Porfirio Miranda, Marx Against the Marxist Dr. Joseph Ferraro † Comment about the book “Marx against the Marxist”.
The official position of the Catholic hierarchy on the injustice of capitalism is to keep the worker in a state of misery due to a salary insufficient to meet his basic needs. Never the less, in his book Marx against the Marxist, Porfirio Miranda breaks away from this position maintaining that in the theory of surplus value, Marx “has found the key to the whole problem of social injustice”. “Basically it is the continual victimization of the working class” by the capitalists and therefore the anti-reformism of Marx is relentless.
Porfirio develops this theory in detail in this book, proving its moral content and for him its Christian side, that is, that the principal exploitation of capitalism does not consist in an unequal distribution of wealth in society beginning with the little that the capitalist pays his workers. The inequality of this distribution is due to the abuse of the system that, in theory, could be rectified in such a way that capitalism would then become a just economic system. On the other hand, the principal aspect of exploitation by the capitalist system is that the worker must receive less salary than his worth; the capitalist is stealing the difference. That is to say, it does not matter how well the proletariat lives – with several cars, his own house, etc. – with a better distribution of wealth, the capitalist is still stealing from the worker and the corresponding economic system is essentially unjust. For Miranda, then, Marx’s condemnation of the capitalist system is moral and the reasons for the communist revolution and the existence of a communist society are, in essence, moral or Christian.
The author masterfully develops his position, giving the reader a rich selection of citations taken from the works of Marx and Engels, not only in relation with the moral side of exploitation with that of Marx’s economic theory of surplus value, but also to show Marx’s profound humanity and to find a Christian scatology in a classless communist society. Also, amongst the examples taken from Marx, the author discovers evidence that indicates that the first is deist not atheist.
The book mentioned presents a deeper insight into the theory of Marx than in his book Marx and the Bible. In the latter, Miranda is still under the influence of the pontific social doctrine. In Communism in the Bible, on the other hand, even though Marx is mentioned, the basic theme is that communism in the West is not entirely because of Marx but is found in the New Testament, that is to say, in the Book of Acts.
From the last development comes Marx against the Marxist which is a book that is well worth reading and thinking about.
Luis Ramon Brito Crabtree, MA 25th March 1995 / Temamatla, State of Mexico, Mexico
1. The Prevalent Thinking to which Porfirio replies.
Obviously humankind has manipulated his surroundings and has found the technology necessary to do it; we can observe outstanding results in ancient cultures along these lines. But only the discovery of Reason of what exists, has been and will continue to be the basis of what humankind has discovered in Science. Consequently, only through investigation, explanation and rationally proving the truth of what is happening does thinking quench the need for knowledge and directs human existence in this way.
The West has been the place where the results of scientific investigation have been the source of human development; the origin of the organization of people and the development of Civilization (1).
To be exact, the modern world has been a conjunction of radial changes in human life since the 16th century up until now and this is now spreading to the rest of the World.
Starting with Max Weber, Sociology, generally, has devoted itself to analyze these set of changes that have allowed our modern world to appear. So, from thought analysis, we can observe that in this basis of modernity comes a central role for absolute truth that even now is still guiding the people and their evaluation of what is happening. With an unshaken conviction they are still being orientated by the existence of God, the creation of the world by God, the immortality of the soul and the objectivity of fundamental moral laws.
The incongruent outcome, despite Habermas’ mirage that believes that religious conscience is disappearing from industrial societies (2), is that we see the contrary in these same complex societies where there is an unprecedented surge of religious movements in the history of Western society. From there the sociological theory of “secularization” goes up in smoke for sociology itself and Luhman can assuredly confirm that the word secularization “ has become ambiguous either by being wrongly used or as a popular concept”.
