COMMUNISTS: Dr. Crankley's Children

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Because of his intrigues and his intolerance, he lost most of his friends; the only people outside his family whose affections he kept were Lenchen Demuth, the Marxes' lifelong, devoted servant (who could handle Marx even in his blackest moods) and Friedrich Engels, whom one acquaintance described as "the little Pomeranian." Engels, first with his father's money, then with his own profits as a textile manufacturer, paid Marx's bills. (In a letter to Engels Marx wrote: "I have worked out a sure scheme for getting some money out of your Old Man.")

Marx's only lasting comforts were algebra (his favorite form of escape) and Jenny. Protectively, she used to call him "my big child." Once, when he briefly returned to Trier, he wrote: "I have been making a daily pilgrimage to the old Westphalen house . . . which used to shelter my sweetheart. And every day people ask me right and left about the quondam 'most beautiful girl' in Trier, the 'Queen of the ball.' It's damned agreeable for a man to find that his wife lives on as an 'enchanted princess' in the imagination of a whole town."

Then Jenny died. Her last words were: "Karl, my strength is broken." So was his. On March 14, 1883, death came quietly to Karl Marx as he sat in his easy chair. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery under a flat stone. At the grave, Friedrich Engels said: "The greatest of living thinkers ceased to think. . . . He discovered the simple fact . . . that mankind must first of all eat and drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, religion, art. . . ."

Marx himself had unwittingly composed an even better obituary. Once, tortured by boils as he often was, Marx wrote: "I hope as long as they live, the bourgeois will remember my carbuncles."

The Heritage. It was perhaps a tragic accident—though its symbolism can scarcely escape a death-ridden world—that none of Father Marx's beloved children lived happily; the two daughters who survived him committed suicide. But he was to have other children. They came to him by the thousands. Dr. Crankley's spiritual children inherited in varying degree his three outstanding characteristics: pity, hatred and love of power.

The children of pity accepted Marx's indictment of capitalism's evils, but they did not want to substitute the greater evil of his proletarian dictatorship. They were the backbone (if backbone it had) of Social Democracy. They were perhaps best epitomized by Sidney Webb, later Lord Passfield. He and his wife Beatrice loved the bicycle, and untiringly cycled about the business of their Fabian Society; once they pedaled 40 miles to Cardiff to attend a trade union congress. They believed not in the inevitability of revolution but in the "inevitability of gradualness," i.e., in a steady bicycle ride toward socialism.

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