Answering Marx and Engels 

Frederick Engels, Marx's collaborator Karl Marx, Atheist

  • “Then I will be able to walk triumphantly,
    Like a god, through the ruins of their kingdom.
    Every word of mine is fire and action.
    My breast is equal to that of the Creator.”

  • (Karl Marx, youthful poem, quoted in Murray N. Rothbard, 'Karl Marx as Religious Eschatologist,' at

  • “The question has previously always been: what is God? and German philosophy has answered the question in this sense: God is man. Man has only to understand himself, to take himself as the measure of all aspects of life, to judge according to his being, to organise the world in a truly human manner according to the demands of his own nature, and he will have solved the riddle of our time. Not in otherworldly, nonexistent regions, not beyond time and space, not with a 'God' immanent in or opposed to the world, is the truth to be found, but much nearer, in man’s own breast. Man’s own substance is far more splendid and sublime than the imaginary substance of any conceivable 'God,' who is after all only the more or less indistinct and distorted image of man himself.”

  • (Friedrich Engels, 'A review of 'Past and Present', by Thomas Carlyle,' London, 1844)

In Fashion Surplus Value
Wipe 'Em Out Leon Trotsky
Does it Work? Outdated
Product Placement What is History?
Primitive Communism Utilitarianism
Witness Progeny
Communism Today

In Fashion

Karl Marx wrote most of his works with the aid of a collaborator, Frederick Engels. Marx and Engels were atheistic materialists, a viewpoint which they considered 'scientific' and stylish, too. As Engels puts it:

  • “There is no denying it. About the middle of this century, what struck every cultivated foreigner who set up his residence in England, was what he was then bound to consider the religious bigotry and stupidity of the English respectable middle-class. We, at that time, were all materialists, or, at least, very advanced free-thinkers, and to us it appeared inconceivable that almost all educated people in England should believe in all sorts of impossible miracles, and that even geologists like Buckland and Mantell should contort the facts of their science so as not to clash too much with the myths of the book of Genesis; while, in order to find people who dared to use their own intellectual faculties with regard to religious matters, you had to go amongst the uneducated, the 'great unwashed,' as they were then called, the working people, especially the Owenite Socialists.

  • “But England has been 'civilized' since then. The exhibition of 1851 sounded the knell of English insular exclusiveness. England became gradually internationalized, in diet, in manners, in ideas; so much so that I begin to wish that some English manners and customs had made as much headway on the Continent as other Continental habits have made here. Anyhow, the introduction and spread of salad-oil (before 1851 known only to the aristocracy) has been accompanied by a fatal spread of Continental skepticism in matters religious, and it has come to this, that agnosticism, though not yet considered 'the thing' quite as much as the Church of England, is yet very nearly on a par, as far as respectability goes, with Baptism, and decidedly ranks above the Salvation Army. And I cannot help believing that under those circumstances it will be consoling to many who sincerely regret and condemn this progress of infidelity to learn that these 'new-fangled notions' are not of foreign origin, are not 'made in Germany,' like so many other articles of daily use, but are undoubtedly Old English, and that their British originators 200 years ago went a good deal further than their descendants now dare to venture.

  • “What, indeed, is agnosticism but, to use an expressive Lancashire term, 'shamefaced' materialism? The agnostic's conception of Nature is materialistic throughout. The entire natural world is governed by law, and absolutely excludes the intervention of action from without. But, he adds, we have no means either of ascertaining or of disproving the existence of some Supreme Being beyond the known universe. Now, this might hold good at the time when Laplace, to Napoleon's question, why, in the great astronomer's 'Treatise on Celestial Mechanics,' the Creator was not even mentioned, proudly replied: 'I had no need of this hypothesis.' But, nowadays, in our evolutionary conception of the universe, there is absolutely no room for either a Creator or a Ruler; and to talk of a Supreme Being shut out from the whole existing world, implies a contradiction in terms, and, as it seems to me, a gratuitous insult to the feelings of religious people.”
  • (Frederick Engels, Introduction to the 1892 English edition of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific).

So religious people are so not 'with it,' we discover. Not that Karl Marx himself was part of the in-crowd during his life-time; only eleven people attended his funeral: "Only eleven people attended his funeral, and five of those were his immediate family." (Tamim Ansary, The Invention of Yesterday, p. 335). To humanity's sorrow, he came into vogue later, and remains in vogue in dark corners of academia. Not only did Marx and Engels happen to be atheists, they wanted to spread the joy:

  • “But the Workers' party ought, at any rate in this connection, to have expressed its awareness of the fact that bourgeois 'freedom of conscience' is nothing but the toleration of all possible kinds of religious freedom of conscience, and that for its part it endeavors rather to liberate the conscience from the witchery of religion.”
  • (Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, Part IV, 1875).

This project: of ridding the world of religion,— is central to the communist project. Karl Marx famously called religion the opiate of the masses:

"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. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo." (Karl Marx, Introduction, Contribution to Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, 1843).

