Together with the victory of the revolution, though, Marx's fundamental error also became evident. He showed precisely how to overthrow the existing order, but he did not say how matters should proceed thereafter. He simply presumed that with the expropriation of the ruling class, with the fall of political power and the socialization of means of production, the new Jerusalem would be realized. Then, indeed, all contradictions would be resolved, man and the world would finally sort themselves out. Then everything would be able to proceed by itself along the right path, because everything would belong to everyone and all would desire the best for one another. Thus, having accomplished the revolution, Lenin must have realized that the writings of the master gave no indication as to how to proceed. True, Marx had spoken of the interim phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a necessity which in time would automatically become redundant. This “intermediate phase” we know all too well, and we also know how it then developed, not ushering in a perfect world, but leaving behind a trail of appalling destruction. Marx not only omitted to work out how this new world would be organized—which should, of course, have been unnecessary. His silence on this matter follows logically from his chosen approach. His error lay deeper. He forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment.
Spe Salvi 21
Reflection – So we see here the failure of Marxism. It is not simply that he had good ideas which got corrupted by his later followers (Lenin and Stalin and Mao, etc.). It is that Marxism is based on a fundamentally flawed anthropology, a vision of the human person that is not correct.
Well, maybe that’s all quite obvious to the readers of this blog, even as Marxism seems to be having some kind of small neo-resurgence, and not just in the OWS protesters. But we have to proceed carefully here: the Marxist anthropology can pervade all sorts of worldviews, even ours if we’re not careful.
If we can just fix the liturgy: liturgical justice for all! If we can just learn the right rules for getting ahead or romantic relationships or having a vibrant social life. If we just arrange the outward realities, be they economic or social or personal or ecclesial or… and above all, if we just seize power in our life, then we can usher in the New Jerusalem.
No. The central key matter is always human freedom encountering God’s freedom. The central and key matter is always my choice, right now, to love or not love, serve or not serve, listen and obey and pray, or not.
There is no revolution, no social upheaval, no programme of change, no dictatorship of the proletariat (or Fr. Denis, or you) that is going to ‘redeem us from the outside’, as Pope Benedict so aptly puts it here. It is the true revolution, which is the living encounter with Love, the flame that shoots from the heart of the Trinity and wills to enkindle our own hearts—this is redemption, and this and this alone is the power that changes the world.