So, what we are finding are some well-defined groups of sceptical professionals (scientists and technical positivists along with literary persons, novelists, essay writers, pseudo philosophers and those that call themselves “intellectuals”), who in the middle of the twentieth century have entered a generalized crisis, the most acute symptom of which is confusion in their way of thinking. Fortunately they are only 0.1% of the world’s population even though they are found entrenched in managerial, teaching, and in some governmental jobs as well as the media. What is happening is that, as they are in crisis, they have publicized the slogan that “the world is in crisis”. As it is they who feel that trust in Reason is out of fashion, they do not look for reasons why this is happening. It is their prevailing over that which beforehand or “a priori” had declared the nonsense that reason has nothing to do in the contemporary world. But, everyone in the world knows that, when reason does not intervene, all that remains is psychic, physical, economic or military arbitrariness.
For example, where there is inflation with a recession as we have today, economists are confused in their theories because the big investors are no longer receiving the returns they were before. So they announce there is a “financial crisis”. On the other hand, the general public is still as lucid as before in their knowledge that they are neither in crisis or confused; that the “financial crisis” is not a reason for what they are suffering, it is because of an injustice, a theory that does not take them into account and that in general terms is a result of corruption. It is not the general population who is in crisis but the specialists who are responsible.
To continue, our society is not indivisible and therefore it is known as a “complex society”. The most advanced and systematic sociology shows that if there are interrelations and influences between the sections of society; that each part or sub-system treats the other parts and the whole altogether, then each part decides its way of being. Luhman correctly says: “No complex system can afford making everything depend on everything”(4). Maybe because of this, “interdependency” would be another sociological theory that is beginning to disappear.
This is what is happening. To a small part of society, formed by the irrationality of the sceptics and the utilitarism of the technicians, the population is treating it as its surroundings, before which they have decided to question it with the multiple ways at their disposal, for example ecological and feminist movements, NGOs, Human Rights commissions and international movements such as the First World’s movement in favor of the peoples of the Third World, etc… This interpretation is unquestionably the Ethic Reason, whose historic cunning is radically Christian. That is present again on the threshold of the Twenty-first century, demanding justice, claiming respect, and simply proposing to follow through with action.
Then clearly we have to proclaim that, in the present modernity, our people are not in crisis. They continue to be unwaveringly convinced by the historic project of the Spirit. They are not against modernity. They are only demanding that it be congruent. We are not at the end of our epoch. Maybe it is the professional sceptical groups that can feel that it is the end of their epoch.
Porfirio Miranda explains in his article: “How to Deal with Modernity?” (5) this condition. His work scientifically proves Ethic Reason; that the world in general lives with this deep-rooted conviction even though the people ordinarily are unable to scientifically prove its origin. From this, Miranda’s thesis shows his hope, and on the contrary, it would be a challenge for that small part of society that has talked itself into a cul-de-sac.
2. The Confusion of the Sceptics.
Porfirio Miranda entitles his article, where he unmasks the confusion of the sceptic’s thinking, “The Farce Known as Scepticism”; those that today also accept that they are a part of the “crisis of the Sciences”. All of the Scientific Disciplines are in danger of this which fortunately opens up an opportunity for a scientific revolution.
From mathematics (7), physics, including the one called “quantum” (8), as well as biochemistry, genetics and behavior to the social sciences (9): whether it is judicial science or sociological, economy or media theory, etc.; all have confusion in their way of thinking when investigating their respective fields. And the most unacceptable is that today the scientific syndrome has come to its limit when its own scientists cannot show with reason what science is by using reason.
Having been carried on by natural tendency to empiricism and materialism, they have come to be stuck in utilitarianism, locked in by the limits that they themselves have imposed. Obviously, within these limits an excellent technology has developed, but they have not resolved the problems posed by science. For example, economists have not been able to resolve the poverty in other nations (10); the lawmakers have not been able to raise the level of education of their citizens; the genetic technicians have still not determined what they have in their hands, they doubt that it is about human life, but neither have they been able to show what life is and what is human; the media is only a kind of control; chemical arms have become the shame of development; and nuclear energy is still an enigma for the majority of the population.
In face of such incongruity, the management of advanced technology and science are incapable of stating its problems adequately; the thinking of many scientists, giving into sentimentality, the subjective whim or spontaneous force of Nature, all of which put external limits on one and slow down the process of humanization. Nevertheless, it is a relief to note that the most coherent and honest scientists, facing this critical confusion of thinking, have begun to investigate what science really is (11). This scientific investigation is becoming philosophical because it is thinking that has begun the process of self-investigation. Also now, as before, from the heart of scientific disciplines comes forth the necessity to investigate the purpose and the epistemological basis of Science. And this is where ethic rationality emerges.
