Skip to comments.MAY DAY
Posted on 05/01/2003 12:17:31 AM PDT by ppaul
You would have never heard of Karl Marx had it not been for V.I. Lenin. Marx was neither terribly successful nor terribly important in his own right, and had it not been for a revolution carried out three decades after his death, he would be a footnote at best.
But on this May Day, the high holy day of Communism and Socialism, it is important that we remember.
As a student, both in England and America, I often heard the refrain -- even from conservatives -- that "communism wouldn't have been so bad if it had been carried out like Marx suggested, without all that junk from Lenin and Stalin." It still amazes me the degree to which this leftist propaganda can be passed off as true. It shows that the speaker has never read much (if any) Marx or Lenin, and, usually, that he wants to sound "intellectual". It also shows that socialists, whether of the national socialist (Nazi) or of the international socialist (Communist/Socialist) stripe, have been very successful in employing Herr Goebbels' doctrine of "the big lie."
In fact, Marx never produced a political program at all. The entirety of his plan for his new world order was contained in ten short points -- nothing more than slogans, really -- in his very first "book", the Communist Manifesto. He never defined them further. He never saw a need. Marx had grander work in mind.
He was producing a religion.
Marx, the anti-Semitic Jew, the hater of Christianity and all it stood for, created an entire atheology. It was, in the words of James Billington, "fire in the minds of men." Marx sought to turn the old order on its head, to regenerate mankind through chaos. He preached a dialectical view of history which seemed to derive from Fuerbach but really just represented ancient dualism. He propounded a materialism which he said "turned Hegel right-side up," and which said that no person was anything more than a mechanistically determined automaton, "matter in motion." He wedded to this a naively classical interpretation of the labor theory of value to produce his economics, and a utopian view of the state that said man, who was morally neutral and therefore perfectible, could be utterly re-made -- regenerated, or "saved" -- by a state or party which completely controlled and molded his environment.
To all of this he added an eschatology of victory, a certainty of success which was raised to the level of first principle, of dogma, of prerequisite faith. It is eternally worth noting that Whittaker Chambers, even when he embraced freedom, believed without question that he was abandoning the winning side. The contagiousness of the Communist faith was such that virtually everyone at the time agreed.
The tenor of the "worker's paradise" to come was already apparent in Marx's own leadership of the International Workingmen's Association, which was nothing if not dictatorial. Once in the hands of a state, however, Communist atheology became truly consistent with its presuppositions. Since the individual man was just a biological machine, he could be discarded at will. Since good and evil were entirely relative, they could be defined entirely by the party and therefore by the state. Since the state/party could and must regenerate man and build the paradise to come, it's power must be absolute and unquestioned.
And since victory was inevitable, millions gave up their individuality, their families, even their lives, without a fight.
Marx's atheology created the greatest idol of all, the idol of the omnipotent state. This idol appealed to men more than any other in history, because it made all morality relative and it gave ambitious men the means to become gods themselves. But it also appealed precisely because it was not an idol of stone or wood, but an idol of power: prayers to it could be answered, needs and greeds fulfilled. And because it indulged all of man's basest instincts while ever appealing to his noblest motives, it was exactly the sort of god man wanted to create, a god in his own image.
Marx's work was nothing new -- it was the logical conclusion of left-wing Enlightenment humanism, and had roots as old as Pharaoh -- and it was left to others -- Lenin, Stalin, Mao -- to carry out his work. Yet Marx's idol was and remains in many ways the most successful false god of human history. In its heyday enslaving more than half the world (and nearly taking the rest), its presuppositions still remain the dominant faith of the ruling elites of most of the western world. That is itself a terrifying thought. Marxism in this century killed a hundred million people, and sent probably two billion to hell. It withered whatever it touched, and it frankly touched us all.
If Lenin's minions were the "vanguard" of the old revolution, we must be the vanguard of the new. Nothing has taught us better than Marxism the danger of holding false theological presuppositions, even in the absence of a clear political program. Mankind may embrace the truth, or he may embrace a lie. The difference between the American Revolution and the Russian is the difference between worlds; and it is that better world -- indeed a better world even still -- which we must build.
This column first appeared (with minor differences) on 1 May 1998. -- Rod D. Martin, Founder and Chairman of Vanguard PAC http://www.theVanguard.org, is an attorney and writer from Little Rock, Arkansas. A former policy director to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, he is the Center for Cultural Leadership's Senior Fellow in Public Policy and Political Affairs, and Special Counsel to PayPal.com Founder Peter Thiel.
Is that random senseless killing....or do they take requests?
This is not something that has ever been hidden from me, all of the professors who have taught about Marx have mentioned this (whether you think Marx is right or wrong is not the same as whether you think his ideas are worth studying, given the influence he's had on the world). In fact, Marx wrote more than just small polemical books like the manifesto (which was intended for a non-academic audience) but also wrote big fat tomes on economics--and he predicted things like globalization. Marx didn't think many people would die for his revolution, he thought it would be the next natural phase in economics--just like when European countries started moving towards industrialization.
This demonization of Marx as some sort of evil plotter who was "producing a religion" or planning mass murder (despite never having written about it) is wrong, and it makes conservatives look stupid, backwards, and hostile to books and education.
It's pretty clear that Marx was right about some interesting things (which he picked up on well before their time, such as globalization) but was wrong about what it meant as a whole. There was no communist revolution the way he envisioned it (whether or not he would have approved of Lenin's revolution is another question, but Marx certainly didn't tell anyone to carry out mass murder). And from what we now know, from the bloody history of the 20th century, there will probably never be a successful communist state, as concentrating power in the government only leads to bad things--from economic stagnation in Sweden to mass murder in the USSR.
But Marx couldn't have known all of this at the time he was writing. Remember, at the time he was writing, factory conditions were not so great, and workers were geniunely abused by factory owners (and discarded when they were no longer useful). The stereotypical evil, heartless capitalist did exist back in his day. We can cut Karl some slack without letting the mass murderers who followed him off the hook. And giving Karl a break doesn't mean excusing 21st century communists, who really should know better by now.
And WHO FRIGGIN' CARES if he was against the Jewish religion? (he was against the Jewish religion, not the Jewish people, so he wasn't "anti-Semitic," that term was coined to mean hating Jews based on their race) A LOT of people were anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic back then. It's a credit to George Washington that he wasn't a Jew-hater, but it's not like it would have invalidated the American Revolution if he was one (and most of the Founding Fathers sort of, uh, owned slaves, you know).
I don't think anyone is claiming that Marx told anyone to carry out mass murder. I think they claim his Utopian philosophy did provide the theoretical underpinnings of the regimes that did commit mass murder.
it makes conservatives look stupid, backwards, and hostile to books and education.
I think that brilliant scholars have written works that criticize Marxoint by point, and they aren't ``stupid, backwards, and hostile to books and education.''
May 1st is also a high holy day for Satanists and witches. Gee, what a coincidense.
F.A. Hayek had a chapter in his WWII classic The Road to Serfdom entitled
Why the Worst Get on Top
Marxism is nothing but a fig leaf for tyranny.
All the rest is window dressing.