I’ve noticed that May 2018 contains two significant birthdays. It’s the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth and the 50th anniversary of Kylie Minogue’s.

It’s not just May birthdays that the pair have in common. They both had their dreams.

Marx envisaged the end of capitalism and the creation of a classless society. Kylie complained: "Dreaming's all I do, If only they'd come true."

One is remembered for saying: "Workers of all countries unite." The other memorably said: "I should be so lucky, lucky lucky lucky."

You can dislike Kylie Minogue for her irritating bubblegum pop songs - with melodies that stick in your head even though you hate them and bland, anodyne lyrics.

But at least they’re harmless - unlike the words of Karl Marx.

At least that’s some people’s view. So when a statue of the philosopher was unveiled last week in his hometown of Trier in western Germany there were protesters objecting to any commemoration of him.

You can see their point. Communist regimes around the world have been guilty of some of the worst crimes of the last century, of mass murders, imprisonment in labour camps, suppression of freedom.

Stalin and Mao may have been on the other end of the political spectrum from Hitler and Mussolini - but they have a great deal in common.

But is it really fair to blame Marx for this? Marx would never have recognised or approved of any of the countries that call themselves communist.

And the dictators who ruled those countries knew it. That’s probably why the works of Marx are banned in North Korea.

To blame someone for the crimes carried out in their name is unfair. It would be like blaming Jesus for the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, or blaming Muhammad for the attack on the Twin Towers or any Islamist suicide bombings.

It’s not the fault of the founders, but of the followers. There is no straight line from The Communist Manifesto to the Siberian gulags, any more than there is a line from The Sermon on the Mount to the persecution of non-Christians.

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg and sparked the Reformation, he won’t have envisaged the future murders of Catholics by Protestants or of Protestants by Catholics.

Nor would he like the practice in England every November 5, of burning an effigy of a Catholic on a bonfire.

When the so-called Marxist governments of eastern Europe fell in 1989 and 1990, many liked to claim that Marx was finished.

Less than 20 years later there was a global financial crisis and interest in Marx’s work rose quite noticeably. It’s as if he was saying: "I told you this would happen."

The fact is that Marx understood capitalism's instability, unlike most of the economists of his day. But he didn’t say much about the alternative.

Those who tried to construct one have been guilty of some ghastly crimes. But we can't overlook the crimes of capitalist countries.

The USA was built on slavery. Millions of African slaves were beaten, starved, worked or raped to death in its industrialisation.

Historians now also believe far more native Americans were killed than previously realised.

Communism as we’ve known it may have failed. It doesn’t follow that capitalism has succeeded.

Capitalism has faced a deep crisis in the last 10 years - and 99 per cent are paying for it while one per cent have been undisturbed.

It’s happened before and it will happen again, and every time it does the inequality gets worse. The richest 85 people in the world have more wealth than the poorest three billion put together.

Some people think there’s something very wrong with that. Marx had something to say about it. Kylie Minogue hasn’t so far.