The many faces of Karl Marx. Prophet, historian, journalist,revolutionary, philosopher and attentive papa. All these faces were his, and one other: the romantic idealist exhorting man to triumph over the things he manufactures…
…Of course “Capital,” was, for all Marx’s attempts to refrain from mere denunciation, the work of an angry moralist who could see in the cold figures “the motley crowd of workers of all ages, and sexes, that press on us more insistently than did the souls of the slain on Ulysses.”
Finally there is prophecy, deduced from a model of capitalist competition and production- intended to show the inevitability of increasingly frequent and disastrous economic crises and the ultimate revolt of the masses. In the Communist Manifesto Marx had called for this revolt and predicted its success. Now in Capital he thought he had demonstrated its inevitability, the result of the self-destructive character of capitalism, doomed to perish by its own inherent contradictions: “The centralization of the means of production and the socialization of labour reach a point where they prove incompatible with their capitalist husk. This bursts asunder. The knell of private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”
Marx thought that his conclusion was the verdict of social and economic science. More evident to us is the face and voice of the angry Hebrew prophet., denouncing the worship of the golden calf and the human sacrifices to a mechanical Moloch and trumpeting the wrath to come in the careless ears of the unrighteous. Capital is a “fetish,” a false god. Marx’s intellectual career comes full circle; the face of the economic theorist melts into that of the young idealist philosopher, to whom the ultimate evil is the subjection of mind and spirit to the domination of brute things.