The Marx Renaissance

Karl Marx has returned, if not quite from the grave then from history’s dustbin, as world leaders call for state-compelled credit provision. But, while the “Marxist” revival was probably an inevitable byproduct of the current crisis, its acolytes should reflect on the uniformly disastrous results of centralized credit provision in the past.

PRINCETON – Karl Marx has returned, if not quite from the grave then from history’s dustbin. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück recently said that Marx’s answers “may not be irrelevant” to today’s problems. French President Nicholas Sarkozy allowed himself to be photographed leafing through the pages of Marx’s Das Kapital . A German filmmaker, Alexander Kluge, is promising to turn Das Kapital into a movie.

Few of today’s new “Marxists” want to spell out the attractions of a man who wanted to unite German philosophy (building on Hegel) with British political economy (carrying on from David Ricardo), and thereby turn two rather conservative traditions into a theory of radical revolution.

Marx was certainly a perceptive analyst of the nineteenth century’s version of globalization. In 1848, in The Communist Manifesto , he wrote: “In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations.”

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