A Bicentennial Reflection: The Effectual Truth of Marxism and Marx

It is now 200 years since Karl Marx was born. Especially as self-described socialists gain attention, it is once again time for a reckoning on the Marxism of Marx. Marx famously spoke in 1848 of a specter haunting Europe—the “specter of Communism.” All the powers in the world, he noted, had entered into a “holy alliance” to “exorcise” the presence of communism from the European and world stage. At the same time, Marx announced the death knell of the political and economic order he unilaterally called “capitalism.” In the guise of a merely “scientific” analysis, he denounced this order for dehumanizing human beings and for leading to the comprehensive “pauperization” of the vast proletarian underbelly of modern industrial society. Today, we are more likely to pronounce the death of Marxism than of the liberal capitalist order that gave rise to Marx’s fear and loathing.

Ingeniously combining pseudo-science and moral indignation, Marx limned a vision of a post-historical and post-political order without contradictions or conflict, one that would achieve unprecedented prosperity and a new horizon marked by “human emancipation.” This would be the realization and triumph of something Marx mysteriously called “species-being.” A prophet of historical inevitability, Marx was also a committed “voluntarist” who welcomed revolutionary eruptions where they occurred. His occasional preference for armed putsches against the “class enemy” is apparent in his enthusiasm for the French revolutionary commune of 1871. It is evident as well in his flirtation with the idea that communist revolution could begin in Russia, even if it didn’t meet all the official Marxist preconditions of industrial development necessary for socialist revolution (on this, see his and Engels’ 1882 preface to the Russian edition of The Communist Manifesto). [1]

Emancipating the World

Economist, prophet of capitalism’s doom and an inevitable and blissful communist future, and revolutionary agitator par excellence, Marx hated the world as it was. His goal was “revolution”—not merely political revolution or “political emancipation,” but a wholesale change in the order of things: the aforementioned “human emancipation.” For the German ideologist, there was no human nature or “natural order of things” that needed to be respected even as one worked to promote humane and salutary change. It is a mistake to apply categories such as “eternal justice” to Marx’s political reflection. As he put it in 1845 in his “Theses on Feuerbach,” “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it.” This comes from the young Marx but it remained a profound sentiment of his until his death in 1883. Marx was not an advocate of reform, however radical. He did not work for “social justice” like a good humanitarian. Instead, he advocated something like “metaphysical rebellion” against the human condition. His humanism—and historicism—were distinctively inhumane and entailed something like a “gnostic” revolt against reality. Eric Voegelin and Alain Besançon have demonstrated as much and they have yet to be refuted convincingly.

For those looking for a humane alternative to the consumer society, and to the excesses of “late capitalism,” Marx does not in any way challenge the established view that the modern project ought to culminate in the thoroughgoing “conquest of nature.” He praised capitalist globalization as its most noble and desirable feature and had no quarrel with a materialist cornucopia as the final goal of human existence (even if the young Marx—the one attractive to the New Left—sometimes prefers “being” to“having”). In his early years, Marx sometimes preferred “authenticity” to material prosperity. But that is not the conclusion of mature Marxism.

Rousseau, for all his other faults, provides a much more humane and convincing alternative to the pathologies of commercial society. His thought retained some real connections with the classical emphasis on self-restraint and the incompatibility of “luxury” with republican virtue. Nor can Marx’s thought provide a philosophical grounding for calls for social equity and the promotion of a genuinely civic common good. Marx was not the first philosopher or political economist to speak of “class struggle.” Aristotle, Madison, and Guizot knew of the phenomenon well before Marx. They, unlike Marx, tried to moderate—and calibrate—class struggle in the name of justice and the common good. These indispensable categories have no place whatsoever in the political economy or political philosophy of Marx. Marx thus cannot provide the intellectual foundations of a decent, moderate, or responsible Left in our democratic societies. To suggest otherwise is to engage in wishful thinking and the worst kind of philosophical and historical revisionism.

