Many people, some of whom identify with the “heart” of Marx seem to believe that his ideas about government and society shouldn’t be confused with the modern day infamous examples of Communism that we have seen in the 20th century.
There seems to be a prevailing notion that the advocacy of force and violence to achieve and maintain the ideals and the system of of “communism” in a society were ideas outlined and utilized by ideologies that were influenced by Marx, such as the Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia. This notion would suggest that Marx was not a proponent of violence and force to achieve his philosophy outlined in the Communist Manifesto.
I’ve seen individuals with various Marxist influence debate this notion with those of a clearly anti-marxist philosophical influence. What might shed some light on the accuracy of this notion is what Marx actually said, particularly during the rather violent revolutions which occurred across much of Europe during 1848.
Most people have never heard of the speech that Marx gave in 1848 upon his arrival in Paris, called the “I am a revolutionist speech.” This speech was his endorsement of what would become the foundation of the new revolutionary religion that would engulf much of Europe.In fact, I couldn’t find it online anywhere, and it’s not as if the history books would dare to relay back what he said in this speech. It would put him in too much of a questionable light. Marx had entered Paris in February of 1848 and on March 4th he gave this speech to one of the revolutionary cells there:
“I am a revolutionist. I want to march in the shadow of the great Robespierre. Let blood drip from my hands. Let blood flow through the streets and victory shall be ours. Here is what virtuous citizens would say to you if he, our great lord and master, Robespierre were still alive today. When an overcrowded vessel is caught at sea in a violent storm, a part of the crew is thrown overboard to save the rest, and so we must kill those citizens who stand against us in order that righteousness may prevail. So let us kill. Let us exterminate the bourgeois in order to save society from catastrophe. We will save them, or we will kill them and save them. It is their choice.”
As Dr. George Grant in a lecture concerning the Revolutions of 1848 put it, “Not exactly friendly words.” Marx, however, had more to say about violence and its role in his revolutionary ideals;
“It is obvious that in the bloody fighting that lies ahead as in the fighting in the past, the workers will be victorious chiefly through their own courage, determination , and self sacrifice. Far from opposing the so called excesses, those examples of popular vengeance against hated individuals or public buildings which has acquired hateful memories, we must not only condone these examples, but lend them a guiding hand. Let the mob be the mob.
Notice Marx not only endorses his fellow ideologues to encourage mob violence during the Revolution, but to utilize it.
I had never even heard of The Revolutionist Speech, until I started listening through Dr. Grants Modernity Lectures and heard his 10th lecture titled “Revolution 1848.” I mentioned that particular quote to several other people who all demanded sources, so I contacted Kings Meadow to see what the source was.
The source and the quote it turns out is from a book by James Billington entitled, “Fire in the Minds of Men.” I thought to myself, who is that? It turns out Billington is the chief librarian of the Library of Congress. Dr. Grant’s staff at King’s Meadow recommended this book as stunningly insightful concerning the revolutionary faith. I’ve actually started reading through this book and am stunned by the amount of information it contains.
Now some of have dismissed or downplayed the significance of these quotes as simply hyperbole to be expected at the time, considering that the Revolution was occuring. Note the the influence of these quotes seen in Marx and Engles future signature work, the Communist Manifesto
Whether or not that is the case, what Marx said and his philosophical influence on today’s society should stand out. If speeches like this were given today, Marx would probably have been arrested of inciting mob violence and proposing “terrorism” against his opponents. Also imagine if someone else in today’s current society had said something like this.
Now this is just my opinion, but what Marx had to say is just another example of why the word “revolution” always has dangerous and violent implications. History has taught us that almost every revolution to immediately affect a society has resulted in violence and force of some kind to overthrow that current system of government would have to be employed. The various revolutions of the 20th century confirm this to even a more appalling degree.
To all future “revolutionaries”, here is a thought; instead of calling for revolution, we should instead call for reformation. This doesn’t begin legislatively, but rather in the community, the family, and the individual.
– If you have never listened to any of Dr. Grant’s lectures, I highly encourage you to give them a try. I have yet to hear anyone else who is as articulate an orator as Dr. Grant. His Modernity Lectures will give you a new outlook and a very important worldview lesson on what occurred from the early 1800s all the way up to the end of the Cold War.