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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (To Escape the Bourgeois Middle-Class Struggle.)

by Barrie Hardymon
Nov 28, 2007

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Barrie Hardymon

There's a reason Alex P. Keaton is a fictional character — it's virtually impossible not to be swayed at some point by Marxism, or some version of it. Even if you aren't tempted by the intellectual framework itself, there's all of the permutations of it — Lenin, Trotsky, Mao — the list marches on. It's almost a cliche — Marxist loses faith, abandons the revolution, and shelves her copy of Das Kapital. You would be forgiven if you were stifling a yawn at this well-trod tale of de-radicalization. (I remember a time when the phrase "materialist feminism" regularly escaped my lips. Go ahead, roll your eyes.) Even Ayn Rand — the consummate capitalist philosopher (educated at the University of Leningrad) — would have had to read Marx on dialectical materialism at some point in her career. Who knows if she fell for Marx briefly — on her way to Howard Roark?* If you still yearn for revolution, or you curse the revolutions he wrought, there's no denying that Marx changed the world. And whether or not you've read Das Kapital or merely quoted it, today we'll give you the cheat sheet — with author, satirist, and Marx biographer Francis Wheen. We don't care whether you're bourgeoisie or proletariat: let's get radical.

*If only Marx would have had the sense to have wrapped his theory in a romance novel, it probably would have caught on even quicker. As it is, the most interesting character in Das Kapital is... um... the commodity?

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