Book Review : Why Read Marx Today?

759 Words Oct 19th, 2015 4 Pages
Book Review: Why Read Marx Today?
(Jonathan Wolff; Oxford University Press; 2002)

In this book, Wolff (UCL professor, philosopher, and columnist for the Guardian) tackles the immense task of analysing the validity and modern significance of Karl Marx and his teachings. As Wolff quickly points out in his introductory paragraphs, surely the fall of the Berlin Wall - along with the collapse of the so-called “‘Evil Empire’” (1) (the Soviet Union) - should have rendered the Marxist theorists beaten and humiliated, their ideologies proven wrong and obsolete. Yet, despite this, Wolff emphasises that Marx’s criticisms of late nineteenth-century economics and society still “have enormous relevance even in the twenty-first century” (3).

Regardless of what his character may have been like, Marx is the thinker at the very forefront of the critique of capitalism. Indeed, it could even be argued that communist and Marxist movements are becoming more popular of late, triggered by the recent credit crunch crisis, and the drastic austerity measures taken by Western countries in order to save themselves from the crippling debt accumulated in the last few decades. These significant issues within modern capitalist societies highlight the relevance of Marx’s discussion.

Wolff begins his analysis of Marx with a brief, yet evaluative summary of Marx’s life, which, according to Wolff, “revolved around his scholarly work, and his involvement with political intrigue” (7). Here, Wolff is…

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