“Hmm. Turns out Karl Marx was just as smelly and personally useless as his modern-day acolytes!”, Moe Lane quips, adding, “Hey, you want a good laugh? Figure out when I started to chortle… at the New York Times:”
The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.
Still, it comes as a shock to realize that the ultimate leftist, the father of Communism itself, fits a recognizable pattern.
As Tim Blair quips, “Stinky Broke, and Mad” is no way to go through life, son. And yeah, that’s the guy whose ideas you want to run with, to totally upend millennia worth of mankind’s accumulated social and economic wisdom, hit the CTL-ALT-DLT keys on civilization, and completely reboot your nation. What could go wrong?
But I love the notion of someone at the Times writing that the discovery of Marx’s foibles comes as any sort of shock, when Paul Johnson’s book Intellectuals — which devotes one of its chapters to Marx’s pathetic day to day life and places him into a recognizable pattern shared by many on the left — was first published in 1989.
Related: And if that’s how little the Times knows about its own religious forefathers, imagine what else is missing in their collective knowledge of history. Or as Michael Walsh writes, “They say you tend to believe what you read in the newspaper until the story concerns something you actually know about. The Times has just proven to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world that it knows nothing about their religion. Read it on all subjects accordingly.”
Update: From Michael Walsh at the Corner, “The Elephant in the Room in My Pajamas.”