Much the same goes for ethnic matters. In the 1920s and 30s, practically the only men and women to be found preaching racial equality were communists. Most anticolonial movements were inspired by Marxism. The antisocialist thinker Ludwig von Mises described socialism as "the most powerful reform movement that history has ever known, the first ideological trend not limited to a section of mankind but supported by people of all races, nations, religions, and civilizations." Marx, who knew his history rather better, might have reminded von Mises of Christianity, but the point remains forceful. As for the environment, Marx astonishingly prefigured our own Green politics. Nature, and the need to regard it as an ally rather than an antagonist, was one of his constant preoccupations.
- from In Praise of Marx by Terry Eagleton in The Chronicle Review.
The article is a bit Pollyanna but who doesn't take their intellectual porn in the morning? Green politics is so often infected by bourgeois liberalism (the idea that Greening the economy is actually Green and the economic forces behind that idea, and the promotion of Green entrepreneurship, etc.), but hey, if Eagleton is suggesting that the only possible means of arriving at anything akin to an actual Green economy is the destruction of the bourgeoisie, then, yeah, I'd agree.
Thinking of how Marx knew his history "better" got me to thinking about how Marx knew his literature "better." For those of you interested in the question of Marx's literary prowess, don't forget that Verso is reprinting Karl Marx and World Literature by S.S. Prawer which is due out this July. Francis Wheen in his little book on Capital notes Marx's literary mind and literary eccentricities, and I think this quality of Marx is too often ignored when considering the man's work. There is something of a quixotic irony in many of Marx's near ubiquitous literary references. Where you might expect macabre in Marx's literary references you often find a light comedic spriteliness, and vice versa. But more of that later, when I actually have time to blog...