Is Marxism Facing a Rebirth?

A bust of Karl Marx in Chemnitz, Germany. (Photo Pin / Holger Wirth)

A bust of Karl Marx in Chemnitz, Germany. (Photo Pin / Holger Wirth)


If you thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of raging capitalism in China, and the slow crumble of Castro's revolution meant the death of Marxism, you thought wrong. Reports of its demise are wildly premature. In fact, its vital signs are stronger than ever, following the financial system's cataclysm of 2008.

Karl Marx's tool kit is newly in vogue: copies of his Das Kapital are reportedly flying off the shelves in Germany. A Japanese cartoon version was a publishing sensation. And a song and dance musical rendition wowed them in Shanghai. Even Pope Benedict had good words for the "intellect and analytical skillls" of the godless Marx, while condemning the world he helped usher in. Just this week, disciples blew out 165 birthday candles for The Communist Manifesto.

The resurging interest in Marxism is hard to gauge, and there are serious limits to nostalgia for old-style communist regimes. But Marxists are feeling vindicated by Karl's long view.

Leo Panitch teaches at York University. He has long believed that Marxism had much more to offer us than the bleak stereotypes that flowed out of the Eastern Bloc. He makes his case in a new book co-authored with Sam Gindin, The Making of Global Capitalism.

And if this is an argument that Professor Panitch has been making for decades, it is a relatively new one for Bhaskar Sunkara, the founding editor of Jacobin magazine, one of the freshest voices of Marxism to appear in a long time. Jacobin was launched in 2010 when Mr. Sunkara was all of 21 years old.

Ursula Huws is professor of labour and global issues at the University of Hertfordshire in England - where The Communist Manifesto was first published. And she is the author of The Making of a Cybertariat: Virtual Work in a Real World.

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