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  1. en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Karl_MarxKarl Marx - Wikipedia

    Karl Heinrich Marx ( German: [maʁks]; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, critic of political economy, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary. Born in Trier, Germany, Marx studied law and philosophy at the universities of Bonn and Berlin.

    • Life and Writings
    • Alienation and Human Flourishing
    • Theory of History
    • Economics
    • Morality
    • Ideology
    • State and Politics
    • Utopianism
    • Marx’s Legacy

    1.1 Early Years

    Karl Marx was born in 1818, one of nine children. The family lived inthe Rhineland region of Prussia, previously under French rule. Both ofhis parents came from Jewish families with distinguished rabbinicallineages. Marx’s father was a lawyer who converted toChristianity when it became necessary for him to do so if he was tocontinue his legal career. Following an unexceptional school career, Marx studied law andphilosophy at the universities of Bonn and Berlin. His doctoral thesiswas in ancie...

    1.2 Paris

    Between late 1843 and early 1845, Marx lived in Paris, a cosmopolitancity full of émigrés and radical artisans. He wassubsequently expelled by the French government following Prussianpressure. In his last months in Germany and during this Paris exile,Marx produced a series of “early writings”, many notintended for publication, which significantly altered interpretationsof his thought when they were published collectively in the twentiethcentury. Papers that actually saw publication during thi...

    1.3 Brussels

    Between early 1845 and early 1848, Marx lived in Brussels, the capitalof a rapidly industrialising Belgium. A condition of his residency wasto refrain from publishing on contemporary politics, and he waseventually expelled after political demonstrations involving foreignnationals took place. In Brussels Marx published The HolyFamily (1845), which includes contributions from his new friendand close collaborator Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), continuingthe attack on Bruno Bauer and his followers...

    2.1 The Basic Idea

    Alienation is a concept especially, but not uniquely, associated withMarx’s work, and the intellectual tradition that he helpedfound. It identifies a distinct kind of social ill, involving aseparation between a subject and an object that properly belongtogether. The subject here is typically an individual or a group,while the object is usually an “entity” which variously isnot itself a subject, is another subject(s), or is the originalsubject (that is, the relation here can be reflexive). And...

    2.2 Religion and Work

    Marx’s ideas concerning alienation were greatly influenced bythe critical writings on religion of Ludwig Feuerbach(1804–1872), and especially his The Essence ofChristianity (1841). One key text in this respect is Marx’s“Contribution of Hegel’s Critique of Right:Introduction” (1843). This work is home to Marx’snotorious remark that religion is the “opium of thepeople,” a harmful, illusion-generating painkiller(MECW3: 175). It is here that Marx sets out his account ofreligion in most detail. Wh...

    2.3 Alienation and Capitalism

    Marx seems to hold various views about the historical location andcomparative extent of alienation. These include: that some systematicforms of alienation—presumably including religiousalienation—existed in pre-capitalist societies; that systematicforms of alienation—including alienation in work—are onlya feature of class divided societies; that systematic forms ofalienation are greater in contemporary capitalist societies than inpre-capitalist societies; and that not all human societies are...

    3.1 Sources

    Marx did not set out his theory of history in great detail.Accordingly, it has to be constructed from a variety of texts, boththose where he attempts to apply a theoretical analysis to past andfuture historical events, and those of a more purely theoreticalnature. Of the latter, the “1859 Preface” to ACritique of Political Economy has achieved canonical status.However, the manuscripts collected together as The GermanIdeology, co-written with Engels in 1845-46, are also a much usedearly source...

    3.2 Early Formulations

    In his “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845) Marx providesa background to what would become his theory of history by stating hisobjections to “all hitherto existing” materialism andidealism, understood as types of philosophical theories. Materialismis complimented for understanding the physical reality of the world,but is criticised for ignoring the active role of the human subject increating the world we perceive. Idealism, at least as developed byHegel, understands the active nature of the human sub...

    3.3 1859 Preface

    In the sketch of The German Ideology, many of the keyelements of historical materialism are present, even if theterminology is not yet that of Marx’s more mature writings.Marx’s statement in the “1859 Preface” renderssomething of the same view in sharper form. Cohen’sreconstruction of Marx’s view in the Preface begins from whatCohen calls the Development Thesis, which is pre-supposed, rather thanexplicitly stated in the Preface (Cohen 1978 [2001]: 134–174).This is the thesis that the producti...

    4.1 Reading Capital

    How to read Marx’s economic writings, and especially hismasterpiece Capital Volume 1, remains a matter ofcontroversy. An orthodox reading is that Marx’s essential taskis to contribute to economic theory, based on a modified form of thelabour theory of value. Others warn against such a narrowinterpretation, pointing out that the character of Marx’swriting and presentation is very far from what one would expect in astandard economic text. Hence William Clare Roberts (2017), forexample, argues t...

