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Rulers of the world: read Karl Marx!

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A GOOD subtitle for a biography of Karl Marx would be “a study in failure”. Marx claimed that the point of philosophy was not just to understand the world but to improve it. Yet his philosophy changed it largely for the worst: the 40% of humanity who lived under Marxist regimes for much of the 20th century endured famines, gulags and party dictatorships. Marx thought his new dialectical science would allow him to predict the future as well as understand the present. Yet he failed to anticipate two of the biggest developments of the 20th century—the rise of fascism and the welfare state—and wrongly believed communism would take root in the most advanced economies. Today’s only successful self-styled Marxist regime is an enthusiastic practitioner of capitalism (or “socialism with Chinese characteristics”).

Yet for all his oversights, Marx remains a monumental figure. At the 200th anniversary of his birth, which falls on May 5th, interest in him is as lively as ever. Jean-Claude Juncker,…Continue reading

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