The Two Most Important Statements in Marx

 

The two most important statements in all of Karl Marx's writings come from the same book ("Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right").  In fact, they come from the very same page.  I call them "thesis 1" and "thesis 2," though Marx does not number them.  They are as follows:

Thesis 1: "...It is evident that all forms of the state have democracy for their truth, and for that reason are false to the extent that they are not democracy."

and 

Thesis 2: "...In true democracy, the political state disappears." 

How one interprets Marx hangs completely on how one interprets these two statements.  In a few words, Marx brings together all the diverse tendencies that made the group of thinkers to which he belonged so distinctive - a group that was familiar and conversant with the writings of Hegel and other important philosophers of the period, and yet represented a rebellious, even shocking divergence from tradition.  It was not only people like Mikhail Bakunin and Carlo Cafiero - people who eventually became known as "anarchists" - who were initially drawn to Karl Marx's theories because they saw in Marx a potential ally in the pursuit of emancipation and liberation.  Doubtless, Marxist-Leninists, Bordigaists - as well as right-wing conservatives - and others will counter that anarchists misinterpret Marx, and perhaps there's some truth to this.  But anarchists can be forgiven for taking Marx literally, and seriously.

So what is the best way to interpret these statements?  This is a topic to which I will return.

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