Two kinds of morality

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kowalskil

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TWO KINDS OF MORALITIES, MARXIST VERSUS THEOLOGICAL​

I am reading interesting comments about communist morality, in a book devoted to Judaism, published in 1975. The authors are two rabbis, D. Prager and J. Telushkin. A Christian theologian would probably make similar observations.

Marxists and theologians, they write, "are both motivated by the desire to perfect the world and establish a utopia on earth. ... Both promote all-encompassing worldviews. But they diametrically oppose one another in almost every other way." The authors remind us that communists rejected "all morality derived from nonhuman [i.e. God] and nonclass concepts," as stated in 1920 by Lenin. ... "Marxist morality sanctions any act so long as that act was committed in the interest of [economic and political] class struggle." Nothing that Stalin, and Mao did was immoral, according to such ideology.

Theologians, on the other hand, hold "that morality transcends economic, national, and individual interests." God's commandments are objective rather than subjective. Evil human acts are condemned, no matter what economic or political gains are derived from them. That is the essential difference. Greed in human nature, they emphasize, "may have helped create capitalism, but capitalism did not create greed in human nature."

Theologians also deplore social injustice. But they reject brutal proletarian revolutions because "the roots of evil and injustice lie not in economics or society but in man himself." This has to do with the concept of freedom. "For Marxism, which conceives of the world in materialist terms, bondage is defined solely as servitude to external sources such as slave owners, capitalist bosses, or other forms of material inequality. Freedom is liberation from such servitude." People, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels, must get rid of economic chains binding them. Then they will automatically cease to be evil.

Theologians, on the other hand, see two kinds of liberation, from external and from internal bonds. "Once liberation from external servitude takes place, one must then liberate oneself from internal domination, the domination of one's life by passions, needs, irrationality and wants." The conflict between theologians and Marxists "is not economic, it is moral." Proletarian dictatorship was practiced in several countries; the results show that "when Marxist revolutionaries attain power they are at least as crual as their predecessors."

Philosophical differences about morality, among different kinds of theologians, are minimal, as far as I know. But attempts to impose morality are not very successful. Why is it so? What can be done to improve the situation, to bring our reality a little closer to "utopia" dreams?

Ludwik
 

Lhipenwhe

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People generally have mixed reactions toward people telling them that they'll go to hell/become stupid sheeple/whatever if they don't follow your belief. Obviously, not all religions or political beliefs are like that, but when you have people from those groups saying such things, you're bound to create animosity. Especially if the people already have an existing belief.

As for what can make the world more utopia, I don't know. People have been struggling for thousands of years with that very question, and it'd be the height of arrogance to think that there's just "one" solution to it all. But, to risk sounding arrogant, I think if people focused less on the next world (heaven/proletarian paradise/transhumanistic world) and more on making the present a better place, we might have a less unequal world.
 

kuwisdelu

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I don't believe in any kind of absolute good or evil, or that anything can be categorized as either with absolute objectivity.

I don't believe the human struggle is about good and bad. It's about what we understand and what we don't understand.

There is no version of morality, no ideology, that can deliver utopia. The best we can do is try to understand one another.
 

little_e

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"I am not a Marxist." -- Karl Marx
Distinguishing between Marx and Marxists, it is my understanding of Marx's work that he did not prescribe what people should do, but what they will do. Marxism is deterministic, claiming that the morality and social structures of an age are not dictated by what people want or try to do, but are inevitable by-products of the economic system.
I doubt Marx would have approved of the actions of Mao or Stalin, nor even that they were pursuing communism, given the lack of large proletariat classes in Russia and China at the time of their revolutions.

That said, yes, Marxists did commit great atrocities in pursuit of their ideals, trying to force what was supposed to happen naturally, and so far, never has. The irony of communism is that it is supposed to be the philosophy of the working class, of the global, unified, international proletariat, and yet it has always been in reality the philosophy of intellectuals.
Communism has many claimed opposites; quite prominently, nationalist socialism. For despite the Marxists' claim that nationalism is an ideology perpetuated against the working classes to make them willing cannon-fodder for the elite's wars, it appears, at least to me, that ethno-nationalism is an inherent proletarian trait. Internationalism is simply an elite trait, thus the opposition of the two ideologies.

All philosophies, once in the hands of mere mortals and not their well-intentioned creators, seem to inspire some folks to go murdering other folks and call it "just" and "right". I know of no major religion of significant age which cannot count a number of mass-murderers among its most ardent "believers"--Crusaders or Inquisitors, Thugges or Aztec priests. To tear out a still-beating heart to appease one's deity or murder millions of Kulaks... The offenses differ in scale, not barbarity.

Theology, according to your quote, is non-deterministic, that is, theologians believe in free will. This is true of some theologians; free will is an important concept in Christian theology, though not, to my knowledge, in other theologic traditions like Buddhism. Free will vs. determinism doesn't seem to make a big difference in individuals' willingness to murder each other in pursuit of their ideals, though we might note the importance of both philosophies in explaining the reactions of individuals to circumstances--that is, in a practical sense, we possess a combination of free and determined responses, eg, if I fail a test, I can study harder, but there is a natural limit to my abilities. No amount of work will turn me into an astrophysicist.

At this point, theologians vs. Marxists does not seem a very active dispute... for even such "communist" hold outs as North Korea have only survived by becoming nationalist, with racist screeds befitting the ideology's most famous adherents--there is no international proletariat, never has been, perhaps never will be. But theological revolutionaries like the Ayatollah Khomeni have not been kind to humanity, either--these days, I fear them more than the Marxists, for true Marxist ideology holds zero sway outside a few isolated pockets of academia.
 
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