Who’s Karl Marx?

Recently I visited New York – the first time in 15 years – and had the pleasure of sitting next to an American man travelling with me from Beijing to New York (over the north pole). We talked for a little and then he asked me what I do in China.

‘Teach’, I said.

‘But what you teach?’ He asked.

‘Marxism, philosophy and religion’, I said.

‘Marxism? What’s Marxism?’ He said.

‘Karl Marx …’ I said.

‘I’ve never heard of him’.

I sat pondering the long shadow of that alcoholic, Joseph McCarthy.

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8 thoughts on “Who’s Karl Marx?

  1. That sums up America’s (and many western countries) education system perfectly. You don’t mention how old he was, but I know many people in the UK aged into their 50s who have also never heard of Marx.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I wonder what his reaction would have been if you’d substituted “socialism” or “communism” for Marxism. It very much would have depended on his age, I suspect. Of course, every time I visit the US or have sustained dealings with Americans I’m struck by how even highly educated people have very little knowledge of anything outside the US.

      1. Well, there’s no other response to that than to pray for patience from whatever merciful deity might be listening.

  3. I can tell you that Americans are frightfully ignorant and stupid for the most part. The proles are ignorant, but the petty, and not so petty, bourgeoisie are not only ignorant and stupid, but supremely arrogant; they think they know and understand much more than they actually do. They have many, many mistaken ideas about the world and what the hell is going on. They are totally confused and brainwashed to the point of being deranged.

  4. I studied political science at the third biggest Canadian university, including a year of grad school, and never once in that time did I read even a single word by or about Marx. (And then, afterwards, reading Class Struggles in France: 1848-1850, and The 18th Brumaire, blew me away.)

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