The Third Leader: Top Marx

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The Independent Online

Further, they say, now those dread consequences are discredited, it is possible to see the best Marx, the practical prophet of globalisation and change. And it's easy to appreciate the attractions for a British audience, famously suspicious of intellectual faffery. You must have heard about the taxi driver who had that Bertrand Russell in the back of his cab: "So I asked him, 'Lord Russell, what's it all about?' And do you know, he couldn't tell me."

Karl would have told him (if he could have afforded the fare); and that's his appeal. This was the Londoner who pub-crawled along the Tottenham Court Road, told the regulars in the 18th that England was fit only for philistines and then smashed half a dozen street lamps before beating pursuing policemen in a foot race. The drinking man's thinker, and vice versa.

Did you know he once rode to hounds with the Cheshire Hunt? He was fond of Swift and Sterne, and would have appreciated the ironies that have haunted him, even to this vote by a country whose resistance to his ideas so exasperated him. Another famous Marxist philosopher, Groucho, once said, "Either this man's dead or my watch has stopped." Not the ideas, though.