After John McDonnell praised Karl Marx’s Das Kapital on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn today doubled down and described the philosopher as a ‘great thinker’. This has led to some light mockery today, with the Liberal Democrats’ Tom Brake getting in on the fun — claiming the Labour leader deserves ‘full Marx’ for this latest gaffe.
But the Lib Dems would do well to take heed from the old adage ‘people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’. It turns out that Vince Cable — the Lib Dem stalwart who is trying to win back his seat in Twickenham — is also a fan of Marx. In an article for the Mail, he ranked Marx as No 4 on his list of the ‘the greatest economists’:
‘OK, Marx might now be remembered as a revolutionary advocate of communism – he co-wrote The Communist Manifesto – but he was a leading 19th-century economist in the ‘classical’ tradition. Indeed, in many ways he is the father of Economic History, having developed explanations for the evolution of the economic structure from feudalism to capitalism.
The German philosopher, sociologist and economist, who spent much of his life in London (and is buried in Highgate Cemetery), developed theories to explain why capitalist economies – which he opposed – have fluctuations and crises. However, despite his belief in capitalism’s self-destructive tendencies, much of his economic thinking stands up to scrutiny. Had it not been for The Communist Manifesto, I think Western commentators would recognise more readily today his role in advancing economic thinking.’