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Karl Marx & Jenny Marx

THE MARX PARTY – KARL MARX’S REVOLUTIONARY HOUSEHOLD

Love & Capital: Karl & Jenny Marx & the Birth of a Revolution

By Mary Gabriel,
Little, Brown & Company 2011
707 pages, $39.99

Review by Barry Healy

October 19, 2012 — Green Left Weekly — The spectre of Karl Marx still haunts the capitalist world. Only 11 people attended his funeral in 1883 and the corporate press still loves to dance on his grave, constantly declaring that his ideas are irrelevant. Yet with every economic crisis all eyes return to Marx’s masterpiece, Capital, to understand what is really going on in our economic system.

How did this extraordinary work get produced? What circumstances fed the creative process?

Through Mary Gabriel’s intimate biography we see that hardship ― unrelenting, heartbreaking miserable poverty ― was the physical context. But in greater measure, love and unstinting generosity of the spirit nurtured the flame of creativity and rebellion.

The author of The Communist Manifesto and Capital, Marx was hounded from country to country in Europe before settling in London to further his revolutionary work. With him every inch of the way, physically, intellectually and emotionally was his family.

Few lives have been lived as intensely as that of Karl Marx. And through this book the zeal that his entire family shared is honoured.

His wife Jenny, his collaborator, transcribed his notoriously indecipherable handwriting so that printers could read it. As such, she was fully united with his thought processes and shared his outlook.

As is clear in this book, she was fully as much a revolutionary as her husband, but in no way such a public figure.

However, she was recognised as a lynchpin of the exiles who swirled around their household, an essential part of the underground movement Marx and his key collaborator Frederick Engels were leading.

Their surviving three daughters were also his collaborators, first as his secretaries and then as revolutionary activists in their own right. Also part of the close-knit group were the household maid Helene Demuth (mother of Marx’s illegitimate son, Freddy) and Engels.

It was this household that was the core of the “Marx party” ― the revolutionary grouping that pulled together such a huge circle of revolutionaries that the political police of several countries spied on them ― and was a key origin of the world socialist movement today.

Marx and Engels’ project was to coordinate and lead, as far as possible, the entire revolutionary movement ― first in Europe and later the globe ― and to have Marx’s investigation of the operations of capitalism published.

Both tasks were Herculean and almost beyond the capabilities of human flesh. A well-funded political office could have achieved the first and a placidly tenured academic could have accomplished the second.

Trying to organise a revolutionary centre without resources in the stinking, disease-ridden backstreets of Victorian London was hard enough. But trying to achieve a ground-breaking analysis of the operations of the entire economic system with nothing but a desk and broken chairs was near impossible.

The stress of producing Capital drove Marx to near distraction. He missed deadlines (by decades), and his body rebelled against him. He suffered sleeplessness, headaches, boils all over his body and a persistent liver complaint.

Other political work would loom large and he would gain apparent relief from his research by diving into the political melee.

The force that drove Marx was shared by them all and made for a terribly difficult, poverty-stricken existence. When Capital, volume 1, was finally published, after 20 years in the writing, Marx observed that he had “sacrificed my health, happiness, and family” to complete the book. Among sacrifices shared with Jenny were the death of four children due to poverty.

We are lucky that Marx and just about everyone in his circle were great letter writers. This biography, which focuses on the personal and the familial, would have been impossible without the great trove of letters. As Engels lived mostly in Manchester, daily letters between the two collaborators were necessary.

The Marx family, which essentially included Engels, was characterised by astonishing intellectualism, great playfulness and passion.

It is clear that Marx, for all his public political work, was an introvert. That trait made him prickly and challenging in public but a joy to his family and friends in private. Evenings at the Marx home would be spent with the family performing scenes from Shakespeare’s plays or reciting poetry in various languages.

Marx loved books and found relief from sickness and hardship through such things as teaching himself Danish or studying advanced calculus.

Gabriel pulls no punches about Marx’s personal failings. Marx was quite capable of selfishness and foolishness, not least of which was his fathering of a baby with Helene Demuth while Jenny was in Germany begging money from rich relatives so the family could survive.

Of all of the characters in this epic, Demuth and Freddy are the least developed, which is a great pity, because they were not minor figures. Evidently they wrote less than the others.

