The Influence of Marxism

Words like "communism" and "fascism" get thrown around a lot in today's political climate. However, few have studied these philosophical systems in any sort of depth or can adequately define their historic context. For example, it is common to hear a liberal commentator call right-wingers "fascists". Historically however, the ideal of fascism under Mussolini in Italy, the ideal of socialism under Hitler in Germany, and the ideal of communism under Stalin in Russia are strikingly similar. The mechanisms of the three systems may be different, but the circumstances that prompted them in each case are similar and the goals of each are similar. This explains why all three men were praised by liberal intellectuals in the U.S. prior to the beginning of World War II.

In order to get a better understanding of the political landscape today, it may be good to redraw the lines of left wing-right wing distinctions to better reflect the actual position which various ideologies take on the level of control government should have over the lives of the citizens.

Notice that the first three systems of political thought, the leftmost positions, are all influenced directly by Marxist principles. Though Marx himself may not have envisioned an all-powerful government, such a government has resulted in any nation that has sought to apply the principles of his Communist Manifesto.

Also notice that by the point of the list in which the systems of Distributism and Classical Conservatism appear, there is no influence from Marxist thought. Both of these systems stem from different schools of thought that go back much farther than Karl Marx.

However, what if we examine the dominant political ideas in the U.S. today, Modern Liberalism (very different from Classic Liberalism, by the way) and Modern Conservatism represented by the Democratic and Republican parties? Have we, in our culture today, been influenced by Marxist principles? How would we know if we had? Thankfully, Karl Marx himself made a list of ten things that will be noticeable in any society that has accepted his principles. He writes, "These measures will of course be different in different countries. Nevertheless in the most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable."

Let's take a look, shall we?


1. Abolition of Property in Land and Application of all Rents of Land to Public Purpose.

Well, at least we don't have this one in America today. Or do we? Have you ever had to pay property taxes? For property you own? Of course you have. And what would happen if you didn't pay those taxes? The government would confiscate your property. So who does that house/car/land actually belong to? That's right. Now you're thinking like a Marxist.

Also consider zoning laws, which were declared Constitutional during the presidency of Herbert Hoover in 1921. It is considered legal for the government not only to tax your property under threat of confiscation, but also to tell you what you can or cannot build on your property or whether you can or cannot use your property for business purposes.

2. A Heavy Progressive or Graduated Income Tax

The first president to institute a progressive income tax was that lover of freedom and liberty himself, Abraham Lincoln. This was ended in 1872, but brought back in 1913 by the Woodrow Wilson administration via the 16th Amendment. Then during the time of Franklin Roosevelt in 1935, the Social Security Act was passed, thus establishing the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time and giving the Federal government another means to tax the income of the citizens.

3. Abolition of All Rights of Inheritance.

In 1916, the Federal Estate tax was implemented under Woodrow Wilson. Later, states were given the right to piggyback their own inheritance taxes onto the federal tax. What is the basis of this? Apparently citizens do not have the right to pass on their wealth to future generations without the permission and authority of the government.

4. Confiscation of the Property of All Emigrants and Rebels.

We actually haven't gotten this far in America yet unless you count misapplication of asset forfeiture laws. However, as we've seen recently, there are many in our government who would love the power to indefinitely imprison suspected domestic terrorists (read: American citizens) without a trial and to seize their property which they used to plan their terrorist operations.

5. Centralization of Credit in the Hands of the State, by Means of a National Bank with State Capital and an Exclusive Monopoly.

This one is so easy to spot that I don't even need to explain it. We got plank five of the Communist Manifesto by the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913 under Woodrow Wilson.

6. Centralization of the Means of Communication and Transport in the Hands of the State.

Centralization of the means of communication in the hands of the state? We call that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) given to us by Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.

Centralization of the means of transport in the hands of the state? Under the Federal Highway Act passed under Woodrow Wilson in 1916, federal funds were used for state highway construction. Then in 1938, the Interstate Commerce Act, was passed under Franklin Roosevelt. That same year, the Civil Aeronautics Act was passed, placing the sky as well as the land under control of the government. In 1944, Roosevelt pushed the idea of the Interstate Highway System. In 1966, the Department of Transportation, established under Lyndon Johnson, further consolidated government control of transportation. Don't forget that long before any of these things happened, the government had already taken control of railroads in the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. In addition, did you know that the government holds so much control over transportation that you're not even allowed to operate a motor vehicle without a license from the State? Imagine!

7. Extension of Factories and Instruments of Production Owned by the State, the Bringing Into Cultivation of Waste Lands, and the Improvement of the Soil Generally in Accordance with a Common Plan.

For this one, let's start with the department of agriculture, established under Lincoln in 1862. Then move along to the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1933 under Franklin Roosevelt which further enlarged government control of farming.

8. Equal Liability of All to Labor. Establishment of Industrial Armies, Especially for Agriculture.

Good ol' Woodrow Wilson got the ball rolling on this one with the establishment of the Department of Labor in 1913. Then Franklin Roosevelt carried the revolution further with Civil Works Administration (1933), the Works Progress Administration (1935), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938).

9. Combination of Agriculture with Manufacturing Industries; Gradual Abolition of the Distinction Between Town and Country by a More Equable Distribution of the Population over the Country.

Like number four, this is not seen in any systematized way in America today. These ideas are often at the back of political redistricting, though, as rural areas are usually overwhelmingly conservative and urban areas more progressive. Historically this was a problem for the Red Army in Russia during the revolution. It was able to hold urban centers like Petrograd, but had a much harder time gathering support from people in rural areas.

10. Free Education for All Children in Public Schools. Abolition of Children's Factory Labor in its Present Form. Combination of Education with Industrial Production.

Once again, there's no need to go into detail on this one. From 1852-1917 every state passed compulsory schooling laws. That means the government is in ultimate control of the education of children. Homeschooling was effectively illegal in the U.S. from 1917 through the 1970s. Even today the assumption is that the government offers certain families "exemptions" to allow them to teach their children at home, rather than the idea that the parents are the sole authority in the education of their children.

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So, have our modern political ideas in America been influenced by the principles of Marxism? Overwhelmingly, the answer is, "Yes!" Do we have a communist or socialist government? Not yet. However, it appears that we are at a pivotal point in our history as a nation, as seen by the sharp political divisions in our country today. The next few decades will most likely determine whether we are going to move onward towards ever more Marxist ideals or back to the principles of our founding fathers and first fifteen presidents. At this point it is more important than ever to educate the citizens on the principles found in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution as well as the Biblical principles upon which these documents are based (as seen in predecessors such as the Scottish National Covenant), so that we can make wise decisions concerning our nation's future.

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