Despite failing to persuade my Tory fellow villagers
in Cambridgeshire to elect me Labour Councillor
this week, I remain persuaded that the people who
do the hard work deserve more than a derisory
share of money and power. This is one reason I
admire the thought of Karl Marx, born two hundred
years ago today.
Karl’s super-brain developed from infancy, during
his classical education at Trier's Gymnasium, in the shadow
of one of the Roman Empire's most imposing relics. What
the Material Boy found in the Material World just
outside his home at Trier was the very material Black Gate.
|Karl Marx's house is one of those to the left of the Porta Nigra|
On October 1 1819, when Karl was not out of nappies, his father Heinrich
bought the house at Simeongasse 1070 (now Simeonstraße 8). This was at
exactly the time when Rome Two, Roma Secunda, ‘Roman Trier’ was rediscovered.
In 1804, Napoleon had ordered it to be returned, in a symbolic deletion of the
Holy Roman Empire, to its former glory. Its medieval Christian accretions were
removed. The complete Napoleonic transformation of the Rhineland through
bourgeois revolution was achieved in less than the generation immediately
preceding Karl's arrival on the planet. The Porta Nigra was operating during
his childhood as Trier’s Museum of Classical Antiquities.
It is no coincidence that Karl Marx came from a town so intimately associated
with revolutionary change, founded by Augustus, the architect of the Roman
revolution, as Augusta Treverorum, in about 15 BCE. It was later from Trier
that Constantine masterminded the conversion of Europe to Christianity, at
the time when feudalism became the dominant mode of production.
The Ruins of Roman Trier are present in much of Marx's work (as I've discussed
in an article I'll send anyone if they email my two names separated by a dot
@kcl.ac.uk), especially his classic 1852 The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis
"The question to be solved, then, is how it came about
that the popular masses in the Roman Empire so far
preferred this nonsense—preached, into the bargain, by
slaves and oppressed—to all other religions, that the
ambitious Constantine finally saw in the adoption of this
religion of nonsense the best means of exalting
himself to the position of autocrat of the Roman world."
How, he ponders, are people so easily deluded by cynical leaders?
Well, in election weeks that always seems a good question to me.
Post a Comment