The Mainstreaming of Marx: Measuring the Effect of the Russian Revolution on Karl Marx’s Influence
71 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020 Last revised: 14 May 2020
Date Written: April 17, 2020
Today, Karl Marx is considered one of the preeminent social scientists of the last two centuries, and ranks among the most frequently assigned authors in university syllabi. However in Marx’s time, many competing sociological traditions and socialist political movements espoused similar ideas from different origin points. How did Marx emerge as preeminent? We hypothesize that the 1917 Russian Revolution is responsible for elevating Marx’s fame and intellectual following above his contemporary competitors. Using the synthetic control method and Google Ngram data, we construct a synthetic counterfactual for Marx’s citation patterns. This allows us to predict how often Marx would have been cited if the Russian Revolution had not happened. We find a significant treatment effect, meaning that Marx’s intellectual influence may be partly due to political accidents.
Keywords: Marx, Russian Revolution, Russian Civil War, socialism, synthetic control
JEL Classification: B14, B24, B31, B51, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation