Sunday, June 11, 2006


I wouldn't mind synthesizing her

I mentioned the question of middle class guilt playing a role in Marx's conversion to revolution.

Francis Wheen's biography certainly indicates that Marx always remained very concerned with middle class repectibility. Loyal fans of DC may remember being directed towards a comments section where I compared hiring a maid to, ahem, "employing" a whore. There, my antagonist asked "Do Socialists and/or Marxists not employ maids?".

He could have scored a very nice rhetorical point if he'd only known, as I did not, that Marx himself did indeed have a maid, despite his sometimes dire penury (only offset by subventions from Engels, themselves coming out of the surplus value expropriated out of the workers in Engels' cotton factory in Manchester - it sort of sounds like I'm taking the piss here but I'm not). Apparently he was partly motivated by a certain "status anxiety". Not only this, but in a typically dialectical manoeuvre he may even have "synthesized" my maid-prostitute parallel by putting a bun in "the help's" oven - just to be clear, I mean by impregnating her. (I think there's an article by Terrell Carver floating around contesting Wheen's claim.)

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