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Tyler Cowen

China Proves Marx Right

But not in the way Beijing might have expected.

Big in Trier. And in China.

Big in Trier. And in China.

Photographer: Harald Tittel/AFP/Getty Images

What would Karl Marx think of contemporary China? China certainly seems to think highly of Marx, holding celebratory events this month for the 200th anniversary of his birth. The government even sent a large statue as a gift to his hometown of Trier, Germany. China is proudly parading Marx and his thought as an alternative to Western liberalism.

I think Marx, if he could be magically reincarnated, would love today’s China but not for the reasons Beijing might appreciate. He would see China as a vindication of his thesis that some form of highly productive but crisis-ridden industrial capitalism is necessary as a way station to socialism.