6 Mar 2011

Das Kapital always gorgeous, funny and fundamental.

Das Kapital always gorgeous, funny and fundamental.

Love seeing this makes me very proud to write for the same newspaper

Your starter for 10.

Which famous treatise on economics dismisses a rival's work as "shit" and details an aristocratic lady's skill at fellatio?

Answer - Karl Marx's Das Kapital.

Introducing the second edition Marx wrote: "No-one can feel the literary shortcomings of Capital more strongly than I myself."

A needless worry - the first had already impressed English and Russian reviewers with his stylistic "peculiar charm" and "unusual liveliness."

Paul Johnson's unremittingly hostile Intellectuals conceded that Marx "made brilliant use of epigrams and aphorisms.

His humour was often biting and savage. Nonetheless his excellent jokes made people laugh."

Prominent cricketer and Trotskyist CLR James remarked: "Now Marx is a very funny man, very comic in a very profound way."

As with Gibbon, many Marxian jests lurk in the twilight world of footnotes, often adorned with Latin from his schooldays.

He was an accomplished classicist and included the two opening jewels: "There now follows the above-quoted shit from Proudhon," and "Lady Orkney's endearing offices are supposed to have been foeda labiorum ministeria," base services performed with the lips.

Blogger Adam Arvidsson has suggested this as the reason for Silvio Berlusconi appointing ex-showgirl Mara Carfagna as minister of equal opportunity.

How Marx would have relished bunga bunga!

The excremental Proudhon remark niftily links with Monty Python's communist quiz sketch in which Karl, having scored well on class struggle and industrial proletariat, is stumped by a question on West Ham United and despairingly ejaculates: "Oh, shit!"

Proudhon on machinery is sarcastically dismissed - "so much for his wonderful idea," and on capitalist production for "attempting to shout his way out of the difficulty with sesquipedalia verba" - long-windedness.


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