I’ve never been a fan of everything Will Wilkinson has written, but I’ve always thought he added something to the political debates being carried out online. So, I’m amazed by his most recent and absolutely shameful post. It begins:
Here is a good debate proposition: It ought to be less embarrassing to have been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Karl Marx.
The most powerful way to argue the affirmative is to compare the number of human beings murdered by the devotees of each. That line of attack ought to be decisive…
I won’t say that no one I know and respect would think of such a comparison. But no one I know and respect would make such a comparison without quickly realizing and admitting that there might be a complicating factor or two, that perhaps the line between Marx’s ideas and all those deaths was not so direct. And I’m not going to bother spelling them out, because when Will wakes up tomorrow, I doubt what he’s going to say is “what I wrote yesterday was really the way we ought to judge Marx and Rand. I have no qualms about this argument.”
Btw, I carry no water for Marx–I’ve only ever read the Communist Manifesto, and that at too young an age to trust my judgment–which was that I’d wasted my time (true enough, it wasn’t really where Marx laid out his ideas). My weakly held opinion that Marx belongs on my long list of things to eventually read is primarily based on the testimony of philosophers who have acknowledged his influence upon them–hardly a fervent endorsement.