by Evan Zilber ’22
Published Oct. 4th, 2020
The term, “Marxist,” is seeing an ever-increasing, and rarely accurate, usage in 2020.
In recent months, conservative media has witnessed a surge in rhetoric condemning certain movements and political campaigns through disavowing their apparent radical-leftism.
An example of this is Justin Haskins of FOX Business, who stated in a recent article that, “[Joe Biden is changing] his long-held policy views to appease the far-left.”
When evaluating the accuracy of this claim, one must consider the positions of those actually a part of the ‘far-left.’
When asking a self-proclaimed Marxist, professor Richard Wolff, what his position is regarding the 2020 Democratic nominee, he said, “I’m disappointed Bernie dropped out of the race. I’m even more disappointed that he endorsed Biden… For the left, Mr. Biden is a zero. There’s nothing there, he’s an empty suit. He’s an old, probably senile representative of an old, definitely senile establishment.”
Wolff’s quote rebuts the claim that Joe Biden is in any way associated with the far-left, and yet dubious statements like Haskins’ are far from fringe. President Trump said, according to a recent FOX News article, that “[BLM is] a Marxist group. It’s a Marxist group that is not looking for good things for our country.”
When asked whether BLM is related to socialism, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an African-American Studies professor at Princeton said, “There are definitely socialists within the movement, as there have been in every single social movement in 20th century American history and today. But that does not make those socialist movements, it makes them mass movements.”
The fact that unsubstantiated claims of Marxism are expressed by both mainstream media and the POTUS may lead one to wonder: how would the average person react when exposed to what Marxism really entails?
A majority (59.3%) of students agreed completely or partially when asked whether the price of a good should be based on the amount of time required to make it. While seemingly innocuous, this statement is Marx’s labor theory of value in abstract terms.
Marx uses this theory when evaluating the morality of private property, and his opinion on the matter is far from abashed: “The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.” When asked whether property owners are entitled to all the fruits others made with that property, 43.3% of pollers said no, taking Marx’s stance on private property.
The question of imperialism, something Vladimir Lenin criticized as being the “highest stage of capitalism,” brought an almost unanimous (90.3%) condemnation by the students in the survey.
Marxism seems to appeal to a large number of Montgomery students. When evaluating why it lacks a legitimate platform despite this, one must go back to the political speakers who erroneously associate the term with phenomena that are simply not Marxist. Media purposefully misrepresenting an ideology to suppress its influence seems antithetical to the idea of freedom.