Marx, Crime and the Cuckoo

What’s in common between Karl Marx, crime and the cuckoo clock, if anything? Well, there is first this little pamphlet written by Marx himself, titled “In praise of crime”, or something very like this. In it, Marx says that, contrary to popular and bourgeois belief, crime is actually a strong motivator of economic, scientific, artistic, and whatsnot progress. Yes: consider a thief. Doesn’t he represent a strong motivation for writing a Crime Code? Or producing strong locks? Or studying and practice Law? Without a thief, there would be no police, no attorneys, no tribunals, no juries: OMG it’s endless. Without crime or evil there would be no Oedipus nor Richard III. Neither would there exist some fine literature. In the end, writes Marx, the influences of the evildoer on the development of productive force are many and can be listed in detail. He also dares question: Is not Adam’s tree of sin also the tree of knowledge? Case closed.

I was delighted by this short, ironic and well-suited writing for our times. Even more delighted then I felt when reading Camilleri’s short commentary to Marx’s article. Camilleri is well versed, after all, in the art of crime writing, with his beloved detective Montalbano.

He remembers a short line from the movie “The third man” (1949) when Orson Welles improvises something that stayed forever in the annals of cinema. He says to Joseph Cotten: (of course the Internets provide us with the right quote)

Like the fella says, in Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Then I finally knew where this quote comes from. And again, the Internets come to the rescue, because I could not resist the temptation and voilá, here’s the film segment in question. Do enjoy and meditate, friends.

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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