Maurizio – Omnologos

Where no subject is left unturned

Marx and Nietzsche on Socialism and Envy

with 13 comments

Follow-up to my earlier blog: “Research Shows Socialism Is About Envy“:

(many thanks to my friends M and E for this)

First a quote from Karl Marx himself. I found it in extended length at the blog called “The Sentinel“:

Marx, in his much neglected Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts warned against […] what he termed “crude communism”. Crude communism “appears in a double form; the domination of material property looms so large that it aims to destroy everything which is incapable of being possessed by everyone as private property. It wishes to eliminate talent, etc., by force . . . The role of worker is not abolished but extended to all men. The relation of private property remains the relation of the community to the world of things . . . This communism, which negates the personality of man in every sphere is . . . Universal envy setting itself up as a power, is only camouflaged form of cupidity which re-establishes itself and satisfies itself in a different way. The thoughts of every individual private property are at least directed against any wealthier private property, in the form of envy and the desire to reduce everything to a common level; so that this envy and levelling in fact constitute the essence of competition. Crude communism is only the culmination of such envy and levelling-down on the basis of a preconceived minimum. How little this abolishing of private property represents a genuine appropriation is shown by the abstract negation of the whole world of culture and civilisation, and the regression to the unnatural simplicity of the poor and wantless individual who has not only not surpassed private property but has not even attained to it. The community is only a community of work and of equality of wages paid out by the communal capital, by the community as universal capitalists. The two sides of the relation are raised to a supposed universality; labour as a condition in which everyone is placed, and capital as the acknowledged universality and power of the community.

Marx was likely talking about Babeuf, but the idea of flattening everybody down to the lowest common poverty has come back into fashion (usually dressed up as “antiglobalization” or “environmentalism”).


And now unto Friedrich Nietzsche, in The Anti-Christ (section #57):

Whom do I hate most among the rabble of today? The socialist rabble, the chandala apostles, who undermine the instinct, the pleasure, the worker’s sense of satisfaction with his small existence–who make him envious, who teach him revenge. The source of wrong is never unequal rights but the claim of “equal” rights.

Nietzsche was of course talking about Christians too, but that I’ll leave to another blog…

13 Responses

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  1. Brilliant thinking. Right on.



    2008/Jan/18 at 01:41:05

  2. The Nietzsche I like the most (lucid and argumentative, rather than annoyingly oracular) is the one of “Human, all too Human”. That book contains two very insightful aphorisms about socialism: #446 (on “justice” vs “power”) and #473 (on socialism’s true ancestry, and its likely outcome). Here they are (from ):

    #446: A question of power, not of justice.— For men who always consider the higher utility of a matter, socialism, assuming it is really the uprising against their oppressors of people who have been held down for thousands of years, poses no problem of justice (with the ludicrous, feeble question: “How far ought one to yield to its demands?”), but only a problem of power (“To what extent can one exploit its demands?”). So it is likewise the case of a force of nature, for example steam—which is either pressed into service by man as god of the machine or, if the machine is faulty (that is, if human calculation in its construction is faulty), blows the machine and man with it to pieces. To solve this question of power, one must know how strong socialism is, and with what modification it can still be used as a mighty lever within the existing play of political forces; in some circumstances one would even have to do everything possible to strengthen it. Whenever a great force exists—even the most dangerous—mankind has to consider how to make of it an instument for the attainment of its own objectives.— Socialism gains rights only if war appears to be imminent between the two powers, the representatives of the old and new, but then both parties prudently calculate how they may preserve themselves to best advantage, and this results in their desire for a treaty. No rights without a treaty. Until now, however, in the said domain there has been neither war nor treaties, and thus no rights, no “ought,” either.

