Nobody denies Marxism’s deadly record--not even its supporters. Writing in the New York Times, under the heading Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!, professor Jason Barker writes:
The idea of the classless and stateless society would come to define both Marx’s and Engels’s idea of communism, and of course the subsequent and troubled history of the Communist “states” (ironically enough!) that materialized during the 20th century. There is still a great deal to be learned from their disasters, but their philosophical relevance remains doubtful, to say the least.
On “Their disasters,” David Horowitz observed in 1998, 150 years after The Communist Manifesto was published,
This idea of Marx has proven to be as wrong as any idea ever conceived, more destructive in its consequences then any intellectual fallacy in history. Since the Manifesto was written 150 years ago, more than a hundred million people have been killed in its name. Between ten and twenty times that number have been condemned to lives of unnecessary misery and human squalor, deprived of the life-chances afforded the most humble citizens of the industrial democracies that Marxists set out to destroy.
No one disputes this record. Yet, Barker has the nerve to write,
The transition to a new [Marxian] society . . . is arguably proving to be quite a task. Marx, as I have said, does not offer a one-size-fits-all formula for enacting social change. [W]e are destined to keep citing him and testing his ideas until the kind of society that he struggled to bring about, and that increasing numbers of us now desire, is finally realized.
Translation: “No matter how much blood is spilled or how much economic devastation it takes, we Marxists will keep trying to overturn human nature by force and violence until our egalitarian fantasies are realized.”
Marxism is thoroughly utopian. It proposes to restructure “selfish” human nature into a “selfless” altruistic society where everyone “contributes” according to his ability, but receives only according to his needs. Marx was under no illusion as to what this will take, which is why he openly advocated violence and terror and destruction on whatever scale necessary.
Yet, Marxism’s appeal continues. Why? Because the type of people Marxism appeals to always exist in any society. Marxism is a rejection of the human mind, of reason, of rational thought, and of free will. It is thoroughly materialistic. As Barker approvingly observes, “It was,” according to Marx, “the material world that determined all thinking.” In order to reform humanity, the old order (capitalism) has to be destroyed, so that the material world can create a new kind of thinking--a new type of human being, even though “the material world”—i.e., the facts of reality—are totally divorced from Marxian ideology. If this seems like a contradiction, it’s because it is (See Tracinski @ The Federalist; Yes, Communism Is Definitely Idealist, And That’s Why It Leads To Mass Murder). Marxism is as divorced from the reality of experience as it is evil.
Thus, Marxism has appeal to the lowest human creatures: the lazy; the entitlement mentalities; the jealous; the envious; the haters of individual achievement—or worse, those who deny individual achievement outright ("You didn't build that"); those who think the world owes them a living; those who see themselves as “victims,” always looking to blame others for their failures; those who resent the responsibility of using their minds, and thus of living; those who hate life.
And so Marxism lives on. Will it win again, bringing more bloodshed and misery than ever?
Keep in mind one simple fact; the battle between communism (or any form of socialism) and capitalism is a moral battle--a battle between force and voluntarism--between altruism and selfishness.
Capitalism naturally results from individual freedom, in which force is banished from society by a government that protects individual rights and people deal with each other only by voluntary consent, each in pursuit of his own selfish interests. Capitalism is not imposed. It is the natural result of a free society.
Communism begins with the initiation of force by government against the people, with the goal of an altruistic society of strict economic equality in which everyone selflessly lives for others without any selfish interests. Such a society requires force because the only way to get people to renounce their own self-interest is to initiate force against them. Communism is imposed from the top: Politics - an unfettered state - is required because, as Mao observed, all politics grows out of the barrel of a gun. As C. Bradley Thompson observes:
Marxism is by definition totalitarian and genocidal by motive, design, practice, and result. The political goal of communism is to annihilate freedom in all realms of life, economic, social, and intellectual. By philosophical design, Marxism in power must always use force to achieve its ends. . . .If you doubt this, then I challenge any socialist/communist to give me an example of any Marxist initiative that doesn’t begin with the initiation of force by government against private citizens.
So, the fundamental battle is moral. Since capitalism unleashes selfishness, and socialism embodies altruistic selflessness, the battle is between selfishness and altruism. The problem for most of capitalism’s defenders is that they side with altruism as the moral ideal. Thus, you get statements like this one from Horowitz: “Marx was a brilliant mind and a seductive stylist, and many of his insights look reasonable enough on paper.” [My emphasis]. It’s a twist on an old adage about communism: “It’s good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” Horowitz says this, even as he urges “[F]uture generations [to] put Karl Marx’s manifesto on the same sinister shelf as Mein Kampf and other destructive products of the human soul.”
But we need not qualify our criticisms of Marxism with some kind of moral credits. From an altruistic standpoint, Marxism is good. But altruism, which holds self-sacrificial service to others as the ideal, is not good. It is inhumane and evil to its core. Marxian communism doesn’t fail in spite of altruism, or “good intentions”; it fails because it is the full realization of altruism. The 100 million+ lives Marxists sacrificed on the altar of “the kind of society that he struggled to bring about” is not an unfortunate side effect or the result of some communist gang that did it wrong. The failures of communism cited by Barker are not philosophically irrelevant. They are proof of Marxist philosophy’s true nature.
Rational selfishness is required to live, since to live means to pursue, achieve, and hold on to the values each of our lives depend upon, as determined by our own individual judgement. Selfishness is not, as Christianity teaches, a necessary evil or Original Sin. Selfishness, properly understood, is a necessary good, which means capitalism is not just a practical good, but a moral ideal.
Since Ayn Rand is the leading advocate of The Virtue of Selfishness, she is the most effective defender of capitalism. Thus, the battle between communist enslavement and capitalist freedom comes down to Karl Marx vs. Ayn Rand, or Marxism vs. Objectivism.
Can There be an "After Socialism"?--Alan Charles Kors for The Atlas Society
Capitalism and the Moral High Ground--Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard
Why Marxism—Evil Laid Bare--C. Bradley Thompson for The Objective Standard
Ayn Rand: Tea Party Voice of the Founding Fathers
Marxism “Begins with Theft and Ends with Murder,” Shows C. Bradley Thompson--Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard