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Marxism vs. Human Nature

"Gorbachev Factor"

From 1917 on, Marxism-Leninism provided the foundations of Soviet ideology and organization until three-quarters of a century later, when the Soviet state faltered and suddenly crumbled to dust. 

By A. Ivanov

One of the main reasons why the Communist ideological foundations collapsed was that Marxism preached what even the early Christians did not believe was possible or practical. It advocated universal, forcible redistribution: paradise on earth was to be achieved by the abolition of property on which the capitalist mode of production was based.

There is no doubt that Marx was largely right in identifying many ills of the capitalist society. But capitalism cannot be reduced to its evils. It makes and breaks people’s destinies, plunging some to the very bottom of destitution and poverty while allowing others to develop their creative potential and enjoy life to the full. It has provided millions and millions with welfare and reasonable prosperity. On the whole, countries with developed capitalist patterns have been able to ensure living standards for the mass of the population unattainable under any other socioeconomic system that has ever existed. From the point of view of everyday human experience, this may be the most important and valuable advantage that distinguishes capitalism from all precapitalist socioeconomic systems.

In addition, capitalist patterns, however cruel some of them may seem, appear to be more in tune with basic human instincts and passions than the utopian egalitarian blueprints of the founders of Marxism. The Marxist picture of humankind’s triumphant march upward through the five socioeconomic formations, from primitive society to communism, obscures the tremendous stability of some of the essential characteristics of human nature.

In the course of biological evolution, even when humans ceased to exist as animals, when they acquired the ability to make tools and developed the power of abstract thinking, they still had preserved the sum total of their primordial instincts and inclinations. These instincts developed into human passions. They change little from century to century and even from millennium to millennium. An authoritative source provides a revealing catalog of some of the most enduring traits of human nature: 


Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from outside can make him unclean? For it does not go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” . . .

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make the man ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7:14–23)


There is no reason to think that much has changed in human nature after two thousand years since these words were first spoken. The darker sides of human nature have not gone away. They remain part of people’s everyday existence and continue to have a powerful influence on the course of human development.

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