Actor performs as Karl Marx
Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07
Robert Weick, a father and small-business owner from Philadelphia, Pa., has a unique passion in life —Marxism. For the past seven years, Weick has traveled as a professional actor to universities around the United States to present a discussion on the economic and social ideologies of Karl Marx. Weick made an appearance at Texas A&M Monday to deliver the presentation. It marked his 219th performance throughout the United States.
Karl Marx was a German socialist known for his revolutionary economic philosophies in "The Communist Manifesto."
"Marx believed that profit was not as important as meeting the needs of individuals. To him, capitalism was sick and violent," Weick said.
Patrick Slattery, professor of philosophy of education, invited Weick to A&M and organized the event. Slattery said Marxism is a relevant topic because of society's discontent with economic inequality, as demonstrated by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. While Marxism is not a popular theory in capitalist-U.S., Slattery said that students' views need to be challenged.
"Karl Marx is a controversial figure, but people need to be exposed to his ideologies, so that they can approach new ideas without preliminary prejudices," Slattery said.
Students gathered around the Sul Ross Statue at noon on Wednesday to meet with Weick for a discussion about current economic policies and social justice. Weick appeared dressed as Marx, and delivered an in-character speech about the dangers of capitalism and the need for Americans to unite to exercise collective influence against capitalist failure.
Paola Perez, philosophy and education graduate student, was one of the first to engage Weick in a discussion about Marx's political beliefs. She asked what Marx would have thought of the violence that many times accompanies political change.
"I grew up in Chile, where speaking out against the government and voicing your opinion could result in being imprisoned or killed," Perez said. "That is why Marxism is interesting to me. On one side, he encourages people to work together, to unite. But I have seen the consequences of that. My government brought violence against people who stood up to them. So I am not so sure Marx was right."
The noon-day discussion was followed later that night by "Marx in Soho," a play written by Howard Zinn that portrays a Karl Marx comeback to life, questioning the economic problems of modern-day America. Weick, advocating as Marx, decried the United States' greed and pursuit of profit of any cost, saying capitalism always leads to a winner and a loser.
"You say America has progressed?" demanded a costumed Weick. "America says it is the great model of world capitalism, but your nation is robbing its own people. People are sleeping on the streets. The United States' Gross National Product last year was 10,000 billion dollars. But tell me. Where is it? Who is profiting from it? Less than 500 individuals control three thousand billion dollars in business assets. Are these 500 individuals more hard working, or valuable, than the single parents struggling to provide for their children?"
Michelle Smith, education curriculum and instruction doctoral student, said that the ideas talked about in "Marx in Soho" apply to modern-day problems.
"I found a lot of the ideas inspirational, especially because they apply to modern issues. Occupy Wall Street is comparable to his proletariat and bourgeoisie fight for influence. The rich go to office and rule things, and no positive change seems to be happening," said Smith.
According to Marx and Weick, capitalism cannot change these economic problems — it causes them.
"You think capitalism has triumphed?" said Weick. "Because Wall Street was bailed out? Yes, it has triumphed. But over whom?"