Some, like the distinguished Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, think Marx became relevant again, in fact, ever more relevant, after the fall of European communism. On this account, the Marxism of Marx no longer has to carry the noose of Soviet communism around its neck. The Soviet tragedy is thus consigned to the past and questions about Marx’s (partial) responsibility for the tragedies of the 20th century can be safely ignored. Marx thus becomes a cipher or symbol for any and all reservations about capitalist modernity. This leads to absurdities in MacIntyre’s own thought: Marx, the scourge of “the idiocy of village life,” somehow justifies the conservative communitarianism to be found in isolated Icelandic and Irish fishing villages! Marx, a thoroughgoing modernist and cosmopolitan, would be appalled.

Marx himself spoke of the necessary unity of theory and practice and promoted class struggle, violent revolution, and the leap from historical “necessity” to revolutionary “freedom” wherever he could. He did not promote the bloodless academic theory that Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek call “the idea of communism,” even as they write half-ironic encomiums to liberating terror under Lenin, Stalin, and Mao (they seem particularly obsessed with the “glories” of the Cultural Revolution, that Maoist descent into reckless murder, mayhem, and cultural destruction). Marxism has become the last refuge for assorted fools, frauds, and scoundrels, and apologists for totalitarianism in the academy.

Unlike the neo-communists, MacIntyre to his credit takes moral virtue seriously and thus refuses to justify the unjustifiable. His indulgence towards Marx is consequently all the more mysterious, perhaps a residue of the anti-bourgeois ire that inspired him as a young Marxist theorist and activist. Anti-bourgeois ire can unite the Stalinist activist and the communitarian romantic without relativizing or identifying the two stances. None of this is to suggest that we must rest content with a “market ideology” that announces soulless globalization as our fate. Non-Marxists might learn to rediscover the “political” in political economy even if in a distinctly non-Marxist way.

At the same time, MacIntyre’s ahistorical appropriation of Marx evades the necessary task of assigning responsibility for the ravages of Marxist-Leninism in the 20th century.

What Naturally Follows from Revolution

It will not do, as the admirable Polish philosopher Lezsek Kolakowski argued more than once, to rest content with the claim that Marx would have been appalled by the gulag archipelago, or Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist repression, or Stalin’s “cult of personality.” [2] That’s probably true, even if Marx’s powerful invective mocked “formal freedoms” and endorsed the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as a necessary step on the way toward that vagary he called “human emancipation” under which the state would somehow mysteriously “wither away.” The great French anti-communist social and political thinker Raymond Aron was fascinated with the “Marxism of Marx” and thought that Marx was in certain moments an economist of real talent and “rich and subtle” insights. But, as Aron argued, it was Marx’s transparently “false ideas” that left their terrible mark on the 20th century: His doctrine of “surplus value” encouraged nationalization of even small businesses and trades as well as the illusion that one could eliminate markets and the “economic realm” altogether (see for example Lenin’s “War Communism”). Both Aron and Kolakowski understood that the search for total unity, “species-being,” or a society without conflict, led inexorably to unprecedented tyranny. Political liberty and the “formal” or “constitutional” freedoms had a dignity that Marx never began truly to appreciate. As Aron argued in the conclusion of his Mémoires (1983), as an “economist-prophet” Marx was a “putative ancestor of Marxist-Leninism,” and thus a “cursed sophist who holds his part of responsibility in the horrors of the twentieth century.” This fact cannot be denied or ignored without turning a willfully blind eye to the darkest realities of the 20th century.

