Here are ten books I recommend for people who wish to understand the idolatrous nature of Marxism and its corrosive effects on individuals and societies. Although Marx intended to liberate society and alleviate its suffering, his ideological framework unfortunately and necessarily suppresses society, induces poverty, and supplants religion. Marxism is not primarily an economic theory. It is primarily a surrogate religion. And it is creeping into the worldview of many Americans, including American Christians.
I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. Level 1 is the category for a book you could give to any friend or family member. Level 5 is the category for a book that might be required in a PhD seminar.
- Karl Marx, Selected Writings. The first and best resource for understanding Marxism’s nature as a surrogate religion is Marx himself. In Selected Writings, the reader will find a number of Marx’s essays. Some are full-length. Others are excerpted. At a minimum, I recommend reading Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, The Communist Manifesto, and Capital. Readers with a taste for idolatry will find Marx’s essays to be rich and sumptuous fare. Level 3.5.
- The Catholic Church’s “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’.” This slim little booklet is substantive but very easy to read. It argues that Marxism is corrupt to its core, such that Christians must start from Christian principles rather than from Marxist doctrines as we seek justice and help the poor. For a brief article about this booklet, click here. Level 1.5.
- Raymond Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals. French philosopher Aron reveals how Marx’s ideology functions as a surrogate religion for many intellectuals. Indeed, Marxism is custom-built to displace Christianity; many irreligious and nominally Christian intellectuals embrace it as superior to historic Christian orthodoxy. Marxism provides a global interpretation of history, a hierarchy of values, and a code of conduct. It locates a supreme evil (material inequality), a means of salvation (social action), and a doctrine of the end times (Communist utopia). For a brief article about the book, click here. Level 4.
- Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return. Romanian historian and philosopher Eliade exposes the logical coherence, empirical inadequacy, and existential infeasibility of Marx’s historicism. It is difficult to overstate the power of Eliade’s argument. For a brief article about the book, click here. Level 4.
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago. In the abridged version, the reader can experience Soviet dissident Solzhenitsyn’s powerful argument that Marxist ideology disarmed Soviet citizens spiritually and oppressed them in every facet of their lives. I recommend especially the chapter entitled, “The Interrogation” and the section entitled, “The Soul and Barbed Wire.” Solzhenitsyn, who was imprisoned for years and tortured, weaves together personal narrative, Soviet history, and reasoned argument to expose the circumambient imbecility, effluviality, and turpitude of the Marxist worldview. For a brief article about the book, click here. Level 2.5.
- Daniel Mahoney, The Other Solzhenitsyn. Written by American philosopher Daniel Mahoney, this intellectual biography not only explores the writings and moral witness of Solzhenitsyn, but also exposes the totalizing and oppressive nature of Marxist ideology. Level 4.
- Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ. In this small book, Romanian dissident Richard Wurmbrand recounts the Soviet Union’s targeting and brutal torturing of Christians and expounds upon the joy of Christian faith even in the midst of persecution. Wurmbrand was imprisoned for fourteen years, three of which were served in solitary confinement. The torturers at his concentration camp broke four vertebrae in his back, carved his body with a knife in twelve places, and burned six holes in his body. After having been ransomed and brought to the West, Wurmbrand testified before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, taking off his shirt in front of TV cameras to show his scars and severely disfigured torso. For a brief article about this book, click here. Level 1.
- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism. In this book, German political philosopher and concentration camp survivor Arendt evaluates the totalizing and dehumanizing ideologies of Nazi socialism and Communism socialism. For a brief article about this book, click here. Level 5.
- Peter Kreeft, Socrates Meets Marx. Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft is perhaps the best writer in the field of philosophy. With reason, verve, and wit, he imagines what it would be like if Socrates had a chance to interrogate Marx. The result is a ruinous evaluation of Marxism. Level 2.5.
- In addition to these nine fine books, I recommend this brief article about the idolatrous nature of Marxist socialism and this brief opinion piece about the Democratic Socialists of America. Level 1.