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Although some may think that the Western world has learned its lesson about Marxism, in recent times, this dangerous ideology has again come to prominence in new forms. Marxist ideologies are seeping into many areas of culture, and many today are unknowingly taken captive by this vain human philosophy (Col. 2:8). Perhaps this is partly because many modern Western people today have forgotten the lessons of history. Thus, it would seem like we’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past as a sort of new, evolved, globalist Marxism has started to have a powerful influence.
How are we to make sense of it and how are we to respond?
Born on 5 May 1818, in Trier, German, Karl Marx is one of the most important figures in recent history, and his ideological legacy continues to impact us today. He is most famously known for his economic and social theory which gave rise to Socialism and Communism. Marx's critical theories about society, economics, and politics, collectively understood as Marxism, hold that human societies develop through class conflict. His most famous book is arguably The Communist Manifesto which he wrote with his co-author and friend, Frederick Engels.
Communism, Marx’s evil offspring, has been a blight on our world everywhere it has been tried and implemented. In 1999, The Black Book of Communism from Harvard University Press tried to tally up the death toll of Marxist-Leninist Communism in various countries. The figure it came up with was approaching 100 million people!
USSR: 20 million deaths
China: 65 million deaths
Vietnam: 1 million deaths
North Korea: 2 million deaths
Cambodia: 2 million deaths
Eastern Europe: 1 million deaths
Latin America: 150,000 deaths
Africa: 1.7 million deaths
Afghanistan: 1.5 million deaths
The international communist movement and Communist parties not in power: about 10,000 deaths.
And even these figures are conservative estimates with many speculating that the numbers are actually much higher! For example, Alexander Yakovlev, who was a high-level Soviet official who was one of Michael Gorbachev’s chief reformers, attempted to estimate the victims of Joseph Stalin’s regime alone. The number he came up with was between 60-70 million people! That’s in the USSR alone.
Former US President, Ronald Reagan described a communist as one who reads Karl Marx and an anti-communist as one who understands Karl Marx. Reagan described communism as neither an economic nor political system, but rather as a form of insanity. Yet there are still many world leaders, ivy-league educators, school teachers, professors, politicians, elite intelligencia and cultural influencers who still adore Marx’s system of thought and think it is the road to utopia. It finds its way into entertainment, movies and news media as well - so that its influence is pervasive. Indeed, some may have bought into some of its tenets unknowingly.
Relevance for Today
There are many movements today which find their basis in Classical Marxism such as Critical Race Theory, much of Leftist and Socialist policies held by liberals, Radical Third-Wave Feminism, and Post-colonial Theory, many in the LBGTQ agenda have embraced Marxist principles and tactics as well as Queer Theory and even fat and disability studies. These disciplines and agendas are what some may call “Cultural Marxism” where tenets and principles of Classical Marxism are applied to cultural and social issues of today, usually adding in a healthy dose of Postmodernism as well. This is one of the most pervasive ideologies around in our day. It also helps to make sense of why so many of these “Leftist” causes tend to go together with many seeing them as a package deal.
Every generation of the church has its ideological battles to fight. I believe that one of the major ones in our generation is Marxism’s devil-spawn. Thus, Christians and Christian leaders would do well to familiarize themselves with the threat and know how to respond Biblically with the truth.
For our purposes here, we’ll take a look at 10 disturbing facts about Socialism and Communism’s founding father. This is not just to be a smear campaign or ad hominem, but rather to point out that the roots of movements and ideologies matter. We can learn a lot about a particular movement by looking at its genesis and founder. We cannot separate Marxism from the man behind it.
“Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives.” (Aristotle)
OK, so I guess I’m coming out the gates swinging here! haha… but many in Marx’s own family and close friends seemed to have serious concerns about Karl Marx and even suspicions about occult or demonic influences.
