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

See all articles by Phillip Magness

Phillip Magness

American Institute for Economic Research

Michael Makovi

Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics; Texas Tech University - Free Market Institute

Date Written: April 17, 2020

Abstract

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

Magness, Phillip and Makovi, Michael, The Mainstreaming of Marx: Measuring the Effect of the Russian Revolution on Karl Marx’s Influence (April 17, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3578840 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3578840

Phillip Magness (Contact Author)

American Institute for Economic Research ( email )

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

Michael Makovi

Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics ( email )

Box 42132
Lubbock, TX 79409-2132
United States

Texas Tech University - Free Market Institute ( email )

Box 45059
Lubbock, TX 79409-5059
United States

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