The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.
Still, it comes as a shock to realize that the ultimate leftist, the father of Communism itself, fits a recognizable pattern…If the Marx described by Sperber…were around in 2013, he would be a compulsive blogger, and picking Twitter fights with Andrew Sullivan and Naomi Klein.
Oh, no! Does this mean that there is some blogger out there about to unload a “new world order” on us all?
Yesterday, the world was set on edge when North Korea tested a multi-kiloton nuclear bomb at a facility in P’unggye. It’s always interesting to know who’s on the other side of the Bomb, so here are ten things you might not know about North Korea.
I’m wondering if we ever learn the lessons….unlimited growth in government control seen as “progress,” the classification of those who don’t adhere to the liberal party line as less than human (“Have you no shame? asked by people who have no shame), a skilled propaganda machine by “Democrat operatives with bylines,” and a creeping fascism as we supposedly go “forward.”
In its predominant forms, liberalism has been in recent times a version of the religion of humanity, and with rare exceptions – Russell is one of the few that come to mind – liberals have seen the Communist experiment as a hyperbolic expression of their own project of improvement; if the experiment failed, its casualties were incurred for the sake of a progressive cause. To think otherwise – to admit the possibility that the millions who were judged to be less than fully human suffered and died for nothing – would be to question the idea that history is a story of continuing human advance, which for liberals today is an article of faith. That is why, despite all evidence to the contrary, so many of them continue to deny Communism’s clear affinities with Fascism. Blindness to the true nature of Communism is an inability to accept that radical evil can come from the pursuit of progress.
These shocking pictures may look like something out of the Great Depression – but in fact they show life in the last years of the Soviet Union, less than three decades ago.
Shop shelves were often bare, it was normal to have to join a long queue if you wanted to buy groceries and many of the people looked ground down after a century of desperate poverty.
The dismal state of the USSR’s economy, during a time of rapidly improving living standards in the West, was a result of its dogmatic Communist political system, which stifled free enterprise and stopped the country moving on from its feudal past.
As these images show, by the 1980s that system was close to collapse, as Mikhail Gorbachev’s liberalising reforms did little more than open the door to ever louder clamours for change – and on Boxing Day 1991, just a few years after these photos were taken, the Soviet Union was finally dissolved.
A book review of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future
By Victor Cha, from Literary Review.
It’s remarkable that this absurd communist regime continues to exist. There are reasons….
Broadly speaking, Cha’s explanation for North Korea’s longevity is that the Kim family has constructed a state that is so ghastly that everyone else fears the consequences of its falling apart more than they look forward to its demise. Thus most of the foreign powers that matter, particularly South Korea and China, have a strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
Law professor and blogger Ann Althouse offers a essay by Terry Eagleton called “In Praise of Marx” and the comments roll on—both on her site and the linked article praising Marx. Eagleton “is a visiting professor at Lancaster University, in England; the National University of Ireland; and the University of Notre Dame. His latest book, Why Marx Was Right, was just published by Yale University Press.”
Lots of challenges to the “dogmas” and food for thought here.
In the 1770s, American colonists were riding the fence. Should they cut ties with the tax-happy King George or just sit around drinking English tea? As they waffled, a penniless Brit named Thomas Paine sailed to Philadelphia and published the incendiary tract Common Sense.
Released in 1776, Paine’s text lambasted King George as a “crowned ruffian” and the progeny of a “French bastard.” The language struck a nerve, turning loyalists into patriots and nudging the likes of George Washington and John Adams into action. Less than six months later, the colonies declared independence, and the Revolutionary War was on. As for Paine, he went on to write another powerful little book, The Age of Reason, a deist work that criticized organized religion and questioned the authenticity of the Bible. This time, however, Paine’s words missed the mark. He was condemned as an atheist, shunned by friends, and denied citizenship in the United States—the young nation he helped create.
The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant—1968
This is less a book review and more an outline of the Durant’s remarkable little summary. It is one of my favorite non-fiction books, although that is often a moving target. It’s also fodder for further exploration and possibly forthcoming essays. All items emphasized are mine, not the authors.