Three great intellectual revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries have profoundly shaped and transformed the way we think of ourselves and our world. The first is Marxism and its derivative, socialism. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the changes in Eastern Europe may appear to have thoroughly discredited Marxism; such is the message of a letter I recently received from the Campus Crusade for Christ, which headlined its plea for funds with the message “Marx is out, Jesus is in.” But many Marxist principles, such as “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” have unalterably changed the social systems of the world, including our own. The particularMarxist system known as Communism has failed, but Marxism in its most basic sense has not.
The second revolution was launched by Charles Darwin’s synthesis of evolutionary theory, The Origin of Species (1859). Despite occasional and even sustained attacks on the book and its ideas from fringe groups, it is recognized as a turning point, a classic formulation not just of where we came from but who we are. Darwin was right: The fact that monkeys have hands should give us pause.