    4.2 Labour Theory of Value

    CapitalVolume 1 begins with an analysis of the idea ofcommodity production. A commodity is defined as a useful externalobject, produced for exchange on a market. Thus, two necessaryconditions for commodity production are: the existence of a market, inwhich exchange can take place; and a social division of labour, inwhich different people produce different products, without which therewould be no motivation for exchange. Marx suggests that commoditieshave both use-value—a use, in other words—a...

    4.3 Exploitation

    As noted, traditionally Marx’s definition of exploitation isgiven in terms of the theory of surplus value, which in turn is takento depend on the labour theory of value: the theory that the value ofany commodity is proportional to the amount of “sociallynecessary” labour embodied in it. However, the question arisesof whether the basic idea of exploitation should be so dependent on aparticular theory of value. For if it is, the notion of exploitationbecomes vulnerable to Robert Nozick’s object...

    5.1 Unpacking Issues

    The issue of Marx and morality poses a conundrum. On readingMarx’s works at all periods of his life, there appears to be thestrongest possible distaste towards bourgeois capitalist society, andan undoubted endorsement of future communist society. Yet the terms ofthis antipathy and endorsement are far from clear. Despiteexpectations, Marx never directly says that capitalism is unjust.Neither does he directly say that communism would be a just form ofsociety. In fact he frequently takes pains t...

    5.2 The “Injustice” of Capitalism

    The initial argument that Marx must have thought that capitalism isunjust is based on the observation that Marx argued that allcapitalist profit is ultimately derived from the exploitation of theworker. Capitalism’s dirty secret is that it is not a realm ofharmony and mutual benefit but a system in which one classsystematically extracts profit from another. How could this fail to beunjust? Yet it is notable that Marx never explicitly draws such aconclusion, and in Capitalhe goes as far as to...

    5.3 Communism and “Justice”

    This leads us now to Marx’s assessment of communism. Wouldcommunism be a just society? In considering Marx’s attitude tocommunism and justice there are really only two viable possibilities:either he thought that communism would be a just society or he thoughtthat the concept of justice would not apply: that communism wouldtranscend justice. Communism is described by Marx, in the Critique of the GothaProgramme, as a society in which each person should contributeaccording to their ability and r...

    6.1 A Critical Account

    The account of ideology contained in Marx’s writings isregularly portrayed as a crucial element of his intellectual legacy.It has been identified as among his “most influential”ideas (Elster 1986: 168), and acclaimed as “the mostfertile” part of his social and political theory (Leiter 2004:84). Not least, these views on ideology are said to constituteMarx’s claim to a place—alongside Friedrich Nietzsche(1844–1900) and Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)—as one ofthe “masters of suspicion”; that is, as...

    6.2 Ideology and Stability

    Marx does not view ideology as a feature of all societies, and, inparticular, suggests that it will not be a feature of a futurecommunist society. However, ideology is portrayed as a feature of allclass-divided societies, and not only of capitalistsociety—although many of Marx’s comments on ideology areconcerned with the latter. The theory of ideology appears to play arole in explaining a feature of class-divided societies which mightotherwise appear puzzling, namely what might be called thei...

    6.3 Characteristics

    For Marx ideological beliefs are social in that they are widelyshared, indeed so widely-shared that for long periods they constitutethe “ruling” or “dominant” ideas in a givenclass-divided society (MECW5: 59). And they are social inthat they directly concern, or indirectly impact upon, theaction-guiding understandings of self and society that individualshave. These action-guiding understandings include the dominant legal,political, religious, and philosophical views within particularclass-div...

    This broad heading—the state and politics—could cover verymany different issues. To make the present account manageable, onlytwo are addressed here: Marx’s account of the state incapitalist society; and Marx’s account of the fate of the statein communist society. (Consequently, many other important politicalissues—the nature of pre-capitalist states, relations betweenstates, the political transition to communism, and so on—are notdealt with.)

    8.1 Utopian Socialism

    It is well-known that Marx never provided a detailed account of thebasic structure of the future communist society that he predicted.This was not simply an omission on his part, but rather reflects hisdeliberate commitment, as he colloquially has it, to refrain fromwriting “recipes” for the “restaurants” of thefuture (MECW35: 17, translation amended). The reasoning that underpins this commitment can be reconstructed fromMarx’s engagement with the radical political tradition that hecalled “uto...

    8.2 Marx’s Utopophobia

    The remainder of this section will focus on Marx’s disapprovalof the constructive endeavours of the utopians. In trying to organise and understand Marx’s various criticismsof utopianism, it is helpful to distinguish between foundational andnon-foundational variants. (This distinction is intended to beexhaustive, in that all of his criticisms of utopianism will fall intoone of these two categories.) Non-foundational criticisms ofutopian socialism are those which, if sound, would provide us wit...