Engels looms large as the benefactor who generously opened his purse not only to the Marx family but to other revolutionaries in need.

Gabriel is no Marxist, rather she is a liberal who appears to have been awakened to Marx’s brilliance through researching this book.

She is very good at conveying the physical and political setting of each stage of the Marx family journey and she ably summarises important political texts. That is very useful for situating these writings in their context and makes this book a useful reading guide to Marx’s writings, similar to Alan Brien’s Lenin, The Novel for Lenin’s works.

Gabriel’s political grasp is a bit thin at times. Unaccountably, she underestimates the importance of Marx and Engels’ work in support of the Union forces in the American Civil War. She pictures Marx spending the war reading newspapers in a cafe.

In Marx at the Margins, Kevin Anderson showed that Marx was personally involved in the effective ban on slave cotton that the Manchester workers maintained for the duration of the conflict. That was at the expense of their own livelihood, an outstanding example of working-class solidarity.

Moreover, when the British government tried to enter the war on the side of the south, Marx was responsible for a huge demonstration that stopped the government in its tracks. In that manner, Marx and Engels made no small contribution to the victory over slavery in the US, a world historic event.

To counteract these deficiencies, this book could be read together with Anderson’s book and Karl Marx, Man and Fighter by Boris Nicolaievsky and Otto Maenchen Helfen.

What shines through Gabriel’s book is not just the extraordinary hardships that were endured by the Marx family, but the love shared. This family was committed to a socialist vision and worked tirelessly towards it.

Turning these pages to find out what happened, both the joy and the heartbreak, is very easy. Gabriel draws the reader into their world.

Originally at LINKS: http://links.org.au/node/3067

**END**

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Capitalist Crisis

U.S. MARXIST-HUMANISTS NOVEMBER 2010

FROM U.S. MARXIST-HUMANISTS

(http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/)

NOVEMBER 2010

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES:

1. Kevin Anderson, author of Marx at the Margins,

“French, European Strikes Reveal Mass Discontent… and Its Limits”

The French and European-wide strikes reveal mass discontent, but also illustrate the limitations facing today’s labor and leftist movements. 

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/kevin-anderson-french-european-strikes-reveal-mass-discontent-and-its-limits/

2. Paresh Chattopadhyay, author of The Marxian Concept of Capital and the Soviet Experience,

“Marx Made to Serve Party-State”

[A review of On Socialism: Selections from Writings of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V. I. Lenin, J .V. Stalin, Mao Zedong, edited by Irfan Habib, New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2009]

In critiquing the assumptions of the Indian Marxist historian Irfan Habib’s statist and ultimately market-oriented concept of socialism, Paresh Chattopadhyay elaborates Marx’s concept of socialism as pointing toward a society free of all forms of domination, whether of capital or the state.

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/marx-made-to-serve-party-state-by-paresh-chattopadhyay/

3. Sandra Rein, author of Reading Dunayevskaya (forthcoming)

“Reading Luxemburg Through Dunayevskaya for Today, Theory as Practice”

It is argued that today’s crisis is best confronted through a return to Rosa Luxemburg’s key contributions to Marxist philosophy viewed through the Marxist Humanist lens of Raya Dunayevskaya, with a particular emphasis on the relationship of theory to practice. This chapter originally appeared in Gender Activism: Rosa Luxemburg Annual Seminar, Institute for Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University, South Africa, 2008

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/reading-luxemburg-through-dunayevskaya-for-today-theory-as-practice-by-sandra-rein/

4. Dyne Suh, student activist,

“October 7 Day of Action at University of California”

Protests at University of California, Santa Barbara over soaring costs of an education were part of an international day of action by students around the world.

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/october-7-day-of-action-at-university-of-california-by-dyne-suh/

5. Ba Karang, Africa-Links,

“Rwanda – From the Horrors of Genocide to Democracy?”

Rwanda’s recent election, its turn toward authoritarianism, and the involvement of Western capital are analyzed.

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/rwanda-from-the-horrors-of-genocide-to-democracy/

6. Kamran Afary, author of Performance and Activism, Grassroots Discourse after the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992, and Kevin Anderson, author of Marx at the Margins,

“Los Angeles Protests Against Police Killing Reveal the Real Grassroots”

Protests against the police killing of a day laborer in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles – populated by impoverished Central American immigrants – reveal the real grassroots of US society as it suffers through the Great Recession.

