The ideas that became Marxism were first conceived in the minds of radical German philosophers who were once followers of Georg Hegel. These belligerent philosophers were called the “Young Hegelians” because they tried to pattern many of their ideas after Hegel’s philosophy. Hegel was the leading philosopher of Germany during the 19th century and taught and lectured at many universities, including the University of Berlin where he taught until his death in 1831.
Georg Hegel was not an atheist and called himself an orthodox Lutheran. Hegel Believed in a supreme “World-Spirit” and believed Christianity was the ultimate religion. Some of Hegel’s philosophy was hard to comprehend, such as the “reconciliation” between theology and philosophy, and it was in this unchartered domain that many of Hegel’s disciples were confused and misled. The “Young Hegelians” misinterpreted Hegel’s philosophy and became atheists who were against God and religion, and Marxism or Revolutionary Communism, as it is better known, is the direct outgrowth of this misinterpretation.
The Young Hegelians were essentially a group of rebellions intellectual confederates who had been attracted by Georg Hegel’s philosophy at the University of Berlin, and who had subsequently split up into their own philosophical groups. All of the Young Hegelians came from well-to-do, middle-class families, and most all of them aspired to become teachers at universities. None of these rebellious disciples of Hegel’s had to worry about financial resources and could well afford to attend any university of their choice. The Young Hegelians included: Bruno and Edgar Bauer, August Von Cieszkowski, Ludwig Feuerbach, Max Stirner, Arnold Ruge, Moses Hess, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Bruno Bauer, who studied theology under Hegel for three years at the University of Berlin, gave Karl Marx his tutoring in atheism. Marx was greatly influenced by Bauer’s criticism of religion and completely adopted his ideas in this field. Marx had been a student under Bauer at the University of Berlin, and it was through Bauer that Marx had hoped to obtain a teaching post at the University of Bonn. Bruno Bauer believed that Christianity and other religions were only passing stages of the dialectical progress of humanity’s self-consciousness and that God was only a reflection of man’s inner self. Bauer believed the Gospels were only fictional myths created by individual evangelists without any divine inspiration. It was this kind of reasoning that separated the Young Hegelians from the philosophy of Georg Hegel.
Ludwig Feuerbach, who studied theology under Hegel for two years at the University of Berlin, taught Friedrich Engels the rudiments of atheism. Feuerbach had a very dominating influence on the other Young Hegelians. In 1841, Feuerbach published a book he had written titled “Das Weses des Christentums,” which helped lead Engels down the road of atheism. The ideas Feuerbach and most of the other Young Hegelians had on religion can best be summed up in what Feuerbach stated in a letter to his publisher when he described the “fundamental idea” of his book “Das Wesen des Christentums”:
“The objective essence of religion, particularly the Christian religion, is nothing but the essence of human, and particularly Christian feeling, the secret of theology therefore is anthropology…. The foundation of a new science is laid here in that the philosophy of religion is conceived of and presented as esoteric or secret anthropology or psychology.”
It was Moses Hess who created modern communism by combining atheism with socialism – the atheism was the philosophy of the Young Hegelians, and the socialism was crude French Socialism. Atheism and socialism were first brought together in this discrepant fashion and were later permanently welded together in the deceptive framework of Marxism. Hess converted Friedrich Engels to communism in 1843 and greatly influenced Karl Marx, who became a communist in 1844. Hess got his ideas of socialism when he ran away from home and visited Paris in 1833. Later, after he returned home to work in his father’s business, he attended lectures at the University of Bonn, and it was there that he got his ideas of atheism.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels began formulating the principles of Marxism in 1844, and in 1848 they published the “Communist Manifesto,” which was a pamphlet they had written about their revolutionary ideas. The “Manifesto” called upon the working class to unite and revolt against their employers and to abolish private property and the free enterprise system. Marx and Engels contended that the working class had always been exploited by their employers and that the very structure of civilization should be destroyed by means of violent revolution, so that what they called a “perfect” communist society could emerge.
Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany on May 5, 1818, and was the son of a wealthy German lawyer. Marx was educated at the universities of Bonn, Berlin, and Jena, and for a time he wanted to become a teacher, but instead, became a revolutionist. In 1844, after adopting communism as his ideology, Marx called for war against all religion and became increasingly involved in revolutionary activities.
In 1845, Marx was ordered out of Paris by the French government because of some of his revolutionary movements. Soon, he settled in Brussels, Belgium and resumed his subversive activity. A short time after the “Communist Manifesto” was published, Marx was banished by the Belgium government. Later, he went back to Paris and then to the Rhineland. He established a communist periodical in Cologne and continued to promote dissension and unrest. Marx was arrested in 1849 and tried in Cologne on a charge of incitement to “armed insurrection”; he was acquitted but was expelled from Germany and his communist periodical was suppressed. Later that same year, he was banished from France again. Marx spent the remainder of his life in London.
Karl Marx believed in what he called “dialectical materialism,” which is a kind of atheistical evolutionary theory. Marx borrowed his dialectics from Georg Hegel and added materialism. “Dialectics” means everything in the universe is in a state of constant change and is at the same time in a state of conflict. “Materialism” means that the universe consists only of material objects, and there is no God or higher spiritual power.
Georg Hegel worked out a “dialectical” system in his philosophy of history, whereby everything in reality is considered to happen according to reason, and this reason is considered part of the “World-Spirit” under whose jurisdiction the events of history take place. Hegel believed history constituted an evolutionary process, and he believed the “World-Spirit” controlled the universe and ultimately controlled the destinies of people and nations. Karl Marx ignored the “World-Spirit” of God in Hegel’s dialectical system, but he incorporated much of Hegel’s dialectics in Marxism.
Marx’s definition of communism is brought out in this quotation:
“Communism is the positive abolition of private property and thus of human self-alienation and therefore the real reappropriation of the human essence by and for man. This is communism as the complete and conscious return of man – conserving all the riches of previous development for man himself as a social, i.e. human, being. Communism as completed naturalism is humanism and as completed humanism is naturalism. It is the genuine resolution of the antagonism between man and nature and between man and man. It is the true resolution of the struggle between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. It is the solution to the riddle of history and knows itself to be this solution.”
Marx’s atheistical views are emphasized in this quotation:
“The struggle against religion is indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world and the soul of soulless circumstances. It is the opium of the people. … The criticism of religion is therefore the germ of the criticism of the valley of tears whose halo is religion.”
Friedrich Engels had the same views on religion and politics as Marx. Engels was born in Barmen, Prussia on November 28, 1820, and was the son of a wealthy Protestant family. In 1842, Engels met Marx for the first time, and by 1844, the two were working in close collaboration on their theories of revolution. After the revolution of 1848 in Germany, Engels went with Marx to Cologne where they worked together on new plans of revolution. With the defeat of the revolutions of 1848 in Europe, Engels went back to work in the textile mill in Manchester, and at that time, provided financial support for Marx and his family. After retiring from the mill, Engels moved to London in 1870 where he became a member of the General Council of the First International, a communist organization. After the “International” collapsed in 1872, he stayed in contact with other revolutionists throughout the world.
During the early 1880s, George Plekhanov became the chief propagator of Marxism in Russia, and through him the ideas of Marxism were first spread to the Russian people. In 1883, Plekhanov and some of his associates, while in exile in Geneva, Switzerland, organized the first Russian Marxist organization. Within a year, another Marxist unit was organized in St. Petersburg, Russia, but it was soon dissolved when its leaders were arrested for subversion. Vladimir Lenin was one of the young leaders in this early Marxist organization.
Vladimir Lenin, whose real name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, was born April 22, 1870 in Simbirsk, a town on the Volga River, in Russia. His father was a school inspector and was a devoted member of the Russian Orthodox Church. In his youth, Lenin became unruly and ceased to believe in God by the time he was sixteen years old. In 1887, Lenin was expelled from Kazan University for taking part in a questionable kind of student political meeting, and the next year he began studying the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, before joining an illegal Marxist group. In 1891, Lenin managed to receive a law degree from St. Petersburg University, but he continued with his subversive revolutionary activity.
