Marx: Not So Scary Anymore


When I was in high school, my girlfriend’s BFF was the daughter of a college professor. We double-dated, and that’s how I came to be sitting in the prof’s living room. Young and eager for intellectual discussion, I asked her about Karl Marx. She went crazy angry on me and snapped, “He was a Russian dictator and that’s all you need to know!”

Even I, a hick from a hick town, knew Karl Marx wasn’t Russian. So I learned two things:

  1. College professors may not always be so smart
  2. There’s something really scary about the name “Karl Marx.”

I didn’t ask anybody again until the middle of the Vietnam War, when I and millions of others were trying to figure out how to understand and improve our society. Even then, I was too anti-Marx indoctrinated to try any serious study. Eventually, I gave in to the overwhelming curiosity generated by the nagging question, “If there’s nothing to be learned, why are they trying so hard to keep me from learning it?”

So I plowed through a number of books and pamphlets by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, and V.I. Lenin. Some of it was really hard to read. I had to get a friend to teach a “course” on Capital Volume One in my living room, just to get through the book. As these things were written mostly in the 19th century, the language was different. A lot of Lenin’s writings were polemics, arguments, against obscure people I never heard of with Russian names I couldn’t pronounce or remember. But the biggest obstacle of all was the anti-communism buried deep in my bones during my childhood in the McCarthy witch hunt days.

I didn’t like a lot of the people who posed as “Marxist scholars.” They were an awful lot like Biblical scholars; and I can’t understand or relate to either one very well.

Other people told me that they knew all about Marxism, but that it was irrelevant today because it was written before computers, before global warming, and before nuclear weapons.

I think that those who dismiss or attack Marxism are generally wrong. There’s a lot of relevant stuff to be learned there, even though it’s pretty hard to dig out through reading the old books. Fortunately, today, there’s a shorter and easier way on-line. See what you think!  –genelantz



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