The Sadly Ubiquitous Karl Marx

The Left fights the culture wars in various ways. They fight hot wars by censoring, cancelling and firing opponents. They fight cold wars by monopolising the information-space, such as newspapers and the ABC excluding questioning of climate alarmism. But the ‘progressives’ most insidious and successful campaigns put the emphasis on “culture” so that kids and citizens absorb the desired world-view without even noticing.

I have an unlikely case in point: my wife and I enjoy watching Welsh orange-haired Professor Alice Roberts on SBS prancing about compering her TV series Britain’s Most Historic Towns”. We gets bits of history and a lot of entertainment – she’s still looking yummy at age 48.

Professor Roberts doesn’t appear to have a political bone in her body but, actually, she’s active on several fronts. She’s the atheist president of the charity Humanists UK, which campaigns for state secularism and for “a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail”. She campaigns against state-funded religious schools, although she did enrol her two daughters in a classy Church of England school.

Her Historic Towns pieces are made for UK’s Channel 4, a hybrid State/commercial TV outfit. Its remit is to be innovative, educational and catering for Britain’s diverse community, including the religious. However its initial Easter show called Jesus: the Evidence suggested the Gospels were unreliable and Jesus was into witchcraft, if he had existed at all which the program doubted.

As an Alternative Christmas address in 2008, Channel 4 handed its pulpit to Iranian President and Jew-hater Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who spoke on how Christ would have censured the evil United States. Channel 4 followed up with a “Masturbate-a-thon”, called Wank Week, involving a mass masturbation event (cancelled after protests) to raise funds for Marie Stopes International’s sexual health work.[1]

So if you’re getting my drift, Professor Alice and Channel 4 aren’t in the Maggie Thatcher mould. All the same, Alice’s Historic Towns seem an unlikely vehicle for Left brainwashing — until you dial up Series Three, Episode 7: Manchester and the Industrial Revolution. It was in the Reading Room of the 15th century Chetham Library in Manchester that Karl Marx in 1848 cooked up much of his Communist Manifesto. Alice is told by a local Marx-adoring historian, Jonathan Scofield, that the Marx-Engels liaison “seems the closest, most important friendship in world history.” Alice gives Jonathan a feminine gasp: “Ohhh!”

She visits the library like a pilgrim: “I am heading for the desk where Marx and Engels actually sat and collaborated … He (Marx) sits at this desk and chats and gets books out.”

The librarian lets her touch the first edition. Alice rhapsodises, “Look at this, this is a copy of the original Manifesto! I’ll skip to the end, it doesn’t take long, 50 pages in total,

Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite!’ ”

She pauses to let this inspirational message sink in, and says, “Isn’t it amazing, such a small book, such HUGE impact on the 20th Century. This call to arms would become arguably the single most influential publication of all time. Its theories underpin the Russian Revolution of 1917 and creation of the Soviet Union.” (A good thing in Professor Roberts’ opinion, apparently). That’s it: she has no inkling that Manchester-originating Communism was not a boon to the 20th Century.

She’s so impressed with Marx and Engels that her show runs grabs from the Communist Manifesto at the front as a highlight and teaser. Her overall thesis is about Manchester being a “workshop of radical ideas that changed the world”.

TV-wise, she lumps Marx and Engels in the middle of heroes from the Peterloo martyrs of 1819 to the Corn Law and Parliamentary reformers, the activists against working-class squalor, the Manchester anti-slavery movement praised by Abraham Lincoln and freed slave Frederick Douglass, Dickens, Disraeli, Benjamin Franklin, reformist author Elizabeth Gaskell and finally the women’s liberator Emmeline Pankhurst.

Alice’s woke credentials are cemented by interviewing “Caroline”, who is no relation to the original Pankhurst but changed her name to Caroline Pankhurst. This re-named virago, who is every man’s nightmare of a feminist, says “Pankhurst would be horrified to see how social media has added another way of silencing and oppressing women.” Huh? If you say so, dear.

Alice poses against a mural of two black men and one black women, all wearing Adidas gear, with a label, Hated, Adored, Never Ignored. “It is great to see that tradition of protest thriving in this century,” she says, although I think it’s actually an Adidas ad. Alice ends her show by laying a wreath at a statue of Ms Pankhurst, saying, “I can’t think of a more fit way to end my time in Manchester than to pay tribute to Emmeline Pankhurst and all the Manchester radicals — those brave men and women who call out inequality and injustice wherever they saw it, who fought for the greater good, for what was right. And their work goes on.”

