Karl Marx (1818–1883), German historian, philosopher, and revolutionary wrote The Communist Manifesto (1848);
"A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of Communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies. Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Communistic by its opponents in power? Where the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?"--Introduction to The Communist Manifesto
Karl Heinrich Marx was born on 5 May 1818, at Brückenstrasse 10, in Trier, Prussia (now Germany), to Heinrich Marx (1777-1838), lawyer, and Henrietta Pressburg (1788–1863). Although the Marxs were Jewish they converted to Christianity because of Prussia's anti-Jewish laws of the time. Marx studied law and history at Bonn, and earned his PhD in Philosophy in 1841, basing his thesis on Democritus. Becoming a proponent of the dialectical Hegelian philosophy, he joined the `Left Hegelians' in Berlin. For a time he was editor of the pro-democratic, yet increasingly revolutionary Rheinische Zeitung, until the government suppressed it entirely in 1843. Marx next turned to the study of political economy. In 1843 he married his childhood friend Jenny von Westphalen (1814-1881) of bourgeois Prussian nobility. They would have seven children.
Having broken away from the Left Hegelians Bruno Bauer and Max Stirner, Marx moved to Paris in the 1840's where he met Friedrich Engels who became a life-long friend. Together they produced The German Ideology, the first substantial work of Marxist theory. Poverty of Philosophy was published in 1847. With the German and French governments increasingly critical of his revolutionary activities, Marx moved to Brussels where he and Engels joined the Communist League and together they outlined its purpose and program in The Communist Manifesto. Addressing the issues of class struggle, materialism, and the role of the proletariat, it is probably Marxs' most widely read work.
After being banished from Belgium, Marx lived in exile between France and Germany and suffered the harsh straits and degradations of poverty and rootlessness. The failures of the Revolutions in 1848-49 were also moral defeats for Marx. After settling in London, England where he remained for the rest of his life, Marx worked on the first volume of his critical analysis of capitalism, Das Capital (1867), a treatise of 20th century politics and economy. With influences from Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract and Scottish political economist Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, it would profoundly "reveal the law of motion of modern society" and be influential in the formation of some of the world's future communist regimes. Engels would subsequently finish the second two volumes from Marxs' notes after his death.
By 1864, along with Engels, Marx was actively involved in the foundation of the International Working Men’s Association in London. The historic challenge to uniformly unite the proletariat in various labour movements in numerous countries was an enormous task that Marx set-to with great passion and dexterity. His monumental efforts however, took their toll on his health, and on 14 March 1883 Karl Marx died in London, still in somewhat impoverished circumstances. He now lies buried beside Jenny in the Highgate Cemetery in London, England. His gravestone reads;
Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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