On the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth, says Acton research director Samuel Gregg, the world should be excoriating his ideas and the terrorism they spawned, not excusing or celebrating them.
It’s always a risky exercise to draw a straight line between particular ideas and human events. Most occurrences in human history have multiple causes. Occasionally, however, you can identify direct links. One example of this is the life and thought of Karl Marx, whose 200th birthday is being commemorated this month. Without Marx, I’d submit, the twentieth century would have been far freer of ideologically-sanctioned murder, violence, theft, and envy.
Not that you would know this from reading recent opinion pieces in the New York Times or from seeing those symbols of those Marxist tyranny—the red flags with hammer-and-sickle—paraded in Western European and Latin American cities every May 1st. In a world in which we rightly condemn figures like Adolf Hitler and movements such as National Socialism for the destruction and death they inflicted upon millions, it remains acceptable on the political and intellectual left to praise a man whose ideas and actions were a major catalyst for the death of somewhere between 85 and 100 million people from 1918 until 1991.
That butcher’s list doesn’t include the destroyed economies, burnt churches, or the systematic use of mass imprisonment, torture and state terrorism by Marxist activists and regimes who regarded Marx and Marxist ideology as providing fundamental legitimacy for their actions.