As I’m sure you know from all the documentaries, newspaper articles and insightful analysis (sarcastic? me?), today it is one hundred and twenty five years since Karl Marx angrily uttered perhaps the greatest ‘famous last words’ of all time. Thanks to Marx and Coca-Cola for reminding me.
It is only about eight and half trips round the sun since I read The Communist Manifesto for the first time, and opened my eyes to the world of Marx. Or rather, to the world, because they are one and the same thing. He says all this complicated stuff, but it’s actually really simple. In a sane, communist, society it would surely be ‘common sense’, but in this profit-driven one we are taught a ridiculous array of myths and legends before we can even raise a voice to object. I read Marx and Marxists a lot, but my understanding of Marxism is deepened every day, by every single interaction I see or take part in.
Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means, and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during a given epoch, form the foundation upon which the state institutions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on religion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.
He’s a century and a quarter dead. He’s trees, he’s grass, he’s flowers. But he gave us the keys to the universe, so rattle your chains in his memory anyway. You have nothing to lose…