July 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The thought of Karl Marx, a German political agitator whose theory of “scientific socialism” wreaked havoc on the world for most of the 20th century, would seem to have been consigned to the ash heap of history following the fall of the Eastern Bloc communist regimes from 1989 to 1991. After decades of mass murder claiming tens of millions of victims, as well as the totalitarian oppression of hundreds of millions more, the reputation of Marxism had been destroyed almost completely, seemingly assuring its final demise.
However, a resurgence of interest in Marx’s thought has been ongoing since 2008, when the global economic crisis led many to question the viability of the capitalist system, always the main object of Marxist criticism. Now the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx (on May 5th) is being hailed openly by mainstream thinkers and even Catholic clergy as a cause for respectful commemoration, if not outright celebration.
The New York Times published an open endorsement of Marx’s thought, “Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!” in which a philosophy professor praises Marx’s “ruthless criticism of all that exists,” and congratulates activists for applying Marxist class theory to race and gender.
Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper also praised Marx in a recent article commemorating his birthday, but was more circumspect in its tone, claiming that he had prophesied the excesses of modern capitalism, but regarding his solution for “how to get out of it” as “less helpful.”
Official government commemorations of Marx’s birthday have also contributed to the celebratory atmosphere. The German government issued a commemorative postage stamp with an image of Marx on a red background. The government of China, which is still officially Marxist while actually capitalist, has paid for the erection of a statue of Marx in his hometown of Trier, Germany.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has been pushing for a revival of Marxism in China to shore up his increasingly dictatorial regime, gave a speech in April beneath a portrait of the Communist saint, praising Karl Marx as “the greatest thinker of modern times,” adding, “We must continuously improve the ability to use Marxism to analyze and solve practical problems.”
Amazingly, even highly-ranked Catholic clerics, such as Cardinal Reinhard Marx, are openly praising the communist’s writings as “fascinating,” opining that the Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto has “an energy” and “a great language” which “quite impressed” him. Cardinal Marx is close to Pope Francis, who has made both positive and negative statements about Marxism, contributing to an atmosphere of ambiguity on the topic.
Was Marx simply a misled idealist who loved the poor?
Would it perhaps be possible to rehabilitate the image of Karl Marx several decades after the fall of the Eastern Bloc communist states, to distinguish Marx’s communist ideology from the totalitarian governments that adopted it in the 20th century? Was Marx a starry-eyed idealist seeking justice for the poor and downtrodden, a well-meaning humanitarian whose ideas were later appropriated by aspiring tyrants? May he now be reexamined in light of the purity of his thought and given his due as a benevolent reformer?
Marxists have long claimed that Soviet Russia and Maoist China were false representatives of the “scientific socialism” of Marx, that their application of Marxist rhetoric was really a hijacking of authentic Marxist theory. However this thesis is only able to survive in an environment of almost total ignorance regarding Marx’s philosophical framework and political activism. In reality, Karl Marx was always recognized, even in his own day, as a cynical and ruthless totalitarian whose ambitions were to make himself into the dictatorial ruler of a communist Germany.
Although the popular imagination conceives of Marx as a crusader against social injustice, Marx himself laughed such notions to scorn. In fact, Marx’s political philosophy was founded on the notion that right and wrong, good and evil, are ever-evolving concepts that are dictated by the material conditions of man’s existence, rather than being eternal realities to which human beings must aspire. He detested the moralizing tendencies of his age, as well as appeals to abstract notions of truth and justice, and prided himself on a ruthless cynicism that made class interest into the ultimate standard of moral legitimacy.
Like the sophist Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic, Marx was a moral relativist who believed that moral principles are determined by the interests of the class that controls each economic system. The actors in the system are simply playing out the roles that the system assigns to them. This is why Marx almost always avoided the language of morality in his writings, and instead claimed to function as a prophet for the inevitable coming of communism, which he believed would bring about the final development of history, with its own accompanying moral code.
Marx expressed this class-based morality in his Communist Manifesto in 1848, attributing traditional moral norms to the capitalist class or “bourgeoisie,” and contrasting it with the “proletarian” communist worldview. “Law, morality, religion, are to him (the proletarian) so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests,” declared Marx, later adding, “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”
“But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, etc.,” wrote Marx. “Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class.”
