COMMUNISTS: Dr. Crankley's Children

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He wrote poetry for his beautiful neighbor, Fraulein Jenny von Westphalen, who, whenever she read one of his poems, "burst into tears of joy and melancholy." Sample: "If we can but weld our souls together, then with contempt I shall fling my glove in the world's face; then I, a creator, shall stride through the wreckage!"

He fell under the influence of the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and learned from him two persistent tendencies: a respect for the state (very rare in 19th Century radicals), and the dialectical method.

The conventional way of thinking about causes and effects imagines them as a chain, one link leading to the next. Hegel's dialectic presented a more turbulent picture: every idea (thesis) has its opposite (antithesis) with which it struggles until they produce a third idea (synthesis); this in turn has its antithesis, and so on. Marx expressed history by putting class conflicts in the place of thesis and antithesis. The culminating conflict was that called forth by The Machine. The last synthesis, which would be unique because it would not contain its own negation, would be the classless society.

The Communist who imagines history as moving in a spiral toward his goal will have no compunction in allying himself first with Hitler, then with Churchill, in the belief that the struggle between them will produce a "synthesis" of benefit to Communism. When a Communist wrecks a labor union or helps a reactionary to power, he is not being cynical but "systematic."

Fronts & Purges. Marx did not absorb the morals of the dialectic immediately. When, at 24, he became editor of the Rheinische Zeitung (a paper owned by bourgeois and written by their radical sons), he promptly ordered contributors to stop smuggling socialist propaganda into casual drama reviews; he said the practice was downright "immoral."

His atheism got the Rheinische Zeitung into censorship trouble and King Frederick William himself ordered the "Whore on the Rhine" to cease publication. Marx married Jenny, against the opposition of her aristocratic family, and went to Paris. By the time he wrote the Manifesto, he had ironed out the basic tenets of his faith.

One day, Marx and his new friend Friedrich Engels (a young man of good bourgeois family) began calling themselves "The Communist Party." It soon grew to include 17 members, all of whom were bourgeois intellectuals, bearing in true dialectical fashion the seeds of the destruction of the middle class and of intellectual freedom.

Marx created the first Communist front organization. When the revolutions of 1848 swept Europe, he organized a workers' club in Paris whose agitators had instructions not to mention Communism, but to emphasize democracy. Later, Marx sent 300 agents into Germany with instructions to organize Communist cells but to appear as good, hard-working liberals. In 1848 Marx himself revived the old Rheinische Zeitung; its masthead now proclaimed it an "organ of democracy." Admitted Marx: "It was in reality nothing but a plan of war against democracy."

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