Who Is Karl Marx? What Is Marxism and its Consequences?

Excellent concise biography of the man whose evil ideas were responsible for the deaths of over 100 million persons by their own governments in the 20th Century.

Murray N. Rothbard’s brilliant online essay, “Karl Marx: Communist as Religious Eschatologist,” is the most powerful indictment of Marxism ever written.

Marx was a vicious racist and anti-Semite. His demonic apocalyptic vision of genocide and destruction led to the deaths of over 100 million victims by their murderous Marxist regimes.

Reviewed by Dr. Gary North: “This is an irrefutable book. Not many books in history are. I have a Ph.D. in history. I wrote a book on Marx’s thought, which was published in 1968. I went through more primary source documents by Marx and Engels than most professional historians ever do. This book is a compilation of direct citations from primary source documents. Weyl assembled the citations in one book, for which historians should be grateful. The one-star ratings are offered by readers who cannot bear the thought that their beloved Marx wrote what he very clearly did write. If you have any doubts, buy this book and read it.Then follow the footnotes. This book was dropped down the academic memory hole from the day it was published. Marxism was still a faith shared by academics in the West. Deng abandoned the faith in the year this book was published: 1979. In December 1991, the experiment in Marxism was abandoned by the USSR. This left the aging holdouts in the West high and dry. The few Western Marxists who had read Weyl’s book never forgave him for writing it. Weyl was one of theirs who abandoned the faith early. This always outrages the faithful in any religion, which Marxism was — a religion of revolution.”

After the fall of communism, and certainly after this wide-ranging demolition of Marxism by Austrian scholars, who can possibly defend Marxism? Plenty of people, many of them smart otherwise but uneducated in economics. This book is the antidote, covering the whole history of this nutty and dangerous system of thought. It begins by an alternately hilarious and tragic introduction by the editor Yuri Maltsev. He describes in vivid detail life in the Soviet Union, which, he points out contrary to myth, was indeed an attempt to realize Marx’s vision. Of course the system moved away from the strict doctrine, lest everyone in the country be reduced to the most primitive possible economic conditions. He describes a society in which nothing works, ethics and morals collapse, and absurdities abound in every aspect of daily life. It is a priceless first-hand account.

Next come sweeping essays by David Gordon and Hans-Hermann Hoppe that get into the guts of the Marxian system and show where it went wrong from both a philosophical and economic perspective. Hoppe in particular here shows how Marx took classical liberal doctrine on the state and misapplied it in ways that contradicted all logic and experience.

Gary North provides a devastating look at Marx the man, while Ralph Raico zeros in on the Marxian doctrine of class. Finally, and as a triumphant finish, Rothbard offers a wholesale revision of the basis of Marxism. It was not economics, he says. It was the longing for a universal upheaval to overthrow all things we know about the world and replace it with a crazed fantasy based secular/religious longings. Rothbard finds all this in the unknown writings of Marx and his post-millennial predecessors in the history of ideas.

Socialism is the most important critical examination of socialism ever written. Socialism is most famous for Mises’s penetrating economic calculation argument. The book contains much more however. Mises not only shows the impossibility of socialism: he defends capitalism against the main arguments socialists and other critics have raised against it. A centrally planned system cannot substitute some other form of economic calculation for market prices, because no such alternative exists. Capitalism is true economic democracy. Socialism addresses the contemporary issues of economic inequality and argues that wealth can exist for long periods only to the extent that wealthy producers succeed in satisfying the consumers. Mises shows that there is no tendency to monopoly in a free market system. Mises analyzes reform measures, such as social security and labor legislation, which in fact serve to impede the efforts of the capitalist system to serve the masses. Socialism is a veritable encyclopedia of vital topics in the social sciences, all analyzed with Mises’s unique combination of historical erudition and penetrating insight.

This is the essay that overthrew the socialist paradigm in economics, and provided the foundation for modern Austrian price theory. When it first appeared in 1920, Mises was alone in challenging the socialists to explain how their pricing system would actually work in practice. Mises proved that socialism could not work because it could not distinguish more or less valuable uses of social resources, and predicted the system would end in chaos. The result of his proof was the two-decade-long “socialist calculation” debate.

In 1920, Ludwig von Mises dropped a bombshell on the European economic world with his article called “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth.” It argued that socialism was impossible as an economic system. It set off two decades of debate, so by the time the essays appeared in English, in this very book here, in 1935, the debate was still raging. This volume edited by F.A. Hayek dug the knife into socialism’s heart unlike any book to ever appear. It contains essays by Mises along with a foreword and afterword by Hayek. It also contains more commentary by N.G. Pierson, George Halm, and Enrico Barone. It is exceptionally well edited and beautifully argued, and has not been in print for many years. The contents are nothing short of prophetic. The so-called “Calculation Argument” has never been answered. It shows that without private property in capital goods, there can be no prices and hence no data available for cost accounting. Production becomes random at best, and completely irrational. Mises had convinced his generation and this book completely devastates the whole socialist apparatus from a theoretical point of view.

The great economist takes on Karl Marx, and his fundamental failure to understand the workings of the capital market and its relationship to value. The criticism was devastating, so much so that a leading Marxist responded, and thus herein is Rudolf Hilferding’s response. It is very weak, as you will undoubtedly notice. The book is introduced by the socialist Paul Sweezy, and he too tries to rescue the Marxists from the corner into which Böhm-Bawerk drives them. So this book makes for great drama, and it is a pleasure to see the Austrian come out on top despite every effort by the compiler of the book to prevent it.

