Sunday, January 30, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 22 (Karl Marx)

Marx, Karl
The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte


Purchased at Talking Leaves...Book for a a course taught by Samuel R. Delany. I wrote about this before, I believe, but as I recall the course lasted only about five or six weeks. We first read Flaubert's Sentimental Education, then followed by reading The 18th Brumaire, then finished by reading Sentimental Education a second time after we'd had time to digest the Marx.

(If you haven't read them, the connection is that both describe the revolutionary events of 1848 in Paris.)

I remember that this was the book in which Marx made his famous claim that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and the second time as farce. I also remember hearing for the first time the phrase, "Red Diaper Baby," which Delany used to describe himself. He also described himself as an "old fuddyduddy."

from The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honored disguise and this borrowed language.

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