Adrift in Eminent Domain

I begin with a flourish of disclosure, which gives me great pleasure as a gesture of wistful recollection.  Professor Baldwin was my roommate at university, occupying the bunk above mine.  The wall space over that prisonlike fixture of canvas ticking and rude ironmongery was decorated with an enormous portrait of Karl Marx that would not have looked out of scale over the desk of a Soviet collective farm chairman.  Either my neighbor’s Marxism was a playful sham, designed solely to get my goat, or else it has greatly abated since our college days, because in this, his latest book, I find no evidence of subversion beyond the modicum required for the writing of intelligent prose.

There is yet another possible explanation, which is that my own attitude to Marx has changed in the intervening twoscore years.  The epoch’s geomagnetic reversals have stripped the core of Marx’s delusions and insights of the propaganda varnishes and glues of Soviet totalitarianism, which had only slightly more historical or intellectual justification for using his face and name on its credal symbols than it might have had for using Feuerbach or Ricardo, or for that matter Zoroaster or Buddha.  The remaining kernel is still something of a hard nut, but I wonder whether much of our residual hostility to old Karl does not come from a perfectly natural desire to shoot the messenger.  However avidly he fantasized about...

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