The Mainstreaming of Marx
April 12, 2023
If you’re listening to this podcast, it’s unlikely that I need to explain to you who Karl Marx is. You know he’s the author of The Communist Manifesto, and the father of one of the most significant and impactful philosophical and economic theories of the late 19th and the 20th century. It would be fair for you to assume that Marx was always celebrated in the way he was throughout the 20th century, as numerous countries, like the Soviet Union, sought to put his theory into practice.
But a new research paper from Phillip W. Magness and Michael Makovi says that this common, popular understanding of Marx’s significance is wrong. They contend, and seek in the paper to demonstrate empirically, that Marx was largely dismissed as a scholar in his own time, and that he owes is outsized influence today to historical and political events, in particular the success of the Russian Revolution.
Today, Eric Kohn talks with Phil Magness about the findings in his paper, how we should properly understand the influence of Karl Marx, and what it means that his ideas seem to again be ascendent in the modern world.