A couple of weeks ago, I expressed disgust that the President of the European Commission was going to give a speech commemorating the 200th birthday of Karl Marx.
To be blunt, Marx was a despicable person who developed an ideology that butchered 100 million people.
Yet he still has plenty of apologists.
It’s disgusting when serious publications such as the New York Times publish fan-boy columns about Marxism. But what should we think when Teen Vogue publishes an article celebrating Marx? Here’s some of pabulum offered to readers.
“Karl Marx … developed the theory of communism, which advocates for workers’ control over their labor (instead of their bosses). … his ideas can still teach us about the past and present. … The famed German co-authored The Communist Manifesto with fellow scholar Friedrich Engels in 1848, a piece of writing that makes the case for the political theory of socialism— where the community (rather than rich people) have ownership and control over their labor — which later inspired millions of people to resist oppressive political leaders … His writings have inspired social movements in Soviet Russia, China, Cuba.”
As an economist, I’m most offended by the laughably inaccurate description of labor in a market economy.
As a human being, I’m utterly nauseated by the description of communism as a means of resisting oppressive political leaders. Is the author really that clueless?!? For heaven’s sake, communism and oppressive politics may as well by synonyms.
The article then offers up some oleaginous descriptions of how students are being fed Marxist propaganda.
“So how can teens learn the legacy of Marx’s ideas and how they’re relevant to the current political climate? … Public high school teacher Mark Brunt teaches excerpts from The Communist Manifesto alongside curriculum about the industrial revolution in his English class. … Brunt talks about how these factory workers did all of the leg work — including slaughtering animals and packaging meat on top of working long days with little, if any, time off — to keep the factories intact, yet had very little control over their work, including their working conditions, compared to the profiteering factory owners. … He then introduces Marx’s distinction between the proletariat — the working class as a whole — and bourgeoisie — the ruling class who controls the workers and profits from their labor.”
Needless to say, Mr. Brunt is wrong about the history of sweatshops.
But he’s downright delusional when trying to explain why workers reject Marxism.
“In his advanced class, Brunt also introduces the idea of false consciousness, which is defined as the many ways the working class is mislead to believe certain ideologies. … ‘You’re tricked into thinking your allies are different and your enemies are different than they actually are.’”
Gee, Mr. Brunt, maybe workers reject Marxism because they like freedom and better living standards.
College students also get subjected to propaganda.
“Former Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher uses Marx to teach history … ‘When I teach Marx, … There’s this myth of the free market, but Marx shows very clearly that capitalism emerged through a state of violence.’ … Some examples of violence that aided in the establishment of capitalism in the United States include stealing the land of Indigenous people and trafficking Africans through slavery.”
Wow, only an academic could blame capitalism (a system of mutually beneficial voluntary exchange) for the actions of governments (land expropriations and state-sanctioned slavery).
But I’m not overly agitated by the incoherent thoughts of bitter “educators.”
What does upset me is that some impressionable young ladies looking for make-up tips and relationship advice may accidentally read this terrible article and actually conclude that Marx, instead of being a totalitarian, was some well-meaning, run-of-the-mill leftist.
Which is why this tweet from a journalist at the Weekly Standard is a nice summary of what’s wrong with the article.
But it’s even worse than the tweet suggests. The author didn’t under-estimate the body count resulting from communist tyranny. She wrote an entire article about Marx and never mentioned any of the death, misery, and destruction resulting from Marx’s evil ideology.
So let’s set the record straight.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Professor Paul Kengor opined about the real Marx.
“May 5 marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx, who set the stage with his philosophy for the greatest ideological massacres in history. Or did he? … deniers still remain. ‘Only a fool could hold Marx responsible for the Gulag,’ writes Francis Wheen in ‘Karl Marx: A Life’ (1999). Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung, Mr. Wheen insists, created ‘bastard creeds,’ ‘wrenched out of context’ from Marx’s writings.”
But, as Kengor explains, Marx’s writing were a green light for totalitarianism.
“In ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ he and Friedrich Engels were quite clear that ‘the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.’ … Marx and Engels acknowledged their coercive nature: ‘Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.’ In the close of the Manifesto, Marx said, ‘The Communists … openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.’ They were right about that. Human beings would not give up fundamental liberties without resistance. Seizing property would require a terrible fight, including the use of guns and gulags. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and a long line of revolutionaries and dictators candidly admitted that force and violence would be necessary. We’re told the philosophy was never the problem—that Stalin was an aberration, as were, presumably, Lenin, Trotsky, Ceausescu, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, the Kims and the Castros … Couldn’t any of them read? Yes, they could read. They read Marx. The rest is history—ugly, deadly history.”
That is, of course, unless you’re reading vapid articles in Teen Vogue, in which case you’ll be less knowledgeable about history when you’re done.
Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition.