If you’ve never read “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, published in 1848, you should—especially right now.
To be sure, reading this awful screed against human nature can be confusing, let alone unsatisfying and thoroughly unedifying. What do the authors mean, for example, when they screech: “Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists”?
What, precisely, Marx and Engels meant by “abolition” is a subject for debate, which I detail in my book, “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.” There, I discuss at length the communist founding fathers’ disturbing views of family, marriage, sexuality, and more.
They are but one stop in a long line of leftists such as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Alexandra Kollontai, Margaret Sanger, Margaret Mead, Wilhelm Reich, Herbert Marcuse, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, the Bolsheviks, the Frankfurt School of cultural Marxists, Mao Tse-Tung, assorted ’60s radicals from Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn to Mark Rudd and Tom Hayden, and on to modern groups like the Beyond Marriage campaign and various gay-marriage activists—all just for starters—who have engaged in a long march to fundamentally transform natural, traditional, biblical marriage and the family.
Although they varied in their beliefs, all bristle at the idea of a God or absolute designer who has devised eternally established standards for male-female marriage and family. Communists today, in places like People’s World, at the website of Communist Party USA, and even in once militantly anti-gay places like Castro’s Cuba, are embracing same-sex marriage as the long-awaited vehicle they’ve sought for centuries to reshape, redefine, and take down natural-traditional-biblical marriage—and to attack religion and religious believers. They are beside themselves in a mix of befuddlement and joy to see the mainstream culture finally with them, at long last, in one of their numerous efforts to redefine family and marriage.
This is not say, of course, that you’ll find support for same-sex marriage in the writings of Marx and Engels. Please. Don’t be silly. No group of radicals ever in the 2,000-year sweep of the Judeo-Christian West ever contemplated that. The mere fleeting contemplation, the mere momentary notion, the slightest passing fancy of a man legally marrying another man (with widespread cultural acceptance) in the 1850s or 1950s, or as recently as the 1980s or 1990s, would have been scoffed at as inanely incomprehensible.
Marx and Engels’ Hatred for Family
Nonetheless, along the road that prodded civilization toward this historically extreme spot, some influential forces emerged on the far Left that cannot and should not be ignored. Among certain elements was a pronounced sexual radicalism that arguably helped surface the road, or at least broke the ground. One such element was the neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School, which had an especially strong impact upon American universities, particularly in the 1960s.
But that would come later, a century after Marx and Engels. For this article, let’s stick with Marx and Engels. I cannot here reiterate what requires many pages to detail, but, in short, Marx and Engels were no great fans of marriage and family. “Blessed is he who has no family,” Marx wrote to Engels, where he was at best joking (funny, eh?).
Their final semi-partnership was an 1884 book published by Engels a year after Marx’s death. Titled, “The Origin of the Family,” Engels in the preface makes clear that the book reflected Marx’s views. Engels there stated that Marx had wanted to undertake this particularly important work and had produced extensive extracts up until his death, which Engels had reproduced in the book “as far as possible.” In fact, many of the ideas in “The Origin of the Family” can be found in the first joint work by Marx and Engels, “The German Ideology,” which was not published during their lifetimes. Scholars of the work are certain that “The Origin of the Family” was essentially a joint work of the two founders of Marxism, one scholar calling it “an impressive unity and continuity over four decades in the basic outlines of their thoughts.”
There, and elsewhere, we see, among other things, a fanatical push to abolish all right of inheritance, to end home and religious education, to dissolve monogamy in marriage, to pursue pre- and extra-marital sex, to foster and “tolerate” (as Engels put it) the “gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse” by unmarried women, to nationalize all housework, to shift mothers into factories, to move children into daycare nurseries, to separate children into community collectives apart from their natural parents, and, most of all, for society and the state to rear and educate children.
As Engels envisioned, “the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair; society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not.”
Communists’ Ten-Point Plan for Erasing Families
Some of these ideas were already emerging in “The Communist Manifesto.” There, Marx and Engels included a shocking but telling 10-point plan for their new ideal of humanity. Here it is, in direct quotation:
- Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
- A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
- Abolition of all right of inheritance.
- Confiscation of all property of emigrants and rebels.
- Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
- Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
- Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
- Equal obligation of all to work….
- … gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
- Free education for all children in public schools…
That is what The Communist Manifesto really says, and, worse, desired for not one country but the whole world. It is a prescription, obviously, for despotism, as Marx himself conceded, prefacing his ten points: “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.”
Marxism was not hijacked by despots; Marxism demanded despots. Only a fool would not instantly, intuitively realize that implementing this vision would necessarily generate mass bloodshed. This is why, I imagine, most Marxist professors dare not have students read “The Communist Manifesto.” Their students tell me all the time: “‘The Communist Manifesto’ is actually a pretty good book with good ideas if you simply take the time to read it.” My response: “Really, have you read it? I have.” That response always elicits a blank stare.
But back to the point on marriage and family. Note that severalof these ten points in the Marx-Engels plan would directly impact the family. Look at points one, two, three, nine, and ten. Among them, just a few highlights and comments.
How Communism Destroys Families
Note the call in point three to terminate “all right of inheritance.” Marx and Engels saw inheritance as a menace that perpetuated the role of traditional family. How could a classless society guarantee equality of income when some persons at birth were unjustly handed more income from their parents than others?
This is ironic, given that both Marx and Engels existed and operated off Engels’ inheritance, which subsidized their work, especially after Marx sucked as much money as he could from his own financially drained parents, who were very bitter at how he exploited them. Marx’s relationship to his parents was plainly parasitic. Marx’s mom openly expressed the wish that Karl stop writing about capital and start accumulating some of it for him and his family. Nonetheless, there was their recommendation: abolish all right of inheritance.
Of course, inheritance was about private property, which Marx and Engels despised. In fact the central goal of “The Communist Manifesto” is just that. The authors summed up: “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”
Point nine in the ten-point plan of Marx and Engels called for “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.” This obviously and painfully affected families. For Communist regimes in nations like Cambodia, this “gradual abolition” took the form of immediate overnight mass deportations at the tip of automatic rifles, a sickeningly drastic action that was vividly captured in the 1984 film “The Killing Fields.”
Separate Children and Parents
Another who took this advice to extremes was Leonid Sabsovich, the leading Soviet urban planner under Lenin and Stalin. In a series of influential writings published by the Kremlin in the late 1920s, Sabsovich argued for a total separation of children from parents starting in the earliest years of child development. Sabsovich excoriated those who disagreed. Those who found his suggestion of full child-parent separation unnatural and unwelcome were unprogressive cretins “soaked in petit bourgeois and ‘intelligentsia-like’ prejudices.” They were bigots. Likewise befitting a diehard leftist, he advocated absolute state power to steamroll those in his way.
Sabsovich insisted that because the child should be and was the property of the state, rather than the family, the state had the right to compel parents to turn over their offspring to specially designed “children’s towns.” These towns needed to be built “at a distance from the family.” Such extreme family proposals by this urban communist would be incorporated within his plans for creating the ideal “socialist city.”
Finally, and briefly, look at point ten in the grand plan of Marx and Engels: They wanted “free education” for every child in “public schools.” No more of what they denounced as the “hallowed correlation of parent and child” and “bourgeois claptrap about the family and education.” Overall, stated Marx and Engels, “The communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” Yes, no wonder.
Among those ideas, at the epicenter, was natural, traditional, biblical family and marriage. It had to be targeted. Alas, only now, two centuries later, is it finally being redefined. In perhaps the most radical rapture of all, those pushing the redefinition are not crackpot German atheistic philosophers in European cafes but everyday mainstream Americans, Mr. and Mrs. Mainstreet.
What they are not only advocating but vigorously and often militantly pushing is the most radical rupture of traditional relations of all—so radical that Marx and Engels would be dumbfounded at the mere thought of where America and the West stand today on same-sex marriage. We are breaking entirely new ground in the long, long sweep of human history, and the groundbreakers act as if it is no big deal whatsoever; to the contrary, they portray those against gay marriage as the extremists, and, of course, as the “hatemongers.”
This is an especially exciting time for extreme leftists. They are no doubt dizzied by their success and, even more so, by their unexpected allies in the mainstream culture. They are genuinely transforming human nature. And they are doing it with the unwitting support of a huge swath of oblivious citizens. It has been a long time coming.
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