Saturday, April 4, 2015

A BBC Discussion of Karl Marx

The video below is a discussion of Karl Marx from the “In Our Time” BBC Radio 4 program. Early on there is some discussion of The Communist Manifesto (1st edn. 1848), but my take on that is very different. The worst aspect of the discussion is the attempt to completely exonerate Marx from the horrors of communism. Of course, it is true that Marx was not personally responsible for the torture chamber that was Stalinist Russia (obviously not, he was dead), but he was indirectly responsible for the authoritarian nature of these regimes by means of his ideas and influence on later generations. If you think ideas have no influence on people, then you are clearly wrong, and the demand for a dictatorship of the proletariat with “despotic inroads on the rights of property” is right there in The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels 1985 [1888]: 104–105). It is quite obvious that the transitional state demanded by Marx cannot but be imposed by extreme violence and coercion, and that such a system will almost certainly lead to terrible abuses.

For recent biographies of Marx and Engels, see:
Wheen, Francis. 2000. Karl Marx. Fourth Estate, London. 431 p.

Sperber, Jonathan. 2014. Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life. Liveright Publishing Corporation, New York. 648 p.

Hunt, Tristram. 2009.The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels. Allen Lane, London. 442 p.

Green, John. 2009. Engels: A Revolutionary Life: A Biography of Friedrich Engels. Artery Publications, London. 347 p.
Further Reading
Wolff, Jonathan. 2003 (rev. 2010). “Karl Marx,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“Karl Marx,” Wikipedia

Marx, K. and F. Engels. 1985 [1888]. The Communist Manifesto (trans. S. Moore). Penguin Books, London.

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