Why marxism? Evil Laid Bare.
In my view, we should still care about Marxism precisely because so many people are still attracted to it, which means, of course, that it is not dead--and, as I will argue, not by a long shot. In fact, despite everything we know about its shameful history, Marxism is making a comeback.
To see why, let us begin by reviewing the essence of Marxism in theory and practice.
In a remarkably short period of time, the philosophy of Karl Marx profoundly changed the course of human civilization. In fact, no system of ideas transformed the world as quickly or as comprehensively as did the philosophy of Marx--not even the teachings of Jesus or Muhammad. At the height of Marxism's political power and influence, half the world was under its dominion, and the other half feared that it too would succumb to communist imperialism.
Everything changed, of course, in 1989. When the Berlin Wall fell, many in the West saw for the first time the material and spiritual rot that lay within the Marxist-Leninist world. We now know the ugly truth. Marxism has led to rivers of blood and an ocean of tears wherever it has been tried.
The best scholarship now tells us that between 1917 and 1989 approximately 100 million people were murdered by various Marxist regimes, and millions more were tortured, starved, exiled, enslaved, and sent to concentration camps. Collectivization, one-party rule, man-made famine, secret police, arrests, propaganda, censorship, ethnic cleansing, purges, show trials, reeducation camps, gulags, firing squads, and killing fields--all these defined life under communism.
Whole new categories of "antisocial" crimes were created by the "dictatorship of the proletariat." Under communism, for example, it became a crime punishable by death to be a member of the "bourgeoisie," an "enemy of the people," a "counterrevolutionary," or a "deviationist." Even those who were just skeptical or indifferent to the goals of the regime were labeled saboteurs and subject to imprisonment or worse. Nothing in the long span of human history comes close to the tyranny, terror, and mass genocide caused by Marxism in power--nothing.
It should not surprise us, then, that Marx seemed to have lost credibility in the years after 1989. Not only had the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc imploded, but Western intellectuals seemed to have given up, or at least to have become embarrassed by, their Marxist faith. At the time, reasonable people assumed that Das Kapital would end up in the dustbin of history along with Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Remarkably, though, that did not happen. Instead, Marxism simply went underground in the decade after 1989, reinventing itself and reemerging under the guise of new academic methodologies such as postmodernism, deconstructionism, semiotics, multiculturalism, and feminism--and in new academic programs such as Black, queer, women's, Chicano, critical, and environmental studies.
We should not be deceived, however, by the academic repackaging of Marxism. This "new" Marxism is little more than a wolf in a don's robe. Today's academic Marxists still carry the old message that individualism is bad and collectivism is good; they still believe that Marxism--despite everything we know about it--is a noble ideal worth fighting for. Marxist intellectuals and their surrogates still work very hard to exonerate Marxism from any responsibility for the tyranny and genocide associated with communism in practice. They assure us ad nauseam that the real problem is not with Marxist theory but with "unforeseen historical circumstances" and with the mistakes of well-meaning but misguided revolutionaries. Marxist tyrants such as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were aberrations, we are told, deviationists from "true" Marxism. Stalinism, Maoism, or Pol Potism may be responsible for millions dead, but never Marxism. Real socialism, we are told repeatedly, has not yet been tried.
We should not be entirely surprised to learn, then, that Marxism is making a comeback in the West. It is not uncommon today to read articles in mainstream newspapers and magazines with titles such as "Marx is Back" or "The Return of Marx" or "We're All Socialists Now." The rehabilitation of Marxism reached new heights recently with the publication of Terry Eagleton's book, titled Why Marx was Right. (1)
Imagine the outrage if a major American academic were to publish a book with the title Why Hitler was Right!
Another vivid indication of the rebirth of Marxist ideas in American culture is the Marxist-inspired "Occupy Wall Street" movement and the fawning treatment that it has received from the mainstream media.
Unknown to most Americans is the existence of a virtual, if not a literal, "vast left-wing conspiracy," a fifth column, which includes the mainstream media and scores of various left-wing think tanks such as the Institute for Policy Studies; community-organizing groups such as ACORN; unions such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); professional organizations such as the National Education Association; philanthropic organizations such the MacArthur Foundation; special-interest advocacy groups such as Media Matters; religious organizations such as the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization; political parties such as The Working Families Party; indoctrination boot camps such as the Midwest Academy; and, most importantly, the universities such as... well... practically all of them. And then there is the stunning recent announcement by the Socialist Party of America that seventy Democratic members of Congress are associated with the Marxist organization.
