Karl Marx was a German historian, philosopher, economist, sociologist, and journalist.
Born on May 5, 1818 in the city of Trier in Prussia to Heinrich Marx and Henriette Preggburg. He was one of the surviving nine children of the family. Marx, however, was not much influenced by his religion, rather, from the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement in Europe during the 18th century. However with his Jewish background, he suffered through discrimination in society, causing his desire for a change in society to grow. After his studies with his father until the year of 1830. He started his high school studies until 1835. Later, he was sent to University of Bonn to study law by his father. Although Marx’s main interest was philosophy and literature.
He still attend college due to his father. During his years at Bonn, he was not the most efficient student. He developed a drinking habit, got into a duel, and spent time in jail. During which he took part in clubs such as the Poets’ Club, a group of political radicals and once became co-president of a Tavern Club. After a year at Bonn, Marx left the university and studied law and philosophy at the University of Berlin.
At the University of Berlin, he was interested in integrating law and philosophy together. He believed that “without philosophy nothing could be accomplished”. While Marx was at Berlin, he was introduced to Hegel’s philosophy and became interested in his philosophy of history. Hegel’s philosophy of history stated that “Humanity advances and progresses only because of conflicts, wars, revolutions; that is, through the struggle of the oppressed against oppressors”. Meaning he believed that peace and harmony brings no progress to humanity. Marx was one of Hegel’s supporter and wanted to put his theory into practice. In January 1842, Marx started working as a journalist for a newspaper called Rheinische Zeitung.
Marx wrote much about his views on socialism and criticised the European government. He soon became the editor-in-chief of the newspaper and gained popularity for his writings. However, the government disliked the criticism of the Russian monarchy and banned the newspaper in 1843. Marx moved on to become a co-editor of a Parisian magazine, Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, also known as the “German-French Yearbooks”, in cooperation with Arnold Ruge.
In the same year, Marx and his wife, Jenny von Westphalen, moved to Paris where Marx continued his publishing for the magazine. However, just like his previous publishings, there were many that opposed Marx’s view due to his views on socialism and criticism of socialists in europe. Later in August 1844, “Marx befriended Frederick Engels, a contributor who was to become his lifelong collaborator” (“Karl Marx”, 2018). Whom he and Marx collaborated in various projects including the famous The Communist Manifesto. However, in 1845, Marx was expelled from France, part of the reason was of his poor reputation with the Prussian government. Marx moved to Brussels, later Engels followed him to Brussels and continued their collaboration together. With the restrictions that they are unable to publish subjects including politics in order to remain within Belgium.
Later in the year 1848, The Communist Manifesto was published for the first time.Again in 1849, Marx was expelled and moved to London after he became a stateless person and remained in London for the rest of his life. Engels continued to work with Marx and sometimes supported Marx even after death. Marx spent the last 25 years of his life working on a work called Das Kapital. He was not able to finished all three volumes of the work he has planned, only being able to finish one by himself. Engels later completed the other two volumes using Marx’s notes.
Marx’s theory was put into use by the Soviets. Which they “greatly honored his memory, making Marxism (as interpreted by Vladimir Lenin) the official philosophy of the state. However, 70 years of Soviet abuses have greatly discredited Marx’s views, and the formerly communist states of Eastern Europe have embraced capitalism and Western-style democracy” (Eric, 2017). Some might say it’s the Soviet’s fault for misusing Marx’s theory, in opposition, some might blame Marx himself.
Still today there are Marxist movements worldwide. Many of Marx’s criticism was on the system of capitalism. He believes that by have inequality between social classes. Mainly the two groups that Marx has identified; the working class and the capitalists. He explained how the working class even though they are the main workforce of a factory or assembly line. They do not have control of the means of production; which are things such as the tools used, materials used to make the product, the factory the people work in.
The means of production is controlled by the capitalist. Basically “it’s the labour-power of the worker which swells the boss’s capital. The rich become even richer, while the poor certainly don’t get any fatter on their wages” (Rius, 1989). Not only that, but the wages of the working class are also barely sufficient for daily needs. They also suffered difficult work conditions, but since they only have their labour to offer, they have to suffer through the situation. One of Marx’s famous works, The Communist Manifesto, appealed to the working class in which the manifesto supports the position of communism and explained how for the working class to be set free, they must unite together and fight together.
The manifesto explained how the system of capitalism allows the exploitation of the working class and that the working class will have to be the one to change this system. However, the working class will be unable to seize control of property. Therefore, the working class must abolish the system of private property.
Only then will the different classes exist no longer. Marx said that “Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” (Marx, 1848). Marx believed that in order for the social class system to be abolish there needs to be a revolution rather than changing the way the government functions,