Dialectical Spiritualism: Karl Marx, Part 3

BY: SUN STAFF - 7.8.2017

Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt that both Christian and Jew should cast off their respective religions, "as nothing more than different stages of evolution of the human spirit, as different snakeskins shed by history." Then man will no longer be bothered by religious antagonisms but will be able to enjoy a scientific and human relationship.

Srila Prabhupada: When people stamp themselves Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Moslems without knowing God and His desires, there will naturally be antagonism. Therefore we should scientifically understand what is religion and who is God. Then this antagonism will cease.

Hayagriva dasa: Marx believed that the state should eventually assume the role of Christ. He writes: "Religion is merely the indirect recognition of man through a mediator. The state is the mediator between man and the freedom of man. As Christ is the mediator on whom man unburdens all his own divinity and his whole religious burden, so also the state is the mediator on which man places all his unholiness and his whole human burden."

Srila Prabhupada: Christ gave the knowledge by which we can be relieved of the material body, and that is the function of all religious scripture. Religious scriptures should give information about God's exact position. When people learn scientifically of God's existence and their relationship with God, everything will be adjusted. Our Krsna consciousness movement is trying to give people an exact idea of God, exact definitions, and exact instructions.

Hayagriva dasa: Here is a point that most Communists would choose to ignore: "To practice one's own particular religion is explicitly included among the rights of man," Marx writes. "The privilege of religion is a universal human right."

Srila Prabhupada: It is always the state's duty to see that there is freedom of religion. It is also the state's duty to see that when a person is propagating a particular type of religion, he is acting according to it.

Hayagriva dasa: Marx felt, however, that religion should be individual, not communal. "But liberty as a right of man is not based on the association of man with man, but rather on a separation of man from man. It is the right of the separation, the right of the limited individual, limited to himself."

Srila Prabhupada: There is no question of separation. When we accept God as the Supreme Father, we accept His sons as brothers who should be obedient to Him. If we all obey the Supreme Father, how will there be differences of opinion? When we do not know the Supreme Father and do not obey Him, there is dissension. It is the son's duty to obey the father and enjoy his property. It is a question of the father being the center.

Hayagriva dasa: Marx believed that if man persists in worshipping God, he should do so privately and not communally.

Srila Prabhupada: If God is a fact, and man must worship Him, then why not communally? Does he think that every individual should manufacture his own God and worship Him? God is the Supreme Father, the Father of every man, of every living entity. How can He be different? There may be ten sons in a family, but the father is one. It is not that the different sons say, "Oh, I will select my own father."It is not possible. The difficulty is that no one knows the Supreme Father, and no one is prepared to obey His orders. That is the difficulty.

Hayagriva dasa: Marx was hoping that the isolation of religion would lead to its dissolution.

Srila Prabhupada: The dissolution of religion means animalism, and we have come to that point in human history. That is the defect in modern society. If people are serious about religion, they should sit down together and acknowledge God as the Supreme Father. Once people do this, they will not fight among themselves. In any case, religion will not dissolve because it is an inherent quality within every living entity. When I was in Russia, I saw that even the young men there were also interested in God. Belief in God cannot be avoided.

Syamasundara dasa: As far as Marx's political philosophy is concerned, we should try to change the world, not interpret it. Dialectic materialism is based on the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, which he applied to economics and sociology. The thesis is the capitalist bourgeoisie; the antithesis is the proletariat; and the synthesis is a classless, or Communistic, society.

Srila Prabhupada: But how is it possible to have a classless society? We find that there are different classes of men by nature. Krsna says: Catur-varnyam maya srstaih guna-karma-vibhagasah. "According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me."(Bg. 4. 13) Also:

sudranaih ca parantapa 
karmani pravibhaktani 
svabhava-prabhavair gunaih

"Brahmanas , ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras are distinguished by their qualities of work, 0 chastiser of the enemy, in accordance with the modes of nature."(Bg. 18.41) Since this is the case, how can we bring different natures to the same level?