The Misunderstood Awards seek to accolade those champions of the human soul who have, either through hard work or mere brightness, advanced human thought and philosophy beyond the limits in which they lived, just to be held by common sense as having said and argued something completely different from what they believed and proposed.
Our first prize winner is:
Karl Heinrich Marx
Marx is usually taken for the archetypal leftist. In some cases, not only to be a Marxist is taken as synonym with being leftist, but also the other way around! That is, some people believe that in order to defend social causes and justice and equality one must be a Marxist.
In a slightly less absurd vein, people also believe Marx to have argued in favour of the enlargement of the machinery of government.
So, let’s take a closer look. Marx is the first person ever to propose that the economy is the most important part of the society. Before him, the economy could be important, could be necessary, could be something to never forget… but no one would dare say that it was the basis of society, that, indeed, society was just an expression of the economy.
And this is, almost to the commas, exactly the position taken by the rightist parties everywhere. In fact, as of today, this is almost the definition of “The Right”. In other words: Keynes understood Marx better than Lenin.
Now for the second idiocy: that Marx believed in the enlargement of the State. Actually, Marx proposed that on the “end of history” the management of society would need no regulating body, no institution at all. This was the ultimate goal of society, for Marx. Nevertheless, he didn’t think that such state of affairs could be achieved by naively firing public workers or by selling state-owned property. He did believe that such a thing would happen only through a massive and painful re-structuring of the whole of social body.
Obviously things didn’t follow the script that the Marx-ideologist had penned, but in general the ideas created by Marx-sociologist are still very useful. For example, i do see a very strong parallel between our current world governed by transnationals and his idea that the work forces would assume the forefront of social decision making.
And for all of that, the prize goes to Marx!