In The Evolution of God, a book written by Robert Wright which draws a long, evolutionary line in religion, he states, "Marxists...they think that social structures, including shared beliefs, tend to serve the powerful."
Before this, he mentioned that they were opposed to functionalists, but not because they were communists. Well, this statement begs the question:
Are Marxists communists?
The answer may seem obvious, and my questioning of this assertion may come across as oblivious to a "the simplest answer's always right" philosophy. Of course, they're communist, right? Their ideology is attributed to a single man, Karl Marx, whose most significant claim to fame was his historically integral pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto.
In this pamphlet, Marx is not providing a scholarly analysis of the “specter” that was communism. It wasn’t a research paper that inspects the history of the relatively new political system. It was an explanation of the movement and an argument for why the reader should join the communist ranks in establishing the system as the economic system of many European nations.
So, of course, a Marxist, naturally, is a communist, right?
Well, I beg the following question. Are all Christians socialists?
Many of Jesus’s teachings involved joining a common good and putting less investment in materialism. It wasn’t quite communism and it wasn’t exactly socialism, because whereas communism maintains a “fair share” philosophy, socialism would maintain an “everyone receives necessities” philosophy.
It still incapacitates the free market and obliterates social classes, limiting personal success and minimally considering effort and work, but whereas communism is more aggressive, and it has a chip on its shoulder towards the bourgeoisie and how it has exploited the working class, socialism is more humanistic, simply observing how many citizens do not have access to what they deem as basic human rights and necessities.
Now, this work is not a criticism or value judgment of socialists, Christians, Communists, Marxists, etc, but incorporating Christ’s teachings serves a thought experiment. Christianity is the most affluent religion in the United States, and it is perceived to center around two cornerstones, Jesus and the Holy Bible.
Within the United States, however, Christians on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum are rarely socialists.
Liberal Christians who are more politically astute might have some socially democratic policies, but their aim is to construct a better government that doesn’t serve God, but serves the people, which they might believe God has endowed them to do.
Although Christ had supremely socialist philosophy, most modernistic Christians understand that socialism can’t be applied to the United States in Western modernity, because they are Christians and not the original followers of Christ.
After all, Christ said in Mark, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God’s.”
So, with this, even without considering the heavily anti-communist, anti-socialist Southern denominations of Christianity, most socialists aren’t Christian, most Christians aren’t socialist, and Christ, who himself was fairly socialist, was not a Christian.
Because Christ provided a philosophy and how the world should work.
As the son of God, he conveyed to his philosophers a way to perceive the world and a system of morals and principles to adopt. Although his close followers definitely allowed Christ’s socialist philosophy to influence their personal choices, Christians allow Christ’s word to perceptually better themselves and develop a perception of the world and the people around them, but most moderate Christians do not attempt to shape the government or culture around their religion.
Now, we return to Karl Marx. Karl Marx wrote his pamphlet and asserted a political system, and in doing so, he suggested a perspective on how the contemporary political, economic, and social systems would work, but he was not a Marxist.
He was a Communist. Most modern communists will point towards Marx as influential in the Communist movement, but they do not follow Marx’s word.
Most Marxists will point towards Marx’s presentation of how nations’ governments tend to work, but they often are not communists.
They do not necessarily assert communism as the elite political system, but they perceive Marx’s word and principles as a superior method of world perception, particularly the function of the Government and state.
If one was to approach Marx with the ideology of Marxism, he might reply, “Marxism? It’s not an ideology. It’s a political system, and its pronounced, Communism.” If you approached Christ with the ideology of Christianity, he’d say, “What’s Christianity?”
So, the denouement, here, is that there is an invisible separation between system and philosophy. Ideology and practice, and because of that, those who follow a word might fail to practice its implications, and one who practice’s the implications of a philosophy might fail to attribute it to one or numerous people or ideologies. Ideologies and political systems are parallel and not perpendicular, so the next time someone approaches you with a system or suggestions on a change in the system that you perceive as conflicting with your ideology, or someone approaches you with an ideology and how it’s similar to your system, just remember…
Marx was not a Marxist, and Christ was not a Christian.