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Photo by Hennie Stander on Unsplash

By Paul Kengor, Crisis Magazine, September 2, 2020

The opening lines of the Communist Manifesto could not have been more eerily apt: “A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism,” wrote Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. “All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.”

Marx and Engels opted for such words: a specter, a haunting specter—a specter haunting Europe. Marx and Engels further opted for the word “exorcise”—the process for expunging a demon. Jesus Christ expelled demons. The Roman Catholic Church has long had a Rite of Exorcism for ridding people of demonic infestation. The very first image chosen by Marx and Engels to describe their ideology in the opening line of their book seems quite telling if not chilling. Whether it was serious or sarcastic, perhaps tongue in cheek (Marx had a mordant sense of humor), it was nonetheless fitting, and prophetic. They were on to something, or something was on to them and their ideology. If ever a force could be described as a haunting specter in dire need of exorcism, the phantom unleashed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels fit the bill. …