A plethora of seen and unseen cultural and political indexes should remind us that Marxism is not dead. It is very much alive. In fact, its presence in American culture is greater today than it ever has been, although it is hidden behind various new ideological facades. Marxism has been largely and unwittingly accepted by millions of Americans.
The rebirth of Marxism surely compels decent people to ask several questions: What is the relationship between Marxism in theory and communism in practice? Are Stalinism, Maoism, and Pol Potism aberrations from true Marxism or its fulfillment? Why has virtually every Marxist regime turned into a totalitarian dictatorship? In other words, are tyranny and terror built into the DNA of Marxism?
Behind these important questions, though, are more interesting and fundamental questions: Why do men become communists? Why are so many "intellectuals" still attracted to Marxism despite its mass-murdering history? What is the source of Marxism's power over the minds of men?
Many educated people tend to think of Marxism as a scientific theory that attempts to describe the laws of economics and social organization, and that predicts the fall of capitalism and the triumph of socialism. Marx did claim, after all, to be a "scientific" socialist. I do not think, however, that many people over the course of the past 150 years have been motivated to become socialists by virtue of reading the interminably boring Das Kapital. Nor do I think Marx's economic interpretation of history, his labor theory of value, or his theory of dialectical materialism have inspired men and women around the world to dedicate their lives to socialist revolution. There must be something much more powerful about Marxism that appeals to the moral views and psychology of certain kinds of people.
Let's start with the obvious. Marxism's promises were thoroughly "utopian" in scope--it promised to eliminate poverty, inequality, exploitation, class conflict, war, and alienation. Communism, Marx argued, would emancipate man from the "slavery" of capitalism and create a socialist heaven on earth. Marxism therefore provided a kind of secular religion of hope and redemption in a world of declining religious faith.
Marx was also a master psychologist: He understood that there is a class of people in every society who, like himself, are motivated in their day-to-day lives by envy, resentment, and hatred. Such people always blame others for their condition and plight. Marxism speaks directly to such people. It comes to them as a gospel of anger, resentment, and victimhood. It tells such men why they suffer and it tells them for whom they suffer. Marxism provides a kind of redemptive hope to those who are frustrated, impotent, angry, and unhappy.
But Marxism must be seen first and foremost as a moral theory. It is Marx's moralism--his angry, spitting moralism and the allure it held for a certain kind of moral sensibility--that is the source of socialism's greatest appeal. Coming to grips with the moral pathology that has driven so many people to Marxism is one of the great intellectual challenges of our time. To that end, we will examine the following three verses from the holy book of Marx that sum up his moral values:
1. "The enemy of being is having" (from The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844). (2)
2. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" (from Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875). (3)
3. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it" (from Theses on Feuerbach, 1845). (4)
The first verse sums up Marx's critique of capitalism, the second states communism's moral vision, and the third is a commandment to action. Let us take up each in turn.
1. "The enemy of being is having."
The most common interpretation of Karl Marx's philosophy suggests that he opposed capitalism because he thought it unjust--unjust because it creates a world of inequality, exploitation, and class conflict. Marxian socialism, according to this view, is all about equalizing income and social status. This is the so-called late Marxism of Das Kapital, of Stalin, and of the Old Left. It appeals to a powerful and all-too-common human emotion: envy.
But Marx also advanced a deeper, more philosophical critique of capitalism--one that challenged the very idea of having; that is, the idea of acquiring and accumulating any material wealth at all. This is the so-called early Marxism of The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, of Pol Pot, and of the New Left. It is a much more radical Marxism that appeals to a related emotion: hatred--pure, unadulterated hatred of wealth.
At the deepest level, Marx was an opponent of capitalism because he thought it immoral--immoral because its focus on the accumulation of material wealth "dehumanized" man by (allegedly) forcing him to become totally alienated from his work, from the product of his labor, from himself, and from other men. The ultimate idea of alienation for Marx can be summed up, as we will see, with a sentiment he expressed in the 1844 Manuscripts: "The enemy of being is having." Understanding philosophically what Marx meant by this cryptic notion is crucial to understanding the inner core of his thought, why revolutionaries acting in Marx's name exterminated tens of millions of people, and why Marxism continues to influence people to this day.
For Marx, the spirit of acquisition and the accumulation of material wealth engendered by capitalism are anathema to man's true being. The more a man acquires in the form of material possessions, according to Marx, the more estranged and alienated he is from his true humanity. Marx elaborates:
The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save--the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour.... The less you are, the more you have; the less you express your own life, the greater is your alienated life--the greater is the store of your estranged being. (5)
By this account, capitalism turns all men into Ebenezer Scrooges. The more men work, accumulate, and save, the less they are.
