The article views the problem of Marxist heritage from the standpoint of social Christianity. The author urges to overcome the stereotype of considering Marxism as a conceptual and ideological antithesis to liberalism. The author considers it practicable and imperative that Marxism should be viewed as a socio-philosophical trend that had arisen within the framework of secularised Protestantism or cultural Protestantism. It can be considered more moderate than secular Protestant fundamentalism, whose political and economic ideology is based on liberalism. Having emerged in the cultural and intellectual field of the European Reformation and as its partial negation, Marxism can be described as a critical commentary on it. The goal of Marxism is to combine biblical (Abrahamic) values with the protestant values of Progress understood in a utilitarian way, thereby rejecting historical religions. According to the author, the Marxism programme was afflicted by internal contradictions and was therefore doomed to failure. The author goes on to declare the historical inevitability of the collapse of liberal capitalism and to justify his position from the standpoint of social Christianity.
Abrahamism, capitalism, cosmoteosis, cultural Orthodoxy, cultural Protestantism, isolating historicism, liberalism, Marxism, perichoresis, Reformation, socialism
About the Authors
SHCHIPKOV Aleksandr Vladimirovich is a Doctor of Political Science, Professor of the Religion Philosophy and Religious Studies department at the Philosophy faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University and Advisor to the Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. E-mail: email@example.com
A.V. Shchipkov, V.A. Shchipkov. Marxism as a Project of Alternative Reformation // Voprosy Filosofii. 2022. Vol. 6 pp. 142-152
Marxism can, without exaggeration, be described as one of the most mythologised intellectual phenomena of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The mythologisation in question lies on the conscience of both Marxism supporters and opponents. While discussing Marxism, we need to take into account the ongoing methodology crisis in the social sciences and to distance ourselves from a number of stereotypes that have accumulated therein.
One of these stereotypes concerns the perception of the Soviet period of Russian history, although the connection between Marxist theory and Soviet practice is not actually direct, but roundabout. The kind of Bolshevism that had developed under Vladimir Lenin and Lev Trotsky had largely evolved in contradiction to the official Marxist theory. It was also simultaneously devoid of national traits – or rather, they were only manifested in the motivation of the part of the masses that supported the Soviet government – with its communality, chiliasm, and the ideas of ‘universal equality’ and ‘black redistribution’. Yet this did not serve to add any national features to the Bolshevik project itself. Despite it undergoing a number of instructive transformations over time, Bolshevism was not less radical and Westernising than theoretical Marxism, but on the contrary, even more so. The issue, however, is not the subject of this article.
Another important stereotype in the perception of the Marxist phenomenon is the persistent tendency to view it from the standpoint of isolating historicism, which tends on closer examination to reveal distinct signs of eschatological discourse.
This approach considers the world of socialism not just as a utopia and an erroneous social project, but as a part of the world temporary plunged into the ‘outer darkness’, as a time of confusion, vacillation and ‘temptation’, which yielded bitter fruits. And since the tree shall be known by its fruit, then Marxism and the various forms of socialism are evils brought about by a deviation from the higher law. Namely, from the sacred foundations and institutions of monetary society, which professes the survival of the fittest and a market price for every value – except for the market itself, which, bearing the status of a universal determinant, is therefore sacral.
The ultimate goal of this mythology is not to condemn Marxism and socialism per se – even though there are enough objective grounds for such condemnation – but to emphasise in every way possible their alienation from ‘universal’ civilisation. One cannot help feeling that Marxism and the ideas of socialism in general were born out of nothing, as if ‘woven out of thin air’. At least, this is what the scheme embedded in the consciousness of the layman appears to be. A number of philosophers, however, have been forced to make some concessions to historical realities – for example, Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper, both consistent anti-Marxists, consider the Plato-Hegel-Marx line as a line of ‘historical authoritarianism’.