His father, Heinrich, questioned if Karl was “governed by a demon” in a letter in 1837 and wrote to him as “my dear devil”. His closest friend, Engels referred to him as a “monster of ten thousand devils”, and his wife called him a “wicked knave”. Others of his associates compared him to Faust and Mephistopheles, describing his demeanour on occasion as “possessed.” Robert Payne, a prolific academic biographer of Marx and respected scholar said, “He had the devil’s view of the world, and the devil’s malignity. Sometimes he seemed to know that he was accomplishing works of evil.”
Marx hailed Satan as “the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds.” Some, such as Wurmbrand, make the case that Marx was a Satanist, while admirers of Marx make excuses for him. However, Marx also had a special preference for Mephistopheles - a demon featured in German folklore. He was especially fond of Mephistopheles’s line from Faust: “Everything that exists deserves to perish.” This is no surprise; it reflects the very thinking of the man who in letters called for the “ruthless criticism of all that exists,” and who in the Manifesto declared that communism seeks to “abolish the present state of things.”
I believe that Marxist ideology is one of the major weapons Satan has employed in our day and its demonic influence on societies is felt all over. It is deceptive and poses as an angel of light. Indeed, as we look at some of the devastations that both classical and today’s cultural Marxism have wrecked, one cannot help but see it as demonic! Marxism brings as much and more suffering and division as did Marx in his own life. Marx ruined his own and the lives of those around him, and now, his ideology continues to ruin lives.
2. A Religious Leader
Marx was not simply envisioning another neutral economic theory as some people think. Marxism is an alternative worldview of religious proportions.
For Marx and Engels, when they drafted their Communist Manifesto, they saw it as a revolutionary “catechism” - as the Communist Confession of Faith. This is proven in Engel’s letter to Marx in 1847 where he said, “I believe we had better drop the catechism form and call the thing: Communist Manifesto.” - fearing that giving away the religious nature of their idea would turn people away. Marx’s ideology was materialist to the core - focused on money, property, and gold. Thus, the key to the communist utopia was economics. He adamantly rejected any notion of a god. Economics was their salvation.
For the communist, man does live by bread alone.
It is ironic that socialists and communists will blast the wealthy for being obsessed with money when actually they are really projecting their own obsession, envy, coveting and greed. We see many examples of such hypocrisy from political pundits and leaders of the left. (It seems like the radical left has openly embraced much of the Cultural Marxism of our day)
Marxism is not religiously neutral. It is a system that is hostile, especially to Christianity, and Christians need to be alert to its danger today. We must see Marxism and all of the ideologies which have derived from it, such as Critical Theory as applied to a variety of fields such as racism, LBGTQ and queer studies, Post-colonialism, etc - as not just academic ideas, but competing worldviews. This is why its adherents often have a sort of religious fervour and devotion around their cause - it is their faith and salvation. They are systems of thought which seek to make sense of all of reality and provide comprehensive solutions. They are another religion altogether and cannot be mixed with Christianity.
Yet this is exactly what some Christians and church leaders are seeking to do. One cannot take on these ideologies as “analytical tools” without having to take on the fundamental presuppositions of the system.
3. Militantly Atheist
Even though Marx and Engels envisioned themselves as the religious leaders of their new faith to the world, they were at the same time atheists. However, Karl Marx did not just deny God’s existence or was dispassionately agnostic about it. He hated God. The reasons for his hatred are many, including his detesting of absolute truth and having any objective moral standards to be held accountable.
“Communism begins where atheism begins,” declared Marx. In the Communist Manifesto, he and Engels remarked, “Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion and all morality.”
Marx saw religion as a crutch and a way that people invented to help themselves deal with suffering. He famously wrote,
“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
Paul Kengor notes,
“The Soviet leadership would want Marxism and the state to be central to all citizens’ lives. Hence, the words of the Communist Manifesto were to be read and learned, drilled and memorized, and internalized. Any challenging text, especially an influential one like the Bible, was unwelcome. Religion was perceived as an ever-present, powerful enemy, not to be taken lightly.” (Paul Kengor, The Devil and Karl Marx, p. 27)
Marx was most passionately against Christianity of all religions. He seemed favourable to Muslims and praised certain Muslims, expressing sympathy for their “hatred against Christians and the hope of an ultimate victory over these infidels.” This is something that present-day Leftist politicians seem to have in common - who always seem to support Islam above other religions, especially Christianity.
