Behind the Continuing Attacks on Karl Marx

The People
Aug. 30, 1986
pages 2, 7

Behind the Continuing Attacks on Karl Marx

For decades, belittling, deriding and vilifying Karl Marx has been an international "sport." Many have played the dirty game -- professorial poodles, editorial and journalistic lick-spittles, ignorant politicians, pompous intellectuals, literary grocery peddlers, renegade "Marxists," and a host of others. They comprise as large and varied a collection of slanderers, character assassins and liars as ever attacked and besmirched the honored name of a great figure.

According to those vicious assailants, Marx was an incompetent, a sponger, a plagiarist, a boorish, intolerant, cantankerous spouter of hate, an exponent of conflict, an immoral person, a complete failure in life, and more.

One is prompted to wonder, if Marx was indeed all this, why do his defamers find it necessary repeatedly to return to the attack. Why this compulsion time and time again to declare him passe, to "prove him wrong"? Why not simply ignore him, forget him? If he were in fact the failure and fool that they have attempted to paint him, whom could he possibly have impressed or influenced?

The answer is not difficult to arrive at when one realizes that Marx's unpopularity with his calumniators is not really due to his alleged personal faults and supposedly evil characteristics. His detractors did not, and do not, attack him because they found, or find him, wanting in the social graces. Their venomous assaults were, and are, born of hatred and fear. And Marx was, and is, hated and feared by them because he challenged the existing order of things; because he exposed the basic cause of the social evils -- the poverty, the misery, the conflicts -- that afflict the class-divided capitalist system. "Here," in the words of a former National Secretary of the Socialist Labor Party, Arnold Petersen, "Marx touched the most sensitive of ruling-class nerves, the property nerve." And the ruling class and its defenders reacted with all the "furies of private interests."

As Petersen further noted --

"... Marx established conclusively that the capitalist class subsisted and survived by practicing and perpetrating an evil that (in the social and technological setting) was no longer a necessary evil ... that a great moral wrong, a morally indefensible iniquity, was being perpetrated for the exclusive benefit and protection of a favored class at the expense primarily of the useful producing class -- the wage workers -- and generally at the expense of social evolution and humanity at large, the corollary of which was a conscious and planned policy of obstructing all basic sound progress.... Hence, their frenzied and oft-repeated efforts at traducing and vilifying Marx ... imputing all sorts of petty personal and evil motives to him, and hence, finally, their hopeless and ever frustrated efforts to 'prove' Marx wrong, to pick flaws in his words and to misrepresent his principles...."


But all the efforts to rebury Marx and demean his life's work have failed. The repeated efforts in themselves demonstrate that. Though dead for over 100 years, Marx continues to haunt the plutocracy and the apologists for their jungle system. As capitalism's crisis deepens, Marx and Marxism continue to dominate their thoughts -- constant reminders that capitalism is doomed. Daily, the soundness of his basic premises, the correctness of his conclusions, the validity of his principles are demonstrated.

In such circumstances, the beneficiaries of capitalism cannot ignore Marx or Marxism. They are deeply conscious that, though Marx is dead, Marxism is very much alive. Little wonder, then, that the guns of capitalism are trained against Marxian science. But to no avail. As the foremost American Marxist, Daniel De Leon, so well expressed it -- "Events refute anti-Marxism, and demonstrate it the opposite of science. From each recurring refutation of anti-Marxism, and demonstration of its unscientific foundation and spirit, Marxism rises reconfirmed; its scientific merits redemonstrated...."

Marx and Marxism stand fully vindicated today, having withstood every attack. Supplemented by the socialist industrial union program for establishing it, Marxian socialism constitutes the hope of the world. The only hope. And we are privileged to play a part in bringing that hope to fruition.

- N.K.