At the heart, then, of Marx's critique of capitalism is his moral revulsion at the thought that someone--somewhere--might be trying to improve the material quality of his life by actually working and saving. The very idea of having--of acquiring and accumulating material goods beyond a certain basic level--is repugnant and contrary to man's true "being." It enslaves man to things. A fully human life is not concerned with acquisition and accumulation, which have the ultimate effect of shriveling man's soul.
This is precisely why money is the embodiment, if not the root, of all evil for Marx. Money is the ultimate expression of having; it represents and facilitates the trading of goods; it permits, indeed inspires, men to accumulate for the sake of accumulation; it turns everything, including a man's time and effort, into a commodity to be bought and sold. Money, particularly money in a capitalist economy, Marx claims, replaces true virtue, authenticity, and genuine human relationships with avarice. It is the physical embodiment of the moral principle that Marx most despises--the virtue of selfishness.
Marxism thus suffers from one fatal flaw: It violates the basic laws of reality. Contrary to Marx's claims, one must work and save in order to live a materially and spiritually satisfying life. Marx envisions a world where men are able to eat, drink, read, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, and go to the theater, the dance hall, and the pub free of charge and without having to earn a living and save. In other words, he wants to live in the world of the Big Rock Candy Mountain where chickens lay boiled eggs, or in a society where every person has his own personal Friedrich Engels--as Marx himself did--a sugar daddy to personally bankroll one's profligate lifestyle, but without the guilt associated with being a moocher. The visceral anger that pours out of Marx's writings stems ultimately from the fact that he could not bend reality to his wishes.
On this theme, let us consider how Marx envisioned non-alienated man in a communist society.
In a stunning flight of fancy, Marx claimed that communism would liberate human creativity and each man's "individuality." (6) To that end, he advocated abolishing the economic division of labor, which, he argued, froze men into stultifying jobs that contracted and infantilized their physical and spiritual potential. Life for man in a communist society, where there is no division of labor, would look something like this, according to Marx:
In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic. (7)
In Marx's ideal society, the nomenclature "regulates" all production in a way that liberates the workers to choose whatever job they "have a mind" to pursue at any given time in the day or week. In other words, communist society will be organized something like a Montessori for adults, where individuals go from government work station to government work station as the urge propels them.
Marx lived in a philosophical fantasyland where each man's wishes are omnipotent, where the law of cause and effect is suspended, and where the unearned is demanded and received. For instance, if a man with no ability, no work ethic, and no resources wants to become a concert pianist but is denied the means to fulfill his wish, Marx would say that his true freedom and autonomy have been unjustly limited. Ultimately, Marxism represents a revolt against the laws of reality.
2. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.'"
Let us turn now to the second verse from the holy book of Marx--and to Marx's central argument for communism.
In order to overcome the debilitating sense of alienation that defines modern life, Marx argues that man must reconstruct his world and begin de novo--he must be stripped of his "false consciousness" and his core being must be rebuilt from the ground up. Marx believed that by altering man's economic and political institutions, socialist society could literally change the nature of human consciousness as well.
The ultimate psychological and moral goal of the new economic relations created by socialism is to reintegrate individual men into a collective consciousness. Marxian communism seeks to recover man's potential for acting as a "social being" or what Marx called a "species-being!' For Marx, the individual is only fully real insofar as he is serving the collective good and his species-being. Each person's individuality and creativity can only be expressed fully in association with others. Man is only fulfilled, indeed he is only truly human, if and when his self-directed actions become other-directed and correspond to his innermost identity as a social being.
So, how is communist man to be created? What would Marx's communist society look like? At the heart of Marxism is one sentence that defines the moral ideal of communism, which I will hereafter refer to as The Principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."
According to the new Marxist morality, every man in society will be inspired--or forced--to work according to his ability and then share the unequal fruits of his labor with everyone else according to the unequal needs of all others. In other words, ability is penalized and needs are rewarded. The harder a man works, the more is demanded from him. This is the true nature of socialist exploitation. Socialism transforms and corrupts man's moral motives, incentives, and virtues so that needs become demands, and demands become rights. In such a society, the best men hide their virtues and abilities and the worst men flaunt their vices and weaknesses. Eventually, the productive become slaves to the unproductive, followed by the productive joining the ranks of the unproductive--at which point all become slaves.
