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Left said Fred

Marx is enjoying a revival. But it's his sidekick who would have seen the crunch coming

By Tristram Hunt   April 2009

A little over 150 years ago, a cotton merchant watched an approaching economic storm in a state of rapture. “The American crash is superb and not yet over by a long chalk,” Friedrich Engels wrote to Karl Marx in October 1857. “For the next three or four years, commerce will again be in a bad way. Nous avons maintenant de la chance.” Finally, the conditions for socialist revolution were ripe. With the capitalist mode of production in disarray, the working class would surely rise to the occasion.

On the farther edges of the left, much the same sentiment is at…

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