(The below is an attempt to bring readers important events in history through great writers and filmmakers. Below is the first in this idea for a series. We bring a section of a book written in 1958 to our audience. Bring a section of an important piece of writing, film or music to our the audience for Midnight Oil Studios. Simply place the piece in front of them more than anything else. Hopefully they might ponder the below a little more than the usual content of social media. It presents an interesting time in the lives of the founders of communism. The most important chapter of a book we might as well return to. After we figured we had all this communism stuff behind us. A piece below to stir discussion and ideas. Hopefully, participation in the below piece of literature in creating some new thoughts and ideas from our readers. Let us know what you think. And, email us via return email to be put on the Midnight Oil Studios list for continuing series based on this idea. The first example is below. Written by an author in the 1950s, Willard Cleon Skousen January 20, 1913 – January 9, 2006) was an American conservative author and faith-based political theorist. A notable anti-communist and supporter of the John Birch Society, Skousen’s works involved a wide range of subjects including the Six-Day War, Mormon eschatology, New World Order conspiracies, and parenting! His most popular works are The 5,000 Year Leap and The Naked Communist. Importantly, he wrote far before the influence of the cultural censors could work their influence on the great minds of a culture. He wrote at a time when the conservative spirit ruled over Los Angeles in the 1950s when I was growing up in Los Angeles. One views the below as a bunch of propaganda. Or, some ultimate, final, truth. Isn’t this the way it always seems to be? Again, writing from a period far enough away to escape the forces of current culture to create something against conformity to it.)
THE NAKED COMMUNIST
W. Cleon Skousen
(Ensign Publishing Company, Salt Lake City, 1958)
Chapter 1:The Founders of Communism
(Selection from the above chapter by John Fraim)
In many ways Engels was the very opposite of Karl Marx. He was tall, slender, vivacious and good natured. He enjoyed athletics, liked people and was by nature an optimist. He was born in Barmen, Germany, November 28, 1820, the son of a textile manufacturer who owned large factories both in Barmen, Germany, and in Manchester, England. From his earliest youth Engels chafed under the iron discipline of his father, and he learned to despise the textile factories and all they represented. As he matured it was natural that he should have lined himself up with the “industrial proletariat.”
For the son of a bourgeois businessman, young Engels had a surprisingly limited education; at least it did not include any extensive university training. But what he lacked in formal training he supplied through hard work and native talent. He spent considerable time in England and learned both English and French with such facility that he succeeded in selling articles to liberal magazines of both languages.
Biographers have emphasized that while the hearty and attractive Engels differed in personal traits from the brooding, suspicious Marx, nevertheless, the two of them followed an identical course of intellectual development. Engels, like Marx, quarreled bitterly with his father, took to reading Strauss’s Life of Jesus, fell in with the same radical leftwing Hegelians who had attracted Marx, became an agnostic and a cynic, lost confidence in the free-enterprise economy of the Industrial Revolution and decided the only real hope for the world was Communism.
Engels had been an admirer of Marx long before he had a chance to meet him. It was in August 1844, that he traveled to Paris for the specific purpose of visiting Marx. The magnetic attraction between the two men was instantaneous. After ten days both men felt it was their destiny to work together. It was during this same ten days that Marx converted Engels from a Utopian Communist to an outright revolutionist. He convinced Engels that there was no real hope for humanity in the idealism of Robert Owen or Saint-Simon but that conditions called for a militant revolution to overthrow existing society. Engels agreed and proceeded back to Germany.
* * *
Six months later Marx was expelled from France, along with other revolutionary spirits, and took up residence in Brussels, Belgium. Here Marx and Engels wrote The Holy Family, a book designed to rally around them those Communists who were willing to completely disavow any connection with the so-called “peaceful reforms” of philanthropy, Utopianism or Christian morality. The red flag of revolution was up, and Marx and Engels considered themselves the royal color-guard.
The strange relationship which rapidly developed between Marx and Engels can be understood only when it is realized that Engels considered it a privilege to be associated with such a genius as Marx. Among other things, he counted it an honor to be allowed to assume responsibility for Marx’s financial support. Shortly after Marx was expelled from France, Engels sent him all the ready cash in his possession and promised him more : “Please take it as a matter of course that it will be the greatest pleasure in the world to place at your disposal the fee I hope shortly to receive for my English literary venture. I can get along without any money just now, for my governor (father) will have to keep me in funds. We cannot allow the dogs to enjoy having involved you in pecuniary embarrassment by their infamous behavior.”
