Column: NPR Promotes ‘The Communist Manifesto’ in 2023

It’s entirely predictable, even inevitable, that public broadcasting would favor socialism in all its programming. But it’s a little more surprising when it openly touts The Communist Manifesto.

Since I’m a conservative glutton for punishment, I was driving on the highway on Sunday morning listening to the NPR-distributed program On The Media with host Brooke Gladstone, a longtime fixture on NPR. It was predictable when she chatted with socialist Naomi Oreskes about their mutual loathing of “free-market fundamentalism.” But the next segment was even worse. My jaw dropped.

Gladstone gushed that since 1847, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have “offered refuge, inspiration, and argument, so many arguments still.” She oozed “like Hamlet’s ghost, the Manifesto is both impossible and imperative in its call for action.” She introduced British author China Mieville, whose 2022 book A Spectre, Haunted is, she said, “a nonfiction rumination on that stalwart text.”

A “stalwart text”? The incendiary inspiration for ruthless and expansionist dictatorships which murdered millions of people from 1917 forward is celebrated on American radio? Yes, and what this has to do with “the media” is anyone’s guess.

Gladstone suggested the Manifesto’s a great read – “It’s stirring! It scans!” She quoted another Marxist, Marshall Berman, insisting for the oppressed, the book provides “music for their dreams.” Its literary merit should not be held against it, these two agreed. They also agreed that E.O. Wilson was wrong to mock Marxism as contrary to human nature, as “lovely theory, wrong species.”

Suddenly, I was thrust backward into my college years in the 1980s, listening to this British scoundrel try again to say the Soviet Union wasn’t really Communism. Oh sure, anti-communists use “the existence of Stalinist regimes against communism,” but that ignores that “literally for over a hundred years there have been very serious debates within Marxism, within the Left precisely criticizing those regimes — not just that these were not desirable and not sustainable, but they are also not, in any meaningful way communism, if you look at Marx and Engels’s writing. This is why these regimes cannot be considered legitimate representations of this political program.”

This ignores that if there were actually serious critiques inside communist regimes, the dissenters were liquidated. Where is that prevented within the Manifesto, within a “dictatorship of the proletariat”? Where is the room for dissent and debate?

But Mr. China wasn’t finished. “To simply act as if the mere fact that these unpleasant regimes that called themselves communist is therefore evidence that communism is doomed, and to have no curiosity about the internal debate, again, it’s not just serious. That idea that Stalinism disproves communism rings very hollow,” he claimed.

True communism has never been truly implemented. This is a revolting charade. Communism is so glorious no one’s ever gotten it right, so it remains perfect….in the pages of a book.

There was no conservative dissent on NPR stations from coast to coast. Instead, Mieville decried the “overt sadism” of the “far right,” which are “inevitable excrescences of a system predicated on profit over need, built on the bones of a system of patriarchy and white supremacy and so on.”

Conservatives are the best argument for communism: “If you see this new sadistic hard right as an inevitable feature of capitalism, then the stakes of moving beyond capitalism become ever more urgent.”

This is the sad state of taxpayer-funded radio. It’s a dictatorship of the progressive proletariat, brooking no dissent from conservatives or libertarians. It is a soundtrack for rigid statism. It’s nowhere near a network that deserves to call any program All Things Considered.

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