Last week, I reread two documents: the U.S. Constitution, which was written more than 200 years ago, and The Communist Manifesto, which was written more than 150 years ago. James Madison and the other authors of the Constitution were primarily concerned with guaranteeing the freedom and liberty of all Americans by placing severe limitations on the power of the federal government. Karl Marx, the author of The Communist Manifesto, mapped out what would become a blueprint for dictators whose primary aim was to achieve power by exercising complete control over the lives of their citizens.
The Communist Manifesto was written in 1848, and in addition to inspiring communist dictators in the USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Venezuela, it also influenced the beliefs of Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Nazi Germany, and Franco in Spain. It continues to provide inspiration to thousands of individuals worldwide, including the religious leaders who seek to take control of and rule over the citizens of various countries in the Middle East.
While the U.S. Constitution was designed to be an operations manual for limited government, The Communist Manifesto was designed to create conflict between the working class (the proletariat) and the wealthy and privileged class (the bourgeoisie) — those who owned and operated businesses that took advantage of the workers.
The primary purpose of The Communist Manifesto was to stir up the emotions of the workers who felt as though they were being taken advantage of by the businesses they worked for. The remedy Marx proposed was to replace existing governmental leaders with a leader who would represent the interests of the workers. This could be done either by an election or through revolution.
Marx made it appear as though he was for the defenseless workers. He was a master at creating anger and resentment among the workers by claiming that wealthy business owners considered the workers to be “social scum” and the “passively rotting mass” that were to be thrown away and discarded when they were no longer useful. (Unlike the Founding Fathers, Marx used very interesting and colorful language in his manifesto.)
What most people who are familiar with The Communist Manifesto don’t realize is that Marx did a masterful job of using envy, the vice that is most effective in creating conflict between people and nations. Before I go any further, I need to explain what envy is and the consequences that arise from envy.
Envy is defined as “sadness or discontent at the excellence, good fortune, or success of another person.” When a person is envious of another person, there is a strong feeling that (1) there has been an injustice, and (2) the envious person has somehow been deprived of something he or she would have otherwise been entitled to.
One of the primary attributes of a person who is envious is the desire to deprive the envied person of his or her gifts or possessions. The key word here is “deprive.”
There are five primary consequences of envy: (1) disdain or hatred of the envied person, (2) criticism in the mind, speech, or writing of the envied person, (3) slander of the envied person’s character, (4) resentment of the envied person’s intelligence, gifts, possessions, relationships, success, or achievements, and (5) joy at the misfortune of or adversity experienced by the envied person.
Envy can spread like a virus and infect groups of people and entire nations. Marx intuitively knew this and used envy to incite the passions of the working people, who were less fortunate than those who were wealthy.
The solution that Marx provided to alleviate the perceived injustice and unfairness that was taking place included 10 “measures” that needed to be taken by the new leaders (dictators) who were either chosen by the workers through an election or who took control of their countries by force. The measures included the complete abolition of the right to private property ownership (all property would then be owned by the government); a heavy progressive or graduated income tax; abolition of all rights to inheritance; centralization of all banking into a national bank owned and operated by the government; government control of all businesses, factories, and farms; and free education for all children in public schools operated by the government.
Marx promised a utopia where everyone would be happy, primarily because everyone would be treated the same way. Despite his promises, every nation that has ever experimented with communism has become repressive and tyrannical, with misery spread equally among everyone who is not a part of the inner circle of top government officials.
Unfortunately, hundreds of European intellectuals who were heavily influenced by the writings of Marx came to the United States during the 1930s and started teaching at several of our elite universities. Their American students were later able to secure highly influential positions in Hollywood, television, radio, schools, universities, newspapers, magazines, the federal government, and the court system. Today, more than 80 years later, their successors continue to wield powerful influence in those same industries and institutions, all while claiming that they are on the side of “the people.”
Despite the widespread success of the envy tactics used and taught by Marx, the United States of America still shows some promise. Why? Because the United States was founded on a constitution that honored and protected the right of the individual to exercise his or her God-given rights to (1) life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, (2) freedom of speech and association, (3) freedom to practice one’s own religion, (4) freedom to own private property, (5) freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, (6) freedom to choose how their children would be educated, (7) freedom to open and operate their own businesses — basically, the freedom to be left alone.
On the one hand we had Marx who, because of his own envy, wanted to incite a worldwide revolution. On the other hand we had our Founding Fathers, each of whom had a deep and abiding respect for every human being. They didn’t envy people who were better off than they were; they admired them. And they believed that every individual was unique and had the potential for greatness.
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. You know some of their names — Madison, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Monroe, Hamilton, Franklin. They risked their lives so they could set up a system of government ensuring that no American would ever have to live under the domain of a corrupt and tyrannical government. If they had failed, they would have been hung by their British enemies.
Although we currently have a government that is in open defiance of many of our founding principles, there is still hope for the future of our country. That hope rests with you and me. And in order to make a difference, we’re going to have to be willing to step forward and fight for what we believe in — the “American way” — with faith, courage, and determination.