I followed a debate over at Larvatus Prodeo on the ‘Literary Studies Argy-Bargy’ that deepened somewhat yesterday when John Howard criticised the teaching of English in Australian schools. I entirely support John Howard’s view that English studies should not reflect post-modernist philosophy, feminism and Marxism. But that is not what I want to post on here (though your views are welcome). What I am interested in is how many people do obsess on the issue of strange ideologies such as Marxism which seem to me thoroughly discredited ideas.
I agree with Paul Samuelson that, as an economist, Karl Marx was a ‘minor post-Ricardian’ and quite uninteresting. His theory of value lacks logic (though it was accepted by Smith and Ricardo) and his belief in the increasing misery of the working class proved false. Those interested in reading classical economics would be far better-off turning to David Ricardo or Adam Smith though I wouldn’t recommend these either if I wanted to understand how modern capitalism works. If I was a beginner I’d go for something like Paul Samuelson’s Economics. The discipline of economics has progressed so much over the past century – it would be foolish to use obsolete theory.
Marxism is of course of interest in sociology and to the governments of Cuba and North Korea but I wondered who else is interested. Well apparently a lot of people according to a rough search I did this morning using Google Scholar. The approach isn’t very scientific (the use of Goggle Scholar in more traditional citation counts is analysed here) but I still found the results interesting. I cite the exact search item used and the Google Scholar hits encountered.
Maynard Keynes 12,000
Paul Samuelson 17,000
Karl Marx 68,000
Adam Smith 187,000
Marx is still a much-discussed person and Marxism a much-discussed political philosophy. I am heartened that Adam Smith and Liberalism were of such widespread interest but ambivalent about the high score assigned to feminism and disappointed that Lord Keynes and Paul Samuelson ranked so low.
Maybe this is an excessively rough way of assessing the social impact of people and their ideologies. I’d welcome comments about better ways of doing this.