In The Soviet Tragedy (1994), the remarkable Russianist Martin Malia has persuasively demonstrated the essential connection between the Marxism of Marx and the murderous totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. “Maximalist socialism” of the Leninist-Stalinist variety finds powerful support in the “four abolitions” unapologetically put forward in the second part of The Communist Manifesto (1848): the abolition of private property, the abolition of the traditional family, the abolition of religion, and the abolition of countries and nations. How does one abolish these “moral contents of life” without an unprecedented project of tyranny, terror, and centralization? And how does one expect a “revolutionary state,” fully endorsed by Marx, to somehow “wither away”? In his Letter to the Soviet Leaders (1974), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn correctly diagnosed Marx with “sheer ignorance of human nature.” Of course, Marx and Engels wryly suggested that bourgeois capitalism was already “abolishing” these traditional contents of human life and communism would simply consign them more quickly to the grave. But Malia’s central point holds: Communism, from Petrograd to the South China Seas, entailed an unremitting war on what Marx himself called the “material and spiritual elements of life.” The post-communist utopia is a chimera, deeply at odds with human nature, a vision of the future that is literally unthinkable. Leninist-Stalinism is the effectual truth of the Marxism of Marx whether Marx intended it or not. It is at a minimum one legitimate and even predictable outcome of the Marxist project.

Eric Voegelin perhaps went too far when he called Marx an “intellectual swindler” in his polemical and provocative Science, Politics, and Gnosticism (1959). In that work, Voegelin accused Marx, with some justification, of refusing to allow certain questions to even be asked. What would Voegelin make of the passage in the second part of the Manifesto where Marx shamelessly declares that “the charges against Communism from a religious, a philosophical, and, generally, from an ideological standpoint, are not deserving of serious attention”? Can we call such an unrelieved dogmatist a philosopher open to the truth of things? We have here a portent of the nationalization of the mind that would be the fate of human beings under actual socialism. The essential human questions asked by religion and philosophy were banned by the ideocratic state. Marx bears a heavy responsibility for the closure to the life of reason that marked every communist society in the 20th century. As we see, multiple roads lead from the Marxism of Marx to the tragedies of the 20th century.

Questions Foreclosed

Can we still learn from Marx? Of course we can, despite everything. In a 1984 essay called “Totalitarianism and the Problem of Political Representation,” the French political philosopher Pierre Manent, no Marxist of any stripe, shows how Marx’s “On the Jewish Question” (1843) continues to illuminate the dynamics of a liberal order (we of course have nothing to learn from Marx’s violent invective in that piece against Judaism as a form of “hucksterism”). As Manent shows, Marx brilliantly demonstrates the diminutio capitis that the “contents of life” undergo in a liberal society. The modern representative state exists to protect rights: As Manent paraphrases Marx, “in order for there to be religious freedom, there has to be religion, to have economic liberty,” there must be private property and a market economy.

The liberal capitalist order thus presupposes property, family, religion, knowledge and so forth. But it only fully recognizes individuals with their rights. A conservative or conservative liberal can draw from Marx a most unMarxian conclusion: the goods of life must not be unduly eroded if the liberal order is to have meaningful “contents of life” that it can truly protect and “represent.” Of course, Marx’s path is not that of liberal conservatism: he wants to replace the partial “political emancipation” promoted by liberal capitalism with a wholly untenable “human emancipation.” Marx thus radicalizes and makes even more troubling the spiritual quandary of a liberal society. Marx continues to merit attentive reading leavened by alertness to the dogmatism, revolutionary impatience, and the quest for “metaphysical rebellion” that ultimately make his thought dangerous and untenable. But we do not want to imitate Marx in closing off these questions prematurely. Every student of politics and political philosophy must spend time with Marx, even if only to learn what to avoid.

[1] Robert C. Tucker’s Marx-Engels Reader (W.W. Norton, 1972)remains the most accessible and comprehensive collection of these writings.

[2] Leszek Kolakowski, “The Marxist Roots of Stalinism” (1977), The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Reappraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism, edited by F. Flagg Taylor IV (ISI Books, 2011), pp. 156-176.