Marx believed that human history was inexorably moving in the direction of atheistic and materialistic communism, and that he was the leader of an enlightened elite that was destined to take charge of it. In the process, he believed, religion would be abolished, the family would be eliminated as an antiquated institution, women would be shared by men as communal concubines, and all of the forces of material production would be placed into the hands of a totalitarian state led by a revolutionary vanguard that claimed to represent the oppressed classes of society.
Marx assured his readers that, following this transformation, his totalitarian state would wither away, to be replaced by a democratic utopia with no class distinctions. However, the citizens of Marxist states would wait in vain for this promised paradise as the decades passed, languishing under the lash of their communist masters while the capitalist world continued to flourish and grow economically, in contradiction to Marx’s predictions.
Marx’s plan to replace the “opiate” of religion with the communist state
A fundamental aspect of Marx’s theory, taken from the philosopher Feuerbach, was the claim that religion was really just a projection of man’s ideals about himself. To this he added the claim that Christianity was like a form of “opium” given to the peoples of Europe to satisfy their desire for a perfect society, a desire that would ultimately be satisfied by communism. As a result, religion would no longer be necessary.
As Marx wrote in his A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, “Man, who has found only the reflection of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven, where he sought a superman, will no longer feel disposed to find the mere appearance of himself, the non-man [“Unmensch”], where he seeks and must seek his true reality.”
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions,” continued Marx. “It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”
However, it was Marx’s promised utopia of communism that functioned as an “opiate” of the masses that lived in thrall to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, which constantly promised that the communist paradise was coming soon, even as millions were worked and starved to death, and millions more subjected to an absolute tyranny unparalleled in the history of mankind. In the meantime, Marxist regimes dismantled the Catholic Church and other religious institutions, destroyed numerous churches or made them into museums, and executed or imprisoned their ministers in concentration camps.
Marx rejoiced in capitalism’s destruction of marriage, family, and community
Marx claimed to have discovered the laws of history by uncovering the internal contradictions in each historical stage of economic development, moving ultimately from feudalism to capitalism and finally to communism. Each previous system creates the class conflicts that ultimately spell doom for that system and usher in the next, until communism finally abolishes all class differences and the “dialectic of history” comes to an end.
Marx’s analysis of what he regards as the internal contradictions of capitalism can make him appear to be a moral critic, when in reality Marx is making little more than a series of dispassionate observations regarding what he sees as the inexorable laws of economic history.
In fact, when Marx seems to be critiquing capitalism, he is actually expressing admiration for it, even when he is discussing its destructive tendencies, which he regarded as forms of progress leading to a communist utopia. Capitalism, for Marx, is necessary for the emergence of communism, and is therefore a positive development.
Marx was happy to note that capitalist economies had created a system of mass production that had driven the small businessman and farmers out of their professions, and had reduced employment in the small towns and rural areas, thus sending more and more people into the ranks of the urban working class or “proletariat.” The result was that people were abandoning their small communities, and losing their own private property, becoming nothing more than atomistic renters and employees in the “cash nexus” of capitalist society.
The result, Marx observed, was that wives and even children were driven into the marketplace, and families were forced to rent their homes. Everyone had become a commodity and had lost their identity as members of families and communities. They now had become an amorphous mass of workers, without a sense of family or community, an anonymous collective ready to seize the means of production and democratize them, and to create Marx’s communist state.
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations,” wrote Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. “It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors,’ and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation.”
This is why Marx openly spoke in the Communist Manifesto of supporting the capitalists or “bourgeoisie” in their revolution against older forms of society – he saw their movement as a great step towards the establishment of communism. He even openly supported free trade and the repeal of Britain’s protectionist Corn Laws in 1848 because he hoped they would accelerate the “destruction” wreaked on society by international capitalism, and move the world closer to communism.
“In general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive,” said Marx in a speech to the Democratic Association of Brussels in 1848. “It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.”
Marx mocked those who would object to the communist goal of the abolition of marriage in favor of a “community of women” by cynically claiming that the “bourgeoisie” already shared their wives with each other, and communism would simply regularize the situation.
“Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalized community of women,” Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto.
Marx sought to break up society into warring classes, encouraging envy and social division
Marx recognized that he and other communists had not come from the proletarian class, but had come from the “bourgeoisie” – in fact, Marx’s biggest supporter was the factory owner Frederick Engels, who spent decades financing Marx’s political and intellectual activities using profits from his capitalist enterprises, and wrote many works popularizing Marxism. However, Marx regarded the proletariat as unable to organize itself, and believed that he and his fellow-travellers, unlike other members of the bourgeois class, were a special breed with the ability to transcend their social status and to join the ranks of the proletariat as their leaders.
In order to accept Marxist leadership, the working class would have to first begin to see itself as an oppressed class, victimized by the bourgeoisie and in need of liberation. The aim of Marx, Engels, and their followers was to instill the proletarians with “class consciousness,” by constantly encouraging them to identify with one another as members of a victimized group, and to see all business owners as their exploitative enemies, who were stealing their wages from them by taking a profit from their enterprise.
Marx wrote an entire multi-volume work, Capital, to prove that capitalist profits were nothing but “surplus value” taken by business owners who have contributed no value to the products their workers produce. This became the Bible of Marx’s new materialist and atheist religion.
The fear and loathing inculcated in the working class followers of Marxism-inspired political parties would facilitate the brutal system of repression and absolute state control that would always accompany the triumph of such parties in national politics or revolutionary struggle. Marxist governments to this day use notions of class antagonisms and theories of international capitalist conspiracies against their regimes to justify their tyrannical policies and to rationalize the failures of their regimes.
The legacy of Marx’s approach to political organizing became the common inheritance of socialist political parties around the world. In the United States, activists inspired by Marxism are constantly seeking to instill “class consciousness” in a variety of “oppressed” groups, which are encouraged to see themselves as perpetual victims dependent upon socialist political leaders, who are the only ones who can protect them and speak for them.
As in the case of Marx, Engels, and their compatriots, the self-appointed leaders of these victim groups are generally not themselves members of those groups, but come from the very elites that are regarded as the “oppressors.” They are generally white, upper middle class men with educations from elite universities, born into families of privilege.
The new “proletariat” targeted by the neo-Marxists are racial and ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals, “transgender” people, and other groups into which they hope to instill resentment and an oppositional form of group identity. All forms of hierarchy, and in particular the hierarchical structure of the family, are depicted as nothing more than forms of class oppression, which are to be eliminated in favor of the institutions of the socialist state.
The results are the same as they were in classical Marxism: social cohesion diminishes, trust and goodwill are destroyed, fundamental natural institutions are diminished in favor of totalitarian state power, and society moves towards a dangerous political polarization.
Marx’s ideology was recognized as totalitarian even in its own day
Karl Marx’s association with the totalitarianism of later communist regimes was no accident of history, arising from an abuse of his intellectual legacy, as is popularly imagined. Rather, it arose directly out of Marx’s own thought, so much so that he was already recognized as a would-be totalitarian in his own day.
Marx’s principle critic was the socialist and anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, who had once been a fellow-traveller of Marx, but eventually repudiated him and began to warn other socialists of the totalitarian dangers posed by his ideology, many decades before Russia’s October Revolution in 1917.
Bakunin identified Marxism as a religion from a very early date, noting the fanatical cult-like following around Marx, which enhanced his effectiveness despite the small number of his followers.
“Marx naturally has managed to form a Communist school, or a sort of little Communist Church, composed of fervent adepts and spread all over Germany,” wrote Bakunin in Marxism, Freedom, and the State. “Karl Marx naturally enjoys an almost supreme authority in this Church, and to do him justice, it must be admitted that he knows how to govern this little army of fanatical adherents in such a way as always to enhance his prestige and power over the imagination of the workers of Germany.”
