Cambodian tragedy laid on a misunderstood Marx

October 11, 1996

In his book review of Western Responses to Human Rights Abuses in Cambodia, Richard Gough wonders "how many lives worldwide might have been saved had Karl Marx kept his political and economic theories to himself" (THES, October 4).

It is primarily the distortion of Marx's ideas (of which Cambodia is a particularly tragic example) rather than the ideas per se which have been responsible for the loss of life.

Cyril Smith's new book Marx at the Millennium, to be reviewed by myself shortly in The THES, makes this point forcefully.

The intrinsically humane set of principles, which are associated with the ideas of Marx, can be contrasted with the logic of market capitalism which, without the need for any contortion, spreads poverty, hunger, death and destruction worldwide.

MIKE COLE Faculty of education, sport and leisure University of Brighton

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