NEW YORK, NY — Millennial Christians and godless communists alike were stunned when nineteenth-century economist and revolutionary Karl Marx suddenly returned from the dead about two hours ago to land, in bodily form, at the corner of Nassau and Wall Streets.
His appearance interrupted Occupy Wall Street protesters as they negotiated the preparations for an anticapitalist May 1 General Strike. Seeming irritable and out of sorts, Mr. Marx sat glowering astride a fiery white horse amid apocalyptic clouds of glory, as hordes of journalists and OWS activists waving cell phones crushed in to record the event.
“HA HA! You’re undead!” laughed a cub reporter from The Wall Street Journal, pointing derisively at socialism’s greatest sage. “Where’s your dialectical materialism now, huh?”
“Shut up, kid,” grumbled Mr. Marx, massaging a carbuncle on his left buttock.
“Karl Marx!” cried CNN’s Anderson Cooper, thrusting a microphone at the stern, famously bearded visage, “now that you’ve obviously come back from some sort of Afterlife, don’t you think it’s silly to explain existence in terms of social class and the means of production? How about giving a little credit to the Man Upstairs?”
Karl Marx wrested the microphone from Mr. Cooper and declared to the multitudes, “Religion is still the opiate of the masses, you guys. In fact, Jesus is so hopped up on opiates, he can’t even see straight. Furthermore, Jesus thinks you all suck.”
The crowd gasped and shrank back. “Burn him!” screamed a bevy of middle-aged tourists, sporting green foam Statue-of-Liberty crowns and carrying multiple shopping bags from Century 21.
Unruffled, Mr. Marx continued, “Hey, I tried to give you people a break. I explained to Jesus that your bourgeois consumer fetishism was created by your alienating social conditions. So Jesus said, ‘Fine, one bearded Jewish intellectual is as good as another — you go down there and sort them out.’ I said, ‘Bite me.’ Next thing I know, here I am. True story.”
Marxist scholars express doubt that the mortal being who formulated the paradigms of dialectical and historical materialism could have triumphed over death itself. Dr. Harvey B. Papershredder, adjunct sociology professor at Sarah Lawrence College, represented the going academic consensus when he stated, “Because I have invited Marx into my heart as my personal savior, I believe he no longer exists. Conversely, I exist. So does my latest book on capitalist injustice, premised on the hard-hitting Marxian fact that, when oppressed workers die, they don’t come back. So please buy my book because we only live once and I want to feel good about myself before we all perish miserably in some capitalist-induced nuclear and/or global warming disaster. It’s also available on Nook and Kindle. The book, not the disaster.”
Other leftists, less empirically grounded, are joyfully celebrating Mr. Marx’s return, saying they look forward to living in a promised classless society at the end of history. Many, having prided themselves for years on living “politically correct” lives by eschewing fur and meat products, and demonstrating regularly against imperialist wars, have celebrated Marx’s return with delirious blog entries, tweets, and pilgrimages to Lower Manhattan in the belief that the “End of History” has arrived, and the chosen will soon be raptured over to the Financial District to build a glorious “Worker’s Paradise.”
Meanwhile, at Union Square, devout progressives can purchase hand-lettered t-shirts sporting such slogans as “Better Dead AND Red” and “Prole-ier than Thou,” along with political buttons emblazoned with the images of martyred radicals and political prisoners. Even the local chapter of the Jehovah’s Witnesses has switched from distributing its signature magazine “Watchtower” to giving out free copies of Mao’s “Little Red Book.”
But the transcendent atmosphere of jubilation was marred in the last hour or so, when a rumor was tweeted that Mr. Marx is preparing to condemn the entire Revolutionary Workers’ Labor Party to hell for all eternity for the sin of infighting.
“Serves them right,” remarked Milo Kronstadt of the anarchist Party Against Workers’ Parties Party. “Lousy bunch of middle-class Marxist-Leninist white liberal Stalinist so-called activists. They should all die and rot.”
Another so-called activist from a more hierarchical tendency then pointed out the “lameness” of an anti-authoritarian “dude” who expects justice from the ultimate Authority on Marxism, and a general melee broke out. Fisticuffs finally abated about nine minutes ago when someone noticed that Mr. Marx was no longer to be seen.
Four minutes later, Mr. Marx was discovered at the pharmacy counter of the nearest Duane Reade, discussing the efficacy of Preparation H to treat his carbuncle. He reportedly confiscated and damaged the cell phone of the OWS politico in the act of tweeting a photo of Mr. Marx’s first back-to-earth purchase. As of the last twelve seconds, Mr. Karl Marx remains inside the Duane Reade, refusing to come out.
Given the complex coordinates of time, space, and this exact dialectical moment in material History, no one — as usual — knows what will happen. It remains for each and every one of the 99 percent to keep watching the skies.
Susie Day is a writer.