Another Life of Marx – Part 2
Marxism, being primarily called upon to stir up the proletarian masses, to make them collect their forces, and to lead them on to the battlefield, must necessarily display itself at the outset in a guise which would encourage optimism; in a guise which, by representing historical evolution as the guarantee of the liberation of mankind, would make the workers believe in their own mission. To gain headway, it must relentlessly clear out of the path all rationalistic and utopian systems of Socialism, and must inexorably proceed on its own course. To-day, when its work is finished, Marxism begins to assume a new aspect. In our own time, not merely can Marxism occasionally recur to the systems of the Utopists and the rationalists; it is directly faced in this direction by the practical demands of the day by the growing claims for positive achievements in the class struggle. (p. 396.) (Italics ours.)
The main thing was the work which had to be done; the qualities of the doer mattered little. Or, rather, the doer of the work which had to be done, had to be spurred to his task by an impetus such as could only be furnished by the neurosis from which Marx suffered! To-day, we have different problems to solve, and they must be solved by highly qualified persons who have freed themselves from neurosis; must be solved by champions of the class struggle who approach the undertaking with a keen sense of responsibility, an awakened consciousness, and a strongly developed community feeling, (p. 397.)
‘Man makes religion; religion does not make man. Religion, indeed, is the self-consciousness and the self-feeling of the man who either has not yet found himself, or else (having found himself) has lost himself once more. But man is not an abstract being, squatting down somewhere outside the world. Man is the world of men, the State, society. This state, this society, produce religion, produce a perverted world consciousness, because they are a perverted world. Religion is the generalised theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compend, its logic in a popular form . . . The fight against religion is, therefore, a direct campaign against the world whose spiritual aroma is religion.
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of unspiritual conditions. It is the opium of the people.
. . . . Thus the criticism of heaven is transformed into a criticism of earth, the criticism of religion into a criticism of law, the criticism of theology into a criticism of politics, (pp. 57 and 58.)
The criticism of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the highest being for man; it ends, that is to say, with the categorical imperative that all conditions must be revolutionised in which man is a debased, an enslaved, an abandoned, a contemptible being . . . a radical is one who cuts at the roots of things.
A radical revolution, the general emancipation of mankind, is not a Utopian dream for Germany; what is Utopian is the idea of a partial, an exclusively political revolution, which would leave the pillars of the house standing.
What, then, are the practical possibilities of German emancipation? Here is the answer. They are to be found in the formation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society; of an estate which is the dissolution of all estates; of a sphere which is endowed with a universal character by the universality of its sufferings; one which does not lay claim to any particular rights, the reason being that it does not suffer any one specific injustice, but suffers injustice unqualified; one which can no longer put forward a historically grounded title, but only a general human title; one which is not in any sort of one-sided opposition to the consequences, but only in general opposition to the presuppositions of the German political system; and, finally, a sphere which cannot emancipate itself, without emancipating itself from all the other spheres of society—one which, in a word, has been completely deprived of its human privileges, so that it can only regain itself by fully regaining these human privileges. This dissolution of society as a particular estate is—the proletariat.
If the proletariat herald the dissolution of the world order as hitherto extant, it is merely, thereby, expressing the mystery of its own existence, for it is the actual dissolution of this previous world order. (p. 60.)
On page 199, writing of Engels, Ruhle says he “unselfishly devoted his evenings, year after year, when the day’s work was over, to writing the necessary articles for the ‘New York Tribune.’ ” In a review of a previous book on Marx by Ryazanoff we gave our reasons for contesting this view, and we must refer the reader to that review for a full statement. Engels certainly helped Marx by putting his articles into English at a time when Marx had not yet acquired a complete command of English, and he also wrote some of the articles dealing with military matters, but that is all. Ruhle’s appetite for detraction leads him to make these sweeping statements where opportunity offers.We cannot commend the translators for the bibliography at the end. They seem more concerned with their own translations than with giving the reader a list of Marx’s writings that are accessible to those who can only read English, e.g., “Value, Price and Profit,” “Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy,” “Lord Palmerston,” “The Eastern Question,” “Class Struggles in France,” etc.
Marx was, as are all truly great men, free from conceit, and appreciated every genuine striving, every opinion based on independent thinking . . . as already mentioned, he was always eager to hear the opinion of the simplest working man on the labour movement. Thus he would often come to me in the afternoon, fetch me for a walk, and talk about all sorts of matters. . . . Generally he was an excellent companion, who extremely attracted, one might say, charmed, everybody that came in touch with him. His humour was irrepressible; his laugh a very hearty one. . . .
*****Some comrades proposed to erect a monument to him. But no monument could be of finer foundation than his teachings, his actions, and his struggles, which are engraved now into the hearts and heads of millions of workers for ever.