Going through the millions of stupid stereotypes that have been attributed to marxists, we think that one of them especially stands out. The marxists have been accused time and time again to be utopian. For a marxist, this accusation is nothing but amusing, because of a couple of reasons that we will get into in this article.
Let us understand first where does this stupid argument come from. The answer is the same for almost all accusations against Marxism, propaganda. One of the most famous arguments that anti communists like to use to show that communism is utopian is the argument that communism is based on equality, thus it goes against human nature because each human being is different. We have answered this accusation here, which is why we won’t get into it here. Rather we will try to further show what the person making the argument means.
The idea that in communism there will be equality is taken in the context that in communism, no matter what work you do, you will be paid equally. An example being that doctors will be paid the same as a janitor. This is wrong to the point of being stupid. Another thing that anti communists say about communism is that in communism you will have to give over your private property, even your house, your sofa, your toothbrush and even your children(from a facebook comment). If you are already in tears from laughing your lungs out, we have more ridiculous arguments for you. In communism everyone will be the state’s slave and everyone will have to do what the state wants them to do, this is the way the evil communists will ensure equality. Communists will destroy religion. Communists will eat your children. Communists will make children murder their parents.
By carefully formulating all of these factual points together, critical thinkers and hiveminds in the dark corners of the internet come to the conclusion that Communism is utopian and it will fail. This conclusion is not only believed by anti communists but by people who call themselves marxist as well, who think that these are really the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and many after them. They hopelessly try to justify these stereotypes only to be ridiculed more. It is high time we do away with these anti communist arguments.
IS COMMUNISM UTOPIAN?
Utopian socialism is the bulk of ideas that came about during and after the French Revolution. These ideas were based more out of reason than anything else. The utopian thinkers sought to solve every problem in theology, philosophy, science and politics in the realm of reason alone. The French revolution because it had broken apart all the institutions that couldn’t stand the test of reason was seen as the arrival of heaven on earth, because now all superstition, injustice, privilege, oppression, were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal Right, equality based on Nature and the inalienable rights of man as talked of by Rousseau. However time would show us that the social and inalienable rights of man just turned out to be the social and inalienable rights of the propertied man and thus reason failed in bringing to us the promised land.
Some utopian socialists such as Saint Simon based their theories through the experience of the French Revolution and proposed that there should be the establishment of a new kind of capitalism where there would still be bourgeois and proletariat but it would be a sort of class reconciliation. Needless to say this idea too was based in the realm of reason alone. But now let us come to the question, is socialism by Marx just another form of utopian socialism? Before I try to present why it isn’t, let us try to see how Marx sees utopian ideas. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx writes:
"The undeveloped state of the class struggle, as well as their own surroundings, causes Socialists of this kind to consider themselves far superior to all class antagonisms. They want to improve the condition of every member of society, even that of the most favoured. Hence, they habitually appeal to society at large, without the distinction of class; nay, by preference, to the ruling class. For how can people, when once they understand their system, fail to see in it the best possible plan of the best possible state of society?
Hence, they reject all political, and especially revolutionary action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, necessarily doomed to failure, and by the force of example to pave the way for the new social Gospel.
Such fantastic pictures of future society, painted at a time when the proletariat is still in a very undeveloped stage and has but a fantastic conception of its own position, correspond with the first instinctive of yearnings of that class for a general reconstruction of society."
So from here we can see what Marx felt about utopian thinkers. His disagreement being that they form their ideas without scientific analysis and only through morality and false hopes, they hope to create a new land of the chosen people which will crash and crumble. Among their ideas is also the idea of egalitarianism, which Marx has also thoroughly refuted.
Marxists think that for any theory to hold weight, it has to have some material basis. Immaterial thinking led to the failures of Saint Simon, Fourier, Robert Owen, amongst many others. The ideas of these philosophers were based on pure reason and not on the real world, their theories came up after the French Revolution of 1789 which although presented the idea of liberty for all, ended up just upholding the liberty of the property owning class, the bourgeoisie as I showed before. Utopian socialists believe that there can be the formulation of a new system where all classes will live together happily. This is precisely the thought which anti communists believe to be a part of Marxism. Engels in his Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, explains :
The Utopians’ mode of thought has for a long time governed the Socialist ideas of the 19th century, and still governs some of them. Until very recently, all French and English Socialists did homage to it. The earlier German Communism, including that of Weitling, was of the same school. To all these, Socialism is the expression of absolute truth, reason and justice, and has only to be discovered to conquer all the world by virtue of its own power. And as an absolute truth is independent of time, space, and of the historical development of man, it is a mere accident when and where it is discovered. With all this, absolute truth, reason, and justice are different with the founder of each different school. And as each one’s special kind of absolute truth, reason, and justice is again conditioned by his subjective understanding, his conditions of existence, the measure of his knowledge and his intellectual training, there is no other ending possible in this conflict of absolute truths than that they shall be mutually exclusive of one another. Hence, from this nothing could come but a kind of eclectic, average Socialism, which, as a matter of fact, has up to the present time dominated the minds of most of the socialist workers in France and England. Hence, a mish-mash allowing of the most manifold shades of opinion: a mish-mash of such critical statements, economic theories, pictures of future society by the founders of different sects, as excite a minimum of opposition; a mish-mash which is the more easily brewed the more definite sharp edges of the individual constituents are rubbed down in the stream of debate, like rounded pebbles in a brook.
