The Universality of Marx’s Philosophy. By Mohammed Akmal Pasha, a special contribution on 123rd Death Anniversary of Karl Marx on 14th March 2006.


The fiasco in the hands of poor executors should not be entertained to substantiate the perceptible mess of the political economic philosophy devised by the great saintly and humanistic diviner. His lamentations with respect to wretched exploitation of the proletariat in the hands of wicked capitalists will remain legitimate until reversed and remedied. Then the vividness of celebration would be much different than is today when we celebrate 123rd death anniversary of Karl Marx.

A Christian by birth, where his parents had just converted from Jewism, he probably ended up with a single universal religion whose role would be ‘to introduce man to himself and depart’ and which would garner him nothing but his own larger self in hereafter where the heaven or hell will be what would emerge when man is rendered unfolded ‘non-man’ ["Unmensch"] ultimately. In a word, it would require another genius mind to comprehend his works in their entirety. In fact, each of his work is true reflective of his superhuman intellect. To start with; in his ‘Contribution To The Critique of Hegel`s Philosophy of Right’ Marx postulated that ‘the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism’ for many crimes are committed under its name. Marx thought of man like Voltaire said, ‘god wants to make a god out of man’ also that man would find only the reflection of his own self in the fantastic reality of heaven or gruesome actuality of hell. ‘Religion is’ adds Marx, ‘indeed the self-consciousness and self-esteem of a man which he has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again’. Also in the capacity of a refuge, religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people’. By opium he implied the religion resorted as a refuge for the inactive, lethargic and impassionate; who ‘places in God what he fails to place in himself’ or simply blames God where he fails to realize and rectify his own inefficacies. This is analogous with, Ludwig Feuerbach’s ‘The Essence of Christianity’, where he argued ‘that God had been invented by humans as a projection of their own ideals’; that is Divine psychology and personalistic psychology are comparable, compatible and congruent. Further, man in creating God in his own image, had "alienated himself from him reducing himself to a lowly, evil creature that needed both church and government to guide and control him’. As substantiated by Marx ‘The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself’. Of course, opium can make one feel elevated, but in this real, sublime and sober manner; where man revolves himself as his own sun- the illuminated conscience, the steer; really a brilliant and original philosophy of not only religion but the whole life.

To lay down the course of action, he pleads, ‘It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked’. Unmasking self-estrangement is introducing oneself to one’s own self, the motive of real religion. ‘Thus, the criticism of Heaven’ continues Marx ‘turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics’. Nevertheless, a healthy, rational and unbiased that is a philosophical criticism brings forth the unmasked and substantially unmaskable personified code and mode of life.

One of his highly philosophical pieces is the doctrine of ‘Alienation of Labor’. According to him, given that the capitalist usurps the ‘labor power’ from the laborer by employing him for a specific time period against a stipulated wage rate; only by virtue of the former being the ‘owner of the capital means’ renders the latter ‘exploitative labor’, earning him bear subsistence and sparing ‘surplus value’ for the capitalist. Capitalist treats the labor of the laborer as an object of value, a productive mechanism embodied in the labor as a ‘stomach’ who supplies all inputs to all bodily organs and itself gets bear subsistence so that it continues work rather drudge. Thus the ‘objectification’, of the object through which the laborer produces, confronts the laborer as a strange thing, as the ‘loss of and slavery to the object’, as estrangement, as alienation. Why, it resides within the laborer as an asset owned by capitalist; hence alienation. The laborer places his life in the object; but now his life belongs less to him than to the object; that his labor or skill, only in the hands of his physical exertion for peanuts. He gets depreciated, and gradually what the product of his labor is, he is not; like one time see-saw. The more the laborer labors, the less monetary gains he has in relative terms; for ‘surplus value’ is taken away by the capitalist out of each marginal product. So laborer keeps on becoming poorer and poorer relatively. Therefore, the greater this product, the lesser he becomes relatively. Since his labor is an object, not only does this labor become a separate existence, but it also gets isolated from him, (enslaved to capitalist) independent and alien to his existence and the life, which he has bestowed on the object. The object confronts him as something hostile and strange. Hegel, put it as ‘the exploiters (feudalists, capitalists, etc.) regard religion as a superb means of keeping the masses under their yoke, it begets obedience and contentment giving them false hope of rewards in the life hereafter’.

Marx scrutinized every material theology that came underway during his intellectual voyage. Be it ‘Philosophy of Poverty’ by M. Proudhon, to which he responded writing a giant criticism through, ‘Poverty of Philosophy’. (Notice the seemingly error of disposition apparent in juggling with M. Proudhon’s title; inscribing and proving the inverse). Here he logically refuted every postulation from Proudhon, philosophical or economic. The other he found the Gotha Programme laid down by Lassalle. To Marx, it contained numerous legal, social and logical flaws. In his ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’ (1875), he goes, “so in future, the German Workers` party has got to believe in Lassalle`s ‘iron law of wages’! That this may not be lost, the nonsense is perpetrated of speaking of the ‘abolition of the wage system’ (it should read: system of wage labor), ‘together with the iron law of wages’. If I abolish wage labor, then naturally I abolish its laws also, whether they are of ‘iron’ or sponge. But Lassalle`s attack on wage labor turns almost solely on this so-called law. In order, therefore, to prove that Lassalle`s sect has conquered, the "wage system" must be abolished "together with the iron law of wages" and not without it”. Again, when Lassalle claims workers as aiming at a ‘free basis of the state.’ Marx responds, ‘It is by no means the aim of the workers, who have got rid of the narrow mentality of humble subjects, to set the state free. In the ‘German Empire’ continues Marx, ‘the "state" is almost as "free" as in Russia. Freedom consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one completely subordinate to it; and today, too, the forms of state are freer or less free to the extent that they restrict the "freedom of the state". The last part is especially meaningful.

