Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MARX & SATAN by Richard Wurmbrand

Marx & Satan (1986) is a spiritual biography (of sorts) of Karl Marx by Richard Wurmbrand, erstwhile victim of Soviet persecution and founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit international Christian anti-persecution organization. Here, Wurmbrand suggests that Marx, the founder of modern Communism, converted from Christianity to Satanism at a young age and then used Communism as a tool to spread hatred and destruction.

Some of the facts in this matter appear to be beyond reasonable question, both from historical record and Marx’s own writings. Obviously Marx hated God vehemently, and his writings do give the impression of belief rather than atheism. Wurmbrand suggests, based on Marx’s own writings, that Marx was a hater rather than a lover of humanity (and that Marx’s supposed love for the proletariat was a fiction created by the Communists), and all things considered that seems quite reasonable. But to say that Marx’s primary goal was to promote Satanism, as Wurmbrand suggests, moves squarely into the realm of speculation (and Wurmbrand has, at least, the good grace to acknowledge that much of what he asserts is circumstantial, although he seems quite sure of his evidence).

Beyond the basics of Marx’s upbringing, writings, and relationships with other Communist fathers like Engels, Wurmbrand is all over the place with poor reasoning, wanton speculation, and straw man arguments: Karl Marx turned to Satanism and wanted to use it to destroy humanity because nobody appreciated his poetry. Darwin is to blame for the millions of murders committed by the Communists. Led Zeppelin backmasked satanic lyrics into “Stairway to Heaven.” Ludicrous assertions like these make Wurmbrand look foolish.

It doesn’t help that Wurmbrand seems to have no sense of irony or metaphor when he interprets the writings of others. Much of what he analyzes is poetry, and yet he takes every line about demons and such to be disturbingly literal. His inability to apply even the most basic critical reading skills neuters a number of his arguments.

It’s important to remember that because of Wurmbrand’s own horrific experiences with the Communists, he’s about as anti-Communism as they come, and it’s somewhat understandable that he swings too far the other way (for more information, see Wurmbrand’s superior work, Tortured for Christ). Even so, some of the places Wurmbrand goes in this book are flat-out ridiculous.

I don’t want to suggest that Marx & Satan might not be worth a read, but be prepared to wade through a whole lot of bathwater in order to find the baby.