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50 Years since Lee’s First Critique of Marxism

Communism: A Critique and Counterproposal

 “Communism: A Critique and Counterproposal” Turns 50

50 years ago, in the autumn of 1973, “Communism: A Critique and Counterproposal” was published by the Freedom Leadership Foundation in Washington DC, USA.

Sang Hun Lee
Dr. Sang-heun (Sang Hun) Lee (1914-1997). Photo: FFWPU

The 240-page book is written by Dr. Sang-heun (Sang Hun) Lee (1914-1997) and was originally published in Korean in 1972. The publication does more than revealing the radical errors of communist theory.

As explained in the preface,

“An effective critique of communism requires the presentation of a counterproposal because communism is not mere philosophy, but a guide for behaviour and a plan for practice. Communism is a theory for action designed to gather and organize the masses of people, especially young people. Therefore, without a new theory for action we cannot expect to make a radical critique of communism […].”

The counterproposal that Dr. Lee presents, is based on the Unification Principles, the fundamental teachings of Sun Myung Moon.

In the book summary on the back page of the cover, the Principles underlying the counterproposal are introduced as,

“a contemporary, spiritual, scientific and historical view of man and the universe, offering a positive alternative to Marxist ideology. It shows scientifically that cooperation and harmonynot contradiction and struggle as Marxism asserts – are the motivating forces of human progress. It proclaims nuclear family unity, centered on God, as the dynamic center of a moral revolution which can create a truly harmonious world.”

The critique is summarized as,

“For the first time a thorough analysis and in-depth critique of Marxist theory is presented in such a way that completely reveals the undeniable shortcomings and errors in an outdated, materialistic doctrine.”

Karl Marx
Karl Marx (1818-1883). Photo: Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 3.0 Unp

In the concluding chapter, Lee summarizes what he calls the grave errors of communist theory and points out that “history is not moving towards the communist society, as Marx predicted. Rather Lee anticipates “a true classless society” that becomes possible to create when we discover the physical and spiritual principles that God, the Creator, originally intended an ideal human society to be based on.

Marx’s first grave error, according to Dr. Lee, is found in the Marxist labour theory of value,

“The laws of economic movement which he developed and formulated have been shown to be erroneous, with few exceptions, and thus his predictions concerning economic movement were also largely incorrect. (p.231)”

The second grave error is that,

“his dialectical materialism is not a philosophy of truth, but only a means to rationalize violent revolution, which was his real purpose. In order to philosophically support his theory that class struggle and revolution are necessary in social progress, he twisted the laws of progress in the natural world. In spite of the great difference between the progress of nature and that of society, he misled people through conceptual ambiguity and semantic deceptions to think that the two were the same (p.232).”

The third grave error of Marxist thought is his claim that “social progress is the result of the development of the productive forces which takes place according to material conditions.” Lee asserts that Marx did not grasp the important role of human desires, will and creativity, that it is not just social and economic conditions that determine the direction of the development,

“Social progress is the result of two elements: man’s will and the material conditions. Marx underestimated the role of human consciousness in social progress” (p.232).

The End of Communism
The front page of the cover of “The End Communism” (1985).

In a later publication, “The End of Communism” (English edition 1985), Lee formulates a more comprehensive critique of communism. He points out that his 1973 book,

“dealt effectively only with communist theory itself, not with the roots and fruits of communism […] (Preface viii).

The theory of alienation is claimed to be the starting point of Marx’s thought – the roots. The fruits are “the reality of present-day socialist economy”. Lee describes the stagnation and collapse of the socialist economy.

Dr. Lee points out that it is important to study and criticize communist thought or Marxism as it is their ideology that drives activists to commit atrocities like acts of terror in their constant pursuit of a communist revolution.

If Sang-heun Lee (1914-1997) had still been writing today, he might well have added a section about so-called cultural Marxism – a key concept for understanding the communist movement of today. Karl Marx thought in his time that socialist revolutions would break out in the industrial world, where the proletariat would rule the bourgeoisie and establish dictatorships in the name of the people. However, as history has shown, it did not work out that way. This has even led many Marxist thinkers to believe that Marx was simply wrong and that a different method was needed to create a communist world.

This became the origin of so-called cultural Marxism. The communist goals could only be achieved through a “long march through the institutions”. All the traditional institutions of Western society had to be infiltrated and attacked – the media, the church, the universities, the schools, the publishing industry, the film industry, etc. In addition, marriage, the family, traditional values, and the perception of gender had to be criticized and broken down.

The English edition of “The End of Communism” was published by Unification Thought Institute, New York, USA, and is a translation of the Japanese edition from 1983.

Sang-heun Lee has also authored several editions of Unification Thought, the latest of which was New Essentials of Unification Thought (published posthumously in 2006)

Featured image above: The front page of the cover of “Communism; A Critique and Counterproposal” published 1973.

“50 Years since Lee’s First Critique of Marxism” – text: Knut Holdhus


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