1 - Science, technology, and Marx
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 November 2011
Beginning on a note of fancy, suppose you were born in Europe 100 years ago, in 1877, and subsequently moved in the radical circles of your time. Das Kapital would have been published 10 years earlier and would have sold only 1,000 copies by the time of your birth. Marx and Engels would still be alive. And the 1848 revolutions would still be in peoples' minds, having occurred 29 years earlier. As you grew up, you would no doubt have heard of them, despairingly, from those who had directly experienced and survived the triumph of the bourgeoisie. The slaughter of the 1871 Paris Commune, having taken place only 6 years before your birth, would have been, during your youth, a vivid topic of conversation and recrimination in all radical circles – Marxian and anarchist.
Although you would have been six years old when Marx died, and eighteen at the death of Engels, good old Wilhelm Liebknecht would be around to tell you, at first hand, what Marx and Engels were really like. And floating in the air would be the competing ideas of Proudhon, Blanqui, Fourier, Lassalle – and Bakunin, who would be handing out membership cards freely to imaginary revolutionary societies with the sinister Nechaev lurking in the shadows.
During all this time, capitalism would have been growing by leaps and bounds, simultaneously providing, for the convinced, evidence of the prophetic genius of Marx and grist for the disemboweling revisionism of Eduard Bernstein.
- Capitalism and Catastrophe , pp. 3 - 16Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 1979