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Marx: Administrative Tyranny?

April 1st, 2011 | 2 min read

By Andrew Walker

As I mentioned earlier in the week, there's been a great discussion going over at on Terry Eagleton's book Why Marx Was Right. As an avowed non-Marxist, I was somewhat surprised to be invited to participate in the discussion, but was happy to do so. Today, my post has been unveiled. Titled, "Administrative Tyranny: Marx's Misguided View of the State," I dissect whether Marx's view of the State was correct and conclude that Marx's impoverished understanding of individual anthropology contributed to the failure of state-level Marxism. Here's my conclusion:

There’s a reason that Marxism is often labeled “Statism.” For Marxism to achieve its claim of unmitigated equality, it not only does, but must cede primary control to the State to accomplish this measure. Attaining equality is a leveling wind of government instrusion and one person’s government-ascribed right is another person’s responsibility. As far as Eagleton’s reading is concerned, perhaps he has read Marx correctly, but a correct reading of Marx does not mean that Marx’s theories correspond to historical success. In the preface, Eagleton does admit that his attempt in this project is not to portray Marx’s ideas as perfect, but plausible. Is Marxism perfect? No. Is it plausible? Yes, if plausible means having been attempted. But, the question remains: Has Marxism benefited its citizens with the entitlements it promises? I would submit an answer in the negative.

After reading my assigned chapter, I am not compelled to believe that Marx’s view of the state was right. In fact, Marx may be more schizophrenic than right. Schizophrenic in the sense that Marx’s insistence on a minimalist administrative state requires his operative state to have more oversight than Marx would originally have granted. Maybe Marx was right and the instantiation of Marxism terribly wrong. I cannot tell. But if we’re still looking for demonstrably successful Marxism, history reveals its absence and for this reason, I cannot conclude that Marx was right.


Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.