Tearing Away the Veils: The Communist Manifesto
Source Dave Anderson
Date 11/05/17/19:29
Tearing Away the Veils: The Communist Manifesto
Marshall Berman

The following essay is the introduction to the Penguin
Classics Deluxe Edition of the Communist Manifesto,
published this March.

TODAY, IN the early-twenty-first
century, the Communist Manifesto is far less read than it
once was. It is hard for people who are just growing up to
grasp the way in which, for most of the twentieth century,
Communist governments dominated much of the world. Communist
educational systems were powerful and successful in many
ways. But they were twisted in the way they canonized Marx
and Engels as official patron saints. It is hard for people
who have grown up without patron saints-Americans should not
be too hasty to include themselves-to grasp this idea. But
for decades, all over the world, any candidate for
advancement in a Communist organization was expected to know
certain passages and themes from Marx's writings by heart,
and to quote them fluently. (And expected not to know many
other Marxian ideas: ideas of alienated labor, ideas of
domination by the state, ideas of freedom.)

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the communist
political system came apart remarkably fast. All over
Central and Eastern Europe, Marx and Engels monuments were
torn down. Pictures of people doing this were page-one
material for a while. Some people noted skeptically that
tearing down public monuments requires lots of organization,
and wondered who was doing this organizing. Whatever the
answers, it seems certain that, at the end of the twentieth
century, there were plenty of ex-citizens of Communist
police states who felt that life without Marx was

Ironically, this thrill was shared by people who were most
devoted to Marx. Readers who love writers do not want to see
them erected as Sunday-school sages. They can-I should say
we can-only be thrilled by this loss of sanctity. Marx's
canonization after 1917 by Communist governments was a
disaster. A thinker needs beatification like a hole in the

Intellectuals all over the world have welcomed this
end-of-the-century crash as a fortunate fall. One of my old
bosses at City College, who had grown up under Communist
governments in Eastern Europe, said now that the Wall was
down, I shouldn't be allowed to teach Marx anymore, because
"1989 proves that courses in Marxism are obsolete." I told
him today's Marx, without police states, was a lot more
exciting than yesterday's patron saint. Now we could have
direct access to a thinker who could lead us through the
dynamics and contradictions of capitalist life. He laughed
then. But by the end of the century, it seemed that the
thrill had caught on. John Cassidy, the New Yorker
magazine's financial correspondent, told us in 1997 that
Wall Street itself was full of study groups going through
Marx's writings, trying to grasp and synthesize many of the
ideas that are central to his work: "globalization,
inequality, political corruption, modernization,
impoverishment, technological progress.the enervating nature
of modern existence.." He was "the next great thinker" on
the Street.

We can learn more about these things from the Communist
Manifesto than from any book ever written. Much of its
excitement derives from the idea that an enormous range of
modern phenomena are connected. Sometimes Marx tries to
explain the connections; other times, he just puts some
things close to others, and leaves it for us to work it

What are Marx's connections like? First-and startling when
you're not prepared for it-is praise for capitalism so
extravagant, it skirts the edge of awe. Very early on, in
"Part One: Bourgeois and Proletarians," Marx describes the
processes of material construction that it perpetrates, and
the emotions that go with them. He is distinctive in the way
he connects historical processes and emotions. He highlights
the sense of being caught up in something magical, uncanny:
The bourgeoisie has created more massive and more colossal
productive forces than have all preceding generations
together. Subjection of nature's forces to man, machinery,
application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam
navigation, railways.clearing of whole continents for
cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations
conjured out of he ground-what earlier century had any idea
that such productive powers slumbered in the womb of social

Or, a page before, on an innate dynamism that is spiritual
as well as material:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly
revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby
the relations of production, and with them the whole
relations of society..Constant revolutionizing of
production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social
conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation
distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All
fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient
and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all
new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.
All that is solid melts into air; all that is holy is
profaned; and man is forced to face his real conditions of
life, and his relations with his kind.

