Communist Eschatology: A Christian Philosophical Analysis of the Post-Capitalistic Views of Marx, Engels and Lenin – Part 3

     Thirdly, there seems to be some confusion as to whether the Marxist view of history is linear (like the Christian view), or cyclical (like the ancient Greek view). Those who believe that Marx thought linearly rather than cyclically, point out88 that he himself posited the clearly linear four historical stages according to the successive "Asiatic, the ancient, the feudal, and the modern bourgeois methods of production," with socialism and communism therebeyond,89 and that it was not Marx but Engels who introduced the cyclic concept in his Anti-Dühring and his Dialectics of Nature,~0 so that Marx here contradicts Engels!

However, it must immediately be pointed out that Engels wrote his Anti-Dühring under Marx's influence,81 and that Engels himself distinguished the successive (linear!) stages of primitive communism, slavery, feudalism, capitalism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the kingdom of freedom~1~-as too did Lenin,92 who himself denied the necessity of chronology and insisted on a circular or spiral theory of history.0~ Moreover, Marx himself thought in terms of ultimate cycles in his own Economic and Philosophical Manuscnpts~4 and endorsed the apparently cyclical evolutionistic Darwin.~

Consequently, there would appear to be a contradiction between the linear and the circular theories of history of Marx and Engels and Lenin, unless the former be ultimately subsumed under the latter. If, however, it then be objected that Marxist history is an [upward!]~6 spiral rather than a (repetitious) circle, it must be objected that this again implies [spirally linear) direction and therefore a governing supranatural force-which is again in conflict with the outspoken Marxist rejection thereof.87 But then-irrespective of whether history is cyclical or spiral-what is to prevent future communism from thereafter falling back into alienation, as primitive communism did?!97 Indeed, Engels' diamatic Dialectics of Nature almost requires this, and Soviet communism follows Engels' diamat!08

A fourth contradiction is the incongruity of Engels' statement in his Dialectics of Nature (that "with man we enter history")99 with Marx's views in his Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (that prehistory only comes to a close [and history therefore only commencesi with the advent of socialism)100 as well as with Marx's view in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscnpts (that "the entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the begetting of man through human labor,"101 and his view of history as a part of natural science and destined to be consumed by natural science in the future)!102

Now clearly, history either begins before man's advent,101 or with his advent,99 or at the advent of socialism,'00 but not at all three points of departure. And history is either distinguished from natural science,90 coincides with natural science,101 or is to be absorbed by natural science102-but not all three simultaneously! But as things stand in Marxist theory, not only are these views contradictory, but, as Wetter remarks: "Is such a conception still materialism?"'03

Fifthly-and arising out of the former point-there is the incongruity between Marx's and Engels' views of the future nature of ultimate history. Marx is traditionally regarded as the humanitarian, and Engels as the natural scientist, but in Marx's final eschatological subsumption of communism under naturalism04 and in Engels' eschatological view of man as the free lord over nature,104 the traditional roles are reversed. It is as if the communist view of history dialectically (that is, contradictorily!) hovers between the two poles of nature and freedom.

Sixthly, it is difficult to reconcile Engels' impatience with those who would "destroy the electrically-driven loom in order to return back to the spinning-wheel"10" with his own view a decade later that future communism "will be a revival, in a higher form, . . . of the ancient gentes,"10" and with Marx's view that "every emancipation is a restoration of the human world . . . to man himself."106~

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