Reader Discussion

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on July 30, 2018 at 11:53:32 am

I like Aron, but his claim that Marx's ideas are "transparently false" is itself transparently false. It should go without saying that a close study of Marx's writings, or some of them, is an absolute necessity for for any philosopher, political theorist, economist or just well-educated person today. It is no exaggeration to say that Marx is probably the most consequential Western political thinker since Plato and Aristotle. The practical effect of his ideas, even as elaborated/distorted by Lenin, Trotsky, Mao and many others, their implication in the unprecedented tyrannies of the 20th century and the deaths of up to 100 million people, demand this conclusion, whether or not one approves of Marx's ideas or thinks them sound or persuasive. And despite these horrors, the sheer fact that Marx continues to appeal to a large number of Western philosophers and political thinkers demonstrates that there is a great deal to be learned from him and that establishing the errors of his thought is anything but simple.

The same is true of the critical theorists of the Frankfurt school and others (particularly Foucault) who are routinely dismissively disparaged by conservative writers when their work contains much of value, the refutation and even criticism of which is no easy task.

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on July 30, 2018 at 12:55:06 pm

This is a good essay. There is, however, one other important teaching that conservatives can learn from Marx. As early as “The Communist Manifesto,” he and Engels emphasized that capitalism does not conserve anything. It is the solvent of tradition. “All that is solid melts into air.” Egotistical calculation reinvents everything (religion, morality, politics, culture) in its own image. Eventually, capitalism even destroys the bourgeois institutions and practices (e.g., the rule of law, constitutional government, private property, the family) that it brought into being, thus ensuring the triumph of socialism. As Lenin put it, communists will just kick in the rotting door. Corporations today that work with the radical left in undermining traditional mores and practices are only proving Marx right, and sealing their fate.

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Grant Havers
on July 30, 2018 at 13:01:25 pm

You completely misconstrued what I wrote. Aron believed that Marx was often insightful as an economist and social observer. But his "transparently false" ideas (and they are false)--the illusion that human nature can be fundamentally changed, his support for the "four abolitions," his mocking of political liberty or "formal freedoms," his belief in the "dictatorship of the proletariat," and his contempt for markets, had a devastating impact on the course of history. And then there is the matter of his refusal to countenance any philosophical or religious challenges to Communism. Voegelin is right: Marx is not worthy of being called a philosopher because he angrily and dogmatically closed off fundamental human questions.

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Daniel J. Mahoney
on July 30, 2018 at 14:06:52 pm

I won't quibble over the awarding of an honorary degree. Whether Marx is properly titled a philosopher is beside the point. Marx often employed a highly polemical style in service to his 11th thesis on Feuerbach. Deny him the title of philosopher and his influence on human and thought is not thereby diminished. Hobbes could be acerbic in style and unequivocal in substance; is he also not a proper philosopher?

Regardless, I stand by my rejection of "transparent." Transparent means obvious, easily seen though; I don't believe that is true of Marx (maybe it is true of some of his statements, but any thinker who writes as much as he did is bound somewhere to have made a transparently false statement). As for the devastating impact of his thought, this was exactly my point, exactly why I rank his importance to political thought as I do. Moreover, to the extent that many of Marx's ideas are, today, almost self-evidently wrong, the reason for that is that they were so widely accepted, adopted and institutionalized over the course of an entire century. Marxian Utopias were constructed all across the globe on a grand scale and they all failed spectacularly, but absent that demonstrated failure, it would be impossible to refute his contempt for bourgeois liberty and markets or to pronounce as illusory his idea that human nature could be fundamentally changed.

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on July 30, 2018 at 14:51:18 pm

I congratulate Professor Mahoney on such civic writing by a religious representative. Thank you.