Bakunin’s warning about the potential tyranny of Marx’s proposed “people’s state,” which would administer the entire economic and political life of the country, offers an almost perfect prediction of the degrading totalitarianism that Marxism would produce in the 20th century:
In the People's State of Marx, there will be, we are told, no privileged class at all. All will be equal, not only from the juridical and political point of view, but from the economic point of view. At least that is what is promised, though I doubt very much, considering the manner in which it is being tackled and the course it is desired to follow, whether that promise could ever be kept. There will therefore be no longer any privileged class, but there will be a government and, note this well, an extremely complex government, which will not content itself with governing and administering the masses politically, as all governments do to-day, but which will also administer them economically, concentrating in its own hands the production and the just division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, finally the application of capital to production by the only banker, the State. All that will demand an immense knowledge and many “heads overflowing with brains” in this government. It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant and contemptuous of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge and an immense ignorant majority. And then, woe betide the mass of ignorant ones!
Such a regime will not fail to arouse very considerable discontent in this mass and in order to keep it in check the enlightenment and liberating government of Marx will have need of a not less considerable armed force. For the government must be strong, says Engels, to maintain order among these millions of illiterates whose brutal uprising would be capable of destroying and overthrowing everything, even a government directed by heads overflowing with brains. . .
Bakunin’s warnings went largely unheeded, and his movement was ultimately defeated by the Marxists. His anarchistic version of socialism, which was strongly represented in Spain’s “Republican” movement during the country’s civil war of the 1930s, was out-maneuvered by the much more orderly and militaristic Marxists, led by admirers of Josef Stalin’s regime in Soviet Russia. Today, Bakuninist anarchism lives on mostly in the mumblings of utopian political critic Noam Chomsky, who often defends Marxist regimes while seeking to distance himself from their destructive behavior.
Marxist ideology enslaved and killed millions in the 20th century
The predictions made by Bakunin were borne out terribly in the failed communist regimes of the 20th century, which turned whole nation-states into giant prison camps in which every aspect of life was under the absolute power of a ruthless bureaucratic tyranny. In some countries, like North Korea, Vietnam, China, Venezuela, and Cuba, millions of people continue to languish under the cruelest forms of oppression imaginable, all thanks to Marx’s ideology.
In Russia, the communist “Soviet Union” began by nullifying a popular election that repudiated communist rule, executing the Romanov dynasty that had ruled the country for centuries, abolishing the existing democratic system and imposing a totalitarian, one party state that ruthlessly persecuted Christians and other dissenters.
By 1927 the Soviet Union began arresting millions of citizens on trumped-up charges, sending them to forced-labor camps where they were worked to death in vast numbers, as described in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Millions more were rounded up and simply executed outright. In famines deliberately created by the regime in Soviet Ukraine, up to ten million people were starved to death. Estimates for the total civilian death toll by Soviet government persecutions are difficult to calculate, but typically range from 10 to 20 million people.
China’s communist regime, which took power in 1949, managed to exceed even the Soviet Union’s atrocities. After killing millions to achieve agricultural collectivization, communist leader Mao Zedong began in 1958 what he called the “Great Leap Forward,” a hopelessly impossible project to overtake the capitalist West in productivity by forced industrialization.
After examining the Chinese government archives on the period, Frank Dikötter, Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China at the University of London, has concluded that no less that 45 million Chinese were worked, starved, or beaten to death during the Great Leap Forward. In addition, a third of the country’s real estate was demolished in the process. Up to 1.5 million more died in later purges, such as the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” of the late 1960s.
The murderous cruelty of the Chinese communist regime has not ended with the death of Mao, however. With the encouragement of the United States, the Chinese communist government created the infamous “one-child policy” in the 1970s, which entails forced abortions for those who exceed government fertility quotas. Under the one-child policy, over three hundred million unborn children have been murdered by government fiat. Girls are disproportionately targeted, and reportedly 30 million Chinese men are now unable to find wives. The country also maintains a vast number of prison camps in which it places Christians and members of other religious groups who won’t who refuse submit to its totalitarian ideology.
Other countries that followed in Russia’s wake produced similarly horrific results. Cambodia’s communist dictator Pol Pot is estimated to have killed between 13 and 30 percent of the country’s eight million people in the space of only four years, from 1975 to 1979. North Korea’s regime, which was inspired by Marxism and was officially communist until recently, maintains an absolute cult of the government in which the slightest expression of concern can consign a person and his family to internment in brutal prison camps. The Korean government has consigned millions to starvation in recent decades. Venezuela’s government, which openly proclaims its Marxist foundation, has destroyed the country’s democracy and economy, leading to increasing hunger, starvation, and mass migration to other South American countries.