Marx, however, believed that communism is a vastly superior form of social organization because it is the only social system capable of actualizing man's true human essence. In fact, he was an advocate of communism because he believed it would create nothing less than a new kind of man. Communist man would be superior to capitalist man: he would be less selfish and acquisitive, and he would be more altruistic and communal than his capitalist counterpart.
Freed from the tyranny of competition and the frantic quest for acquisition, communist man will naturally seek to work with others in order to achieve his individual and collective purposes. And, Marx believed, once the means of subsistence are distributed on the basis of need rather than greed, man's natural communal affections and bonds would be recovered.
The moral ideal of communism is not so much equality as it is sameness. (8) Sameness is absolute equality--equality without diversity. It means all men sharing the same passions, opinions, and interests. Marx sees man as a being whose metaphysical identity is captured in the motto Alexandre Dumas attributed to D'Artagnan and his friends in The Three Musketeers: "All for one, and one for all."
This is the communist revolution. And how will this radical sameness be created? In his essay "On the Jewish Question," published in 1844, Marx quotes approvingly from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract, wherein Rousseau describes how to create the ideal society.
Whoever dares undertake to establish a people's institutions must feel himself capable of changing, as it were, human nature, of transforming each individual, who by himself is a complete and solitary whole, into a part of a larger whole, from which... the individual receives his life and his being.... He has to take from man his own powers, and give him in exchange alien powers which he cannot employ without the help of other men. (9)
This passage, in my view, is critical to understanding Marxism and the history of the 20th century. Communist man cannot be created without eradicating what the Marxists call the "false consciousness" that civilized man has developed over the course of several millennia. (10) What this means most of all, according to Marx, is that nothing less than man's "self" or the "I" should be exterminated, and, as he said, "egoism must be punished as a crime." (11)
Thus Marx's anti-freedom political ideal begins with the total subordination of the individual to the collective, as represented by the State. He recognized, however, that such subordination and control requires the use of State violence--he specifically calls for using the "guillotine"--in order to end the institution of private property. Marx advocated not only the use of state-sponsored violence in order to change human nature, but state-sponsored violence by a government in a condition of what he called "permanent revolution." (12) In other words, the violence never ends.
Marx did not leave a detailed blueprint of how a communist society would be organized, but he did sketch its basic purposes, principles, policies, and institutions. The movement to communism, Marx thought, would develop in two stages.
The first stage is the socialist phase, which is characterized by two policies: one, the dictatorship of the proletariat; and two, the abolition of private property, wage labor, the market price system, competition, division of labor, money, and profits. The socialist phase is defined by de-struction. The ultimate moral goal here is to eliminate human selfishness.
The second stage, the communist phase, is likewise characterized by two major policies: one, public ownership and regulation of the means of production and consumption; and two, the redistribution of all "surplus value" (i.e., profit) created by society. The communist phase is defined by re-construction. Its ultimate moral goal is to build a new type of man--communist man--who will be motivated by purely altruistic and collectivist goals.
To that end, Marx envisioned an entirely marketless society controlled and directed from the top down by an elite corps of social engineers. These central planners determine production outputs (i.e., "From each according to his ability") and then how goods and services are redistributed for the common good (i.e., "to each according to his needs"). The production and distribution of material goods in a Marxian society is thus guided by two principles: first, material goods are to be produced for direct use or use-value (i.e., need) only; second, material goods are to be redistributed for the benefit of the community as a whole. In the place of money, the State pays workers by giving them vouchers to be redeemed at government-owned stores so that its citizens will not have more material goods than they can actually use at any given time. After all, "the enemy of being is having." Poverty is not simply the unfortunate result of Marxism--it is the goal.
In order to purge each man of his individual identity, the Marxian State seeks total control over man's mind and body. It seeks to control all material production, distribution, and consumption; it establishes what and how much is to be produced, by what methods, and to whom it is to be distributed; it sets prices and wages; it commands individuals to work in certain areas of production or trade; it tells men where and with whom they may live and in what kind of house or apartment; it tells men where they may shop, what they may eat, where their children will go to school and what they must study, what they may wear, where they may travel, what music they may listen to, and what they are permitted to think, write, and say.
The small elite that runs the State seeks to control systematically and absolutely all material and spiritual values. The dictatorship of the proletariat will control and regulate every aspect of life. Absolute sameness is the end, and absolute control is the means.
3. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."
Let's now consider the third verse from the holy book of Marxism, which comes in the form of a call to action or a commandment. Engraved on Marx's tombstone are the words: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."
