The ghost is back, again: Karl Marx and the Golem narrative

Gad Yair*, Michaela Soyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper proposes to re-read Marx's oeuvre through the cultural narrative of the Golem. It suggests that this narrative reappeared in the writings of Karl Marx throughout his career. There are three typical parts in this narrative: (a) the will of men to be empowered; (b) the use of a non-human material instrument to garner this power; culminating in (c) the instrument developing an autonomous spirit, which fatefully makes it turn against its master, leading to personal alienation and social destruction. This paper shows that the three-part composition of the Golem reappears in Marx's writings while focusing on four major topics: the dialectical analysis of history; the historical development of capitalism and its expected eventual demise; the theory of alienation; and his conception of the fetishism of machines, money, and commodities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)323-343
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Cultural sociology
  • Culture
  • German culture
  • Marx
  • Narrative
  • Theory


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