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The Life & Influence of Karl Marx

Info: 1833 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 13th Aug 2021 in History

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Karl Marx, he has been said to be the most influential political philosopher of the 19th century, today his name is legendary throughout the world, but there are different perspectives of Karl Marx. His ideas are well-known with about a third of the world practicing a style of government he helped create. First I will tell you a little bit about him.

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Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in an ancient town called Trier, Prussia (now called Germany) which was proud of calling itself on being the oldest town in Prussia (Germany), he was the third child out of nine brothers and sisters, he was the eldest “son” because Moritz David Marx, who was four died the year after Karl was born but Karl did have an elder sister Sophie who he was very attached to during his childhood. Marx’s two younger brothers both died early from tuberculosis, as well as two of his sisters. He still had four surviving sisters. He was the son of a respectable Jewish couple, Heinrich Marx and Henrietta Marx. The father Heinrich Marx was a thoughtful, cultivated and intelligent man who thought of himself as a Prussian and a lawyer. Mr. Marx hoped that someday his son would become a lawyer just like him Heinrich Marx, still a Jew decided to baptize his family and himself into the Christian Church in 1824. Why? Well many Jews were doing the same thing they were doing. They were detaching themselves from a way of life which set them apart from other Prussians’ and just making it easier for their children, so they were able to fit in the society they were born into (to save. Guard their livelihood)

In 1830 Karl Marx begins his studies at the Grammar School in Trier which had been a Jesuit School but later on changed the name to Frederick William High School. Karl was a very rebellious person, he was also know to be very rowdy and liked to spend a lot of money (liked to shop a lot). It was during this time that he met his sweetheart Jenny von Westphalen, her father was a distinguished nobleman, (Baron von Westphalen). She was “celebrated as the “prettiest girl in Trier” she was admired by everybody for her beauty, intelligence and charm.” At the age of 17, Karl Marx became engaged to Jenny von Westphalen. In October 1835, young Karl was to attend the University of Bonn to study law . He maintained a very long engagement with Jenny. At Bonn University Karl was thrilled about his new independence, he took so many courses that his father became worried and told him that he didn’t want him to do more than what he could handle but Karl thought differently he was confident that he was able to do more that what “the mind and body can stand”.

In the year of 1836, Karl’s father decided to move him to the University of Berlin where the life at this place was more serious and disciplined. When Karl arrived in Berlin he found the place to be harsh and noisy unlike his childhood home which was very peaceful and the life at Bonn was very easy. Here he decided to study Hegelianism, because he was influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach and some other Hegelians. “He admired Hegel’s dialectics and belief in historical inevitability, but Marx questioned the idealism and abstract thought of philosophy and maintained his belief that reality lies in the material base of economics. In distinct contrast to Hegel’s concentration on the state in his philosophy of law, Marx saw civil society as the sphere to be studied in order to understand the historical development of humankind.”

In 1841 Marx earned his doctorate in philosophy at Jena University with his work on the materialism and atheism of Greek atomists. “Marx moved into journalism and, in October 1842, became editor, in Cologne, of the influential “Rheinische Gazette”, a liberal newspaper backed by industrialists. Marx’s articles, particularly those on economic questions, forced the Prussian government to close the paper” It was during this year that Baron von Westphalen also passed away. In 1843 he marries Jenny von Westphalen. In October he goes to Paris and edits, with Arnold RugeI, the first number of the German-French Yearbooks. In 1844 Karl Marx wrote “The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, written in Paris however they were not published until the 1930s. “In those early writings Marx mad a preliminary stab at addressing, in theoretical terms, issues that were to occupy him for the rest of his life: private property, industrial labor, social class, political power, communist society.” It was also during this time his friendship with Engels, Friedrich (Frederick) begins (a Communist writer) and the birth of Karl Marx first child Jenny. Marx meets several important revolutionaries during this year Heine Heinrich a German lyric poet, Bakumin Michael a Russian revolutionary, Proudhon Pierre-Joseph a French political economist, he was well known for his book called “What is Property?” this friendship lasted very little due to a quarrel over how to interpret Hegel’s ideas. Marx adopted communist beliefs and was ordered to leave Paris in 1845 because of his revolutionary activities. Marx then settled in Brussels, his second daughter is born, Laura. In Brussels 1846, Marx joins the “League of the Just” and a son named Edgar is born (the third child).