“Marx continues to merit attentive reading leavened by alertness to the dogmatism, revolutionary impatience, and the quest for “metaphysical rebellion” that ultimately makes his thought dangerous and untenable.” I wonder if Mahoney would apply this sentence to Saul Alinsky for his 1) dogmatic claim to rights according to him, 2) his will for violence when his rights seem violated in his opinion, and 3) his Bible interpretation that castigates human beings who are not poor (perhaps and black-skinned). Perhaps Marx influenced the appearance, about in 1968, of an African-American Christianity (https://www.wsj.com/articles/dr-kings-radical-biblical-vision-1522970778) that envisions chosen people based on skin-color.

“A . . . conservative liberal can [think] the goods of life must not be unduly eroded if the liberal order is to have meaningful ‘contents of life’ that it can truly protect and ‘represent.’” My view of this idea is individual liberty with civic morality, where “civic” implies citizens mutually preserving comprehensive safety and security regardless of subordinate associations such as religion, society, civilization, or philosophy. An individual may civically be non-religious, not own property or equities, and pursue personal happiness; in other words, without offending other people.

I like the phrase “the truth of things,” and wonder if it is similar to or a synonym of a favorite expression, “the-objective-truth,” which can only be discovered rather than reasoned.

I appreciate knowing the “four abolitions” and in future will point out that my work to promote civic integrity using the preamble to the U.S. Constitution opposes the abolitions. The work already makes those claims without delineating the four.

It’s harsh, but I appreciate the statement, “Marxism has become the last refuge for assorted fools, frauds, and scoundrels, and apologists for totalitarianism in the academy.” It verifies my will to accept ultimatums such as “I am a Marxist and do not want to hear your ideas anymore.” Both atheism and theism are leaps of faith I cannot take.
“Marx thus cannot provide the intellectual foundations of a decent, moderate, or responsible Left in our democratic societies.” Democratic societies are subordinate to We the People of the United States. Citizens divide themselves on the agreement that is offered in the preamble: civic citizens who adopt the agreement and dissidents. It is a legal agreement in that civic citizens collaborate for human justice during their cognitive decades. Thus, they are alert to civil injustices and discipline legislators to legislate corrective laws and institutions. The dissidents who are lawful depend on civic citizens to notice their needs and collaborate for them. Dissidents who are unlawful risk constraint. None of the subordinate societies can be democratic, because they must conform to the representative republic that they live in or We the People of the United States. The preamble’s agreement created an ineluctable march toward civic integrity.

Once an individual discovers the possibility of civic integrity, “Rousseau’s self-restraint and republican virtue, social equity, and the civic common good, and class struggle in the name of justice and the common good” fall to fidelity to the-objective-truth. It is a comprehensive fidelity that extends to self, family, and the people. The common good is mutual, comprehensive safety and security. Civic justice accepts the human being as he or she is. Every human being has the individual power, the individual energy, and the individual authority (IPEA) to either develop integrity or not. Whereas honesty involves freely sharing opinion, integrity involves the work to understand discovery, behave accordingly, share the understanding to listen to ideas for improvement, and alertness to new discovery that requires change. Social equity is a private affair, and civic equity is appreciation for each person’s IPEA. Humans who do not develop integrity possess civic equity, but criminals, evils, and other offenders may suffer statutory justice.
Could “Marxism” be defined as “fear and loathing” against “the liberal capitalist order”? How about: social or communitarian resistance to the-objective-truth?

I hope civic citizens will encourage people, especially children, to consider IPEA and consider developing integrity. The agreement offered in the preamble and collaboration to discover and use the-objective-truth are two approaches I try to discuss and improve.

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Phil Beaver
on July 30, 2018 at 15:39:10 pm

I am wholly unsuited to participate in a serious discussion of Marx's philosophical merits since I see none and can only second Mahoney's seconding of Voegelin's conclusion that "Marx is not worthy of being called a philosopher because he angrily and dogmatically closed off fundamental human questions."

