It is nothing new to acknowledge that conspiracy theories are floating around leftists circles. Marxists are no exception to this. At any given time, on any Marxist facebook page, we can see mentions of George Soros, Bill Gates, Rothschild family, and others. The common view is that there’s some kind of “evil” bourgeois figure that’s manipulating world events for the sake of profit making. These theories gain traction because we know that these people would do unethical things in order to generate profits.
The problem is that kind of thinking is rather widespread among leftist circles. It’s a harmful unscientific way of thinking that is inherently anti-Marxist. We stand for the science of understanding social forces and how material conditions shape society. We are not supposed to resort to individualism; the type advocated by the idea that there are evil individuals that cause the world’s problems for their own gain. The problems we face are the product of contradictions among classes and other social phenomena.
A prime example would be how George Soros is often portrayed. Generally, he’s seen as some shadowy figure that is artificially creating hostilities between Russia and the United States so that he can make money. On other cases, you can simply switch out Soros for the Rothschild family and you have the same conspiracy. This conspiracy theory is gaining more traction as both countries are moving seemingly closer to World War 3.
The truth is far from this simple-minded, uncritical nonsense. Both Russia and the U.S. are imperialist powers that have a need for resources that expand beyond their own borders. The struggle is Syria and Ukraine, for example, is a manifestation of that contradiction between the two powers. Capitalism causes powers to engage in conflict with each other, not the manipulations of isolated evil individuals. Systems are the product of their material conditions, not the machinations of a boogeyman.
Marx formulates this clearly using historical materialism.
“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms — with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production.” – K. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
The capitalist powers engage in war because they might compete for resources, not because they will “make money from it.” Peace is the greatest contributor to prosperity in a system of commodity exchange. However, the very nature of the capitalist system is antagonistic to peace: resources captured, markets secured, etc.
It is fundamentally important to understand that it is the system, not plotting individuals who are evil. On a simple level, if men like Soros were to be removed, would that fundamentally change capitalism? No. Such individualist thinking removes the mechanisms by which societies confront and perpetuate problems. In fact, it is outright reactionary. It places responsibility on individuals leaving the system itself free of criticisms. This is very much like the concept of “anarcho”-capitalism – problems are the product of some person or force outside the capitalism. To them, there can never be anything wrong with capitalism itself. Such thinking is uncritical and unscientific.
It’s high time we purge such nonsense from our communities.