History of Philosophy and Christian Thought - Lesson 45


Ideally, Marxism begins with class struggle, then revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat, withering away of the state, and a utopian classless society.

Ronald Nash
History of Philosophy and Christian Thought
Lesson 45
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Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

Part 6

III. Marx (part 1)

A. The Five Stages of Marxism

1. The Class Struggle

2. The Revolution

3. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

4. The Withering Away of the State

5. The Classless Society

  • Thales and Anaximander were two philosophers in the sixth century BC that lived in Miletus.

  • Heraclitus and Pythagoras lived into the 5th century BC.

  • Any worldview addresses the subjects of God, ultimate reality, human knowledge, ethics and human persons.

  • Fundamental beliefs of a naturalistic worldview is that nothing exists outside the physical universe and that all things evolved.

  • Plato was a student of Socrates and lived into the fourth century BC. He opposed hedonism, empiricism, relativism, materialism, atheism and naturalism.

  • Plato described the universe as having three levels: the world of particulars, the world of forms, and the form of the good.

  • Plato's view of the universe was dualistic.

  • One of Plato's fundamental arguments is that the human soul is immortal.

  • Evaluation of Plato's arguments and comparison of Plato's philosophy with biblical theology.

  • Empiricism teaches that all human knowledge arises from sense experience. Rationalism teaches that some human knowledge does not arise from sense. experience

  • Aristotle was a student of Plato and lived in the fourth century BC.

  • Aristotle rejected Plato's doctrine of two worlds.

  • Discussion of Aristotelian philosophy as it relates to the incarnation.

  • Aristotle's philosophy as it relates to attributes of God and fundamental assumptions about psychology.

  • Aristotle made a distinction between passive intellect and active intellect.

  • Discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the law of non-contradiction.

  • Discussion of the nature and substance of matter.

  • Hellenistic philosophy was an approach that was popular from the fourth century BC to the fifth century AD.

  • Stoics were determinists who believed in living according to nature.

  • Hedonism emphasized pleasure as the greatest good. "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we might be dead."

  • Philo's philosophy was based on a synthesis of Stoicism and Platonism.

  • Implicit "Logos" Christianity is an underlying theme in the book of Hebrews.

  • Plotinus lived in the third century AD and is considered the founder of Neoplatonism.

  • Augustine is a Latin church father, is considered by many to be one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity.

  • Augustine wrote Confessions as an autobiographical work to record his experience as a sinful youth and his experience becoming a follower of Christ.

  • Augustine wrote to refute some heresies of the day by focusing on the concepts of faith and reason.

  • Augustine writes about the problem of evil and describes evil as the absence of good.

  • Augustine writes to refute Pelagianism by focusing on the biblical teaching about sin.

  • Augustine writes to refute Donatism.

  • The fundamental idea of skepticism is that no one can know anything. Augustine this statement contradicts itself because the skeptic is claiming that you can know that you can't know anything.

  • When Augustine wrote "The City of God," he had a linear view of history.

  • In Augustine's theory of knowledge, he says that eternal reason and human reason are two different levels of reason.

  • Augustine was personally convinced of the importance of divine illumination.

  • The intellectual background of Thomas Aquinas was influenced by the discovery of ancient manuscripts, the rise of universities, the rise of religious brotherhoods and the rise of Muslim philosophy.

  • Aquinas describes faith as whatever a human can know through special revelation, and reason as whatever a human can know outside of special revelation.

  • Aquinas attempts to prove God's existence.

  • Aquinas describes four kinds of law as eternal, divine, natural and positive.

  • The rationalists and empiricists set the stage for Kant and other philosophers of the modern era.

  • Kant argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the “Categorical Imperative."

  • Kants two worlds are the phenomenal world and the noumenal world.

  • Discussion of criticisms and questions about Kant's ideas.

  • Similarities between Kant's ideas and postmodernism.

  • The dialectic is a central idea in Hegel's philosophy.

  • Ideally, Marxism begins with class struggle, then revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat, withering away of the state, and a utopian classless society.

  • Discussion of four faces of Marxism.

  • Nietzsche proclaimed that, "God is dead." His cure was to live life knowing there is no ultimate meaning. Kierkegaard emphasized a worldview based on true faith.

In this class, you will explore the rich history of philosophy and its relationship with Christian thought. The course begins with an introduction to the definition and importance of philosophy in Christian theology. You will then delve into the evolution of philosophical thought from the Pre-Socratic era, through the Classical Greek philosophers, and into the Hellenistic period. As you progress, you will discover how early Christian thought emerged and developed during the Patristic period, with a special focus on Augustine. The class continues with an examination of medieval Christian thinkers, such as Anselm and Thomas Aquinas, and concludes with an analysis of modern philosophers like Descartes, Kant, and Kierkegaard, and their influence on contemporary Christian thought.

Two other books that are recommended reading for this class are Confessions by Augustine and Phaedo by Plato.


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    Lesson Transcript


    Now I want to talk about Karl Marx. You'll notice, as I've already told you, there are two chapters about Karl Marx and his view of history and what we need to know about his philosophical system. In 1969, a New York publishing company published a two volume textbook that I edited called Ideas of History. Volume one. Volume two. This book was probably the best selling textbook in the philosophy of history. For the next five or six years, it probably would have continued, except that very few, very few philosophy departments teach anything in the philosophy of history anymore. It's almost a lost science. But even though it's a lost science, I am the world's leading authority on this study that no one cares about anymore. Okay. I really am. The things I know the most about the world doesn't care about anymore. I happen to know how long Hitler's mustache was, but nobody cares. So I don't talk about it anymore. I just don't. I had a chapter in that book about Marx and Engels and their philosophy of history. And one of the reviewers, I forget where that review was published, said the editor of this book has no his. His interpretation of Karl Marx is 40 years behind the times. The world knows the world of scholarship, knows that that interpretation of Karl Marx 20, 30, 40 years ago. No, it wasn't. All right. I knew then, and I still know better than those people who think that way. What had happened was there had been a change of ideology. And I'll explain more about that a little later today.


    [00:02:32] The academic world, insofar as it was under the control of left wing zealots, had abandoned the real teachings of Karl Marx because they had become an embarrassment to left wingers. By the time we get to 19th, this book was published in 69. By the time we get to 1969, every non-trivial statement in Marx's writings had been falsified. His economic views, his views about Jew. Every non-trivial statement in Marx had been falsified. Now, what do I mean by a non-trivial statement? Anything other than roses are roses or red roses are red roses. Those are. Those are trivial statement. I wasn't wrong. And today, people are beginning to recognize that the Karl Marx, the teachings of Marx that have been taught in American or Western universities since around 1950 are a total misrepresentation of what the historical Marx believed and taught in the writings for which he is most famous. Okay, so what I do in this book is I give you two chapters on Marx. I give you the right interpretation of what Marx really taught. That would be the first chapter. And then I talk about these fanatical extremists who are trying to develop a new interpretation of Marx that has no foundation at all in Marx's original writings. Okay, so this is the historic Marx. What I'm going to do is develop my interpretation of Marx in five stages. You can do this in many ways, but step one is the class struggle. Step two is the revolution. Step three is the dictatorship of the proletariat. And incidentally, over here, I'm going to write Khrushchev's name because I want to give you Khrushchev. All right. Then we have the withering away of the state, and then we have the classless society. Okay. In the Communist Manifesto, which was published, correct me if I'm mistaken, the date right now, I can't remember whether it was 1848 or 1849.


    [00:05:10] Let's see if I mention it here. Do do do do do do do do do do I want to say 1849? Can anybody correct me here? Well, give or take 12 months. Okay. The Communist Manifesto. 1848. Okay. Marx said all of history is a class struggle. This is really this is really the application of Hegel's wrong view of the dialectic. See, history proceeds in terms of class struggle. What you get in these class struggles is a struggle between two groups of people, the haves and the have nots. So here we have the haves. You have the haves and the have nots. The haves are the owners of private property. The have nots are the people who do not have private property, the have nots. Okay. And the first form of this class struggle was took the form of slavery. The haves were the slave owners. The have nots were the slaves. But notice, each of these class struggles revolved around private property. But the private property in that issue took different forms. And then you had a revolution which produced a new version of the class struggle. And the second version would be feudalism. First you have slavery, then you have feudalism. So that by the time we get to feudalism, we are presumably in the Middle Ages. Okay. So now we have a new class struggle and the haves become the landowners and the have nots become the peasants. Okay. And then once again, we have a revolution. And the third version of the class struggle becomes capitalism. Capitalism. And the haves are called the bourgeoisie. Tough word to spell when you get old bourgeoisie and the have nots become the proletariat. And that would be the people who have to sell themselves and their bodies in order to get work to stay alive.


