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Marx and Modernity

On the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth, Professor Shyam Sunder reflects on the continuing relevance of the Communist Manifesto. His Humanities and Management Leadership class examined the text last fall.

Karl Marx was born two centuries ago, on May 5, 1818. He was the principal author of the Communist Manifesto (with Frederick Engels, 1848).There is much in that document that has proved to be wrong, or has become irrelevant today. However, the Manifesto also proposed what was revolutionary at that time. Some of it has become so absorbed that it might be taken for granted in today’s society, and for some of it the debate continues. Look for the following ideas, not necessarily stated in today’s language, and judge for yourself (as did the members of the SOM elective class MGT 889—Humanities and Management Leadership—in fall 2017):

  • Rights of women
  • Community of women
  • Universal suffrage
  • Free public education for all children
  • No child labor
  • Progressive taxation
  • Inheritance/estate tax
  • Retirement income and benefits to workers
  • Social security
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Prison reform.