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years. “Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit,” Ignazio Silone wrote, and this is the standard the authors apply to the Communist experience—in the China of “the Great Helmsman,” Kim Il Sung’s Korea, Vietnam under “Uncle Ho” and Cuba under Castro, Ethiopia under Mengistu, Angola under Neto, and Afghanistan under Najibullah.

The authors, all distinguished scholars based in Europe, document Communist crimes against humanity, but also crimes against national and universal culture, from Stalin’s destruction of hundreds of churches in Moscow to Ceausescu’s leveling of the historic heart of Bucharest to the widescale devastation visited on Chinese culture by Mao’s Red Guards. As the death toll mounts—as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on—the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century.

The Gulag Archipelago: A New Foreword by Jordan B. Peterson

(Jordan Peterson: Foreword to The Gulag Archipelago: 50th Anniversary Edition — Visual Presentation)

The Gulag Archipelago is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about the Soviet forced labor camp system. The three-volume book is a narrative relying on eyewitness testimony and primary research material, as well as the author’s own experiences as a prisoner in a gulag labor camp. Written between 1958 and 1968, it was published in the West in 1973 and, thereafter, circulated in samizdat (underground publication) form in the Soviet Union until its appearance in the Russian literary journal, Novy Mir, in 1989, in which a third of the work was published over three issues. GULag or Gulág is an acronym for the Russian term Glavnoye Upravleniye ispravitelno-trudovyh Lagerey (Главное Управление Исправительно-трудовых Лагерей), or “Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps”, the bureaucratic name of the governing board of the Soviet labour camp system, and by metonymy, the camp system itself.

The original Russian title of the book is Arkhipelag GuLag, the rhyme supporting the underlying metaphor deployed throughout the work. The word archipelago compares the system of labor camps spread across the Soviet Union with a vast “chain of islands”, known only to those who were fated to visit them. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Russian Federation, The Gulag Archipelago has been officially published, and it has been included in the high school program in Russia as mandatory reading since 2009.

Alexander Gray (1882–1968) was a British economist with a particularly keen appreciation of the Austrian contribution to the history of ideas. As with others of his generation, he was super well-educated and an outstanding stylist of the English language. Even by standards of his time, Professor Gray excelled in depth of research and clarity of prose, and his classic treatise on the history of ideas is a prime example: it is a real page turner from first to last. It was also Rothbard’s own favorite book on socialism, next to Mises’s own. “Alexander Gray is my favorite historian of economic thought,” wrote Rothbard. “Gray’s demolition of socialist writers was apt and devastating. Gray was also a poet and a translator of poetry into the Scottish language; and we find that his translations into broad Scots of European ballads and of Heine were sensitive and much admired.”

Shafarevich’s book The Socialist Phenomenon, which was published in the US by Harper & Row in 1980, analyzes numerous examples of socialism, from ancient times, through various medieval heresies, to a variety of modern thinkers and socialist states. From these examples he claims that all the basic principles of socialist ideology derive from the urge to suppress individuality. The Socialist Phenomenon consists of three major parts: 1, Chiliastic Socialism: Identifies socialist ideas amongst the ancient Greeks, especially Plato, and in numerous medieval heretic groups such as the Cathars, Brethren of the Free Spirit, Taborites, Anabaptists, and various religious groups in the English Civil War, and modern writers such as Thomas More, Campanella, and numerous Enlightenment writers in 18th-century France. 2. State Socialism: Describes the socialism of the Incas, the Jesuit state in Paraguay, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. 3. Analysis: Identifies three persistent abolition themes in socialism – the abolition of private property, the abolition of the family, and the abolition of religion (mainly, but not exclusively Christianity) Shafarevich argues that ancient socialism (such as Mesopotamia and Egypt) was not ideological, as an ideology socialism was a reaction to the emergence of individualism in the Axial Age. He compares Thomas More‘s (Utopia) and Campanella‘s (City of the Sun) visions with what is known about the Inca Empire, and concludes that there are striking similarities. He claims that we become persons through our relationship with God, and argues that socialism is essentially nihilistic, unconsciously motivated by a death instinct. He concludes that we have the choice of either pursuing death or life.

  • The God That Failed — Book by Louis Fischer, André Gide, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, Richard Wright & Richard Crossman (editor).

The God That Failed is a 1949 book which collects together six essays with the testimonies of a number of famous ex-communists, who were writers and journalists. The common theme of the essays is the authors’ disillusionment with and abandonment of communism. The book jacket for the 2001 edition says it “brings together essays by six of the most important writers of the twentieth century on their conversion to and subsequent disillusionment with communism.” The six contributors were Louis Fischer, André Gide, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, and Richard Wright. Richard Crossman, the British Member of Parliament who conceived and edited the volume, at one point approached the famous American ex-communist Whittaker Chambers about contributing an essay to the book. At the time Chambers was still employed by Time magazine, having not yet gone public with his charges against Alger Hiss, and so declined to participate.

The book contains Fischer’s definition of “Kronstadt” as the moment in which some communists or fellow-travelers decide not just to leave the Communist Party but to oppose it as anti-communists. Editor Crossman said in the book’s introduction: “The Kronstadt rebels called for Soviet power free from Bolshevik dominance” (p. x). After describing the actual Kronstadt rebellion, Fischer spent many pages applying the concept to some subsequent former communists—including himself: “What counts decisively is the ‘Kronstadt.’ Until its advent, one may waver emotionally or doubt intellectually or even reject the cause altogether in one’s mind and yet refuse to attack it. I had no ‘Kronstadt’ for many years” (p. 204). Writers who subsequently picked up the term have included Whittaker Chambers, Clark Kerr, David Edgar, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Norman Podhoretz.

 

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