Giving Marx some credit

And now for some humorous and interesting, if not outright hilarious, socio-cultural phenomena for your anthropological Saturday morning.

The small background images on credit cards are a way in which people can personalize their credit cards and express a small part of their identity (along with everyone else who chooses the same theme, of course).  My Visa has a nice image of a Hawaiian seascape and sunset.  Very tranquil and beautiful.  It’s so I can feel like I’m on vacation from reality while I’m amassing debt, I suppose.

Well, the NPR Planet Money blog has a new piece about the latest version of the Mastercard in Germany: The Karl Marx MasterCard.

Image from the Sparkasse Chemnitz Bank


From Planet Money:

The German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz recently launched a Karl Marx credit card. The bank let people vote online for 10 different images, and Marx was the “very clear winner,” beating out a palace, a castle and a racetrack, among others. Reuters has more on the story.

The reader’s suggestions for potential taglines for the card are my favorite parts of this.  Here’s one good one:

@planetmoney From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. For everything else, there’s #marxcard
-Peter Sahlstrom

Check out the rest of the readers taglines at Planet Money.  Some are really funny.  I love it when little everyday things are so loaded with meaning.  Granted, Marx is an extremely controversial individual in human history…but it’s pretty ironic that a big bank has decided to finally give him his due credit.

(insert laugh track)

Ok, I’m done, I promise.  If you have any ideas for taglines, post them here and at Planet Money.


Ryan Anderson is a cultural and environmental anthropologist. His current research focuses on coastal conservation, sustainability, and development in the Californias. He also writes about politics, economics, and media. You can reach him at ryan AT savageminds dot org or @anthropologia on twitter.

12 thoughts on “Giving Marx some credit

  1. Nice one, Ryan. A gold mine in fact. Some of the background. Chemnitz, aka the Manchester of Saxony, was called Karl-Marx-stadt under the East German regime and still has a huge statue of him in the main square which some rightwingers wanted to tear down, but it was refused by a large majority in a plebiscite. Quiote a few citizens want to go back to the former name. Ethnographers should love the local aspects of this story.

  2. Thanks, Keith. The histories of Chemnitz add another layer to this little story. I’m going to look a bit more into that.

  3. I’m trying to think of a good tagline, but I don’t have an Engeling… I should quit Stalin, so they can start Lenin me some money already.

  4. Marxcard: With an APR as intelligible and flexible as Marxian epistemology, you’ll never quite know what you owe, but if you have any questions, please stand in line at your local office to learn what the appropriate use-value of your labor is today! Our experts will inform you of its objective value – per your designated class, of course, in no time. Read fine print for details, updated anytime someone discovers general incoherence or empirical deficiency.

  5. Under the ideal measure of values, there lurks the hard cash. For everything else, there’s Marxcard.

  6. Pace the master, but I couldn’t resist:

    “Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point however is to charge it.”

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