Did Karl Marx Secretly Love Capitalism?

Did Karl Marx, the father of communism, hate capitalism? Why, of course he did. At least, you would certainly think he did. But in a thought-provoking essay, Terry Eagleton, a visiting professor at Lancaster University, in England; the National University of Ireland; and the University of Notre Dame, explains that Marx's view of capitalism was more nuanced than simple hatred. He writes:

This is not to suggest for a moment that Marx considered capitalism as simply a Bad Thing, like admiring Sarah Palin or blowing tobacco smoke in your children's faces. On the contrary, he was extravagant in his praise for the class that created it, a fact that both his critics and his disciples have conveniently suppressed. No other social system in history, he wrote, had proved so revolutionary. In a mere handful of centuries, the capitalist middle classes had erased almost every trace of their feudal foes from the face of the earth. They had piled up cultural and material treasures, invented human rights, emancipated slaves, toppled autocrats, dismantled empires, fought and died for human freedom, and laid the basis for a truly global civilization. No document lavishes such florid compliments on this mighty historical achievement as The Communist Manifesto, not even The Wall Street Journal.

In another amusing section of the essay, Eagleton explains that Marx's goal giving the masses the same option of leisure that the rich have. Socialists detest work, he writes.

Read the entire essay in The Chronicle Review.

(h/t: Ritholtz)

Presented by

Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.

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