It can thus be seen that utopianism is one of the things which Marxism has been in opposition to since the inception of its ideas. For Marx and Engels, the world is a material world, i.e. made of matter, the progress of this world is based through human relations to humans, to production and to nature, therefore no theory can be seen as valid unless it is based on scientific and historical development. Marx clarified in the German Ideology that communists were not against selfishness, nor did they preach selflessness.
Engels in the same text further compares the two types of socialism :
"The Socialism of earlier days certainly criticized the existing capitalistic mode of production and its consequences. But it could not explain them, and, therefore, could not get the mastery of them. It could only simply reject them as bad. The more strongly this earlier Socialism denounced the exploitations of the working-class, inevitable under Capitalism, the less able was it clearly to show in what this exploitation consisted and how it arose, but for this it was necessary —
to present the capitalistic mode of production in its historical connection and its inevitableness during a particular historical period, and therefore, also, to present its inevitable downfall; and
to lay bare its essential character, which was still a secret. This was done by the discovery of surplus-value.
It was shown that the appropriation of unpaid labor is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the exploitation of the worker that occurs under it; that even if the capitalist buys the labor power of his laborer at its full value as a commodity on the market, he yet extracts more value from it than he paid for; and that in the ultimate analysis, this surplus-value forms those sums of value from which are heaped up constantly increasing masses of capital in the hands of the possessing classes. The genesis of capitalist production and the production of capital were both explained."
Thus we see that the critique of utopianism by Marx and Engels lies in the fact that it wasn’t scientific enough. Although it did form decent criticisms towards capitalism, it couldn’t explain why capitalism was the way it was, i.e why was it especially exploitative. The Utopians did not take the historical conditions for the rise of capitalism into account nor were they successful in identifying one of the key characteristics of capitalism, the theft of the surplus value by the bourgeois from the proletariat’s labour, i.e the actual value of the labour power and time that the proletariat puts in for the production of a commodity. In Wage Labour and Capital Marx tells us that the interests of the bourgeois class are diametrically opposite to the interests of the proletarian class, most utopians reject this and thus profess a sort of class reconciliation between the two. They want to write a happily ever after ending in the neo noir film of capitalism.
From a simple reading of Marx or Engels, it can be understood that their program is anything but utopian. In fact, their program is rightly called scientific socialism as it does not base itself in morality or emotions. It simply presents to us the dialectical course that humankind has followed and will follow. The relations between ruling class and the subordinate class has been seen throughout history, and everytime we have seen that the class below has taken over the class above, slaves became serfs and slave owners became lords, the lords were then removed by the traders who became the modern bourgeoisie and the serfs became the modern working class.
Utopian socialism sees these developments but unlike marxists, they don’t believe that history has proved anything, and instead of looking at history, they look at reason and make up the most ridiculous fantasies. Egalitarianism, Anarchism, New Religion, New Capitalism and whatnot. All have been tried and failed. Scientific Socialism on the other hand, has been tried in the USSR, Cuba, China, Burkina Faso and various other countries, where the country and its people saw huge leaps in employment, education, healthcare, living standards and everything one needs to live a happy life in their own way. They have fallen no doubt but not because of socialism, rather because of opposition to socialism, Burkina Faso was taken over by a military coup and USSR fell to revisionism.
Marxists believe that every person should be paid the full amount of his labour, we believe that private property has allowed the bourgeois to keep accumulating profit therefore this property must be made public. Contrary to popular belief Karl Marx does not demand the immediate or gradual or any kind of seizure of toothbrushes, clothes, children or sofas. Because three of these come under personal property and children are human beings not property. By private property we mean the land, the factories and the fields that have been in control of one single class supported by the dictatorship of that class. We intend to do away with the exploitative relations of the peasant and landlord, of worker and capitalist, of wife and husband, all of which have been created through private property. We wish to establish first a socialist state based on democratic centralism, through that state we wish to carry out these changes to bring about stateless, moneyless and classless communism where every human being will be free from the exploitative relations of capitalism. Unlike utopians, we don’t call communism the end stage of history, because history has taught us that each mode of production brings about new relations, the same will happen in communism however they will not be exploitative.
The class divide in society is increasing day by day. The contradictions of capitalism are in front of us when we see a new wave of disenfranchised people from every country who are homeless, jobless, alienated and depressed. Imperialist tactics are being used by the capitalist countries to shut down voices of opposition with force and yet the utopians will say let us all live happily together.
Belief in a perfect society gets us nowhere, a society built on dreams should be kept in dreams and thus marxists are completely opposed to utopianism.
Even though I have presented to the reader quotations from Marx and Engels themselves which show that their socialism was formed out of a disagreement with already existing utopian socialism along with proof that their analysis of society turned out to be correct, there will be fools who say that marxism is still utopian. The smart reader on the other hand will see that the idea that Marx was utopian was given to him by the same person who believes that poor people are lazy. The aim of this article, like all of our articles, was to fight against propaganda and lies that are aimed at marxism. I have shown through quotations and examples how pathetic the arguments made against communism really are. We encourage the reader to read the texts that we have quoted and also to read our other articles to explore more about Marxism.