Acton Institute Powerblog

Jaffa on How Marx May Win After All

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This from a new Uncommon Knowledge interview with Harry Jaffa:

The society of the future is one in which the moral distinction that is based upon the Judeo-Christian and Greek traditions will dissolve. We are moving into a Communist world; we are moving into the world that Marx wanted without knowing it and without having the kind of revolution that Marx predicted and thought was necessary. For example, the President always talks about our values. What does [President Obama] mean by values? Values are moral choices, which have no object or basis. The value is a subjective desire, not an objective truth. He does not know what he is saying; he does not know the importance. A hundred years ago, nobody would have spoken about our principles as being values.

For more on the necessity of a transcendent moral order to the development and maintenance of liberty, see Acton’s latest documentary, The Birth of Freedom. The trailer, as well as several video shorts, are available at

Jonathan Witt


  • The classic work making this argument is Himmelfarb’s The De-moralization Of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values.

    More in an R&L interview about that book, “Learning from Victorian Virtues.” Here she says,

    The idea of virtue goes back to antiquity, and it varied in the course of time. The ancient virtues were not the Christian virtues, and they were certainly not the Victorian virtues. But what was common to all of these virtues, to the very idea of virtue, was a fixed moral standard – a standard by which all people at all times and under all circumstances would be judged. Today we have abandoned that idea of virtue and have adopted instead what we now call “values”. Value is a subjective, relativistic term; any individual, group, or society may choose to value whatever they like. One cannot say of virtues what one can say of values, that anyone’s virtues are as good as anyone else’s, or that everyone has a right to his own virtues. This shift from virtues to values represents the true moral revolution of our time.