Friday, September 23, 2005

Reflection Paper: Marx's Legacy

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A philosopher like Karl Marx certainly has a mixed legacy.  Machiavelli has endured a reputation for being a unethical philosopher.  However, more people have died as a result of Karl Marx’s philosophy then as a result of Machiavelli.  Between Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao, Marxism perhaps has killed more people than any other philosophy (and those are just the more notorious examples).
Of course it is ludicrous to blame this on Karl Marx.  By the same logic, Jesus would be responsible for the Spanish Inquisition, or the witch trials, or any of the other atrocities committed in his name.  And clearly official communism was a far cry from what Karl Marx actually intended.
So what went wrong?  This question has been debated by philosophers and historians for a long time, and I will not try and tackle such a big question in such a small journal entry.  Besides, if I did I would simply be repeating what I have heard others say.  I don’t think I have anything new and fresh to bring to the discussion.
I guess my main comment is that it is hard to disassociate Karl Marx from his legacy.  It is really too bad because his genuine concern for the poor and humanitarian concerns may be forever overshadowed by the evil done in his name.
In a way it is kind of ironic.  Karl Marx mentioned at one point that he believed ideas are not important, but the material reality is.  Idealism is just a cover to disguise the material reality.  This seems to have played out in his own ideas.

Official communists, followers of Marx, claimed to be following ideas.  However many of them (especially near the end), were actually just using the ideology as a way to better themselves materially.

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