    At this point, we might be expected briefly to survey Marx’slegacy. That legacy is often elaborated in terms of movements and thinkers.However, so understood, the controversy and scale of that legacy makebrevity impossible, and this entry is already long enough. All we cando here is gesture at the history and mention some furtherreading. The chronology here might provisionally be divided into threehistorical periods: from Marx’s death until the RussiaRevolution (1917); from the Russian Revolution to the fall of theBerlin Wall (1989); and since 1989. It seems hard to say much that iscertain about the last of these periods, but some generalisationsabout the first two might be hazarded. That first period of “Classical Marxism” can be thought ofin two generational waves. The first smaller group of theorists wasassociated with the Second International, and includes Karl Kautsky(1854–1938) and Plekhanov. The succeeding more activistgeneration includes Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919), V.I. Leni...

    • Who Was Karl Marx?
    • Marx's Inspiration
    • Marx's Social Economic Systems
    • Marx's Historical Materialism
    • Using Marx as A Foundation
    • His Early Life
    • Personal Life
    • Famous Works
    • Contemporary Influence
    • The Labor Theory of Value

    Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a philosopher, author, social theorist, and economist. He is famous for his theories about capitalism and communism. Marx, in conjunction with Friedrich Engels, published The Communist Manifesto in 1848; later in life, he wrote Das Kapital (the first volume was published in Berlin in 1867; the second and third volumes were published posthumously in 1885 and 1894, respectively), which discussed the labor theory of value.

    Marx was inspired by classical political economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo, while his own branch of economics, Marxian economics, is not favored among modern mainstream thought. Nevertheless, Marx's ideas have had a huge impact on societies, most prominently in communist projects such as those in the USSR, China, and Cuba. Among modern thinkers, Marx is still very influential in the fields of sociology, political economy, and strands of heterodoxeconomics.

    While many equate Karl Marx with socialism, his work on understanding capitalism as a social and economic system remains a valid critique in the modern era. In Das Kapital (Capitalin English), Marx argues that society is composed of two main classes: Capitalists are the business owners who organize the process of production and who own the means of production such as factories, tools, and raw material, and who are also entitled to any and all profits. The other, much larger class is composed of labor (which Marx termed the "proletariat"). Laborers do not own or have any claim to the means of production, the finished products they work on, or any of the profits generated from sales of those products. Rather, labor works only in return for a money wage. Marx argued that because of this uneven arrangement, capitalists exploit workers.

    Another important theory developed by Marx is known as historical materialism. This theory posits that society at any given point in time is ordered by the type of technology used in the process of production. Under industrial capitalism, society is ordered with capitalists organizing labor in factories or offices where they work for wages. Prior to capitalism, Marx suggested that feudalism existed as a specific set of social relations between lord and peasant classes related to the hand-powered or animal-powered means of production prevalent at the time.

    Marx's work laid the foundations for future communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin. Operating from the premise that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction, his ideas formed the basis of Marxismand served as a theoretical base for communism. Nearly everything Marx wrote was viewed through the lens of the common laborer. From Marx comes the idea that capitalist profits are possible because the value is "stolen" from the workers and transferred to employers. He was, without question, one of the most important and revolutionary thinkers of his time.

    Born in Trier, Prussia (now Germany), on May 5, 1818, Marx was the son of a successful Jewish lawyer who converted to Lutheranism before Marx’s birth. Marx studied law in Bonn and Berlin, and at Berlin, was introduced to the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel. He became involved in radicalism at a young age through the Young Hegelians, a group of students who criticized the political and religious establishments of the day. Marx received his doctorate from the University of Jena in 1841. His radical beliefs prevented him from securing a teaching position, so instead, he took a job as a journalist and later became the editor of Rheinische Zeitung, a liberal newspaper in Cologne.

    After living in Prussia, Marx lived in France for some time, and that is where he met his lifelong friend Friedrich Engels. He was expelled from France and then lived for a brief period in Belgium before moving to London where he spent the rest of his life with his wife. Marx died of bronchitis and pleurisy in London on March 14, 1883. He was buried at Highgate Cemetery in London. His original grave was nondescript, but in 1954, the Communist Party of Great Britain unveiled a large tombstone, including a bust of Marx and the inscription "Workers of all Lands Unite," an Anglicized interpretation of the famous phrase in The Communist Manifesto: "Proletarians of all countries, unite!"

