We went to Karl Marx’s 200th birthday party in New York City

VICE News attended a celebration of 200 years of Karl Marx featuring Marxist DJs, academic panels, and whatever Slavoj Zizek was thinking four minutes ago.

Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are making socialism cool again. A Gallup poll in August of last year suggested that only 45 percent of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 view capitalism positively — compared to 51 percent for socialism.

The surprising resurgence of socialism in the United States comes two centuries after the birth of the movement’s intellectual father: Karl Marx.


In October, New York University hosted “On Your Marx” — a two week long jubilee to celebrate this bicentennial with a broad, eccentric slate of panel discussions and performances. In the spirit of camaraderie, tickets to all events were priced pay-as-you-wish — from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

VICE News went to sample several of the festival’s unique offerings, including a choral rendition of the Communist Manifesto, a Marxist party with DJs AndrewAndrew, and a contemporary dance performance "ritualizing the labor of its dancers."

We sat down with the festival’s headliner and Marxism’s only true rockstar, Slavoj Zizek, who helped us address the main question posed by the festival: What space does a radical thinker like Karl Marx have in our precarious present?

"If there is a lesson in Marxist teaching, it is that class struggle, this basic class tension, persists," Zizek told us. "And the proof I think is Trump's victory."

This segment originally aired January 3, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.