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9 - Marx

The Meaning of a Farce

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2021

Jonathan Beecher
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Cruz
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Summary

This chapter begins with a discussion of the Hegelian background to Marx’s thought and then attempts to situate him in the radical German emigration in Paris, Brussels and London, between 1843 and 1850. Until the summer of 1850, Marx continued to believe that a working-class uprising in France would provoke a revolutionary upheaval that would engulf Europe. In Class Struggles and The 18th Brumaire, Marx draws lessons for the German working class from the defeats of the French proletariat between 1848 and 1851. He does so by systematically contrasting the world of historical reality, the class struggle, and the realm of shadow and illusion in which historical actors fancy that their speeches and parliamentary manoeuvres make a difference. He explains brilliantly how Louis-Napoleon could have appeared as a saviour to the impoverished small peasantry. What is most striking about these essays is their rhetorical power – the literary skill with which Marx evokes the ghosts and shadows, the dreams, riddles and masquerades that constitute the realm of ideology and illusion. Marx’s essays on 1848–1851 give substance to his theories of ideology and false consciousness and do so in a way that fuses the spellbinding power of the imagery with the spell-banishing power of the historian.

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Chapter
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Writers and Revolution
Intellectuals and the French Revolution of 1848
, pp. 318 - 364
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Marx
  • Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Book: Writers and Revolution
  • Online publication: 11 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108909792.011
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  • Marx
  • Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Book: Writers and Revolution
  • Online publication: 11 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108909792.011
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Marx
  • Jonathan Beecher, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Book: Writers and Revolution
  • Online publication: 11 March 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108909792.011
Available formats
×