The Catholic Culture Podcast: 86 – Karl Marx, “Monster of Ten Thousand Devils”


Sep 29, 2020

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While the Catholic Church has condemned Marxism, Communism and
socialism from their beginning, an alarming number of those calling
themselves Catholic display a sympathy for these ideas: think of
America magazine’s 2019 essay on “The Catholic Case of
Communism”. Even some orthodox Catholic intellectuals seem to think
we should mine the writings of Marx for whatever truth might be
contained among the rubbish.

Aside from the fact that Marx’s philosophy represents a war on
being itself (in his words, “the ruthless criticism of all that
exists”), making it rather difficult to find untainted morsels of
truth in his writings, there are other reasons to steer clear. If
philosophy is truly the pursuit of wisdom, we should care about the
personal lives of philosophers. Marx was a deeply vicious man. He
displayed complete contempt for his fellow man, was a virulent
racist, despised God and religion, and was an utter hypocrite when
it came to money, constantly sponging off his family and

Beyond all that, there is the distinct sense of something
demonic in Marx’s personal life. Those who knew him most intimately
consistently described him in demonic terms: His son wrote to him
as “my dear devil”, his father suggested that he was “governed by a
demon”, and Engels referred to him as a “monster of ten thousand

Marx himself was obsessed with the Devil, writing poems and
plays about characters who make pacts with Satan and are resigned
to their own damnation. He even told his children an ongoing
bedtime story about a man who sold his soul to the devil. (Marx’s
two daughters would die in suicide pacts with their husbands, who
were atheistic revolutionaries like their father-in-law.)

In this episode, Paul Kengor, author of The Devil and Karl
, discusses this (exhaustively footnoted) evidence of the
demonic in Marx’s life. What inspired this man with so much hatred
that he called for the “ruthless criticism of all that exists”,
beginning with religion?


 [3:03] The scope of The Devil and
Karl Marx

[10:36] A picture of Marx from those closest to him

[15:23] Marx’s lifelong “ruthless criticism of all that exists”,
beginning with religion

[26:33] Satanic themes in Marx’s early literary output

[30:57] Suicide pacts in Marx’s literature and in his children’s

[37:56] Walter Duranty and Aleister Crowley

[41:55] Marx’s personal behavior around money, family, and

[47:41] The error of separating philosophy from personal

[52:29] “Just a phase”?: Why Marx’s youthful writings are
relevant to his later work

[55:18] The pedants’ denial that Marxism is present in
contemporary movements


Paul Kengor, The Devil and Karl Marx

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