Prof. Paul Kengor of Grove City College, author of The Devil and Karl Marx and A Pope and a President among many books, discussed Karl Marx’s antipathy toward traditional faith and its inspiration of conflict in modern “culture wars” globally across the past century, from the U.S. to the Ukraine and beyond, on Thurs. March 24 at a “deep-think pizza” campus event.
Marx famously called religion “the opium of the people” and his philosophy highlighted atheism as a supposed hallmark of “scientific” economics and social policy. But this also relates fascinatingly to Marx’s own personal obsession with the Devil and hell as researched by Kengor. “Thus Heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well,” the famous political philosopher and economist wrote in a poem in 1837, a decade before his Manifesto. “My soul, once true to God, is chosen for Hell.” Kengor concludes, “That certainly seemed to be the perverse destiny for Marx’s ideology, which consigned to death over 100 million souls in the twentieth century alone.” In his study, Kengor raised a question posed earlier by the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky in his book Demons: When deadly systems (such as also Nazism) take so many human lives, does the metaphoric description of “demonic” have a literal side?
Co-sponsored by the Bucknell Program for American Leadership and Catholic Campus Ministry, with generous support from the Open Discourse Coalition.