How Should We, Reclaim Marx?
Imagine that Karl Marx had sat down in 1847 and written, “A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of democracy.” Would The Communist Manifesto that he published in February 1848 read so very differently from the now classic text that has been said to have changed the world? Recall some of the ringing phrases from Marx's description of the rise of the bourgeoisie and the capitalist world it created. He portrays the bourgeoisie as “revolutionary” because it has “put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations.” It has “stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored,” and “torn away from the family its sentimental veil.” Its great productive force, surpassing the pyramids, aqueducts, and cathedrals, has shown “what man's activity can bring about.” In a famous sentence, Marx sums up his praise for this capitalist revolution: “All fixed, fastfrozen relations … are swept away, all new formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” 1 Granted, this is not a description of democracy that can be found in political science textbooks; it is a tense portrait of social