Review: Desai’s Marx’s Revenge

Marx’s Revenge: The Resurgence of Capitalism and the Death of Statist Socialism

Meghnad Desai

I’m genuinely surprised I don’t hear this book talked about more.

On a macro level, Marx’s Revenge makes the argument that Marx would have welcomed globalization (the left’s boogie man of the day in 2004 when this came out) as the evitable next step in capitalism. This is a thought provoking idea, but looking back now, more than ten years after I read this, it isn’t what sticks out with me. What I remember is that this was also a surprisingly good introduction to the world of classic economics (Smith, Ricardo, and Keynes) and continental thought (Hegel).

I read this at age 29, having just started an undergraduate course of study in economics and philosophy. I found Desai’s explanations of Hegel, Smith, and Ricardo, and how they influenced Marx to be extremely helpful. Concise enough to be approachable to the general reader, but serious enough to really help me understand the issues at play. I was taking David Harvey’s Capital class when I read this, and my god was this a helpful tool in my quest to keep up with the much greater knowledge of grad students sitting around me.

I really enjoyed this when it came out and even pressed it into the hands of a few friends. I wonder what the much more pro-market 2016 version of myself would think of it today. My guess is the history would stand up — the theory, perhaps not so much.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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