Ali Alizadeh reviews 'Reading Marx' by Slavoj Žižek, Frank Ruda, and Agon Hamza

Ali Alizadeh reviews 'Reading Marx' by Slavoj Žižek, Frank Ruda, and Agon Hamza

Reading Marx

by Slavoj Žižek, Frank Ruda, and Agon Hamza

Polity Press, $33.95 pb, 175 pp, 9781509521418

According to one of Karl Marx’s most quoted formulations, history always repeats itself twice, first as tragedy, then as farce. One may see the famous – and, of course, infamous – nineteenth-century German radical according to his own schema. We may imagine the severe, thickly bearded founder of dialectical materialism as a modern, tragic reincarnation of the historical figure of the revolutionary: a Dickensian, poverty-stricken exile in place of the rebellious tribunes and slave rebels of ancient Rome. If so, can we not also view the current revival of interest in Marx and his politics as anything other than farcical?

Consider the melodrama around the unveiling of a rather uninspiring statue to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the philosopher’s birth in his native city of Trier, donated by one of the most ruthless capitalist forces in human history, the hilariously titled current ‘Communist Party’ of China. The apparent opposition between the local city authorities’ desperate desire to attract Chinese capital and tourists, and the demonstrations against the raising of the statue (led by a dubious amalgam of fascists and New Ageists) is not dissimilar to an episode of the comedy television show Parks and Recreation. At the time of writing, no Marxist hashtag campaign has either been launched or endorsed by ‘woke’ multibillionaire celebrities, but Teen Vogue’s recent article profiling the ‘anti-capitalist scholar’ alongside the promotion of $850 Crocs slippers is nothing if not farcical.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Ali Alizadeh

Ali Alizadeh

Ali Alizadeh’s books include a forthcoming scholarly monograph on Karl Marx’s philosophy of art, the novel The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc (Giramondo, 2017), the collection of short stories Transactions (UQP, 2013), and the collection of poems Ashes in the Air (2011, UQP). He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University.

By this contributor

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.