My review of Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton ran today at PopMatters.
I wrote this review before Rep. Paul Ryan’s insane budget proposal was announced, or else I would have referenced it. It’s a perfect example of class warfare, lowering the top marginal U.S. tax rate by 10% using “savings” generated by virtually eliminating Medicare, and slashing trillions from Medicaid, food stamps, and Pell Grants—essentially any kind of service that benefits the less fortunate. Nevermind that it seems to be based on completely bogus numbers.
A modern politician who proudly claimed to be a student and follower of Karl Marx would be considered virtually unelectable, and yet politicians like Ryan, who are very vocal about their love of the repugnant Ayn Rand are seen as serious and thoughtful wonks. In Why Marx Was Right, literary critic, Briton, and avowed Marxist Terry Eagleton tries to peel back the misconceptions that obscure Marx and his views, confronting what he believes are the ten most prominent criticisms of Marxism and posing some tough questions about why it is, in many venues, seen as an unbroachable subject. Eagleton doesn’t gloss over the downsides and pitfalls, but he wants people to understand the real limitations of Marxist thought, not the invented ones, knowing that only by creating a firm understanding of the reality of Marx’s views can one begin to espouse the positive aspects of his thought.
Eagleton is witty, incisive, and glib, and does his best to make the subject matter entertaining and readable. Never strident or angry, he presents his case in a casual, unencumbered tone that makes the book an easy read.
If you’re looking for related reading, check out my reviews of the following books:
- The S Word: Socialism by John Nichols
- American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism by H.W. Brands
- Eden on the Charles by Michael Rawson
NB: The following line was excised from the beginning of the second paragraph of my review (with my consent), as my editor and I had different perceptions about its implications. I reproduce it here for the sake of completeness.
Corporations like Bank of America and General Electric reap billion-dollar profits while paying absolutely nothing in federal taxes; meanwhile, leading Republicans in Congress think the most pressing economic issue of the day is that corporate tax rates are too high.