This first section of the Manifesto contains many passages
like these, asserted in major chords. Marx's contemporaries
didn't miss them, and some of his fellow radicals, like
Proudhon and Bakunin, saw his appreciation of capitalism as
a betrayal of its victims. This charge is still heard today,
and deserves serious response. Marx hates capitalism, but he
also thinks it has brought immense real benefits, spiritual
as well as material, and he wants the benefits to be spread
around and enjoyed by everybody, rather than monopolized by
a small ruling class. This is very different from the
totalitarian rage that typifies radicals who want to blow it
all away. Sometimes, as with Proudhon, it is just modern
times they hate: they dream of golden-age peasant villages
where everyone was happily in his place (or in her place
just behind him). For other radicals, from the author of the
Book of Revelation to Thomas Müntzer to Joseph Conrad's
Verloc to the Unabomber, it goes over the edge into
something like rage against reality, against human life
itself. Apocalyptic rage offers immediate, sensational cheap
thrills. Marx's perspective is more complex and nuanced, and
hard to sustain if you're not grown up. On the other hand,
if you are grown up, and attuned to a world full of
complexity and ambiguity, Marx may fit you better than you

Marx is not the first communist to admire capitalism for its
creativity. This attitude can be found in some of the great
"utopian socialists" of the generation before him, like
Robert Owen and Saint-Simon and their brilliant followers.
But Marx is the first writer to invent a style that brings
this creativity to light before the early-twentieth century.
(In French, with Baudelaire and Rimbaud, poetic language was
a few decades ahead.) For readers who have grown up on T.S.
Eliot, Ezra Pound, and their successors, it shouldn't be a
problem to see how the Manifesto is a great piece of poetry.
It throws together an enormous range of things and ideas
that no one ever thought to throw together before. If you
can get a feeling for Marx's horizon, it will help to make
the modern world make sense.

We could call the Manifesto's style a kind of expressionist
lyricism. Paragraphs break over us like waves that leave us
shaking from the impact and wet with thought. This prose
evokes breathless momentum, plunging ahead without guides or
maps, breaking boundaries, piling up and layering things,
ideas, experiences. Catalogues play a big role for Marx-as
they do for his contemporaries Dickens and Whitman. Part of
the enchantment of this style is the feeling that the lists
are never exhausted, the catalogue is open to the present
and the future, we are invited to pile on things, ideas, and
experiences of our own, to pile ourselves on if we can find
a way. But the items in the pile often seem to clash, and
sometimes it feels like the whole aggregation could crash.
From paragraph to paragraph, Marx makes readers feel like we
are riding the fastest and grandest nineteenth-century train
through the roughest and most perilous nineteenth-century
terrain, and though we have splendid light, we are pushing
through to where there is no track.

ONE FEATURE of modern capitalism that Marx most admires is
its global horizon and cosmopolitan texture. Many people
today talk about the global economy as if it had only just
come into being. Marx helps us see the ways in which it has
been operating all along.

The need for a constantly expanding market chases the
bourgeois over the whole surface of the globe. It must
nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections

The bourgeoisie, through its exploitation of the world
market, has given a cosmopolitan character to production and
consumption everywhere....All old-established national
industries have been destroyed or are being daily destroyed.
They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction
becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations,
industries whose products are consumed, not only at home,
but in every corner of the globe.

This global spread, Marx believed, offered a spectacular
display of history's ironies. The modern bourgeois were
generally banal in their desires, yet their unremitting
quest for profit forced on them the same insatiable
drive-structure and infinite horizon as any of the great
romantic heroes-as Don Giovanni, as Childe Harold, as
Goethe's Faust. They may think of only one thing, but their
narrow focus opens up the broadest integrations; their
shallow outlook wreaks the most profound transformations;
their peaceful economic activity devastates every human
society like a bomb, from the most primitive tribes to the
mighty USSR. Marx was appalled at the human costs of
capitalist development, but he always believed the world
horizon it created was a great human achievement, on which
socialist and communist movements must build. Remember, the
grand appeal to unite, with which the Manifesto ends, is
addressed to the "workers of all countries."