Science, being the supreme activity of thought finds satisfaction and security in the humanization of Humankind. “Denaturalizing Humankind” (12) begins by describing itself as the ethic end of scientific investigation, an end that breaks the scheme of things self-imposed by naturalism and the utilitarian sceptics. Porfirio demonstrates this as being the “myth of empiric science” and finds that it becomes a true scientific revolution in the Kuhnian sense (13).
Philosophy, as a science of thought, begins again to present itself as the origin of individual scientific disciplines. On this paradigm depends the scientific side of his research, the human efficiency of his findings and the future of planetary science.
We are in the undeniable position of the scientific need for philosophic investigation.
3. The Works of José Porfirio Miranda
It is in this context of contemporary thought which has been published in Mexico and the First World over the last 30 years that we have the results of the scientific proof of ethic reason in the philosophical investigations of José Porfirio Miranda. Exegetist, scientist and philosopher. His books and published articles up to now are a revelation for those that study them without prejudice, that is, for those who investigate scientifically. Not only are they a revelation but also a proof. A necessary alternative with which to start the 21st Century.
To date, 11 specialized books have been published by Miranda, 7 of them in the First World. In chronological order they are:
1. Hunger and Thirst for Justice
1965 / 2 editions in Mexico
2. Marx and the Bible
1971 / 1 edition in Mexico / 2 in Spain / 7 in English: 2 in England and 5 in the US / 1 in Italian.
3. Change of Structures1971 / 1 private edition – San Cristobal de las Casas / 1 in Kuppertal, Germany.
4. Marx in Mexico
1972 / 2 editions in Mexico.
5. Being and the Messiah
1973 / 1 edition in Spain / 1 in English in the US / 1 in Italy.
6. Marx Against the Marxist
1978 / 1 edition in Mexico / 3 in English: 1 in England, 2 in the US
7. Communism in the Bible
1981 / 3 editions in Mexico / 5 in English: 1 in England, 3 in the US and 1 in the Philippines.
8. Using Reason
1983 / 1 edition in Mexico / 1 in Spain / a new edition in Mexico is soon to be published.
9. Hegel was Right: The Myth of Empiric Science
1989 / 1 edition in Mexico / 1 in Spain entitled “Revolución de la Razón” (1991) / UAM Homage edition (2002).
10. Rationality and Democracy
1996 / Edicion Sigueme / Salamanca, Spain.
11. Anthropology and Indigenism
1999 / edition in Mexico. Porfirio also published 5 articles in the “Jornada Semanal”, which came out on Sundays in the newspaper “La Jornada” in Mexico. These are:
1. The Farce Known as Scepticism. April 18, 1993.
2. Indigenous Rights versus Human Rights. June 20, 1993.
3. How to Deal with Modernity. November 28, 1993.
4. Well-being and Social Sciences. May 15, 1994.
5. The Aesthetification of Mexican Intellectuals. November 27, 1994.
In these articles, easy to read and understand, Miranda develops and complements the findings of some of the topics dealt with in his specialized books.
Of all these works, with which we have been enriched up to now, we can name three key books as the pillars of the vault of proven scientific results shown by Miranda. These are: Marx and the Bible, Using Reason and The Revolution of Reason.
The order in which these works have been published gives us three distinct periods of Miranda’s thought process, linking his development with a common denominator: “The Fulfilment of Justice as Knowledge and Adoration of the One and Only God”.
The First Period
In 1965, three years before the “Documentos de Medellin” (The Medellin Documents), before the publication of Liberation Theology and before the “1968 Phenomenon” in Mexico, Porfirio Miranda launched a fundamental petition to the world. He published his book: Hunger and Thirst for Justice (11). Here he had already shown from the beginning of his works that the social problem is an ethical problem. A call for justice which forces those who question to act.
At the beginning of the seventies, Miranda began to publish the results of his exegetic research, that is, the scientific research of the Bible and at the same time studying the origin of Marx’s demands to free Humankind from the pseudo-philosophy of oppression. The title of the main book at this point in time, which scandalized the oppressors, was: Marx and the Bible. The scandal was not because the book tried to find unsustainable parallels between the Bible and Marx, but only because it tried to understand the Bible, which by the way, has moved Western thought for the last 20 centuries. A crucial, scientific and philosophical demonstration, taking into account that Marx had been rightly considered a materialist but with great incongruity, since his message was directed to Western workers who were not materialistic but Christians.
On the one hand, it must be remembered that this work was accompanied, during these years, by three books: Change of Structures, Marx in Mexico and Marx against the Marxist (16), where Miranda presents his research on the original works in German of Marx and not the multiple and contradictory “Marxisms”. On the other hand two exegetic books came out at the same time. One was: Being and the Messiah (17) an incisive biblical exegesis starting with the writings of John, where Porfirio shows the distinction between Christianity and the formal institutions or social organizations of the Church which, at times, is the dark side and, on occasions, the negative side of Christianity itself. And lastly, this collection of works is crowned by a small manifesto: Communism in the Bible (18), in which the basis for the knowledge of the true God, as opposed to the adoration of idols, are laid out. On Page 21 Miranda says that this “is the only motive of our rebellion and the only content of our theology”. Here the whole rigour of the scientific exegesis is mandatory and Porfirio accepts the challenge of the results.
The Second Period
Once having defined Marxism and shown the essence of Christianity, there was still an obstacle that needed to be overcome. The positivists have attempted to persuade everybody that judgments, morale and human criteria are not scientific, and therefore are not trustworthy. This comes from a deliberate misconception as to what science is. Porfirio Miranda dedicated his time in analyzing and taking apart piece by piece this widespread misconception and showed that scientific truth, in whatever science, is measured by the degree of argumentative rationality adopted. And the fundamental truth of these ethic judgments: “that the person is the end not the means” proves it, making one see that it is the condition of the possibility of all rational discussion and therefore of all science. The results of his research were published in the nineteen eighties in his book: Using Reason (19).
It deals with a crushing and detailed criticism of positivism, that technical utilitarianism which walled in by sceptic naturalism, negates that justice is an objective concept. It believes that what one sees with ones eyes is more real than ethics and actually bogs down in the probabilistic and the hypothetic, without realizing that the probabilistic only exists as a comparison with the certain and the hypothetic is only in relation to that which is true. This work is from its beginning and its depths a Philosophy of Science, clearly exposing that which is not science.
With unusual detail, as an expert analyst and with a implacable logical coherence, Miranda shows what science really does as opposed to what the positivists have said it does. Here the natural sciences are revised, and he goes on to the science of history and the theories of language until he comes to the misconceptions of the social sciences. Thus, the significance of the predominance of the pseudo-philosophy of positivism in modern history remains clear to all: impeding thinking from giving rise to Ethic Reason, drowning it as it were in irrationality.
The Third Period
The barrier having been destroyed that positivism had established so that one does not go by the way of ethics, Porfirio Miranda gave us, six years ago, his book: Hegel was Right or The Revolution of Reason (20).
If the road initiated by Marx’s analysis became a cul-de-sac for lack of Christianity; if the road initiated by positivism did not resolve the problems of humankind because its proposition was precisely not to solve it, it was necessary to go back to the previous way of thinking in order to re-find the old road outlined by Hegel and to continue his trajectory. This is what Miranda did. Leaving aside the most relevant problems of the contemporary world and walking hand in hand with the most progressive scientists in the principle disciplines of the 20th century, he investigated with incredible detail the original sources of complete knowledge that the West has produced; he translated it with erudition, making philosophy understandable in Spanish; and in this work he gave us the results of his investigation.
He shows, with strict logic, the myth of “empiric science”, which, having been around for more than 200 years, has made the thinking of the scientists and intellectuals become confused. Carefully clearing away the basic concepts of the various disciplines he shows us that science’s origins are in the same Human Being that produced them and the end product is the humanization of the world. Thus he also comes to the greatest discovery that Humankind has made in all of history: “that the Spirit is thought, that what we call matter is precisely that which does not think”. “The Spirit is not something natural, but is only that which comes into being” (1991, p. 95).
