Commonweal has an article by Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton in which he argues that Marx was right in his critique of captalism. Go here to read it. Go here to read a post about the article which appeared on the Commonweal blog. ( I will confess to having a very slight grudging respect for Mr. Eagleton ever since his memorable, and scorching, review which may be read here, of Richard Dawkins’ inane The God Delusion. The respect is very slight and very grudging indeed, since Mr. Eagleton also wrote a bitter diatribe against John Paul II, which may be read here, after the death of the pontiff. He also views the Catholic Church, the Church he was raised in, as “one of the nastiest authoritarian outfits on the planet”, which is rich coming from a Marxist.)
The Marx set forth in the article by Mr. Eagleton is unrecognizable to me. The Marx of history was not some sort of democratic eurosocialist. He was a hard core advocate of terror. The quotations from his works and letters on this point are legion. Here is a typical statement he made in 1850 in an address to the Communist League:
“[The working class] must act in such a manner that the revolutionary excitement does not collapse immediately after the victory. On the contrary, they must maintain it as long as possible. Far from opposing so-called excesses, such as sacrificing to popular revenge of hated individuals or public buildings to which hateful memories are attached, such deeds must not only be tolerated, but their direction must be taken in hand, for examples’ sake.”
From the same address:
To be able forcefully and threateningly to oppose this party, whose betrayal of the workers will begin with the very first hour of victory, the workers must be armed and organized. The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition, and the revival of the old-style citizens’ militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed. Where the formation of this militia cannot be prevented, the workers must try to organize themselves independently as a proletarian guard, with elected leaders and with their own elected general staff; they must try to place themselves not under the orders of the state authority but of the revolutionary local councils set up by the workers. Where the workers are employed by the state, they must arm and organize themselves into special corps with elected leaders, or as a part of the proletarian guard. Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary. The destruction of the bourgeois democrats’ influence over the workers, and the enforcement of conditions which will compromise the rule of bourgeois democracy, which is for the moment inevitable, and make it as difficult as possible – these are the main points which the proletariat and therefore the League must keep in mind during and after the approaching uprising.
Nothing done by the Communist states that claimed Marx as their ideological father in regard to the suppression of adversaries and the use of mass terror to remain in power cannot find full warrant in the works of Marx.
Of course, Marx goes wrong at the very beginning in regard to his view of Man which is completely materialist. In his A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Marx spelled out his view that religion was an illusion which deterred the revolutionary rage of the people: Continue reading