This new partnership between Marx and Engels gave them both the courage to immediately launch an International Communist League based on the need for a violent revolution. They planned to use the workers in Germany and France as the backbone for their new political machine, but this proved bitterly disappointing. After spending several months among the French workers Engels castigated them because they “prefer the most preposterous day-dreaming, peaceful plans for inaugurating universal happiness.” He told Marx that the tinder for a revolution in France was nonexistent. Having thus failed in their plan to build their own revolutionary organization, Marx and Engels decided to take over one that was already in existence. In August 1847, they succeeded in gaining control of the “Workers’ Educational Society” in Brussels. This immediately gave them prestige among reform organizations in Europe. It also gave them the first opportunity to extend their influence in England. At this point Marx and Engels would have been surprised to know that England rather than the Continent would become the headquarters for their revolutionary work.
The Communist Manifesto
During November 1847, word came from London that the “Federation of the Just” (later known as the Communist League) wanted Marx and Engels to participate in their second congress as representatives of the Communist organizations in Brussels. Marx and Engels not only attended the congress but practically took it over. By staying up most of the night laying their plans and by using shrewd strategy at each of the meetings, they succeeded in getting the congress to adopt all of their basic views. Marx and Engels were then commissioned to write a declaration of principles or a “Manifesto to the World.” They returned to Brussels and immediately set to work with Marx pouring into the text his passionate plea for a revolution. When they were through, they had announced to mankind that the new program of International Communism stood for: 1. the overthrow of capitalism, 2. the abolition of private property, 3. the elimination of the family as a social unit, 4. the abolition of all classes, 5. The overthrow of all governments, and 6. the establishment of a communist order with communal ownership of property in a classless, stateless society. To accomplish this, the Communist Manifesto was crystal clear as to the course to be taken.
“In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!”
The Revolution of 1848
The red glare of revolution came much sooner than either Marx or Engels had anticipated. In February 1848, while the ink on the Communist Manifesto was still drying, the revolutionary spirit of the French proletariat united with the resentment of the bourgeoisie against Louis Philippe and a violent uprising ensued which drove the Emperor from the country. Immediately afterwards a provisional government was set up which included members of the Communist League, who promptly summoned Marx to Paris. Marx was flushed with excitement when he arrived at the French capitol armed with full authority from the Communist League headquarters to set up the international headquarters in Paris and to engineer the revolutions in other countries from there.
Marx learned that the intoxicating success of the uprising in France had induced the radical element in the provisional government to send “legions” into surrounding countries. Their purpose was to launch an uprising in each country and build the revolution into one magnificent conflagration. Although this was precisely what Marx had been advocating for several years, he suddenly sensed that such a campaign at the present moment might backfire and cause them to lose the support of the masses in those countries where legions were sent. Nevertheless, the plan was adopted, and the first legions were marched off to Germany. Marx soon followed and began publishing a revolutionary periodical in his native tongue called the Rheinische Zeitung.
The revolutionary leaders soon discovered that Marx was a propaganda liability. This became painfully evident when he was sent with other members of the Communist League to organize the workers in the Rhine Valley. Marx, when asked to address the German Democratic Congress, badly bungled this golden opportunity. Carl Schurz says: “I was eager to hear the words of wisdom that would, I supposed, fall from the lips of so celebrated a man. I was greatly disappointed. What Marx said was unquestionably weighty, logical and clear. But never have I seen any one whose manner was more insufferably arrogant. He would not give me a moment’s consideration to any opinion that differed from his own. He treated with open contempt everyone who contradicted him … Those whose feelings he had wounded by his offensive manner were inclined to vote in favor of everything which ran counter to his wishes … far from winning new adherents, he repelled many who might have been inclined to support him.”
* * *
From the beginning the revolution in Germany had been anemic and by May 16, 1849, it had reached a state of inglorious collapse. Marx was given twenty-four hours to quit the country. He stayed just long enough to borrow funds and print the last edition of his paper in red ink and then hastened away to find refuge in France.
But France was no refuge. Marx arrived in Paris penniless and exhausted, only to find that the Communist influence in the new Republic had wilted and died. The National Assembly was in the hands of a monarchial majority.
As soon as possible he fled from France, leaving his family to follow later because he was destitute of funds. He decided to make his permanent exile in London.
A short biography of Skousen on Wikipedia.
Contact me via replying to this post 1) for a free PDF copy of The Naked Communist or 2) to be put on a list of viewers/readers for future sections of works like above for discussion.
One thought on “The Naked Communist”
Interesting . I have never read anything about Karl Marx & Engels before. I have read some of Saul Alinsky’s rules for “How to Create a Social State.” He was introduced to Hillary Clinton when she was in college. A boy friend introduced them, and Saul Alinsky gave her a copy of his book. For her college thesis, she talked about Saul Alinsky and his book . She said he did not go far enough! I thought of him when I read what you wrote about Karl Marx and Engels , two unhappy men who thought they could change their world to what they thought they wanted. The problem with their idea is you have no freedom to do as you wish , you are ordered to do what they, the communists, want and if you don’t you end of in prison or dead. Only those in power have anything. Obama was influenced by the writing and philosophies of Saul Alinsky, author of the book,”Rules for Radicals,” and later by Frank Marshall Davis, with similar philosophies.