Throughout history, one of the most brutally restricted rights by communist governments was and remains the freedom to worship, which communists always and everywhere have attacked with fervour. One may wonder why an atheistic ideology would be so threatened by religion? This is because belief in God stands in the way of the totalitarian desire to transform human nature. God becomes a competitor to communist control of the body, mind, and spirit of man that Marx wanted to redefine in his own image. This is also why totalitarian states are usually hostile to religion and especially Christianity since the Sovereign God of the Bible threatens the secular State’s claim to total sovereignty.
Whether the totalitarian leader was Fidel Castro or Pol Pot or Joe Stalin, the sentiment was the same. Wherever they went, from East to West, from Africa to Asia, from North Korea to the Soviet Union, communists shared one goal: the annihilation of religion.
“Marx was not first a Communist and then an atheist. He was first an atheist, then a Communist. Communism was merely the political expression of his atheism. As he hated God, so would he hate those who would own property.” (Fulton J. Sheen, The Church, Communism and Democracy, p. 138)
While Marxism has not succeeded in convincing the world that there is no God, it has succeeded in convincing the world that there is a devil! We must recognize that at the core of these ideologies is a desire to destroy the true religion to supplant their own false one.
4. Covetousness & Theft
Marx himself stated that “The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” And where does all that property then go to? The sovereign State, of course!
However, God’s commandments, “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet” imply and require the ownership of private property. Theft implies the taking of something that actually belongs to another. Similarly, coveting implies desiring that which belongs to another. Marx’s system envisions the abolition of private ownership of any goods, having everything subsumed into the all-powerful State to distribute. This is theft and covetousness. Theft is still theft, even if governments commit it. To assume the government can just take anything is to assume that government owns everything.
It is interesting that in Marx’s own life, he was constantly jobless and struggling to provide for his own family because of his aversion to working. He envied what others had, and his system enshrined this vice as one of its core principles. Thus, Marxism leads to despotism. He admitted so himself, saying, “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.” (speaking of the seizure of private property by the Communist State)
All Marxist ideologies end up systematizing covetousness and entitlement. Both qualities are passed on from their originator. Everywhere socialism and communism have been tried, it has led to economic devastation and not prosperity. This is what a system build on covetousness makes. The socialist or communist countries which have managed to avoid this fate do so by modifying or rejecting Marx's economic theory in favour of a more free-market or hybrid-style economy. We should not covet and think we’re entitled to what our neighbour has then employ the State’s coercive powers to steal from them through taxation or seizure and redistribute through a bureaucratic welfare system.
This goal of the abolition of private property is concerning today, especially in light of the World Economic Forum's vision for the future where we will own nothing and be happy... a part of their 8 predictions for the world by 2030. They envision a future where we will not actually own anything but rather rent what we need from the State. And I guess when the State doesn’t like what you think or do, it can just cancel your rental abilities for food, transport, education, housing, etc. Many global leaders today are working hard to make this future a reality. We'd do well to pay attention.
5. A Violent Revolutionary
At the end of his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx writes, “The Communists… openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”
It is no surprise then that his followers have also often turned to violent revolutionary means. Marx wrote,
“There is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.”
The violence associated with Marxist ideologies and causes is not accidental. It is part of the system. Robert Payne records that Marx stated emphatically that “Socialism cannot be brought into existence without revolution.” He said that there must be a literal process of “overthrowing” the old “filthy yoke and… founding a new society only in a revolution.” (Payne, Marx: Biography, p.127-130)
This tendency towards violent revolution continues to be a marker of today’s Marxist causes. There is a reason why the Black Lives Matter symbol resembles closely the raised communist fist. The two are connected ideologies and the “mostly peaceful” burning cities of social justice riots are simply an outworking of the system.
6. A Dark Poet
Marx himself wrote in a poem in 1937, “Thus Heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well… My soul, once true to God, is chosen for Hell.”
Marx’s poetry is quite disturbing and reveals some of the darkness inside his troubled soul. Paul Johnson commented of Marx’s poetry,
“Savagery is a characteristic note of his verse, together with the intense pessimism of the human condition, hatred, a fascination with corruption and violence, suicide pacts and pacts with the devil.” (Johnson, Intellectuals, p.54)
In one of his poems which was evidently addressed to his love, Jenny, he writes of a sort of suicide pact,
“Darling, thou hast drunk of poison, And now thou must depart with me. Now the night has fallen, There is no longer any day.” He pressed her violently to his heart, Death on her breath and breast. She was pierced by deeper pain, And her eyes were closed forever.
It is interesting that such despair and suicide through drinking poison shows up in his poetry since two of Marx’s daughters killed themselves by drinking poison in a suicide pact. This sad story is illustrative of the continued darkness that attends Marxist causes. Indeed, much of the Cultural Marxism of our day advances a culture of death in their attitudes and beliefs towards abortion, sexual reproduction, and euthanasia.
7. A Messed Up Family
Marx was a parasite on his parents, leeching off of them for pretty much his entire life. He refused to work consistently for wages, and instead, he mooched off his parent and friends as much as possible. Eventually, his parents financially cut him off because he was draining their life’s savings, enraging Marx in the process. His suffering mother expressed the wish that “Karl would accumulate capital instead of just writing about it.” His suffering wife would say the same: “Karl, if you had only spent more time making capital instead of writing about it, we would have been better off.”
Naturally, his family suffered the most from Marx’s attitude to work, being destitute from his laziness. His wife and kids lacked money, food, a steady roof over their heads, and even medical attention. Paul Johnson states that as Marx’s daughters grew, he denied them a satisfactory education, if any education at all, and vetoed careers for them entirely. Finally, when his elderly mom died, he got a lawyer to make sure he got a large share of the inheritance.
Indeed, what Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:8 holds true for Marx, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Marx, being an unbeliever was perhaps one of the worst specimens.
Furthermore, Marx stated candidly that he preferred male offspring. Marx lamented his wife, Jenny’s, birthing abilities, writing, “My wife, alas, delivered a girl and not a boy.” And as for the baby girl delivered by his daughter, he said, “I congratulate you on the happy delivery. … I prefer the ‘male’ sex among children who will be born at this turning point in history.” It is ironic that many modern feminists have taken to Marx’s work.
One of Marx’s daughters lost all three of her young children while devoting herself “to further her father’s agenda.” Another daughter gave up a cherished life as a journalist for a “miserable marriage” to one of her father’s young French followers. And the third daughter became “ensnared by a man whom she believed to be worthy of her father,” but who, in the end, drove her to suicide. In fact, four of Marx’s six children died before he did, including his oldest daughter, Jenny. The two daughters who survived him later committed suicide, one of them (Laura) in a suicide pact with her husband, a son-in-law whom Marx ridiculed.
His daughter, Eleanor became a mistress who was treated terribly by her lover and then-husband, Aveling. Eleanor had tried to kill herself at least once before with an opium overdose that failed. Later, Aveling would convince her of a joint suicide to die together in each other’s arms. Eleanor killed herself on March 31, 1898, using a combination of chloroform and prussic acid, as suggested by Aveling, who did not keep his promise to Eleanor. With Eleanor dead, Aveling retreated to his twenty-two-year-old girlfriend and inherited all of Eleanor’s possessions that had been bequeathed by her father, including his book royalties and a massive collection of papers and documents.
