - it would be sweet of you to share. :love:
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    Lenin on Marx on the "withering state":

    The proletariat needs the state—this is repeated by all the opportunists, social-chauvinists and Kautskyists, who assure us that this is what Marx taught. They ‘forget’ however, to add that, in the first place, the proletariat, according to Marx, needs only a state which is withering away, i.e. a state which is so constituted that it begins to wither away immediately, and cannot but wither away; and secondly, the workers need ‘a state, i.e., the proletariat organised as the ruling class.’

    The state is a special organisation of force; it is the organisation of violence for the suppression of some class. What class must the proletariat suppress? Naturally, the exploiting class only, i.e. the bourgeoisie. The toilers need the state only to overcome the resistance of the exploiters, and only the proletariat can direct this suppression and bring it to fulfilment, for the proletariat is the only class that is thoroughly revolutionary, the only class that can unite all the toilers and the exploited in the struggle against the bourgeoisie, in completely displacing it.
    — Lenin, State and Revolution
  • RolandTyme
    I don't really understand the purpose of this post. Could you explain a little, please, then others may benefit more
  • ZzzoneiroCosm

    The point of this thread: Marx's vision of communism has been corrupted in various ways. Here I set about busting some of the more salient myths.

    If your question is in respect to the quotation from Lenin: Here we see Lenin himself assaying to bust a Marx myth.
  • RolandTyme
    Ok - well if you want to do that, I'd start with a short paragraph saying what you're doing.
  • schopenhauer1

    Until you sort out the problem of forced production en total you have solved nothing but rearranging an already bad system (that is life itself requiring us to produce at all). Unless the aspect of "comply with this production system or die" is out of the equation, the problem is insoluble. Marx had the right notion that man is in chains, but his solution is a false one.. As long as man needs to produce, he will always be alienated in the sense that he must comply with the game of life where production is necessary or else die. He is exploited from the mere fact of his birth and being forced into the merry-go-round of the production-game to begin with.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    As long as man needs to produce, he will always be alienated in the sense that he must comply with the game of life where production is necessary or else die.schopenhauer1

    Your view is tediously narrow. I work in long-term care, where I "produce" end-of-life care for needful elders. While it's at times back-breaking work, I don't feel alienated from the product or from myself or from my work.

    Alienation isn't universal.

    Unhappiness isn't universal. Maslow has documented that fact: peak and plateau experiences are latent in all of us.

    Your record is skipping - why not shift the needle?

    Again: What have you done to take responsibility for your unhappiness?
  • schopenhauer1
    Your view is painfully and tediously narrow. I work in long-term care, where I "produce" end-of-life care for needful elders. While it's at times backbreaking work, I don't feel alienated from the product or from myself or from my work.ZzzoneiroCosm

    I said:
    alienated in the sense that he must comply with the game of life where production is necessary or else die.schopenhauer1

    You are not immune from this forced situation.

    Imagine telling the proletariat.
    Unhappiness isn't universal. Maslow has documented that fact: peak and plateau experiences are latent in all of us.ZzzoneiroCosm

    So they are either exploited or not. If they are not, then your post is irrelevant. If they are, then in a sense, we all are by the conditions of life. That is to say, if universalized to all people, would we be able to get on without being forced to produce to survive? If the answer is no, something is a violation. That violation is the very forced nature of having to produce in the first place.

    I'm sorry it's a broken record, but so is a lot of other ethical phenomena. It's all a part of the same, I'm afraid. "Workers unite!" (against what?).. "Forced existors unite!" (against what?). Same message, but instead of the economic sphere it is the actual problem at hand which is the level above.. the existential sphere, on which the economic sits atop.

    If I don't give answers relating to the tired old dialectic you are looking for.. then sorry to disappoint your expectations of Marxism (what it really means) versus Capitalism and false notions of Marxism. That has never been done before..
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    alienated in the sense that he must comply with the game of lifeschopenhauer1

    You define 'alienation' as 'complying with the game of life.' That's not what 'alienation' means. QED.

    Next, let's define 'red' as 'blue'. Fun.
  • schopenhauer1

    The theoretical basis of alienation is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine life and destiny when deprived of the right to think (conceive) of themselves as the director of their own actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define relationships with other people; and to own those items of value from goods and services, produced by their own labour. Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realized human being, as an economic entity this worker is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie—who own the means of production—in order to extract from the worker the maximum amount of surplus value in the course of business competition among industrialists.Marx's theory of alienation wiki

    Just replace bougeoisie with the conditions of life itself. You can throw a snarky fit all you want, but Marx or any other economic theory doesn't "solve" anything, because the problem is production itself. I can make a point that is a meta-analysis and not buy into the dialectic. That is an option here.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    You can throw a snarky fit all you want, but Marx or any other economic theory doesn't "solve" anything, because the problem is production itself. Ischopenhauer1

    I never said it did. I'm just studying it. You have an agenda I'm not interested in. Cheers. :smile:
  • schopenhauer1
    I never said it did. I'm just studying it. You have an agenda I'm not interested in. Cheers. :smile:ZzzoneiroCosm

    Exactly what you can't do against the agenda I speak of. Can't say, "not interested". Imagine if you had to debate me at least every workday for at least 8 hours a day.. But ok.. you have a choice not to... but then the meta-choice to not choose any choice doesn't exist. This is a violation. I dare say, being exploited, as someone (universalized to everyone) must be useful as a pre-condition.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    Can't say, "not interested".schopenhauer1

    Just did. QED.