In the case of Marx, his work does go on in China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba…

If you find Professor Alice a bit odd, keep in mind that the mainstream leader of the British Labor Party from 2015-20 was Marxist/socialist Jeremy Corbyn. You can currently find Marxists galore teaching kids in our universities, such as here.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush created a memorial to the “Victims of Communism” in Washington DC. Its pedestal reads, “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty.” You can argue all day about whether Marx’s disciples slaughtered 60 million , 80 million or as the memorial claims, 100-plus million. The means include murder, war, politically-engineered famines such as the Ukrainian Holomodor (about four million died of hunger), and being worked to death in gulags.

Brooding about the program, I decided to read (for the first time) Marx’s Communist Manifesto and its drafts and 1848 sequels. Professor Alice clearly hasn’t. She has a husband and two girls: Marx proposed abolition of the family and kids being handed over to State educators for indoctrination from when they first lisp and toddle:[2]

But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour… Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.

Under Communist State aegis, Professor Alice would be lumped into Marx’s “community of women” pool.

“Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women.”

It’s worth the mentioning, I suppose, that Marx’s Manifesto urges the abolition of private property. Professor Alice, as one of Britain’s most adored scientists (so far showered with five honorary doctorates), would have a lot of stuff to lose.[3]

“(T)he theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property … In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.

Much of Marx’s Manifesto involves snarling against other more moderate reform groups.[4] Professor Alice can thank her idol for terms such as “the idiocy of rural life” and “Lumpenproletariat” viz:

The social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.

I hadn’t realised that Mao’s Great Leap Forward was foreshadowed by Karl Marx. In his paradise to come, “existing improvements and scientific procedures will be put into practice, with a resulting leap forward which will assure to society all the products it needs.” Mao’s Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1962) killed 45 million, or twice the current population of Australia.

Marx like two other monsters, Stalin and Pol Pot, wanted his nirvana to be fuelled by “an entirely different kind of human material.” Meanwhile this crazed scribbler imagined that

the difference between city and country is destined to disappear. The management of agriculture and industry by the same people rather than by two different classes of people is, if only for purely material reasons, a necessary condition of communist association.

Marx dreamed that under his Communism, someone would organise

construction, on public lands, of great palaces as communal dwellings for associated groups of citizens engaged in both industry and agriculture and combining in their way of life the advantages of urban and rural conditions while avoiding the one-sidedness and drawbacks of each.

The palaces would house his “industrial armies, especially for agriculture.” Sure,Karl, that makes sense!

As an atheist, Professor Alice would be untroubled by Marx’s replacement of all religions with Communist catechisms.

Question 22. Do Communists reject existing religions?

Answer: All religions so far have been the expression of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is the stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and brings about their disappearance.

While Marx was penning the Manifesto he was also formulating “Demands of the Communist Party in Germany”. Law firms, like Labor friendly Maurice Blackburn, will be disturbed to learn Marx’s demands included, “Legal services shall be free of charge.” Victoria’s Marx-friendly bureaucrats will be equally dismayed, as Marx decreed

all civil servants shall receive the same salary, the only exception being that civil servants who have a family to support and who therefore have greater requirements, shall receive a higher salary.

An unintended consequence could have been a spate of babies among Victoria’s half-million public servants.

I’ll close with a couple of paragraphs from Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, to suggest where Marx’s ideology led. Solzhenitsyn mentions a peasant during one of Stalin’s famines:

Because he had six mouths to feed he devoted himself whole-heartedly to collective farm work, and kept hoping he would get some return for his labor. And he did—they awarded him a decoration. They awarded it at a special assembly, made speeches. In his reply, the peasant got carried away. He said, “Now if I could just have a sack of flour instead of this decoration! Couldn’t I somehow?” A wolflike laugh rocketed through the hall, and the newly decorated hero went off to exile, together with all six of those dependent mouths.

