So because I’m a massive nerd with time on my hands, here are a few misconceptions about Marxism and communism:
Marxism is just resentment against the successful.
Engels was a capitalist. Participating in the democratic revolutions of their time, Marx and Engels saw the bourgeoisie as a progressive class in throwing off the shackles of their rulers - but as one whose wealth relied on exploitation.
Communism is about state control.
Communism is a society with no classes and no state, the ultimate aim of communists. Lenin said in The State and Revolution that “as long as the state exists there can be no freedom,” and advocated the “withering away” of the state.
Public control and management is not communism, it is socialism. That’s a transitional stage, and the 20th Century has shown it’s a very complex and contentious thing to try, but it’s not communism.
It’s just a set of slogans and dogmas.
Marx advocated ‘a ruthless criticism of everything existing,’ and meant it. Marxist methodology is about critically engaging with conditions, seeking new information, revising false assumptions.
Any ideology can be applied dogmatically, but Marxists who do so are missing the point.
Capitalism is permanent, communism was disproven when the Berlin Wall fell.
Capitalism took centuries to develop; centuries of struggling against taxes, experimentation with the commodity form, global markets developing, enclosure of land… monarchs and churches claimed the permanence of their system. No system is permanent.
Communism has had less than a century since its first conscious revolution in 1917. In historical terms, that is very early days.
Humans are fundamentally selfish, it’s evolution.
Extensively keeping up with anthropology, Marx and Engels described indigenous societies (if you’ll forgive the 19th Century language) as ‘primitive communist’ - identifying polygamous family structures, gift economies and various other things that don’t look like modern capitalism. Humans are capable of a huge range of social structures.
Engels also famously sent Darwin a copy of Capital; they were huge supporters of the theory of evolution, as most socialists are. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is about species survival. The assumption that commodity markets are the best system for human survival looks particularly suspect in the 21st Century…
Awesome submission! Thank you! - FYML