    Your perennial unhappiness is uninteresting. Take responsibility. Grow up. Or continue to live as a child.
  • schopenhauer1

    What do you think an "unalienated worker" even looks like? You think office workers under the leadership of the "proletariat" and factory workers, and construction workers, and cleaners, and service workers, and all the rest will suddenly be more interesting, less angst, less of the slog of the work day?

    Certainly there are things like providing basic safety nets, but that's just plain old liberalism. So what about it?
  • schopenhauer1
    Take responsibility. Grow up. Or continue to live as a child.ZzzoneiroCosm

    Or what? Kill yourself.. is the implication. Real fuckn moral.. Any better philosophy or just platitudes akin to something you get in a parenting magazine? Wah wah.. spank spank.. fuck off. Pretty soon you'll be wearing that orangutan suit like ole Banno..
  • schopenhauer1
    Will do.ZzzoneiroCosm

    Good, cause you would then have to answer what an unalienated worker looks like. I don't think you had a good answer anyways. Cause there is none.
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    In fact, however, when the limited bourgeois form is stripped away, what is wealth other than the universality of individual needs, capacities, pleasures, productive forces etc., created through universal exchange? The full development of human mastery over the forces of nature, those of so-called nature as well as of humanity’s own nature? The absolute working-out of his creative potentialities, with no presupposition other than the previous historic development, which makes this totality of development, i.e. the development of all human powers as such the end in itself, not as measured on a predetermined yardstick? Where he does not reproduce himself in one specificity, but produces his totality? Strives not to remain something he has become, but is in the absolute movement of becoming? In bourgeois economics – and in the epoch of production to which it corresponds – this complete working-out of the human content appears as a complete emptying-out, this universal objectification as total alienation, and the tearing-down of all limited, one-sided aims as sacrifice of the human end-in-itself to an entirely external end. This is why the childish world of antiquity appears on one side as loftier. On the other side, it really is loftier in all matters where closed shapes, forms and given limits are sought for. It is satisfaction from a limited standpoint; while the modern gives no satisfaction; or, where it appears satisfied with itself, it is vulgar.
    — Marx- Grundrisse

    "It is of course very simple to imagine that some powerful, physically dominant individual, after first having caught the animal, then catches humans in order to have them catch animals; in a word, uses human beings as another naturally occurring condition for his reproduction (whereby his own labour reduces itself to ruling) like any other natural creature. But such a notion is stupid – correct as it may be from the standpoint of some particular given clan or commune – because it proceeds from the development of isolated individuals. But human beings become individuals only through the process of history. He appears originally as a species-being [Gattungswesen], clan being, herd animal – although in no way whatever as a ζῶον πολιτιϰόν [4] in the political sense. Exchange itself is a chief means of this individuation [Vereinzelung]. It makes the herd-like existence superfluous and dissolves it. Soon the matter [has] turned in such a way that as an individual he relates himself only to himself, while the means with which he posits himself as individual have become the making of his generality and commonness. In this community, the objective being of the individual as proprietor, say proprietor of land, is presupposed, and presupposed moreover under certain conditions which chain him to the community, or rather form a link in his chain. In bourgeois society, the worker e.g. stands there purely without objectivity, subjectively; but the thing which stands opposite him has now become the true community [Gemeinwesen], [5] which he tries to make a meal of, and which makes a meal of him."

    The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently, as something alien to him, and that it becomes a power on its own confronting him. It means that the life which he has conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and alien.

    In creating a world of objects by his personal activity, in his work upon inorganic nature, man proves himself a conscious species-being, i.e., as a being that treats the species as his own essential being, or that treats itself as a species-being. Admittedly animals also produce. They build themselves nests, dwellings, like the bees, beavers, ants, etc. But an animal only produces what it immediately needs for itself or its young. It produces one-sidedly, whilst man produces universally. It produces only under the dominion of immediate physical need, whilst man produces even when he is free from physical need and only truly produces in freedom therefrom. An animal produces only itself, whilst man reproduces the whole of nature. An animal’s product belongs immediately to its physical body, whilst man freely confronts his product. An animal forms only in accordance with the standard and the need of the species to which it belongs, whilst man knows how to produce in accordance with the standard of every species, and knows how to apply everywhere the inherent standard to the object. Man therefore also forms objects in accordance with the laws of beauty.

    It is just in his work upon the objective world, therefore, that man really proves himself to be a species-being. This production is his active species-life. Through this production, nature appears as his work and his reality. The object of labor is, therefore, the objectification of man’s species-life: for he duplicates himself not only, as in consciousness, intellectually, but also actively, in reality, and therefore he sees himself in a world that he has created. In tearing away from man the object of his production, therefore, estranged labor tears from him his species-life, his real objectivity as a member of the species and transforms his advantage over animals into the disadvantage that his inorganic body, nature, is taken from him.