Certainly in years to come, those oppressed by Marx and Engels' utopia, suffering real material want, deprivation of liberty and even mass murder, would wish they had an opiate to stifle the pain, but it was withheld from them.

Nietzsche expresses a similar thought, that religion is a narcotic which soothes pain without healing the underlying wound which is causing the pain:

"The more one is disposed to interpret away and justify, the less likely he is to look directly at the causes of evil and eliminate them. An instant alleviation and narcotizing of pain, as is usual in the case of tooth ache, is sufficient for him even in the severest suffering. The more the domination of religions and of all narcotic arts declines, the more searchingly do men look to the elimination of evil itself, which is a rather bad thing for the tragic poets. . .and a still worse thing for the priests, for these last have lived heretofore upon the narcotizing of human ill." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, The Religious Life, Section 108).

Nietzsche, like Marx, expresses a certain wistful nostalgia for the "delusion" that there is a god "who plans our welfare in every misfortune," (Section 109), nevertheless preferring "truth," even while expressing the concern that "seeing through delusion, one may bleed to death." (Section 109). He gives the thought a contemptuous twist here: "What the German spirit might be — who has not had his melancholy ideas about that! But this people has deliberately made itself stupid, for nearly a millennium: nowhere have the two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity, been abused more dissolutely." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, The Portable Nietzsche, edited by Walter Kaufmann, p. 506).

Reportedly, Marx borrowed the analogy from poet Heinrich Heine. Herder had also called "tradition" a "narcotic:"

"The metempsychosis of the brahmins may have its merit as a juvenile dream of the imagination desirous of retaining the immortal soul within the sphere of observation, and uniting moral sentiments with the well-meant notion, yet has it not become an absurd religious law, with its thousand additions of precepts and practices? Tradition in itself is an excellent institution of Nature, indispensable to the human race, but when it fetters the thinking faculty both in politics and education and prevents all progress of the intellect and all the improvement that new times and circumstances demand, it is the true narcotic of the mind, as well to nations and sects as to individual."

(von Herder, Johann. Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man (Kindle Locations 7298-7302). Random Shack.)

One must concede to Herder that the Untouchables of India, sentenced for life to miserable servitude and destitution, on grounds of crimes committed in a prior life, if you please, should throw off their torpor and throw off their shackles. However the Communist assumption that the Christian gospel offers 'Pie in the Sky When you Die' in lieu of fair wages and decent working conditions is perplexing. The assumption behind this parody version of 'Sweet Bye-and-Bye' is that the 'workers' must first be convinced they have no eternal souls, before they can be induced to pay attention to their earthly interests. Has anyone ever thought that about 'capitalists'?

Herder says much the same thing about "mysticism:" "Happy for us that the time is almost past in which the use of this opiate is requisite as a medicine." (von Herder, Johann. Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man (Kindle Locations 12748-12749). Random Shack.) The reader of Communist literature come to expect a snarky tone to be taken when the subject of Christianity comes up, whether relevant to the matter at hand or not. Talking about young girls working long hours in the book-binding business,— in nineteenth century England, young people had their youth stolen from them in this way,— they say, "The book-binding trade in the city of London employs very many young girls from 14 to 15 years old, and that under indentures which prescribe certain definite hours of labor. Nevertheless, they work in the last week of each month until 10, 11, 12, or 1 o'clock at night, along with the older laborers, in a very mixed company." (Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Volume 1, Footnote 776). When they work these extreme hours, the boss provides them with supper in neighboring taverns. The authors complain of the resulting "debauchery," but chirp that this "is compensated by the fact that among the rest many Bibles and religious books are bound by them." (Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Volume 1, Footnote 776). Against whom is this sarcasm directed? Why is it a constant of this brand of literature? These shameful conditions were put a stop to by the Christian populace of Great Britain, not by these two haters of mankind.

Surplus Value

Marx and Engels believed the 'proletariat,' the workers toiling in capitalist-owned factories, were exploited. Whence comes the profit earned by the capitalist? As any investor knows, it is not a given that the enterprise they have funded will turn a profit; often enough the 'capitalist' loses his shirt! However, on the whole and over time, capitalist enterprises turn a profit; that is why people continue to invest in them. What is this profit? Where does it come from? Is it like a retailer's 'mark-up,' or something different?

Believing that a number must be the number of something (a belief for which they have been criticized), Marx and Engels concluded that 'surplus value,' the precursor to profit,— what the manufactured goods are worth over and above the costs that went into producing them,— was attributable to the workers and belonged to the workers. It was stolen from them when the capitalist pocketed the profit. According to communist economic theory, labor produces all wealth: "Labor is the source of all wealth, the political economists assert. And it really is the source – next to nature, which supplies it with the material that it converts into wealth." (Frederick Engels, The Part played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man, Part I 1876).

It has been pointed out that, in a factory staffed entirely by machines,— imagine overlooking a vast factory floor with none but robot eyes looking back at you,— the only visible 'worker' being the night security guard who shows up when management goes home, the total 'surplus value' produced by the manufacturing process would be ascribed to that one man, sitting and sipping his coffee! But why do manufacturing enterprises turn a profit, if there is not some routine, daily miracle that occurs when human labor makes something new in the world? How has something worth ten cents turned into something worth fifteen cents? How inexplicable, like the transmutation of lead into gold! But it is really not so hard to understand; rates of return on money compete with other rates of return on money. Should the investor put his money into a manufacturing enterprise, or seek a safer return through bank interest? The amount for which an investor will settle, and will fork over the money, is a function of what other competing investments offer. There is no mystical, unknown entity the workers contribute to the process of making goods. They are people who have contracted to trade their labor for wages, not wonder-workers.

The intent of the Communists' remaking of society, including their abolition of religion, was to liberate the proletariat from this unjust exploitation, as they perceived it:

  • “In what way do proletarians differ from slaves?
  • “The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly.
  • “The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master’s interest. The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence. This existence is assured only to the class as a whole.
  • “The slave is outside competition; the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries.
  • “The slave counts as a thing, not as a member of society. Thus, the slave can have a better existence than the proletarian, while the proletarian belongs to a higher stage of social development and, himself, stands on a higher social level than the slave.
  • “The slave frees himself when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free himself only by abolishing private property in general.”
  • (The Principles of Communism, Point 7, Frederick Engels, 1847).

Wipe 'Em Out

The Communists set themselves the project of ridding the world of religion:

  • “What will be its [Communism's] attitude to existing religions?
  • “All religions so far have been the expression of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is the stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and brings about their disappearance.”
  • (The Principles of Communism, Point 23, Frederick Engels, 1847).

They certainly tried. What's worse, some people are still trying. It would be good to think we learn from history. But take the ingredients that went into the Communist debacle, which eliminated millions of human beings from the face of their earth during the twentieth century:

  1. A bad theory. Bad science starts the ball rolling.
  2. A promised utopia. Wondrous days are ahead.
  3. The adoption of utilitarian ethics, leading to the conclusion that the end justifies the means.

All these elements are present in atheist Sam Harris' proposal for a new 'scientific' utopia:

Have they learned nothing? It's been said that the definition of 'insanity' is, doing the same thing and expecting different results. Suffering humanity has seen enough of 'scientific' atheist utopias to say, 'No, thanks.'

Leon Trotsky

After the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, some of the Marxist-Leninists hoped to find means of peaceful cooperation with other, non-Communist countries. The true believers, like Leon Trotsky, clung to the original vision, of world-wide revolution:

  • “Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?

  • “No. By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others.

  • “Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany.”
  • (The Principles of Communism, Point 19, Frederick Engels, 1847).

One popular modern atheist writer used to be an old-time Trotskyite. He has never apologized, nor have most of these people, that this way of thinking has gotten a huge number of people killed. After all, you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. His moral earnestness is demonstrated, rather, by his habit of berating other people who were ever Trotskyites:

John Everett Millais, The Parables of Our Lord, Parable of the Field

Oddly enough this fact, even where known, does not diminish this author's reputation for intelligence and a scientific attitude. Atheists will believe anything: Sam Harris is still hoping against hope that reincarnation might be true after all. This is one of the persisting problems with atheism. These people believe all manner of improbable things, without being held to account for their gullibility.

Does it Work?

No. Marxism-Leninism was amply tried during the twentieth century. It was tried in a broad range of places: backwards, agrarian countries like Russia and China, industrialized countries like East Germany and Poland. The results were surprisingly uniform. The system invariably produced the same results: empty store shelves. In most places, socialism, while theoretically the sole economy, in fact co-existed with free-market capitalism, because a 'black market' sprang up where buyers and sellers could deal unmolested by Bolshevik supervisors. Most of the time the Communist overlords were content to skim money from this flourishing free market. However, corruption, while prevalent, was not the problem. The black market, at least, delivered the groceries: when country folk came in to the city to sell vegetables grown in a home garden, at least the people had food to eat. You can't make do without it, you know. It is the uncorruptibles, the people who truly believe in the socialist system, like Kim Jong Il and Robert Mugabe, who dish out the most misery to their people, because the state-run economy is dysfunctional and cannot deliver the goods and services people need, nor can the starving people get them from willing sellers on the black market.

  • “The most stubborn form of the opposition between Jew and Christian is the religious opposition. How is an opposition resolved? By making it impossible. And how is religious opposition made impossible? By abolishing religion. As soon as Jew and Christian come to see in their respective religions nothing more than stages in the development of the human mind — snake skins which have been cast off by history, and man as the snake who clothed himself in them — they will no longer find themselves in religious opposition, but in a purely critical, scientific and human relationship. Science will then constitute their unity.”
  • (Karl Marx, On the Jewish Question, p. 5, Karl Marx: Early Writings, translated and edited by T. B. Bottomore).


According to Marxism-Leninism, all of human thought life, whether religion, philosophy, or literature, springs up as a by-product from the means of production then in use. Thus Christianity, with its first century background, is simply outmoded in this modern world.

It was inevitable, therefore, for communism to "supersede" Christianity:

"All religions which have existed hitherto were expressions of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is that stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and supersedes them." (Frederick Engels, Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, 1847, Question 22.).