Whereas there are certainly enough grounds for negative assessment of the ‘red project’ in any of its forms, the dogma about the lack of kinship between the ‘younger’, Communist version of modernism and its ‘older’, liberal version does not appear too convincing. This ‘two systems’ myth was in its time shaken by Immanuel Wallerstein and his followers, and earlier by the ‘Frankfurt school’ philosophers, who challenged the whole ‘Enlightenment project’.
In point of fact, the problem of Marxism is the problem of the development of all European and Western culture. Nowadays, the analysis of Marxist heritage must take into account the deep crisis of this culture. It is also equally obvious that this ‘is not the crisis of just one of the stages (such as industrial, Fordist or even capitalist), but the crisis of the entire era as such. This crisis has grown to affect not only merely the surface layers in the sphere of politics and economics, but the deeper foundations of the modernity era... <...> Strictly speaking, since the emergence of modernity does not begin with economics, neither does economics determine its impasse’ [Glinchikova 2007, 43].
According to the author of the cited article, a known left-wing views supporter, the general modernity crisis rests on the crisis of ‘individuation’, or the private person concept that had given rise to the secular humanism culture. However correct, this diagnosis only reveals part of the problem. The statement of the representative of ‘radical orthodoxy’, philosopher and theologian John Milbank, appears to be more accurate: ‘With the failure of secular ideologies, the only ground that secularism is based on <...> is scientific "objectivity" in the form of technological control plus complete and absolutely arbitrary freedom of choice. Not knowing how to reconcile these two accents, it therefore conspires with the devil and acts as a cult of power’ [Davydov 2015, 361]. And yet even this fair thesis, in our opinion, fails to grasp the situation completely.
Since the fate of Marxism and the state of modern society, in our opinion, depend on the same set of long-term historical factors, we should therefore set the problem in a broader sense, while at the same time keeping focused on the Marxist theme.
The current liberal quasi-historicism, a long-time part of the mass consciousness, often presents Marxism as a set of outdated political and ideological stereotypes, irrelevant in the context of the problems of modern society. Without assessing the validity of the main meaning of the statement, we should only note that it would be a great oversimplification nowadays to consider Marxism only as a political and ideological phenomenon.
The logic of big history, the so-called Hegel’s ‘cunning of Reason’, naturally stands much higher than the differences between specific, even very influential ideologies, such as liberalism and Marxism, for example. To understand the nature of these ideologies, it is necessary to raise our viewpoint one level higher. It is a question of theoretically depressurising the problem of Marxism and socialism and bringing it out of the purely sociological into the cultural and historical realm. In this case, we are faced with the old Weber problem of interpreting cultural meaning.
In order to reveal the complete Marxist teleology, it is necessary to consider its place within the framework of the relevant cultural paradigm, and to describe not only its immediate ideological intentions and socio-political objectives, but also its metaphysical and theological foundations and values.
The social and political-economic manifestations of Marxism represent a semiotic subspace of culture as a whole, namely the culture of secularised Protestantism. Theologically, the teachings of Karl Marx and his followers are nothing more than a failed, or rather, a temporary project of alternative Reformation that had sprung from the bosom of Reformation itself. The cultural codes and symbolic language of Protestant secularism are, therefore, fully present in Marxism, albeit in a transformed form.
Marxism was born out of Protestant culture as a critical commentary and a partial denial of it. From a theological point of view, it stands as a kind of failed attempt at alternative Reformation or a second Counter-Reformation. The Marxist programme seeks to combine the biblical values of love and equality of people before God with the theologeme of universal Progress, characteristic of the Protestant world, with the condition, however, of abandoning the historical religion. In the face of a fairly noticeable incline of the basic values towards Abrahamism, the Marxist conceptual space nevertheless preserves Protestant utilitarianism and economicocentrism, albeit all this takes a negative and critical form towards the Capital.
