The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.
~ Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” (1848)
Karl Marx Friedrich Engels
Today’s column continues my review of Dr. Benjamin Wiker’s fascinating opus, “10 Books that Screwed up the World and 5 others that didn’t Help” (Regnery, 2008). My critique will be on Marxism’s founder, Karl Marx, and the chief propagandist of communism, Friedrich Engels, and their celebrated book, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” (1848).
Wiker wastes no time in detailing the genocide with which Marx’s communist philosophy has plagued society even to this day: “Never have so few pages done so much damage. The damage has for the most part already been accomplished, and Marxism itself (outside China) mainly stirs papers at academic conferences. But communism offered one heck of a lesson. On body count alone, ‘The Communist Manifesto’ could win the award for the most malicious book ever written … perhaps upwards of 100,000,000 – even the tenured Marxists are a bit squeamish about tooting the Manifesto as a horn of plenty.”
Marxists and their supporters here in America and throughout the world will judge Wiker’s argument linking Marxism to communism as specious because the two philosophies are different and distinct – that the former is a theoretical construct and the latter an ideological application meant to replace capitalist nation-states.
I am not convinced of this historical revisionism, which allows Marxist scholars like Georg Lukacs, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Paul Sartre, Louis Althusser, Cornel West the Democrat Party and others to use Marxism as a structure for examination but do not support a communist society.
Wiker further states: “It was possible half a century ago (and even 20 years ago, among the academic elite) to maintain that Marxism was a positive force in history. But since the protective cover has blown off the Soviet Union – and China’s has at least been torn – no one can look at the tens of millions of rotting corpses revealed and conclude anything other than this: If ‘The Communist Manifesto’ had never been written, a great deal of misery would have been avoided.“
Marx biographer Francis Wheen was seemingly defensive about the basic rational view of history showing an irrevocable link of Marxist theoretical ideas to Communist totalitarianism throughout the world: “Only a fool could hold Marx responsible for the Gulag; but there is, alas, a ready supply of fools. … Should philosophers be blamed for any and every subsequent mutilation of their ideas?”
Karl Marx, wrote ‘The Manifesto of the Communist Party” in January 1848 for The Communist League under the proviso that, “A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of communism. … It is high time that communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the specter of communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.”
Marxist communism has had a catastrophic effect upon every aspect of Western Civilization, even on something as pedestrian as property rights. Wiker noted: “The communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas. … In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”
Wiker echoed the consensus of mainstream historians that Marx was an atheist and a materialist; that Marx’s atheism and materialism were interconnected and inseparable in the delineation and application of his communist ideas. Wiker remarked, “The two go together; the denial of spiritual entities means the affirmation of all reality as purely material. What, then, is a human being? He is an animal that, like every other animal, must provide for his own material well-being.”
Historical revisionism has scrupulously tried to recast Marx in a more favorable light in modern times, especially as the body count for people murdered in communist regimes has reached over 100 million (and counting).
Marx’s ideas about the family were equally as egregious as his radical view on economics and class. Marx said, “The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement [the proletarian family] vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital. … The bourgeois claptrap about the family … about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of modern industry, all family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labor.”
Wiker notes: “According to Marx, the fulfillment of the communist dream requires the disappearance of an entirely corrupt class. There is no moral blame attached to the revolutionaries who exterminate this class, and there is certainly no God to keep accounts. So it’s no surprise that communism advanced by epic brutality. Such is the danger of a bad idea.”
The most evil, pernicious, diabolical, tyrannical governments of men and the philosophies they ruled by were primarily the ones whose leaders were atheist, materialist and who didn’t believe in sin or Judgment Day.
Free from the civilizational restraints that for over 2,500 were codified in the Judeo-Christian traditions of intellectual thought and culture, tyrannous despots were free to build their communist empires upon the corpses of those who not only disagreed with them, but paradoxically upon the corpses of the tens of millions of “useful idiots” that foolishly believed in Marxist communism propaganda and who were disposed of when their usefulness to their totalitarian masters expired.
Such is the endless, ignominious and predictable refrain of despair, tragedy and genocide humanity has been subjected to as a litany of Marxist dictators entered the world’s stage at the dawn of the 20th century – Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Beria, Mussolini, Mao, Hitler, Kim Il-Sung, Che Guevara, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Suharto and many others who skillfully exploited Marx and Engel’s communist ideology to give intellectual legitimacy to their totalitarian regimes.
Some Western intellectuals sympathetic to Marxist thought have argued that Marx and Engels’ “Communist Party Manifesto” is a purely theoretical work whose ideas were birthed in the quiet, monastic solitude of Europe’s libraries; however, ideas are not stagnant. These were given birth, developed and ruthlessly applied in the perverted, wicked minds of the irredeemable tyrants cited above.
That many socialists, liberals, progressives, academics, leftist intellectuals and communist sympathizers to this day continue to defend the general suppositions of communist thought as espoused by Marx and Engels (Cornel West’s “non-Marxist socialism,” for example) is to foolishly ignore the substantive aspects of Marxist communism – one of the most murderous and diabolical ideas of the 20th century.
One of the memorable quotes by that great literary titan and a courageous foe of communism, Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), who left this mortal plain last Sunday, uttered these prescient words regarding the intrinsic qualities of Marxist communism: Communism will always be totalitarian and violent, wherever it is practiced. There was nothing special in the Russian conditions which affected the outcome.