The Prophet Karl Marx

The London Review of Books.” has Terry Eagleton reviewing British historian Eric Hobsbawm’s new book How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism 1840-2011.

Eagleton notes that the book is “… the work of a man [Hobsbawm] who has reached an age at which most of us would be happy to be able to raise ourselves from our armchairs without the aid of three nurses and a hoist, let alone carry out historical research.” ( Hobsbawn was born in 1917 in Alexandria, Egypt.)

Eagleton at least disagreed with Hobsbawn’s assertion that Gramsci “is the most original thinker produced by the West since 1917.” (Eagleton prefers Walter Benjamin.) And there’s the small matter of Marx’s global influence:

‘If one thinker left a major indelible mark on the 20th century,’ Hobsbawm remarks, ‘it was he.’ Seventy years after Marx’s death, for better or for worse, one third of humanity lived under political regimes inspired by his thought. Well over 20 per cent still do. Socialism has been described as the greatest reform movement in human history. Few intellectuals have changed the world in such practical ways. That is usually the preserve of statesmen, scientists and generals, not of philosophers and political theorists. Freud may have changed lives, but hardly governments. ‘The only individually identifiable thinkers who have achieved comparable status,’ Hobsbawm writes, ‘are the founders of the great religions in the past, and with the possible exception of Muhammad none has triumphed on a comparable scale with such rapidity.’

Read the review here.

Comments

comments

Sean Jacobs

Also goes by Hasan Wazan. Life President.

6 Comments
  1. Bastard Karl Marx was crazy. His garbage theory was just junks that fooled a lot of stupid people.

  2. Today we all know that Max's idea was totally unrealistic and many countries had already dumped it in the trash. Socialism was the worst mistake ever in human history.

  3. If Karl Marx was still alive, he would be very shameful because his ridiculously out-of-mind theory had deformed into evil communism.

  4. Marx wasn't only unrealistic. He was downright wrong. If you consider the miasma of intellectual errors that underpinned he theory, it boggles the mind how something could have possible become so popular among "intellectuals". Likely because they're not intellectuals at all, or at the very least, terribly poor ones. Peter Kreeft once joked that the Cold War was a time when there were more Marxists in Russia than in American universities. Western "intellectuals" were obsessed with the theory while populaces under Marxist rule suffered. This kind of obliviousness on the part of the "intellegentsia" cannot help but inspire anger. How arrogant, how cynical and disingenuous, for a group of people who supposedly are supposed to see more not less, to put on the pretense they do, to cavalierly wallow in their delusions, their sophistry, to lead the world into the spew and filth of their shallow intellects and their mediocre consciences. A harrowing of the halls of our universities must happen! If not, our society will be bound to the lunacy flowing from their vapid tongues and acrid pens.

  5. This is an important debate and should not be dominated by people who have a shallow knowledge base or are outrightly bigoted and need somebody to beat on. Go get yourself a drum!

  6. WOW! After a discussion of Eagleton and Hobsbawm, two remarkable and interesting thinkers, one would think comments would be a little above Cold War rhetoric and ignorant, ideologically driven stupidity.

    You would think, after all this time, people would be able to distinguish between Marx the philosopher and Marx the activist. As an activist and as a philosopher Marx, of course, made theoretical and strategic errors. One might even argue that as an activist Marx holds some personally culpability in the creation of Stalinistic Communism. He was, in many ways, an elitist and his historical confrontations with Bakunin demonstrate that he really didn’t understand some of the important implications of what he said and believed. And he let his activist side interfere far too much with his philosophy and economics. However, to fail to understand that Marx has had a monumental influence on philosophy, sociology, and approaches to history, is to demonstrate that you just aren’t paying attention. He was the first important thinker to really link social context with personal behaviours. Marx was, without question, one of the founding thinkers of modern social thought who takes his place with such names as Durkheim, Weber, Hegel, Kant, et al. We are all Marxists because much of the way people think, even rightwingers, is influenced by him.

    If you think that you understand Marx by reading The Communist Manifesto and learning the History of Soviet Communism, go back and study for a few years and don’t embarrass yourself making comments here.

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