Jonathan Sperber

  • Aired:  04/02/13
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Jonathan Sperber discusses Karl Marx's colorful personal life and speculates as to how Marx would view modern capitalism. (8:19)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT A PROFESSOR -- A PROFESSOR -- HISTORY OF UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI.

HE IS ALSO ON AUTHOR.

HIS LATEST BOOK IS CALLED KARL MARX: A 19th CENTURY LIFE.

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM JONTAN SPERBE -- JONATHAN SPERBER.

SIR, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

THE BOOK IS SAY "A 19th CENTURY LIFE: KARL MARX." THE FIRST PRIZE IS THAT HE FATHERED BARACK OBAMA.

>> IT WAS INTERESTING.

>> Jon: WELL RESEARCHED I MIGHT ADD.

WE HAVE IN OUR MINDS A TWO DIMENSIONAL CHARACTER -- MOST OF THE ICONS OF THE 19th CENTURY

OF THE 20th CENTURY.

YOU HAVE REALLY BROUGHT TO LIFE THAT THIRD DIMENSION, HIS PERSONAL LIFE, ALL THAT.

IT CREATES A MUCH MORE CONFUSING BUT HUMANIZING PORTRAIT OF THE MAN.

>> I THINK THAT'S VERY TRUE.

MARX DRUGELLED ALL HIS LIFE WITH -- STRUGGLED ALL HIS LIFE WITH MONEY PROBLEMS, WORKED VERY

HARD AS A JOURNALIST.

PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT.

HE WROTE FOR THE WORLD'S LARGEST NEWSPAPER IN THE 1850'S.

>> Jon: HE WAS DOING WELL, A PRETTY SUCCESSFUL JOURNALIST WHO WAS MAKING A LITTLE BIT OF COIN

AND THE WHOLE THING GOES TO --

>> BEING A FREE LANCE WRITER THEN AS TODAY IS NOT AN EASY WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.

>> Jon: HE WOULD HAVE BEEN, I THINK A BLOGGER.

HE WAS PROLIFIC --

>> YES.

>> Jon: BUT, YOU KNOW, AS YOU GO THROUGH HIS WRITINGS THEY ARE SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT TO RECONCILE.

THEY ARE VERY CONFLICTED.

>> IT'S REALLY TRUE.

MARX WAS A LOT BETTER WITH SHORT PIECES WHICH HE COULD FINISH QUICKLY LIKE HIS JOURNALISM.

>> Jon: THE INTERESTING THING I DIDN'T KNOW YOU THINK OF HIM AS A WORKHORSE BUT HIS WORK

HABITS WERE SORT OF ODD.

HE WROTE THOSE THINGS IN A COUPLE OF HOURS AT NIGHT, A LITTLE BIT HERE, A LITTLE BIT THERE.

>> HE WAS NOTORIOUSLY A GUY WHO WORKED IN STREAKS.

WORK 48 HOURS IN A ROW, STAY UP ALL NIGHT, AND THEN COLLAPSE AND NOT WRITE ANYTHING FOR SEVERAL WEEKS.

THERE'S AN ACCOUNT FROM DUTCH RELATIVES THAT HE WOULD SIT AT A TABLE, PONDER, WALK AROUND AND

AROUND THE TABLE.

SIT DOWN AGAIN, WRITE SOMETHING AND WALK AROUND AND AROUND.

>> Jon: HE IS MUCH LIKE THE COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO LOVE HIM.

THAT'S WHAT THEY LOVE ABOUT HIM.

>> IT'S TRUE.

>> Jon: THEY SEE THAT GUY AND SAY THAT'S WHAT I DO.

I COLLAPSE AND DO DON'T ANYTHING FOR TWO WEEKS.

>> HE DRANK LIKE A LOT OF COLLEGE STUDENT DOZEN.

>> Jon: THAT WAS THE INTERESTING THING, TOO.

HE WAS A ROBUST GUY.

HE TEND TO THINK OF IT AS MARX OCCURRED IN BLACK AND WHILE AND GRAY AND LIVED A COLORLESS LIFE.

HE WILL TALKED ABOUT TOIL AS A MEANS OF PRODUCTION.

I GUY KNEW HOW TO THROW DOWN.

>> HE WAS A PUB CRAWLER.

ONCE GOT INTO A FAME RUSS BRAWL WITH A -- FAMOUS BRAWL IN A PUB.

>> Jon: HE HAD AN ILL LEGITIMATE CHILD.

HE PULLED A SCHWARZENEGGER.

>> UNLIKE ARNOLD WITH THE LOZ OF OPPORTUNITIES.

IT'S STILL A MYSTERY HOW THIS CONCEPTION OCCURRED.

>> Jon: I THINK IT'S EXCITING THAT HE HAD A MAID IN A ONE ROOM APARTMENT.

WOULD YOU THINK THAT ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY HE COULD PICK UP HIS TRIEWZ TROUSERS OFF THE FLOOR.

>> THE ALTERNATIVE WOULD BE TO HAVE HIS WIFE DO IT.

SHE WAS FROM AN ARISTOCRATIC FAMILY.

>> Jon: A BRILLIANT WRITER IN HER OWN WRITE.

>> SHE WAS A SECRETARY.

>> Jon: WAS HIS IT DAUGHTER?

