When an industrial working class formed in the cities in the 19th century, various theorists thought about how politics could be pursued in the interests of the working class. Karl Marx was the most radical thinker of all, and that will also be the reason why most politicians oriented themselves to his variant of socialism.
According to Marx, socialism means two things:
1) Socialism is a form of government in which the proletariat exerts domination ("dictatorship of the proletariat").
2) Socialism is a form of society in which there is no private ownership of means of production. This means that all enterprises are in the hands of the state.
Marx regarded socialism as a preliminary stage to communism. While in socialism everyone is obliged to work according to his abilities and is paid according to his performance, in communism everyone is paid according to his needs.
The basic idea of Karl Marx was by no means to improve the world. On the contrary, he wanted everyone to feel the same (equally bad). This idea alone is worth rejecting.
Socialism is an attempt by the state to intervene in the economy and society to mitigate or even eliminate certain aspects of the natural course of things. The fact that the state is used as the main instrument for this, however, already reveals the weaknesses of socialism. The state is nothing other than a system of rule based on the threat of violence. Moreover, if a tyrant wants to be taken seriously, he must not be afraid to draw the consequences, i.e. to use force, if he violates the rules he has laid down. This is the reason why socialism, every time it has been implemented in a country, has caused thousands, if not millions, of deaths and will continue to do so in the future, should such an attempt be made again.
Communism is in principle nothing other than state capitalism. Thus communism has all of the known problems that are associated with capitalism itself, and also the enormous disadvantage that there is a monopolist, namely the state. Communism is therefore by no means an alternative to a market economy system.
In his major work "Nationalökonomie - Theorie des Handelns und Wirtschaftens" (published in 1940, but still topical), the Austrian scholar Ludwig von Mises dedicates a chapter to the subject of "polylogism". What is meant here is the assertion that there is no universal logic inherent in humanity, but rather many different logics that are characteristic of certain population groups. The thesis of polylogism was propagated by both Marxists and National Socialists. The Marxists thought logic was class specific, and the National Socialists thought it was race specific. Mises, on the other hand, is of the opinion that all people would in principle think according to the same patterns and act according to the same patterns; differences only exist to the extent that some people might not be able to grasp all conceivable thought processes.
According to Mises, Marxism is absurd because from the Marxist point of view one can "refute everything and prove nothing". For from a Marxist perspective, Marxism itself should actually be seen as a form of bourgeois logic. And thus it would lead itself ad absurdum.
It may be that as Western Europe's culularisation progresses, it will become increasingly difficult for future generations to understand the phenomenon of real existing socialism in the former Eastern bloc.
For centuries, Eastern Europe had been shaped by Christianity. The ruling aristocrats used faith to legitimize their rule. It was clear to revolutionaries like Lenin that they would only have a chance of success if they had a substitute religion that could replace Christianity. Marxism became this substitute religion. Precisely because Marxism took on the role of Christianity in the Eastern bloc, it was punishably forbidden there to doubt statements that came from Marx, Engels or Lenin, even if they were as stupid and ill-considered as they might have been.
That the 1968 movement also turned to Marxism may be due to the fact that even in 1968 religion still played a major role in Western Europe.
Perhaps in the long run, due to the increasing proportion of Muslims in the population, secularisation will eventually come to an end.
Claus Volko, MD MSc