Hey, you want a good laugh? Figure out when I started to chortle… at the New York Times.
The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.
Still, it comes as a shock to realize that the ultimate leftist, the father of Communism itself, fits a recognizable pattern.
…Actually, no, it doesn’t come as a shock at all. Marxism is, as I have often noted, intellectualism for stupid people: it attracts third-rate True Believers and second-rate cynical opportunists, both of whom are eager to find an ‘intellectual’ movement that rewards memorization over reason, not to mention basic food production. That Karl Marx himself was just as, as Tim Blair put it, “stinky, broke, and mad” as his ideological great-great-grandchildren is hardly a revelation. The fact, though, that Marx apparently hated Jews just as much as some of the more vocal members of Occupy… no, wait, still not a revelation.
Really, like calls to like.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: On one somewhat delicate matter: if you’re schtupping your family servant (…wait, what*?) and need your best friend to claim paternity of you illegitimate kid, you are pretty much by definition not in a “long, devoted marriage” with the woman that you’re cheating on. At least, I’m pretty sure that the two situations are fundamentally incompatible; I’d check with my wife to confirm, except that a) I already know the answer and b) it would take too long to explain why I’m asking.
PS: I get the general impression from other reviewers that Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life itself is a bit dry, but unlikely to make you want to throw it against the wall.
*Yes, I know how things worked back then. Would that more people did.