The point--Marx's point--is that the philosopher and his intellectual proteges must take the lead in changing the world. Marx takes the philosopher out of the ivory tower and puts him on the barricades with firm orders. He transforms the philosopher into a revolutionary in the name of humanity. The philosopher, once alienated from society, is now reconnected with humanity and is the thinking head directing man's species-being.
Marxism, unlike Platonism, for instance, is not a philosophy of passive contemplation. It is a philosophy of action--direct action, which is why the most prominent French Marxist organization of the 1980s was aptly named Action Directe. Action to change the world is, for Marx, a moral imperative. Revolutionary "praxis" (i.e., action) will slay the "enemy of being" and it will create the new communist man. Of course, the most famous call to action in the Marxist catechism is the call to the workers of the world to unite in revolution. And for Marx, the end (i.e., sameness) always justifies the means (i.e., coercive force and violence).
What kind of action is to be taken? Born of a hatred of the world as it exists, Marxism summons men to destroy the present and the past that gave rise to it. Western intellectuals, in particular, are moved to act by a visceral hatred of bourgeois society and by a delusional infatuation with Marx's moral vision. In order to achieve Marx's moral and political ideal, the workers of the world must not only be liberated from the present world of capitalism, but they must also be freed from their enslaving knowledge of the past in order to secure a brave new future--a truly human future.
A proper Marxist revolutionary is one who is morally prepared to use violence--what Marx called "revolutionary terrorism"--in pursuit of The Principle. Mao Tse-tung, one of Marx's best students, understood clearly the kind of action required by a true communist revolutionary:
Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Our principle is that the Party commands the gun... [Having] guns, we can create Party organizations... We can also create cadres, create schools, create culture, create mass movements... All things grow out of the barrel of a gun. (13)
To his list of things that communist revolutionaries with guns might do, Mao neglected to mention his ultimate creation--namely, mass genocide and mass graves.
One of the major assets of Marxism (in contrast to both modern liberalism and conservatism) is the unyielding commitment of its adherents to the faith, to bear witness to it, and to act on it. In this way, many people hold Marxism as a kind of secular religion in a world without God. Thus in trying to understand why men become communists and why they commit atrocities in the name of their ideology, we do well to view them as the second coming of the 12th-century crusaders. Whereas the crusaders committed their lives to God and to the symbol of Christ on the cross, the communists have committed their lives to a new secular ideal: to The Principle and to the symbol of man redeemed and restored to the innocence of his true being.
The only thing that compares to the fanaticism of the communist revolutionary in our world today is the Islamic jihadist. Marxism asks its converts to accept its moral vision as an act of faith, and, like most religions, it calls on its adherents to translate the ideal into the real. Marx's call to action is the commandment that turned naive college students in the 1960s into urban terrorists and that inspired college professors to become jungle guerrillas in South America.
But Marxism is not only a call to action: It is a call to particular kind of action--to armed action--to violent revolution--to permanent revolution. It summons men to join a crusade to destroy the evil that is capitalism and to create the good that is communism. In a secular world where God is dead, the Marxist ideal gives the communist revolutionary a reason to live and a reason to die--and a reason to kill.
Marxist Che Guevara, the father of modern terrorism, captured the ultimate meaning of communist praxis in these terms: "Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy" (14) The Marxian ideal inspires hatred and violence, both of which are directed at the enemy: capitalism and the people who practice and defend it.
Consequences: Socialism as Totalitarian and Genocidal
In conclusion, what, then, do we say about Marxism? I say this: There is nothing noble or attractive about Marxian socialism. Marxism is, by definition, totalitarian and genocidal by motive, design, practice, and result.
The political goal of communism is to annihilate freedom in all realms of life--economic, social, and intellectual. By philosophic design, Marxism in power must always use force to achieve its ends. Any government that expropriates and redistributes private property, any government that seeks to control the economy, any government that violates the rights of its citizens on a daily basis, any government that seeks to reconstitute human nature will and must use force as a matter of course. Thus the theory of socialism necessitates the use of coercive force in practice.
The fact of the matter is that the Marxist ideal necessarily leads to censorship, secret police, reeducation camps, gulags, and genocide in practice. Its violent and bloody history is evident for all to see. Marxian socialism begins and ends with violence and destruction. Economically, it seeks to destroy private property, the price system, the division of labor, the system of profit and loss, wage labor, competition, and material wealth. Politically, it seeks to destroy the rule of law, constitutionalism, separation of powers, and civil rights. Morally, it seeks to destroy individual rights, egoism, and all "bourgeois" virtues. Epistemologically, it seeks to destroy independent thought. Metaphysically, it seeks to change human nature itself, eliminating free choice. This is why the communist 1 percent (the true 1 percent) must use the terror apparatus of the State to force the 99 percent (the true 99 percent) to become something they are not and do not want to be. And if that does not work, the secular philosophy of brotherly love simply liquidates as much of the 99 percent as is necessary.