As for Marx's commonplace socialist thinking about what he perceived as capitalism's Achilles heel, his fantastic if empathetic notion of history's inevitable response to society's endemic suffering and his bizarre theories of class struggle and human nature which are the readily-dismissible engines of his thought, a mere Time Magazine essay written by a mere journalist in the counter-cultural 1960's would have sufficed to capture their lack of profundity. Further deference and study of Marx's soi disant "Truth" is unwarranted, although all high schools and colleges should require in-depth study of his Consequences, "The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression."

Finally, there is the odd notion that Marx (and the cultural Marxists who are ever-trying to patch-up and compensate for their revered leader's ever-fashionable failures of thought) is worthy of serious study as a "political thinker" because he was politically consequential. By such logic one would give serious thought to the thinking qua thought of "Mein Kampf" or "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung." To the contrary, if the disastrous political consequences of disastrous political thought are society's existential concern what is called for is not philosophical deference, rational debate or intellectual respect of such thought but its vilification and disparagement; continuous, unremitting, comprehensive vilipend of the man, all of his theory and all of their advocates.

Ad hominem is an honored tactic and has its important place when the strategic purpose is victory over the pernicious ideals and forces of an enemy. As Eric Hoffer has taught, a True Believer is beyond the pale of reason.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 30, 2018 at 16:29:58 pm

Like I said above, treating something seriously and giving it your approbation are two different things. If you don't think that historians and scholars of fascism treat Mein Kampf and Hitler's speeches seriously, then you haven't paid attention. I have to say I'm a bit stunned at what I perceive to be the suggestion that the only acceptable treatment of Marx is to merely vilify him and denounce his ideas unrelentingly. How can you denounce what you haven't bothered to read and try to understand? How can you even know whether the monstrous effects of so-called Marxist political regimes were caused by Marx's ideas or by someone else's ideas masquerading as Marx's ideas? How can you outsource your understanding to someone else's Black Book? To (try to) understand something is not to defer to it, nor to debate it (except within your own thinking) nor to respect it in the sense of approbation.

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on July 30, 2018 at 16:37:46 pm

No question Marx remains relevant and worth engaging. Whether they admit it or not, liberals have learned a great deal from Marx, especially his critique of "negative freedom" as meaningless to people who lack the means to take advantage of such freedom because of abject poverty. The development of the welfare state owes much to Marx (though it should be pointed out that Marx was hardly alone in noticing the gap between the proclaimed virtues of liberal freedom and the reality of life for many nineteenth-century people).

I think for us today the most pressing issue is Marx's hatred for what he called "private freedom." Quoting from the best book on Marxism I have read, Walicki's Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom,

"He saw no positive value in privacy; his ideal was the total subordination of the private sphere to the public sphere, the extension of the scope of political decisions to all spheres of life and thus the abolition of the autonomous existence of the economy. He accepted political freedom only on the condition that it was not combined with the rights of man, conceived of as the right of individuals to limit the scope of collective control over them and thus to restrain popular sovereignty. If we define totalitarianism as unlimited power, we have to agree with Friedrich Hayek that liberalism is the opposite of totalitarianism, while democracy wielding totalitarian power is perfectly conceivable." (Walicki, p 29-30).

Walicki's point in his book is to show that the collectivist violence of the twentieth century was not a distortion of Marx, but a faithful carrying out of Marx's view that rights and private freedom, including property, were destructive of true community and obstacles to true democracy. The New Left advanced and embraced this same attack against liberalism, and still carries it forward today, often with ironic references to a Right to Privacy. I see in the panopticon of our social media era a similar tendency, a tendency away from the maintenance of private space and towards a world in which everything, in particular every view and belief, is subject to the authority and censure of the public. I think this is worrisome and a result of our taking for granted of the value of privacy. As seen very clearly in Marx, there will always be with us those who resent privacy and will look to undermine or overthrow it in the service of the "greater good." Not incidentally, Kenneth Minogue was very critical of this development in our social life, especially in The Servile Mind.

