As we celebrate today the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Empire, let us take a moment to remember the bitter legacy of Communism, based on an ideology drawn up not by men who studied human nature, but by an intellectual who studied law and philosophy and surrounded himself by other radicals.
Marx had little (if any) contact with the working classes for whom he claimed to speak and little (if any) experience with the actual creation of wealth. He largely lived off his wife’s various inheritances and the generosity of his colleague, er, comrade, Friedrich Engels.
Unlike capitalism which arose organically with the collapse of feudalism during and just after the Renaisance, communism arose first in the minds of men. It was, to borrow a term from gender theorists (whose ideas also arose not from the study of human nature, but from their own ideology) a type of “social construction.”
Communism, like a certain piece of legislation which narrowly passed the House in the dead of the night this past Saturday, was an idea based not on policies which work, but one which intellectuals and policy wonks imagined would work if just given the chance.
But, when given that chance, Communism killed more people than any other ideology in human history and impoverished hundreds of millions of others, stifling their spirits and limiting their opportunities.
When the Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago, so too did the illusion of the promised land promised by Marxist ideology.