links for 2009-04-27
I Missed Henry Farrell's Observance of Charles Krauthammer Day!

Is Anything Karl Marx Wrote After He Turned Thirty Worthwhile?

Circling around again to Chris Bertram's whine about how lousy my "evaluating Karl Marx as an economist" lecture is, and how he would do something else:

Explaining Marx to newbies: Suppose I were lecturing about Karl Marx: I’d do the same thing. I’d probably start by discussing some of the ideas in the Manifesto about the revolutionary nature of the bourgeoisie, about their transformation of technology, social relations, and their creation of a global economy. Then I’d say something about Marx’s belief that, despite the appearance of freedom and equality, we live in a society where some people end up living off the toil of other people. How some people have little choice but to spend their whole lives working for the benefit of others, and how this compulsion stops them from living truly truly human lives. And then I’d talk about Marx’s belief that a capitalist society would eventually be replaced by a classless society run by all for the benefit of all. Naturally, I’d say something about the difficulties of that idea. I don’t think I’d go on about Pol Pot or Stalin, I don’t think I’d recycle the odd bon mot by Paul Samuelson, I don’t think I’d dismiss Hegel out of hand, and I don’t think I’d contrast modes of production with Weberian modes of domination...

Something occurs to me: Bertram thinks that the lecture should be exclusively about the Communist Manifesto and before. Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto when he was 29, drawing substantially on what Engels had written about the condition of British textile workers in Manchester in his Condition of the Working Class in England when he was 23. Chris Bertram doesn't think that what either of them wrote about for the rest of their lives is worth wrestling with.

That is, I think, a much harsher judgment of Karl Marx-as-economist than I would deliver...

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