Although published in 2018, Teen Vogue recently re-shared an article that praised the legacy of philosopher Karl Marx on its Twitter account.
Written by Adryan Corcione, this piece discussed the relevance of Marx’s ideas and what they “can still teach us about the past and present.”
Corcione praised The Communist Manifesto, describing it as “a piece of writing that makes the case for the political theory of socialism — where the community (rather than rich people) have ownership and control over their labor — which later inspired millions of people to resist oppressive political leaders and spark political revolutions all over the world.”
Teen Vogue talked with two educators and learned how they use Marx’s teaching in the classroom.
In the first case, Mark Brunt draws from passages in The Communist Manifesto and fuses it with his teaching material on the industrial revolution to get his Marxist message across during the English class he teachers.
Brunt uses The Jungle—a book “that revealed the exploitative workplace conditions of the meat industry in Chicago and other industrialized cities many immigrants were subject to in the late 19th century— to given his students an idea of what it was like to work under so-called “capitalist exploitation.”
The English teacher contends that factory workers “did all of the leg work”, which consisted of “slaughtering animals and packaging meat on top of working long days with little, if any, time off” just to “keep the factories intact.”
Teen Vogue tied this class struggle dynamic with the present-day conflict “between state governments and striking teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona, demanding higher pay and more public school funding.”
On the other hand, George Ciccariello-Maher, a former Drexel University professor, conveys his history lessons in a way that get his students to imagine “society without capitalism, reminding them that different — though still imperfect and flawed — economic systems existed before, such as feudalism.”
Ciccariello-Maher explained this to Teen Vogue:
“When I teach Marx, it’s got a lot to do with questions of how to think critically about history. Marx says we live under capitalism [but] capitalism has not always existed.”
The former professor concluded, “It’s something that came into being and something that, as a result, just on a logical level, could disappear, could be overthrown, could be abolished, could be irrelevant. There’s this myth of the free market, but Marx shows very clearly that capitalism emerged through a state of violence.”
The Teen Vogue article ended on the following note:
“While you may not necessarily identify as a Marxist, socialist, or communist, you can still use Karl Marx’s ideas to use history and class struggles to better understand how the current sociopolitical climate in America came to be. Instead of looking at President Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 as a snapshot, we can turn to the bigger picture of what previous events lead us up to the current moment.”
What this piece illustrates is that Marxist ideas are still relevant, but the modern-day Left in developed countries has effectively pivoted in its strategy. Although there are still countries like Venezuela who embody the classical Marxist garrison state, Western leftists have become more creative in their tactics. What would have been anathema to past generations of leftists, they are now pressuring corporations to push identity politics and virtue signaling about the latest politically correct trend. They have now opened up a new battlefield that most people are still having trouble adjusting to.
The identity politics paradigm we live in is “culturally” Marxist, where historically oppressed groups—women, minorities, and the LGBT community—suffer at the hands of so-called “white privilege.” These allegedly “disadvantaged” groups will then rally against the boogieman of white privilege.
This is different from the socioeconomic focus of traditional Marxism. Nevertheless, it shares a toxic disregard for individualism and focuses on group conflict i.e Bourgeois vs. Proletarian or “oppressed minorities” vs. white privilege.
This runs contrary to what made societies like America great. Marx’s strategies and overall blueprints may not be faithfully being followed, but his ugly legacy of collectivism continues to haunt political corridors worldwide.