The historical development these 'scientists' thought had changed everything was the introduction of steam-powered factories:

  • “The proletariat came into being as a result of the introduction of the machines which have been invented since the middle of the last century and the most important of which are: the steam-engine, the spinning machine and the power loom. These machines, which were very expensive and could therefore only be purchased by rich people, supplanted the workers of the time, because by the use of machinery it was possible to produce commodities more quickly and cheaply than could the workers with their imperfect spinning wheels and hand-looms. The machines thus delivered industry entirely into the hands of the big capitalists and rendered the workers’ scanty property which consisted mainly of their tools, looms, etc., quite worthless, so that the capitalist was left with everything, the worker with nothing. In this way the factory system was introduced.”
  • (Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, Question 9, Frederick Engels, 1847).

Can this theory possibly be true? Think back to your own working life: starting off in childhood as an 'independent contractor' offering services to the public such as lawn-mowing and baby-sitting, progressing onward to low-paying McJobs, then to whatever you finally ended up doing. Did your views of man, God, and the universe change radically when your working conditions changed? Why on earth would they? How could a petty inconvenience like a crummy job determine your whole thought life? The factory workers Marx and Engels imagined as new men were farmers come in to the city. How likely is it that new surroundings transformed them completely? If the factory failed and they went back to the farm, was there some mechanism operating in the tilled rows and pasture-lands to retransform them back into peasants?

Modern Americans do not make use of the same means of production as were in use in the first century, yet many of them, for example Baptists, make it their quest to return to the pristine state of apostolic religion. They then pack up and preach the same religion to Stone Age people abroad, like the Waodani of South America, who in turn accept it even though it is the product, supposedly, of a more advanced means of production than they employ.

You still do hear a lot of this kind of thinking, though, from the former Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. To their mind, a book written in the first century can have nothing to say to us today. No doubt God, who breathed it out, did not know as much then as He now knows. Meanwhile back in the real world, it seems that Christianity has superseded communism, not the other way around, except in a few isolated outposts like North Korea and Cuba.

Product Placement

The product Karl Marx presented to the public was not new in all respects. It borrowed, from Marx's ancestral Judaism, an expectation of a Messianic age to come. This was repackaged and rebranded as 'science:'

  • “When I was a Marxist, I did not hold my opinions as a matter of faith but I did have the conviction that a sort of unified field theory might have been discovered. The concept of historical and dialectical materialism was not an absolute and it did not have any supernatural element, but it did have its messianic element in the idea that an ultimate moment might arrive, and it most certainly had its martyrs and saints and doctrinaires and (after a while) its mutually excommunicating rival papacies.”
  • (Christopher Hitchens, 'god is not Great,' p. 151).

Karl Marx's inherited expectation of a Messianic age resonated with those, like Christopher Hitchens, who have a familial and biological connection to the religion, but will not serve its God. Messiah's reign was devolved downward, toward, "We, on the other hand, will have this heaven on earth." (quote from 'A Communist Confession of Faith' by Moses Hess, Capitalism Magazine, 21 January 2003), but still recognizable. Even those who sympathized with him had to acknowledge where the idea came from: "Marx's concepts are rooted in Prophetic Messianism, in Renaissance individualism, and in enlightenment humanism." (Erich Fromm, May Man Prevail? Kindle location 845). The strange result was an ideology that appealed practically not at all to its purported target market, the 'workers,' but greatly excited underemployed intellectuals, especially underemployed Jewish intellectuals: "Not many Jews were Bolsheviks, but many of the leading Bolsheviks were Jews." ('A People's Tragedy, The Russian Revolution,' by Orlando Figes, p. 676). The very few ethnic Russians in the party leadership, like Molotov, were prized possessions. The perception that a disproportionate number of the Bolshevik butchers, like Hungary's Bela Kun, were of Jewish extraction, led to a European antisemitic backlash of lethal proportions.

Marxism used to be called 'the opiate of the intellectuals,' with good cause. Was it not oddly jarring that atheistic 'science' had 'discovered' that a particular religious tenet, the Messianic age, was an inevitable historical development? Science predicts: human history will end in bliss! While it's refreshing to watch economic historians at work who are not in thrall to uniformitarianism, the result perplexes: what past processes can have been investigated in operation which would invariably produce this never heretofore seen result? While Karl Marx is capable of writing about his religious heritage in a way that can only be described as self-loathing: "Money is the jealous god of Israel, beside which no other god may exist." (Karl Marx, On the Jewish Question, p. 37, Karl Marx: Early Writings, translated and edited by T. B. Bottomore)— the continuity is even more striking.