Marx’s dark soul expressed in satanic poetry and in the neglect of his family
What sort of soul would produce such a ruthless materialist philosophy that would bring about misery, oppression, and mass murder on a scale never seen in human history? The answer, quite simply, is a very dark soul, a soul that seemed quite literally to be given over to the devil.
Although Marx began life as an apparently sincere Lutheran Christian, filled with ambition to improve the state of mankind, he underwent a radical transformation while studying at the University of Berlin, where he came under the sway of the German Idealist philosophers G.F.W. Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach. Their ideas led him to abandon his belief in eternal truth in favor of an evolutionist pantheism that deifies humanity.
While Hegel saw human history as the gradual development of God’s perfect self-consciousness and self-realization, Feuerbach had taken Hegel’s ideas one step further, claiming in that Christianity was nothing more than man projecting his own natural longings for perfection onto a spiritual idealization of that perfection, thus re-conceiving God as nothing more than a human ideal. Such notions were readily embraced by the radical, materialistic “Young Hegelians” at the University of Berlin, in whose ranks Marx enthusiastically enlisted.
Marx wrote to his father in 1837 to describe his conversion from the more spiritual idealism of Kant and Hegel to an atheist and materialist worship of the “actual”: “A curtain was fallen, my holiest of holies was ripped apart, and new gods had to be set in their place. . . . I arrived at the point of seeking the idea in actuality itself. If the gods had earlier dwelt over the earth, so they were now made into its center.”
It was during this period that Marx began to indulge himself in the hedonistic celebration of revelry and drunkenness, writing dark and maniacal poetry that invoked the demonic and mixed together themes of romantic love and cruel murder.
In one foreboding poem, “Invocation of One in Despair,” Marx shakes his fist at the divine, promising “revenge” and the defeat of God himself, while he rules upon his high throne, inflicting “blackest agony” upon the world:
So a god has snatched from me my all
In the curse and rack of Destiny.
All his worlds are gone beyond recall!
Nothing but revenge is left to me!
On myself revenge I'll proudly wreak,
On that being, that enthroned Lord,
Make my strength a patchwork of what's weak,
Leave my better self without reward!
I shall build my throne high overhead,
Cold, tremendous shall its summit be.
For its bulwark– superstitious dread,
For its Marshall–blackest agony.
And the Almighty's lightning shall rebound
From that massive iron giant.
If he bring my walls and towers down,
Eternity shall raise them up, defiant.
In “The Fiddler,” Marx joyfully invokes the inspiration of the Devil himself:
“Why do I fiddle? Or the wild waves roar?
That they might pound the rocky shore,
That eye be blinded, that bosom swell,
That Soul's cry carry down to Hell.”
“How so! I plunge, plunge without fail
My blood-black sabre into your soul.
That art God neither wants nor wists,
It leaps to the brain from Hell’s black mists.
“Till heart’s bewitched, till senses reel:
With Satan I have struck my deal.
He chalks the signs, beats time for me,
I play the death march fast and free.
Marx’s macabre depiction of a poisonous romance that ends in death is all the more chilling in light of the terrible suffering he would inflict on his wife, Jenny von Westphalen. In the poem “Nocturnal Love,” he writes:
Frantic, he holds her near,
Darkly looks in her eye.
“Pain so burns you, Dear,
And at my breath you sigh.
“Oh, you have drunk my soul.
Mine is your glow, in truth.
My jewel, shine your fill.
Glow, blood of youth.”
“You have drunk poison, Love.
With me you must away.
The sky is dark above,
No more I see the day.”
Shuddering, he pulls her close to him.
Death in the breast doth hover.
Pain stabs her, piercing deep within,
And eyes are closed forever.