In other words, the Marxist ‘message’ presents a fundamentally contradictory idea of Protestant socialism. According to the popular, but no less fair formula of Max Weber, modern society is built upon a rigid moral and ethical framework that consists of ‘the Protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism’ [Weber 1973]. Marxism thus proves inconsistent in value-related and civilisational aspects – hence its negative features and conceptual weaknesses. To attempt to demolish and then to replace the socio-economic model along with the model of production and industrial relations, all the while going against the values of the culture that engendered them, is tantamount to trying to fly without wings, but with the use of the whip and spurs. You may be able to run very fast and maybe even break away from the earth for a second, but the motion vector will be ever directed downwards, and never upwards.
This kind of intra-civilisational conflict had sprung from a specific background.
Strictly speaking, there are two concepts in the biblical tradition: the Old Testament principle of the things and phenomena of life being brought about by the Law, and the idea of free will – the realisation of talent and creativity that enables us to co-work in the name of the Lord and love for one's neighbour.
Making use of a certain Aurelius Augustine interpretation, Protestantism actually brings the first concept – including its socio-political projections – back into the semiotic space of the New Testament, simultaneously transforming it in the direction of pre-Abrahamic (pagan) creeds. It is against this background that Martin Luther (originally in his famous ‘Theses’) and his followers legalised usurious loan interests and strengthened the idea of total competition. The next step appears to be the religious justification of the innate inequality of people before God: ‘Predestination is the name we give to the eternal plan of God, in which He determined what He wants to do with each man. God does not create all men in the same condition, but ordains some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation. Depending on the purpose for which a man is created, we can say whether he is destined for death or for life’ [Calvin 1998, 351]. A simple-minded Christian inevitably feels like asking: ‘Did Christ die for everyone or for the chosen few?’
Exploiting the idea of ‘being selected to salvation’, Protestantism legitimises various forms of social inequality by placing them in the context of a providential view of the world and instilling in society a belief in worldly success as a supposed manifestation of grace and a habit of alienating labour. This ignores the passage from the gospel, starting with the episode of the rich and the Kingdom of God: ‘and Jesus said unto His disciples, verily I say unto you that a rich man shall hardly enter the Kingdom of heaven; again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God’ [Matt. 19:16–26].
Apostle Paul sewed tents and wove baskets to feed himself, as told in the Epistles and Acts, and said, ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat’ [2 Thess. 3:10]. In the modern Protestant sense, Apostle Paul would be seen as a ‘businessman’. The words of Christ about ‘all things possible to the believer’ begin to be interpreted as ‘all things are permissible’, which brings the thought of abandoning the ‘totalitarian concept of sin’ closer at hand.
The secular religiosity complex of the secularising Protestantism creates a cultural dimension of politics, economics and ideology. It is manifested in Kant and Condorcet's idea of total progress (‘Progress of everything’). The English bourgeois revolution then goes on to create an apparatus of political and economic violence and the affirmation of this new cultural normativity. This can be traced back to vivid historic evidence, such as the coercion to bourgeois standards of labour service, expressed in laws against beggars and vagrants, the transformation of the country into a capitalist labour camp, the deliberate ruin of the peasants for the sake of the needs of the commercial and financial bourgeoisie, the robbery of the colonies, the shooting of Native Americans and in the world trade in ‘live goods’. All this, taken together, forms the bourgeois type of the same revolutionary dictatorship as the officially recognised forms and methods of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ and collective-farm and prison camp ‘production’. Likewise is the case with the ideology that sacralises the political (rather than the social) rights and the ‘sacred right of property’, that is, precisely what the majority of the population sees as a theoretical fiction. This model is then imposed on the world's outskirts, which are considered as economic appendages – as proletarian countries to bourgeois countries. This is the meaning of colonisation. With the departure of the classical colonialism in the twentieth century, neocolonialism with its economic instruments becomes increasingly evident. We get to witness the emergence of the ideology of ‘modernisation’, de facto meaning Westernisation, endless catch-up development and blocking the real, authentic modernisation. The ‘Western’ way, blocking the national social institutions from development, is none other than the notorious autarkic ‘special way of development’, repeatedly cursed by liberal theorists.
