New York Times celebrates Karl Marx’s birthday: ‘You were right!’

In an op-ed published Monday at the New York Times, Jason Barker, an associate professor of philosophy at Kyung Hee University in South Korea and author of the novel “Marx Returns,” penned a glowing endorsement of Communism and wished Karl Marx a happy birthday.

He began:

On May 5, 1818, in the southern German town of Trier, in the picturesque wine-growing region of the Moselle Valley, Karl Marx was born. At the time Trier was one-tenth the size it is today, with a population of around 12,000. According to one of Marx’s recent biographers, Jürgen Neffe, Trier is one of those towns where “although everyone doesn’t know everyone, many know a lot about many.”

Such provincial constraints were no match for Marx’s boundless intellectual enthusiasm. Rare were the radical thinkers of the major European capitals of his day that he either failed to meet or would fail to break with on theoretical grounds, including his German contemporaries Wilhelm Weitling and Bruno Bauer; the French “bourgeois socialist” Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, as Marx and Friedrich Engels would label him in their “Communist Manifesto”; and the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.

In 1837 Marx reneged on the legal career that his father, himself a lawyer, had mapped out for him and immersed himself instead in the speculative philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel at the University of Berlin. One might say that it was all downhill from there. The deeply conservative Prussian government didn’t take kindly to such revolutionary thinking (Hegel’s philosophy advocated a rational liberal state), and by the start of the next decade Marx’s chosen career path as a university professor had been blocked.

“As we reach the bicentennial of Marx’s birth, what lessons might we draw from his dangerous and delirious philosophical legacy? What precisely is Marx’s lasting contribution?” he asked.

You mean, besides the some 100 million dead as a result of Communism?

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Well, according to Barker, “Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the ‘eternal truths’ of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress.”

“In other words,” Ben Shapiro said at the Daily Wire, “you’re not an individual — you’re a widget created by the system. And enlightenment thought can’t free you from your widget-dom — only destroying the prevailing structure can.”

Wonderful.

And, Shapiro added, citing Barker, “identity politics can be the tool for destroying the system that robs life of meaning…”

We have become used to the go-getting mantra that to effect social change we first have to change ourselves. But enlightened or rational thinking is not enough, since the norms of thinking are already skewed by the structures of male privilege and social hierarchy, even down to the language we use. Changing those norms entails changing the very foundations of society.

This, Shapiro explained, “is where the dead bodies come in. It turns out that human beings aren’t widgets. They do have the capacity to choose, and they do have the ability to reason. And treating everything you don’t like as a symptom of a system of oppression leads you to treat individuals as either tools or obstacles to utopia. Marx knew that and didn’t care. Neither, apparently, does Barker.”

But Barker apparently wants to keep trying:

“Marx, as I have said, does not offer a one-size-fits-all formula for enacting social change. But he does offer a powerful intellectual acid test for that change. On that basis, we are destined to keep citing him and testing his ideas until the kind of society that he struggled to bring about, and that increasing numbers of us now desire, is finally realized.”

Something tells me that’s not going to work out too well…

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