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on July 30, 2018 at 18:07:24 pm

I did not say and you know I did not say (or imply) that the threat of Marxism or National Socialism or of Marxists or Nazis should not be taken seriously. I did say that in some ideological cases, Marxism most infamous among them, the intellectual theories that once filled the heads (and still fill the heads) of the perpetrators (then and now) of that threat are no longer deserving of the intellectual exchange or debate which you appear prepared to grant them. Those who threaten my country with Marxism (and they are legion) are uninterested in debating about its theories. Defending my country against its enemies, I feel the same way.

Please learn what you will from Marx and debate with whom you will about his vacuous notions. I am not among your participants in that ridiculous enterprise. Of Marxian apologetics we've had enough.

In any event, I stand sharply scolded by you, a deplorable, no doubt, by your lights but plead innocence of your principal charge of existential indifference.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 30, 2018 at 18:55:20 pm

If the arguments by some commenters is simply that Marx was *consequential* - then Absotively YES!
Then again, the firebombing of Dresden was consequential - and yes, there is something to be learned from that as well as there is something of a like nature to be garnered from Marx's semi coherent, all embracing world historical schemate replete with selective "facts", statistics, etc. Goodness gracious, three centuries after some common monk in a French abbey developed and refined a more proper and accurate theory of "pricing" and "value", the great propagandist could only come up with his surplus theory of value. The surplus, my friends, was in the sheer volume of verbiage Marx required to pass off his flawed theories.

As for a rational, insightful critic of liberal capitalism, I prefer Tocqueville who also cautioned against the dissolutive tendencies within liberalism / capitalism without engendering successive waves of tyranny and mass extermination.

A philosopher - NO; a dutiful / dedicated propagandist - YES.

After video review, I find that the firebombing of Dresden was less "consequentially harmful" than was Marx and his "faithful" (not aberrant) followers.

A Pox on him and his birthday!

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on July 30, 2018 at 19:26:18 pm

Well as a fellow deplorable I stand equally scolded if I misread your (or Mahoney's) intentions. A posture of unflinching resistance to those oafs who would satisfy their petulance in a farcical repetition of Marxism is right, and I stand in the same posture.

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on July 30, 2018 at 19:49:57 pm

QET, we're talking past each other, both of us headed toward the same goal on separate tracks, both correct and principled.

You mean to say Marxism is history's horror case in Lessons Learned. (Sort of a Democrat Party-very lite, so far:) That's true, and I agree.

I mean to say that non-malevolent people with a brain have already learned the hard lessons of that horrible history and its theories and that we risk dignifying both the myriad defenders (still) of that history and its malignant motivating theories (embraced by modern Democrats and, now, Democrat Socialists) by debating with them or about them or according them even a smidgeon of value or constructive purpose.

No circular firing squad, here. That's the way of Establishment Republicans:)

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 30, 2018 at 20:34:09 pm

It's true that 98% of those who routinely accuse this stifle or that "Marxism" have never read anything more that the Manifesto. And 99% have not read even that.

I remember a Marxist in graduate school years ago lamenting how rare ti was to meet a "Marxist" who had read anything but pamphlets. under 50. I haven't met another actual student of Marx in the 52 years since (unless I count Paul Gottfried. I conclude that of an examination of Marx's impact should concentrate on the psychology of the zealots who track the shadow Marxism.

It's true that he shared some insights with the anti-liberal reactionaries of his day bu that doesn't stand out as original. In any case a serious study of "Marxism" should start with his failures as scientific prophet. Capitalism stumbles on and on. Socialism fails and fails.

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on July 30, 2018 at 22:13:41 pm

There is a relatively harmless pastime called "Timber Tower," a diversion in which players construct a tower by stacking wooden blocks, then taken turns removing them until the structure collapses. The winner is the last person to remove a block and leave the rest standing.