    Similarly, in degrading spontaneous, free activity to a means, estranged labor makes man’s species-life a means to his physical existence.

    The consciousness which man has of his species is thus transformed by estrangement in such a way that species[-life] becomes for him a means.

    Estranged labor turns thus:

    (3) Man’s species-being, both nature and his spiritual species-property, into a being alien to him, into a means of his individual existence. It estranges from man his own body, as well as external nature and his spiritual aspect, his human aspect.

    (4) An immediate consequence of the fact that man is estranged from the product of his labor, from his life activity, from his species-being, is the estrangement of man from man. When man confronts himself, he confronts the other man. What applies to a man’s relation to his work, to the product of his labor and to himself, also holds of a man’s relation to the other man, and to the other man’s labor and object of labor.

    In fact, the proposition that man’s species-nature is estranged from him means that one man is estranged from the other, as each of them is from man’s essential nature.

    The estrangement of man, and in fact every relationship in which man [stands] to himself, is realized and expressed only in the relationship in which a man stands to other men.

    Hence within the relationship of estranged labor each man views the other in accordance with the standard and the relationship in which he finds himself as a worker.

    ||XXV| We took our departure from a fact of political economy – the estrangement of the worker and his production. We have formulated this fact in conceptual terms as estranged, alienated labor. We have analyzed this concept – hence analyzing merely a fact of political economy.

    Let us now see, further, how the concept of estranged, alienated labor must express and present itself in real life.

    If the product of labor is alien to me, if it confronts me as an alien power, to whom, then, does it belong?

    To a being other than myself.

    Who is this being?

    The gods? To be sure, in the earliest times the principal production (for example, the building of temples, etc., in Egypt, India and Mexico) appears to be in the service of the gods, and the product belongs to the gods. However, the gods on their own were never the lords of labor. No more was nature. And what a contradiction it would be if, the more man subjugated nature by his labor and the more the miracles of the gods were rendered superfluous by the miracles of industry, the more man were to renounce the joy of production and the enjoyment of the product to please these powers.

    The alien being, to whom labor and the product of labor belongs, in whose service labor is done and for whose benefit the product of labor is provided, can only be man himself.

    If the product of labor does not belong to the worker, if it confronts him as an alien power, then this can only be because it belongs to some other man than the worker. If the worker’s activity is a torment to him, to another it must give satisfaction and pleasure. Not the gods, not nature, but only man himself can be this alien power over man.

    We must bear in mind the previous proposition that man’s relation to himself becomes for him objective and actual through his relation to the other man. Thus, if the product of his labor, his labor objectified, is for him an alien, hostile, powerful object independent of him, then his position towards it is such that someone else is master of this object, someone who is alien, hostile, powerful, and independent of him. If he treats his own activity as an unfree activity, then he treats it as an activity performed in the service, under the dominion, the coercion, and the yoke of another man.

    Every self-estrangement of man, from himself and from nature, appears in the relation in which he places himself and nature to men other than and differentiated from himself. For this reason religious self-estrangement necessarily appears in the relationship of the layman to the priest, or again to a mediator, etc., since we are here dealing with the intellectual world. In the real practical world self-estrangement can only become manifest through the real practical relationship to other men. The medium through which estrangement takes place is itself practical. Thus through estranged labor man not only creates his relationship to the object and to the act of production as to powers [in the manuscript Menschen (men) instead of Mächte (powers). – Ed.] that are alien and hostile to him; he also creates the relationship in which other men stand to his production and to his product, and the relationship in which he stands to these other men. Just as he creates his own production as the loss of his reality, as his punishment; his own product as a loss, as a product not belonging to him; so he creates the domination of the person who does not produce over production and over the product. Just as he estranges his own activity from himself, so he confers upon the stranger an activity which is not his own.

    We have until now considered this relationship only from the standpoint of the worker and later on we shall be considering it also from the standpoint of the non-worker.

    Through estranged, alienated labor, then, the worker produces the relationship to this labor of a man alien to labor and standing outside it. The relationship of the worker to labor creates the relation to it of the capitalist (or whatever one chooses to call the master of labor). Private property is thus the product, the result, the necessary consequence, of alienated labor, of the external relation of the worker to nature and to himself.

    Private property thus results by analysis from the concept of alienated labor, i.e., of alienated man, of estranged labor, of estranged life, of estranged man.

    True, it is as a result of the movement of private property that we have obtained the concept of alienated labor (of alienated life) in political economy. But on analysis of this concept it becomes clear that though private property appears to be the reason, the cause of alienated labor, it is rather its consequence, just as the gods are originally not the cause but the effect of man’s intellectual confusion. Later this relationship becomes reciprocal.

    Only at the culmination of the development of private property does this, its secret, appear again, namely, that on the one hand it is the product of alienated labor, and that on the other it is the means by which labor alienates itself, the realization of this alienation.

    This exposition immediately sheds light on various hitherto unsolved conflicts.
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