A Birthday Cake With 200 Candles and Blood-Red Icing

Today is the 200th birthday of Karl Marx. The occasion is being commemorated in Trier, the great philosopher’s birthplace in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Numerous dignitaries are on hand for the ceremonies, including Jean-Claude “Drunker” Juncker, the president of the European Commission. Mr. Juncker will give a speech and unveil an enormous bronze statue of the Father of Communism, which was donated to Trier for the occasion by the Red Chinese. The unveiling and speechifying may already have taken place: it’s late afternoon now in Trier.

As our own modest contribution to the joyous celebration, we are unveiling this special meme-orial image of the paladins of Communism:

I couldn’t resist digitally modifying the above photo, which accompanied a tweet from Poland Daily:

“The President of the #EuropeanCommission, Jean-Claude #Juncker, has decided to attend the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. The decision is a slap in the face of the almost 100 million EU citizens who were forced to live under communist occupation after 1945. pic.twitter.com/Mqzyc4bTlB”

For a dissenting point of view on the great prophet from Trier — who now rests peacefully in a cemetery in Highgate — here are excerpts from an op-ed in the Irish Times. Patrick Smyth reminds us not to conflate Mr. Marx with the tiny minority of violent extremists who have hijacked a great political philosophy and commit atrocities in its name:

Karl Marx’s insights retain their clout and relevance

Two centuries later, the ‘father of communism’ should not be judged on disciples’ excesses

by Patrick Smyth in Brussels

His view over Brussels’s magnificent Grand Place from La Maison du Cygne was a vivid architectural representation of what he was trying to write. History as class struggle.

The tall gothic and baroque guild houses, an expression of the rise to pre-eminence of the merchant bourgeoisie, and the town hall spoke of municipal power and wealth. And surrounded by a city teeming with the poor and hungry. . .

An impoverished Karl Marx, barely 30, spent three years here from 1846.

And in the back room of what is now one of Brussels’ most chic restaurants, with friend Friedrich Engels, he laboured over their most important work, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, part-groundbreaking philosophical and historical thesis, but above all a call to action that would reverberate around the world.

Two hundred years ago next Saturday, Marx was born in the small German town of Trier, where EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will deliver a speech for the birthday unveiling of a 5.5m statue of the local boy, a gift from the People’s Republic of China.

“Nobody can deny that Karl Marx is a figure who shaped history in one way or the other,” a commission spokeswoman defensively insisted. “Not speaking about him would come close to denying history.”

His intellectual legacy is everywhere. Last week with a laugh, a senior Irish diplomat described to me the “mao dun“ — Chinese for “internal contradiction” — at the heart of a commission proposal. Doomed, he was suggesting, like capitalism and its contradictions, to the dustbin of history.

20th century’s woes

Neither Juncker nor my diplomat, you may be relieved to hear, are closet Marxists, but in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 , they, like many others, economists, historians and philosophers, have been willing to look again seriously at the ideas of a man at whose door most of the 20th century’s woes have been unfairly laid by conventional opinion.

And yet. No more than the bloody crusades, or the terreur and the guillotine can be said definitively to characterise Christendom or the French Republic, Marx too can and must be rescued from his disciples’ excesses and intellectual rigidities. “If anything is certain,” he would claim to “revolutionary phrase-mongering” adherents, “it is that I myself am not a Marxist.”

Rescuing Marx is first and foremost about rescuing his thinking from the charge — a caricature — of dogmatism and rigidity. On the contrary, it is above all a methodology of thinking and analysis, not a fixed position, not a political programme, nor a set of explicit prescriptions for the world’s ills.

One that explores the dynamics of constant change in the economic, political and ideological spheres as the working-out of contradictions. In Marx’s view, these are the tensions between old ways of creating the means of survival, and their social organisation, and new, emerging forms of economic and political organisation. Irreconcilable opposites in whose synthesis the new world is created.