There are plenty of documented horrors of Communism in the three volumes’ 1000 pages, but here Solzhenitsyn writes of a speculative one:

There was a rumor going the rounds between 1918 and 1920 that the Petrograd Cheka, headed by Uritsky, and the Odessa Cheka, headed by Deich, did not shoot all those condemned to death but fed some of them alive to the animals in the city zoos. I do not know whether this is truth or calumny, or, if there were any such cases, how many were there. But I wouldn’t set out to look for proof, either. Following the practice of the bluecaps [secret police], I would propose that they prove to us that this was impossible. How else could they get food for the zoos in those famine years? Take it away from the working class? Those enemies were going to die anyway, so why couldn’t their deaths support the zoo economy of the Republic and thereby assist our march into the future? Wasn’t it expedient?

That is the precise line the Shakespearean evildoer could not cross. But the evildoer with ideology does cross it, and his eyes remain dry and clear.” 

I suppose one can cut Professor Alice some slack. She was only 16 when the Berlin Wall came down and like almost everyone else in the West under the age of 50, has no idea what Communism was about. But I’d prefer she sticks to anatomy.

Disclosure: Tony Thomas was a member of the Communist Party of Australia (Willagee, WA branch) between  1960 and 1962 from the ages 20 to 22.

Tony Thomas’s Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars ($29.95) is available from publisher Connor Court


[1] No channel is all bad, and Channel 4 screened The Greenhouse Conspiracy, The Great Global Warming Swindle and a third program mocking environmental hypocrites.

[2] Precisely, “from the time when they can do without the first maternal care.”

[3] Her qualifications are in medicine, biology and anatomy, I suppose she’s doing history travelogues because she’s photogenic.

[4] As satirised in Monty Python’s Life of Brian:

BRIAN: Are you the Judean People’s Front? 

REG: F**k off! 

BRIAN: What? 

REG: Judean People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! Judean People’s Front. Cawk. 

FRANCIS: Wankers. 

BRIAN: Can I… join your group? 

REG: No. Piss off.

14 thoughts on “The Sadly Ubiquitous Karl Marx

  • Andrew Campbell says:

    When Professor Roberts was in Edinburgh, she stood among the gravestones surrounding Greyfriars Tollbooth Kirk. She didn’t mention the hundreds who signed the National Covenant in that churchyard on 28th February 1638. Hundreds were later imprisoned (and died) in that churchyard, outside, over a Scottish winter. Yes it was bound up in Scottish and English politics, but it was also a declaration of religious freedom for men and women to worship God as they thought fit without interference from church or state; no doubt freedoms we will have to suffer for again. I was astonished that as a historian Professor Alice appeared not to know (or didn’t care) about such a significant event. Now I see why. Thank you Tony for exposing her worldview; clearly more opinion than objective history.

  • Adam J says:

    What amazes me about Marx is how simplistic his writing is: it’s exactly the kind of thing you would expect from a 15-20 year old. He seems unable to comprehend that even in his time there were industries that were neither agricultural nor industrial, or that there were classes beyond his economic divisions. Not to mention that that agriculture and industry are not uniform.
    He also made the simple mistake of believing that descriptions of Europe would equally apply everywhere and forever. A mistake that the Left repeat without exception. This was a narrow-minded man.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    What interfered with my enjoyment of the episodes of Professor Roberts’ travelogue that I have seen was her persistence in talking about “tones” instead of “towns”. A small thing, like her radical hair colour, but sufficient to break the spell.

  • Ian MacKenzie says:

    To be fair, Marx didn’t anticipate the eventual outcomes that flowed from Das Capital and the Manifesto, in fact just the opposite. Like many before him he imagined a utopia where all would be better off, rather than tossed in a shallow grave in the tundra or jungle.
    The essential problem with Marx’s thesis was that it was wrong. The predicted inevitable empowerment of the proletariat through revolution simply didn’t happen. Anywhere. The first “solution” to this was Leninism, whereby a small revolutionary vanguard elite, the Bolsheviks, “guided” the revolution in 1917. It was assumed that the revolution would then spread beyond Russia, however the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1923 except for the one in Russia, proved that this was wrong as well. The next “solution” was Socialism in one Country” proposed by Stalin and Bukharin in 1924 after Lenin’s death and adopted as state policy by the USSR in 1926. Having turned inwards, the USSR quickly descended into state-sponsored violence, terror and dictatorship; the complete opposite to the outcomes Marx and Engels had predicted.
    Both Trotskyism (permanent revolution) National Socialism (subordination of personal interests to the “common good”) and the Frankfurt School critical theory (and subsequent cultural Marxism) arose in reaction to Socialism in one Country. Maoism was proposed as a solution to the situation where a preindustrial country doesn’t have a significant proletariat. Once again state-sponsored violence, terror and dictatorship were the outcome rather than utopia.
    All these “solutions” were required because the original hypothesis is clearly wrong. The real wonder of Marxism is why so many people cling to a failed theory despite the catastrophic outcomes of each successive trial.