This prophet, however has not been left uncriticised. Luckily, this unhealthy criticism has proved instrumental in affording a healthy basis for re-substantiation and genuineness of the genius. Criticizing Das Kapital, Marx’s principal creation, Louis Kelso in his work ‘Karl Marx: The Almost Capitalist’ claimed that Marx was the one primarily responsible for having attached the name "capitalism" to the unclassified economic system of Great Britain during his time. Louis maintains that Marx had indefatigably studied the factory life in England, along with legal manuscripts like reports of the Royal Commissioners on the Employment of Children and Young Persons in Trades and Manufacturers, the Inspectors of Factories, the Poor Law Inspectors on the Wages of Agricultural Laborers, the Select Committee (of the House of Commons) on the Adulteration of Food, and the like. To him, Marx made three mistakes in understanding philosophies of political economics. One, blindly imitating Ricardo’s labor theory of value, two failing to understand the menace to human freedom of the ownership of the means of production by the state and three maintaining the illusion of surplus value stolen away by the capitalist unrightfully; from the laborer. Plus, the concept of ‘congealed labor’ that is labor hidden in capital instruments rephrased, as all capital being a mere ‘accumulated labor’ the idea displaced by increased automation in recent times.

So capital with the capitalist is in fact all the collective-labor of the laborer(s) usurped by the capitalist over time, and in no case his private property; to which Marx was disgruntled. As recognized by John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau, ‘the right of the worker to the value he creates is nothing more than the particular type of private property applicable to labor’. Each worker, they said, has a right of private property in his capacity to produce wealth through his labor and in the value which he creates. Thus this proves that private property is indispensable. Louis asserted that as Marx believed, if the factory owners of the nineteenth century were in a position to exploit the workers, the bureaucrats of the twentieth century in a socialized state (of Marx), possessing not only unlimited political power, but also unlimited economic power through ownership of capital and the instruments of production, are infinitely better equipped to exploit workers and other non-bureaucrats. What better proof of this than Russia and the Russian satellites? Further, Marx advocates to destroy private ownership of productive property, make all men workers, appropriate all wealth produced in excess of that required to sustain workers, and let it be distributed by the state as its political leaders see fit. What Lious implies is that, following Marx, instead of individuals becoming capitalists, state becomes a giant capitalist. Even ominous! Here Lious makes an interesting comment, each of these mistakes Marx made, emanated from ‘his analysis of distribution, rather than of production’.

Here Louis just to pursue the mockery against the genius, is himself severely mistaken. In fact, Marx is not against the existence of capital or functioning of capitalism per se, he simply laments the abuse of capital in the hands of exploitative system seen as capitalism. Whereby, paying peanuts to the laborer, the capitalist appropriates “surplus value” for himself, reploughs it and builds more capital. Since this added capital chiefly stems from the exploitation through wage-deductions, and it includes their wages measured through their labor, then this is certainly an ‘accumulated labor’. Ask Louis, is working class (proletariats) not exploited by the employers (capitalists) all over the world? The answer must be in affirmation, and this is all what Marx denounces. Louis even does not fall short of blaming Marx’s father Heinrich for converting to Christianity from Jewism just to save his job. Alas, but this be even true, it has nothing to do with Marx’s altruistic and saintly philosophy in favor of the exploited laborer, the focal point he attempts to converge through all of his philosophical and theological dimensions. He does not advocate Jewish laborer’s exploitation as he being Jewish-Christian nor does he favor Christian laborer’s exploitation as he being a Christian-Jew. He is universal, sublime, prophetic and a super-soul.

Born on May 5th 1818; Marx died March 14, 1883 and was buried at Highgate Cemetery in North London. At his funeral in Highgate Cemetery in London, his collaborator and close friend Friedrich Engels spoke of him as "the best-hated and most-calumniated man of his time." He also delivered an eulogy three days later, where as an analogy he said “just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history”. Further, the ideology, that man should prioritize the fulfillment of the most urgent material needs (check with Maslows’ Need Hierarchy), which necessitates greater degree of economic development which in turn “forms the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion can flourish”. According to Engels, “Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production, and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created.”

To cut it short, the heavenly spiritual impetus behind his noble thinking is enough to render him a prophet of the dejected proletariat in the hands of iniquitous capitalists; his philosophy has not failed at least. As a salutation Allama Iqbal said about Marx:
Neist paighamber walaikin der baghal daraf kitaab
(He is not a prophet though, but he carries bible under his fold).

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