But for Marx, and his “historical materialism”, history itself was inherently open-ended: “All history is nothing but a continuous transformation of human nature.”

“In Marx’s vision, which cannot recognise anything as absolutely final,” the late philosopher István Mészáros wrote, “there can be no place for a utopian golden age, neither ‘round the corner’ nor astronomical distances away. Such a golden age would be an end of history, and thus the end of man himself.”

For a different Irish take on the Philosophy of Peace, see this series of essays by Mark Humphrys.

19 thoughts on “A Birthday Cake With 200 Candles and Blood-Red Icing

  1. I think the correct riposte to Smyth’s contribution to the annals political effluent would be ‘Testicles!’.

    • Ah, but click the link to Mark Humphry’s page. He’s a pro-American Irish libertarian. His research on various aspects of the Marxist killing machine is thorough and detailed. Each essay has a lot of information.

    • Ah, but Seneca : there was a time when those dangling participles were referred to as ‘the Crown Jewels,’ or the ‘Family Jewels,’ (I have heard ‘heirlooms.’

      Modern American slang has devolved those to ‘my junk,’ and ‘your junk.’

      From jewels to junk, so goes masculinity in the modern era. Tells us all we need to know of the high regard in which manhood is now held.

      • That neologism was created in response to the overly invasive actions of TSA screeners in American airports. Given the circumstances, “junk” was a polite, non-flammatory word. Which is why it caught on.

        Too bad women haven’t come up with an equally witty neologism.

  2. So, roughly, that’s at least 1 million people per year killed in the name of Marxism, since the time of Marx’s birth. Let’s party.

    • So, roughly, that’s at least 1 million people per year killed in the name of Marxism, since the time of Marx’s birth.

      Too right!

    • The Communists are only silver medalist in the killing Olympics. The bronze medal goes to the Nazis the Communism nationalist version. The gold medal goes to the oldest collectivist totalitarian political ideology: Islam, with an estimated 250-280 million victims.

  3. Strangely in European conventions, and in the Prague Declaration itself, European signatories and politicians never referred to Marxism and Karl Marx as the father of genocide, at most they blamed “Stalinism” or “Soviet Communism,” or generically , “Communism”, but never ignored the point-to-point genocidal ideas of Communism and, consequently, of Marxism.

    In the European Parliament there are several blocks of the Marxist left, and common denominated ones. Over time, internationalism found a common home in Europe. Today these emissaries of the genocide can speak in favor of the European Union as a posture of moderate socialists.

  4. At me from the school program only and has postponed in a head: “the Phantom wanders on the Europe, a Phantom of Communism …” More I remember nothing.
    What kind of Phantoms from those across Europe did not go.
    Now there are many publications that Marx was a complete Russophobe.

  5. Capitalism – where profits are voluntarily pre-agreed prior to an exchange within a framework of rights that guarantee those profits remain private possession.

    Marxism – where profits are handed to the state to be distributed equally between all. This is capitalism for the gullible, as the profit motive does not dissapear for the individual, who only is led to believe that he/she/it will gain more by going about it all this way . With Marxism the leverage of monopoly dissapears only because it is fully owned by the state – ask those who tried to argue.

    Modern Marxism is no different, productivity gains achieved due to the competitive success of capitalism are handed out along with nationality freebies to all and sunder, and no one dare step in its path for being trampled by the masses or picked off by the elite.

    I ask you though, once the management is complete, are we going to witness a beautiful era of human enlightenment , or are we going to experience the most profound dissatisfaction and confusion, only to be continued by dictate ?

    People don’t change, if you believe others you do not know and who do not know you are more able to arrange for you, and act out of selfless ambition towards helping you, then you likely are somewhere conceited or have too high a self opinion.

    • Once the state achieves complete victory in handing out freebies created by productive capitalists, you get Venezuela, where starving people flee the region of the once-prosperous country.