From the religious and theological point of view, liberal capitalism comes as retardation, the inhibition of social and moral progress, and a departure from the moral law of the Abrahamic religions and Christian self-sacrifice back to the pagan idea of ‘survival of the fittest’. In the form of a cultural Protestant capitalist model, we are ultimately faced with the historical rudiments of the pagan institution of human sacrifice. These sacrifices – in the form of a military ‘affirmation of the standards of democracy’ – are sometimes carried out directly and without much ado. More often, however, ‘sacred violence’, as the phenomenon was termed by the philosopher René Girard [Girard 2000], comes to be indirect, and to take, to use Marxist language, the form of ‘exploitation of man by man’, when people use each other as expendable material for their selfish benefit. The Malthusian principle of total competition stands as the complete opposite of Christian morality. That is the reason why the struggle against religion, waged by the global secular world ideologists, becomes increasingly more active with the tightening of the liberal policy, which undoubtedly comes as an heir to Malthusianism.
Marxists considered this order within the framework of the labour cost theory, that is, in a narrow and insufficient aspect, talking about the power of capital, oppression and alienation of labour. Simultaneously, they somehow considered capitalism as a temporarily progressive formation, speaking about the ‘civilizing tendency of capital’ [Marx 1968, 302], which from a moral point of view is just as absurd as the liberal philosopher John Locke, who was also a slave trader, writing treatises on the philosophy of freedom.
In his Theses on Feuerbach, Karl Marx willingly or unwittingly reinterpreted this position in his well-known thesis: ‘Philosophers only explained the world in different ways, but the point is to change it’ [Russell 2001, 514]. Although the text contains no references to authentic Christianity, objectively such active position stands much closer to the words of the Apostle James: ‘Your faith is dead without your works’ [James 2:17–26] than to the Protestant principles of salvation ‘by faith alone’ (sola Fidem) and ‘by Scripture alone’ (sola Scriptura). Cultural Protestant society, of course, chose to perceive this Marxist intention as a violation of existential stability and collective identity. Whereas the principle proposed by Marxism is morally closer to Christian orthodoxy, its divergence from the post-Reformation West worldview would never allow it to be put into practice, except through a ‘radical breakdown’ of social relations. The labour and capital contradiction is based on the fundamental contradiction between the individual activity of the ‘elected unto salvation’ and the collective activity – the ‘common cause’ – for the sake of mutual assistance in the cause of salvation. Such a different understanding of the idea of co-working with God gives rise to the differences in the public understanding of the nature and purpose of labour. Since the cultural Protestantism economy includes legal mechanisms of alienation and redistribution of the results of co-working labour, we may conclude that the appropriation of surplus value in the material sphere corresponds to the ‘appropriation’ of grace – a symbolic resource associated with the concept of ‘the select few’, chosen according to the criterion of high property status and worldly ‘success’. Consequently, it inevitably follows that along with the ‘alienation’ of the results of labour, the cultural Protestant view of the essence of labour generates the alienation of the conditions of salvation of the soul. The same natural competition and natural selection mechanism is thus built into the work of personal salvation. Instead of ‘save yourself and thousands will be saved around you’ (Seraphim of Sarov), it is indirectly stated: secure your salvation at the cost of your neighbour’s.
By analogy with the surplus value principle, we may call this approach the principle of ‘surplus grace’. In this context, the well-known half-joking statement about ‘grace spreading with investment’ no longer sounds like a metaphor.
