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Karl Marx, the Perennial Prophet

By Pedro Schwartz

Shall we never be rid of Karl Marx? It is not fashionable any more to be a full blown Marxist, but writers, politicians, and popularisers find that showing their sympathy or respect for Marx is a way to proclaim that their heart is on the left side. It does not matter if historians have argued that his analysis of capitalism does not fit the facts and that his predictions of the inevitable evolution of society have been falsified. His theories are re-interpreted, reformulated, and transmogrified, until made immune to counterexample and refutation. The first reason for his perennial presence that springs to mind is that he was a powerful thinker and a masterly writer—when he set aside his Hegelian prose. A deeper reason was that he instilled hope in people dismayed by the disorders of the time by casting socialism into the role of a lay religion, complete with dogmas, heresies, and excommunications. A third reason, which is now seducing some French egalitarians, is the quest to discov...

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