Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, creator of an ideology that has caused more than 100 million dead. Some people try to separate those crimes from the ideas of Marx.
This supposed disconnection between Marx’s ideas and their consequences is one more example of the tendency of communism in particular and the left in general to analyze its errors not from the point of view of facts, but from the perspective of intentions. Some people believe that communism is not bad because its creators had a good intention, and that ideology can not be condemned by its concrete application at the hands of some. However, the facts are too stubborn and coincidental to take for good that analysis: all countries that fell into the hands of the communists became dictatorships, and among those dictatorships we can find some of the worst regimes known to mankind, among they are genociders like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Lenin himself, whose terror regime deserves to be condemned for genocide. Is it possible that all communists misinterpreted Marx’s ideas? Or were those crimes committed precisely to follow their ideas? To answer these questions, it is enough to analyze some of the approaches that Karl Marx himself defended.
1. The abolition of private property: promoting hunger and misery
In the “Communist Manifesto” (1848), Marx and Engels stated bluntly: “Communists can summarize their theory in that formula: abolition of private property.“ To justify himself, Marx affirmed: “is it that salaried work, the work of a proletarian, gives him property? No, not much less.” However, in the free world a large middle class has emerged, largely as a result of wage labor. To suppress private property implies to deprive the person of the fruit of his work. Nowadays, the property is one of the most important rights (it appears as such in Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Precisely, a large part of the communist crimes were derived from the usurpation of private property, which generated enormous famines:
These crimes can not be dissociated from the contempt for private property promoted by Marx: they derive directly from it.
2. The thesis of the class struggle: promoting hatred and revenge
In the “Communist Manifesto”, Marx affirmed: “The entire history of human society, to this day, is a history of class struggles. Free and slaves, patricians and plebeians, barons and servants of the glebe, teachers and officers; in a word, oppressors and oppressed, always face to face, engaged in an uninterrupted struggle.“ This has been one of the most pernicious dogmas of Marxist thought, which led to the sowing of hatred motivated by envy, and which was not limited, as some think, to the rejection of the lower classes by the richest. In the “Communist Manifesto”, Marx also pointed out as “reactionaries” the “elements of the middle classes, the small industrialist, the small merchant, the artisan, the peasant.”
This class hatred inspired the genocide unleashed by the communists against the so-called kulaks, millions of peasants who owned their lands, and who suffered executions, mass deportations and the seizure and collectivization of their lands. Not counting those who died of hunger (I have already dealt with that in the previous point), hundreds of thousands of these peasants died in the USSR because of the deportations. Dissociating these crimes of genocide from Marx’s ideas is as absurd as affirming that the hatred planted by Hitler against the Jews in his famous book “My Struggle” has nothing to do with the Holocaust.
3. The dictatorship of the proletariat: promoting oppression
In a letter to Joseph Weydemeyer dated 1852, Marx affirmed: “the class struggle leads, necessarily, to the dictatorship of the proletariat”. Immediately after, he affirmed that “this same dictatorship is not in itself more than the transition towards the abolition of all classes and towards a society without classes.” In the “Communist Manifesto”, Marx had written the following: “The proletariat will use the power to gradually strip the bourgeoisie of all capital, of all the instruments of production, centralizing them in the hands of the State, that is, the proletariat organized as a ruling class, and trying to promote productive energies by all means and with the greatest possible speed.” Thus, the dictatorship of the proletariat would be a collectivist dictatorship, in which the state -controlled by the communists- would appropriate everything. Without any detour or taboo, in the following paragraph Karl Marx recognized that “this can only be carried out through a despotic action on property and the bourgeois production regime.”
Later he pointed out some of the measures in which this process would be embodied, such as the “expropriation of real property” (that is, the appropriation by the State of all homes, businesses, factories, etc.), the “abolition of the right of inheritance” (that is, to usurp the children the property bequeathed by their parents), the “confiscation of the fortune of the emigrants and rebels”, the nationalization of banking and credit, etc. What Marx was proposing was a massive robbery at the hands of a state controlled by the communists: one of the worst possible dictatorships, because it implied absolute power on the part of the State, that is, of the communists who held the reins of power. It is a new form of political absolutism, an oppressive regime in which dissidence would necessarily be impossible, since disagreeing is unthinkable in a state in which an ideological group exercises absolute control over society. In fact, Marx did not foresee the creation of counterweights to that absolute power of the state ruled by the communists: neither independent justice, nor political parties (remember that it enacted a dictatorship) nor independent media (by appropriating the State of all the properties, all these means would be in the hands of the State). Marx proposed a totalitarian regime in every sense of the word. That in his work he referred to that totalitarian regime as “the conquest of democracy” was a gesture of cynicism, as it was called “democratic Germany” to the huge prison in which the Communists locked up the entire population of East Germany between 1945 and 1989.