  • Simon says:

    “did not shoot all those condemned to death but fed some of them alive to the animals in the city zoos.”

    -Communism has come full circle in Venezuela, obviously.

  • Stephen says:

    I think it was Churchill who said “with capitalism, some are rich and some are poor, with communism, all are equal in their misery”. Over a now relatively long life I have come to the view that most new ideas a bad ideas and must be closely considered at least for their unintended consequences before implementation. The Communist Manifesto in sum is the probably the worst idea any has ever promoted. Marx and Engels completely fail to even consider the possibility of unintended consequences. Jordan Peterson published a critique of the Communist Manifesto. It’s on Youtube and is well worth the half an hour.
    Probably the best way to create a dystopia is to implement a utopian idea.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Marvelous piece Tony! Have you cc’d Alice?
    Sadly the pompous British are unable even to laugh at their own folly these days. They are busy reinventing their ‘heritage’ to suit the latest ideological fad – a serious business because (as with Climate Change, Gender and the Virus) a great lie has to be kept hidden to protect the narrative, and many egos (not to mention stellar careers) are at stake.
    The more interesting part of the history of Manchester in the 1800s is that relating to the Industrial Revolution, of which socialism was merely a byproduct. Imperial Britain dominated the international trade routes, and controlled vast reserves of raw materials. Technological innovation created factories capable of mass production. The steam engine was vital. Thatched cottages and public libraries were (and are) irrelevant.
    This was in fact the heyday of Marx’s shopkeeper i.e. the capitalist and the Middle Class. One of its byproducts was socialism, which today lingers on as the dominant ideology of certain outmoded institutions, such as the NHS and the BBC.
    Alice needs to get with latest, namely Globalism – the contingent ideology of a world dominated by giant multinational corporations, modern iterations the old East India Company. In the nations of the ‘Free World’, only an appearance of democracy remains. Government has become administration.
    Recommended reading: ‘The Administrative Threat’ by Philip Hamburger (Encounter Books, 2017).

  • Stephen Due says:

    Apologies for the glaring repetition in the above. Still hoping for an editing facility for Quadrant comments, although everyone else seems to manage without it.

  • IainC says:

    A few thoughts on Marxist socialism and its close cousin, Nazism.
    Under capitalism, 0.1% can never be too rich or too thin. Under socialism, 99.9% can never be too poor or too thin.
    I find it mystifying that openly operating in public life by Marxists holds any credibility. They are every bit as morally and ethically repulsive as Nazis, and we wouldn’t politely listen to them, would we? The extreme moral culpability of the Marxist doctrine was well known to many even in the 20s, let alone the 30s, when the camps and the forced famines got worldwide attention, and there is no excuse for treating it with any tolerance in the 2020s.
    If you’re a smart sociopath who reads, you become a Marxist; if a dull one who hates books, a Nazi. The end results are the same. Both outsource their butchery to those with souls of iron, who are the same people under any regime, and the occupants and number of the death camps are practically the same.
    Funny how defending western civilization, democracy, freedom of speech and thought, and opposing violent, straight-arm saluting, balaclava-hooded paramilitary street thugs bent on destruction, makes you far right these days.
    Stalin learnt all he needed to know about 1900s revolutionary tactics, ideological purity and the crushing of opponents from Marx. Hitler learnt all he needed to know about 1920s revolutionary street violence, the value of propaganda and liquidation of opponents from Stalin’s 1900s-1910s tactics. Original German paramilitary squad Antifa learnt all they needed to know about 1930s revolutionary street violence and ideological purity from Marx’s, Stalin’s and Hitler’s tactics. Mao learnt all he needed to know about 1940s-1960s revolutionary street violence and mob destruction of culture and history from Marx’s, Stalin’s, Hitler’s and Antifa’s tactics. Modern Antifa learnt all they needed to know about revolutionary street violence, the value of propaganda, ideological purity, smashing of opponents, and mob destruction of culture and history from Marx’s, Mao’s, Stalin’s and Hitler’s tactics. Isn’t it marvellous how learning is passed down from generation to generation?

