Manifesto for Marx 1

March 24, 2006

The fact that Alison Wolf's students are indifferent to Marx's theories (Columnist, March 17) may say less about the theories and more about the times in which her students have grown up. During this time, "anti-ideological" has become a synonym for "anti-intellectual". Since Marx's analysis of the dynamics of capitalism is logically distinct from the histories of self-styled "communist" societies in the 20th century, a ritual dismissal of communist legacies cannot explain why students should be bored by The Communist Manifesto or The German Ideology .

Some of the access students I teach have no difficulty in relating Marx's insights about the links between property and power to their own experiences at work or in the wider community. Is Wolf saying that her students simply learn about public-sector management in a taken-as-given intellectual context, where hierarchical organisations are seen as natural and inevitable? Or is she implying that issues of class, inequality and power are now hopelessly passe and irrelevant?

If so, I suggest that her approach illustrates just how detached some academic social science has become from the real world. Perhaps if her students could be persuaded to look at Marx's ideas in a spirit of critical inquiry they might learn something useful about this world, and also about how to change it.

Tony Dennis Leighton Buzzard

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