Another of his daughters, Laura and her husband, Paul, entered into their own death pact. The couple killed themselves on November 25–26, 1911. Paul administered an injection of potassium cyanide into Laura that night and injected himself in the morning. His suicide note said, “Healthy in mind and spirit, I kill myself before pitiless old age… For many years, I promised myself not to live past seventy years…”
It is no wonder that in Marx’s Communist Manifesto, one of his stated goals was the “abolition of the family” - as he eventually achieved in his own family! Marx envisioned a collective rearing of children by the communist nanny state would bring “real freedom” to all members of the family. Parenting would become the responsibility of the state. What a perfect statist vision for a man who eschewed fatherhood and the idea of marital fidelity and commitment.
This is also one of the reasons why Marxist causes (such as BLM’s official platform before they removed it from their site) tend towards the goal of the destruction of the family unit as designed by God.
8. Lazy & Money Problems
Marx’s laziness is obvious, but his hypocrisy is especially outrageous. Point 3 of his and Engels’s ten-point plan in the Manifesto called for “abolition of all right of inheritance.” Like so many communist leaders following him, Marx and Engels essentially said, “rules for thee but not for me.” Other people in the world did not deserve inheritances, but Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did.
Marx’s Manifesto didn’t even help his own financial cause. It didn’t even earn him a meagre sum in the year after it was published. That winter the Marx family sought refuge in a dilapidated boardinghouse living like vagabonds. There, that bitterly cold season, the family baby, Heinrich Guido, shortly after his first birthday died of the cold - a victim of his communist father’s irresponsibility.
At the start of their marriage in 1843, Marx had a well-paying job writing for a journal. However, by 1852, Jenny wrote a letter in June pleading with her husband, “I had firmly decided not to torment you constantly with money problems, and now here I am again. But truly Karl, I no longer have any good course.” She explained that the landlady was literally beating at the door. Jenny wrote,
“She has really put me in a state of terror. She has already had our belongings auctioned off. And, in addition, baker, governess, tea grocer, grocer, and the terrible man, the butcher. I am in a state, Karl, I no longer know what to do. For all these people, I am exposed as a liar.”
Paul Kengor notes that “Karl Marx had placed his wife in a state of terror over money and property, just as his writings and ideology would do to countless millions in the centuries ahead.”
The landlord was also fed up with Marx’s lack of grooming and hygiene. He was an alcoholic and chain smoker who never exercised, and suffered from warts and boils from the lack of washing. He stunk. “Washing, grooming and changing his linens are things he does rarely, and he likes to get drunk,” stated a Prussian police-spy report. “He has no fixed times for going to sleep or waking up.” As for the family apartment, “everything is broken down,” busted, spilled, smashed, falling apart—from toys and chairs and dishes and cups to tables and tobacco pipes and on and on. “In a word,” said the report, “everything is topsy-turvy. … To sit down becomes a thoroughly dangerous business.”
The ideologies and causes that have sprung up from Marx’s ideas also share his aversion to honest labour and often lead to economic devastation. Every single failed socialist state has landed its people into abject poverty and encouraged a massively entitled group of entitled welfare abusers to fund their laziness off the hard work of others. The more the welfare state grows, the less productive a population will become. Needing to earn money to feed oneself is a great practical motivator towards honest work!
9. A Racist
Because Paul (his daughter’s husband) was Cuban, Marx viewed him as marred by “Negro” blood in his veins, prompting Marx to denigrate him as “Negrillo” and “The Gorilla.” Karl Marx was a racist who cast racial slurs and hatred against blacks and Jews—ironic given that Marx was an ethnic Jew. Even his admiring biographer Francis Wheen, who habitually defends the worst in Marx, admits that he “sprayed anti-Semitic insults at his enemies with savage glee.”
