January 31, 2016 Matt Pennock

Karl Marx and His View of the Father

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

If you’ve ever wondered why many leaders, political and non-political, get riled up about “threats to the family” much of the passion is rooted in the onset of 19th century Marxist philosophy and its subsequent threat to religious freedom. Karl Marx was a man known for attacking the traditional family, promoting a system of sharing wives under the notion that it would be good for a society and solve the problem of prostitution, and for holding the traditional family social structure at fault for the terrible lives of the proletarians (working class people). His writings contain sweeping blame rhetoric, stereotyping, and a most deprived understanding of human sexuality that seems to have a lot of similarities with trends of today.

What many might not have noticed however is the undertone of the blaming. In the following excerpt of the Communist Manifesto Marx points out two things about the “traditional family” that he sees as flaws:

  1. The children are exploited by their parents.
  2. Wives are treated as little more than instruments of production.

What kind of lie is this bleeding through the veins of Karl Marx’s words, really? Notice what is left out of the equation: fathers. Ultimately, in Karl’s eyes, the father is at fault for the problems of society. But we know it is the lack of fathers that is at the heart of social problems. Marx however argues that fathers who fight to protect and provide for their own house are ultimately doing a disservice to the whole of society. Marx sees the traditional father as an enemy to community because, clearly, dad is doing everything for himself—seeking only private gain. In Karl’s eyes the traditional father has no interest in the welfare of the community. If he did, there wouldn’t be any prostitutes or poverty.

Obviously the real cause of fathers seeking only personal gain and exploiting their wives and children is sin. The heart is lost and dark. But Karl Marx didn’t believe in sin. He, like his own father Heinrich Marx, believed that every human was born with a good heart and that “all that is needed to ensure triumph of these qualities is the removal of artificial obstacles from his path.”1 The irony is, Karl Marx was educated at home by his parents. He also had to believe that even these traditional fathers causing so many problems were good at heart. Thus the tenure of his philosophical life and his agenda to eradicate the “obstacles” in the way of humanity’s welfare. His solution amounted, more or less, to propping up a universal social “father”–the communist regime. This “father” would protect and provide for your children. And your woman, who would actually be every man’s woman. This was in 1848, over 165 years ago. The traditional father, whom I like to refer to as “the warrior father” has been under attack for a very long time…

“Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.

The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.

And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, &c.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.

The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour.

But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.

The bourgeois sees his wife a mere instrument of production. He hears that the instruments of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.

He has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production.

For the rest, nothing is more ridiculous than the virtuous indignation of our bourgeois at the community of women which, they pretend, is to be openly and officially established by the Communists. The Communists have no need to introduce community of women; it has existed almost from time immemorial.

Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.

Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women. For the rest, it is self-evident that the abolition of the present system of production must bring with it the abolition of the community of women springing from that system, i.e., of prostitution both public and private.”

Karl Marx, 1848

Source: Communist Manifesto (Chapter 2)

1Isaiah Berlin, Alan Ryan. Karl Marx: his life and environment. 1996, page 21-2

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