Marx Was a Bastard
Karl Marx was a bastard. He was a man who never worked a day in his life, a parasite who never produced a single object of value and who survived and wrote by sponging off others, especially his impressionable protégé, Friedrich Engels. Marx was also a hypocrite. While he spoke constantly of equality, Marx kept servants to whom he was not particularly generous or kind. He loved no one except himself — all of which qualifies him, in my definition, as a "bastard."
A man earns respect by virtue of how he has conducted his life, by his concern for his family and friends, and by what he has contributed to others, not just in material terms, but in terms of kindness, goodness, and decency. On all of these counts, Marx was unworthy.
With his wife of 39 years, Jenny von Westphalen, Marx had seven children, four of whom died in infancy. His remaining three daughters were devoted to their father, but none of them benefited from his care or lived a happy life. Marx's oldest daughter, who taught French and German and engaged in social activism for a time, died of bladder cancer at age 38. After serving the communist movement for decades, Marx's middle daughter committed suicide along with her husband in 1911. In 1898, finding that her husband of 14 years had married another woman, Marx's third daughter committed suicide by ingesting poison, like the heroine of the novel she had translated into English, Emma Bovary. Not a particularly happy life for Marx's so-called beloved daughters.
Marx's last child, Frederick Lewis Demuth, was born out of Marx's adulterous affair with his housekeeper, Helene Demuth, though the child was never acknowledged by Marx. Instead, he was named for Marx's friend, Friedrich Engels, and was later claimed by Engels as his son, though evidence points to Marx as the father. Unlike capitalism, the seduction and dismissal of servants when they become pregnant did not amount to "oppression of the masses" in Marx's thinking.
There is clear evidence that Marx was of Jewish heritage, though he converted to Christianity late in life. Yet Jews come in for extreme abuse in his writing: given the association of Judaism and banking in 19th-century thought, an association that Hitler later used to foment hatred of Jews in Germany, Marx's anti-capitalist theory was inevitably aimed at Jews as well. While Marx's 1843 essay "On the Jewish Question" promotes the ultimate elimination of all religion, it focuses on an identification between Judaism and bourgeois capitalism — a connection that Marx viewed as evil. There was in Marx's writing no recognition of the contribution of Jews to the economic advancement of Western Europe. Instead, there was a nearly murderous rejection of everything associated with Judaism — not just capitalism, but the long spiritual heritage.
Far greater than these personal failings, of course, was the destruction that Marx's writing and political activism brought to the world. One can attribute as many as 250 million deaths to the influence of Marxist thinking on world thought since his death. Estimates vary, but Mao is said to have killed 50 to 70 million in China. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, two communists and a National Socialist influenced by Marx, killed another 150 million in wars, genocide, and political murder. Lenin's policy of starving populations that opposed him, or that he thought might oppose him, resulted in widespread cannibalism. Pol Pot in Cambodia and the Kim family in North Korea and others in Latin America have killed millions either by way of execution or by withholding food. Civil wars in Africa and Latin America brought about unspeakable crimes against humanity in the name of Marxist equality.
After 1989–91 and the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, many thought that Marx would no longer remain an influential figure. That has not been entirely true. Leftists control the European Union, and communism continues to rule China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries. Marxism has also become influential and openly practiced in the United States. According to the Washington Examiner, "28% of Generation Z have a favorable view of communism, and some forty percent look favorably upon socialism." Perhaps these young people should peruse the history of the Soviet gulags, which took in an estimated 18 million undesirables, among whom, in some of the more notorious camps, only a handful returned alive.
Marxism is so destructive because it is based on resentment, the same ugly sentiment that fueled the French Revolution. But Marxism has been far worse than what happened in France because it provided a credible but false ideology with which to justify one's resentment of others. Marxism made of envy — which all previous world religions had depicted as the worst of human emotions (traditionally regarded as the motive for Satan's rebellion against God) — a justifiable and even ennobling quality. Under Marxism, this vicious sentiment was what the vanguard employed to lead the masses into a justified if bloody struggle of self-assertion and class solidarity.
Progressive politicians have done everything possible to fuel resentment in modern America. Constructed identities — African-American, Hispanic, LGBT, "the poor," and the rest — are part of a long-term strategy to divide Americans and create unrest so as to foment crises that require government action. Taking their ideas from Marx and Marxian theorists like Saul Alinsky, liberals have fomented resentment and division with the assumption that they, liberal politicians, academics, and media will gain from the ensuing social division.
In their march toward revolution, liberals will attempt to destroy all institutions and individuals that stand in their way. The current persecution of Donald Trump is a perfect example, but for many decades, conservatives have been smeared, charged, and prosecuted, and institutions like the Christian church, marriage, and the nuclear family have been targets as well. In other countries, like Cuba and North Korea, persecution takes the form of incarceration, torture, rape, and execution. For all of this, we have Karl Marx to blame.
Altogether, Marx was indeed a bastard.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).