    The Communist Manifesto summarizes Marx and Engels's theories about the nature of society and politics and is an attempt to explain the goals of Marxism, and, later, socialism. When writing The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels explained how they thought capitalism was unsustainable and how the capitalist society that existed at the time of the writing would eventually be replaced by a socialist one. Das Kapital (full title: Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) was a critique of capitalism. By far the more academic work, it lays forth Marx's theories on commodities, labor markets, the division of labor and a basic understanding of the rate of return to owners of capital. The exact origins of the term "capitalism" in English are unclear, it appears that Karl Marx was not the first to use the word "capitalism" in English, although he certainly contributed to the rise of its use.1 According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English word was first used by author William Thac...

    Marxist ideas in their pure form have very few direct adherents in contemporary times; indeed, very few Western thinkers embraced Marxism after 1898, when economist Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk's Karl Marx and the Close of His System was first translated into English. In his damning rebuke, Böhm-Bawerk showed that Marx failed to incorporate capital marketsor subjective values in his analysis, nullifying most of his more pronounced conclusions. Still, there are some lessons that even modern economic thinkers can learn from Marx. Though he was the capitalist system's harshest critic, Marx understood that it was far more productive than previous or alternative economic systems. In Das Kapital, he wrote of "capitalist production" that combined "together of various processes into a social whole," which included developing new technologies.2 He believed all countries should become capitalist and develop that productive capacity, and then workers would naturally revolt into communism. But, like A...

    Like the other classical economists, Karl Marx believed in the labor theory of value to explain relative differences in market prices. This theory stated that the value of a produced economic good can be measured objectively by the average number of labor hours required to produce it. In other words, if a table takes twice as long to make as a chair, then the table should be considered twice as valuable. Marx understood the labor theory better than his predecessors (even Adam Smith) and contemporaries, and presented a devastating intellectual challenge to laissez-faire economists in Das Kapital: If goods and services tend to be sold at their true objective labor values as measured in labor hours, how do any capitalists enjoy profits? It must mean, Marx concluded, that capitalists were underpaying or overworking, and thereby exploiting, laborers to drive down the cost of production.1 While Marx's answer was eventually proved incorrect and later economists adopted the subjective theor...

    • Karl Marx’s Early Life and Education
    • Karl Marx Becomes A Revolutionary
    • Karl Marx’s Life in London and “Das Kapital”

    Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Prussia; he was the oldest surviving boy in a family of nine children. Both of his parents were Jewish, and descended from a long line of rabbis, but his father, a lawyer, converted to Lutheranism in 1816 due to contemporary laws barring Jews from higher society. Young Karl was baptized in the same church at the age of 6, but later became an atheist. After a year at the University of Bonn (during which Marx was imprisoned for drunkenness and fought a duel with another student), his worried parents enrolled their son at the University of Berlin, where he studied law and philosophy. There he was introduced to the philosophy of the late Berlin professor G.W.F. Hegel and joined a group known as the Young Hegelians, who were challenging existing institutions and ideas on all fronts, including religion, philosophy, ethics and politics.

    After receiving his degree, Marx began writing for the liberal democratic newspaper Rheinische Zeitung, and he became the paper’s editor in 1842. The Prussian government banned the paper as too radical the following year. With his new wife, Jenny von Westphalen, Marx moved to Paris in 1843. There Marx met fellow German émigré Friedrich Engels, who would become his lifelong collaborator and friend. In 1845, Engels and Marx published a criticism of Bauer’s Young Hegelian philosophy entitled “The Holy Father.” By that time, the Prussian government intervened to get Marx expelled from France, and he and Engels had moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Marx renounced his Prussian citizenship. In 1847, the newly founded Communist League in London, England, drafted Marx and Engels to write “The Communist Manifesto,” published the following year. In it, the two philosophers depicted all of history as a series of class struggles (historical materialism), and predicted that the upcoming proletari...

    With revolutionary uprisings engulfing Europe in 1848, Marx left Belgium just before being expelled by that country’s government. He briefly returned to Paris and Germany before settling in London, where he would live for the rest of his life, despite being denied British citizenship. He worked as a journalist there, including 10 years as a correspondent for the New YorkDaily Tribune, but never quite managed to earn a living wage, and was supported financially by Engels. In time, Marx became increasingly isolated from fellow London Communists, and focused more on developing his economic theories. In 1864, however, he helped found the International Workingmen’s Association (known as the First International) and wrote its inaugural address. Three years later, Marx published the first volume of “Capital” (Das Kapital) his masterwork of economic theory. In it he expressed a desire to reveal “the economic law of motion of modern society” and laid out his theory of capitalism as a dynamic...

    • 6 min
  2. May 12, 2021 · Karl Heinrich Marx was one of nine children born to Heinrich and Henrietta Marx in Trier, Prussia. His father was a successful lawyer who revered Kant and Voltaire, and was a passionate activist ...

    • 4 min
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