What Grimes can learn from the Communist Manifesto


Canadian singer Grimes was recently pictured reading The Communist Manifesto after her split from the richest man in the world, Elon Musk – CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.

Grimes, otherwise known as Claire Elise Boucher, was pictured in fancy costume on a street corner in Los Angeles as she was engrossed in the book. Since then, she took to Instagram to explain that she was not a Communist, more than she was fed up with the paparazzi following her, so she took the opportunity to troll. Although she added that “there are some very clever ideas in this book,” so it seems that she has read at least part of them.

The Communist Manifesto was composed at the end of 1847 by German social activists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. He analyzes and dramatizes the gulf between rich and poor in industrializing economies and advocates for a classless democratic society.

As a political theorist, I specialized in Marx, Engels and Marxism and translated this work again. artist.

Capitalism and globalization

As Marx and Engels observe, capitalism “concentrates property in a few hands”. They refer to the “industrial millionaires” who sit at the top of the “world market” – those known since the Occupy Wall Street protests as the “1%”. Musk lives in an otherworldly position of super privilege. And as a former partner – and as an artist worth US $ 3 million – Grimes will likely have had a lot of personal experience with what was described in The Communist Manifesto.

Musk used his billions to fund SpaceX, his plan to visit and eventually colonize Mars. And although space travel is not in the Manifesto, Marx and Engels write extensively on global cities. Places like New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and London, which are the playgrounds of the super-rich – even during the pandemic by private jet.

“Every country”, say Marx and Engels, now has “a cosmopolitan character” because products from everywhere are available everywhere – but only to those with the money. Maybe when Grimes looked so engrossed in the short book, she actually remembered all the places she had been and the sites she had seen, both with Musk and their child and on tour, into the glamorous world of high-end luxury living.

Read more: Billionaire Space Race: The Ultimate Symbol of Capitalism’s Imperfect Obsession for Growth

A manifesto for artists?

As an artist, there are also some crucial things in the Manifesto for Grimes to think about. Grimes previously revealed that she received no financial assistance from her ex-boyfriend. But now that she has no longer a partner, she will likely be in touch with her agent and lawyer to discuss the next step. And Grimes may well discover that she has dived into what Marx and Engels describe as “the ice water of selfish calculus” as she seeks out how to maintain her profit.

Grimes may also discover – and not just from reading the Manifesto – that under capitalism its cultural production of melodies, lyrics and poetry is simply the fact that it acts “like a machine”. Marx and Engels show how capitalism resolves “personal value into exchange value” –– having “stripped of its halo any hitherto honored occupation”, artists included.

Grimes and Elon Musk, pictured in 2018.

Read more: Elon Musk, Grimes and the philosophical thought experiment that brought them together

Maybe she could get a settlement from Musk and that will fund her songwriting. But if that happened, others would be after his money – as Marx and Engels warn. And there will be many: “salaried workers” all after a dollar. Even though Grimes lives for art and doesn’t need money, those around him won’t be in the same situation.

Workers of the world unite

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels use a clear “before” and “after” structure for their critique of capitalism – and offer us a vision of a different type of society. So what about the “after” that is Grimes’ future, if she’s not separated from Musk?

In the Manifesto, she will find an optimistic view. She doesn’t need to be so completely alone (as pictured) because by parting ways with Musk (and despite her wealth), she has technically joined the 99%. Indeed, those who are abused in capitalism come “from all classes of the population”, as Marx and Engels predicted. It’s not just the poorest who get a bad deal – just surviving the system is stressful enough, as many (perhaps including Grimes) are now discovering.

Ultimately, however, the whole idea of ​​the Manifesto is that there should be more to life than making money, hiding from the paparazzi, and worrying about parasites – Marx and Engels would have really enjoyed this movie. on class struggles in South Korea.

Indeed, “freedom” under capitalism is only “free trade, free sale and purchase”. Grimes is clearly thinking about this and pondering what creativity really means. I look forward to his next album (of communist inspiration?).

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