Before he was twenty-five years of age, Lenin joined an underground revolutionary movement and by the end of 1895, he was arrested; spent fourteen months in prison, and later was exiled to eastern Siberia for three years. When he returned from exile, Lenin left Russia and went to Germany and Switzerland in 1900. In 1905, Lenin returned to Russia where he took up residence in the vicinity of St. Petersburg and began organizing the new Bolshevik party. In 1907, Lenin returned to western Europe where he remained for the next ten years, living most of the time in Switzerland, and conferring with European socialist leaders, trying to persuade them to use more violent revolutionary methods. In 1917, the Bolsheviks seized control of Russia, and Lenin became the dictator of Communist Russia. In the bloody Russian revolution, over 20 million people lost their lives, and a whole nation was suddenly plunged under a new kind of tyranny and oppression.
After Lenin’s death in 1924, an intense power struggle began in the Kremlin between Joseph Stalin, the party’s General Secretary, and Leon Trotsky, who was Lenin’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs. After five years of factional maneuvering, Stalin won the power struggle, and in 1929 he exiled Trotsky from Russia. Trotsky found refuge in Mexico, but was assassinated in 1940, reportedly by a secret communist agent.
Joseph Stalin, whose real name was Yosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili, was born December 21, 1879 in Gori, a small town in Georgia, Russia. Stalin was the son of a cobbler, and attended a seminary at Tiflis, in the Caucasus, but was expelled in 1899 for subversive activity. Like Lenin, Stalin ceased to believe in God and became obsessed with Marxism. When he became the dictator of Russia in 1929, Stalin became as ruthless and unmerciful as Lenin had been. During the bloody purges in Russia, which occurred from 1934 to 1938, Stalin had thousands of old Bolsheviks executed for treason, it was reported. Stalin encamped the slavery of communism in many countries surrounding Russia and became obsessed with making Russia a leading military force. Stalin identified communism with nationalism and propagated Russianism under the disguise of communism.
On March 5, 1953, Stalin died, and the communist world went into mourning. His funeral became a state spectacle, and his body was entombed in Moscow, like Lenin’s. Less than three years after Stalin’s death, on the night of Feb 24-25, 1956, Nikita Khrushchev delivered a devastating speech denouncing Stalin as a murderer, a pathological liar, and a perverter of Marxism. Suddenly, almost overnight, Joseph Stalin became a fallen idol, and communists all over the world were shocked and bewildered. While he lived, Joseph Stalin was praised like a god on earth by communists around the world. Here are some of the accolades that some of the party bosses glamorized Stalin with:
“Long live the wise leader of our party and people, the inspirer and organizer of all our victories, Comrade Stalin!”
(Nikita Khrushchev, October 1952)
“…Stalin’s work will live through the ages, and grateful posterity will, like us, glorify his name.”
(G. M. Malenkov, March 1953)
“…During those hard and grim days for our Motherland, the greatness of our leader and teacher, Comrade Stalin, was revealed in all its magnificence.”
(N. A. Bulganin, December 1949)
Marxism has not changed appreciably since the time of Lenin. It was Lenin who organized the Bolshevik party that seized control of the government of Russia, and it was Lenin who gave Marxism its subtle conspiracy. Other communist leaders who later ruled Russia only carried out Lenin’s initial plans.
When China became a communist nation in 1949, a new mecca of communism was created in Peiping, but there were no major changes made in the ideological content of Marxism. The only difference between Chinese and Russian communism is that the Chinese communists follow the ideas Karl Marx had during the early part of his life, whereas the Russian communists follow the ideas Marx had during the later part of his life. Marx’s ideas of communism moderated in his later years.
The interpretation of Marxism has varied throughout its over 127-year history, but its basic ingredients have not changed. Atheism is still the dominant element in Marxism, and this is still being masked with the binding wraps of what Marxists erroneously call “socialism”. People are still being deceived and misled by what Marxism is presumed to be and what it really is. Only when people know how other people have suffered and died under communist oppression can they understand what Marxism really is, and every individual owes it to himself to find out the hidden truth about Marxism – it is a matter of survival…
--Marlin O. Wallace