Happy Karl Marx day. To mark the 200th anniversary of the revolutionary philosopher’s birth, a statue of the revolutionary philosopher (funded by the Chinese, natch) has been erected in his German hometown Trier to protests, Owen Jones has tweeted a picture of his cat reading Das Kapital and a range of pieces have been published across the media on his legacy.
Only some articles are more gushing than others. Take for example, the Financial Times essay on new Marx biography ‘A World to Win: The Life and Works of Karl Marx’. The glowing piece sees the journalist offer a rather selective account and verdict of Marx’s life and legacy. Adam Tooze praises the book for providing a ‘comprehensive and reliable guide’ which shows that ‘even the best 21st-century social science pales beside the complexity and richness of Marx’s protean, 19th-century thought’:
The glowing piece credits Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto for offering ‘an astonishing glimpse of a future to come’:
‘The two men wagered that the revolutionary transformation of capitalism would come not from without, but from within. For all its terrible side effects, the enormous dynamic of industrial development could not be suppressed or sidestepped. It would have to be transcended.’
The paper notes in great detail Marx’s difficulty locating a crisis that would lead to a genuine revolution – charting his hopes for the promising revolutionary uprising of 1848, America’s relentless expansion and the crash of 1857. However, the article moves rather more briskly when it comes to places where Marx’s ideas were actually tried out:
‘Nevertheless, by the 1890s, Marxism was the official ideology of the largest mass party in the world, Germany’s Social Democrats.