One of the crucial events of modern times has been the
unfolding of the first-ever world culture. Marx was writing
at an historical moment when mass media were just
developing. Marx worked in the vein of Goethe, who in his
last year, speaking to Eckermann, described it as "world
literature." Writing more than a hundred and fifty years
later, I think it is legitimate to call the new thing "world
culture." Marx shows how this culture evolves spontaneously
from the world market: In place of the old wants, satisfied
by the production of the country, we find new wants
requiring for their satisfaction products of distant lands
and climes. In place of the old local and national
self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction,
universal interdependence of nations. And as in material, so
in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of
individual nations become common property.and from the
numerous national and local literatures, there rises a world

Marx believed that Shakespeare, writing at the very start of
modernity, was the world's first thoroughly modern writer.
As a student, he learned many Shakespearean plays by heart.
He didn't realize, in the 1840s, how deeply involved with
the English language he would become. After the failed 1848
Revolution in Germany, he spent about half his life in exile
in London. He wrote hundreds of articles through the years,
at first translated by Engels but increasingly in English,
especially for the New York Daily Tribune, as "Our European
Correspondent." And he never stopped working on Capital, a
book with footnotes from different languages and cultures on
every page. In London his wife Jenny became a drama critic,
writing for German papers about the London stage. His
daughter Eleanor, the first English translator of Flaubert's
Madame Bovary and of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, and one
of the inventors of "community organizing," remembered
growing up with the whole family on Hampstead Heath on
Sundays, acting Shakespeare out. Meanwhile they were broke,
desperate, evicted from apartments, unable to go out in the
winter because so many of their clothes were in the
pawnshop. But they kept on inventing the world.

Marx's vision of world culture brings together several
complex ideas. First, the expansion of human needs: the
increasingly complex world market at once shapes and expands
everybody's desires. Marx wants us to imagine what it might
mean in food, clothes, religion, love, and in our most
intimate fantasies as well as our public presentations.
Next, the idea of culture as "common property": anything
created by anyone anywhere is open and available to everyone
everywhere. Entrepreneurs publish books (and e-books),
produce plays and concerts, display visual art, and, in
post-Marx centuries, create hardware and software for
movies, radio, TV, and computers, in order to make money.
Still, in this as in other ways, history slips through their
fingers, so that people can possess culture-an idea, a
poetic image, musical sound, Plato, Shakespeare, a Negro
spiritual (his whole family learned them in the 1860s)-even
if they can't own it. If we can think about modern culture
as "common property," and the ways in which popular music,
movies, literature, and TV can all make us feel more at home
in the world, it can help us imagine how people all over the
world could share the world's resources someday.

This is a vision of culture rarely discussed, but it is one
of the most expansive and hopeful things Marx ever wrote. In
the last century or so, the development of movies,
television, video, and computers have created a global
visual language that brings the idea of world culture closer
to home than ever, and the world beat comes through in the
best of our music and books. That's the good news. The bad
news is how sour and bitter most left writing on culture has
become. Sometimes it sounds as if culture were just one more
Department of Exploitation and Oppression, containing
nothing luminous or valuable in itself. At other times, it
sounds as if people's minds were empty vessels with nothing
inside except what Capital put there. Read, or try to read,
a few articles on "hegemonic/counterhegemonic discourse."

BUT IF capitalism is a triumph in so many ways, what's wrong
with it? What makes it worth spending your life as Marx did,
trying to fight it? In the twentieth century, Marxist
movements have concentrated on the argument, made most
elaborately in Capital, that workers in bourgeois society
had been or were being pauperized. There were times and
places (the Great Depression, for instance) where it was
absurd to deny that claim. In other times and places (North
America and Western Europe when I was young), it was pretty
tenuous. Many Marxist economists went through dialectical
gyrations to make the numbers come out. But the problem with
that whole discussion was that it converted questions of
human experience into questions of numbers; it led Marxism
to think and talk exactly like capitalism.

The Manifesto occasionally makes some version of this claim.
But it offers what strikes me as a much more trenchant
indictment, one that holds up even at the top of the
business cycle, when the bourgeoisie and its apologists are
drowning in complacency. That indictment is Marx's vision of
what modern bourgeois society forces people to be: they have
to freeze their feelings for each other to find a place in a
cold world. Bourgeois society "has left no other nexus
between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous
cash payment." It has "drowned every form of sentimental
value in the icy waters of egotistical calculation." It has
"resolved personal worth into exchange-value." It has
collapsed every idea of freedom "into that single,
unconscionable freedom-free trade." It has "torn away from
the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family
relation to a mere money relation." It has "converted the
doctor, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of
science, into its paid wage-laborers." "In one word, for
exploitation veiled by religious and political illusions, it
has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal
exploitation." It forces people to degrade themselves in
order to survive.

Twentieth-century works in Marxist traditions tend to
imagine a bourgeoisie with super-controlling powers:
everything that happens is so the bourgeoisie can
"accumulate more capital." It is worth noticing that Marx's
vision of them is far more volatile. He compares them to a
"sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of
the nether world that he has called up by his spells." Marx
is reminding us of Goethe's Faust, of course, but also of
venerable traditions of magic that were supposed to make the
bearers spectacularly rich. The magic never worked, of
course. What happened instead, Marx said, only "pav[ed] the
way for more expensive and more destructive crises, and
diminish[ed] the means whereby crises are prevented."
Survivors of the fiscal crises of 2008 will remember the
sense of magical power that seduced millions of people into
giving up more than they had. It will be fascinating to see
whether people learn anything from all the weird practices
that names like Madoff came to signify. Marx feared they
wouldn't learn: in modern capitalism, the most sophisticated
minds could be primitivized overnight; people who have the
power to reconstruct the world still seem bound to
deconstruct themselves. Marx was animated by great hopes,
but driven by serious worries.

For more than 150 years, we have seen a huge literature that
attacks the brutality of a class where those who are most
comfortable with brutality are most likely to succeed. But
those same social forces are also pressing on the members of
that immense group that Marx calls "the modern working
class." This class has always been afflicted with a case of
mistaken identity. Many of Marx's readers have always
thought that "working class" meant only men in boots-in
factories, in industry, with blue collars, with calloused
hands, lean and hungry. These readers then note the changing
nature of the workforce: increasingly educated,
white-collar, working in human services (rather than in
growing food or making things), in or near the middle
class-and they infer the Death of the Subject, and conclude
that the working class is disappearing and all hopes for it
are doomed. Marx did not think the working class was
shrinking: in all industrial countries it was already, or in
the process of becoming, "the immense majority." Its
swelling numbers, Marx thought, would enable it to "win the
battle of democracy." The basis for his political arithmetic
was a concept that was both simple and highly inclusive: The
modern working class developed.a class of laborers who live
only so long as they find work, and who find work only so
long as their labor increases capital. These workers, who
must sell themselves piecemeal, are commodities, like every
other article of commerce, and are constantly exposed to all
the vicissitudes of competition and the fluctuations of the

The crucial factor for Marx is not working in a factory, or
working with your hands, or being poor. All these things can
change with fluctuating supplies and demands in technology
and politics. The crucial reality is the need to sell your
labor in order to live, to carve up your personality for
sale, to look at yourself in the mirror and think, "Now what
have I got that I can sell?" and an unending dread and
anxiety that even if you are OK today, you won't find
anybody willing to buy what you have or what you are
tomorrow; that the changing market will declare you (as it
has already declared so many) worthless; that you will find
yourself physically as well as metaphysically out in the
cold. Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman (1949), one
of the great pieces of American writing, brings to life the
consuming dread that may be the condition of most members of
the working class in modern times. Existentialist writing,
which I grew up on half a century ago, dramatizes this
tradition with great depth and beauty; yet its visions tend
to be weirdly unembodied. Its visionaries could learn from
the Manifesto, which gives modern anguish an address.

Marx understands that many people in this class don't know
their address. They wear elegant clothes and return to nice
houses, because there is great demand for their labor right
now, and they are doing well. They may identify happily with
the owners of capital, and have no idea how contingent and
fleeting their benefits are. They may not discover who they
are, and where they belong, until they are laid-off or
fired-or outsourced, or deskilled, or downsized. And other
workers, lacking credentials, not dressed so nicely, may not
get the fact that many who push them around are really in
their class, and, despite their pretentions, share their
vulnerability. How can this reality be put across to people
who don't get it, or can't bear it? The complexity of these
ideas helped to create a new vocation, central to modern
society: the organizer.

One group whose identity as workers was crucial for Marx was
his own class: intellectuals.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation
hitherto honored and looked up to in reverent awe. It has
converted the doctor, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the
man of science, into its paid wage-laborers.