The Marxist critical commentary on the doctrine of Protestant fundamentalism is delivered within the framework of the same Protestant language and demonstrates all the extremes of emancipated thinking – the death of the family, the Church, and so on. Marxism, however, generates a more moderate Protestant type that demonstrates a conciliatory attitude towards the basic biblical values – first of all towards the rejection of ‘sacred violence’ and the institution of sacrifice – the rejection embodied in the sacrifice of Christ. Thou shalt not sacrifice thy neighbour to thyself and thy interests, but sacrifice thyself for the sake of thy neighbour, loving him as the Lord loved us, as he was crucified – and thus shalt thou be saved. This is the general meaning of the Good News, and it is with this meaning that Marxism seeks to reconcile the Protestant secularism preaching about the importance of personal success, being chosen, and the understanding of Progress as an unconditional form of grace. Marxism proposes to abandon the model of liberal capitalism, or rather, ‘prophesies’ its inevitable destruction as a result of the accumulation of internal contradictions.
That is how Marxism, despite its declarative atheism, objectively revolts against the value system of the Protestant liberal world. It rejects the Protestant ‘predestination’ of the social order, refusing to consider oppression of people by other people as a manifestation of Lutheran and Calvinist ‘selection to salvation’, that is, something metaphysically justified. However, the Marxist idea of universal equality and fraternity, set in opposition to the idea of inequality and ‘being chosen’, is still given a providential justification, albeit in the Marxism's own way – by appealing to the highest historical laws. Marxists replace the worldly mysticism of capital with the fatal predetermination of historical materialism. And yet, according to the same principle, Marxism is forced to abandon purely moral assessments and to recognise capitalism as ‘temporarily progressive’ – up to its crisis stage. After all, this is not about a moral choice, but about the choice of history.
Non-Marxist socialism supporters, both religious and secular, often argued with this partial amoralism of the Marxist view. The leader of the world-system analysis school Immanuel Wallerstein, for example, argued that the impasse in the development of feudal society brought it close to the prospect of genuine Christianisation, the gradual rejection of social inequality and the abolition of the estates system. But capitalism preserved feudal inequality in a new, monetary form and breathed new life into the anti-Christian social order, although transforming it in the interests of scientific and technological progress [Wallerstein 2008]. This is the point on which the right-wing socialist John Milbank might well agree with the left-wing Wallerstein.
The Marxist concept of revolution is an attempt to put the historically inevitable collapse of liberal capitalism into mode of self-fulfilling prophecy and to push history by means of bringing about this potential ‘miraculous’ event by people's own hands – because, as the Scripture says, ‘the last will be the first’, while the socialists say: ‘He who was nothing will become everything’. This parallel is reminiscent of the Millennium Kingdom prophecies, with the biblical code once again being read into the extremely archaicised Protestant semantics.
Marxism undermines the existential foundations of the cultural Protestant order from within, therefore at first glance it is perceived by the liberal consciousness as a kind of ‘inner barbarian’. The very possibility of such an alternative causes the Western consciousness to fear the splitting of the self, the disintegration of identity. This identity is, after all, based on the identification of religious grace with worldly success. As a form of political dissent and an internal alternative, Marxism could, therefore, certainly never be accepted by the liberal Protestant culture as it would destroy its identity. It could, however, be accepted as an external phenomenon, as a ‘significant Other’ and not as its own alter ego. Especially since the so-called other was cast in the role of an enemy. It was in this capacity that it was exported to the world periphery – primarily to Russia.
On the whole, though, Marxism still fits into Weber's cultural value type of Protestant capitalism, even though it ‘prophesies’ the historical overcoming of the socio-economic system of modernity, without affecting its cultural and civilisational foundations. The main contradiction of Marxism per se is connected with this narrowness, incompleteness and inconsistency of position. It consists of a purely positivist deduction of the historical necessity of the victory of Abrahamism and its values, although these values are only officially recognised as a secondary product of social history. At the same time, Marxism places history within the framework of the same Protestant monistic evolutionism – as a reference model of Western modernisation, to which any Western and non-Western societies more or less correspond.
It is quite obvious that Marxism cannot monopolise the idea of a biblical-type society that practices social justice and has a system of political protection of this course. This problem has been addressed in speaking and writing by many people: the non-Marxist school of world-system analysis, the representatives of the ‘liberation theology’ and radical Keynesians. It also receives great attention by John Milbank and his circle, with their social and political programme of ‘radical orthodoxy’, which arose on Anglican soil.
Regardless of the opinions and activities of Marxists, however, liberal capitalism is a finite system, which not only fails to lead to the ‘end of history’, as Francis Fukuyama thought a quarter of a century ago (he later abandoned this thesis), but is already in a state of deep crisis, from which it can hardly emerge with its foundations intact. It does not take an especially sharp eye to notice the steady decrease of the social elevators number of today (which is even evident in the way the Russian education system is being ‘rebuilt’), with the process inclining towards the ‘good old’ estates system.
As we have seen, the unnatural and finite character of the model of liberal capitalism is an objective phenomenon. Apart from replacing moral assessments by the measure of historical progress that insists on the relative value of social phenomena, the Marxist opinion does not add to this thesis anything fundamentally new. This thesis also gives rise to Rosa Luxemburg’s concept of ‘spontaneous collapse of capitalism’ and the ideas of the school of world-system analysis. The self-destruction of capitalism is a matter of time. Communists tried to accelerate this process by inadequate means, which produced a river of blood, and otherwise short-lived results.
We should also bear in mind that revolutionary terror and repressions were not invented by Marxists or Bolsheviks, who were no more than talented students of their teachers. It is worth remembering that the guillotine was invented in France during the bourgeois revolution, and concentration camps – in Britain, during the Anglo-Boer colonial war. Capitalism established itself through no less bloody ways than socialism. Moreover, the ‘worldwide civil war’ had not been started by Communists. The global scale revolutionary movement arose as a reaction to colonial expansion and the already emerging financial globalisation, both of which suppressed national democracies and national sovereignty – for example, the particular role of Russia as a grain appendage of the global market prevented it from developing normally. It goes without saying that none of the above justifies the Soviet era repressions: one crime cannot justify another. Historically mature totalitarianism stands as the last link in a chain that began with the rejection of traditional Christianity, that is, with a nominalist turn in theology and the European Reformation.
The only true alternative to the cultural Protestant modernist model of society is the understanding of sociality on the basis of authentic Christianity – orthodoxy. Following the structure of the classical Weber formula, social Christianity can be seen as Christian ethics and a spirit of mutual assistance. These two conditions become crucial for the salvation of the soul, for otherwise the preaching of love for one's neighbour (as the condition of salvation) becomes hypocritical. This view is, of course, very different from the Protestant idea of ‘being chosen to salvation’ and individual salvation ‘by faith alone’ (the sola Fidem principle). The idea of community spirit and collective salvation is a prototype of the current ideas about a society of justice.
The Council of Constantinople of 1351 approved Hesychasm and the hesychastic practice of ‘smart doing’ as the basis of co-working with God, cosmoteosis and mutual assistance in the cause of salvation. It proclaimed collective activity as a state of ‘being embraced by God’ and joint deification in the flesh – ‘perichoresis’. Cosmoteosis is synonymous with the man’s desire to cleanse his own soul from sin – and these two aspirations are interrelated and mutually conditioned.
An important role in the spiritual formation of the social aspect of Christianity had been played by the controversy between Gregory Palamas and Barlaam of Calabria, the Palamist doctrine of uncreated energies, the Palamist concept of holiness and the concept of hierarchical unity of the world, originated with Dionysius the Areopagite. Consequently, the ‘theologisation of the social’, which had taken shape during the Council of Constantinople, excluded the possibility of religious philosophy developing along the Western, nominalist path, which had led the West first to Reformation, and then to radical, militant secularism.
