Someone asked Twitter to sum up this documentary in 140 characters or less. I replied with: "Marx had a point about capitalism being unstable and unequal, but the Soviet Union was rubbish, and no-one has any better ideas."
To be honest, after that, there's not much point in trying to write an in-depth analysis (look here if you do want that), because in important ways, BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders refused to fully engage with Marx's body of work, and its relevance to people trying to change modern society. His beard was trimmed to a five o'clock shadow - communism is still not fit for consideration, and his only significance is possibly as a way of understanding the current economic crisis. And as he didn't offer any way out within capitalism, he was just "wrong".
So instead of offering a point by point rebuttal of this televisual mess, here's what I tweeted on the #MarxDoc hashtag as I was watching it:
- "Is Karl Marx tur-hahahaha-ning out to be right?"
- "For Marx, the best argument against capitalism was that was inherently unfair." NO! IT WASN'T! SHUT UP!
- Oh, 1989, I see where you're going with this.
- Oh yes, fall of Berlin Wall happened because whole populations suddenly became bourgeois liberals overnight.
- Er...you know he was more about the Paris Commune than Stalinist planning yeah?
- "Now we still don't care what he said about communism". Don't WE indeed?
- Your Keynesian argument only works in west, where our class won it. Immiseration continued worldwide.
- Marx was born in a place.
- David Harvey better get more than one sentence, or I'll shake my fist.
- "We might see a complex economy, which all of us have a stake in?" Who the fuck are 'we'?
- Marxists "see workers...and bourgeoisie". These things definitely exist.
- Also, programme's emphasis on capitalism "collapsing" removes/ignores agency of working class.
- Nigel Lawson, you can tell me capitalism definitely not "merely a phase" at the end of time.
- FULL FUCKING COMMUNISM
- Oh Jesus Christ, Marx was all about capitalism revolutionising production and distribution. Read the goddamned Manifesto.
- These. People. Have. Not. Read. Any. Marx.
- Oh, so NOW you quote the Manifesto. So what was all that bollocks before?
- "You know there's got to be a downside for the bourgeoisie!" Best TV quote ever!
- But surely, moral questions, this is all so complicated.
- What? Women and children in mines? I had no idea!
- "In his time minimum pay for proles meant maximum profits for bosses." So totally different from now. Because time.
- They're going to say he was wrong because some have iPads now, aren't they?
- "Capitalism got kinder, not nastier." With no pressure from working class then.
- "Marx would have seen Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan as acting purely in the interests of the capitalist bosses." Crazy talk!
- She's not actually challenging Marx, just sounding a bit sarky when she paraphrases him.
- No, it's not down to new technology. Remember Marx talking about industrialisation? Globalisation! Now you have it!
- The credit crunch. "In retrospect, it seems obvious." Predicted it in 2003, thanks, cos I has read Marx.
- "Enough of us have...mobile phones to stave off talk of armed revolt." Someone actually said that.
- People can talk about armed revolt USING mobile phones.
- Marx moved to a house. This was "a remarkably bourgeois life."
- This is the science bit.
- Okay comrades, Peter Hitchens is against overthrowing capitalism. Sorry! Call the whole thing off!
- No Peter, weather has always existed. Capitalism hasn't. And you're meant to be clever!
- What, so we had Stalin because people didn't read The Civil War In France?
- GULAG! WALL!
- We are coming, Nigel Lawson. We are coming.
- Of course, capitalist governments never imprison or torture anyone for years on end.
- "A sea of blood" looks very enticing when I see Peter Hitchens' face.
- The Internationale \m/
- Rahrahrah! I'm Mervyn King and extremely rich but I try to do concerned face!
- After the revolution, we'll show
#MarxDoc in museums to show how complacent the ruling class was even after the Great Crash of 2008.