1 The Hidden PromiseLiberty Renewed

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

[…] Karl Marx's tomb in Highgate Cemetery is a sorry place. The sculpture of his great bearded head is sometimes soiled with pigeon droppings; the army of celebrated intellectuals and communist dignitaries that used to come to pay its respects to the master has dwindled into a tiny band of eccentrics. In one way, this is a pity. As a prophet of socialism, Marx may be kaput; but as a prophet of “the universal interdependence of nations,” as he called globalization, he can still seem startlingly relevant.

For all his hatred of the Victorian bourgeoisie, Marx could not conceal his admiration for its ability to turn the world into a single marketplace. Some of this admiration was mere schadenfreude, to be sure, born of his belief that in creating a global working class the bourgeoisie was also creating its very own grave diggers; but a surprising amount of this respect was genuine, like a prizefighter's respect for his muscle-bound opponent. In less than a hundred years, Marx argued, the bourgeoisie had “accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts and Gothic cathedrals”; had conducted “expeditions that put in the shade all former exoduses of nations and crusades”; and had “created more massive and more colossal productive forces” than all preceding generations put together. In achieving all this, it had begun to transform an agglomeration of warring nations and petty principalities ...

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