Fully using his expertise as an exegete, as an experienced scientist and a demanding philosopher, José Porfirio Miranda introduces us in this work, to the gestation of the fundamental concepts of today’s thinking:
In first place we have the concept of Reality.
Without doubt it is the concept most needed by our generation in order to understand, to heal ourselves from the deceit brought to us by the ill-fated empiricism.
Secondly is the concept of Justice.
Few subjects are more important than this. In the second part of his article “How to Deal with Modernity” (21), Porfirio Miranda clearly develops and expounds this concept which he investigates in all of his works and is the backbone of his exigency.
Before anything, you must realize, the fulfillment of Justice has become more concrete and evolved at the same rate that Human Beings have become conscious of themselves: to know what Justice is requires knowing that every one, because he is a person, has the absolute right to be respected. Every person is an end in themselves and not the means for something else. Knowing this obliges everyone to act as a consequence (remember that “oblige” comes from the Latin “obligare”, which means to bond me to the person before me). There is no point knowing what is just if you do not follow up by demanding that I do justice. The example that makes justice an obligation is in essence the same concept of justice based on awareness, that is, in relation to another. Justice signifies the obligation of being just. To say: This is just, signifies that I have to be so.
Consequently, we have to be constantly just, it is not something that was with us from the start. It is what humanity has been building towards in its history, at first in a rudimentary way, then in deficient, partial or sometimes inadequate ways until now when everybody, just by being a person, must realize that the other person has the absolute right to be respected. Respect the other person, is the same as treating the other person as we would like them to treat us.
Humanity has had years of suffering, trials, mistakes and gains to arrive at what humanity knows today and that is the reason why the people and nations of today’s world are extremely sensitive about the lack of justice.
Porfirio, himself, complements this analysis by applying it to one of the most burning questions of today in another of his articles: “Indigenous Rights versus Human Rights” (22). The cultural relativism of an ideology such as Indigenous Rights is against equality for all human beings. Also the inhabitants of the Third World are persons who have the absolute right to be respected. So, someone from the First World must tell himself: that those persons deserve exactly the same respect as I do. They deserve the benefits of civilization as I do.
It is very important to note that the demands and exigencies of the population, of their political parties and their organizations have justice as their only solid argument, firmly entrenched in the absolute respect of the dignity of today’s and future people. Appealing to other reasons such as survival or one’s own gain is not workable because the gain is different for each person; it is subjective and whimsical, the start of offensive wars, threats and disputes.
On the other hand, it is evident that the search for one’s own gain only ends where the search for the good of others begins. The alterations brought forth by another person who implores us for justice, is the only one that breaks the solipsism by attending to them and therefore transcending. The Human Being can only transcend himself through another person. If he does not transcend he does not become human.
Finally the concept of the State appears.
From the beginning we must completely separate this from “government”. Since the State is the same intertwining of rights and obligations that are consistently established between people.
The State exists where justice is made reality and where reality makes justice. This is the Kingdom of God in us.
Undoubtedly we are talking about the most impenetrable and potentially fraught concept for the future. In another of his articles: “Well-being and Social Sciences” (23), Porfirio develops a social analysis first seen in this work; to be exact, the failure to recognize what the State is; that it is the origin of all political, judicial, economic and social problems, not only on a personal level but also in international relations.
In everything investigated up to now, it would be exceptionally relevant to point out that it is not what it should be, even though it is not, but what is really happening. It is about Science and not simple desires and whims. It is about Philosophy not literature. To be exact: “The Aesthetification of Mexican Intellectuals” (24), is the last article published by Miranda up to now, where this important and definitive difference is clarified; a warning to those who believe what the novelist or essayist says is the truth. But the literati do not pledge themselves to the truth, they are only subject to their feelings. On the other hand the scientist has to prove the truth with arguments. And to pledge oneself with the truth is to be free.
