PRINT April 1993


There is a passage in the writings of Karl Marx that is as fateful as it is famous, and indeed its fatefulness is not unconnected with its fame: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” If this is indeed the second time this thought is expressed in history, it must by its own criterion be farce, and its first occurrence in Hegel tragic. And something like this did in fact come true: since every Marxist knew this line—it is the kind of slogan that gets printed on T-shirts—it was necessary for them to dismiss repetitions as farcical, as the learned revolutionaries in the Columbia University uprising of 1968 did when the learned students of Harvard underwent their uprising a year later. The overall effect was that there could be no cumulative revolutionary

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