Karl Marx at 200: Death, Disaster & the Labour Party

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The UK rejected the Labour Party’s plan to win over key Tory strongholds such as Wandsworth and Westminster in this week’s local elections. In many instances, Tory councilors were able to point to their Labour counterparts imposing higher rates of council tax for essentially the same services. Accordingly, the British public set aside their discontent over the Brexit customs partnership and the Windrush scandal to cast their ballot in favor of lower taxes. Turkeys, after all, do not vote for Christmas.

Corbyn’s latest setback comes at a particularly apt time: today is Karl Marx’s 200th birthday. And, after all this time, Marx’s popularity amongst British youth seems to be at a multi-decade high. Corbyn, who has described Marx as a “great economist”, might carry himself with an honest, gentle demeanor but the manifestations of the theories he professes to admire have been anything but.

The Death Toll

Indeed, as Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan observed last year, Marx may well “have caused more suffering than any other human being”. To date, communism’s death toll stands at nearly 100 million – a figure that is rising, thanks to Nicolas Maduro’s woeful mismanagement of the once-wealthy nation of Venezuela.

Some 65 million were killed in Mao Tse Tung’s China – millions of whom were starved as part of state policy, while countless others were sent to death camps for speaking out against the regime. Bizarrely, Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott once entertained the notion that Mao “on balance did more good than harm”. Further, it is often said that the Second World War was won through British intelligence, American might, and Russian blood. Yet it has long been thought that Joseph Stalin killed more of his own people, through mass executions, deliberate starvation, and gulags than the Nazis did.

For perspective, six million died in the Holocaust, while the Japanese killed a similar amount of Chinese people during the war. All in all, through all their atrocities, the Nazis are estimated to have slaughtered 17 million – a shocking figure that nevertheless pales in comparison to those killed at the hands of communist dictators.

Marx, of course, was an economist, not a dictator. He did not personally condemn anyone to a labor camp or order the summary execution of his detractors. Instead, he was an alcoholic who relied on a stipend from his friend Friedrich Engels in order to get by – a stipend that came from the money Engels’ father made from a factory he owned. He argued that people were not independent, free-thinking beings but engines of growth – cogs in the great wheel of society.

It was precisely this thinking that underpinned the draconian policies that played out in various communist dictatorships. Take, for instance, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu’s idea of only allowing women access to contraception after they had given birth to five children. Or how the Khmer Rouge executed educated individuals who posed a threat to the regime and justified their actions by accusing the intelligentsia of not performing enough manual work.

An Abysmal Economic Legacy

Separating Marx’s theories from their real-world effects is a blatant injustice to the millions who died at the hands of those seeking to enact them. But even if we indulge in doing so and judge him on purely economic grounds, history shows that Marx was far from prescient.

Contrary to Marx’s belief, free markets have not led to a tiny minority controlling the world’s wealth; instead, every country that has embraced capitalism has seen its middle classes swell. Since Deng Xiaoping’s decision to open up China’s markets, some 700 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. India, which cast off the shackles of socialism a little later under finance minister Manmohan Singh in the 1990s, has seen roughly 300 million more Indians enjoy a life above the UN’s poverty line.

Despite talk of the rich only getting richer, the poor are better off nearly everywhere. In the UK, for instance, nearly everybody owns a smartphone and more British citizens are holidaying abroad than ever before. The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, might be worth of $100bn but even that is just 25% of the $400bn that John D. Rockefeller’s fortune would have been worth in 2017. In fact, Rockefeller’s net worth in 1937 was equivalent to 1.5% of US GDP, whereas Bezos’ fortune is less than 0.05% of America’s GDP today.

Better still, the former Soviet bloc nations are now some of the fastest growing countries in the world. Romania recently posted annual GDP growth of nearly 9%; Estonia is an emerging tech hub with some of the lowest tax rates in the EU; Poland is home to a growing number of tech firms, particularly those operating at the bleeding edge of blockchain development.

Similarly, Vietnam, which like China is communist in name only, is experiencing a reverse brain drain – the phenomenon of Vietnamese people who have studied and worked abroad returning home to start their own private ventures and economically lift up their compatriots. Vietnam, too, is a growing tech hub – so much so that it was recently home to the world’s largest ICO scam.

Meanwhile, Venezuela, once admired by Corbyn and his supporters for showing the world that “the poor matter”, has seen its GDP per capita decline by more than 40% since 2013 – a sharper fall than during the US’ Great Depression. Of course, these are outside estimates, since Maduro made sure to abolish the publication of GDP figures when it became clear that his country was an economic disaster.

Just recently, the world watched as Kim Jong-un, a communist despot who murdered his own brother and uncle alongside countless others and runs a country that prioritises the pretence of being a nuclear power over building basic infrastructure, met South Korea’s democratically-elected Moon Jae-in, who presides over Asia’s fourth largest economy, where GDP per capita is in excess of $25,000.

A Communist PM?

Although the weight of history is stacked against Marx and his teachings, Corbynism and hard-left politics are paradoxically on the rise in the UK. Young people look to Corbyn as a vision of the future, seemingly unaware that his brand of politics has failed and led only to death and economic ruin countless times in the past; his shadow chancellor is an avowed Marxist; his shadow home secretary once insinuated that Mao was, on balance, a force for good.

On his 200th birthday, surely it is finally time that the hard-left addressed Karl Marx’s true legacy, rather than continue to make excuses for him? And surely the UK should finally stop entertaining the thought of a communist occupying Number 10.

 

Culled from: The Market Mogul.

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