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From: The Socialist issue 878, 11 November 2015: Bail out the NHS

Search site for keywords: Marx - Revolution - Robespierre - Commune - London - Working class - Charles Darwin - Charles Dickens

Comment: Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Revolutionary themes in games show we live in volatile times

Karl Marx holding an Xbox controller, photos by Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons), composite by James Ivens

Karl Marx holding an Xbox controller, photos by Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons), composite by James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton

The latest instalment of the popular Assassin's Creed video game series takes us to London in 1868, towards the end of the industrial revolution.

The creators have populated it with a slew of historical figures including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin - and somewhat more surprisingly, Karl Marx.

Fortunately, Marx doesn't get the same hatchet job Maximilien Robespierre received in the game's French Revolution instalment. He is shown to be passionate about defending the rights and interests of the working class.

At the time, Marx was a leading figure in the International Working Men's Association, or First Inter-national, alongside many of Britain's leading trade unionists. As you play, you overhear workers talking about striking against inhumane conditions.

Yet the makers go too far - perhaps trying to correct for the bloodthirsty image they gave Robespierre. While Marx is correctly shown to oppose individual terroristic acts, the game gives him almost pacifistic views.

Commune

Only a few years after the game is set, Marx and the First International were staunchly defending the Paris Commune. Armed workers "stormed heaven" to take power for the first time, albeit only for a few months.

Numerous themes of revolution and mass struggles in recent entertainment show the politically volatile nature of the period we are living in.

Hopefully, Marx's cameo in this game will encourage more people to seek out his real ideas.

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Article dated 11 November 2015

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RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

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