You a Marxist?
To my shock, dismay, and grief, a leading Shakespeare
scholar recently referred to neo-Marxists in the English
departments of our universities. He wasnt criticizing such
scholars; on the contrary, he called them men and women of
the greatest independence of mind.
Funny how you can exempt yourself from the crimes of Marxism by
adding the prefix neo. A neo-Nazi isnt usually regarded as
a higher life form than a regular old Nazi, but a neo-Marxist is
supposed to be unrelated to the folks who gave the world the gulag,
the reeducation camp, and the vast boneyards of Siberia, China,
Whats more, the original Marx is being honored with a fancy
new edition of The Communist Manifesto, which is now 150
So Marx is good, and neo-Marxists are good. It was just the people
who ruled countries in the name of Marx who were bad, you see. They
betrayed Marx Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol
Pot, and the rest of those brutes.
Was there anything about Marxs ideas that made them especially
susceptible to betrayal? This is the question youre
not supposed to ask, because the answer is so obvious. When an idea
is betrayed every single time its put into practice,
the fault doesnt lie with the practitioners alone.
There has never been a humane communist regime. Marxism is inherently
totalitarian. It recognizes no moral limits on the state. Its
the most convenient ideology for aspiring tyrants; it also retains
its appeal for intellectuals, who have proved equally skillful at
rationalizing abuses of power and at exculpating themselves.
If the tyrants had really betrayed Marx, youd
expect the true-blue Marxists to be nervously vigilant against pseudo-Marxist
despots. But they never are. They are always willing to trust every
new ruler who acts in the holy name of Marxism.
The most successful ideology of the 20th century denied any divine
element in man or the universe warranting modesty in the state.
That meant the end of privacy. People were punished for their thoughts
even thoughts they hadnt had yet, but which the Marxist
rulers could predict they would have because of their class membership.
(Scientific socialism didnt have to wait until
they had really committed crimes, not even thought-crimes.)
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Sobran (19462010), conservative turned libertarian, was one
of the most significant American writers of his time. See his
website and his
(c) 1998 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation