by Rod D. Martin
May 1, 2003

You would probably never have heard of Karl Marx had it not been for V.I. Lenin. Marx was neither terribly successful nor terribly important in his own right, and had it not been for a revolution carried out three decades after his death, he would be a footnote at best.

But on this May Day, the high holy day of Communism and Socialism, it is important that we remember.

You still hear it said from time to time that “communism wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been carried out like Marx suggested, without all that junk from Lenin and Stalin.”  And in a sense, one can forgive these apologists for their ignorance, because in fact, Marx never produced a political program per se. The entirety of his plan for his new world order was contained in ten short points — nothing more than slogans, really — in his very first “book”, the Communist Manifesto. He never defined them further. He never saw a need. Marx had grander work in mind.

He was producing a religion.

Marx, the anti-Semitic Jew, the hater of Christianity and all it stood for, created an entire atheology. It was, in the words of James Billington, “fire in the minds of men.” Marx sought to turn the old order on its head, to regenerate mankind through chaos. He preached a dialectical view of history which he claimed had turned Hegel “right-side up” and which, at root, embraced ancient dualism. He propounded a materialism borrowed from Feuerbach which reduced man to a mechanistically-determined automaton, mere “matter in motion.” He wedded to this a naively classical interpretation of the labor theory of value to produce his economics, and a utopian view of the state which said man, morally neutral and therefore perfectible, could be utterly re-made — regenerated, or saved — by a state or party empowered to completely mold his environment.

To all of this he added an eschatology of victory, a certainty of success raised to the level of first principle, of dogma, of prerequisite faith. It is forever worth noting that Whittaker Chambers, even when he embraced freedom, believed without question that he was abandoning the winning side. The contagiousness of the Communist faith was such that virtually everyone at the time agreed.

The tenor of the “worker’s paradise” to come was already apparent in Marx’s own dictatorial leadership of the International Workingmen’s Association. But once in the hands of a state, Communist atheology became thoroughly consistent with its presuppositions. Since the individual man was just a biological machine, he could be discarded at will. Since good and evil were entirely relative, they could be defined entirely by the party and therefore by the state. Since the state/party could and must regenerate man and build the paradise to come, its power must be absolute and unquestioned.

And since victory was inevitable, millions could and would surrender their individuality, their families, even their lives, without a fight.

Marx’s atheology produced the greatest idol of all, the omnipotent state. This idol appealed to men more than any other in history, because it made all morality relative and gave ambitious men the means to become gods themselves. But it also appealed precisely because it was not an idol of stone or wood, but of power: prayers to it could be answered, needs and greeds fulfilled. And because it indulged all of man’s basest instincts while ever appealing to his noblest motives, it was exactly the sort of god man wanted to create: a god in his own image.

The pieces of Marx’s puzzle weren’t new: his work was but the logical conclusion of left-wing Enlightenment humanism, and had roots as old as Pharaoh; and it was left to others — Lenin, Stalin, Mao — to carry out his vision. Yet Marx’s creation proved to be one of the most successful false gods of all time. In its heyday enslaving more than half the world (and nearly taking the rest), its tenets remain the dominant faith of much of the world’s ruling elite. That is itself a terrifying thought. Marxism in the 20th century killed a hundred million people, and sent easily two billion more to hell. It withered whatever it touched; and it frankly touched us all.

If Lenin’s minions were the “vanguard” of the old revolution, we must then be the vanguard of the new. Nothing has taught us better than Marxism the danger of holding false theological presuppositions, even in the absence of a clear political program. Men may embrace the truth, or embrace a lie. The difference between the American Revolution and the Russian is the difference between worlds; and it is that better world — Reagan’s beloved “city on a hill” — which we must advance, for the sake of all mankind.


Editor’s Note: This op-ed from Rod D. Martin was originally posted at WorldNetDaily.