Thus, the general cultural style of Orthodox civilisation came to be formed along with the theological compendium, and the phenomenon of cultural orthodoxy, excluding both agnostic and negative theology, and the idea of the superiority of man over man, was born.
The features of the cultural orthodoxy were extensively revealed in the Russian tradition: ‘...in the Russian Orthodoxy of the seventeenth century, the sense of personal responsibility to the people and history, before God for all mankind and for the preservation of Christianity became sharper. The salvation of others, of the people as a whole becomes the condition necessary for personal salvation. The idea is born that we can only be saved together, as a Christian people, and not individually, as according to Luther’ [Glinchikova 2008, 131].
The destruction of the Russian model of Orthodox solidarity happened simultaneously with the bureaucratisation of the Russian Church during the Synodal period of its history. There was also active liberal criticism of Christian authenticity in Russia, which was already outlined in the ‘Philosophical Letters’ of Petr Chaadayev.
Authentic Christianity includes a powerful social line: it is the Jerusalem community itself, as described in the ‘Acts of the Holy Apostles’, the conclusions of Lactantius, Gregory of Nyssa (‘A Word Against Usurers’), and the corresponding passages from the works of John Chrysostom and his school. As Lactantius wrote in the fourth century: ‘In order to subject others to their slavery, people began to collect the first necessities of life into their own hands and to protect them carefully... After which they went on to make the most unjust laws under the guise of imaginary justice, by which they protected their predation against the power of the people’ [Lactantius 2007]. In general, the Christian point of view does not justify the sacralisation of ‘economic necessity’ as well as any other idolatry. It is economics that should serve the interests of man, and not man who should serve the interests of the impersonal economy or economic entities.
The salvation of the soul – the main goal of a Christian's life – is a part of the common work that requires mutual participation and assistance. Understanding the salvation of the soul as a purely individual matter leads to selfishness and contradicts the commandment of love for one's neighbour. This is the logic of social Christianity.
The Orthodox cultural paradigm is characterised by a different type of ancient-Christian synthesis than the modernist one. This is a ‘paternalistic type of social configuration’, another basic type of personality, social integration, control and management, and also another basic type of economy. The basis of this complex is ‘not the individuation of one person at the expense of another, but on the contrary, an effort to familiarize with a person's ideas as many people as possible and to incorporate them into this person's world’ [Glinchikova 2007, 45–48]. In contrast to the cultural Protestant type, this ‘upward type of individuation’ is characteristic of a vertically dynamic society in which the value system is not defined by a ‘price system’ and a utilitarian understanding of progress. This kind of society also excludes the social Darwinist morality with its law of ‘survival of the fittest’.
It is quite obvious that this vector contradicts the particularism of the cultural Protestant social model – in particular, such phenomena as monetarism, commodity fetishism, digital type of social relations, fragmented ‘minority society’ and separation of rights and freedoms from moral norms.
In Orthodox Christianity, the main kind of freedom is the freedom to choose between good and evil. The freedom from certain power bodies, including financial power, is but a necessary condition. If this condition fails to lead to the main goal, it loses its meaning. This is the moral aspect of individuality in Christian authenticism. It is therefore quite obvious that Orthodox and Protestant civilisations have different types of individuation. Marxism, on the other hand, consists of striving for upwards individuation within the Protestant secular tradition. This effort is somewhat reminiscent of Baron Munchausen's famous attempt to pull himself out of the swamp by his own hair. Hence its inconsistency and lack of historical success.
Historically, social Christianity is a phenomenon of predominantly Eastern Christian mentality. Its ideological complex takes more from the heritage of Plato and Dionysius the Areopagite than from the line of Aristotle and Aurelius Augustine. Unfortunately, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Christian authenticity came to be rejected at home during the apostasic rebirth of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the postmodern quasi-Church.
