Passages: Karl Marx

There’s something about Marxism that brings out warts; the only kind of growth this economic system encourages.
— P. J. O'Rourke

Brothers & Sisters,

"Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life." - Karl Marx (The Study of Human Nature pp. 145-146)

It seems to me that this statement begins to remove the concept of free-will from the argument of human nature and instead replace it with the notion of how our political, economic, and social stature influences everything in our lives. An example would be that a wealthy person does not have the same ideas and beliefs that someone with far less wealth would have. I am doubtful if we can say this is true. If we are to believe that humans have free-will and free reign over their conscious thoughts and behaviors what would stop a wealthy person from thinking the same way a less wealthy person does? A case could be made that this isn't removing the idea of free-will at all and just connecting our lives and environments intimately, but I'm unsure that this is the case. The notion of the things around us determining our consciousness makes me feel like it is stripping out the very meaning of what it means to be human. Instead, it's being replaced with what feels like a mechanical view of the world.

While I agree that our environment can (and sometimes does) influence our behaviors (e.g., our workplace) I do believe that at the very core of what it means to be human is the notion of free-will and our ability to change the circumstances we find ourselves in regardless of the social, political, and economic influences around us. Those three factors can slow down or speed up the actions we take to fulfill our own beliefs, goals, and dreams. But in no way should those outside forces force what we as humans should hold as beliefs and aspirations.


Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash