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Two kinds of morality (1 Viewer)

kowalskil

Senior Member
TWO KINDS OF MORALITIES, MARXIST VERSUS THEOLOGICAL


I am reading interesting comments about communist morality, in a book devoted to Judaism, published in 1975. The authors are two rabbis, D. Prager and J. Telushkin. A Christian theologian would probably make similar observations.


Marxists and theologians, they write, "are both motivated by the desire to perfect the world and establish a utopia on earth. ... Both promote all-encompassing worldviews. But they diametrically oppose one another in almost every other way." The authors remind us that communists rejected "all morality derived from nonhuman [i.e. God] and nonclass concepts," as stated in 1920 by Lenin. ... "Marxist morality sanctions any act so long as that act was committed in the interest of [economic and political] class struggle." Nothing that Stalin, and Mao did was immoral, according to such ideology.


Theologians, on the other hand, hold "that morality transcends economic, national, and individual interests." God's commandments are objective rather than subjective. Evil human acts are condemned, no matter what economic or political gains are derived from them. That is the essential difference. Greed in human nature, they emphasize, "may have helped create capitalism, but capitalism did not create greed in human nature."


Theologians also deplore social injustice. But they reject brutal proletarian revolutions because "the roots of evil and injustice lie not in economics or society but in man himself." This has to do with the concept of freedom. "For Marxism, which conceives of the world in materialist terms, bondage is defined solely as servitude to external sources such as slave owners, capitalist bosses, or other forms of material inequality. Freedom is liberation from such servitude." People, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels, must get rid of economic chains binding them. Then they will automatically cease to be evil.


Theologians, on the other hand, see two kinds of liberation, from external and from internal bonds. "Once liberation from external servitude takes place, one must then liberate oneself from internal domination, the domination of one's life by passions, needs, irrationality and wants." The conflict between theologians and Marxists "is not economic, it is moral." Proletarian dictatorship was practiced in several countries; the results show that "when Marxist revolutionaries attain power they are at least as crual as their predecessors."


Philosophical differences about morality, among different kinds of theologians, are minimal, as far as I know. But attempts to impose morality are not very successful. Why is it so? What can be done to improve the situation, to bring our reality a little closer to "utopia" dreams?


Ludwik​
 
Hi Kowaskii, interesting essay; the ways that atheism alters and forces a reconsideration of morality are always fascinating, I think. But there's a couple points I think need some clarification or additional support:

First off, you seem to be using the terms "Marxism" and "communism" as if they were interchangeable, which they are not. "Marxism" is generally used to speak more generally of Marx's economic theories as laid out in Capital, including ideas like commodity fetishism, different kinds of value, etc. A person can be a Marxist without being a communist. This website offers a lot of resources, I'm linking to a page which clarifies many of the relevant terms.

Nothing that Stalin, and Mao did was immoral, according to such ideology.
While this might be what Stalin or Mao claimed, many people would disagree entirely that Marxism (or communism) truly justifies Stalinism and certainly that communism and Stalinism are the same thing. Same for Mao. It would help to support your argument if you were to provide some specific ways (citations, etc.) in which Stalin or Mao used Marxism as defense for actions generally seen as immoral by others. In what way was Stalin attempting to carry out a utopian vision?

People, as stated in the Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels, must get rid of economic chains binding them. Then they will automatically cease to be evil.
a) you should italicize The Communist Manifesto, since it is a title
b) The term "evil" here is difficult, I'm curious how M&E define "evil" outside of a theological basis. Going against class struggle?

Another issue is that you speak of "theologians" very generally, even going so far to say that you're sure Christian theologians would agree with the non-Christian authors you're reading. I very much doubt that theologians' opinions can be discussed en masse like this; or that "Philosophical differences about morality [...] are minimal". It would be better to state that these particular authors hold X opinion or believe Y, without generalizing too broadly.
 

kowalskil

Senior Member
Thank you for interesting comments. My familiarity with these topics is superficial; I learn from comments of people like you.

And you are right that endorsements of basic God's commandments, by different theologians, does not make their doctrines identical.

Ludwik
 

Kevin

WF Veterans
I think this is an excellent subject. As an 'essay' I'm wondering if it should be in the 'non-fic' section. Mr. Kowalskil, I'd be very interested in reading more from you regarding the parallels, and how they differ.
 

kowalskil

Senior Member
I think this is an excellent subject. As an 'essay' I'm wondering if it should be in the 'non-fic' section. Mr. Kowalskil, I'd be very interested in reading more from you regarding the parallels, and how they differ.

I am only an amateur in these matters. A comment from a friend (see below) will probably "improve the essay." Please add other improvements,

Ludwik

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Because human nature is an Antithesis to morality, because the human will, desire and stuggle for life is corrupted by the will to power (at any cost: read Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince), the human free will, ego, envy (jealousy) and fraudulent behavior. These things stand in the way of the correct implementation of very good ideas which come from theology, political idealism (ideologies like conservatism, liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, christian democracy -christian social thought- and libertarian thought) based on morality, ethics and core values. Only practical philosophy like pragmatism, logical-positive thought and some versions of christian, Jewish and secular humanism come in the direction of some morality. You have very good and moral intitiatives and movements from Roman-Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and other faiths and political orientations. In the same time you have very bad or inhumane people, parties and movements coming from the same religious and political direction. The human nature and human society is complicated and constantly changing. An interesting question is how to keep or reform the message and core values of our old morality, based on Judeo-christian religion and culture, and the Greek-Roman philosophical, legal (law), humanistic and political ideas (like the Greek idea of democracy (the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) "rule of the people")
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Robert_S

Senior Member
I need to pose a question. I'm not that experienced in this area and for me, morality is kind of a cyclic ideology, especially when espoused by religious people.

So, what is the difference between ethics and morality? For me, ethics has a basis in collective fairness, but one that is still evolving.


Morality is based on "what God says is right." So many times a christian has said, "Morals are the rules handed down by god, so how can you be a person of morality if you don't believe in god." I'm not one of faith in the absent and unseen, so morality seems a fools pathway.
 
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