1940s >> 1941 >> no-439-march-1941

Two Quotations About Marx

The Daily Express (November 30th) had an editorial blaming Marx for the prevailing “worship of the State”

: –  This worship of the State as if it were something better than the individual is a foul delusion, a product of the Teutonic bogs and mists. It came from Germany in the form of class war out of Karl Marx. It came from Germany in the form of military tyranny out of Hitler. We can very well do without either Marx or Hitler.
      While we readily agree to State compulsion in time of war, we will remember that we do so to overthrow tyranny, not to enthrone it.
      We will therefore rejoice at every victory for good order and commonsense when it springs from the heart of the individual rather than from a State Order in Council.

 There is nothing new in this line of attack on Marx, but error does not become truth because the Daily Express goes on repeating it. If the writer of the editorial and the editor who passed it would give a few hours to reading what Marx had to say about the State they would know that the charge of State-worship is the most absurd of all the charges that can be levelled against him. They would learn that Marx aimed at a system of society in which the State, having no longer the function of acting as the instrument of the ruling class against the ruled, would wither away. Some of the more ignorant journalists would of course say, in good faith, that Russia is Socialist and also a country given over to State-worship, and that therefore Marx can be held guilty. This, however, is not a plea that can be put in the Daily Express, for that newspaper has repeatedly recognised that Russia is organised on the basis of State capitalism.

 It is particularly interesting to compare the Daily Express editorial with an article written by Mr. Michael Foot, who is a frequent contributor to Express newspapers. The article, “Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital,’ ” from which the following is an extract, appeared in the World Review (November, 1940). Perhaps the Express would like to reproduce it just to show that they mean what they say when they boast of the “ freedom of the Press.”

      “It requires a politician, an historian, an economist, a philosopher, a scientist, to pass final judgment on ‘Das Kapital.’ But those of us who are none or only one of these can grasp something of the terrific scale of his thought. It was no puny, miserable reduction of everything in life to economic terms, as some have suggested, which Marx gave to the world. It was a bold and spacious argument. He had learnt from many masters and defied them all. He quotes Shakespeare as often as Ricardo. He understood pity as well as force. He had wit to match his scorn. He lived only part of his life among books. He moved among men and stirred them as he himself was stirred.

    Awe-Inspiring Prophecy  “He was the great prophet of catastrophe when the world believed in progress. He foretold clash when men still had some excuse for trusting in smooth amelioration. He understood the vast significance of the disease of unemployment when the disease was but a germ. He said capitalism would collapse before it had reached its heyday. He saw the State shrivelling to a gang, utterly ruthless, years before Fascism was ever dreamt of. He prophesied wars engulfing the globe.
      “At least do him the favour of judging him on his own works. Do not take it from his disciples. Most of them suffer from carbuncles in their later as well as their earlier chapters.”

Edgar Hardcastle

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