    #473: Socialism with regards to its means.— Socialism is the visionary younger brother of an almost decrepit despotism, whose heir it wants to be; thus its efforts are reactionary in the deepest sense. For it desires an abundance of executive power, as only despotism has ever had; indeed, it outdoes everything in the past by striving for the downright destruction of the individual, who it sees as an unauthorized luxury of nature, and who it intends to improve into a useful organ of the community. It crops up in the vicinity of all excessive displays of power because of its relation to it, like the typical old socialist Plato, at the court of the Sicilian tyrant; it desires (and in certain circumstances, furthers) the Caesarean power state of this century, because, as we said, it would like to be its heir. But even this inheritance would not suffice for its purposes, it needs the most submissive subjugation of all citizens to the absolute state, the like of which has never existed; and since it cannot even count any longer on the old religious piety towards the state, having rather always to work automatically to eliminate piety—because it works on the elimination of all existing states—, it can only hope to exist here and there for short periods of time by means of the most extreme terrorism. Therefore, it secretly prepares for reigns of terror, and drives the word “justice” like a nail into the heads of the half-educated masses, to rob them completely of their reason (after this reason has already suffered a great deal from its half-education), and to create in them a good conscience for the evil game that they are to play.— Socialism can serve as a rather brutal and forceful way to teach the danger of all accumulations of state power, and to that extent instill one with distrust of the state itself. When its harsh voice chimes in with the battle cry “as much state as possible,” it will at first make the cry noisier than ever; but soon the opposite cry will be heard with strength the greater: “as little state as possible.”


    2008/Jan/18 at 14:18:59

  3. Yes, socialism “is” envy. But capitalism gives greed a workout: Gordon Gecko: “greed is good”.

    Sooner or later, we’ll get through all the Seven Deadly Sins, basing a political movement on lust, pride, anger, and even gluttony.

    But note a fundamental asymmetry. Once you leave off basing social movements on deadly sins, you get socialism: the socialism that’s not about envy but about charity.

    Edward G. Nilges

    2008/Feb/15 at 07:21:00

    • Not sooner or later. Ideologies contain the sins already:
      The Ranters were a heretical sect of egalitarians in the English civil war who based much of their views on controversial views about polygymy, free love, orgies etc (lust).
      It could be argued that Monachy is based on pride, that Fascism is blind anger…


      2011/Apr/20 at 19:24:04

  4. mmmm…”charitable socialism”…sounds like a “solidarity pact”. A good idea that keeps getting ruined in practice. Even Mussolini believed in it.


    2008/Feb/15 at 09:34:07

  5. Interpretations can be ideological.

    Finally, communism is the positive expression of annulled private property – at first as universal private property.
    By embracing this relation as a whole, communism is:
    (1) In its first form only a generalization and consummation of it [of this relation]. As such it appears in a two-fold form: on the one hand, the dominion of material property bulks so large that it wants to destroy everything which is not capable of being possessed by all as private property. It wants to disregard talent, etc., in an arbitrary manner.


    2009/Oct/25 at 21:19:35

  6. when this two thinkers, Marx and Nietzsche, are agree or disagree between theyselfs???

    I thanks if i have a answer!


    2010/Jan/11 at 20:42:10

  7. This would be good for all members of the NDP and its ilk to read. Perhaps it will open their eyes and minds for the evil they are espousing.


    2010/Feb/06 at 13:59:41

  8. the only reason why socialist nations failed at the end is because at the end they forget the basis of their ideology, and the fact that they became power hungry or became totalitarians
    (i.e. Valdemar linen,Josef Stalin ) they forgot that socialism was for the people and not the government or big corporates.


    2010/Sep/22 at 05:08:45

  9. Marx said that there are two types of communism a low level and a high level. late on Lenin went on to explain those levels. The low level being Socialism, and the high level being commmunism.


    2010/Sep/22 at 05:11:51

  10. With one foot yet in the jungle humanity ponders it’s direction. Which is more envious…intellectualism or instinct?


    2010/Oct/11 at 02:48:51

  11. I agree with nietzsche, the irrationality, and greed of humans must be deciphered and mutated. a consciousness shift must occur, that is not the absolute negation of the self, where the ego loses itself into the vast economy of existence, rather, we will find ourselves at the doorstep of a clitoris.


    2010/Dec/26 at 03:00:25

  12. I think both Marx and Nietzsche have said the same things.Marx in some what lighter tone and Nietzsche in a harsher tone.


    2011/Oct/15 at 04:04:28

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