An analogous thought experiment can be performed with the ideologies of Karl Marx. Take his writings, The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital, On the Jewish Question, etc., and remove one sentence at a time, with the goal of leaving intact the thought that was responsible for the inhuman excesses of collectivism; mass murder, gulags, and such. Now start over, only this time try to leave intact those thoughts that make Marx appealing to a certain class of "intellectuals" and "activists.," removing everything else. How much will the respective remnants have in common?

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on July 31, 2018 at 05:12:05 am

Michael Oakeshott "reflected extensively on the importance of politics in people's lives ... a reflection on political activity may take place at various levels, one of these being philosophy. But what makes politics unique is that it is grounded in real life, which is composed of both action and contemplation. Political ideology, on the other hand, masquerades as philosophy and it 'purports to be an abstract set of principles, or a set of related abstract principles, which has been independently premeditated.'

Regressing further into a theoretical abstraction is a hallmark of political ideology. ... political ideology is not concerned with an organic opening and development of the mind. Rather, it has an attachment to a particular abstract principle and it forces the reality to fit into that principle. ..." etc., etc.

from "Learning for Life: Political Education According to Michael Oakeshott"
Emina Melonic at liberty law site - July 25, 2018

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A Scribe
on July 31, 2018 at 08:27:23 am

The process of forcibly driving the square peg of calculated political expediency (which had been disguised as "independently premeditated" philosophical principle in pursuit of abstract moral objective) into the round hole of nature's and society's reality was the means and the ends of Marxism, Progressivism, Leninism, Hitlerism, Stalinism and Maoism and is, today, the means and ends of the Democrat Party. That's why, not so quietly, modern Democrats are engaged in a crypto-celebration of Marx's bicentennial by reformulating as "new" his old, essential political ideology and re-disguising as a "philosophy of social justice" their historical commitment to Marx's old, essential political goals.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on July 31, 2018 at 13:52:36 pm

Check out Kungfoochimp's review of "Prairie Fire," by wannabe Communists Bernadine Dohrn & Bill Ayers. Also, read the comments to his review for a dose of reality, especially those written by someone who calls himself or herself "Publius."


Communism is a Utopian dream that always evolves into dystopia. The dream is pure fantasy that can't happen in the real world. But the tyranny, misery, & repression that always accompany attempts to realize the dream are real.

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Milt Morris
on August 03, 2018 at 20:27:31 pm

[…] 1. Professor Daniel J. Mahoney, the pride of Assumption College, marks Marx’s bicentennial in Law & Liberty with this takedown of one of history’s most consequential fines. From his piece: […]

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Why I Remain a Fervent Marxist – Full Magazine
on August 29, 2019 at 12:36:41 pm

This is best documentary of all the time like I always said Marxism is a religion, to the Orthodox Marxism as any believer in Faith the opponent is not merely error but sin, Marx is not merely a prophet but a believer of mankind, he predicted the inevitable doom capitalism, his ideal is more potent than ever in history, its the doctrine that prove the complete return of man to himself as a social an no any other nexus between man, society could live on equal basis from each according to his ability to each according to his need, when the relations of production and the corresponding superstructure became straight forward highjack an they became fetters transform to a new modern economy that provide the material reality of their life, Marx trembles other patriarch idyllic relation in the icy water of egotistical calculation cham less an direct brutal exploitation, this is because nothing can have value without being an object of utility, so the present day capitalist develop technology by combining all system together as a social whole by sapping the original source of labour which is the soil an the labourer, there is need of Marxism ideology to eradicate this antagonistic relation more especially in my country Nigeria, the only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain, the apothegm dogma an Marxist dictum with force capitalism away in the future world.

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on August 29, 2019 at 13:00:47 pm

This is great idea, I'm happy an not surprise with the current events that occurred,this is because Marx could not for see the emergence of political democracy as a system protector soluble capitalism mechanism for managing diversity, they have to be burst asunder as they were burst asunder.

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on August 29, 2019 at 13:07:23 pm

Thanks sir, I wish u long live an good time, this contribution can bring up young student like me to learn more an more from Marxist ideology.

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