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.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!