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Prometheus: A Marxist’s Favorite Super Hero

Posted on May 15 2010 10:00 am
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You’ve seen this famous statue found in front of the Rockefeller Center, haven’t you? Is this Greek mythological character really a super hero to today’s progressives? In looking around the Internet, my answer would be an emphatic yes.  He was a favorite of Karl Marx, which may explain his enduring popularity among the left. From Marx himself:

Philosophy does not make a secret of it. The confession of Prometheus: “In a word, I entirely hate all and every god,” is its own confession, its own aphorism against all divine and earthly gods who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the highest divinity. It allows no rival. But to those sad March hares who rejoice over the seemingly worsened social position of philosophy, it replies again as did Prometheus to the god-serving Hermes:

I would never change the state of my calamitous fate for your servitude; hear well, I would never change. Better it is to be the slave of this rock than to serve Father Zeus as a messenger-boy. * -from Aeschylus, Prometheus V

Prometheus symbolically defied religion and those who would hold power and wealth (fire). He stole it from them (Zeus) and “redistributed” it to mankind. It seems clear why Marx would find this an appealing story, as well as thousands of those who follow Marx.

There is an amazing abundance of organizations named after the rebellious Prometheus. An example of one of today’s devotees might be Carlos Carvalho, creator of a watch manufacturing business, Prometheus Watch:

As to the brand name, Prometheus, Carlos stated: “Prometheus was a Greek Titan that took fire from the Gods and offered it to humanity so that we could be able to live better and prosper. I see it as a metaphor of what is happening nowadays. We could see Swiss Horlogerie as Gods that try to keep us mortals apart (with the very high prices asked) from the mechanical world while the Chinese are trying to provide timepieces to the masses, making them reachable to many more that will be able to share our love for mechanical time pieces.”

I was not aware that the Chinese were so interested in providing lovely timepieces to the masses, but apparently, like Prometheus, that is why they manufacture watches at such a low price. And all this time I thought they were just trying to make a buck.

Prometheus seems to be meaningful to many different groups. Here is a radical black blog that has taken his name:

This public policy advocacy group salutes him as well:

What better name for a “social justice” law firm?

Those who would set the radio airwaves free are inspired by his example of social justice as well:

He is not just appreciated here in the U.S., but in Moscow: .

Not to be left out, Prometheus Payment offers systems to streamline healthcare payments, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This foundation contributes to many progressive causes including the Tides Foundation and Greenpeace.

Labor unions favor the website work of Prometheus Labor, creators of many labor websites. Their slogan is “Labor Communication Firepower.”

Progressive readers enjoy many of the selections from Prometheus Books, founded by Paul Kurtz, communist and head of the philosophy department at New York University for many years. They offer a big selection with many titles on atheism, social justice, gay issues and Marxism.

Speaking of books, have you read “American Prometheus,” a biography about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, “fellow traveller” and radical Berkeley professor?

There is an entry on Wikipedia that gives us a good summary on symbolism connected to Prometheus, which helps explain their admiration for this mythical hero:

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound” rewrites the lost play of Aeschylus so that Prometheus does not submit to Zeus (Shelley’s Jupiter), but supplants him instead in a triumph of the human heart and intellect over tyrannical religion. Lord Byron’s poem “Prometheus” also portrays the titan as unrepentant. For the Romantics, Prometheus was the rebel who resisted all forms of institutional tyranny epitomized by Zeus — church, monarch, and patriarch. They drew comparisons between Prometheus and the spirit of the French Revolution, Christ, Milton’s Satan, and the divinely inspired poet or artist.

For those of us who weren’t “red diaper babies” and never studied Marx, this is a super hero we have not been familiar with, but in today’s world, expect to see a lot more of this fire-bearing rebel, as he inspires radicals to tear down capitalism and religion and replace it with their brand of social justice.

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