  • geoff_brown1 says:

    Longstanding friends of my family – sadly, now both gone to God – fled the Soviet invasion of Hungary, in 1956, hiding under a cartload of potatoes. They argued for the rest of their lives that Marxism should be the same as any other scientific experiment – thoroughly tested on animals, before its use being allowed on human beings.

  • colin.white18 says:

    Communism, with Chinese characters, has not fared much better than the European model. Millions killed or died of hunger. Some have prospered, a few have acquired enormous wealth, but all at the cost is surrendering to the State, for criticism of the State results in extinction.
    China now threatens to obliterate a free and peaceful nation, Taiwan, and people from the free world participate in their Olympic Games.

  • Tom Lewis says:

    Great article.

    Marx worshippers are akin to those idiots who wear Che Guevara shirts.

  • pmprociv says:

    Thanks for this interesting account, Tony. I, too, admire Alice, but didn’t know all that much about her previously, although I’m not so sure she’s Welsh; to me, her accent sounds more West Country.
    Marxism is a very attractive philosophy for schoolkids, but loses its appeal to those who’ve had to survive honestly for any time in the real world. It’s no surprise that most of its followers live off the public teat, as obviously does our Professor Alice; for them, the world is indeed a magic pudding.
    Marx himself had no idea of physical labour, having been born into a wealthy family, then spending his entire life being pampered and molly-coddled, including by the arch-capitalist, Friedrich Engels. To both of them, the proletariat were essentially “Noble Savages”. No doubt, an element of “class guilt” must seep in here somehow, at least according to Freud. In fact, this applies to just about all his disciples, including Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin etc. – never having dirtied their hands with hard work (we’ll exclude theft and killing people from this definition), they idealised the working classes, while personally having as little to do with them as possible. Workers were simply locked into a caste system, from which no individual could possibly dream of escaping; the Nomenklatura were their born masters, although even themselves still subject to Stalin’s paranoid whims and homicidal urges.
    And the self-contradictory irony and hypocritical BS of the communist “idealistic” attitude to women, and private property, were revealed by how the Bolsheviks’ womenfolk were treated in the early Soviet Union, effectively as tradeable and degradable public property (possibly explaining the rampant sexism that still prevails in the today’s remnants of the former USSR). From what we know of modern psychology, raising kids communally, but then talking of later family life, was clearly insane.
    Professor Alice really ought to do some homework. She would do well by starting with Richard Pipes’ “Property and Freedom”, which explains how private property arose, and what its elimination could lead to.
    Labelling this idiotic belief system as “scientific” effectively shut down any opposition, or even questioning (“the science is settled, folks” – sound familiar?). But, for it to work, the entire system required perfect human beings, of whom, by definition, there could be only one: Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili (a.k.a Stalin, “Man of Steel”). His overweening narcissism, and manipulative ignorance, were highlighted by his patronage of charlatan “scientist”, Trofim Lysenko, whose bizarre ideas of genetics underlay the brutal destruction of humanity, effectively in an attempt to breed the perfect Soviet citizen by assiduously eliminating all flawed ones (not surprisingly, a Homo sovieticus did emerge, but through mass fear driving cultural, rather than biological, evolution).
    Having been immersed in it myself in my naïve youth, I have some understanding of the socialist mindset, although fail to comprehend how any educated person in today’s world could possibly still fall for this mindless and destructive philosophy. Unless there’s something amiss in our education systems?

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    People need more and more writing like yours, because they imagine the communist threat to be an academic topic for debate by unimportant people. People imagine it will not affect them, so they can ignore communism without even bothering to look for current signs of it.
    I roamed around China early 1990s. Although Mao’s murderous regime “ended” as you write, the Great Leap Forward ended in 1962, but the consequences were everywhere spoken of privately, quietly and with fear/anger by just about every Chinese resident with whom I spoke in the 1990s..
    Geoff S

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