The darkness in Marx’s soul spread to engulf his hapless family, which suffered terrible poverty in exile in England following Marx’s flight from Germany in 1849. Marx’s mistreatment of his family was presaged in his youth by his hedonistic university lifestyle and neglect of his then-girlfriend Jenny von Westphalen, which was so egregious that Marx’s father Heinrich rebuked him about it in a letter that suggested his son was possessed by the devil, and predicted the future misery of his family:
At times I cannot rid myself of ideas which arouse in me sad forebodings and fear when I am struck as if by lightning by the thought: is your heart in accord with your head, your talents? Has it room for the earthly but gentler sentiments which in this vale of sorrow are so essentially consoling for a man of feeling? And since that heart is obviously animated and governed by a demon not granted to all men, is that demon heavenly or Faustian? Will you ever — and that is not the least painful doubt of my heart — will you ever be capable of truly human, domestic happiness? Will . . . you ever be capable of imparting happiness to those immediately around you?
Heinrich’s fears were well-founded. Although Marx was immensely talented and received a prestigious education at the University of Berlin, he expended little effort in remunerative endeavors, preferring to devote his time to his frenetic obsession with communist ideology and to attacking his innumerable intellectual competitors in the global socialist movement. The little income received by Marx came from his meager work in journalism and from donations and loans from his capitalist admirers, particularly Engels.
Marx was often depressed and filled with self-pity, complaining about his personal financial situation in his correspondence with friends. He was a chronic alcoholic whose angry bouts of drunkenness led to verbal and physical fights with those who dared to disagree with his very nuanced doctrines. A Prussian police report on the Marx family stated that he rarely bathed and groomed himself, living a Bohemian existence in his run-down and sparse apartment.
In the unhealthy atmosphere of Marx’s slum dwellings four of his seven children died in infancy. Of his three daughters who survived to adulthood, all of whom were utterly devoted to Marx and thoroughly indoctrinated in his atheistic and materialistic ideology, two killed themselves, and one died of cancer in her 30s.
Despite all, Marx’s wife Jenny supported him and aided his work unstintingly. However, this was not enough to dissuade Marx from what appears to have been a sexual affair with the family’s housekeeper, who eventually gave birth to a child later revealed to be his. Engels seems to have taken the blame upon himself for the pregnancy, and secured a foster home for the child.
Eventually Jenny Marx contracted smallpox and suffered a terrible facial disfigurement as a result. She became depressed and angry, tiring of the family’s impoverished existence and Marx’s obsessive ideological crusade.
Karl Marx lived long enough to see the death of his wife and one of his daughters, Jenny Longuet, both of cancer, in 1881, which devastated him psychologically. He died two year later, and his funeral was attended by a small number of people.
Within three decades, both of Marx’s remaining daughters had committed suicide after spending their lives in communist activism.
Eleanor Marx killed herself when she discovered at the age of 43 that her Marxist boyfriend, whom she lived with but never married, had secretly married a young actress a year earlier. Laura Marx and her Marxist husband Paul Lafargue committed suicide in 1911 after the couple decided they were too old and feeble to offer service to the communist movement. Paul left a note explaining his motives, which ended, “I die with the supreme joy of knowing that at some future time, the cause to which I have been devoted for forty-five years will triumph. Long live Communism!”
Vladimir Lenin, the ruthless future dictator of the Soviet Union, knew Laura and Paul Lafargue personally. According to Lenin’s wife Nadezhda Krupskaya, upon learning of their suicide, Lenin said to her, “If you can't do any more work for the Party you must be able to face the truth and die like the Lafargues.”
And he (Lenin) wanted to say over their graves that their work had not been in vain, that the cause which they had launched, the cause of Marx, with whom both Paul and Laura Lafargue had been so closely associated, was growing and spreading to distant Asia. At that time the tide of the mass revolutionary movement was rising in China.
The “cause of Marx” – the materialist, collectivist, man-centered religion to which the Marx family had devoted their lives – would indeed spread to Asia, covering a vast portion of it in the blood and tears of tens of millions of victims.
Karl Marx once wrote, “All great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice . . . the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” May the second centenary of the birth of Karl Marx be the occasion of a true and faithful reflection on the life, work and legacy of the man, who may rightly be said to be the most destructive intellectual of all time. Only thus may we avoid the farcical repetition of the tragic chapter in man’s history known as “communism.”