The Social Alternative

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The Socialist Alternative

"We loathe with all our soul continual reflection and the philistine fear of vigorous action ... Therefore let us fight for freedom as long as we are young and full of growing vigor (Karl Marx)." Karl Marx (1818-83), was a German political philosopher and revolutionist. Marx, along with Friedrich Engels, founded scientific socialism or modern communism. For that he is known as one of the most influential thinkers of all times.

Marx was born in Trier on May 5, 1818, and educated at the universities of Bonn, Berlin. In 1842, shortly after contributing his first article to the Cologne newspaper Rheinische Zeitung, Marx became editor of the paper. Although his political views were radical he was not yet a communist. His writings in the Rheinische Zeitung, criticizing contemporary political and social conditions, embroiled him in controversy with the authorities. In 1843 Marx was compelled to resign his editorial post, and soon afterward the Rheinische Zeitung was forced to discontinue publication.

Marx then went to Paris. There, as a result of his further studies in philosophy, history, and political science, he adopted communist beliefs. In 1844, when Engels visited him in Paris, the two men found that they had independently arrived at identical views on the nature of revolutionary problems. They undertook to collaborate in a systematic explanation of the theoretical principles of communism and in the organization of an international working-class movement dedicated to those principles.

In 1845 Marx was ordered to leave Paris because of his revolutionary activities. He settled in Brussels and began the work of organizing and directing a network of revolutionary groups, called Communist Correspondence Committees, in a number of European cities. In connection with the consolidation of these committees in 1847 to form the Communist League, Marx...