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Can you hear Marx tittering in HighgateMarxs RevengeMeghnad DesaiVerso 19 pp383Practical jokes last laughs and vengeance would have been more the sphere of Groucho rather than Karl Marx But Meghnad Desai argues that the great thinkers most prominent legacy was a huge confidence trick Capitalism has now triumphed it is the only game in town statist socialism is dead and yes that is what Marx had said would happen all alongDesai a London School of Economics professor and Labour peer performs conceptual somersaults to pursue this contention Most of the evidence comes from Marxs economic writings ignored by everyone apart from Desai previously the author of a textbook on the subject Marxs Revenge is however far broader than that racing through a history of economic thought which is vital in that it shows what incubates the contemporary consensus in economicsThe key to understanding why Marx is tittering in Highgate Cemetery is the difference between the words Marxian and Marxist The former refers to those who faithfully study all his works specifically his analytical writings about the dynamics of capitalism the latter is the reductive Bolshevism that emerged in the last century shaped by Lenins pamphlet on imperialism and these days incorporating a wide span of belief including the fringes of fascismMarx recognised this trend On hearing of the establishment of a Marxist party in France he famously said Je ne suis pas marxiste But he was subsequently ignored Marxism in the twentieth century became defined by interpretations such as Lenins Imperialism the highest stage of capitalismIn the 1920s Das Kapital dropped off the Marxists must-read list Imperialism became the key text beside the Communist manifesto Almost all debates about Marxian economics particularly on the fall in the rate of profitability over time were ruled out as uninteresting scholasticism The answers were known Marx became a bundle of catechisms writes DesaiMarx developed some pioneering economics He was the first economist to incorporate an explanation of boom
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