Karl Marx

German-born philosopher (1818–1883)

Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 in Trier, Prussia – 14 March 1883 in London, England) was a German political thinker who wrote about economics and politics. Marx thought that if a place that works together runs on wage-labor, then there would always be class struggle. He thought that this class struggle would result in workers taking power. Marx believed that no economic classwage workers, land owners, etc. should have power over another. He believed that everyone should contribute what they can, and everyone should get what they need. His most famous book was the Communist Manifesto. He wrote it with Friedrich Engels in 1848. The book is about the ideas and aims of communism. His ideas are called Marxism.

Karl Heinrich Marx
Karl Marx in 1875
Born(1818-05-05)5 May 1818
Died14 March 1883(1883-03-14) (aged 64)
Spouse
Jenny von Westphalen (m. 1843–1881)
Era19th-century philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
SchoolMarxism
Main interests
Politics, Economics, class struggle, Alienation
Notable ideas
Co-founder of Marxism (with Engels), Alienation and exploitation of the worker, The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital, Materialist conception of history
Signature

Biography

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Marx's Birthplace

Karl Marx was born on 5 May 1818, in Trier, Prussia (now Germany). He came from a middle-class family, and his father was a lawyer. Marx studied law, history, and philosophy at the University of Bonn and later at the University of Berlin. During his education, he became involved with radical thinkers and developed his interest in philosophy and economics. After completing his education, Marx began his career as a journalist in the early 1840s, writing for various German publications. He explored political and economic issues, laying the groundwork for his later theories. In 1844 Marx meet Friedrich Engels in Paris, France and became close friends by working together on the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, sharing a passion for critiquing the socio-economic order. Their intellectual camaraderie helped shape Marxist theory. In his later years, Karl Marx faced financial struggles and health issues. He continued his political activities, writing, and research, contributing to the development of Marxist theory. Marx died in London on 14 March 1883, but his ideas had a lasting impact on political and economic thought.

 
Marx's Grave

Personal life

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Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Marx's daughters: Jenny Caroline (1844–1883), Jenny Julia Eleanor (1855–1898) and Jenny Laura (1845–1911)

Karl Marx lived in various European cities during his life. Some notable ones include Trier and Cologne in Germany, Brussels in Belgium, and London in the United Kingdom, where he spent a significant portion of his later life. Marx married Jenny von Westphalen, his childhood sweetheart, in 1843. Despite his revolutionary ideas, he struggled with poverty and relied on his friend Friedrich Engels for support. Marx had six children, and his family faced hardship due to their economic circumstances. Marx's Wife died in 1881 just two years before his own death in 1883. His personal life reflected the complexities of the era he lived in.

Das Kapital

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First edition title page of Volume I (1867).

His most important work is Das Kapital, or The Capital. It is commonly known in English as simply 'Capital.' He spent many years working on the three parts of the book. Das Kapital describes how capitalism works and the problems it creates, such as division of labour, alienation and exploitation. The book has led to many arguments between those who agree with the book and those who do not. Marx's ideas have been thought of as responsible for socialist revolutions (like the Russian Revolution).

Communist Manifesto

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the Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848, advocates for the overthrow of capitalist societies by the working class. It emphasizes historical class struggles, predicts the inevitable rise of the proletariat, and calls for the abolition of private property. The manifesto outlines the principles of communism, aiming for a classless society where the means of production are collectively owned. Marx's Communist Manifesto, co-written with Engels, outlines the idea of a classless society, emphasizing the struggle between the bourgeoisie (owners) and proletariat (workers). It advocates for the overthrow of the capitalist system to establish a communist society where the means of production are collectively owned.

Historical materialism

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Marx's most popular theory was 'historical materialism', arguing that history is the result of material conditions, rather than ideas. He believed that religion, morality, Social structures and other things are all rooted in economics.

Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

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Anti-capitalist propaganda poster

Marx also wrote the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, a critique of political economy in which he discusses topics such as labor wages, labor rent, and capital profit, and his ideas of how to change the economy, including proletarian socialist revolution and an eventual communist society.[1]

Legacy

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World Map with Communist or Socialist Countries

Karl Marx's legacy is marked by his influential contributions to political theory and economics, particularly with his ideas on communism and class struggle. While his ideas have shaped various political movements, their interpretation and application have varied widely, sometimes leading to both positive and negative outcomes. However, there's ongoing debate about Karl Marx's legacy by historians. Some see him as a revolutionary thinker who highlighted class struggles, while others criticize his ideas for various reasons, including their implementation in certain historical contexts. Some historians argue that Karl Marx's ideas, as interpreted and implemented by various leaders, contributed to the development of totalitarian regimes, citing instances like the Soviet Union and Maoist China as examples. Many people continue to follow and develop Marx's ideas.

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References

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  1. Marx, Karl; Friedrich Engels, Robert Tucker The Marx-Engels Reader: Second Edition WW Norton and Company New York page 66

Biographies

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Articles and entries

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Other websites

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Bibliography and online texts

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