Elements of social Christianity, however, were also found in the Catholic tradition, where we can recall the ‘Rerum Novarum’ encyclical of Pope Leo XIII dated 15th May 1891, which subsequently contributed to the development of the ideology of the Bavarian conservative Christian Social Union. Unfortunately, with the modernist project having degenerated today into the global posthumanism, this Catholic tendency has been completely marginalised.
Capitalism is a historical zigzag of feudalism, which should have developed in the direction of reducing inequality, and not in the direction of its monetary conservation. This, however, does not make Marxism and historical ‘communism’ look attractive. And it's not just about the criminal ways of countering the crimes of capitalism. A number of Marxist negative aspects, such as total emancipation and liberation from morality, family values and national culture, are witnessed today in the left liberal format in the Western world. The Communist experiment had failed. Nevertheless, history does not leave capitalism a chance, as it presents an impediment on the path of man’s spiritual and moral development. It is also going to disappear. At the same time, while the historical impasse of capitalism has an objective character, Marxism and communism were both a matter of historical chance. History would still be running its general course if they had never been invented.
The only way that Marxism can and should be criticised is together with the entire cultural matrix of Protestant modernism, and not in opposition to another part of it. Unable to choose the right direction, Marxism failed to escape this matrix. Class struggle is just another form of ‘natural selection’ and ‘competition’. If we reject this philosophy as a trait of socialism, we should equally reject it as a trait of capitalism. In other words, critique of Marxism cannot be social Darwinist and liberal, but must be done only from moral, value-related and religious positions. All revolutions are equally destructive – bourgeois, socialist, and ultra-right ‘Maidans’. We should renounce them all. Or accept them all, which is also a consistent position, though by no means a Christian one. The selective approach would be inapplicable here, since it would no longer be moral, but ideological. It would also be useful to expand the boundaries of the object of analysis and to take as a unit of reference larger and longer-term historical periods – not 1917–1991, for example, but 1793–1991. This also applies to Russian national history, which would benefit from some correction of reference dates.
As usual, everything starts with general principles. To understand the mediated logic of historical processes, the modern intellectual is forced to counter the principles of isolating historicism with the principles of trans-historicism, socio-cultural continuity and historical holism. Even if this would not suffice to heal sociology and public history from ideological viruses, it would at least help to relieve them from the unbearable burden of the obligation to openly act as servants of ideology.
Primary Sources and Russian Translations
Calvin J. Institution de la religion chrétienne. Vol. II. Book III. Chapter XXI. Of the eternal selection by which God ordained some to salvation and others to condemnation. Ì.: Izdatelstvo RGGU, 1998 (Russian translation).
Girard R. La violence et le sacré. Ì., 2000 (Russian translation).
Lactantius. Divinae institutiones. Libri septem. Book 5. Chapter 6 // translation, introduction and notes by V.M. Tyulenev (Series: Christian Thought Library. Sources). SPb.: Izdatelstvo Olega Abyshko. 2007 (Russian translation).
Marx K. Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie. 1857–1859 // Marx K., Engels F., collected works. Vol. 46. Pt. 1. Ì.: Politizdat, 1968 (Russian translation).
Russell B. A History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Novosibirsk: Sibirskoe universitetskoe izdatelstvo, 2001 (Russian translation).
Wallerstein I. Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization // I. Wallerstein. – Ì.: Tovariscshestvo nauchnykh izdaniy KMK, 2008 (Russian translation).
Weber Ì. Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. Pt. II, III. M., 1973. pp. 265–293 (Russian translation).
References in Russian
Davydov, Oleg B. (2015) "Via premoderna: metaphysical-political project of John Milbank", Gosudarstvo, religiya, Cerkov' v Rossii i za rubezhom, Vol. 3 (2015), pp. 361–381 (in Russian).
Glinchikova, Alla G. (2007) "Modernity and Russia", Voprosy Filosofii, Vol. 6 (2007), pp. 38–56 (in Russian).
Glinchikova, Alla G. (2008) The split or breakdown of the Russian Reformation? Moscow (in Russian).