Karl Marx, Woody Guthrie, and Martin Luther King may have had more in common than it may first seem. Karl Marx, the author of the famous Communist Manifesto, that laid the groundwork for the formation of the Soviet Union wanted order and a civil society. Karl Marx felt that freedom lied in the needs of the worker being met. The worker would work for the joy of working and would be "free" from the stress of having to compete with others. In this social structure workers were regarded by the ruling class and corporate structures as no more than a piece of machinery. In Karl Marx's society, the worker should gain a sense of "freedom" from structure.
Woody Guthrie had a different sense of freedom. His version of freedom meant having no boundaries, being able to go where one wanted. He believed that freedom represented a relative lack of structure. Martin Luther also spoke of freedom in that it meant the chance to have the same opportunities as everyone else. It is interesting to when one thinks of Karl Marx and compares him to Martin Luther King, on the point that based on the idea of "equal chance" the ideals of Marx and King may appear to be one in the same. These three men were essentially striving for the same thing, equality for all, however their methods of achieving it are quite different. The following comparison of these three men's ideologies will emphasize the differences and similarities between these, at first, seemingly apples and oranges.
Woody Guthrie and Martin Luther King felt that the idea of "Private Property" was an idea that violated the ideals of freedom. Woody Guthrie felt that America's treasures belonged to all. They were communal property and no one had the right to own them. Martin Luther's perspective on private property comes from his own people being treated as "private property." They did not even own themselves and could never hope to have "private Property" of their own.
Woody Guthrie and Martin Luther King were good at rallying the people to a common cause. Recently America has experienced a rise in patriotism since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Flags are flying everywhere you go and people are seeking a feeling of "oneness" with their neighbors. Karl Marx would consider this to be what he would expect from a true capitalist society. He tended to view capitalist societies as an individualistic and self-motivated society. He would consider the recent rise in patriotism to be more like a socialist ideal than a capitalist one.
The rallying calls of the Americans and their united front to America under Attack is much like the rallying cries of the workers unions in his own country. They would show solidarity against a common enemy. Karl Marx would feel that the government should become equated with American national interests and that its actions should be based what is best for the bureaucracy. He would feel that the support of the workers (American citizenry) is nice and will give the campaign a greater chance for success, but that it is not necessarily important either.
We must remember that communist society is built on a strict hierarchy. The upper class was the ruling class and the workers were considered to be no more than machines to help the wheels leep moving along. The workers were supposed to be happy in that they had the opportunity to serve the greater good. Communist society recognized that the ruling class could not function with out the workers to make the goods. However, the worker's needs were much less important than those of the state.
Marx would see America as a democracy in the sense that everyone has an equal opportunity to become ruler of the country. We must remember that at lowly peanut farmer from Georgia became President not too many years ago. According to the ideals of communism, the ruling class must be from prescribed lineage. There is no such thing as an "open election" in Karl Marx's philosophy. If elections were held, the candidates would be chosen from the proper selection of participants in the upper ruling class. It would be impossible for a worker to become ruler in Marxian society.
In the current situation, President Bush informs us that if we do not eliminate the threat form Iraq that our freedoms are in danger. According to Marx, there is not freedom in America, only total chaos. Marx feels that freedom comes from order and would see America as a land of disorder. He would feel that there are truly no freedoms to be in danger and that President Bush is acting in the best interest of the Ruling class. He would feel that these remarks by Bush are an attempt to deflect an uprising or possible revolution. He would feel that they were strategic in nature to protect his political position, whether than expressing real danger.
If Karl Marx were to review Woody Guthrie's song "Our Land" he would feel that the chorus is certainly more important than the others are. Every school child can recite the chorus, "This land is your land....This land is my land..." However, few have heard the verse about trespassing on private property or other obscure verses. The stanzas that have become common knowledge are those that reflect patriotism and a feeling of unity. This was the feeling that Karl Marx tried to produce as well.
The society of Karl Marx had a strict hierarchy, as mentioned before. Martin Luther King's birthday is a national holiday. The only persons who were granted this privilege in communist society were upper class rulers, such as the Tzar, Tzarina, or certain princes of wealthy baron's. Martin Luther King's birthday would be a point of confusion for Marx. He would feel that in order to have a national holiday on his birthday, King must be of the upper ruling class. Yet if he looked at his background, he would find that King did not have the personal background to be a ruling class and therefore would not be able to reconcile why a common worker class should have a national holiday on his birthday.
Woody Guthrie's song has become somewhat of a rallying point for schools, media, government, and large corporations. It is played by marching bands in July 4th parades each year. Yet, the original tone of the song was sarcastic. Woody Guthrie sought to point out the irony of saying "This land was made for you and me" and the idea that it was ran by a large bureaucratic infrastructure. Karl Marx would have found this surprising, however, would have supported that "social editing" that has taken place in keeping the verses that "sound" patriotic and leaving those by the wayside that do not seem so "American." Karl Marx would agree to this type of censorship as long as it served those larger purposes of the state.
Karl Marx would support anything that furthered the purposes of the state. Although it is difficult to imagine Martin Luther King, and Woody Guthrie finding general acceptance in the socialist society. However, he would admire the fact that their ideas are common knowledge and the words of Woody's songs and Martin Luther King's speech roll from everyone's tongue effortlessly. These famous words have served as a rallying point, not just when they were given, but resound in connection with the same ideals in modern day as well. They have stood the test of time.
As Marx once pointed out, a successful society is one that sees itself as growing or emerging. One that considers itself mature is a society ready to start the decline to destruction. The words of Woody Guthrie and Martin Luther King never fail to…