How did one man's critique of capitalism guide the course of modern history?
When he died in 1883, Karl Marx left behind an intellectual legacy of formidable proportions and revolutionary potential, yet one that exerted limited actual political, social, or economic influence. The full force of his ideas did not come into play for another generation, and only after they had been appropriated and applied by some of Marxism's earliest proponents. The history of Marxism, in other words, is the story of those who brought Marx's ideas into play, transforming a sweeping but fractious and occasionally abstruse view of historical and social forces into a coherent plan of action. Christina Morina's illuminating book focuses on the first generation of Marxists who turned the work and ideas of one social theorist, one among many, into one of the most powerful transnational political movements in modern history.
The Invention Of Marxism is therefore a group portrait, featuring such figures as Rosa Luxemburg, Max Adler, Jean Jaurès, Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, and Vladimir Lenin--German, French, Russian, Czech--whose lives became dedicated to interpreting and applying Marxist thought. They were the vehicles by which his ideas were read, debated, and gradually adopted in socialist movements across Europe. Morina's fascinating book therefore reconstructs the beginnings of Marxism through the individual politicization of a group of intellectuals who made it their purpose in life to solve the “social question,” exploring the nexus between their intellectual constructs and social and political reality. The Invention of Marxism shows how what started as a theory of capitalism grew into a fully-fledged political philosophy and platform, one that shaped the century that followed Marx's death. In short, it reveals how an idea first conquered these individuals and then the world.