Karl Marx on a MasterCard

The German bank Sparkasse Chemnitz asked its readers to choose from among 10 designs for its next MasterCard issue. The overwhelming winner was this Karl Marx card. Priceless.

It's not just cheap irony, either. As Reuters reports, "A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was 'unsuitable' and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back."

The Karl Marx MasterCard Is Here. It Needs A Tagline. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Update BlueGirl sez, "saw your piece on the Karl Marx Mastercard and laughed that I photoshopped just such a thing back in 2010, along with a Che Guevara Visa and a Emma Goldman Mugshot Discover Card -- the card with payback."


  1. One should note that the name of Chemnitz was “Karl-Marx-Stadt” (Karl-Marx-Town) during socialist time from 1953 to 1990. 

  2. The city was even named Karl-Marx-Stadt from 1947 to 1990. It is in the formerly communist part of Germany, and the head pictured on the card is a local sight. Back in the days, Chemnitz was one of the centers of soviet computer technology: Kombinat Robotron probably built the machines on which tetris was invented, mainly by reverse-engineering illegally acquired western mainframes. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VEB_Robotron , and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemnitz.

  3. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need … for everything else, there’s Mastercard®!

    1. Remember, under capitalism, man exploits man, but under socialism, it’s the other way around.

  4. Meh, Marx is getting needlessly much flak for what Lenin, Stalin and Mao did in his name.

    And thanks to them, his insights into the inner workings of capitalism (tho partially derailed by the labor theory of value) ended up largely ignored. Only to be independently re-discovered by Keynes, and then largely ignored again.

  5. Hahahahah!

    The irony is actually pouring out of the cheap Dell speakers on my desktop.

    Thanks for the great post:)

  6. yes, Cory, “priceless”, just wait till Mr. Marx comes to Amerika… in fact, it’s already there, it’s just a matter of design that “free” Amerikans would welcome… so, enjoy !  

    1. I don’t mean to alarm you but the U.S. and the rest of the western world have had central banks and social welfare programs since the 1930’s — not to mention myriad corporate subsidies and legislation that amounts to implicit subsidies which stifle competition and advantage a few huge, state-endorsed monopolies.  Marx already made his mark on the U.S.A.  I think it’s hilarious and cute that folks like you don’t realize the U.S. has been socialist for at least 80 years though.

      1.  I’m waiting for the Henry Hill credit card.

        It’s gives you full access to Idlewild airport and Lufthansa.

  7. As if Marx’s philosophy had anything to do with the totalitarian state-security-oriented of east germany. Plus the suicide rate of East Germany was much higher then than now.

    1. Actually, I decided to research that claim, and it seems to be incorrect. the East German suicide rates were consistantly 1.2-1.5 times higher than that in West Germany, but these rates actually were linked to geographic differences, since the same disparity existed before the second world war.

      I can find no link to support the claim that suicide rates have decreased, but I did find some information that life expectancy had decreased.

      1.  Actually, there is also the claim that the real suicide rates in East Germany were never revealed, not even after 1990. There is the possibility that any “real” records were shredded or something.

  8. “In the communist utopia, the pursuit of happiness is not expressed primarily through consumerism. But for everywhere else, there’s MasterCard.”

  9. When I visited former East Germany in the 90s, someone told me: Under the old system, we could vote for whoever we wanted, as long as they were from the communist party. Now we can vote for whoever we want from the capitalist party.

  10. His stern but sensible face will remind me never to do anything so stupid again.

    Wait, that’s Mary Worth.

  11. I moved to a newly reopened East Germany in ’94 as a young exchange student, when banking was something of a new thing in that area. Needing a spot for my own money, I quickly opened my first bank account at the neighborhood Sparkasse (Sparkasse is kind of like the 7-Eleven of banks, and provided an essential entry point for budding capitalists to learn the fundamentals of private sector economics). It was simple, no frills, and displayed a dry sense of humor. As an 18 year old anarcho-socialist learning the language and ways of a new country, I just loved the name. This seems right up their alley. I wish all the banks I’ve worked with since then had similar values. The closest I’ve found to them was ING, but alas, they were bought last year by Citibank. Poop.

  12. Rather appropriate as I understand Marx never worked a day in his life and lived off the labor of the oppressed worker class via his wealthy wife.

    Never trust a wealthy parasite who wants to tell you how your money (the fruits of your labor) should be taken away for use by other people.

    1. Never trust a wealthy parasite.
      You mean like stockbrokers, bankers, ceo’s and republicans? got it.

    2.  Marx’s wife came from nobility, but they weren’t enormously wealthy. Furthermore, Marx’s brother in law who inherited the family wealth was a reactionary and later Prussian minister of the interior, so no money was forthcoming. Also, Marx spent most of his adult life in exile in the UK, where he got to experience the new industrial poverty first hand (where 3 of his 6 children died before the age of 10), and it wasn’t until later in his life that his writings brought him enough income to live as comfortably middle class.

  13. Dammit, someone beat me to it.  I had this idea for a Che credit card, e.g. “Earn with Ernesto.”  Or one with Jesus, “Render unto Caesar with the RaptureRewards card.”

  14. This reminds me of one of my “dang I wish had a camera with me” moments, before cameraphones came into my life.  In the early months of the year 2000,  I saw a “Nader 2000” bumper sticker.

    On a 1964 Corvair.

  15. This is similar to the Che Guevara t-shirts. It’s a matter of profit-making capitalism putting the heads of its enemies on pikes.

  16. And you should note that there is in the german town Chemnitz (formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt) a big Karl-Marx-monument in the center of the city. It is the second highest in the world and a kind of landmark for the city. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl-Marx-Monument And actually if you read the press relase: the monument won the competition. That may be the point why the heavyiest critics of the capitalism is on an outstanding piece of Mayer not the smartest decision.

  17. It is sweet.  The banks (capitalism) fail and had to rely on a socialist handout/bailout to survive. If there are any historians 2 thousand years from now, I am sure they will be asking themselves how a civilization could be so gullible to allow these crooks to run the show while robbing everyone.

    As we head towards yet another speculation binge by the banks, it is only fitting that when it fails/bursts, it will be Marx’s socialism that bails them out.

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