Unchained Melancholy

Unchained Melancholy

A review of The Communist Manifesto.

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The best story I’ve ever heard about The Communist Manifesto came from Hans Morgenthau, the great theorist of international relations who died in 1980. It was the early seventies at CUNY, and he was reminiscing about his childhood in Bavaria before World War I. Morgenthau’s father, a doctor in a working-class neighborhood of Coburg, often took his son along on house calls. Many of his patients were dying of TB; a doctor could do nothing to save their lives, but might help them die with dignity. When his father asked about last requests, many workers said they wanted to have the Manifesto buried with them when they died. They implored the doctor to see that the priest didn’t sneak in and plant the Bible on them instead.
—Marshall Berman, “Unchained Melancholy,” a review of The Communist Manifesto.

Marshall Berman, one of the most inventive Marxist intellectuals of the past half-century and the author of the masterful All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, passed away this week at the age of 72. Read the full text of his 1998 review of The Communist Manifesto, in its original PDF form.

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