Two centuries ago, on 5 May 1818, Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany, to a Jewish family that had converted to Protestantism. He himself later became an atheist, and his claim to fame is Marxism, the revolutionary philosophy named after him and most often associated with Communism and its stablemate, Socialism.
In 1848 Marx, along with his longtime friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels, wrote The Communist Manifesto, in which he distilled the ills of society down to the antagonisms between two classes of people: those who ruled society and held the instruments of production (the bourgeoisie), versus those who provided all the labour (the proletarians).
To Marx, the only solution that would bring peace and lasting satisfaction was the forcible overthrow of the ruling classes. Marx concluded his manifesto with a rousing call to arms: “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, Unite!”
The Communist Manifesto
Marx was a brilliant and farsighted man, well educated, widely read, erudite, passionate, highly skilled and relentless in debate. In later life, he lived in London during the first era of globalization, which was based on a growing industrialization centered on steam and then electricity. He believed he could see where it was leading.
Many workers had reason to feel exploited by low wages and poor working conditions, while they watched their employers and leaders growing fabulously rich. Marx saw the historical working class as just another commodity to be exploited and misused by capitalists, a mere appendage and wage slave of the new machine age. He delighted in fanning the fires of conflict and violence, and wanted to turn what he saw as a perpetual civil war of antagonism between the proletarians and the bourgeoisie into a literal revolution by force. Then the proletarians would rule the world—but on what basis?
Ten “Unavoidable” Measures
Famously, Marx laid out—in ten pithy manifesto statements—the methodology by which he would destroy the bourgeois class.
- Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
- A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
- Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
- Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
- Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
- Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
- Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance [with] a common plan.
- Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
- Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
- Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc., etc.
(From Engels’ own English translation, Manifesto of the Communist Party, published in 1906 in Chicago by Charles H. Kerr Company.)
Marx planned to expand the role of trade unions to protect the proletarians. Even the institution of the bourgeois family was to be abolished, to prevent what he saw as the exploitation of children. He would also end the exploitation of women, which he saw as endemic within the bourgeois class. He even foresaw that his revolutionary ideas in the age of globalization would result in the abolishing of countries and nationalities.
Return of Marxism?
It is said that there was no one more politically influential in the 19th and 20th centuries than Karl Marx, with his revolutionary ideas. Communism violently engulfed Russia in 1918 and spread to China and other nations in the 1930s. Marxist influence in various guises spread far and wide to a host of other countries, including Cuba, Yugoslavia and countries in Africa and Eastern Europe. For forty years the Cold War raged between the United States, champion of capitalism, and the Soviet Union, champion of Communism, and capitalism eventually won out.
Most people then concluded that was the end of Communism. Capitalism, with its own variations, instabilities and deficiencies, now had the field all to itself. Yet, after the disastrous 2008 Credit Crunch and resulting austerity, Marxist ideas, once thought to be defunct, are again on the rise. This is especially so among the disaffected and often unemployed younger generation. And here in the U.K., a Marxist Labour Party is poised at the brink of power, salivating at the prospect of governing Britain at the point of the nation’s maximum vulnerability, as the EU Brexit negotiations tortuously unfold.
Having abandoned and rejected Marxist thinking—consisting at best of half-truths and failing to work in practice—are we about to make the same mistakes all over again? This time around it is automation and artificial intelligence in the digital age of the Internet that are looming as disruptive technologies. Will this lead to more Marxist-inspired revolutions and mayhem? Is there a different way to cope with our discomforts?
A Personal “Revolution”
We’d like to recommend a far better “revolution.” It is found within the pages of your Bible and is called the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15).
When all other philosophies fail, as they will, God will send His Son, Jesus the Christ, back to Earth to establish God’s own revolutionary philosophy (Acts 3:19–21), a radically more positive way of thinking. When He returns, He will establish God’s Kingdom over the entire earth and reign over all nations (Revelation 11:15). And those God invites to play a part in this Kingdom must accomplish their own personal “revolution” now (Acts 2:38–39). It is a revolution that is not political, but spiritual and internal, of the heart and mind, and it has its own manifesto consisting of ten basic principles that govern our relationship with God and our fellow humans (Exodus 20:1–17).
The thing that is missing in human relationships is love, out of a pure heart, for all (1 Peter 1:22). Imagine a society where the evils of human nature progressively cease to exist. Marxism can never engineer such a morally good society by unleashing envy, hatred, division, violence, destruction and death. But God can by unleashing the means of transforming human nature to become like His nature (Romans 12:1–2).
God’s “revolution” will be built on a new personal relationship with Him (Hebrews 10:19–22), transforming human nature and replacing it with God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:2–4). Now that is revolutionary. Its effect will be extraordinary! Could God be inviting you to be part of such a “revolution”? We invite you to read all about it in our free booklet, Your Ultimate Destiny, available at your request.