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/los-angeles-protests-against-police-killing-reveal-the-real-grassroots-by-kamran-afary-and-kevin-anderson/

7. Richard Abernethy, Hobgoblin Collective,

“Bangladesh: The People Who Make Your Clothes Demand a Living Wage”

A mass strike of garment workers has exposed poverty wages and attracted international support, but met with severe state repression.

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/articles/bangladesh-the-people-who-make-your-clothes-demand-a-living-wage-by-richard-abernethy/

8. Reviews of Raya Dunayevskaya, The Power of Negativity:

Angelica Nuzzo, Hegel-Studien, Bd. 42 (2007)

Stacey Whittle, “Philosophy on the Barricades, International Socialism (Summer 2010)

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/books/power-of-negativity/

9. Reviews of Kevin Anderson, Marx at the Margins: Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies:

Colin Barker, Socialist Review (July-Aug. 2010)

Nagesh Rao, “When Marx Looked Outside Europe,” International Socialism (Sept.-Oct. 2010)

Barry Healy, “Was Karl Marx ‘Eurocentric?” Links (Oct. 22, 2010)

http://www.usmarxisthumanists.org/books/marx-at-the-margins-on-nationalism-ethnicity-and-non-western-societies/

THE SITE ALSO INCLUDES OTHER ARTICLES FROM THE PAST DECADE BY U. S. MARXIST-HUMANISTS.

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Karl Marx

6th International Marx & Engels Colloquium 

Call for papers 

Center for Marxist Studies (Centro de Estudos Marxistas -Cemarx) at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) 
Campinas (SP), Brazil, November 2009 
 
The Institute of Humanities’ Center for Marxist Studies at the University of Campinas has begun the call for papers for the 6th INTERNATIONAL MARX & ENGELS COLLOQUIM. Papers should be submitted between March 2 and June 15, 2009. 
 
General Information
 
The 6th International Marx & Engels Colloquium accepts two types of papers: those which analyze, critique or develop Marxist theory as their research subject, and papers that utilize the Marxist theoretical framework in empirical or theoretical studies which fit into the event’s Thematic Groups. 
Researchers interested in submitting papers should indicate in which Thematic Group they fit. Occasionally, the Organizing Commission of the 6th International Marx & Engels Colloquium might reallocate papers from one group to another. 
The Colloquium ‘s Thematic Groups are as follows: 
 
TG 1 – The theoretical work of Marx 
A critical examination of the works of Marx and Engels, and the polemical debates these stimulated. 
 
TG 2 – Different Marxisms 
A critical examination of the classic works of Marxism from the 19th and 20th centuries. The different currents of Marxist thought and their transformations. The theoretical work of Brazilian and Latin American Marxists. The question of the renewing and modernizing of Marxism. 
 
TG 3 – Marxism and the humanities 
Examination of the presence of Marxism in Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, History, in the area of International Relations, and Law. Examination of the Marxist critique of the humanities and the contributions of the humanities in the development of Marxism. Polemical theories and Marxist conceptual developments in these areas of study. The presence of Marxism in Brazilian and Latin American universities. 
 
TG 4 – Economics and politics in contemporary capitalism 
The Marxist approach to the economic, political and social transformations in capitalism at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. New patterns of accumulation for capital, new imperialist phase, transformation of the State and capitalist democracy. The position of dominant and dependent countries. Brazil and Latin America.
 
TG 5 – Class relations in contemporary capitalism 
The Marxist approach to the transformations that have occurred within the class structure. Workers, the working class, “the new working class” and “the middle class”. The petite bourgeoisie. Peasants in current capitalism. The debate on the decline of class polarization at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. The working classes and social movements. The new configuration of the bourgeoisie. Social classes in Brazil and Latin America. The Marxist concept of social class and class struggle in contemporary capitalism. 
 
TG 6 – Education, capitalism and socialism 
The relations between the education system and capitalism from a Marxist perspective: the training of the workforce; education and social classes; ideology and the educational process; education policy. Marxist analysis of education in Brazil and Latin America. The cultural apparatuses of capitalism (universities, research centers). The cultural centers created by the socialist movement. Analysis of the educational experiences conducted in societies that emerged from socialist revolutions in the 20 th century. Marxist theory and education. 
 
