Is Karl Back?
Using two recent biographies of Karl Marx (Jonathan Sperber’s Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life and Gareth Stedman Jones’ Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion) as a starting point for an essay about Marx, socialism and the 21st Century, The New Yorker’s Louis Menand writes:
Marx was one of the great infighters of all time, and a lot of his writing was topical and ad hominem — no-holds-barred disputes with thinkers now obscure and intricate interpretations of events largely forgotten. Sperber and Stedman Jones both show that if you read Marx in that context, as a man engaged in endless internecine political and philosophical warfare, then the import of some familiar passages in his writings can shrink a little. The stakes seem more parochial. In the end, their Marx isn’t radically different from the received Marx, but he is more Victorian. Interestingly, given the similarity of their approaches, there is not much overlap.
Still, Marx was also what Michel Foucault called the founder of a discourse. An enormous body of thought is named after him. “I am not a Marxist,” Marx is said to have said, and it’s appropriate to distinguish what he intended from the uses other people made of his writings. But a lot of the significance of the work lies in its downstream effects. However he managed it, and despite the fact that, as Sperber and Stedman Jones demonstrate, he can look, on some level, like just one more nineteenth-century system-builder who was convinced he knew how it was all going to turn out, Marx produced works that retained their intellectual firepower over time. Even today, “The Communist Manifesto” is like a bomb about to go off in your hands.
Mark Rogovin and Bleue Benton ran across an 1892 Chicago Tribune article describing a time capsule being buried at the Haymarket Martyrs monument in the Forest Home Cemetery. Enlisting the assistance of local archeologists, the Illinois Labor History Society dug it up. MORE.
by Bob Roman
We’re a bit late this year, but October is National Coop Month. It rarely gets much press and gets only rather spotty participation from within the movement, but you can find out more about it HERE.