Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Marx on the bus
Saw someone reading this on the bus a few days ago:

which reminds me that reading Marx is still publicly reputable in a way, say, reading The National Socialist Reader or The Fascist Reader, if those books existed, wouldn't be. Not that I want such or any books banned: there is value, even if only negative, admonishing value, in reading them; what I would like is if people would read these things with more embarrassment, more of a sense of shame. There is an undeniable attractiveness in utopian visions of perfectible Justice, as there is in the Romantic notions of dialectical struggle between Good and Evil as the teleological motive of Historical Progress. But emanating from that golden, glowing, hue was the blackest, most blood-thirsty, most ruthless political movement in all history, besides whose toll of the death and misery the works of Fascism place a pale second.

Marx did himself a whole lot of good by dying before Communism gained political power in Russia and elsewhere. And so it is still possible for reputable people to defend Marx by making distinctions between his philosophy and the people who tried to put his philosophy into practice. But ideas must always be evaluated in the light of their consequences, and the consequence of Marx's ideas are hideous. That he was dead by the time the bloodlust started was a historical accident — if only Hitler or Stalin suffered a similar fate — and a convenient accident is excuse for no-one.