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How Marxist Are You?

I was recently contacted by a college student at a certain large Midwestern state-sponsored university. It seems he was enrolled in a revolutionary film studies class, and was working on an assignment to give a Marxist reading of a radical media text, and he chose ROX.

His task: to compare us on a scale of most-to-least Marxist between Vertov, Eisenstein, Alvarez and Gutierrez Alea. He thought we were, perhaps, second to Eisenstein. His friend however, though that we weren’t Marxist at all; she said we were certainly socialist sympathizers, but not explicitly Marxist.

So he wrote to ask me the question: Just how Marxist are you, anyhow?

Never one to disappoint a seeker, I of course wrote back. Here is my reply.

Wow that is a really great question. I think Marx is absolutely correct in his theory of labor-value, and that perspective is essential to my understanding of how the world works. However, I don’t generally describe myself as a Marxist for several reasons. For one thing, Marx has a bad rap amongst a lot of Americans, and if you start quoting him you’re just going to turn people off. Another thing is the intellectual heritage of the left. I feel Proudhon’s analysis of property is just as fundamental as Marx, yet Proudhon doesn’t get nearly the credit. In fact, the rift between Marx and Proudhon is emblematic of a deep division between the authoritarians and anti-authoritarians, and I locate myself firmly with the latter. I hope that’s evident in my work, and in fact it’s made explicit in ROX #91 & #92.

This response caused the intrepid student to revise his estimate of my relative Marxianism downward several notches. He quoted me and got a B+ on the paper. I’ve always dreamed of being cited as “transgressive” in an academic paper, and now my dream has come true.

Published inBloomingtonPolitixROX


  1. “I’ve always dreamed of being cited as “transgressive” in an academic paper, and now my dream has come true.”

    A day later, and I’m still chuckling.


  2. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    Controlling “the Means of Production”….
    “Production” of WHAT?
    Welcome to your new job, Comrade…here at the People’s Revolutionary
    Purina Human Chow cooperative.
    Oh, look, Comrade, at the Worker’s Bulletin Board, you are scheduled to Defecate
    between 11:25 and 11:35.
    Viva La Revolucion, gringo.

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