An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln
Marx did not support the North because he believed that its victory would directly lead to socialism. Rather, he saw in South and North two species of capitalism — one allowing slavery, the other not. The then existing regime of American society and economy embraced the enslavement of four million people whose enforced toil produced the republic’s most valuable export, cotton, as well as much tobacco, sugar, rice, and turpentine. Defeating the slave power was going to be difficult. The wealth and pride of the 300,000 slaveholders (there were actually 395,000 slave owners, according to the 1860 Census, but at the time Marx was writing this had not yet been published) was at stake.
Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution
David Harvey, anthropology professor, geographer and authority on Karl Marx's work Capital, has just published Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. The book addresses the state of inequality in capitalist society, the role of the city as concentration point of struggle around that, and the prospects for a different world.
Aaron Leonard spoke with him recently in his office at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Aaron Leonard: Why do you call the book, Rebel Cities?
Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One
The literary critic and Marxist political theorist, Fredric Jameson, has written Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One, a book that revisits Karl Marx's most important work, Capital.
On one level it may seem odd evaluating a book almost 150 years old. How much relevance and practical applicability could it have to the world we currently inhabit? Yet to overlook Capital -- as is too often the case -- is to miss its searing critique and keen insight.
It's hard to explain to anyone under 30 (who'd have been 8 when the Berlin Wall fell) what the Cold War was like, or even that it happened. Clashes between "communism and freedom," a readiness to incinerate the planet, stalking "subversives." A culture bathed in politics. The Hollywood red scare, the career of Ronald Reagan: from B-actor to president. And spy mania. It seems as remote as the Middle Ages yet many of us were there.
If you want your kids to understand the Middle Ages, you can take them to Medieval Times at the CNE. If you want give them a sense of the Cold War, take them to a council meeting at city hall. Look for Giorgio Mammoliti.
In trying to think what Marx would have made of the world today, we have to begin by stressing that he was not an empiricist. He didn’t think that you could gain access to the truth by gleaning bits of data from experience, ‘data points’ as scientists call them, and then assembling a picture of reality from the fragments you’ve accumulated.
This ain't Oprah's Book Club, comrade.
Book clubs dedicated to the works of Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels and Marxism started springing up all over the world a few years ago, and now Winnipeg has its very own. Each week, the discussion is invigorating as the group tackles another facet of Marxist thought.
Electronic versions of many Marxist texts are available here.