This does not mean that these activities lose meaning or
value. If anything, they become more urgently meaningful.
But the only way people can get the freedom to do what they
can do is by working for capital. Marx himself had to live
this way. Over a forty-year span, he wrote brilliant
journalism. Sometimes he was paid, often not. Marx was
brilliant in figuring out how workers could organize, and
how their capacity to organize could make nineteenth-century
life a great deal more human than it had been in the 1840s,
the days of the Manifesto, when he was just starting out.
But nobody then had figured out how the creators of culture
could organize. When Marx, and every other writer and artist
of those days, went up against capital, he went alone.

In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the scale of
culture has immensely expanded. Intellectuals need to work
for drug companies, movie studios, media conglomerates,
HMOs, boards of education, politicians, and so on, always
using their creative skills to help capital accumulate more
capital. This makes intellectuals subject not only to the
stresses that afflict all modern workers, but to a dread
zone all their own. The more they care about their work and
want it to mean something, the more they will find
themselves in permanent conflict with the keepers of
spreadsheets. In the twentieth century, the creators of
culture started to get it, and to organize. But, as has
happened repeatedly in capitalist history, technology
learned to organize itself on a far vaster scale. In the
twenty-first century, the Internet opened up a whole new
dimension of conflict; publishers, newspapers and magazines
began to collapse. Intellectuals today are forced to fight
what we can see now is going to be a permanent "battle of
democracy": they are fighting to keep culture alive. We
don't know how this struggle is going to turn out. Many
intellectuals have come to see the connections, and to
recognize ourselves as workers-but plenty still don't. Most
of us can think of plenty of things we would much rather do.
Marx argues that unless we learn to organize-and stay
organized-and learn to fight this fight, there is a pretty
good chance that neither we nor anybody else will be able to
do these nice things anymore.

MARX HAD a wide horizon: he could imagine how life would
unfold thousands of miles from anywhere he had ever been.
Living in London, in what was then the most dynamic economy
in the world, he was especially sensitive to the ambiguities
of growth. Over the last twenty years, the word's most
dynamic economy has been China's. A great deal of its power
emanates from a working class with immense energy and yet,
until very recently, total passivity. I spent a perplexing
month in China in 2005. I attended a conference, at Zhejiang
University in Hangzhou. I walked through streets in many
cities, met intellectuals of different ages. My conference
included about thirty Chinese and three Americans; the
Americans were the only ones willing to give the Chinese
Revolution credit for accomplishing anything. Chinese
talking about the country's own history seemed to have
dropped to an America-1950 level. They spoke as if "the
Chinese Communists" were Martians, rather than their own
parents and grandparents and sometimes themselves. I
learned, too, that school and college courses in Western
thought were forbidden to speak Marx's name. I spoke about
his life and work in late-nineteenth-century England, and I
compared England to China today. I talked about the
metamorphoses of the British working class, and argued that
in a dynamic modern society, class passivity was not likely
to last. I argued that a time like now in China was exactly
the kind of moment when the explosive parts of the Manifesto
might be prophetic. Most people I spoke with said China had
no class system, no stratification, so Marx's categories
were meaningless there. A few suggested that no one believed
this, but that today as in the past, Chinese people knew
what they had to say.

Students told me, sadly, that my paper was being left out of
the conference proceedings. Some said they would love to
read Marx if they could. I told them the crucial idea was
that they too were part of the working class, and the
working class had the capacity to organize. I gave them some
titles and websites, and wished them well. Now, in 2010, a
collection has appeared in which not only am I included,
but, more important, Marx is included. I saw this as a sign
that Chinese workers had probably begun to organize and to
act on a large scale. Who knows with what success? But it
may be that another front in "the battle of democracy" has
opened up.

MARX SEES the modern working class as an immense worldwide
community waiting to happen. Such large possibilities give
the history of organizing a permanent gravity and grandeur.
The process of creating unions is not just an item in
interest-group politics, but a vital part of what Lessing
called "The Education of the Human Race." As workers
gradually come to learn who they are, Marx thinks they will
see they need one another in order to be themselves. Workers
will get it eventually, because bourgeois society forces
them to get smart, in order to survive its constant
upheavals. Learning to give yourself to other workers who
may look and sound very different from you, but who turn out
to be like you in depth, delivers the soul from dread and
gives a man or a woman a permanent address in the world.

