While those who live in my part of the country were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, others honored the birth of the infamous Karl Marx. The New York Times, the newspaper that inherited the role of the old Soviet Pravda as the mouth of communism, celebrated the bicentennial of the birth of Karl with a tribute headlined “Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!”
But what was Marx right about? The author says he was correct in predicting that
Marx’s basic thesis — that capitalism is driven by a deeply divisive class struggle in which the ruling-class minority appropriates the surplus labor of the working-class majority as profit — is correct. Even liberal economists such as Nouriel Roubini agree that Marx’s conviction that capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself remains as prescient as ever... according to Oxfam, 82 percent of the global wealth generated in 2017 went to the world’s richest 1 percent.
Marx might disagree with the NYT that the US is a capitalist nation. After all, the US adopted nine of the ten points in his Communist Manifesto. But before it did so, capitalism had reduced inequality from its peak in the late 19th century to historically low levels by World War I in the US and UK. Inequality continued to decline in spite of the rise of socialism but has risen mildly in the last generation. Oxfam intended to inflame the envy of readers by implying that the wealthy stole what others produced. But the truth is that wealth tends to go to those who produce it.
Marx predicted that the wealthy would so impoverish the proletariat that the working class would rise up in violent rebellion. Again, Marx was wrong. No one has benefited more from capitalism than the working classes who are about 30 times wealthier today than in Marx’s day.
Did Marx predict the more than 100 million people that communists murdered or killed in wars they launched in the 20th century, the one century that historians have labeled the bloodiest in the history of mankind? That includes the 12 million murdered by Nazis (National Socialists), 30 million by Stalin and 30 million by Mao. The author wants socialism to disown that history: “There is still a great deal to be learned from their disasters, but their philosophical relevance remains doubtful, to say the least.”
It’s doubtful only because socialists are ashamed of their history. Socialists today claim Marxism has never been tried so we can’t say it has failed. But that is fake history. Hitler, Stalin and Mao worshipped Marx almost as a deity and were far more devoted to his teachings than the author or any living socialist. Claiming that those men were not trying to implement Marx’s teaching is the height of dishonesty. But Marxism dominates the history profession that is trying to expunge socialism’s record.
If Marx wasn’t prescient, maybe he was original: “But Marx’s innovation was to stand idealistic deference — not just to God but to any divine authority — on its head.”
Sorry, Jason. Wrong again. The dethroning of deities began with the French Revolution, not Marx. The best history of the origins of atheism is The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World by Alister McGrath. The best history of the fabrication of socialism is FA Hayek’s The Counter-Revolution in Science. Hayek found nothing original in Marx. Saint-Simon and his followers, especially Comte, invented it all.
Readers should note that the author of the eulogy to Marx teaches philosophy, not economics. The evangelism for Marx comes almost exclusively from the humanities and social sciences. That is the ultimate insult to Marx, who thought of himself as an economist attempting to impact economic theory. Socialists lost the economic debate with the collapse of the USSR and socialism in Eastern Europe and China in the 1980s. Since then they have been forced to rely on environmental hysteria and inflaming the perception of oppression on the part of minorities, women and homosexuals to advance Marxism.
Socialism succeeded at resurrecting envy and transforming it into a virtue. Christianity had labored for 1500 years to suppress envy and instantiate Christian individualism. It succeeded first in the Dutch Republic of the 17th century, then in England, the US and Western Europe where per capita income, especially of the working classes, began a sustainable rise for the first time in history.
Karl Marx had nothing to do with any of it. He plagiarized the Saint-Simonians and then to hide his crime insulted them as unscientific. His gullible followers ate it up. Marx was nothing but a good salesman.
That the humanities and social sciences in academia and the mainstream press continue to worship Marx doesn’t mean Marx was right about anything. It merely means that envy is flourishing.