Facing this coherent and demonstrated position of truth, it is evident that the scientific necessity of philosophic investigation originated in Mexico by José Porfirio Miranda needs to be followed up, strengthened and popularized. Responding to this demand we have started in Temamatla, in the State of Mexico, “RORAC (Roberto Oliveros Rivas Asociación Anonima)” – a non-profit organization. The object of this philosophical investigation project is to analyze the thinking of José Porfirio Mirando using his works. To present a scientific system whose philosophy gives answers to those profound questions asked by contemporary society.
Luis Ramon Brito Crabtree, MA, as well as being a man who has given his life to his dedication to the cause of justice, has a detailed knowledge of J.P. Miranda’s works which he has investigated and enriched with his explanations, introductions and graphic résumés.
For ten years, he was the director of the Philosophical Investigation Project at RORAC which was greatly enriched by his investigations, seminars and discussions with Porfirio himself.
On October 2002, the first anniversary of José Porfirio Miranda’s death, the Center of Philosophical Studies José Porfirio Miranda, was inaugurated at RORAC. During the ceremonies Luis Brito, MA, turned over the office of director of this new center to Dr. Mario Rojas Hernández, a student of Porfirio Miranda at UAM Iztapalapa.
(1) JOHN D. BERNAL: La Ciencia en la Historia / Ed. Nueva Imagen.
(2) JUNGER HABERMAS: Zur Reconstruktion Des Historischen Volkswirtscheftelehere Burd / Colonia, 1954 / p.p. 135-140.
(3) NIKLAS LUHMANN: Funktion der Religion. Suhrkamp / Frankfurt, 1992 / p. 225.
(4) Op. cit. / p. 225.
(5) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: “¿Qué hacer ante la Modernidad?”. La Jornada Semanal. Periódico “La Jornada”. México / Noviembre 28, 1993.
(6) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: “La Farsa llamada Escepticismo”. La Jornada Semanal. Periódico “La Jornada”. México / Abril 18, 1993.
(7) ERNEST LESHLE: La Incertidumbre Matemática. F.C.E. / México, 1975.
(8) BASTIN TED, DE.: Quantum Theory Beyond / Cambridge, 1971.
(9) NIKLAS NUHMANN: Sistemas Sociales / Ed. Alianza / México, 1991.
(10) SCHUMACHEF E.F.: “Una Economía como si la gente no importase”. En CARDI PIGEN Y OTROS: Nueva Conciencia / Ed. Integral / México, 1991 / p.p. 73 s.s.
(11) EDGAR MORIN: El Método: El Conocimiento del Conocimiento / Ed. Cátedra S.A. / Madrid, 1983.
(12) REVISTA: Conacyt. México / Febrero, 1983 / p. 32.
(13) THOMAS KUHN: La Estructura de las Revoluciones Científicas. F.C.E. / México, 1978.
(14) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: Hambre y Sed de Justicia / Ed. Progreso / México, 1965.
(15) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: Marx y la Biblia / Ed. Sígueme / Salamanca, 1972.
(16) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: Cambio de Estructuras / Ed. de San Cristóbal de las Casas / México, 1971 // Marx en México / Ed. Siglo XXI / México, 1972 // El Cristianismo de Marx / Ed. Privada / México, 1978.
(17) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: El Ser y el Mesías / Ed. Sígueme / Salamanca, España, 1973.
(18) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: Comunismo en la Biblia / Ed. Siglo XXI / México, 1981.
(19) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: Apelo a la Razón / Ed. Premia / México, 1983.
(20) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: Hegel tenía Razón / Ed. UAM / México, 1989.
(21) Op. Cit.
(22) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: “Indigenismo contra Derechos Humanos” / La Jornada Semanal. Periódico “La Jornada”, México / Junio 20, 1993.
(23) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: “El Bien y las Ciencias Sociales” / La Jornada Semanal. Periódico “La Jornada”, México / Junio 20, 1993.
(24) J. PORFIRIO MIRANDA: “La Estetificación de los Intelectuales en México” / La Jornada Semanal. Periódico “La Jornada”, México / Noviembre 27, 1994.