Marxism is a term that many people freely use, but few seem to grasp its implications. Sowell's book is the antidote to this problem. He writes in a fluid and easy-to-follow manner, leading the listener through the Marxian scheme of ideas. Along the way, he shatters some existing interpretations of Marx-interpretations that have developed through repetition rather than through scholarship.
©1985 Thomas Sowell (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I read this book primarily as a way to understand my "lefty" friends and maybe gain some perspective as to why the Marxist ideology is attractive. I wanted to feel the pull towards this ideology but with the context that can be supplied by a critical author. Maybe I really need to expose myself to some hardcore Marxist writings, or maybe I'm just too incompatible with this line of thought. A decent enough book, but I never really felt like I couldn't put it down nor did it ever express its ideas in a way that led me to think.
Sowell's book is, without doubt, one of the most comprehensive studies on Marxism, based on years of research into Marx and Engels' works. It is specifically remarkable for reading through most of the first hand works by the two intellectuals, instead of founding its arguments on mere conceptions and articulations (as done by many), and giving a comprehensive and coherent vision of Marxism. Quite importantly, this vision is based on the philosophical and intellectual framework conceived by Marx and Engels and the historical context of the time, rather than using contemporary definitions and terms to illustrate an idea (and a philosophy) that was proposed one and a half centuries ago.
However, it is not written as fluently as it claims. Somewhere in the middle, I decided to acquire the book itself, to be able to go back and read some of the sentences several times. The narration does not make things easier, partly because of the nature of the book, and Marxism in general, partly because of the writing style of Sowell, and partly because of the narration itself. E.g. book is full of quotations, and, at times, it is hard to follow when a quotation starts and when it ends. Or, when a footnote ends. Writing style is full of long but complicated sentences, and Louis does not make them easy to follow!
In sum, if you are an economist, or someone interested in the history of economic though (or the idea of liberty in general), this is a must read for you. But, be prepared for a hard read!
Maybe a bit partisan (libertarian?) but clever and thoroughly done
Wish there was an update -- 30 years is a lot of time in world economic history since publication.
Not much about the book, though it's very intricate to listen to the material. I think too much of the special Marx/Engels/Hegel jargon made it a difficult listen while driving.
Yes, always pleased with Sowell's books.
The places where the audio was re-read really stood out and were sometimes distracting
None -- don't like abridged works.
Having read several of Thomas Sowell's books already, I was expecting the entire book to be one giant refutation of Marxism. However, only the last chapter is a critique of the Marxian framework. The entire book before then was explaining all the intricacies and nuances of the system of thought co-developed by Marx & Engels.
The final two chapters, on Marx's acrimonious life and on the legacy of his teachings, remain thought-provoking. But the previous sections bog down into the expected if unfortunate economic analysis that, devoid of personal verve, plod on rather than sparkle.
It's dated, from the later 1980s. After the fall of the USSR, the capitalist move in China, and even the thaw with Cuba, the critiques of state-sponsored socialism as communism need revision. The best parts of this are the look at how Marxism failed on a practical basis.
Plain, unadorned, recitative.
It reminded me of the approach in Jonathan Sperber's recent Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life, from the newly opened MEGA Soviet archives, which confirmed much of Thomas Sowell's jaundiced view about the backward rather than forward-looking nature of much of Marx's theories, and of his dependence on Engels and benefactors for his keep.
Sowell's suggestion that capitalism is really 75% Laborism, his critique that Marxism fails to account for risk, his dissection of the communist bureaucracy as no better than that in a capitalist system, and his disdain for those who promote an ideology at odds with proven economic results are all worthy of debate by any open-minded reader.
It is thoroughly researched and described without EGO.
Finding out that Karl Marx had to be coaxed (and paid quite a bit) to write Das Kapital, especially the last 2 volumes by Engler. Karl Marx had one job (short lived) as a bicycle messenger...didn't really participate in the system he claimed to understand so well that he could comment on it in 1,000 pages.
A little more energetic.
Karl Marx was paid and coaxed to write Kapital by Engler...
It's interesting that no study of human behavior was done to understand how to best govern, motivate and regulate humans.
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