Great diagnosis. Pity the prescription was such a disaster.


Phil Gasper wrote:
[log in to unmask]" type="cite"> Marx voted top thinker,6109,1528336,00.html?gusrc=rss
Marx voted top thinker

Charlotte Higgins
Thursday July 14, 2005
In a shock result, Karl Marx has been voted the greatest ever philosopher following a poll by Melvyn Bragg's Radio 4 show In Our Time <>.

In the public's poll, which assessed 20 philosophers, Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, got 27.93% of the 30,000 votes. In second place came David Hume with 12.67%, followed by Ludwig Wittgenstein with 6.8%. Plato trailed in fifth place and Socrates at eighth.

Andrew Chitty, who, at Sussex University, teaches the UK's only MA in Marxist philosophy, said: "This shows that philosophy should take Marxism seriously. It is possible he won because Marxists organised a mass vote; they're much more organised than Hegelians, for instance.
"But I think it's more likely that people understand that in this increasingly capitalist world Marx gives us the best vision with which to understand that world. Marx talks about capital in a philosophical way - he's unique in that.",9115,1528137,00.html


Kapital gain

Karl Marx is now the Home Counties' favourite
Mark Seddon
Thursday July 14, 2005

Karl Marx is the nation's most revered philosopher. No, this isn't old Soviet agitprop, but the result of a Radio 4 listeners' poll organised by the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg for his series In Our Time. The veteran Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, thinks he knows why. His reasoning is as contemporary as Marx's was visionary. "The Communist Manifesto," he says, "contains a stunning prediction of the nature and effects of globalisation."

Taking 28% of the votes cast, the former down-at-heel Victorian gent, who suffered appalling outbreaks of boils, beat the Economist magazine's trumpeted candidate, David Hume, hands down. So with even the communist daily Morning Star keeping tight-lipped, the strange exhumation of Marx can only be attributed to thousands of Radio 4 listeners in the Home Counties. This is clearly a very real middle-class conspiracy, designed to give those ex-Marxists in the cabinet - John Reid and Charles Clarke among them - sleepless nights.

But should we really be so surprised? Marx, now freed from his flawed pupils, is as liberating as he was when he published the Communist Manifesto 150 years ago. Re-visiting Marx's theories on historical and dialectical materialism, it is possible to see a genius at work because, as Bragg would have it, "everything can be explained".

But then, as the self deprecating Marx once argued: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Marx reaches through the centuries not only because he understood how modern capitalism would exacerbate the divide between rich and poor, but because he could see that, left to its own devices, it would create monopoly and exploitation.

He could have left it there, but of course he believed that there had to be an alternative. And in these dumbed down times where Lord Birt's blue-sky thinking and management consultancy gobbledegook has our technocratic political class in a vice-like grip, it is refreshing to discover that thousands of Britons must believe that real change is possible. Amazingly for the slayers of social democracy in New Labour, as many of these people probably live in places like Esher and Surbiton as they do in Oxford and Cambridge.

Market fundamentalism has now replaced Marxism and its many derivatives in the west, as it has done in the east. Elsewhere, nationalism and religious fundamentalism vie to fill a dangerous, illiberal void. It is as if the age of enlightenment, of the Renaissance, had never happened. Marx spawned some horrors, and the flight from him by the political class has been so total that the gentler tradition of democratic socialism has been all but lost.

Marx's mother despaired at the futility of it all. "I wish you could make some capital rather than just writing about it," she once remonstrated. Well, maybe his old bankroller, Friedrich Engels, might have agreed, but Marx has left a rich intellectual inheritance. Before Gordon Brown has another chance to say "No return to boom and bust", I heartily recommend to him a few hours spent perusing Das Kapital.

· Mark Seddon is a member of Labour's national executive committee
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