In the end, all decent people must see that Marxism is evil--absolutely evil. It 15 the wellspring of communist mass murder. The Marxist regimes responsible for genocide are not aberrations from "true Marxism" but are its fulfillment and living embodiment. They represent what Marxism is and must be. Violence and terror are necessary instruments of the communist ideal. History demonstrates--and I hope this lecture has proved philosophically--that Marxism is a philosophy of mass murder, which is precisely what it has done wherever it has held power.
Marxism leads to Stalinism, to Maoism, to Pol Potism, to Kim II Sungism, to Castroism, to dictatorship, to the police state, to terror, to show trials, to the gulag, to genocide, and finally to the grave. In other words, the problem with Marxism is... Marxism.
Karl Marx did not care about men--individual men; he cared about "man"--abstract man, the "species-being." He was perfectly willing to sacrifice millions of real-life individuals to an abstraction. Individual men, entire social classes, and even whole nations were, for Marx, simply instruments of history and were therefore to be subordinated to the end of history--namely, to the recovery of man's alleged collective soul.
The perverse irony of communism is that rather than creating a society defined by brotherly love, it always and of necessity creates a society of mutually assured resentment and destruction. In any society based on the Marxian ideal, the inevitable result will be that productive abilities shrivel, needs expand, envy follows, and the society collapses over time into a war of all against all. Socialist man lives in a state of constant fear and loathing--he fears the State and he loathes his fellow man.
Marxism is a philosophy of malevolence and hatred. It is, from beginning to end, a criminal activity. It begins with theft and ends with murder. Marxism is, to use Ayn Rand's phrase, the embodiment of "the morality of death." (15) It is inimical to the requirements of human life. It is a system that denies man the ability to function as a rational, independent being because it denies him what his nature requires: the freedom to think and act.
In conclusion, we must say this about Marxism: first, it is the single worst blight to have affected human life over the course of man's entire history; and second, those who advocate it represent the very definition of human evil and must be openly judged and condemned accordingly.
Those who love life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must never forget the true nature and historical crimes of Marxism. And we must not let others get away with evading them. So, let us end by recalling the words of Ayn Rand: "The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it." Let us now withdraw that sanction--permanently.
Author's note: This is a lightly edited version of a speech I delivered at the Foundation for Economic Education in March 2012. The written version retains the character of an oral presentation.
C. Bradley Thompson is a professor of political science at Clemson University and the executive director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism.
(1.) Terry Eagleton, Why Marx was Right (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011).
(2.) Karl Marx, "The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844," in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), 95-96. This phrase--"The enemy of being is having"--is an essentialized distillation of Marx's larger discussion about alienation found in the "Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts." The distilled phrase was first used by Irving Kristol in his Two Cheers for Capitalism (New York: New American Library, 1978), 16. Kristol presumably adapted this phrase from Lionel Trilling's discussion of Marx in Sincerity and Authenticity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972), 122.
(3.) Marx, "Critique of the Gotha Program," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 531.
(4.) Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 145.
(5.) Marx, "Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 95-96.
(6.) Marx, "Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 103.
(7.) Marx, "The German Ideology," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 160 (emphasis added).
(8.) I am indebted to my fourteen-year-old son, Samuel M. Thompson, for helping me to understand this crucial point.
(9.) Marx, "On the Jewish Question," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 46.
(10.) The actual concept "false consciousness," though implicit in Marx's writings, was first used by his intellectual partner, Friedrich Engels, in an 1893 letter to Franz Mehring. The letter can be seen online at http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1893/letters/93_07_14.htm.
(11.) Marx, "On the Jewish Question," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 43.
(12.) Marx, "On the Jewish Question," in The Marx-Engels Reader, 36.
(13.) Mao Tse-tung, "Problems of War and Strategy," in Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung at http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_12.htm.
(14.) Che Guevara, "Message to the Tricontinental," at http://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1967/04/16.htm.
(15.) On Ayn Rand's discussion of the "morality of death," see Atlas Shrugged (New York: Plume, 1957), 1025-1047.
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|Author:||Thompson, C. Bradley|
|Publication:||The Objective Standard|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2012|
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