Ethics in the Communist Party
- When Karl Marx formulated his theories about the rise of the proletariat and the demise of the bourgeoisie, he predicted that the end of capitalism would give rise to a new political order born from struggle. Marx was wrong, however, as the working class chose the rewards and security offered by capitalism over the freedom and struggle offered by Marxism. Reformers within the Marxist movement, left with no ethical argument for the superiority of Marxism over capitalism, were forced to argue that continued rewards were impossible to maintain under capitalism.
- Without the support of the proletariat, orthodox Marxists were forced to find a substitute force to drive their party. Australian philosopher Eugene Kamenka argues that Lenin found this substitute in the intelligentsia and centralized hierarchical leaders of the Communist Party. The doctrine of the new leaders of the party was that freedom would not be won by the working class, but would be brought to them. Kamenka explains that the ethical vacuum created by Marx's belief that social movements were neither good nor bad, only progressive or reactionary, allowed leaders of the Communist Party to create a despotic government in his name.
Ethics in Communism
- In "The Communist Manifesto," Marx emphasized the disparity between the character of men's actions and intentions and the results that followed. To Marx, slavery was necessary for agricultural development to occur, the greed of capitalism was instrumental in the creation of industrialization, and the suffering of the proletariat was needed to pave the way for the rational society that the future would bring. As Kamenka explains, ethics were irrelevant and "the victory of the proletariat under the leadership of the Communist Party became the only relevant moral criterion in the period of struggle under capitalism."
Ethics of Revolution
- Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky echoed Marx's sentiment in his work "Their Morals and Ours." Trotsky wrote that a gun in itself was neither good nor evil. The weapon becomes good in the hands of the revolutionary fighting for a classless society, but becomes evil when in the hands of the capitalist fighting to maintain inequality and oppression. Trotsky's argument encapsulates that of the Communist Party. Simply put, the end justifies the means.