    [00:07:39] The bourgeoisie would be the people who own the coal mines, the factories see, and people like teachers, for example, or, you know, we're just we we usually associate ourselves with the haves because they're the people who pay our salaries. Now, this is terribly simplistic. This is embarrassingly simplistic because Marx made it clear I mean, this is a quotation from one of his writings that no, no new form of the class struggle emerges until the last vestiges of the old form of the class struggle have disappeared. That's a bunch of baloney. Now, because I'm from Cleveland, I know other nouns to use there, but I can't. All right, So maybe there are synonyms for baloney that start with the same letter. I don't know. But listen to me. Even today, slavery still exists. Under what religion does, slavery still exist? The religion that Franklin Graham denounced as an evil religion. Islam. Yeah. In fact, name the religion without which slavery would never have reached. North America. Islam. One of the great ironies of today is the attraction that so many black Americans have towards the slave religion that brought them or that sold them to the sea captains that carried them to the Americas. How in the world do you suppose that innocent natives in Africa were enslaved? Muslim slave traders. What is wrong with with black preachers in America that they don't talk about that. But slavery still exists today in Arab countries. Feudalism still exists today. March was wrong. Is there any wonder why people wanted to want to change the world? Okay. At the time of the of the Communist revolution in Russia in 1917, Russia was still not a capitalist country. Russia had no bourgeoisie. It was still a feudalistic country. So history is like a loaf of baloney no matter, you know, wherever you cut it, your got baloney, you got the dialectic, you got the class struggle.


    [00:10:30] But all of this is so bad now, the revolution. I'm going to talk here about two forms of Marxism in this in early Russia. We're going to go back to Russia. The year is 1903, and we're going to talk about what is called and I'm sorry, I hope you can see it. Here they are, DLP, the are DLP. Which letter stand for the Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party. Communists can always come up with such nice words. All right. The Democratic one. Has communism ever had anything democratic about it? All right. When has communism ever been a friend to laborers? The Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party. Now, in 1903, the oppressed DLP split into two groups. And again, I'm sorry, I'm out of the view of some of you. One of these two views were the mensheviks. The mensheviks were what we would today call just socialists. This was actually Friedrich Engels interpretation of Marxism. After Marx died, the Mensheviks taught that Russia cannot become cannot experience the capitalist revolution until there is capitalism in Russia. Therefore, the mensheviks taught we've got to help produce in a kind of industrial revolution in Russia so that we create a bourgeois class which will then give a reason for the communist revolution. You can't have a proletarian revolution until you have a proletariat, and you can't have a proletariat until you have capitalism. Okay. Moreover, the mensheviks thought we're going to have a revolution that is peaceful, nonviolent. We can do this through democratic means, which was Engels position that he had moved to. So you have the mensheviks. And then you also had the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were the party of Lenin and Stalin and Molotov and that whole crew of gangsters. And their position was, when we get a chance to have our revolution, we're going to do it.


    [00:13:12] And we don't care whether it follows Marx's guidelines or not. We don't have to make Russia into a capitalist country. We will take over this country whenever we get the opportunity. The Bolsheviks. But when we do take it over, it's going to be a bloody revolution. And if any of you have seen the movie Doctor Zhivago, which has been on television recently, you know how bloody it was. Okay. Now, in 1903, the Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party split into two camps and never again were they together. Over here were the relatively peaceful Mensheviks over here were the violent Bolsheviks. And if you ever see the movie Doctor Zhivago, there's a horrible scene. Oh, in the first hour. It's a long movie. You know, you want five boxes of popcorn. If you ever watch Doctor Zhivago, there is an attempt at a error and a marxist revolution in St Petersburg. At least I think that's what they meant to display in the film. And then, you know, the Russian army comes down and just butchers, butchers, women and children and innocent people. There's a mystery in my family about that that that may be related to this. My grandfather came to this country. My grandfather Nash, whose name really was Nash Lawsky. Nash Lansky. He was a German, but he changed his name to Nash Lawsky so that he wouldn't become the victim of prejudice in countries like Poland and Russia. No one in our family understands what my grandfather was running from. He was terrified that somebody was going to come to America and kill him. He would never allow anybody to take his picture when he got married. There were no pictures of his wedding. He cut all of his hair off. I guess it grew back.


