Political approaches and theories to politics are embodied in the way different political parties or groups claim and provide with distinctive visions of a ‘better future’ and to attempt and convince that the world should be remade in the line with most popular vision. Issues of the present often reflect ideas that carry centuries of tradition and meaning. It refers to the structure, efficiency, and social consequences of different sorts of political systems. Democracy, justice, ethics, law, equality, authority and other concepts encounters in daily life have deep roots in the past.
With the regard to the characterizations of present society which appear most frequently in the criticisms of communism, it appears that such characterizations are presented in the doctrines of Karl Marx and that, since he attempts to give them a reasoned foundation, an examination of Marx’s argument gives some basis for evaluating a number of assumptions. To millions, the name of Karl Marx inspires the hope of a new and better society. To others, the name only conjures up the image of a mad prophet who in his fanaticism to rid the world of its social evils would destroy the world in the process.
Karl Heinrich Marx was born of a well-to-do Jewish family in Germany in 1818. His parents were Herschel and Henrietta Marx. He became became fascinated with revolution and the nature of change within civilization. The purpose of these changes would be the ultimate creation of an ideal society. The political theory of socialism, which gave rise to communism, had been around for hundreds of years. Marx, also known as the father of communism, spent most of his life in exile in Great Britain and France. He wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, which later served as the inspiration for the formation of the Communist Party.
The success or failure of communist regimes in transforming the attitudes and behavior of populations may constitute a test of explanatory power of political culture theory. This approach may view communist regimes as “natural experiments” in attitude change. Such regimes seek and usually succeed in establishing organizations and communication medial monopolies, as well as penetrative police and internal intelligence systems. Ideological conformity is rewarded; deviation is heavily penalized. Communities and neighborhoods come under the surveillance of party activists. Children of all ages are organized in party-related formations, and school instruction places emphasis on appropriate ideological indoctrination. In addition to this powerful array of institutional and communication controls, the communist movement has a clear-cut, explicit set of attitudes, beliefs, values, and feelings that it seeks to inculcate.
Political culture theory imputes some importance to political attitudes, beliefs, values, and emotions in the explanation of political, structural, and behavioral phenomena—national cohesion, patterns of political cleavage, models of dealing with political conflict, the extent and the character of participation in politics, and compliance with the authority. Political culture has never seriously been advanced as the unidirectional “cause” of political structure and behavior, although political culture theorists have been represented as taking such a position by some critics. The relaxed version of political theory—the one presented by most of its advocates—is that the relation between political structure and culture is interactive, that one cannot explain cultural propensities without the reference to historical experience and contemporary structural constraints and opportunities, and that, in turn, a prior set of attitudinal patterns will tend to persist in some form of degree and for a significant period of time, despite the efforts to transform it. All these qualifications and claims are parts of political culture theory. The argument would be that however powerful the effort, however repressive the structure, however monopolistic and persuasive the media, however tempting the incentive system, political culture would impose significant constraints on effective behavioral and structural change because underlying attitudes would tend to persist to a significant degree for a significant period of time. This is all that we need to demonstrate in order to make place for political culture theory in the pantheon of explanatory variables of politics.
Constitutional communism does not yet exist anywhere. It is a growing recognition that governing becomes easier when the rule of law applies not only to the ruled but also to the rulers. But autonomous law has not yet developed. It shows a growing openness and diversity in political systems. But it still does not provide for the effective restricts of bargaining. It also shows a significant remonetization of economic relations, but the market as dominant mechanism has not been allowed to develop. There is no alternative to creating a market economy if the economic viability of communism is to be restored. And to create markets one must effectively restrain governments from engaging in case-by-case economic decision making. This is the economic importance of the rule of law.
Marx constructed his vision of communism out of the human and technological possibilities already visible in his time, given the priorities that would be adopted by a new socialist society. The programs introduced by a victorious working class to deal with the problems left by the old society and the revolution would unleash a social dynamic whose general results, Marx believed, could be charted beforehand. Projecting the communist future from existing patterns and trends is an integral part of Marx’s analysis of capitalism, and analysis which links social and economic problems with the objective interests that incline each class to deal with them in distinctive ways; what unfolds are the real possibilities inherent in a socialist transformation of the capitalist mode of production. It is in this sense that Marx declares, “we do not anticipate the world dogmatically, but rather wish to find the new world through the criticism of the old.” Like the projections Marx made of the future of capitalism itself, however, what he foresaw for communism is no more than highly probable. Marx, whose excessive optimism is often mistaken for crude determinism, would not deny that some for of barbarism is another alternative, but a socialist victory—either through revolution or at the polls—is considered far more likely.
Marx’s communist society is in the anomalous position of being, at one and the same time, the most famous of utopias and among the least known. And, while no one disputes the importance of Marx’s vision of communism to Marxism, the vision itself remains clouded and unclear. Responsibility for this state of affairs lies, in the first instance, with Marx himself who never offers a systematic account of the communist society. Furthermore, he frequently criticizes those socialist writers who do as foolish, ineffective, and even reactionary. There are also remarks which suggest that one cannot describe communism because it is forever in the process of becoming: “Communism is for us not a stable state which reality will have to adjust itself. We can call Communism the real movement which abolished the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from premises now in existence.”
Yet, as even casual readers of Marx know, descriptions of the future society are scattered throughout Marx’s writings. Moreover, judging from an 1851 outline of what was to become Capital, Marx intended to present his views on communism in a systematic manner in the final volume. The plan changed, in part because Marx never concluded his work on political economy proper, and what Engels in a letter to Marx refers to as “the famous ‘positive,’ what you ‘really’ want” was never written. This incident does point up, however, that Marx’s objection to discussing communist society was more of a strategic than of a principled sort. More specifically, and particularly in his earliest works, Marx was concerned to distinguish himself from other socialist for whom prescriptions of the future were the main stock-in-trade. He was also very aware that when people change their ways and views it is generally in reaction to an intolerable situation in the present and only to a small degree because of the attraction of a better life in the future. Consequently, emphasizing communism could not be an effective means to promote proletarian class consciousness, his immediate political objective. Finally, with only the outline of the future visible from the present, Marx hesitated to burden his analysis of capitalism with material that could not be brought into focus without undermining in the minds of many the scientific character of his entire enterprise.
Markets can be destroyed easily, but their creation presents formidable economic and social problems. Moves toward a market and toward the rule of law are likely to be blocked by various narrow interest groups who will be adversely affected, or who at least will become more insecure, under a reformed system. Thus the road to a market, and to the effective use of autonomous law as a tool of governance, may yet take several twists and is likely to be long, if indeed it will be taken at all. There are strong forces pushing in the opposite direction. Still, the present wave of reforms in communist countries, though not without precedent, marks a significant departure from the past efforts, such as the changes that undermined pure communism. The reforms are not limited to the economy, but are linked with a promise of greater freedom and rule of law. They do not simply reflect a more pragmatic attitude among the policy-makers, but show instead some serious commitment to institutional reform, in a constitutionalist style. The attempt itself, even it does not succeed, is a new development for communist regimes.