Power & Market

Marxist Women’s Day

In April 1845, Karl Marx’s mother-in-law sent to the Marx family a nanny named Helene Demuth, known as “Lenchen.” Marx’s long-suffering wife, Jenny, was thrilled. After all, she had long expressed the wish that Karl would “earn some capital rather than just writing about capital.”

But Karl refused to earn money. Just as he refused soap and bathing, which spawned boils all over his body. As the late historian (and close friend of The American SpectatorPaul Johnson noted, Marx’s boils “appeared on all parts of his body, including his penis…. They brought on a nervous collapse marked by trembling and huge bursts of rage.”

All the more reason for Karl to refuse work. So, when Jenny’s mom sent Lenchen, Marx’s wife breathed a huge sigh of relief. 

Then again, it isn’t quite right to say that Lenchen worked for Karl’s family, given that she toiled without pay. One Marx biographer described Lenchen as Marx’s “chattel to be exploited.” Karl, champion of the proletariat, never paid her a penny. The stumpy, frumpy, poor girl gave her everything to the Marx household, including her body — to Karl. 

Karl bedded Lenchen behind Jenny’s back. Historians have no idea how often. “He would take his comfort where he could,” wrote one biographer of Marx’s seeking a sexual receptacle in Lenchen. “That she was virtually his bondslave was a matter of entire indifference to him…. We shall probably never know whether he raped or seduced the servant.” In due course, a child was born.

In June 1851, Lenchen gave birth to a baby boy. Karl, who had several children with Jenny, refused to concede that the little boy was his and naturally refused even a penny of child support. The illegitimate son was named “Freddy” — named after Marx’s infamous co-author, Friedrich Engels. 

Marx and his family lived largely off Engels, or, more specifically, Engels’ inheritance from his capitalist father. Engels was Karl Marx’s sugar daddy. And now, Engels bailed him out yet again.

“Engels had accepted paternity for Frederick,” wrote Marx biographer David McLellan. He agreed to say that he was the father. As another Marx biographer put it, “Engels cared not a whit about his reputation, especially with regard to women.” Though like Marx the moocher, Engels likewise refused to give Freddy a roof over his head. Freddy was shipped off to foster parents.

Marx’s devoted but despairing wife surely wasn’t surprised. What else did she expect from the man she referred to as her “wild black boar” and “wicked knave”?

I revisit this sordid history here (detailed at length in my biography of Marx) because of the sordid event that our perverse American culture commemorates today: International Women’s Day. 

Read the full article at The American Spectator.

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