Karl Marx and the oppressive nature of communism (honest question)

Robert165

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,266
North Georgia
#1
Is the oppressive nature of communism, violent revolution, political concentration camps, secret police, rationing of goods and supplies, no freedom to choose your employment, no freedom to travel..... etc, is all of that described by Marx in written form or described from his speeches? Did he actually advocate or recommend such tactics?

I have read The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital and do not remember him mentioning anything like that. But, I have not read and are not familiar with his works from later in his life.





EDIT: I am asking you the history experts. If he did make such claims and recommendations, please tell me the source so that I can go look it up please.
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,000
Lisbon, Portugal
#2
In one simple word: no, he didn't mentioned all that.

Karl Marx never mentioned any detailed proposals for the structures of a socialist or communist State and its society other than the prospect of the overthrow of capitalism by the working class and the creation of socialism in which would later evolve into "pure Communism", that's it.

You already read all his political works. Everything else that he wrote were philosophical essays, critical economic analysis of capitalism or just contemporary affairs. You won't find information about the oppressive nature of 20th century Marxist-Leninist regimes in his works.
 
Last edited:

Isleifson

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,881
Lorraine tudesque
#3
During my stay in a spartakist collective farm-that was the big discussion why things turned out like that.

The most stupid explication was: the communist revolution started in a backward country mostly with peasants. And not in the West with urban, industrial workers.

Some so called Marxist still think like that.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,651
Australia
#4
I too have read Capital and the Communist Manifesto and in neither publication did Marx advocate such restrictions once a communist society had been achieved although, as Robto has noted, the expectation was that revolution would be needed to establish that society.

Human nature saw to the introduction of the oppressive machinery of the state that came to be associated with communism rather than anything in the philosophy itself.
 
Dec 2011
1,303
#5
Is the oppressive nature of communism, violent revolution, political concentration camps, secret police, rationing of goods and supplies, no freedom to choose your employment, no freedom to travel..... etc, is all of that described by Marx in written form or described from his speeches? Did he actually advocate or recommend such tactics?

I have read The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital and do not remember him mentioning anything like that. But, I have not read and are not familiar with his works from later in his life.





EDIT: I am asking you the history experts. If he did make such claims and recommendations, please tell me the source so that I can go look it up please.
As far as I know, he didn't make any explicit remarks about what you listed in his works. However, apart from his major works, Marx' great influence in his time and shortly thereafter came from his work as a journalist and orator. His letters are also interesting in this regard. In there, he does give some ambiguous statements that could be interpreted as a "wild card" for violence in the name of communism. At least this is how many bourgeois thinkers have interpreted and how some real life communists have acted upon them.

For example, there is his famous metaphor about the vehmic courts in Early Medieval Germany from his speech at the anniversary of the People's Paper in 1856:
Marx said:
I know the heroic struggles the English working class have gone through since the middle of the last century — struggles less glorious, because they are shrouded in obscurity, and burked by the middleclass historian. To revenge the misdeeds of the ruling class, there existed in the middle ages, in Germany, a secret tribunal, called the “Vehmgericht.” If a red cross was seen marked on a house, people knew that its owner was doomed by the “Vehm.” All the houses of Europe are now marked with the mysterious red cross. History is the judge — its executioner, the proletarian.
(https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1856/04/14.htm)

Another quote from one of his speeches in front of the Communist League in London in 1850:
Marx said:
Above all, during and immediately after the struggle the workers, as far as it is at all possible, must oppose bourgeois attempts at pacification and force the democrats to carry out their terroristic phrases. They must work to ensure that the immediate revolutionary excitement is not suddenly suppressed after the victory. On the contrary, it must be sustained as long as possible. Far from opposing the so-called excesses – instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals or against public buildings with which hateful memories are associated – the workers’ party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give them direction. During and after the struggle the workers must at every opportunity put forward their own demands against those of the bourgeois democrats. They must demand guarantees for the workers as soon as the democratic bourgeoisie sets about taking over the government. They must achieve these guarantees by force if necessary, and generally make sure that the new rulers commit themselves to all possible concessions and promises – the surest means of compromising them.
(https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm)

Marx has written a lot and everyone knows that during campaign season, orators say the most hilarious things. His overall work does not really give the impression that he advocated for Stalinist or Maoist-style violent oppression. Nonetheless, if one wanted to, one could justify these acts by quoting Marx, especially if the listeners have not read much of him.
 

