We are all familiar with the concepts of class conflict and class consciousness, the notion of history as a struggle between workers and elites and the idea that apparently trivial things such as films and fashion reflect the economic dynamics of the society that produced them. We got all that from Marx. …
In many ways, the story of the 20th century was that of Marxism in action.
From the Russian Revolution in 1917 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, one regime after another tried to put his revolutionary ideas into practice. …
So, how did Marx’s vision work out? Well, the death toll speaks for itself. In the Soviet Union alone, his disciple Stalin killed perhaps 12 million people.
In China, Chairman Mao killed even more. Many experts think that, during his purges, collectivisations and massacres in the Fifties and Sixties, 45 million people lost their lives. …
When I hear his defenders denying any link between Marx and his blood-soaked apostles, I wonder how supposedly clever people can be so stupid.
For all their cynicism and corruption, the men who ran the communist bloc never doubted that they were good Marxists. …
The idea they were all guilty of some dreadful misunderstanding, and were not true Marxists at all, strikes me as ludicrous.
The best example is Stalin. As the U.S. historian Stephen Kotkin has shown, the Soviet dictator was not a monster who happened to be a Marxist. He was a monster because he was a Marxist.
As a young man, Stalin studied Marx’s theories with obsessive dedication. Then, after winning power, he put them into practice.
Stalin did not kill millions of his own people because he was mad. He did it because he believed Marx’s theories required it.
Although Marx’s acolytes will never accept it, Stalin was not perverting his hero’s vision.
In fact, violence had formed part of Marx’s worldview from the very beginning.
‘There is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated,’ wrote Marx in 1848, ‘and that way is revolutionary terror’.
Here is Marx a year later, addressing his conservative adversaries: ‘We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you,’ he writes. ‘When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.’
The truth is that Marx’s vision was inherently violent. How could it be otherwise? How, without bloodshed, would you get your revolution? How would you abolish private property?
hat-tip Scott of the Pacific, Charles