Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marx My Words

In a surprising press release, the American Association of Cultural Paleontologists today announced that it has identified dozens of thriving Marxists in educational institutions on both coasts. Thought to be extinct, it turns out that these longsuffering academics were still present in small groups and were simply dormant.

It appears that the once abundant Marxists went into deep decline around about the time of the Reagan era. With the beginning of the new millennium, they seemed destined to disappear altogether. As the engine of capitalism operated at full throttle, the remaining Marxists one by one dropped off the academic radar.

As late as 2005, there were still sporadic reports of the occasional Marxist being spotted at a regional community college or a Manhattan book reading. Some researchers even claimed to have seen the odd aging Marxist lecturing at an Ivy League school but those reports were never confirmed.

Despite being placed on AACP’s endangered species list, the disappearance of Marxists seemed to progress at a geometric pace. Given the general decline of all things left and liberal, it was not unexpected that the Marxist would soon go the way of the dodo, the Great Auk and the Maoist.

"We had all but given up on ever finding a surviving Marxist," said AACP President Fred Engels. "Without an economic recession to feed on or groups of supportive, ego-stroking students to fill their classes, it seemed highly unlikely that any would still have been around."

Well, it turns out that Engels and his lot were wrong. With the advent of the current world economic crisis, cultural paleontologists on both coasts started receiving odd reports about errant professors and lecturers referencing phrases like "the means of production", "the material dialectic" and "the enlightened proletariat."

"Once these reports started trickling in," said Engels. "We started to get our hopes up that the Marxists were not extinct but were still alive on both the east and west coasts and even in select pockets in the American mid-west."

The wishes of Engels and his colleagues have been realized beyond their wildest dreams. Not only is the Marxist not extinct, it turns out that there are dozens of small herds or communities of them in a number of institutions of higher learning.

"What we hadn’t considered," said Engels. "Was that the Marxists - rather than die off - could temporarily change their stripes and survive using only their wits and tenure."

It turns out that, once under threat, the Marxists adopted a very low profile. Chameleon-like, those who survived changed their outer protective covering and appeared to most outside observers as harmless philosophers, socialists or liberals.

"Our mistake was to extrapolate from the evidential record," said Engels. "And assume that just because researchers could no longer find a single academic paper produced by a Marxist that they were no longer extant."

Now that their surrounding environment has become more nurturing, many of the surviving Marxists have begun to thrive. Marxist papers, theses and even op-ed pieces have started to occasionally appear in different locations and some observers are, much to their surprise, reporting the return of Marxist courses and texts. A sure sign of the Marxist’s return to health is their renewed mating cry of "Revolution now! Death to capitalism! Revolution now!"

"It’s truly a zoological miracle," said Engels. "Who would have thought that we would see Marxists not only surviving but potentially repopulating their herds to historical levels?"

"But we must not be sanguine about the future fate of the Marxist," Engels continued. "Even the slightest economic recovery or open, democratic discussion could threaten their continued existence. That’s why we’re proposing setting up protective havens like the one started at Berkeley to ensure that the elimination of Marxists is never again a possibility."

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