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Letter: The ghost of Marx laid to rest

NEAL ASCHERSON ('An urbane spectre', 15 May) chides Karl Marx for not being 'accurate' when he wrote in 1848 that 'the spectre of Communism is haunting Europe'. However, Marx was referring to primitive communism which had existed before social systems based on class relations. Capitalism, the last class system, had brought the forces of production to a point where a more developed communism was possible. Thus the literary use of 'haunting'.

Finally, Marx would not have recognised the political parties now coming to power in Eastern Europe as communist. Nor would he have seen anything socialist in the tyrannies which preceded them. Descendants of Marx they are not.

Communism and socialism (they meant the same thing for Marx) mean the abolition of the wages/salary system; no buying or selling and the absence of a coercive state. This core doctrine was rejected by Lenin and those who followed him.

Richard Lloyd

North Watford, Herts