Karl Marx: Blogger or prophet?

1848 was a very good year for intemperate discourse. And if workers keep getting the shaft, there may be more to come.

By Andrew Leonard

Published November 29, 2007 8:40PM (EST)

To crudely paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, if one blogger starts writing about Karl Marx, the rest of the blogosphere will think he's crazy and ignore him. And if two bloggers do it, they'll think they're both part of the same revolutionary cell and send 'em to Guantánamo. But if three bloggers start blabbing about "Das Kapital" -- well, you're only 47 short of being considered a full-fledged movement.

How the World Works, which always always stands ready to keep Marx alive, will do its part.

Emmanuel Yujuico at International Political Economy Zone got the Blogger International moving on Wednesday with his post Marx, Globalization, and E.U. Labor, which took as its starting point the distressing announcement by the European Commission on Tuesday that workers' share of European gross domestic product has fallen to a 40-year low.

From Bloomberg:

Labor income share of gross domestic product in the European Union fell to 57.8 percent last year, compared with an average of 64.2 percent since 1960, the European Commission in Brussels said in a report today.

From IPE Zone:

Labor's share of income (GDP) in the European Union has fallen to yet another all-time low. If you apply a classic Marxist critique, the inherent contradictions of capitalism are becoming evident: capitalism is such that there is a tendency for the bourgeoisie or capitalist class to accumulate an ever-greater share of the fruits of production at the expense of the proletariat or working class. (The culprit? Technologically-enabled globalization.) However, this system cannot continue indefinitely for there comes a point when exploitation of the working class is such that all the wonderful fruits of capitalism can no longer be purchased by labor since its share of income has diminished so much. Then you get revolution and the eventual dictatorship of the proletariat.

Forget about global warming and peak oil. Now we've really got something to look forward to.

Next up, Mark Thoma's Economist's View, which excerpts a new biography of Marx, and then proceeds to provide endless fodder for amusement by describing the young journalist Marx as an effective blogger, and proving this assertion by linking to a collection of Marx's early outbursts for Neue Rheinische Zeitung in the very busy European year of 1848.

Pure blogger gold is everywhere to be found in this collection -- clearly, the medium is not the message -- it's all about the passion.

On German Professional Baseness:

Cologne, November 29: The lackey nature of German professors finds its ideal surpassed in the learned gentlemen of Berlin and Halle. Such a servile frame of mind would shame a Russian serf. The pious Buddhist who credulously swallows the excrement of his Dalai Lama hears with astonishment about the Berlin and Halle Buddhists whose prostitution before royalty "by the grace of God" seems to him like a fable.

Or this, which must be posted in full: "A Denunciation": (And please, take the time to savor the glory of the first sentence in its run-on entirety.)

Cologne, February 22: In the Oberpostamts-Zeitung, the former editor of which was a paid agent of Guizot and an unpaid agent of Metternich, as is notoriously also the entire Thurn und Taxis postal service -- that crab-sidling system of national carriers which is a burden to German industry and is in conflict with the railways; whose continued existence after the March revolution is almost incomprehensible and whose immediate abolition will be one of the first acts of the German Constituent Assembly shortly to be opened (the assembly in St. Paul's Church was notoriously never a Constituent Assembly) for since Joseph II it has never been anything but a refuge for Austrian spies -- in this imperial organ for denunciation belonging to the ex-Prince of Thurn und Taxis, the responsible editor H. Malten (already recognizably described by the old Rheinische Zeitung) states the following, asserting that it is a reprint of a Paris report from a newspaper which we do not read:

"To the shame of the German name, we have to admit that there are Germans who engage in agitation among us on the most extensive, not to say most shameless scale. There exists here a special Bureau of Reds, by which all inflammatory articles that in any way incite against order in human society are dispatched to the provinces as speedily as possible. It is not enough that Germans participate in this unseemly business on behalf of France; we owe it to them also that a nefarious propaganda is continually spreading its network throughout Germany. From the witches' cauldron of this same revolutionary kitchen the German part of the Rhine valley throughout its entire length is inundated with revolutionary literature about which the Neue Rheinische Zeitung could have a lot to say, if it did not find it fitting to maintain a careful silence on this subject. In Upper Baden, for several months already the lower strata of the people have been subjected to agitation from Paris. That there are connections between the democrats here and the refugees in Switzerland is also a fact."

In reply to this foul denunciation we declare: 1) that we have never concealed our connections with the French, English, Italian, Swiss, Belgian, Polish, American and other democrats, and 2) that we ourselves produce here in Cologne the "revolutionary literature" with which we actually do "inundate the German part of the Rhine valley" (and not it alone!). For that we need no assistance from Paris; for several years we have been accustomed to our Parisian friends receiving more from us than we get from them.

Foul denunciations! The excrement of the Dalai Lama! And people say that the Internet has degraded the quality of human discourse. Clearly, the printing press must shoulder at least some of the blame.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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