Marx didn't hate capitalism, he just had bad skin

Karl Marx, the authour of Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, may owe more to a thoroughly unpleasant skin disorder than historical materialism. From the Globe and Mail:

Sam Shuster, professor of dermatology at the University of East Anglia, believes the revolutionary thinker had hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) in which the apocrine sweat glands – found mainly in the armpits and groin – become blocked and inflamed.

"In addition to reducing his ability to work, which contributed to his depressing poverty, hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem," said Dr. Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

"This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing."

Interesting theory. I'm not entirely convinced, especially since Dr. Shuster's boils-alienation connection seems predicated on a total misreading of the famous thinker. And, it's hard to chalk up Marx's entire critical enterprise to boils. Of course, he did make this comment to Friedrich Engels in 1867:

"The bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day."

Well, we will now, anyway.

This ranks up there with the 'Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo because of his hemorrhoids' theory. Totally reductionist, but somewhat compelling. And gross. 

H/T to MN for this one.


So itchy.