  6. the rebirth of Marx-ism as a birthday present to him. these are truly times that Trier men’s soles.

  7. I heard Xi Jinping (China PM) and Chinese Communist Party celebrated Marx too. Xi said they believe Marx was and is right, nothing wrong with Marxism. Hm, the Chinese admires White European too. As Baron once pointed out?

    • Xi may say it, but Xi’s country doesn’t have much in common with Marx’s ideals anymore does it?

  8. And yesterday, on Marx’s 200th birthday, I saw in Tel Aviv a big slogan on a building: “Property is authorised robbery” …

    Seems that despite many instances of mass-murder and economic collapse, committed in the name of Karl Marx and his ideals, and not a single instance of a successful Marxist state, he is still venerated by privileged middle classes who’ve never had the chance to experience living under Communism.

  9. Well , that was to be expected from Juncker’s twisted mind . Celebrating the 200th birthday of a person who has inspired to more mass-murders than most .
    Can’t think for any other place for him (Marx) , than history’s toxic waste dump …

  10. This is an extremely informative presentation on Marx and Marxism:

    Molyneux gives quotes from Marx advocating political terror and the abolition of the Jews as a blight on the world. Not to be outdone, the icons Engels, Lenin and Trotsky are also quoted as advocating political terror and genocide as a way to grease the rails of history’s railroad. Stalin was the consummate bureaucrat and beat Trotsky at the game of power-mongering. Trotsky never recovered and generated disputes with Stalin about nationalism versus globalism, opportunism versus principle, and any other convenient topic Trotsky could vacuum up to show his pique towards Stalin…not an entirely safe occupation, as it turned out.

    Smyth makes it a point to praise Marx’s “flexibility” in the face face of history’s complexity. Another way of saying this is that Marx was an intellectual opportunist with no real philosophy or principle who played fast and loose with real facts.

    Marx in his person and personal life reflected his intellectual works perfectly: dirty, grimy, disheveled, unprincipled, treacherous and nasty.
    or for those too cheap to give up four or five dollars for a great read:
    https://archive.org/details/intellectuals2 .

    Now, here’s something funny. If you listen to the Molyneux video, you’ll realize that Molyneux doesn’t realize that Marx was right about some predictions. Marx predicted that capitalism will morph into communism of its own accord. Molyneux says that has been disproved, but to the contrary: given the leftist, cultural Marxist penetration into our educational system, and our bureaucracies of administration and law-enforcement, not to mention the identity-driven welfare state, the capitalist US is indeed morphing into a hard-left communist, totalitarian state. The EU states are much further along in this, but the dynamic is exactly the same.

    It is often pointed out that communism was implemented in the near-feudal countries of Russia and China, with grim results. But, going by Marx’s writings, the proper course would have been to turn Russia and China into capitalist countries, and then allow them to morph naturally into communism like the US, Canada, and the EU countries are doing. Of course, Marx did show that trait of wanting to rush history through political terror, so who knows what Marx himself would have wanted?

    Another concept of Marx was that industrialization would produce labor surplus and a consequent lowering of worker wages. The industrial revolution in Europe and the US actually raised the wages and living standards of workers to the extent that Marxists became quite upset the workers were getting too fat and comfortable to want a revolution. Not to worry. The union bosses, kept in luxury and power through the protection of a federal labor bureaucracy designed to allow them to get away with violence and coercion, were thoroughly Marxist, and backed up by mafia thugs.

    Anyway, all good things must end. The prospering workers of the US were undercut by massive immigration of low-wage competitors brought in by a cultural-Marxist government, and wages in the US stagnated for decades. So, again, the influence of Marxism fulfilled its own prediction.

    Is there a lesson in all this? I admire the flexibility of Marx. He took virtually any side of any question, depending on where he was physically and intellectually. However, Marx paid little attention to actual facts. Western civilization, to survive, has got to go places it never went before. But actual science and facts, mixed with actual principles, is the best road map we have.

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