June 25, 2005

Radio 4, Philosophy and Marx

BBC Radio 4’s show In Our Time is running a survey aimed at uncovering the nation’s favourite philosopher. The show’s website provides audio clips of various individuals putting forward the case for the various candidates.

Michael Grove of The Times questions the popularity of Marx, the likely winner of this survey and explains the appeal of his philosophy to those who tend to dwell in academia.

A sample –

The author of The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital may be the godfather of more misery, death and criminality than any other figure from the last 200 years. But he speaks, across the decades, and over a mountain of corpses, to an eternal yearning on the part of intellectuals. Marxism appeals to the thwarted dignity of the intellectual, flattering the academically inclined by playing to their sense that the world does not value them as it should.

Karl Marx has the answer to the central question that most troubles contemporary intellectuals. Not, “what is the meaning of life?” but “if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”. For all those who form our intellectual classes, the readers of the New Statesman and the London Review of Books, the lecturers in sociology and cultural studies, the Arts Council England administrators and LEA curriculum advisers, life is plagued with a nagging injustice. They possess what they believe to be superior insights to the majority, a more cultivated mind, a more refined sensibility, a broader intellectual range. And yet they don’t enjoy the worldly success, or esteem, of those coarser souls who devote themselves to the grubby business of commerce and exchange. How can this injustice be explained? There must be something deeply, systemically, wrong with the way society is organised.

Read the full article here.


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Thanks, very interesting.

    Explains a lot about why the Left is so successful in the universities – among students, as well as academics.

    25 Jun 2005, 13:25

  2. Alright, question: is there a Marxist agenda behind some (not all) elements of the generally well-meaning Make Poverty History campaign? Its focus comes across as anti-business in the extreme, and it's much more concerned with the supposed 'redistribution of wealth' than helping Africa to get itself out of poverty. It contains few concrete proposals which will help in the long run.

    I would develop this thought further, but I'm packing at the moment.

    25 Jun 2005, 13:33

  3. It'd be a bit harsh to say there’s a Marxist agenda behind the MPH organisers, but the campaign certainly shares Marxist sentiments. Marx, the main espouser of such sentiments is probably unknown to most celebrities/the general public, who are the main advocates of the campaign.

    25 Jun 2005, 22:34


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