    [00:15:21] Yes. And he always slept with a gun under his pillow. What was my grandfather running away from? And so we look for something that was going on. And because this wouldn't be just a matter of a horse thief, you know, if somebody steals your horse, you don't go all the way to America to kill him. What was going on on the continent? Well, the events of 1903. So I have to wonder I have to wonder if my grandfather may have been a Bolshevik. Now, when I see that massacre scene in Doctor Zhivago, I think I catch a glimpse of my grandfather. You know, I had a big, big mustache and so on. I know it looks like him, but who am I to say? Now, in October of 1917, there were two revolutions in Russia. There was March Revolution. And a lot of people don't know this. And in that March revolution, there was bloodshed. There were people killed. But the people who took over Russia in March of 1917 were the mensheviks who wanted to establish a democratic form of government. Now, they were socialists. That means they were therefore more than a little dumb when it comes to economics. But at least they were peace loving or so we think. But then in October and November, you know, think of the movie The Hunt for Red October. There was a second revolution in 1917, and that was Lenin's revolution, and that was the Bolsheviks. They took over. And it was then that they murdered the czar and his family. It was then that if you were a menshevik, you wanted to get out of the country real quickly. So there was that business. Now let's let's focus on Lenin and let's finish this up real quickly.


    [00:17:21] Lenin's ideology now took prominence. Marx mentioned the dictatorship of the proletariat in one or two places, but he was totally unclear about this. But what the dictatorship of the proletariat was supposed to be was a short, temporary month's long period of time in which a short lived government would remove private property in Russia and reeducate the people to become all of them become communists. So it was a it was a limited, temporary Marxist government over Russia until we got rid of. And this meant killing people. You know, you either give up your property or you die in the favored Russian way to do this is a bullet in the back of the head. And then the withering away of the state would be this. It would be the total involuntary abandonment of the police state, the Russian, the proletarian state, the Russian, the communist government would disappear because private property had been abolished, people had been reeducated and the rest of the people had been shot or they'd start out. And then you enter into heaven on earth the classless society in which the basic principle is from each according to his ability to each according to his need. Now, last year I had a student from Communist China in this class, and he utterly amazed me when after class he came up to me and he said, You know, Dr. Nash, this is exactly what we were taught in our Chinese schools. They're still teaching it in communist China, I gather. They're still teaching it in Cuba. They're probably still teaching this in North Korea. Communists don't know about the new face of Marxism. They are still teaching this old paradigm. Now, let me tell you this. When in 1991, the Soviet Union finally collapsed.


    [00:19:50] You'd gotten. It was still stuck at the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and all of these other creeps and killers and gangsters. They were not going to give up their power. The withering of the state never came close. The classless society never occurred. Now my story about Khrushchev. Khrushchev came to this country in 1959. I think he made one other trip. Whether this was the trip in which he banged his shoes on the desk at the United Nations, I can't recall. But I think it was the trip when he visited the movie set of one of Shirley MacLaine's movies, Can-Can, I think it was. Krushchev had been corrupted by American values, you see, Can-Can. Anyway, he held a press conference in Washington, D.C. during that trip. And I'll tell you, the media was different then. Incidentally, there's a new book that's just out. It is a revelation of an ex CBS newsman who reveals the whole dirty, shabby story of liberal news bias with special reference to Dan Rather, special reference to Dan Rather and CBS News. And he gives you quote after quote from the people who run CBS News. And he could it should be true of ABC News and NBC News and all of the rest that these guys just laugh at conservatives. Their minds are well, anyway. So somebody in the audience at this press conference stood and asked Chris Jeff this question. He said, Mr. Krushchev, you communist communists believe that history is progressing. Dialectically And that means it is scientific, it is necessary. Human beings cannot alter the course of history. This is built into the machinery of history. And you're saying that this accounts for the trans transmutation from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. But, Mr.


    [00:22:08] Khrushchev, why must history end with you Communists? If the dialectic, if progression, if movement, if change is inevitable in history, why should any of us believe that history's going to stop with communism? Why? Why isn't there going to be a stage to history beyond communism? I sat up on the edge of my chair. I wish I could see this someday. Someone probably KBS hidden this tape in their vaults or something else. How is Khrushchev going to answer this question about the logical contradictory ness of the theory of the dialectic? See, it's the same nonsense that I gave you earlier when I said that for Hegel, history will end with him or with MASH. Just utter nonsense. Here's what Hegel said, I'm sure. Here's what Khrushchev said. You want to know why history is going to end with us communists? Because we say it will. We say it will. Isn't that a powerful argument? In other words, we've got the guns. Who's going to challenge us? You talk about intellectual bankruptcy, my friends, and it is there in the history of Marxism. Utter intellectual bankruptcy. History will end with us because we say it will.