Misreading Capital

The makings of Weber, Arendt, and Friedman

in Focaal

Marx has been misread primarily because the politicians who, in his name, powered communist regimes popularized a tendentious interpretation of his works. In particular, they justified authoritarianism and violence by emphasizing the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and the “animal theory of revolution” where the poor get poorer and eventually erupt in a cataclysmic fashion. Instead, if attention had been paid to Marx’s seminal concept—“socially necessary labor”—and his exhortation to win the minds of the working classes by participating in popular movements of the subalterns everywhere, then a new appreciation would emerge of the corpus of Marx’s contributions. As that has not quite happened, scholars like Weber, Arendt, and Friedman have misinterpreted Marx, rather willfully, and shot into prominence with their first book-length publications.

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Focaal

Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology