Friedrich Engels, the life-long friend of Marx and, together with the latter, the co-founder of modern communism, cryptically stated in his 1847 Principles of Communism: "Communism is the doctrine of the requisites for the emancipation of the proletariat,"4 and Lenin quoted Engels as having defined the objects of communism as "(1) to achieve the interests of the proletariat in opposition to those of the bourgeoisie; (2) to do this through the abolition of private property and its replacement by community of goods; (3) to recognize no means of carrying out these objects other than a democratic revolutionary force."5
Lenin, the founder of modern Russian communism, himself followed the same line of reasoning. On the very day of Lenin's revolutionary takeover of Russia, he proclaimed that "the cause for which the people have fought, namely the immediate offer of a democratic peace, the abolition of landed proprietorship, workers' control over production, and the establishment of Soviet power-this cause has been secured."8 Later, in his post-revolutionary 1920 Tasks of the Youth League. Lenin asked: "What is a Communist?" And thereupon he answered his own rhetorical question as follows: "'Communist' is a Latin word. Communis is the Latin for 'common.' Communist society in which all things-the land, the factories -are owned in common and the people work in common. That is communism."7
But perhaps the most comprehensive definition of communism-and one enjoying the full support of modern communist philosophers8-is that laid down in the New Party Program adopted at the Twenty-second Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (C.P.S.U.) in 1961: "Communism is a classless social system with one form of public ownership of the means of production and full social equality of all members of society; under it, the all-round development of people will be accompanied by the growth of the productive forces through continuous progress in science and technology; all the springs of co-operative wealth will flow more abundantly, and the great principle 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs' will be implemented. Communism is a highly organized society of free, socially-conscious working people in which public self-government will be established, a society in which labor for the good of society will become the prime vital requirement of everyone, a necessity recognized by one and all, and the ability of each person will be employed to the greatest benefit of the people."9
By "communism," then, communists mean the views propounded by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin relative to their desire to abolish private ownership of all the means of production and all the implications thereof. And in this dissertation we shall use the word in this authorative communist sense.
Secondly, it must be inquired: What is "eschatology"?
Eschatology is the study of the future, and the eschatological orientation of communism as such is already apparent from the above definitions of "communism"; for communism, even though it also offers an explanation of the past and the present (and indeed, of everything in the universe), Is nevertheless especially a program for the future. With restless movement, communism – as seen by communists-stretches forward toward the attainment of the future perfection of man and nature, toward the future realization of the eschata-the "last things."
It may be objected that "eschatology," as the doctrine of the "last things," is exclusively a theological discipline, and has no place in a philosophical dissertation. However, as we have shown elsewhere,'0 alongside of a theological eschatology, there is also great merit in developing a specifically philosophical eschatology too, just as there is merit in developing a philosophical ethics (alongside a theological ethics).11 For inasmuch as theological eschatology should only attempt to systematize exclusively the Biblical revelation regarding the future (and then again, pre-eminently in its direct relationship to the revelation of the divine plans for the unfolding of the future), it is submitted that a philosophical eschatology is needed too-an eschatology in which an attempt must be made to systematize the extra-Biblical material12 regarding the future as a whole, which material is now found in the past and present development both of the universe (or nature) and of human products (or culture), then again, to systematize this material preeminently in relation to the (present) natural universe and human culture as such, rather than in relation to the exclusively Biblical account of the divine plans for the future.12