By Howard Zinn
Published by South End Press
Distributed by Pluto Press
Granted his request to return to earth for just one hour, to clear his name and refute the rumour that his ideas are dead, a bureaucratic mix up finds Karl Marx in Soho, New York, instead of Soho, London where he once lived.

This short, one-man play sees Marx alone on stage, with only a table, a chair, books, newspapers and a glass of beer as props, reminiscing about his family life, enthusing about the Paris Commune and reliving an imaginary confrontation with the ‘shaggy anarchist’ Bakunin.

Zinn’s Marx can be humorous one page, and deadly serious the next in vitriolic condemnation of a system he spent his life trying to overthrow.

One moment Marx is recounting his countless journeys home from the British Museum, past open sewers telling how it was “only fitting that the author of Das Kapital should slog through shit while writing the condemnation of the capitalist system.” The next he is grappling on the floor with a drunken Bakunin. Then, just as suddenly, we can hear the bearded man launch a vehement attack upon the notion that the Soviet Union was socialist: “Do they think that a system run by a thug who murdered his fellow revolutionaries is communism? Scheisskopfen…can that be the communism I gave my life for?…[Angry]…Socialism is not supposed to reproduce the stupidities of capitalism!”

For anyone coming into contact with Marx’s ideas for the first time, dreading the thought of long, studious hours in front of volumes of insipid texts on political economy, having only ever heard second-hand and distorted accounts of Marx’s theories, fear not; this is a welcome first point of reference in which Zinn makes his ideas accessible and the man himself , less the spectre that haunted Europe, than some 19th century alternative comedian who just happens to know what capitalism is really all about.

No comments: