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The End of Idiocy on a Planetary Scale

Stephen Holmes: ‘The Communist Manifesto’, 29 October 1998

The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition 
by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Verso, 82 pp., £8, April 1998, 1 85984 898 2
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... he misleadingly presented as a portrait of his own times. In Hobsbawm’s words: ‘Marx and Engels did not describe the world as it had already been transformed by capitalism in 1848; they predicted how it was logically destined to be transformed by it.’ What exactly is the ‘universal interdependence of nations’ that Marx allegedly ...

‘Famous for its Sausages’

David Blackbourn, 2 January 1997

The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 190 pp., £22.50, July 1995, 0 19 509499 9
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... Poor in deeds and rich in thoughts’ – that was Friedrich Hölderlin’s lament about his fellow Germans two hundred years ago. In one form or another the idea became familiar. Germany in the 19th century acquired a reputation as the land of poets and thinkers (the phrase was coined by Jean Paul), something that foreign observers viewed with a mixture of condescension and respect ...

In the Twilight Zone

Terry Eagleton, 12 May 1994

The Frankfurt School 
by Rolf Wiggershaus, translated by Michael Robertson.
Polity, 787 pp., £45, January 1994, 0 7456 0534 6
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... from capitalism to socialism as a scientific certainty, and worked closely with the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow on the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe. Under his aegis, the Institute amassed a unique archive of labour and socialist history, and produced two classics of Marxist economic analysis: Henryk Grossmann’s ...

Was she Julia?

Stephen Spender, 7 July 1983

Code Name ‘Mary’: Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground 
by Muriel Gardiner.
Yale, 200 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 300 02940 3
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... lecture or other.’ It was at the age of 15 that he read a book – the first in his life. It was Friedrich Engels’s The Origins of the Family, of Private Property and the State. Joe’s self-education raised him from his peasant origins to a sense of himself as an intellectually aware member of the industrial proletariat. Muriel’s education was a ...
Stalin’s Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring 
by Robert Whymant.
Tauris, 368 pp., £25, October 1996, 1 86064 044 3
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... than Philby’s: while his father was a staunch subject of the Kaiser, his paternal great-uncle, Friedrich Adolf Sorge, knew Marx and Engels, and had served as Secretary-General of the First International when it moved to New York in the 1870s. Both Sorge and Philby enjoyed privileged educations which turned them, at least ...

Libel on the Human Race

Steven Shapin: Malthus, 5 June 2014

Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet 
by Robert Mayhew.
Harvard, 284 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 0 674 72871 4
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... one another.’ Secular socialists remarkably accused Malthus of immorality as well as error: Engels condemned his work as a ‘repulsive blasphemy against man and nature’; Marx accounted it ‘a sin against science’ and a ‘libel on the human race’ – little more than an apology by a ‘parson of the English State Church’ for his own class ...

Dancing in the Service of Thought

Jonathan Rée: Kierkegaard, 4 August 2005

Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography 
by Joakim Garff, translated by Bruce Kirmmse.
Princeton, 867 pp., £22.95, January 2005, 9780691091655
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... examination in a book of this length. Garff dutifully mentions Kierkegaard’s disappointment with Friedrich Schelling’s lectures in 1841, but does not go into detail beyond recycling the story that Marx was in the audience as well. (Engels was certainly there, but Marx, as it happens, was not.) Nor does he make anything ...

Adulation or Eggs

Susan Eilenberg: At home with the Carlyles, 7 October 2004

Thomas and Jane Carlyle: Portrait of a Marriage 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Pimlico, 560 pp., £15, February 2003, 0 7126 6634 6
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... and Hero Worship and Past and Present (its condemnation of the modern cash nexus eagerly read by Engels and taken up by Marx), and produced an annotated edition of Cromwell’s letters and speeches that redeemed Cromwell’s reputation. By middle age the vigour of his early style and the optimism of his early tone had largely given way to vitriol and ...

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