Marxism: Contradictory Rights of Inheritance

While I intended to do a full critique of the Communist Manifesto, I realized that the mistakes were far too many and too absurd to include in a single concise essay. Therefore, I thought it to be more appropriate to nitpick among my favorite bloopers of Marxism. This article highlights the completely contradictory position of Marxism concerning the right of inheritance.

When people think of communism (or more correctly theoretical communism which more correctly goes under the name Marxism), they often think of abolition of all private property, which (even on a logically basis) would rule out all forms of inheritance (as there is nothing to inherit). This position of total abolition mainly comes from the Communist Manifesto. However, with my brief exploration, I found another position (of moderate to heavy curbing of rights of inheritance, nonetheless not an abolition) in at least other three sources:

Which one is it? Abolition of all rights of inheritance or just a reduction of the rights of inheritance (thru heavy taxes, curtailment, or extension of duties)? Considering that the quote from 1869 was written twenty years after the Communist Manifesto, neither a position of consistency (as there are different to begin with) nor a position of succession (as the different positions come both before and after the Communist Manifest) can be extrapolated. It seems as though there is an irreconcilable contradiction and an ultimate blooper for Marxism: the so-called founding document of Marxism is clearly at odds with Marx and Engel's writing before and after the publishing of the Communist Manifesto.

The usual argument to this contradiction would come in the flavor of Marx's own words (which is from the same source as the 1869 quote): "The disappearance of the right of inheritance will be the natural result of a social change superseding private property in the means of production; but the abolition of the right of inheritance can never be the starting point of such a social transformation." Simply put, the contradiction in the four-item list is wrong because it incorrectly mixes pragmatic measures with its results, philosophical end goals. The argument would say that the Communist Manifesto was an idealistic writing, or at least the part pertaining to the rights of inheritance, while the rest of the three quotes were temporary measures that would ultimately lead to the state established by the Communist Manifesto. That argument of course is contrary to the facts.

The quoted abolition line from the Communist Manifesto is served explicitly as a demand and not as some high ideal as the lines before the list which it is found on says: "Of course, in the beginning, this [establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialist state, overthrow of capitalism, etc.] cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property... the following [referring to the list below] will be pretty generally applicable." Despotic inroads means an immediate plan of action that is despotic because at least some people would not support it. That sounds pragmatic and not in any sense philosophical.

In conclusion, Marx then goes from stating that (1) abolition of rights of inheritance is never acceptable for the starting point to (2) "in the beginning" abolition of the right of inheritance "will be pretty generally applicable." The synonymity of "starting point" and "in the beginning" adds a delicious cherry of irony on the top of the fudge that Marxism really is.