The great philosopher and economist didn’t sign up for a creative writing course,when writing the most incisive analysis of the logic of capital, but his prose remains compelling today, as it was, 174 years ago.
Suffice it to say that Karl Marx has to be one of the most polarizing figures in the history of mankind; There are those, who will take umbrage at the mere mention of the towering intellectual, pointing the finger of blame at him for all of the carnage that took place, in the twentieth century — in Chairman Mao’s China and in Stalin’s Russia and there will be millions across the world, lining up to defend their man, absolving him of any responsibility for genocidal fascism and totalitarian communism.
The raison d’etre of this short article, is to take a bit of time to dissect and appreciate the prose of communist manifesto and to a much lesser degree, Das Kapital.
There can be no question that Marx was wrong a few areas, not least on the internationalism of the working classes — this notion was painfully eviscerated in the trenches of Flanders, Dardanelles and elsewhere in western Europe during both wars, when working men of different nationalities, happily slaughtered each other.
But he and his lifelong supporter, friend and benefactor — Friedrich Engels, were absolutely spot on the dynamism of capitalism: the voracious, unrelenting and world-transforming search for profit, which was couched in urgent, passionate and sometimes, inebriating language, in the communist manifesto, which was published in 1847, when Marx was 29 and Engels, 27.
In assuming the role of spokesman for the European communist movement, they came out with a killer prose at the beginning:
A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism
And at the end, their call to action (CTA) which is undoubtedly, one of the most quoted and iconic phrases of all time, they said:
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains, they have a world to win
What must be fully appreciated here is that this book was authored in the 19th century, when industrial capitalism was still in its very early days — long before the hedge fund managers, currency…