Robert165

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,266
North Georgia
#6
In one simple word: no, he didn't mentioned all that.

Karl Marx never mentioned any detailed proposals for the structures of a socialist or communist State and its society other than the prospect of the overthrow of capitalism by the working class and the creation of socialism in which would later evolve into "pure Communism", that's it.

You already read all his political works. Everything else that he wrote were philosophical essays, critical economic analysis of capitalism or just contemporary affairs. You won't find information about the oppressive nature of 20th century Marxist-Leninist regimes in his works.
Thank you :)
 

Robert165

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,266
North Georgia
#7
I too have read Capital and the Communist Manifesto and in neither publication did Marx advocate such restrictions once a communist society had been achieved although, as Robto has noted, the expectation was that revolution would be needed to establish that society.

Human nature saw to the introduction of the oppressive machinery of the state that came to be associated with communism rather than anything in the philosophy itself.
thanks :)
 

Robert165

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,266
North Georgia
#8
As far as I know, he didn't make any explicit remarks about what you listed in his works. However, apart from his major works, Marx' great influence in his time and shortly thereafter came from his work as a journalist and orator. His letters are also interesting in this regard. In there, he does give some ambiguous statements that could be interpreted as a "wild card" for violence in the name of communism. At least this is how many bourgeois thinkers have interpreted and how some real life communists have acted upon them.

For example, there is his famous metaphor about the vehmic courts in Early Medieval Germany from his speech at the anniversary of the People's Paper in 1856:
(https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1856/04/14.htm)

Another quote from one of his speeches in front of the Communist League in London in 1850:
(https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm)

Marx has written a lot and everyone knows that during campaign season, orators say the most hilarious things. His overall work does not really give the impression that he advocated for Stalinist or Maoist-style violent oppression. Nonetheless, if one wanted to, one could justify these acts by quoting Marx, especially if the listeners have not read much of him.
thank you also Entreri :)
 

Robert165

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,266
North Georgia
#9
Above all, during and immediately after the struggle the workers, as far as it is at all possible, must oppose bourgeois attempts at pacification and force the democrats to carry out their terroristic phrases. They must work to ensure that the immediate revolutionary excitement is not suddenly suppressed after the victory. On the contrary, it must be sustained as long as possible. Far from opposing the so-called excesses – instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals or against public buildings with which hateful memories are associated – the workers’ party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give them direction. During and after the struggle the workers must at every opportunity put forward their own demands against those of the bourgeois democrats. They must demand guarantees for the workers as soon as the democratic bourgeoisie sets about taking over the government. They must achieve these guarantees by force if necessary, and generally make sure that the new rulers commit themselves to all possible concessions and promises – the surest means of compromising them.
from post #5


well that sounds kind of.... violent and totalitarian, doesn't it?



requoting:

Far from opposing the so-called excesses – instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals or against public buildings with which hateful memories are associated – the workers’ party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give them direction.

They must achieve these guarantees by force if necessary, and generally make sure that the new rulers commit themselves to all possible concessions and promises – the surest means of compromising them.
 
Last edited:

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,000
Lisbon, Portugal
#10
from post #5


well that sounds kind of.... violent and totalitarian, doesn't it?



requoting:

Far from opposing the so-called excesses – instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals or against public buildings with which hateful memories are associated – the workers’ party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give them direction.

They must achieve these guarantees by force if necessary, and generally make sure that the new rulers commit themselves to all possible concessions and promises – the surest means of compromising them.
That doesn't sound totalitarian, it sounds revolutionary, just like the American, French and other 19th centuries revolutions that happened prior and during Marx's life.

We have to take into consideration the context. He grew up in early 19th century volatile Germany - still recovering from the trauma of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. He spent is early adulthood and formative years during the revolutionary wave of the "Spring of Nations" during the 1840s.

Having said that, that environment completely shaped his worldview and ideology. He lived during a very transformative period of European history where the call for revolution and romantization of violence was present all across the board.
 

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