In a July 1862 letter to Engels, in reference to his socialist political competitor, Ferdinand Lassalle, whom he called a “Jewish n—-er”, Marx wrote:
“It is now completely clear to me that he, as is proved by his cranial formation and his hair, descends from the Negroes from Egypt, assuming that his mother or grandmother had not interbred with a n-----. Now this union of Judaism and Germanism with a basic Negro substance must produce a peculiar product. The obtrusiveness of the fellow is also n------like.”
Marx is also recorded as writing to Engels in 1866 that, the “common Negro type is the degenerate form of a much higher one … a very significant advance over Darwin.”
It is quite ironic that the Black Lives Matter Movement’s co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, unashamedly calls herself a “trained Marxists”!
Elsewhere Marx wrote of Jews,
“Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every Pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets. … The fact that 1,855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish money-changers out of the temple, and that the money-changers of our age, enlisted on the side of tyranny, happen again to be Jews is perhaps no more than a historic coincidence.” (Karl Marx, “The Russian Loan,” 1856)
Marx’s anti-Semitic views were no secret. In 1844, he published an essay titled “On the Jewish Question.” He wrote that the worldly religion of Jews was “huckstering” and that the Jew’s god was “money.” Marx’s view of Jews was that they could only become an emancipated ethnicity or culture when they no longer exist. Just one step short of calling for genocide, Marx said, “The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.”
Hitler drew on Marx’s demonic philosophy. Hitler said in an interview in 1934 that,
“National Socialism derives from each of the two camps the pure idea that characterizes it, national resolution from bourgeois tradition; vital, creative socialism from the teaching of Marxism.”
An essential component of many of the Cultural Marxist causes today is some form of partiality and discrimination. It can be unfair discrimination against Caucasians, privileging of minority groups, or the perpetual assumed innocence of perceived oppressed groups. This is another feature at the core of these ideologies today. Christians should know better as God’s law teaches us to show no partiality - regardless of any external distinguishing markers - we are all one in Adam, sharing a common humanity, and for Christians, we are all one in Christ, sharing a common Redeemer.
Karl eventually bedded Helene Demuth, their housekeeper, behind Jenny’s back. Historians have no idea how often or the exact circumstances, including whether it was consensual. “He would take his comfort where he could,” wrote one biographer of Marx seeking a sexual receptacle in Demuth.
“That she was virtually his bondslave was a matter of entire indifference to him. It was enough that she was available to serve his sexual needs at a time when Jenny was too ill to satisfy them. We shall probably never know whether he raped or seduced the servant, though the large number of images concerned with rape in his later writings suggest that it was rape rather than seduction. In due course, a child was born.”
Engels ended up taking the fall for his friend Marx, claiming the child was actually his. However, decades later, on his deathbed, Engels admitted that the child was Karl’s and that Engels had intervened to help his friend cover up the truth and to try to save Marx’s marriage.
Marxist ideologies also end up being unfaithful. Unfaithful to truth, unfaithful to the grand promises its leaders make to their followers, and unfaithful to produce any godly offspring.
This is the man who is behind Marxism, the ideology that drives Socialism, Communism, and many of the Critical Social Justice and Leftist causes today. One might ask how is it that anyone would follow this man’s ideas? Why is it that the economic theories of a man who could not even keep his own house in order were given so much weight? It boggles reason.
Yet, his ideology has been taught in schools and universities and even crept into many churches and denominations today. We would do well as Christians to pause and critically analyze these movements from a Christian and Biblical worldview and exercise caution and discernment for their message.
Ultimately though, while it is good to be aware of these things, it is familiarity with the Truth - God’s Word - that will guard His people against error. We must commit ourselves to understand how all of God’s Word applies to all of life because the areas that we overlook or are weak in will be and have proven to be the areas where we are most susceptible and in danger.
People turn to false ideologies like Marxism because they have not been convicted of the true way to flourish that God’s Word shows us. Thus, the task of cultural apologetics and public theology is vital for the modern church to reclaim.
By God’s Word and Spirit, I believe we can and will.