Immodest visions

Millennial hopes

Ten years ago this month, the Berlin Wall was breached. Within months the once monolithic world of the Soviet bloc was dismantled and the claims of Karl Marx decisively discredited. Seldom have historical events provided such a concrete repudiation of a political vision and, in this case, of a quasi-religious faith.

Marxism was, as many commentators have noted, a secularized form of Christian millennialism. Marx believed that history was headed toward a realm of peace, righteousness and freedom-not through the workings of divine providence but through the logic of social relations and the forces of material production. For Marx, every phase of human history is a necessary chapter in the saga of humanity's self-realization. He thought that when the exploitative nature of capitalism fully manifested itself, as it inevitably would, a new realm of freedom and solidarity would emerge through the iron laws of material relations.

 

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