TG 7 – Culture, capitalism and socialism 
Capitalism and culture production: the new tendencies; plastic arts, literature and the culture industry. Marxist analysis of culture in Brazil and Latin America. Culture and socialism: the culture movements in societies, which emerged from the revolutions of the 20 th century. Marxism and culture production. 
 
TG 8 – Socialism in the 21st century 
Marxist analysis of 20th century revolutions. The communist and socialist heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries and the socialism of the 21st century. Marxism and socialism. The question of the renewing of socialism. The theory of transition to socialism. Workers and socialist transition. Strengths and obstacles for the reconstruction of the socialist movement in the 21st century. 
 
TG 9 – Labor and production in contemporary capitalism 
Social theory, labor and production. Theoretical concepts on production. Process and production: valorization process and labor process. Control and management of labor process. Class struggle in production. Casualization of labor and employment conditions and re-qualification of the workforce. Theories that affirm and reject the centrality of labor. The new forms of labor exploitation: immaterial labor, informal labor, casualized and informational. 
 
Submission of work 
 
Papers should be submitted between March 2 and June 15, 2009. Researchers should fill in the submission form at the Cemarx website
. They should also mail two printed copies of their paper, together with a copy of their submission form, to Cemarx. Participants should indicate on the outside of the envelope: 
a) The Thematic Group (TG) to which their paper is being submitted; 
b) Their full postal address and email. 
 
Requirements for the submission of work:

 

1. Papers 
The paper (in Spanish or Portuguese) should have between fifteen and twenty-four thousand characters (including spaces and footnotes), totaling no more than ten pages in times new roman size 12 font. Papers beyond this limit will not be considered. Included in the paper should be: the name of the event to which the paper is being submitted, a title, the author’s name and position (professor, post-graduate student, independent researcher), and the Thematic Group in which the author would like to participate. The content of the paper should clearly define the subject to be examined, the methodology used in the research, and present its theses and arguments in a way that clearly addresses the debate (theoretical, historiographical or political) within which the paper is inserted. Important! Papers should follow the referencing rules displayed on the Cemarx website. 
 
2. Table discussions 
A table discussion is made up of at least four papers in the ambit of a Thematic Group. A small number of proposals for table discussions will be accepted, privileging submissions by groups or centers of research, as well as scientific and cultural associations. The papers of table discussion participants, formatted in accord with the previous item, should be sent jointly, accompanied with a brief justification for the table discussion. It is the responsibility of the applicant institution to obtain the necessary resources to ensure the participation of table participants. 
 
3. Posters 
The 6th International Marx & Engels Colloquium is open to the participation of undergraduate students, to present papers of scientific initiation or graduation, whose subjects fit in one of the colloquium’s Thematic Groups. 
The research abstract (in Spanish or Portuguese) should have between three to five thousand characters (including spaces and footnotes) in times new roman size 12 font. Included should be: the paper’s title; the author’s name; and the undergraduate course in which he/she is enrolled. The abstract should present the subject of the research, its main ideas and findings. Instructions on poster requirements will be published on the Cemarx website. 
 
Selection announcement 
 
The period for the submission of papers closes on June 15, 2009.

Accepted papers will be posted on the Cemarx’s website – http://www.ifch.unicamp.br/cemarx/ according to the following schedule: 
a) July 30: papers; 
b) August 15: posters. 
The results will be announced four months before the beginning of the event as to allow all participants to ask for grants from financial bodies and universities, as Cemarx cannot finance the attendance of conference participants. 

 
Addresses and contact information
 
Submission of papers: 
Centro de Estudos Marxistas (Cemarx), IFCH-Unicamp 
Caixa Postal 6110 CEP 13083-970 Campinas (SP) Brazil 
(5519) 3521-1639

http://www.ifch.unicamp.br/cemarx/

cemark@unicamp.br

http://www.unicamp.br/unicamp/  

 
Information (from August 1, 2009 ): 
Secretaria de Eventos do IFCH-Unicamp (5519) 3521-1601 /
seceven@unicamp.br

 

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