Karl Marx was baptized as a six-year old child, though not as the result of a religious conversion on the part of his father: "Marx's grandfather was rabbi in Trier until his death in 1789; his uncle was still the rabbi. His mother came from a long line of famous rabbis and scholars. . .But Marx's father, Heinrich, was a child of the enlightenment, a student of Voltaire and Rousseau. He was also an ambitious lawyer." (Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 312). In the social conditions of the era, this sympathizer of the French Revolution could find opportunity by discarding a religious identification which no longer meant much to him, in exchange for a new one which meant nothing: "Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), who had himself baptized the year after Karl Marx, referred to the act contemptuously as 'an entrance-ticket to European society.'" (Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 312). As the experience of the Spanish Marranos demonstrates, many of these people found it easier to renounce Judaism than to cease believing in it, in however distorted or underground a form.

If young Karl Marx held any favorable views of Christianity at the time of his baptism, these had evaporated by the time he wrote Das Kapital, by which time he had adopted the usual leftist tendency to blame Christianity for all the ills of the world. Quoting with approval a 'specialist' on Christianity, discussing European colonialism, he says, "'The barbarities and desperate outrages of the so-called Christian race, throughout every region of the world, and upon every people they have been able to subdue, are not to be paralleled by those of any other race, however fierce, however untaught, and however reckless of mercy and of shame, in any age of the earth.'" (Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Volume 1, Part 8, Kindle location 12046). Who thinks Christians are a 'race,' I don't know, but although baptized, as were many German Jews of the day, the Karl Marx who enters into the nineteenth century debate about socialism was an avowed atheist.

Which is not to say that the ghosts of the older forms had vacated the premises; they had not. Marx transmutes his materials as expertly as an alchemist, weaving together a little of the old and a little of the new. The Golden Age at the end of history is a Bible idea. There's nothing wrong with the concept, provided you are in a position to deliver on it. Of course they were not, and so the product is no longer much in demand. In its hey-day, it was a popular product, an all-purpose theory-of-everything, marketed as 'science.' Oddly enough, the millennium, having fallen out of favor in 'liberal' religion, resurfaced as secular economics; except it wasn't really secular, and it wasn't really economics.

The mislabeled 'enlightenment' did not demand that people employ the scientific method, but only that whatever they were selling, it must be marketed as 'science,' and Marxism complied with instructions, as did Freudianism and other 'isms.' These innovations were understood to be 'scientific,' not because any evidence was ever presented as tending to validate them,— in the nature of things, there could be nothing like that,— but rather because they were faultlessly materialistic and anti-supernaturalistic.

What is History?

In classical antiquity, historians looked upon the actual course of history as and experimental laboratory adjunct to politics. While factors of geography, climate, and unpredictable weather, seismic occurrences and epidemic disease certainly played a role in human history, the same society in the same place under the same circumstances might experience very different outcomes, depending upon the political model adopted. Since the city-states of antiquity took up just about every possible idea, and some pretty impossible ones, ranging from Bolshevism to the Phalange, a pretty good database could be compiled of actual outcomes, to go along with the theoretical presentation of political alternatives. Thus history was one of the humanities, it dealt with matters of human interest, chiefly politics.

An example of the classical approach would be to point out that socialism was given a full and fair trial during the twentieth century, and produced depressingly uniform results. Even in the sporadic experiments of the twenty-first century, the inevitable empty store shelves recur again and again. Reportedly, the average Venezuelan has lost nineteen pounds thanks to socialism. For those who were overweight to begin with this might be welcome news, for others, not so much, nor is waiting in line how most people want to spend their lives. Socialism doesn't work. History teaches this, as nothing else can. Experience is a hard teacher, but in the end, she brooks no contradiction.

We still read the classical historians, because their way of doing history is evergreen. But there are other approaches. German thinkers longed to find ultimate meaning in human history,

"At an early age, when the dawn of science appeared to my sight in all that beauty which is greatly diminished at the noon of life, the thought frequently occurred to me whether, as everything in the world has its philosophy and science, there must not also be a philosophy and science of what concerns us most nearly, of the history of mankind at large. Everything enforced this upon my mind; metaphysics and morals, physics and natural history, and lastly religion above all the rest. Shall he who has ordered everything in nature, said I to myself, by number, weight, and measure, who has so regulated according to these the essence of things, their forms and relations, their course and subsistence, that only one wisdom, goodness, and power prevail from the system of the universe to the grain of sand, from the power that supports worlds and suns to the texture of a spider’s web, who has so wonderfully and divinely weighed everything in our body, and in the faculties of our mind, that, when we attempt to reflect on the only-wise ever so remotely we lose ourselves in an abyss of his purposes; shall that God depart from his wisdom and goodness in the general destination and disposition of our species and act in these without a plan? Or can he have intended to keep us in ignorance of this while he has displayed to us so much of his eternal purposes in the inferior part of the creation in which we are much less concerned? What are the human race upon the whole but a flock without a shepherd? In the words of the complaining prophet, are they not left to their own ways, as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things that have no ruler over them? Or is it unnecessary to them to know this plan?"
(von Herder, Johann. Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man (Kindle Locations 181-195). Random Shack.)

Perhaps, as Emily Dickinson noted, "Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed." These Germans might have been disgusted by their own nation's inability to unify and produce a meaningful German history. Or perhaps it was a reaction, — an antithesis, one might almost say,— against the arrogance of the philosophes of the mis-labelled 'Enlightenment,' for whom human history was a sorry tale of ignorance and folly until their noble selves had appeared on the scene to rescue humanity from its benighted state. Human history as pointless running to-and-fro is not inspiring.

This longing to find meaning in history would prove fruitful, producing novel things. The Marxists inherited from Hegel, though they had jettisoned Hegel's idealism in favor of materialism, a model of the historic process which posits that a given situation produces its opposite, which in turn forms an occult and incestuous combination with the originating element to engender a novel and unexpected offspring. This paradigm, if it has any religious referent, appears a reversion to the pagan insight that the world mechanism is sexual! Hegel too had looked for the end of history, though with his own totalitarian Prussian state as its culminating apex. The Marxists took Hegel's dialectics in the direction of materialism, resulting in dialectical materialism, a tissue of verbiage reminiscent of medieval scholasticism, which at one time, as recently as the last century held many of the world's thinkers in thrall. To these 'scientific' thinkers, history is not one darn thing after another, rather it has almost replaced theology as the source of ultimate meaning.

How do we handle issues like this today? The idea that history is a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing, has resurfaced in our own day in the researches of popular author Jared Diamond. In his very popular book, 'Guns, Germs and Steel,' he raises the question of why some societies march forward in the direction of technological advance while others, like the Tasmanians, fall behind, losing even what little technology their forefathers had. He ominously warns that the only alternative to his own views is racism, as if no one had ever done history before he took it up. His is the discovery that the reason why the Spaniards conquered the Peruvians rather than vice versa is because Eurasia is longer on its east-west axis than north-south, and that's especially true if we cheat and add North Africa to Eurasia, which it isn't even. Why is it understood that the Mediterranean was, not a barrier but a highway, which indeed it was, but the Gulf of Mexico is an impassible barrier? And how did the European Spaniards become the designated heirs of the Asians and North Africans who domesticated wheat, inheriting their 'head start' which they couldn't have inherited from themselves? The Romans, when they conquered Spain, used to go for a walk after dinner, like civilized folk do. They were startled to turn around to see their native allies running behind, carrying the Romans' baggage and supplies, hollering 'You forgot this!' The Spanish barbarians could not imagine why a person would go for a walk, and then return to the same place; they surmised the Romans must have been breaking camp, but just forgot to take their stuff. Yet if somehow, by magic, 'Eurasia' can expand to engulf North Africa, then why not have Western Asia expand to encompass Spain? It's fun to make things up, when there is no discipline on the process; these 'just-so' stories come over from Darwinian biology, where there is no discipline constraining the process either.

The power of geography was noted before and must be acknowledged:

"Had the power which constructed our Earth given its mountains and seas a different form, had that great destiny which established the boundaries of nations caused them to originate elsewhere than from the Asiatic mountains, had the east of Asia possessed an earlier commerce and a Mediterranean Sea which its present situation has denied, the whole current of cultivation would have been altered." (Johann Gotfried von Herder, Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man, Kindle location 7343).

. . .Up to a point. Herder is still doing the history of sentient: thinking, feeling,— beings. Diamond believes human history hinges on adventitious factors of no real interest and mostly not under human control, like that zebras are ill-tempered and bite people. This is why they were never domesticated, you see. Who knows what the disposition of the first horses was? There still are a few who don't like people much, like the horse I was assigned in a group ride during my childhood. Before Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb, how many reasons were there why the light bulb absolutely, positively wouldn't work? There were thousands, all the substances Edison had tried and discarded. It's a waste of time to give reasons why technology doesn't work, because there are always a raft of such reasons, offered up right until the moment when it does work.

Spasms of Luddite thinking have occurred in many societies; in our own, think of the reaction to nuclear power. The first generation nuclear reactors had unresolved safety problems, as the third do not; but they are not going to build any of the third generation. Men like John Ruskin adopted anti-technology views, but not because they were racially inferior. He perceived the seamstress hand-sewing a garment as a creative human being, not a slave, not a cog in a machine. Mohandas Gandhi wanted to see Indians clad in homespun cotton for this reason, not owing to racial inferiority on his or John Ruskin's part. To restore history to its place among the humanities, it must be granted that it has some human meaning or significance, but this author insists it must have none, lest racism reappear. Looking at actual history, so long as people steer clear of this author's Darwinian ideology, racism should not be a problem, because that's what tends to trigger it.

Some people, like the Tasmanians with fishing, or the Americans with respect to nuclear power, have abandoned very promising and useful technologies. Why? Has a cultural affinity for Luddite thinking contributed to this outcome? No, that's racist. But why is it racist? It's like being presented with two possibilities, a.) either Theodore Kaczynski embarked on his life of crime because Polish-Americans are racially inferior, or b.) Theodore Kaczynski embarked on his life of crime because of the weather that day, or any other imagined and imaginary trivial and insignificant factor. Let's go with c.) Theodore Kaczynski embarked on his career of crime because he held Luddite views and imagined taking the path of crime would promote them. Between the two extremes, of viewing history as a tale told by an idiot, and making all the meaning in human existence hinge upon history, mightn't a happy medium be found, which does not rob this field of its real human significance, nor elevate it into an idol?

Primitive Communism

A likeness between Marxism and certain religious impulses also appears when we look at the groups which led the way toward valued and desired practices. An aspiration to communism had come down from fringe groups of the radical Reformation and earlier like the Taborites. These groups combined a gnostic antinomianism with an interpretation of the book of Acts into a program for communism and free love. Groups like the Diggers and Ranters conserved these aspirations down to Marx and Engels' time. The idea that 'man is God,' which is foundational to Marx and Engels, is already present in the Kabbalah as part of that movement's gnostic heritage. Marx's juvenile poetry even shows an enchantment with Satanism!

While it might seem like Marx's atheism is a startling innovation, in fact Kabbalistic theology was heading in that direction for a very long time before him. The Kabbalah, a survival of gnosticism, splits God into multiple personalities: Spinoza's God is 'ein sof,' who retains traditional divine attributes such as self-sufficiency, eternity and immutability. Since very little can be said about this god and because there is no point in talking to him, people don't say much to or about him, and thus after one generation Deists lose any memory of him. But the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Kabbalists make into a joint project between the only actual God,— 'ein sof,' the god of the Deists,— and the people, whose praises inflate this partially man-created god, as if he were a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon, trailing behind Israel, who are dragging him along. All that remains to be done is to eliminate the 'partially' and you're an atheist.

The question whether Marxism is a religion comes up, because people notice affinities which are commonly not high-lighted by this 'scientific' system of economics but are nonetheless present. Not everyone awaits the first advent of the Messiah. As noted above, Marx and his collaborators were peddling a new and improved Messianic Age, sure to come, just around the corner. Those who thought the Messiah had already come and awaited His return were less impressed, and understandably so: they fell outside the product's target market. This ingenious new product boldly combined seemingly incompatible features, like a new kind of sweet but non-fattening cake: 'scientific' atheism, and the Messiah, too!

The atheist Bolsheviks persecuted the religion of the rabbis as energetically as they persecuted Christianity: "'The destruction of religion,' Karl Marx had written, 'the phantom happiness of the people, is a necessary condition for their real happiness.' Priests, ministers, rabbis, and mullahs were all anathema, parasites who preyed upon the gullibility of the people. . .Religious services were not prohibited, but a special edict forbade the teaching of religion to children under the age of eighteen. In the public schools all the devices of a brilliant propaganda system were applied to bring home the lesson that religious faith was the superstition of the ignorant." (Abram Leon Sachar, A History of the Jews, pp. 383-384). The Mosaic religion was persecuted along the same lines as was Christianity: "In August 1919, all Jewish religious communities were dissolved, their property confiscated and the overwhelming majority of synagogues shut for ever. The study of Hebrew and the publication of secular works in Hebrew were banned." (Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 453). The new religion, which brought its own phantom happiness along with real misery, as well as an early death to millions, could not stand the competition.

Hitler, as is well known, blamed Bolshevism on the Jews. The evidence for this lethal accusation was that the Jews of Russia and eastern Europe embraced Marxism in higher proportions than did other population groups. But these Jewish atheists had no more sympathy for the religious amongst the Jewish population than they did for Christians. It is difficult to trace or comprehend the self-loathing which accompanied the peregrinations of Marx's generation of German socialists from Judaism (in some cases) to (baptized) atheism. He even embraced the Egyptian Manetho's ancient slurs against the Jews. This pagan priest crafted an inverted history of the Exodus, according to which the Jews were expelled, they did not leave voluntarily, on public health grounds, namely that they suffered from leprosy. A concern about this disease is after all evident in Moses' law: "Thus he [Marx] wrote to Engels, 10 May 1861: 'A propos Lasalle-Lazarus. Lepsius in his great work on Egypt has proved that the exodus of the Jews from Egypt was nothing but the history which Manetho narrates of the expulsion of the "leprous people" from Egypt. At the head of these lepers was an Egyptian priest, Moses.'" (quoted p. 350, Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews). We have plenty of conspiracy theories nowadays,— it seems the internet has breathed new life into the genre,— but it takes infinite patience to untangle this crow's nest. Marxism in practice is a rolling persecution which employs arcane dialectics to discover 'class enemies' and, once uncovered, uses the state apparatus to punish, indeed 'liquidate' if need be, these evil and disruptive people. As this bloody and sorrowful history unfolded, the atheist's hatred of religion trumped any loyalties of blood.


When the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, they were a small minority who boldly seized power in a coup d'etat. What made it seem right in their eyes, for a small, unrepresentative minority to dictate to a large nation mostly inhabited by people with other dreams? Nothing but the philosophy of utilitarianism: the end justifies the means. Millions of these Russian nay-sayers, so despised for their backwardness by Lenin and Trotsky, were destined never to get out of the atheist utopia alive.

These two schools of thought, utilitarianism and Marxism, were intertwined from the start: "You can find a great deal of Marx actually in the work of John Stuart Mill. I'm not confident enough to say how much Mill Marx would have read. Some. Certainly he would have been familiar with him, but Mill had complete contempt for organized religion of course, and for faith and superstition." (Atheist Christopher Hitchens, quoted PBS interview, Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism).

Utilitarianism has been revived in the present day by Sam Harris, to much the same purpose. Everything normally considered unjust, unfair and oppressive can be rationalized if it is for the greater good. If atheism can be rebranded as 'medicine' or 'neuroscience,' then the path is clear for a bright new day of atheist social engineering. People should not forgot how well the last round of atheist social engineering worked out, because they are not done yet.


Atheist Ayn Rand was a teen-ager while the Bolshevik revolution, and subsequent Civil War, were raging. She saw first-hand how very dysfunctional the system was; instead of the Workers' Paradise advertised to foreign visitors, this was a country where things just didn't work. She tells of a strange land where people used to shuffle off to the train station on the off-chance a train might show up, though no one knew when that might be:

  • “There were no schedules, no time-tables. No one knew when a train would leave or arrive. A vague rumor that it was coming rushed a mob of anxious travelers to the stations of every town along its way. They waited for hours, for days, afraid to leave the depot where the train could appear in a minute — or a week.  The littered floors of the waiting rooms smelt like their bodies; they put their bundles on the floors, and their bodies on the bundles, and slept. They munched patiently dry crusts of bread and sunflower seeds; they did not undress for weeks. When at last, snorting and groaning, the train rumbled in, men besieged it with fists and feet and ferocious despair. Like barnacles, they clung to the steps, to the buffers, to the roofs.”
  • (Ayn Rand, We the Living, p. 12).

Her diagnosis was eccentric. She blamed Christianity. Her accusation must be admitted as partially valid; this secular millennialism does carry echoes of the Bible:

"Karl Marx was born a Jew in a rabbinic family. Somewhere along the way as a child, he must have heard his parents reading the words of Amos: 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.' Then, when he was six years old, his parents became Christians, and somewhere along the way he must have heard them reading over the New Testament: 'Ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.' So with this passionate concern for social justice, Christians are bound to be in accord." (Martin Luther King, Jr., Sermon: Can a Christian be a Communist, 30 September, 1962).

But only partially; when did Christianity ever recommend mass murder, or state confiscation of the means of production? Ms. Rand, a product of the Jewish middle class, thought that this mess is what you get from too much Christianity. However unfair and off the mark her diagnosis, her report of the symptoms is valuable eye-witness testimony. Since the collapse and fall of Eastern European communism, most people have turned their attention elsewhere; but Christians should never forget, and should never let the memory of Bolshevism's Christian martyrs die.

Karl Marx V. I. Lenin
Bhagat Singh Mao Zedong
Pol Pot Enver Hoxha
The Derg Che Guevara
No True Atheist Why?
Tu Quoque Prince of Tyre
Atheist Armies Jim Jones
The French Revolution


Marx and Engels were not left without progeny, though humanity would have been happier if this barren and godless ideology had disappeared without a trace:

This next Marxist-Leninist shocked the conscience of the world by the sheer expanse of his killing fields. During the seventy years' reign of error of the Bolsheviks in Russia, they broke new ground in totalitarianism, inventing such absurdities of thought control as classifying their detractors as insane:

"When, in 1960, Gennady Smelov, a nonpolitical offender, declared a lengthy hunger strike in the Leningrad prison, the prosecutor went to his cell for some reason (perhaps he was making his regular rounds) and asked him: 'Why are you torturing yourself?'
"And Smelov replied: 'Justice is more precious to me than life.'
"This phrase so astonished the prosecutor with its irrelevance that the very next day Smelov was taken to the Leningrad Special Hospital (i.e., the insane asylum) for prisoners. And the doctor there told him:
"'We suspect you may be a schizophrenic.'" (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 473)


Communism Today

Communism today is a mere shadow of its former self, exemplifying the maxim that you can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time. At some point communism was either bound to produce real results in some way commensurate with the advertised 'workers' paradise' or else go under; it went under. The folkloric explanation that Ronald Reagan destroyed communism by standing up to it crashes upon the rock that the two remnant communist regimes, North Korea and Cuba, survive only because they have been successful in mobilizing their populace to national resistance against foreign bullying; would more foreign bullying have bought communism anything other than a slightly longer lease on life?

For a long time Marxism-Leninism was unduly popular in academia and the entertainment industry. This seems not to be still the case, though I must admit I don't follow Hollywood; Christians are bound to be counter-cultural, which isn't hard with a culture so contemptible. The entertainment industry remains virulently anti-Christian,— not to spoil the ending, dear reader, but any 'born again' character who turns up on TV is likely to be the killer,— but more out of reflex than any remaining conviction; if the entertainment industry today is pushing anything other than simple hedonism, I can't see what it is. Given the millions of human lives snuffed out for the sake of Marxist mythology, not to mention the sheer human unhappiness of empty, deprived, unfree lives lived out by those under its control, it is fervently to be hoped this monster does not rise again.

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