Karl Marx’s high academic stature outside of economics diverges sharply from his peripheral influence within the discipline, particularly after nineteenth-century developments rendered the labor theory of value obsolete. We hypothesize that the 1917 Russian Revolution is responsible for elevating Marx into the academic mainstream. Using the synthetic control method, we construct a counterfactual for Marx’s citation patterns in Google Ngram data. This allows us to predict how often Marx would have been cited if the Russian Revolution had not happened. We find a significant treatment effect, meaning that Marx’s academic stature today owes a substantial debt to political happenstance.