This is a vital part of the moral vision that underlies the
Manifesto. But there is another moral dimension, asserted in
a different key but humanly just as urgent. Many communist
movements in history, starting with Plato, have aimed at
social orders in which the individual self is crushed by
some form of communal whole. The radical world of the 1840s,
in which Marx grew up, was full of people who thought that
way. His early writing is full of abuse toward what he
called "crude, mindless communism." He always insisted that
communism meant liberation of the self. And this meant the
Revolution of the future will end classes and class
struggle, and will make it possible to enjoy a world where
"the free development of each is the condition for the free
development of all." Marx is imagining communism as a way to
make people happy. The first aspect of happiness, for him,
is "development"-that is, an experience that doesn't simply
repeat itself endlessly, but that goes through endless
phases of change and growth. This form of happiness is
distinctively modern, informed by the incessantly developing
bourgeois economy. But modern bourgeois society forces
people to develop in accord with market demands: what can
sell gets developed; what can't sell gets repressed, or else
never comes to life at all. Against the twisted development
enforced by the market, he fights for "free development," a
mode of development that the self can control.

This insistence on free development, rather than development
enforced by the market, is a theme that Marx shares with the
smartest and noblest liberal of the nineteenth century, John
Stuart Mill. Like Marx, Mill came to see "free development"
as a basic human value. But as he grew older, he became
convinced that the capitalist form of
modernization-featuring cutthroat competition, social
conformity, and cruelty to the losers-blocked its best
potentialities. The world's greatest liberal proclaimed
himself a socialist in his old age.

Ironically, the ground that liberalism and socialism share
might be a problem for both of them. What if Mister Kurtz
isn't dead after all? What if authentically "free
development" brings out horrific depths in human nature?
Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Freud all forced us to face the
horrors. Marx and Mill might both say that until we have
overcome social domination, there is no way to tell how deep
our inner degradation goes. The process of reaching that
point-where Raskolnikovs won't rot on Avenue D, and where
Svidrigailovs won't possess thousands of bodies and
souls-should be enough to give us all steady work. And even
if we do reach that point, and come to see our inner bad
guys will never go away, we will have learned how to
cooperate for our mutual defense. Trotsky in the 1920s came
to believe that psychotherapy was a revolutionary right, to
protect us from ourselves.

I'VE SAVED my favorite Manifesto story for the end. It comes
from Hans Morgenthau, the great theorist of international
relations who came to America as a refugee from the Nazis. I
heard him tell it in the early 1970s, at the City University
of New York. He was reminiscing about his childhood in
Bavaria before the First World War. Morgenthau's father, a
doctor in a working-class neighborhood of the town of Coburg
(mostly miners, he said), had begun to take his son along on
house calls. Many of his patients were dying of TB; a doctor
in those years couldn't do much to save their lives, but
might help them die with dignity. Coburg was a place where
many people who were dying asked to have the Bible buried
with them. But when Morgenthau's father asked his workers
for last requests, many said they wanted to be buried with
the Manifesto instead. They implored the doctor to see that
they got fresh copies of the book, and that priests didn't
sneak in and make last-minute switches. Morgenthau was too
young to "get" the book, he said. But it became his first
political task to make sure that the workers' families
should get it. He wanted to be sure we would get it, too.

The twentieth century ended with the mass destruction of
Marx effigies. It was said to be the "post-modern age": we
weren't supposed to need grand narratives or big ideas.
Twenty years later, we find ourselves in the grip of very
different narratives: stories of a dynamic global society
ever more unified by downsizing and deskilling-real work
disappearing so company stocks can rise, so the rich can get
richer and congratulate themselves on what they have done to
our world. Few of us today share Marx's feeling that a clear
alternative to capitalism is there, right there. But many of
us can embrace, or at least imagine, his radical
perspective, his indignation, his belief that modern men and
women have the capacity to create a better world. All of a
sudden, the iconic may look more convincing than the ironic;
that classic bearded presence, that atheist as biblical
prophet, still has plenty to say. At the dawn of the
twentieth century, there were workers who were ready to die
with the Communist Manifesto. At the dawn of the
twenty-first, there may be even more who are ready to live
with it.

Marshall Berman teaches political theory and urbanism at
CCNY/CUNY. He is the author of, among other books,
Adventures in Marxism.

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