Karl Marx has been attracting fawning fascination lately, noted Bloomberg Businessweek's Peter Coy, "from the likes of New York University economist Nouriel Roubini and George Magnus, the London-based senior economic adviser to UBS Investment Bank." In fact, Bloomberg Businessweek published "Give Karl Marx a Chance to Save the World Economy" by George Magnus in late August.
"To put Marx's spirit back in the box," said Magnus, policy makers "have to sustain aggregate demand," through "fiscal incentives" like Obama's old and new stimulus plans. But Marx was no Keynesian. On the contrary, his essay on "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte," commenting on the December 1851 coup of Napoleon's nephew, was fiercely critical of what Marx called the "Napoleonic idea" of using government deficits to expand government jobs and public works schemes.
Marx began by saying, "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." The farcical jobs plan of Louis Bonaparte relied on government jobs and public works projects financed by budget deficits, which meant a crippling burden on future taxpayers. "Industry and trade, hence the business affairs of the middle class, are to prosper in hot-house fashion under the strong government," Marx explained. "The people are to be given employment. Inauguration of public works. But the public works increase the obligations of people with respect to taxes."