The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have been predictably making whoopee today at the comments from shadow chancellor John McDonnell yesterday when he appeared on The Andy Marr Show (tm) and said not only that there was a lot to learn from reading Marx’ Das Kapital, but that it was a volume which had been recommended by many mainstream economists. This ensured today’s attacks would happen.
Statue of Marx and Engels, Berlin Mitte
And so it came to pass, that the Sun’s deputy political editor Steve Hawkes told readers “Shadow Chancellor champions hard-left Marxism while signalling return of 50p income tax and a planned £250billion spending spree … The hard-left politician sent the party's disastrous election campaign to a new low with his communist endorsing comments”. McDonnell did not signal a 50p tax rate, and nor did he endorse communism.
Still, details, eh? The Sun is not there to give its readers facts, but to frighten them into voting for a party - the Tories - which will screw over 99% of them royally. Hawkes had his instructions, and did he get carried away. McDonnell “championed Karl Marx while promising a tax raid on big earners”. He promised no such thing, and did not champion Karl Marx. But Hawkes had now moved on to tell readers about Das Kapital.
“Revolutionary socialist Karl Marx wrote the economic tome in 1867 where he predicted the end of capitalism and called for the abolition of private property”. Right. Only Volume 1 of Das Kapital was published (not written) in 1867. The rest was published after Marx’ death. And the call for abolition of private property had come many years earlier, in the Communist Manifesto, which was published in 1848.
The thought enters that not just Hawkes, but many others who sound off about Karl Marx, use his name to frighten voters without having the first clue what is in his writings. And when the Sun man claims “Das Kapital helped inspire the 1917 Russian Revolution, which led to the communist Soviet Union”, he just underscores that idea. Most scholars are sensible enough to separate out the ideas of Marx, and the behaviour of régimes which have claimed his writings for themselves. Not the Sun.
And most who rant about Marx are actually citing the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Manifesto does indeed contain, among its demands, “Ending of private ownership of land” [note - not “property”], and “A national bank with a monopoly of banking operations” [hasn’t happened], but much of its contents do not seem at all revolutionary nowadays.
What would that be? “A progressive income tax … Public ownership of railways … Extension of public ownership in industry … Cultivation of idle lands … Better soil management … Work by all … Free education … Abolition of child labour … Education along with work” are some of the Manifesto’s demands. Revolutionary? Not so much. In case you missed it, the Communist Manifesto doesn’t even talk about health care.
That is what the right-wing press are using to frighten you. Karl Marx is the bogeyman they all wave at anyone they can’t otherwise frighten into voting Tory, but what he actually wrote is something they aren’t going to tell you - because they don’t know themselves.
The Sun doesn’t know what it’s talking about. No change there, then.