Looking back at Karl Marx's writings demonstrates that by current standards the German philosopher falls far short. Marx's early formulation of communism is antisemitic and offers a "solution" to the "Jewish Problem."
"Money is the Jealous God of Israel, beside which no other God may exist. Money abases all the gods of mankind and changes them into commodities. The god of the Jews has been secularized and has become the god of the world. In emancipating itself from hucksterism and money, and thus from real and practical Judaism, our age would emancipate itself...by destroying the empirical essence of Judaism, the Jew will become impossible." Source Karl Marx-Engels Collected Works (London 1975ff),vol. iii,pp146-74
His early defense of using terror, one of the key elements of Totalitarianism is also problematic.
"We are ruthless and ask no quarter from you. When our turn comes we shall not disguise our terrorism." Marx-Engels Gesamt-Ausgabe, vol. vi pp 503-5
"Far from opposing the so-called excesses, those examples of popular vengeance against hated individuals or public buildings which have acquired hateful memories, we must not only condone these examples but lend them a helping hand." Marx-Engels Gesamt-Ausgabe, vol. vii p 239Karl Marx in the essay “Forced Emigration,” in the New York Daily Tribune, 22 March 1853 seems to view the elimination of classes and races as a necessary part of revolution:
Society is undergoing a silent revolution, which must be submitted to, and which takes no more notice of the human existences it breaks down than an earthquake regards the houses it subverts. The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.In a July 30, 1862 letter to Frederick Engels, his chief benefactor, Marx described nineteenth-century German socialist, Ferdinand Lassalle, in a racist manner:
The Jewish Nigger Lassalle . . .fortunately departs at the end of this week . . . It is now absolutely clear to me that, as both the shape of his head and his hair texture shows – he descends from the Negros who joined Moses’ flight from Egypt (unless his mother or grandmother on the paternal side hybridized with a nigger). Now this combination of Germanness and Jewishness with a primarily Negro substance creates a strange product. The pushiness of the fellow is also nigger-like.Joshua Dill has written an important essay on how even with the early Marx one could see how things would turn out so badly when his theories were implemented.
..."The year was 1844. Hoping to unite German and French radicals, Marx and his colleague Arnold Ruge moved with their wives to Paris in order to found a new theoretical journal, the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (German-French Annals)."Ruge falls out with Marx and goes on to provide a nuanced analysis of what the communists were offering and its shortcomings:
“What I’ve recently read, Fourier and the communists, has much to say in the critical realm—in the organic realm it is always highly problematic; and you are completely right, before one sees the “how,” there is not much to be said for the idea of a new reality. Heads are confused, and the socialist parties don’t speak much more clearly than they think. Neither the complicated proposals of the Fourierists nor the abolition of private property of the communists can be formulated clearly. Both amount in the end to a veritable police state or slave state. In order to free the proletarians both spiritually and physically from need and the pressure of need, they think of an organization that would make all people experience this need and this pressure. One must accept the challenge of ending the neglect of man at any price, and if it is necessary that the privileged suffer for this, one must accept this too. But is the practical problem even solved in this case? Is freedom achieved when both need for and abundance from the state is evenly distributed? And would men become more humane if some are relieved and some are burdened in that way? The communists say ‘yes’ and dream of a paradise as soon as the next revolution brings them to the helm, as they believe will happen. The communists are so far removed from humanity and from actual communism that living with them presents no intellectual or social attraction.”Those in 2017 who view Marx as having "had it figured out all along" need to have their head examined. One can diagnose a problem but providing a solution worse than the original problem should not be celebrated. The past century of communism in action, with over a 100 million dead, not to mention ideological offspring such as fascism, leaves a clear and negative record that is no cause for celebration.