The Doge’s Palace, Ruskin wrote in 1851, was the “central building of the world,” because it reconciled Arabic, Byzantine, and Romanesque elements in “exactly equal proportions.” Though Ruskin did not see the Great Exhibition, that other central building of the Victorian world, Karl Marx did visit the steel and glass shrine to capital in Hyde Park: the first of the global trade fairs and the progenitor of the Venice Biennale. Marx’s review of the Exhibition contains the founding critique of what we call globalization, as well as the theories of the “commodity fetish” and “false consciousness.”

“With this exhibition,” Marx grumbled, “the bourgeoisie of the world has erected in the modern Rome its Pantheon where, with self-satisfied pride, it exhibits the gods which it has made for...


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