Karl Marx: His Life and Environment


"A specter is haunting Europe--the specter of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police spies."

It is now approximately a century and a quarter since Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote that resounding first paragraph to the Communist Manifesto, and time can hardly be said to have dulled their words or to have relegated their ideas to the museum of antiquities. Right or wrong, Marxism today is as alive as ever; its adherents are more numerous than at any time in history; and the outlook for its longevity as a system of thought and a model of political actions seems all too bright.

It is remarkable, given the extraordinary importance of Communism in our time, how little we know of the Marxist ideas which underlie it. Denunciation of Communist doctrine has become commonplace in America, but thoughtful examination of Communist philosophy is rare. Most Americans behave as if Communism could be defeated by shouting at it, or by holding up some grotesquely distorted version of it and pointing out its demerits, or by assuming that it is all the work of the devil and as such will in time be bested by the forces of enlightenment and culture.

These are pleasant assumptions, but--alas!--they will not do. We have been shouting at Communism now for a long time and it refuses to go away; we have been emphasizing its deformities and still it grows; we have been classifying its source . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1963
  • 3rd


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