4. The abolition of the family: children, property of the State
One of Marx’s most aberrant ideas is expressed in the “Communist Manifesto” with an phrase that demonstrates the degree of radicalism arrived at by the German ideologist: “abolition of the family”. To defend this thesis, Marx launched this nonsense: “Only the bourgeoisie has a family, in the full sense of the word.” A few lines below, he asked: “Do you reproach us that we aspire to abolish the exploitation of children by their parents? Yes, it’s true, that’s what we aspire to.” Marx introduces the hate dialectic of the class struggle within the family to confront the children against the parents, presenting them as exploiters. A year after the death of Marx, and based on notes written by him, his friend Friedrich Engels wrote “The origin of the family, private property and the State” (1884), which explained one of the consequences of that abolition of the family: “The domestic economy will become a social issue; the care and education of the children, too”. This means converting the children into a property of the communist state, which would come to free the children of their “exploiting” parents. In the USSR, this led the communist regime to encourage the betrayal of parents by their own children, with cases as famous as that of Pavlik Morozov, the 13-year-old boy who denounced his own father for treason, becoming a heroic myth for Soviet propaganda.
5. Marx and his “war on religion”: promoting persecution
Marx’s materialistic and totalitarian ideology was not limited to the criticism of a particular religion, or of religions in general, from respect for each person’s personal beliefs. Rather, in “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” (1843), and after calling religion “the opium of the people”, Marx said: “The elimination of religion as an illusion of happiness of the people, is the condition for his real happiness.” Considering that Marx proposed an ideology in which all power was concentrated in the State, which in turn should be controlled by the Communists, to consider the believers as drugged persons was a clear instigation to the persecution of religion. In fact, in the aforementioned book Marx spoke bluntly of “war on religion”.
What this announced was easy to guess, although it was difficult to imagine the degree of brutality that this “war on religion” promoted by Marx would achieve. Only in 1918 were 3,000 priests, religious and nuns killed in Russia. In 1920 the figure amounted to between 14,000 and 20,000. The methods of torture used against them stood out for their sadism. The persecution particularly affected the Orthodox Church, but also Jews and Muslims: the vast majority of the more than 55,000 churches, 5,000 synagogues and 25,000 mosques in Russia in 1917 were destroyed by the Communists. This persecution was transferred to other communist dictatorships. The first to be established outside the USSR was Mongolia, where the Communists assassinated 18,000 Buddhist monks. In Spain, between 1936 and 1939, the communists and their allies murdered 13 bishops, 4,184 priests, 2,365 religious and 283 nuns.
6. The destruction of nations: communist imperialism
“The workers have no homeland,” Marx said in the “Communist Manifesto”. He proposed “abolishing the homeland” and the disappearance of “national differences and antagonisms”, forgetting that nations are the fruit of a common history of a people, of their cultural, social and also religious coincidences, and that the nation as such is the framework in which a people governs itself. Considering these approaches, it was no coincidence that after the assault on the power of the Communists in Russia a red imperialism was launched: its first victim was Poland, invaded by the Lenin regime in its eagerness to extend the Bolshevik revolution to the rest of Europe. Luckily for the Europeans, the Poles stopped that communist expansionism in the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, postponing the Bolshevik plans for more than two decades.
The second country to fall under the clutches of communist imperialism was Mongolia in 1924, where the Communists seized power with the support of the Soviet Army. After the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact signed by Nazi Germany and the USSR, between 1939 and 1940 Stalin occupied the eastern part of Poland, appropriated Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and invaded – unsuccessfully – Finland. The war unleashed by that pact signed by Hitler and Stalin would serve the communists to dominate all of Eastern Europe after 1945, except for Greece, where there was a communist coup d’état in 1946 – supported by the USSR – which led to a bloody civil war, which ended in 1950 with the defeat of the coup plotters. The Europe behind the “Iron Curtain” took half a century to liberate itself from the communist yoke.
The mail subscription service to Contando Estrelas will allow you to receive in your mailbox a daily email with the new entries published in this blog. It is a free service provided by Feedburner. Once you have entered your email in this box and press the "submit" button, you will receive a confirmation email in your mailbox to activate your subscription.