SHE WAS A WRITER.

I APOLOGIZE.

HIS DAUGHTER.

HIS TO THE GET THROUGH THE WHOLE THING IN A DAY.

HIS DAUGHTER WAS THE WRITER.

>> PARTIAL CREDIT BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH JAKED JENNY.

>> Jon: THEY ARE BOTH NAMED JENNY.

COME ON!

IN FACT THERE'S THAT PICTURE IN THERE OF HER WITH THE CROSS AND I THOUGHT WELL THAT'S WEIRD AND

THE CAPTION SAID IT'S NOT RELIG CANNOUS BUT -- RELIGIOUS BUT POLISH.

>> IT'S A SYMBOL OF POLISH UPRISING.

>> Jon: I GET CREDIT FOR THAT ONE?

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> Jon: ARE YOU GRADING ME?

>> I DO HAVE A LITTLE -- MAYBE ON MY SMARTPHONE, IF I HAD ONE I'D BE GRADING YOU.

>> Jon: YOU WOULD BE GRADING ME.

THIS MAN HIS APPEARANCE CHANGED SO DRASTICALLY OVER THE YEARS AND HE SEEMED VERY INFLUENCED BY

THE STYLES AND THINGS AROUND HIM.

HE SEEMED MORE INSECURE THAN I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT.

>> HE WAS INSECURE AND INSECURE ABOUT VERY BASIC THING, ABOUT EARNING ENOUGH MONEY TO SUPPORT

HIS FAMILY.

IT WAS AN IDEA OF MANHOOD OF THE 19th CENTURY.

A REAL MAN SUPPORTS HIS FAMILY AND WOMEN AND HIS DAUGHTERS.

MARX HAD TROUBLE DOING IT.

IT WAS PAINFUL TO ASKED HIS FRIEND ENGLES FOR MONEY.

>> Jon: NOT ONLY MONEY BUT HE TOOK THE HIT ON THE MAID THING.

>> HE STEPPED FORWARD AND ANNOUNCED HE WAS THE FATHER.

HE ONLY CONFESSED ON HIS DEATH BED WHO THE REAL FATHER WAS.

>> Jon: WHATEVER YOU THINK OF THE ENGLES SHALL THE WORLD'S GREATEST WINGMAN, I WOULD SAY.

WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

>> NO QUESTION ABOUT IT.

>> Jon: WHATEVER YOU THINK ABOUT, THE FEROCITY.

IT INTEREST -- WAS INTERESTING WHERE HE HAD VERY LITTLE INFLUENCE OVER EVEN THE TRADES

HE BELONGED TO.

>> IT WAS FLEETING.

THE REVOLUTION IT WAS AN IMPORTANT FIGURE IN WESTERN GERMANY.

HE WAS THE MOVING SPIRIT BEHIND THE INTERNATIONAL WORKINGMEN'S ASSOCIATION, THE SO CALLED FIRST

INTERNATIONAL BUT HE WAS FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, A VERY OBSCURE FIGURE.

WHAT MADE HIM A CELEBRITY WAS THE PARIS COMMUNE OF 1870.

MARX PUBLICLY ENDORSED IT.

HE SUPPORT ID.

EVERYBODY WAS HORRIFIED BY WOMEN HANDLING WEAPONS SHOOTING SOLDIERS.

MARX SUPPORTED IT AND HE WAS A A BOOGIEMAN AND A GIANTS PUBLIC FIGURE.

HE LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

>> Jon: HE ENJOYED THAT.

>> HE LOVED BEING SOMEBODY THAT PEOPLE WERE AFRAID OF.

>> Jon: AS IT STANDS NOW I WONDER IF HIS -- HIS VISION OF CAPITALISM IS DIFFERENT FROM THE

ONE WE HAVE NOW.

I WONDER WHAT HE WOULD MAKE OF IT.

WOULD IT BE CHEST BEATING BUT TO SEE THE FAILURES OF COMMUNISM.

WHAT WOULD HE SAY ABOUT THAT?

>> THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

>> Jon: WELL, YOU ARE THE PROFESSOR.

[ LAUGHTER ]

AND KNOW THIS, I AM GRADING YOU.

>> ALL RIGHT.

HERE IS MY ANSWER.

THERE'S A VERY OBSCURE LETTER HE WROTE IN 1858 HE SAID WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

HE WAS EXPECTING A REVOLUTION IN EUROPE TO BREAK ON ANY DAY.

THERE WILL BE RECEIVE LIEWTION AND COMMUNIST REGIMES IN EUROPE BUT THE BRITISH AND AMERICAN

WILL RULE THE WORLD.

WHAT IS GOING TO BE HAPPEN TO THE COMMUNIST COUNTRIES IN A WORLD DOMINATED BY ANGELO

AMERICAN CAPITALISM.

THE REVOLUTION DIDN'T HAPPEN THEM.

BUT THEY WRESTLED WITH IT AND THE ANSWER WAS WE'LL GIVE UP AND CAPITALISTS WILL DOMINATE THE WORLD.

>> Jon: IT'S FASCINATING.

IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

BUY IT BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO BE ON THE TEST.

>> IT'S AVAILABLE AS AN E BOOK FOR THE AUDIENCE.

>> Jon: IT'S AN E BOOK IF YOU E

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