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By Luc Loranhe (2006)
There are so many errors in Marxism that indeed, it is difficult to even just start to list them. Overall, I assume that Marx was 90 percent wrong, and just 10 percent correct, and these 10 percent were not originally his.
On the other hand, one has to grant the man that the 90 percent of his thought that were wrong also were largely not his. Socialism was very much en vogue among the intellectuals of the 19th century, as was lofty philosophy at large.
And if Lenin would not have drawn so much on Marx, and if Lenin would not have been such a practical genius, Marx would not stand out much from the file of 19th century socialist revolutionaries whose ideas, overall, were as illusionist as Marx's.
But that he was just 90 percent wrong compares well with the founders of religions who were 100 percent wrong, and with philosophers like Kant and Hegel whose percentage of errors were still much larger than Marx's. Most metaphysical systems (religions and philosophies) are so off the mark that I would consider them an intellectual waste of time if there impact wouldn't have been so tragic.
I refer to Marx and Marxism because I wouldn't go as far as saying that they are a waste of time. The 10 percent of Marxism that are not wrong are crucial to understanding the world. This includes materialism as a tool of analyzing interests and ideologies. Crucial is also that Marxist atheism, and Communist female emancipation (which does not view men as enemies), ever became government policies.
Such policies would still today be a valid alternative to the concessions made to religions, and the misguided anti-sexual feminism, that are a standard feature of Western-style democracies, and for this reason I regret that all of Marxism has now been rejected in most of East Europe. It would have been better if Marxism were just corrected.
One of the many shortcomings of Marxism, and one that, among many others, played a role in Eastern European populations rejecting it, is its failure to provide a personal value system.
Marxism is an elaborate political philosophy. It can explain history as a sequence of class struggles (though history is not just that). It can analyze conclusively how the ideologies prevailing in a class are, to a considerable extent, offshoots of the economic interests of that class.
However, that Marx and Marxism never concerned themselves much with personal value systems, and that Marx and Marxism never dealt with sexuality, is one of its major shortcomings.
On the other hand, talking about sexuality would have been considered bad style in Europe in the 19th century. It was a taboo topic in the bourgeois society in which Marx up, and it was in the elite of the working class for which social democracy became the ideology of the times.
And not to forget: Marx (1818-1883) lived the whole second half of his life (34 years, 1849-1883) in Victorian London.
Sexuality became the subject of intense intellectual interest only with Sigmund Freud, and to focus scientific thought on it was Freud's greatest achievement, regardless of the correctness, or wrongness, of his theories in detail.
Unfortunately, the Marxists who were in power in Eastern Europe were very conventional, and even conservative, in their attitudes towards sexuality. Much more than the people over which they ruled.
And the personal value systems offered in public education reflected this conventionality and conservativeness. Or could you imagine Erich Honecker or Andrei Gromyko having talked about orgasms? Even imagining them having one seems odd.
So, the personal value systems offered as offshoots of the state ideology sounded like this:
To work for the better of mankind
To help the poor
To be active in the class struggle
Or the recipes were the same as those of the bourgeois class:
To have a happy family
To work for the future of the children
No answers on the eternal question: for what?
The state ideologies were no competition in this department to the Churches of any denomination. Religions always offered answers (albeit wrong ones) to questions such as:
How to make sense of our deaths?
What happens after we have died?
In light of our individual deaths, how should we live?
I assume that every person benefits from having a personal value system, and I assume that even the founders of Marxism and its principal exponents had their personal value systems and apparently, they had little to do with class struggle.
Marx had children with his wife and with their housekeeper.
One grave for three
Lenin had parallel love relationships in Paris, and conveniently, his lover and his wife lived next door to each other.
And Mao's sexual exploits are legendary. In his later life, he had a marked preference for young girls with whom he often was just once.
The private life of chairman Mao
More recently, it was uncovered that the sacked party chief of Shanghai, Chinese politburo member Chen Liangyu, had 10 mistresses. (This was not the reason why he was sacked; the Chinese are not that hypocritical.)
At least 10 mistresses
I do not know what the personal value systems were of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. But they probably didn't consider their societies of the time ready to absorb what they would have said if they were to have spoken the truth.
And the communist bureaucrats that followed them in office obviously didn't dare to touch the topic in a revolutionary manner (or they really just were as conventional as they presented themselves).
But Marxism should have dealt with the issue. Marxist ideology lacked long-term convincing power (in peaceful societies after the revolutionary struggle), because it did not concern itself with what valid personal value systems would look like in a Marxist state.
Which is why the young (more than older generations) turned either to "sexy" Western pop culture (and overall Western values) or to religions.
If Marxism, or neo-Marxism, wants to have a chance in the future, it will not only have to be economically viable but, furthermore, will have to offer the outline of a personal value system that is not just warmed-up 19th century bourgeois family ideals. And it will have to let sexuality occupy its deserved central position in such an outlined personal value system.
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Copyright Luc Loranhe