Portrait of the young Karl Marx

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Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:59 am

I've been rereading the Lebenserinnerungen of Karl Schurz (1829--1906), who was imprisoned in Germany after the 1848 revolution, escaped, and came to the US, where he became a major political figure during the Civil War and Reconstruction and eventually a senator from New York. As a young German radical, he met a lot of prominent people. Here is what he remembers about one whom he met in 1848, when he was only 19 years old:
Karl Schurz wrote:In the course of the summer, Kinkel and I were given the assignment of representing our Club at a congress of democratic unions in Köln. This assembly, in which I conducted myself shyly and quietly, was noteworthy for me in that it was there that I encountered several of the most prominent men of the time face to face, among others the socialist leader Karl Marx. He was 30 years old at the time and already the recognized head of a school of socialists. This stocky, powerfully built man with the broad forehead, pitch-black hair and full beard, and the dark flashing eyes immediately attracted attention. He had the reputation of being a significant scholar in his area of learning, and since I knew extremely little about his socio-economic discoveries and theories, I was the more eager to gather words of wisdom from the lips of the famous man. This expectation was disappointed in a spectacular way. What Marx said was indeed, weighty, logical, and clear. But I have never seen a man of such offensive, unbearable arrogance of expression. He would never accord respectful consideration to any opinion that differed significantly from his own. He treated anyone who contradicted him with a barely concealed contempt. He responded to any argument that he found unpalatable either with biting ridicule of the pathetic ignorance, or with slanderous insinuations about the motives, of the one he was condemning. I still remember well the cutting, supercilious, I might even say, spitting tone with which he pronounced the word “bourgeois.” And as a bourgeois, that is, an unmistakable specimen of profound spiritual and ethical depravity, he denounced anyone who dared to contradict his opinions. It is no wonder that the proposals put forth by Marx in the assembly were not carried, that the people whose feelings he had offended by his behavior were inclined to vote for everything that he didn’t want, and that he not only won no followers, but in fact repulsed many who might have become his followers.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:08 am

Karl Marx: early tweeter.
Real Name: bobbo the contrarian existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Goody67 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:46 am

Karl Marx was a hypocrite, like a lot of self-proclaimed Marxists.
"We were the first country to attempt and to succeed in rolling back the frontiers of socialism, which is the first cousin to communism. Socialists don't like people to do things for themselves. Socialists like to get people dependent on the state! You never build a great society that way." - Margaret Thatcher

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Sun Mar 10, 2019 10:39 am

Goody67 wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 11:46 am
Karl Marx was a hypocrite, like a lot of self-proclaimed Marxists.
For sure. He prepared the way for Lenin. I'm just now reading the first volume of Stephen Kotkin's biography of Stalin (I read the second volume last summer), and I'm getting many details about the arrogance, cruelty, and incompetence of Lenin. Lenin was of course the iconic figure all during the time of the Soviet Union's existence, and no criticism of him was allowed, especially after Stalin was denounced in 1956. The government needed such an icon as a symbol of its "legitimacy." But after the breakup, you could hear on Soviet television "news of the latest attacks on statues of Lenin."

Not so much now. Even Stalin has been rehabilitated, and Putin wants to put his face on the money again. A book I read a few years ago, entitled "Moscow in streets and personalities" (Москва в улицах и лицах) consists of a biography of Lenin entitled "Lenin without his makeup on" (Ленин без грима) and a biography of Stalin entitled "Genius and skullduggery" (Гений и злодейство). It really savages Lenin, and doesn't completely spare Stalin, although the author frankly states that Stalin is the only one who could have held the country together during the 1941-45 war.

The reaction one has to that statement is proportional to how desirable one thinks it was for the USSR to hold together. Provided the Germans didn't get the territory, I wouldn't have lifted a finger to save the place. Of course, my experience there was not its finest hour. I was there on sabbatical in 1988-89, when people were no longer afraid of the government, but in terrible economic shape. Many of them looked back on the Khrushchev years as a golden era. They were constantly telling me "Раньше было лучше" ("Things used to be better.") They seemed to have forgotten that the lack of living space was "solved" by Khrushchev by reducing the norm for living space per person. The new, smaller apartments were called "Khrushchoby" (which means "slums") in his honor. As a government policy, this rivals Trump's brilliant plan to pay off the national debt by just printing the money.

But now, my new 40% rule applies (that's what I now believe is the portion of any population that will refuse adamantly to face any unpleasant facts about their own country). It's the portion of Poles who deny their own government's report of Polish participation in the Holocaust. It's the portion of Americans who support Trump, and I'd be willing to bet, it's the portion of Virginians who still honor Robert E. Lee, the man who took a solemn oath while at West Point to defend the United States, and then, 20 years later, took up arms against the United States. There is still a statue in his "honor" in Richmond, which the ACLU asked to have taken down this week.

Well, I don't want to go in too many directions with one post. I'll just say that we often put up statues to flawed people, like Martin Luther King, Jr., and (in my neighborhood) to Ira Allen, founder of the University of Vermont. The difference between them and the statue of Lee is that they are remembered for the good things they did in spite of the bad things they did. Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, etc., are celebrated because of the dishonorable things they did.

And with that, I'll shut up (for now).
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by landrew » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:01 pm

In the US, the numbers are roughly one-third for, and two-thirds against supporting a demagogue, who constantly says and does outrageously authoritarian things, as we are seeing with Trump. His supporters will forgive him for anything, as long as it looks like he's "winning."

Now imagine that ratio in reverse, and that explains Putin's Russia.
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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:42 pm

landrew wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:01 pm
In the US, the numbers are roughly one-third for, and two-thirds against supporting a demagogue, who constantly says and does outrageously authoritarian things, as we are seeing with Trump. His supporters will forgive him for anything, as long as it looks like he's "winning."

Now imagine that ratio in reverse, and that explains Putin's Russia.
Nicely put!
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Goody67 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:33 pm

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/471 ... -boor.html

I think that article gives enough information detailing what Marx was really like as a person.
"We were the first country to attempt and to succeed in rolling back the frontiers of socialism, which is the first cousin to communism. Socialists don't like people to do things for themselves. Socialists like to get people dependent on the state! You never build a great society that way." - Margaret Thatcher

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by landrew » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:28 pm

Goody67 wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:33 pm
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/471 ... -boor.html

I think that article gives enough information detailing what Marx was really like as a person.
That's one story. History is often notoriously difficult to correct and verify; so many myths abound.
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Goody67 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:31 pm

landrew wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:28 pm
That's one story. History is often notoriously difficult to correct and verify; so many myths abound.
I can't think of a single positive thing about Karl Marx.
"We were the first country to attempt and to succeed in rolling back the frontiers of socialism, which is the first cousin to communism. Socialists don't like people to do things for themselves. Socialists like to get people dependent on the state! You never build a great society that way." - Margaret Thatcher

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by landrew » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:37 pm

Goody67 wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:31 pm
landrew wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:28 pm
That's one story. History is often notoriously difficult to correct and verify; so many myths abound.
I can't think of a single positive thing about Karl Marx.
Well, how would you know him, in all fairness?
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.

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Re: Portrait of the young Karl Marx

Post by Goody67 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:49 am

landrew wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:37 pm
Well, how would you know him, in all fairness?
Obviously, I never met him in person.

However, I have read all the major biographies and some lesser known biographies of him as well as his works and I find him as a person and his views to be repugnant.
"We were the first country to attempt and to succeed in rolling back the frontiers of socialism, which is the first cousin to communism. Socialists don't like people to do things for themselves. Socialists like to get people dependent on the state! You never build a great society that way." - Margaret Thatcher