Norm has seen this, and James picked up on it too. If you’re into Marx, or just interested in the state of the world, this essay, by Marshall Berman, is just unmissable. It nails contemporary misunderstandings and perversions of Marxism and class politics in general, and explains why, even after all these years and everything that’s happened, Marx’s writing still draws new generations and still offers beauty and hope. Read it at Dissent:
Marx hates capitalism, but he also thinks it has brought immense real benefits, spiritual as well as material, and he wants the benefits to be spread around and enjoyed by everybody, rather than monopolized by a small ruling class. This is very different from the totalitarian rage that typifies radicals who want to blow it all away. Sometimes, as with Proudhon, it is just modern times they hate: they dream of golden-age peasant villages where everyone was happily in his place (or in her place just behind him). For other radicals, from the author of the Book of Revelation to Thomas Müntzer to Joseph Conrad’s Verloc to the Unabomber, it goes over the edge into something like rage against reality, against human life itself. Apocalyptic rage offers immediate, sensational cheap thrills. Marx’s perspective is more complex and nuanced, and hard to sustain if you’re not grown up. On the other hand, if you are grown up, and attuned to a world full of complexity and ambiguity, Marx may fit you better than you thought.