Karl Marx

  A well- known revolutionary philosopher of nineteenth century (Karl Marx) claimed to have found the underlying principles of revolutionary change having universal application. He, however, admitted that he borrowed these principles from an earlier philosopher (G.W.F. Hegel) who had propounded them under a term “dialectics”.

  Dialectics of Hegel was a process that consisted of three parts: Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. Thesis is the starting point and can be considered to take place at any point and every point in everything or object under study in the whole process. By virtue of its very nature Thesis always contains a contradictory element, that is, its antithesis. The existence of Antithesis along with Thesis is the very condition of the existence of Thesis. The conflict and contradiction between Thesis and Antithesis bring changes and give birth to conditions and things that are incompatible with Thesis and cannot be reconciled within its legitimate confines. Over a period of time these irreconcilable contradictions go on accumulating and at a certain point of time a drastic change takes place resulting into a new harmonious Synthesis that reconciles the contradiction of Thesis and Antithesis.

  Hegel in his understanding of universality of Existence, to the extent it is possible to understand it by Mind, is very close to Divine Lord, Supreme Master (Sachchiddananda). He puts his understanding of the matter in his Philosophy of Law and Right proposition No. 21 in these words:  “The truth, however, of this formal universality which is by itself indeterminate and receives its determination from each material to which it is applied consists in a universality which determines itself, which is the will, is freedom. Since this will has the universality, has it itself as the infinite form, as its content, its object and its end, it is not only the will which is free in itself, but also the will which is free for itself- the true Idea.”

  Idea- that we may refer to as Divine Lord, operating through history has been put beautifully by C.F. Friedrich thus:  “History is seen as the march of freedom through the world. This march of freedom is interpreted as what the world spirit wants, as it seeks to realize itself. And in its effort to realize itself, it employs peoples, world-historical peoples to do its work.”

  According to Hegel the movement of universal Idea in its effort to realize itself through the history follows this pattern of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. What is this “Idea”? What does Hegel say about this “Idea”? Its nature, its property, its ‘color’? Ultimately, what is this “Idea” in its essence? Hegel has no clue. Why? Because, Hegel is talking all along with his “mind”. It is a pure mental speculation and nothing more. One who could not “mentally” calculate that “mind” is not the ultimate product of life’s evolution, cannot understand anything “beyond mind” with the aid of his mind. There have been – and there are – people who have attained the stage of consciousness that can know and that can have the living experience of a consciousness that is “beyond mind”. Hegel never had that capacity and his all talk of the supreme “Idea” is nothing but useless mental exercise. However, he mentally observed the working of a dialectical process in Nature.

Karl Marx borrowed these Dialectical principles from Hegel to explain change in human history and thus to prove the inevitability and justification of impending economic, political and social change.

  However, Marx claimed that Dialectics of Hegel, where Idea is made supreme and universal, was standing on its head and he had turned it upside down where the matter- and not the idea-was supreme and universal out of which ideas, thoughts and mind originated.

  Marx has admitted that he stumbled upon the concept of dialectics, on which his entire philosophy is founded, while he was a student of Hegelian Philosophy of History. He claimed that with Hegel this Dialectics was standing on its head and he simply made it stand on its feet. Hegel maintained that it is the Idea, the Spirit, that is real and there is conflict between two irreconcilable contradictory elements inherent in this Idea. This conflict is between thesis and antithesis, and their conflict is resolved by emerging synthesis. Out of this conflict – this contradiction – human history is evolved. Therefore, the history, with all its evolved institutions, is merely an unfolding of the Idea.

  Marx says that he retained the dialectical process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis as propounded by Hegel but replaced his concept of “Idea” with “Matter”. When this Dialectical process based on “Matter” was applied to the human history, Marx made the “historical material conditions” the real thing and the “Idea” a mere reflection of these material conditions in human mind, in his thoughts and his culture. Marx interpolated the philosophical concept of the contradiction between “Thesis and Anti-Thesis” with the social contradiction between “two social classes”. Through out the history of human society (except in the initial stage of tribal society, which he called Primitive Communist society), there have been two antagonistic social classes. He said, out of these two classes, the ruling class needed to suppress the ruled-class and therefore the instrument of State was invented to perform this task. He said, State with all its organs like military, police, jail, courts, laws, bureaucracy etc. is an instrument of suppression of one class by another. The presence of State in any society shows that in it there are two antagonistic classes and class struggle.

Hegelian invention was an accidental discovery by Marx and its correction by introducing “Matter” in place of “Idea” was his genius.

He also very frankly admitted that he discovered the principles of capital-working from the study of British economy and he learnt the revolutionary element in his philosophy from the French revolutionary Communes.

It was his brilliant mind that integrated all these three diverse elements into a harmonious philosophic edifice that logically explained human history, economics and culture, and gave hope to the exploited millions in their salvation.

By systematically applying the dialectical concepts of Thesis, Anti-Thesis and Synthesis, Marx explained the working of human history starting from the primitive tribal stage (which he called the Primitive Communist society), to Serfdom (or the slave-owning society), to Feudalistic (land-owners and tillers of that land) society, to Capitalist (capital-owners and capital-less workers) society. By further applying these dialectical principles of “contradiction between the Thesis and Anti-Thesis (or Capitalists and Workers) to the capitalist society, Marx emphatically declared that the Capitalist society is bound by the force of natural laws (or material conditions) to come to an end and to be replaced by a new form of society.

This society will be a system where “all means of production – like land, machines etc. – will be owned by people collectively” and termed it Socialist Society. He pithily observed that this Socialist Society will be a transitory stage and in due course will be transformed into “Communist Society”, which is the higher stage of Socialist Society. Marx predicted that in this new society, there will be no classes and, hence no class struggle, obviating the need of State machinery.  State as an instrument of suppression of one class by another class will wither away in this communist society.

Marx said that in the Socialist Society the governing principle would be: “Work would be done by people according to their capacity and reward/return would be given to them according to their work”. However, in the Communist Society the governing principle would be:”Work would be done by people according to their capacity and reward/return would be given to them according to their needs”. In Socialist or Communist society, there is no scope of owning the “private property” by individuals (or their groups like companies). By predicting the impending arrival of the Socialist (and thereafter Communist) society, Marx and his philosophy stirred the hearts of millions of exploited people across the globe culminating into revolutions in many countries.

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