The latest triumph over Marxism| by György Lukács

First published on the Kommunismos magazine, n. 05, in 1920.

From «». Translated by Conttren. September, 2017.


It is difficult for a year to go by without Marx being “triumphed over” by some associate professor or some fashionable philosopher. The deadly struggle that bourgeois society must carry out also developed in its ideological terrain. To the keen observer, these “triumphs” always present the same face. The demonstrated content is changed, the gnosiological or metaphysical arguments appear as new, but the essential character, the starting point and the destination point, are always the same. They find its origin in the petite-bourgeois-parasitic nature of the intellectual’s class situation. As faithful petite-bourgeois, the intellectuals are in no position of correctly observing the reality of class struggle, and therefore even less able to value it. They gravitate to, as Marx has said, the established institutions, such as “not to abolish the two extremes, capital and wage labour, but to mitigate its contradictions and lead them to live together in harmony.” Given that intellectuals are parasitic beings within the capitalist State, the latter is presented to them as an absolute being, or even as the Absolute. They contrast to Marxist theory a utopia that, more or less deprived of seductive phrases, rests over the adulation of the existing State.

This series’ last great representative is the popular philosopher Oswald Spengler, whose work The Decline of the West, though creative but amateurish in nature, recently achieved this success which in reality should have happened with the profound work by Ernst Bloch, The Spirit of Utopia. The new book by Mr. Spengler, Prussianism and Socialism,¹ wishes to “liberate German socialism from Marx.”  It seems Marx dodged a great philosophical problem of the modern epoch—that our philosopher outlines as such: “[T]hree Western Peoples have embodied socialism in this larger sense: Spain, England, and Prussia. Florence and Paris were the sources of the anarchic antithesis to socialism: Italy and France.” Because of this, Marx was in no condition to make the following fundamental discoveries: first, that there was no class struggle in the French Revolution; however “every true Frenchman was then and is today a bourgeois. Every true German is a worker”; there are no real classes in France.

The second discovery is that in England there is no State; that only England knows capitalism in its true sense; that, consequently, class distinction only exists in England. Thus, the superficial Marx, who distinguishes class according to one’s position on the process of production, was strengthened and overcome; class division would arise from the distinct possession of goods, as the antagonism between rich and poor. Poor Marx, to whom all this escaped and could not but fail to understand that socialism had already been realized long ago, in the Kingdom of Prussia. For this reason, Marx was not in position to understand the problem of the State; this follows his “amateurish” compliment to the Commune of 1871; because of this he was not able to cherish the system of councils (Rätesystem) that Baron von Stein had designed years before. Superficial socialism is recovered in this manner, by such philosophically detailed socialism. This socialism is an order of authority, “it is bureaucracy’s principle in technical terms.” Thus, it is only natural that Marx was not able to see the existing socialization “introduced by Frederick William I and incessantly developed until Bismarck.” Corresponding to such profound philosophy, the concept of Imperialism is too renovated: “The true International is Imperialism.” Therefore the Conservative and Socialist parties, who represented this “profound” socialism, belong to the same group “… in which the Conservatives made better officers, the Socialists better troops.” The reconciliation of brother-enemies is the objective of such philosophically rediscovered socialism. Is the critique of such work worth it? Considered as a symptom, it is interesting. The fact that Mr. Spengler’s only citation is from Mr. Lensch does not only show his ignorance regarding Marxism, but also shows where the right-wing socialists’ theory and praxis necessarily lead to. And the rest of this pamphlet differs in nothing from many other “triumphs over” Marxism that have been written since Dühring’s days, who already was the front rank of worship of the Prussian State. What is new is the proof that Revolution can not cure the Germans “of their servile spirit, rooted in national conscience,” as once Engels said.


  1. N.T.: SPENGLER, Oswald. Preußentum und Sozialismus, available «here


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