You are here:   Features > A spectre haunting Europe: Karl Marx
 
The economist John Maynard Keynes is supposed to have said: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” But Marx refused to change his mind. He tried to make the facts fit his theory, and he never finished Das Kapital. (Incidentally, a signed copy of the first and only volume to be published in Marx's lifetime is now on sale from a dealer in Vienna for €1.5 million [£1,365,000]. This staggering price indicates that among the devotees of Das Kapital must be some very rich capitalists.)

Unable to admit that he had been wrong all along, Marx became ever more dogmatic and intolerant. He had no time for British achievements such as free trade, free speech or the abolition of slavery, nor for reformers such as William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury, Elizabeth Fry, Florence Nightingale and John Stuart Mill.

There is no evidence that Marx cared about liberty, democracy or the rule of law. He showed no gratitude for the protection of the law that he, as a refugee and exile, was given in Britain. Nor did he appreciate the freedom of the press that enabled him to publish anything he liked, including articles claiming that the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, was a Russian agent. Over more than three decades that Marx lived in London, he never had to dread that the police would come knocking on his door in the middle of the night.

Yet the secret police turned out to be essential to realising the Marxist vision. Even one of his admirers called him “a democratic dictator” — though there was nothing democratic about him, whatever John McDonnell may say. Like Comrades Corbyn and McDonnell, Marx was a conspiracy theorist.

Indeed, Marx is the ultimate source of the latest brand of conspiracy theory: left-wing anti-Semitism, which has spread like an epidemic in Corbyn’s Labour Party. Though he was the grandson of a rabbi, his first significant publication was an essay, On the Jewish Question, which has become notorious for its vicious and scatological hostility to Jews and Judaism. It claims that Jews worship money and created Christianity in order to attain world domination. Later, he demonised Jewish bankers: “Behind every tyrant there is a Jew.” Marx’s anti-Semitism was no mere foible: for scholars of the subject such as Julius Carlebach, it was the “indispensable link between Luther and Hitler”.

Yes, Marx still matters. Having given birth to some of the most evil chapters of modern history, his personality and ideas continue to exercise a baleful influence on our world. His bewhiskered bust glares down at us in Highgate Cemetery, reproaching posterity for failing to obey his diktat. When this huge and hideous monument was unveiled in 1956, the Guardian gushed about its “formidable benignity”, evidently awed by “the man whose spirit now dominates approximately half the world”. That year, Soviet tanks crushed the Hungarians.

Even today, plenty of people, including some who should know better, persist in seeing Marx as a prophet. But prophets prophesy; he dictated. It is time to consign Karl Marx and all his works to the dustbin of history. 
View Full Article
Tags:
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 
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.

Penrod
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.

LL
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.

Pat
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.

anonymous
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.

Lance
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.

formwiz
June 8th, 2018
9:06 PM
In the space of a century, Communism took the lives of 125 million people. Not even Islam killed that many in that space of time. Fact is, the abject failure of Communism has required the liquidation of so many dissatisfied with it.

Tom Billings
June 8th, 2018
9:06 PM
The idea that Marx did not know the quality of what his disciples would do is belied by his own writings. He knew. Marxist reaction against the market freedoms of action, of other people, has been a standard of 20th Century academia, because academics always assumed the State would be there for them. Mostly, they've been right about that. However, that may be coming to an end. In particular, the collapse of the definition by Marx's funder Friedrich Engels' of the industrial revolution, will bring joy to many. Engels' definition was used to justify calling "the socialist camp" an industrialized" society, when it barely reached the productivity of pre-industrial society. It will be interesting to see the progress under the definition academics shoved aside in the 1920s for that of Engels, by Arnold Toynbee: “When a society moves from allocating resources by custom and tradition (moderns read here, by politics) to allocating resources by markets, they may be said to have undergone an industrial revolution” Arnold Toynbee-1884 This was the standard definition in 1920. Then came academia's romanticist infatuation with a certain Communist State, and the substitution of Engels' "hunks of stuff" definition. Toynbee's won't be the last word, but it is a far better starting point than Engels.

TMLutas
June 8th, 2018
8:06 PM
Proletarian logic is probably the least covered and the worst of Marx's innovations. Denying the legitimacy of criticism based on the class origins and non-proletarian thoughts of those who are anti-communist means never having to admit you are wrong. This makes it so much easier to keep defective philosophies alive and has led a collection of nonsense ideas to gain a patina of marxism by association and by that association survive their own challenges and debunkings. Until proletarian logic and truth become unacceptable in academia, Marxism will always have a safe haven there and we will never be rid of the stuff.

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.