“Marx dismissed the various socialisms current in his day as ‘utopian’, contrasting ‘utopian socialism’ with his own ‘scientific socialism’ that promised ‘full communism’ as its predictable outcome. The ‘historical inevitability’ of this condition relieved Marx of the necessity to describe it.
The ‘science’ consists in the ‘laws of historical motion’ set out in Das Kapital and elsewhere, according to which economic development brings about successive changes in the economic infrastructure of society, enabling us to predict that private property will one day disappear.
After a period of socialist guardianship – a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ – the state will ‘wither away’, there will be neither law nor the need for it, and everything will be owned in common. There will be no division of labour and each person will live out the full range of his needs and desires, ‘hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon, tending cattle in the evening and engaging in literary criticism after dinner’, as we are told in ‘The German Ideology’.
To say that this is ‘scientific’ rather than utopian is, in retrospect, little more than a joke. Marx’s remark about hunting, fishing, hobby farming and lit. crit. is the only attempt he makes to describe what life will be like without private property – and if you ask who gives you the gun or the fishing rod, who organizes the pack of hounds, who maintains the coverts and the waterways, who disposes of the milk and the calves and who publishes the lit. crit., such questions will be dismissed as ‘beside the point’, and as matters to be settled by a future that is none of your business.
And as to whether the immense amount of organization required for these leisure activities of the universal upper class will be possible, in a condition in which there is no law, no property, and therefore no chain of command, such questions are too trivial to be noticed. Or rather, they are too serious to be considered, and therefore go unnoticed. For it requires but the slightest critical address, to recognize that Marx’s ‘full communism’ embodies a contradiction: it is a state in which all the benefits of legal order are still present, even though there is no law; in which all the products of social cooperation are still in existence, even though nobody enjoys the property rights which hitherto have provided the sole motive for producing them.
The contradictory nature of the socialist utopias is one explanation of the violence involved in the attempt to impose them: it takes infinite force to make people do what is impossible.” — Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands