A disturbing guide to the devilish Karl Marx

Dr. Paul Kengor’s The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration, aims to rigorously demonstrate how deeply and directly the Father of Communism was inspired by the Father of Lies.

Winston Churchill, in a speech before the House of Commons on October 22, 1945, said that “the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings, the inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Pronouncing in May 1948 speech that socialism “a philosophy of failure, a creed of ignorance, and a gospel of envy,” Churchill warned that any society that embraced socialism was on a miserable march toward ruin.

In recent years, Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, has authored numerous articles and books on the ills and evils promoted and advanced by socialism and communism, including Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century (ISI, 2010) and Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (WND Books, 2015).

His new book, titled The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration (TAN Books, 2020), focuses on the diabolical side of Karl Marx ( 1818-83). Kengor points out that “long before Karl Marx was writing about the hell of communism, he was writing about hell.” Although written for a popular audience, the 400 pages of main text in The Devil and Karl Marx are backed by forty pages of endnotes and years of research, aimed to rigorously demonstrate how deeply and directly the Father of Communism was inspired by the Father of Lies.

In the Preface, Kengor tallies the Marxist death toll as approaching 100 million in the twentieth century and asks, “What sort of warped idea could unleash such agony?” Concluding that conventional, rational explanations simply do not suffice, Kengor looks to the “realm of the spirit, a spiritual explanation” to better understand the diabolical ideology of Marxism.  And although Kengor presents evidence of “the grim, disturbing, militant atheism and intense anti-religious elements of Marx and other founders and practitioners of communism,” he also demonstrates that the “communist ideology possesses a bizarre seductive quality to its ideological cultists.”

In some ways, we are witnessing that “seductive quality” today among many millennials (and others) who are embracing the destructive legacy of Karl Marx through socialism and communism. We can see it clearly in the riots in Portland and in Minneapolis. Hardly a spontaneous response to the death of a black man at the hands of a white police officer, these riots were planned long before the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis.  In fact, during the 2020 democratic primary season, Martin Weissgerber, a paid senior field organizer for Democratic Party presidential primary candidate and self-described socialist, Bernie Sanders, claimed (on video) that it was time to “Guillotine the rich.” Weissgerber was videotaped saying that he was a communist and was in contact with groups that planned to hold mass “yellow-vest” protests in the streets of the United States as they did in France: “I’m ready to start tearing bricks up and start fighting…I’ll straight up get armed, I’m ready for the revolution.”

Weissgerber is not alone in his revolutionary fervor.  In a 2019 New York magazine cover story headlined “When Did Everyone Become a Socialist?” Simon van Zuylen-Wood described the annual “Red Party” he had recently attended in Brooklyn in the book-lined Jay Street Dumbo loft that houses radical publishing company Verso Books. It was a party where (without irony) attendees called each other “comrade,” celebrated their success in banishing the Amazon headquarters from the City, and talked about building “something great” in Queens in its place. When asked what they might build, one of those gathered cynically quipped, “a guillotine.”

The guillotine has a special significance for socialists because it brings to mind the ultimate revenge that was exacted by the poor against the rich in the bloody Reign of Terror in France in 1793 when the Jacobins executed nobles, priests, and wealthy landowners because they were viewed as “enemies of the Revolution.”  Today’s socialists look upon the French Revolution with a kind of yearning that they too might experience such startling success in destroying those with “more.” In Maine, Bre Kidman, a Democratic Party candidate for the United States Senate chose the guillotine as a logo for her campaign merchandise—claiming that “it’s aimed at being a sign of revolution by lower and middle classes.” Adorning tee-shirts and campaign buttons, the guillotine symbol is playing an increasingly prominent role in progressive politics. A now-popular socialist magazine, Jacobin, replicates the revolutionary fervor with articles titled “The Lives the Free Market Took,” “Socialists Fought For and Won Our Basic Democratic Rights,” and “The Paranoid, Reactionary Dreams of Ronald Reagan,” which claims that President Reagan’s “hyper-nationalist worldview grew out of the paranoid jingoism of postwar America.”

A Reagan scholar whose best-selling books include A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, Kengor understands better than most the contempt that socialists and communists held for Reagan. That contempt was based in fear as Kengor points out that Reagan understood Marxism to be a kind of cult—referring to it as “that religion of theirs.”  Reagan believed that Marxists “bowed to the nativity according to Marx and Lenin,” a system in which “Karl Marx is hailed as the messiah,” and he also believed that the only antidote to such an unholy religion was through God’s help. Even before he was elected President, Reagan knew that Pope John Paul II and Catholics were key to defeating Marxism, telling top aide Richard V. Allen as far back as 1979 that “we need to find a way to get elected and reach out to this polish pope and the Vatican and make them an ally.”

Reagan understood early that Marxism was a perverse ideology, and Kengor’s book demonstrates that “one cannot separate Marxism the ideology from Marx the man.” As Aristotle observed, “Men start revolutionary changes for reasons connected with their private lives”; the revolution Marx had in mind was, as Kengor points out, “the consummation of his unpleasant private life, as it was for many of his most revolutionary and deadly followers, particularly Vladimir Lenin, the other half of the Marxist-Leninist flame throwers that set ablaze an awaiting century.”

In the chapter entitled “My Soul is Chosen for Hell,” Kengor provides excerpts from the demonic poetry and prose of Marx—written several years before his Communist Manifesto (1848)—in which he waxed poetic about “the hellish vapors that rise and fill the brain, Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed. See this sword? The Prince of Darkness sold to me. For me he beats the time and gives the signs.  Ever more boldly I play the dance of death.” Remarking on that poem, entitled “The Player,” Kengor notes, “The blood violinist is not destroying the world because he hates it, but is doing so in order to spite God, out of derision and mockery against the Creator.  He is a rebel, like Satan, the ultimate rebel against God and Heaven.” Marxism does the same by destroying the world as it exists, creating a new world in which God is destroyed and man is elevated.

The antipathy toward religion for Marx emerged in college. Marx’s family was originally Jewish—with several rabbis in the family from the nineteenth century back to at least the late seventeenth century. But, under the social pressures of the times, Marx’s father left Judaism and converted to Protestantism and had all of his children baptized in the Christian faith. However, by age twenty-three Marx was an atheist—and was beginning to write approvingly of those who denigrated religion. He wrote his dissertation about the ancient Roman philosopher Lucretius (d. 94 BC) who condemned “the burden of oppressive religion,” suggesting that “Religion lies at our feet, completely defeated.”

In a rejection of his own family heritage, Marx held great contempt toward all Jews. Kengor points out that Marx, in one of his letters to a friend, wrote that the “Israelite faith is repulsive to me.” In his most anti-Semitic published essay, entitled “On the Jewish Question,” Marx asks: “What is the worldly cult of the Jew?”  His answer: “Haggling. What is his worldly god?  Money.  Very well! Emancipation from haggling and money and thus from practical and real Judaism would be the self-emancipation of our age.”

For Marx, “Money is the jealous god of Israel before whom no other god may exist…The bill of exchange is the actual god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…The emancipation of the Jews, in the final analysis, is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.” Kengor concludes: “That was a sentiment that Adolph Hitler certainly shared.” Indeed it was. But Hitler was not the only leader to share such evil sentiments about religion. Every Communist leader today—including Cuba’s Castro, Venzuela’s Maduro, China’s Xi Jinping, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un—fears the influence of religion and people of faith.  Because of that, each of these communist leaders continues their demonic destruction of churches and synagogues.  Each of these communist leaders has outlawed religious practices unless specifically managed by the government.

In his final chapter, Kengor reminds us that it is the sacred duty of the Church, with its deposit of the true faith, to protect, cultivate, and proclaim the truth:

The truth was to be found in Truth itself, in Himself…The Church provides the foundation for surviving age after age and all the corrosive ideologies and isms and spirits that pervade it.  The Church offers a constant reminder to people of the principles that do not change and which thus are those to live by, and those which will protect us from being children of our age.

This search for Truth is key to understanding why Karl Marx and his minions hated religion so much. Marx feared religion because he knew that the Truth would set us free by exposing the powers of darkness brought by his demonic ideology.

But, as wealth grows, inequality grows with it and there is always the seductive appeal of revengeful revolution.  The revolutionaries have already made their way through the institutions—through politics, and into the Catholic Church where they are capitalizing on the current divisions to sow the seeds of envious discord.  A June 2019 article in the Jesuit magazine America, titled “The Catholic Case for Communism,” features a photo of Pope Francis graciously accepting a gift from Bolivian president Evo Morales, of a large crucifix in the shape of the hammer and sickle—the notorious symbol of Communism.  The author of the essay, Dean Dettloff, attempts to make an argument for “re-thinking” the value of communism because “what communists desire is an authentically common life together, and they think that can only happen by relativizing property in light of the good of everyone.” Railing against capitalism, Dettloff can see no solution other than to move toward communism, writing, “Communism has provided one of the few sustainable oppositions to capitalism, a global political order responsible for the ongoing suffering of millions.” Dettloff and so many others are apparently ignorant about both economics and the severe costs of communism, which is an ideology drenched in blood and built on oppression.

The Devil and Karl Marx would be a good way for them to learn the of the origins, roots, and real consequences of what Kengor rightly describes as “one of the worst modernist and fruitless works of darkness … [that] plagues us to this day.”

The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration
By Paul Kengor
TAN Books, 2020
Hardcover, 463 pages

• Related at CWR: “The Radical Assault on Marriage and Family, from Karl Marx to Justice Kennedy”: An August 21, 2015 interview with Dr. Kengor about of Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.


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About Anne Hendershott 95 Articles
Anne Hendershott is professor of sociology and director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Church (Encounter Books).

19 Comments

  1. We read that “Marx feared religion because he knew that the Truth would set us free by exposing the powers of darkness brought by his demonic ideology.” Radical Marx recognized that anyone who admits the really radical dependency of man as a creature (our “contingency”) has already admitted the existence of God.

    So, as an open-minded atheist, he imposed a restriction: “this question [contingency] is forbidden to socialist man” (Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society [1967]; cited in Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Citizen of Rome [1980]. Thank God that public school education still gives a hall pass to God…?

  2. The very disturbing and evil covering up of our Icons,Statues,Art,and anything pertaining to Christ & God at Notre Dame & Georgetown Universities in May of 2010.Before the Marxist Obama would come and pontificate “As the one we’ve been waiting for”!Shows just how far the rot and infiltration has infected the Catholic Church and it’s so called “leadership”.To coin a phase.This author has” Hit the nail on the head”.

  3. One of the marks of a true church is church discipline. If the leadership is not held accountable, look at all the trouble it brings. The recent abuse and cover up of the priests is a good example. The lay people of the church must rise up and voice the unrighteousness of the clergy. Excommunication is in order if they don’t repent. They are sinners like the rest of us!

    • brian vogel,
      Per the catechism:”The four marks of the Church are that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.”
      Luther had a few more marks to add for the true church but I don’t see “discipline” as a distinguishing mark so far.
      Discipline & accountability are critical to any institution but consider the 12 men Christ first entrusted His Church to. All but one initially betrayed Him or ran away.
      We need to hold our clergy accountable but we also need to examine our own hearts. Every one of us is a sinner as you have stated. Excommunication is not a punishment but a means to bring a sinner back into the fold.

  4. Just FYI: there’s a very good Australian interview with Jordan Peterson & John Anderson re. Marxism on YouTube. Jordan Peterson has probably shared the same thoughts in other interviews but it really exposed the dangers of allowing Marxism to initially creep into a society little by little. It’s not something we can allow without suffering very bad consequences.

  5. Leftism is unquestionably diabolical.

    Like Satan, leftists are always in favor of chaos and death — abortion, euthanasia, drug use.

    Like Satan, they are always against policies and institutions that foster order and harmony — the nuclear family, traditional marriage, law enforcement.

    While it may be shocking, it’s not surprising that progressive icon Saul Alinsky started his well-known book, ‘Rules for Radicals’ with admiring words dedicated to Satan itself.

    He wrote, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

    (As the saying goes, when a leftist tells you who he is, believe him.)

    And leftists have cooperated with Satan by murdering more than a hundred million innocent people over the last century (in addition to the millions of wartime dead and doubtless hundreds of millions of aborted children around the world). And now we see the same totalitarian policies that led to those deliberate murders extolled by the leaders of one of our major American political parties.

    Ideas most certainly have consequences.

    There’s no question that leftism is, by an absolutely exponential factor, the most hideous and destructive scourge humanity has ever seen.

  6. Great article, great comments! The atheists’ socialism dooms itself. In the Fall, man was sentenced to earn his bread by the sweat of his face (Gn.3:19). Rewards for hard work, carrots and sticks, is the only motivation that will succeed for secularists. There is no sincere empathy for equality among the masses by the proponents of socialism. One need only look at the standard of living of communist leaders versus the standard of living of those they are leading. Hypocrisy abounds. Christians, on the other hand, strive for sincerity in their self-denial towards their neighbors’ benefit, loving them as themselves. Jesus said to those of us who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness not to worry about what we shall eat or what we shall drink. The curse of the Fall and the bread earned by the sweat of one’s face is lifted only by Jesus’ promises believed, that is, through the Christian’s faith. Atheists are subjected to the haunting and inevitable frustration of futility in the labor of their hands by God’s irrevocable curse after the Fall. No secular philosophy can overcome this … try as they may.

  7. The Gospel gives us two thoughts for Marxism. Satan always attacks with truth followed by deceit and entrapment. We all know that. And he uses scripture as well. So he attacks with the rich man and Lazarus, a valuable warning for all to whom much is given. But then there is the crime of murder; Cain killed Able out of jealousy of favors Able received from God. One must be careful to heed both lessons.

  8. Demonizing Karl Marx has been forever a pastime of capitalist apologists. Reagan was not a friend of the working class. He undermined American Unions, enriched fabulously the rich by having their taxes rates radically reduced, thereby he impoverished further the poot and undermined the middle class; he also backed tin dictators in US satrapies throughout the Central America, saw to the overthrow of of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected President of Chile, and the transformation of that nation state into yet another fascist military puppet of the US. Nothing Christian to any of that.

    Think what you may of Karl Marx, there are two truths that he advanced: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed”; surplus value is at the core of capitalism, furthering the concentration of capital, the greater enrichment of the rich by mulcting profit from labourers. There is nothing Christian to this. Greed is a capital sin.

    • Michael Knowles’ foreword for the book begins:

      Ronald Reagan described a communist as one who reads Karl Marx and an anti-communist as one who understands Karl Marx.

    • Most comments are of the extremes. Certainly uncontrolled capitalism is evil. Just az much extreme socialism is evil. (i.e. marxism). And although poor people find often solace in religion, religion is not the opiate of people. The world would be much better if both rich and poor would practice Christ teachings.
      I consider myself Christian Democrate/Socialist of the old school, which is the middle of the 2 extremes . (Mixture of capitalism and socialism). Note, today’s christian democrate are anything but christian.

  9. “Socialism” means different things to different people. Someone advocating universal medicare is labeled a socialist. That would make make the government of every developed country in the world, except the U.S., socialistic. Whether the world realizes it or not, Bernie Sanders is following the best of Catholic social doctrine. Any objectors should read Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno for starters.

    • Yes, Bernie’s support for abortion, “gay marriage”, and all of the usual insanity seems ripped from the pages of the Compendium of Social Teaching. Ahem.

    • Actually even the USA is not untainted by socialist principle. See Medicare.
      Otherwise I almost agree with you about Bernie, whom I like. Unfortunately he would not have provided for example free catholic schooling, etc. I strongly believe that as far as an institution provides the same social service, education and healthcare included, both religious and secular institution should receive the same amount of money. A good exampe is Hungary, where religious institutions are not discriminated in comparison to secular ones.

    • I used to have real respect for Bernie Sanders even while not agreeing with him on virtually every issue. He appeared to be someone of integrity compared to most politicians. But the more I’ve watched him the more disappointed I’ve become.
      To be fair, I suppose that same principle can be applied to political figures in general.

  10. Ironically, many more ordinary men and women than aristocrats were guillotined during the Reign of Terror, rather like the far greater numbers of ordinary – especially black – Americans who are being negatively affected by the BLM riots than are wealthy white Americans.

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