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Karl Marx

(1818-1883)

By
Dmitriy Sharshiner
Beginnings
Karl Marx was born into a wealthy, middle class family in Trier, Germany on
May 5th 1818. His parents where both Jews, but later converted to Christianity to
avoid anti-Semitism. Growing up, Marx was educated by his father. When he turned
16 he started attending Trier High School, at Trier High school Marx was first
introduced to the Liberal Humanist perspective. Humanism is a philosophy that
emphasizes human beings individually, and collectively, it tends to promote
rational, and critical thinking, rather than dogma and faith. The humanist
philosophy can be seen in many of Marx writing on religion, as well as his writings
on the social class struggle.
In 1836 Marx started attending the University of Berlin where he met his
future wife Jenny Von Westphalen. He studied law, but had a strong interest in
philosophy; Marx was especially drawn to the work of G.W.F. Hegal. Hegal was one
of the founders of Absolute Idealism, which gave significant meaning to the
individual, claiming that without some recognition of self and identity, the world
would not exist. Marx early writings showed influence from both humanism, and
Hegals philosophy, where Marx set out to show philosophy had much greater worth
than theology. Marx soon began his early writings on economics, joining different
socialist magazines, and writing articles that where extremely controversial at the

time. One of Karl Marx writings strongly criticized the Russian Monarchy, which the
Tsar at that time eventually banned.
Due to his writings, Marx was barred from having an academic career by the
German government, and would eventually be exiled to Belgium. That however was
not the final home for Karl Marx; he was soon exiled from Belgium and ended up in
London where he spent the majority of his life.

The Movement
According to a recent interview with a London banker on Karl Marx, he said,
The more I work in Wall Street, the more I believe Marx was correct. The basis of
Karl Marx writings was to explain how capitalism works, and the effect that it has on
the workers. In 1848, following his exile to London, Marx, along with his good friend
Freidrich Engels, wrote the famous book Communist Manifesto. The point of the
book was to explain the on going class struggle between the bourgeois (capitalists)
and the proletariat (workers). In the book, Marx examined the state of human labor
under capitalism. According to Marx, workers sell their life activity to another
person in order to secure the necessary means of survival; the capitalist on the
other hand hires the laborer in order to achieve a surplus. This relationship causes a
class struggle due to the drastic difference of living conditions of the capitalist and
the worker. In capitalism the laborer must sell their labor to the ones who own the
means of production. From the concept that the workers are alienated and
separated from the business production their creating, and the surplus that is
coming from that, Marx coined the term proletariat which stood for the idea that
capitalism transformed the worker into a type of machine. In the last line of the

Communist Manifesto, Marx wrote his famous, revolutionary words Workers of all
lands unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.
The most revolutionary book Marx wrote happened in 1868 when he wrote
Das Kapital. the intention of the book was to reveal the economic laws of
capitalism. In this book Marx talked about a central economic system used by the
bourgeois, which allowed labor to be sent into 3rd world countries to reduce cost. It
was also in this book that Marx wrote his predictions stating, With development of
industry, the proletariat not only increases in number, it becomes concentrated in
greater masses, its strength grows and it feels that strength more. Karl Marx
predicted that the proletariat would create a labor movement that would eventually
overthrow capitalism.

Aftermath
On the 14th of March, at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the greatest
living thinker ceased to think. He had been left alone for scarcely two minutes, and
when we came back we found him in his armchair, peacefully gone to sleep- but
forever. - Friedrich Engels
Within 30 years after Karl Marx death, the socialist parties that
acknowledged Marxs influence on their politics where gaining huge momentum.
Socialist revolutions swept over Europe. From France, Russia, Italy, and Germany,
influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx. Though Karl Marx predictions of revolution
where accurate, what Marx underestimated is the desire for power by the state. The
revolutions never truly represented Marxist philosophy, however his ideas are still
alive today and constantly put pressure on the capitalist system we live in.