Between the years of 1848 through 1849 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels published “The Communist Manifesto: states that the communists are those who have observed this conflict of interests between the newly growing rich and the newly expanding poor classes. To those who cry out against the communists saying that they wish to destroy the family, religion, private property and all other things which are held sacred by the bourgeois middle-classes, the communists reply that these are things which the proletariat does not, in any case, have the chance to enjoy. There are more workers than there are owners and they are all enslaved by the industrial system. It is time that the workers seized power with their own hands and became the new masters of society.” Marx organization demanded that to confiscate private property, to not have right of inheritance, required work for all and free education for all in other words equality. Also the money that was made by the industry wouldn’t go into the hands of a few or certain individuals but that it would belong to the state and the new state would be run by the workers themselves. “The Manifesto called for the workers to carry out their historic mission “Let the ruling-classes tremble at a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. Working-men of all countries unite!”” Marx is expelled from Brussels and goes to Paris where the February Revolution has broken out. He goes onto Cologne again and begins publication of the New Rhineland Gazette. He writes “Red Number” in his new newspaper this was Marx’s most furious revolutional publication. He was actually urging the workers to fight for their rights, not with words but with weapons, Marx was expelled again from Germany so he decides to go to Paris guess what he was also banished from there. He decides to move to London with his family his son Guido is born, 1949.

In London Marx rejoined with the Communist League, confident that there would be further revolutionary action in Europe. He went on to writing two pamphlets about the 1848 revolution in France and its effects, titled, The Class Struggles in France and The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. “He felt that new revolution would only be possible if there was to be a new crisis, and he hoped to uncover what would cause this crisis. He spent a large amount of his time in the British Museum studying political economy toward this end. During the first part of the 1850s Karl Marx and Jenny his wife along with their four children lived in an impoverished state in a three room flat in London’s Soho. The couple would have two more children, but only three in all would survive. The family survived primarily on gifts from Engels whose own income came from the family business in Manchester. Marx also earned a small amount from articles he wrote as the foreign correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune”

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Marx’s health rapidly declined during the last ten years of his life and he was unable to work at the same impressive pace he had set in his early years. He still paid very much close attention to the politics, especially the ones concerning Germany and Russia, and he often offered his some of his comments. “In his Critique of the Gotha Programme” he critiqued the actions of his admirers Karl Liebknecht and August Bebel, disagreeing with their compromises with state socialism in the interest of a united socialist party. He indicated in his letters to Vera Zasulich of this time that he imagined it could be possible for Russia to bypass a capitalist stage of development and move directly to communism by basing its economy on common ownership of land characterized by the village.” “A full six months before her death in December 1881 Marx wife was dying. Both Marx and his wife became ill. Marx lay in bed with bronchitis, while his wife adjacent from him sick from the unbearable pains characteristics of cancer, but Jenny died on December 2, 1881. The last words she spoke to Marx were “Good”. Marx never recovered from his wife’s death; he no longer had the heart to work on anything.” In January 1883 Marx was terribly saddened by the loss of his eldest and beloved daughter who died from cancer of the bladder. Marx returned to London and on March 14, 1883 Marx was found having passed away in his armchair. He was buried March 17, 1983 at Highgate Cemetery in London.

Karl Marx’s early life was extremely important in shaping the way he thought about society and governments and what he thought could make them better, and his experiences and up-bringing made him a pro-communist writer and believer.

The worrying thing for the bourgeoisie is that Marx did not simply analyse the workings of the capitalist system; he pointed out that the crises the unfairness of the system eventually lead to revolution, to a revolt of the ordinary working people who have to suffer the consequences of these periodic crises. Although it is true that many of Marx’s predictions about the course of the revolutionary movement were wrong, we don’t lose anything by saying he left a firm point on the world in which he lived. Even now, there are many who believe, as Engels did, that, “just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, Marx discovered the law of development of human history.” As Marx wrote in a letter to Engels in 1868 “It is absolutely impossible to transcend the laws of nature. What can change in historically different circumstances is only the form in which these laws expose themselves.”


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