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Despite his egocentric behaviour and dyspeptic disposition, the image of Marx as a man of intellectual rigour and iron integrity has been carefully cultivated ever since his death. His influence is still ubiquitous. When in the 1970s the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski wrote his three-volume history of Marxism, he was obliged to include almost every subject in the humanities; not much has changed since. When the Berlin Wall fell, some predicted the eclipse of Marx too. Yet Marx’s reputation survived and after the crash of 2008 it has undergone a resurrection.

At his graveside, Engels praised him as a man of science: “As Darwin discovered the law of the development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of the development of human history.” The widespread acceptance of such bogus claims to academic respectability explains why Tony Blair could get away with making a diehard Marxist historian such as the late Eric Hobsbawm a Companion of Honour.

Ever since the 1960s, the youthful Marx has also made a comeback, most recently in last year’s stage comedy Young Marx, written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Rory Kinnear. The authors present Marx as the hard-drinking bad boy of revolution, climbing lampposts to evade creditors and police: a genial rogue and a roguish genius.

Rather than revolutions and five-year plans, however, these days the emphasis is on spreading the gospel of “cultural Marxism” — what the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci called “the long march through the institutions”. We can see the results of that march throughout the public sector in Britain. Trade unions have always had a strong Marxist presence, from Jack Jones and Arthur Scargill in the past to today’s leader of Unite, “Red Len” McCluskey. So too have media institutions such the BBC and Channel Four — both of which have in the past employed the openly Marxist Paul Mason as an economics correspondent. And then there is Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn’s private movement of far-left loyalists, which targets moderate Labour politicians for deselection. The Home Secretary Sajid Javid once described Momentum as “a neo-fascist organisation”. Whether that is fair or not, Momentum is certainly on the march.

It’s time to take a long hard look at who Marx really was. Behind the bushy, grandfatherly beard was a ruthless, despotic megalomaniac who thought the end — a classless, collectivist society — justified any means, however violent, including what we would now call ethnic cleansing. The shocking truth is that Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot and Milosevic (to mention only a few Marxist dictators) were not necessarily unfaithful to the letter or the spirit of his writings.
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July 23rd, 2018
9:07 PM
Karl Marx was a noted backer of Abraham Lincoln for his abolition of slavery. He also spoke out for freedom of the press. Evidently the writer of this article knows little about the man. Whether he was the father of Fred Demuth has been strongly questioned by at least one leading historian - Terell Carver.

July 2nd, 2018
3:07 PM
Socialism is the delusion that everyone can have everything they want. All you need to see it fulfilled is to identify the deplorables who obstruct its arrival and set about destroying them. It's a tough job, but there are many prepared to do it.

June 25th, 2018
12:06 AM
Good and thorough article on the historical influence of Marxism and its devilish roots.

Lawrence James
June 20th, 2018
9:06 AM
Exonerating Marx from the horrors perpetrated in his name does have a moral equivalence to exonerating Jesus from say the Albigensian crusades. Remember He endorsed the Old Testament with its injunctions to slaughter neighbouring tribes. Anonymous's remarks about the Liberty claimed by the Founding Fathers is preposterous: ask a slave on Jefferson's estate, or a Sioux or Seminole.

Anthony Fountain
June 9th, 2018
2:06 AM
Perhaps, Murray, you could provide us an example where Marx's name wasn't "hijacked" and all went went swimingly.

June 9th, 2018
2:06 AM
The world would be a better place if Karl Marx’s mother had smothered him in his crib. Marxists can hardly criticize the concept of murdering an innocent for the sake of 100,000,000, either, unless they claim the 100,000,000 were the correct ones to be murdered.

June 8th, 2018
11:06 PM
"If you're going to be outraged by acknowledgement of Marx because of the atrocities committed by people who hijacked his name and philosophy to achieve their own ends, are you disparaging Jesus for the same failing? " No one hijacked Karl Marx. What happened, the millions of deaths is the corollary of an ideology that does not have limits to its power, neither to its reach. You should acknowledge that Karl Marx started an ideology of social supremacism that made possible to exterminate social classes, people, others. Acknowledge also that Karl Marx was an Hitler avant la letre with a book on "Jewish question" translated rightly "To the end of Jews" and several anti semitic articles because he saw that the Jews didn't disappeared in the culture where they lived which also made them not disappear in the socialist inferno that Marx wanted to build.

June 8th, 2018
11:06 PM
Brilliant piece. Students in high school have NO IDEA what Marx stands for and is responsible for...and how my Jewish colleagues can not see the roots of the current anti- semitism is beyond me.

June 8th, 2018
11:06 PM
Dear Murray, Fuck off with your leftist posturing. Where did Jesus ever say to enslave, rape or murder one's opponents in the name of "equality"? By giving Governments the world over the philosophical tools to centralize power in the name of "equality", Marx paved the way to Governmental oppression. If America's Founders thought it wise to protect Private Property and Liberty in the 1700's, it must be because Governmental abuse had already long existed.

June 8th, 2018
9:06 PM
Thank you for this well-written synopsis of a troubled man with troubled and flawed ideas of how society should be run.

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