Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto, is the mastermind behind Marxism. Born 1818 in Trier, Germany, Marx was the son of Henrietta Marx, and his father Hirschel, who later changed his name to Heinrich. Heinrich was a lawyer who moved to Protestantism.
Marx attended secondary school in his birth town, Trier, then went to Bonn University, intent on majoring in law. Marx, not being the most attentive, behaved student, was also a spendthrift. He ended up transferring to Berlin University by his father?s request after he was injured in a duel and his father agreed to pay his debts. Once at the less party-school type college, Marx decided to show effort in his studies. He was enthralled by a professor, Bruno Bauer, who was a radical atheist, and was also introduced to G.W.F. Hegal?s works. Marx had decided to become a lecturer at the University by his father?s death in 1838.
Marx completed his doctoral thesis, and in 1842 Bauer, his mentor for the thesis paper, was fired for being too outspoken in his atheism.
The influences of Bauer and Hegal?s philosophy molded Marx into a radical man. With an interest in journalism, he had to move to Cologne where strong liberal opposition was present. Marx was a contributor to The Rhenish Gazette, and was appointed editor quite promptly. Marx got to know a socialist, Moses Hess, quite well while in Cologne, and the philosophies of socialism captivated him. In January 1843, Marx managed to get his newspaper banned for blatantly criticizing the government on its poverty policies. Marx married Jenny von Westphalen, and moved to France immediately afterward, once warned that further action may result. In France, he was offered editorship in the Franco-German Annals, and he also met up with Bauer, who was a contributor.
Marx made relations with people of the working class for the first time. They were quite friendly and open, but very poor, and that disconcerted Marx. Marx made attacks on capitalism utilizing Hegel's dialectic theory, and claimed himself a communist. This got his journal banned from Germany in February 1844 and the owner was not thrilled at Marx for this.
Marx wrote Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts in 1844. He worked on developing the concepts of alienation, in which he found three main arguments against capitalism. Marx said the worker is alienated from what he?s producing, himself, and from each other, on account of the economic competitiveness. His solution was communism, which would eliminate alienation.
In Paris, Marx befriended Friedrich Engels, hitting it off immediately, because of their synonymous views on capitalism. They made a nearly life-long partnership. The Prussian attempted to coerce France into exiling Marx from the country just as the partnership?s first article, The Holy Family, was being composed. The Prussians were successful and in January 1845, Marx?s stay was terminated. Both Marx and Engels moved to Brussels, Belgium due to the greatest freedom of speech of any country in Europe. Numerous people who were exiled for heresy, including Hess, were found there. Engels ended up yielding financial support for Marx?s family. One thing he did was giving Marx the royalties his book, Condition of the Working Class in England. Marx had more time to expand on his economic and political philosophies without the rigors of work. He studied capitalism intimately, and mused on creating a successful socialist revolution against the capitalists. This set Marx apart from other philosophers, because few others took into account actually making changes.
The pair went to London in 1845 where he continued research and met George Julian Harney, a Chartist. Marx finished his next work, The German Ideology when they got back to Belgium. This book further expanded on the concept of history, not seen in his previous works.
Marx set up a Communist Correspondence Committee in 1846 in attempt to bring the leaders of communism together. British socialists created the Communist League after being influenced significantly by Marx. He attended one of their meeting in 1847 and their goals were set in stone. ?And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society... in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.? (Marx 23) They were intent on conquering the bourgeoisie, thus making everyone equal and utterly eliminating social class differentiation.
When Marx returned to Belgium again to complete The Communist Manifesto. It was based on Engel?s Principles of Communism. This work was written more generally than his previous works, making a detailed analysis of what the bourgeoisie did what was wrong with their capitalistic philosophies (particularly social class segregation), and how the proletarians planned on ?overthrowing? the bourgeoisie. Marx even made references comparing theirs to the bourgeoisie during the French Revolution, stating how bourgeoisie successfully overthrew and abolished the feudal system. He made it clear that history was all about the social classes, not heroes. The proletariat is always the working class victim at the mercy of the upper class factory owners, the infamous bourgeoisie, who use them for profit. Marx believed that no bourgeoisie meant elimination of social disparity.
The 1848 publishing of The Communist Manifesto resulted in Belgium giving Marx the boot. Even this country could only take so much, and the Manifesto?s talk of a massive revolution finally put them off enough to eliminate Marx. The partnership returned to Cologne and founded the New Rhenish Gazette with hopes that it would spur revolution. The paper would be dedicated to revolutionary mediums. Marx stayed involved with a new Committee of Public Safety intent on protecting people from violence used by the law. When the Austrian revolution failed and dictorial rule returned, Marx realized that world-wide revolution would be a long shot, to say the least. Despite this, yet another country cans Marx in May 1849 and printed in red, the final New Rhenish Gazette publication states exactly why he is being expelled and gets his last word in.
Marx made an attempt to get into France, and with no success, was moving to the only county he could go to within the month, England. In September of 1849, Marx and his family arrived safely. The Prussians tried to coerce England into getting rid of Marx for good, but luckily the liberal British views saved him. Engels continued to support the Marx family, and even then, they lived like the lowliest proletarians. They were quickly evicted from a ?2-room slab? (#1) apartment and had to find an even cheaper one. They found one in Soho, lived there for six years. Jenny?s final and 6th child was born here. Of the six children, three, including the two most recent born in Soho, died concise, grisly deaths. The seventh couldn?t really be considered a child, as it was born already dead. He home schooled his eldest children.
Engels ended up leaving to work in Germany, while regularly sending the Marx family money. Engels kept regular contact with Marx.
The Prussians sent their paparazzi-like Marx haters over and gladly poked fun at the Marx family?s ghastly, horrific state.
A U.S. radical socialist, Charles Dana, a New York Daily Tribune editor, asked Marx to be a contributor, as well as George Ripley for the New American Cyclopedia. Marx published ?487 times? (#1) for the New York Daily Tribune. This proved to be a blessing, because Marx now had money and went from despicable poverty to homeowner, moving to Kentish Town. Marx?s was far from out of the woods. Jenny ?contracted smallpox and barely survived, being left deaf and scarred.? (#1) On top of that, Marx himself suffered a bout of hideously repugnant ?boils.? (#1) His next major work, Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy appeared in 1859. It is no surprise that economic should come up after what he has faced. Here, basically everything is related to economics and economic classes. By the end of that decade, Marx was not contributing and Engel?s aid was insufficient. He ended up getting additional aid from Berlin socialist Ferdinand Lassalle, who was murdered in 1864. Marx put out another work in 1867, Das Kapital, which was divided into volumes. This was an expansion on capitalism and went into detail on economic industrialization terms as they relate to the laborers, and finished off with a recount of revolution. His thoughts were on the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer basis. Nevertheless, modern day improvements in capitalism has minimalized most of the issues Marx addressed at the time in most industrialized nations.
The completion of Das Kapital went at a lethargic pace compared to previous works as Marx was running out of pep and suffering from ?liver infections.? (#1) His second daughter, who had moved out for a teaching job returned to take care of her senile, ailing parents. Marx?s wife Jenny died in 1881 an appalling death. Marx?s depression fell into the vortex of no return when his ?first daughter, Jenny died of a tempestuous cancer.? (#1) Karl Marx finally died on March 14, 1883 a dreadful, forlorn death.
Karl Marx was an amazing man who is still known today for several of his works. His views weren?t without justification. Marx had reasons and back in the 1800?s European capitalism wasn?t what it is in the modern day U.S. He went through phases ranging from a semi-nomadic rabble-rouser to a quiescent life of facing the most cruel poverty, loss, and disease. Marx could be seen as a hero for managing to continue persevering in the face of such utter desolation. The Marxian theme can be summarized as, ?Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all it does is deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation.? (Marx 31) As much as Marx was an innovator who was ahead of his time, it did, oddly enough, say ?man?, not people, but that?s another paper.
Works Cited #1: Karl Marx. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUmarx.htm. March 3, 2002.
Marx, Karl. The Communist Manifesto. Monthly Review Press. NY, NY 1964.
Engels, Friedrich. The Principles of Communism. Monthly Review Press. NY, NY 1964.