Marxism, Alive and Well

Communism's anthropology, as described by Engels, currently threatens traditional values

Conservative defenders of traditional Christian values often claim that many of the things they perceive as current threats to society — radical sex education in primary schools, for example, or the notion of gender fluidity — share a common origin. That they are in fact inspired by Marxism, which is not dead, as we had imagined, but very much alive and still actively striving towards the destruction of “bourgeois” society.

A common response, even from many of us within traditional circles, is to dismiss such ideas as mere “conspiracy theories.” Surely it’s absurd, isn’t it, to imagine that there is some kind of plot or strategy behind an apparently disconnected range of attacks on cherished customs?

We are right to question this, because we all have friends, good and decent people, who hold opinions on certain social issues that we don’t share or may even find objectionable. These are friends of high personal integrity; we cannot imagine them to be doctrinaire Marxists, secretly scheming to overthrow society. I have friends, for example, who passionately support same-sex marriage. I don’t share their view, but our friendship is not impaired by that difference of opinion. I have friends who deny the existence of God. I’m a believer and think they’re wrong, but we respect each other’s views. So, is all this talk of Marxist conspiracy just nonsense? To answer that, we need to look closely at the roots of Marxism.

The first and most obvious place to start is The Communist Manifesto itself, written jointly by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and published in 1848. Here economics are the chief concern of Marx, while Engels deals with what we might call the anthropology of communism. This latter area is the one that chiefly concerns us as we evaluate the threats against traditional western values.

It is obvious that both Marx and Engels are absolute atheists and that shapes their thinking. They deny the existence of any objective or independent moral authority, so all ethical decisions are linked solely to the utility of the herd or the proles, the mass of ordinary people. They also believe that the natural state of human society is the herd, which holds all property in common, and which is matriarchal because there are no marriage bonds and paternity is immaterial. From this, they think, arose hierarchies dominated by males — families, control of property and labor by the powerful, and religious structures. The Marxist goal is a return to an idealized “communist” state of nature, in which all are equal (though some perhaps more than others).

That Marxism remains a powerful motivating force on people’s thinking needs no demonstration: it is on the public record. Marx and Engels spawned the thought of the Frankfurt School, of Gramsci, Marcuse and innumerable current activists throughout the world who work towards “resetting” society. So, is there a conspiracy? In one sense that hardly matters, because the greatest threat is and always has been the “useful idiots” (a term wrongly but plausibly ascribed to Lenin) who, often with generous intentions or through mere inertia, support or just tolerate one or other of the radical movements that seek to modify or even destroy the structures of society.


David Daintree was President of Campion College (Australia’s only Catholic liberal arts college) from 2008 to 2012. In 2013 he founded and is now Director of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Hobart.

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