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[Opinion] The Rebirth of Marx

Posted April. 11, 2007 07:57,   


Karl Marx died on March 14 in 1883. He would be 189 by now if he had not been dead. What kind of a diary would he write as a homeless person if he were reincarnated as such?

An Austrian novelist with the same name wrote a detective novel titled “Capital Offence” (Das Kapitalverbrechen) in 2003 based on such an imaginary diary. In the novel, there is a sentence that shows self-regrets of Marx: “I could have been a deity, but I failed to do so as I put my foot in my mouth by saying, ‘A communist revolution will bring about Heaven.’” It is an admission of the blunder of his historical viewpoint of prophesy and economic determinism which used to be dubbed as “scientific truths.”

Nevertheless, a survey by BBC Radio asking for “the greatest philosopher in the history of mankind” targeting its listeners two years ago revealed that Karl Marx ranked first with 27.9 percent of votes, followed by Hume (12.7 percent), Wittgenstein (6.8 percent) and Nietzsche (6.5 percent). Progressive leftists were encouraged by the result, saying, “It proves that despite the collapse of communism, the theory of Marxism is still valid when describing capitalism and globalization.”

Recently, the United Kingdom`s Ministry of Defence released a report on “the environmental outlook for future strategies,” predicting the future 30 years from now. It also forecast the possibility of revival of Marxism. The logic goes, “A bigger economic gap between the super-rich and the middle class could lead to solidarity between the middle class and the urban poor, who will then play a dominant role in a class revolution.” It implies that amid moral relativism and practical values gaining force, people tend to fall into dogmatic doctrines like Marxism. It is an opposing view against the logic of Francis Fukuyama who says, “The war of ideologies has ended.”

Openness is an inevitable choice, but one needs to prepare for the “shadows” of bipolarization resulting from globalization. The gap between rich and poor getting more severe due to the “winner-takes-it-all” mechanism has become a serious issue in many countries. The bottom line is that Korea has leftists who tilt toward “extreme nationalism,” ignoring the essence of “Marx’s concerns.” I believe that if Marx came to Korea today, he would criticize the leftists in Korea “distorting his intentions” who are busy kowtowing to North Korea.

Lee Dong-kwan, Editorial Writer, dklee@donga.com