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Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels


Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, political economist, and socialist revolutionary, who addressed the matters of alienation and exploitation of the working class, the capitalist mode of production, and historical materialism. He is famous for analysing history in terms of class struggle, summarised in the initial line introducing the Communist Manifesto (1848): "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". His ideas were influential in his time, and it was greatly expanded by the successful Bolshevik October Revolution of 1917 in Imperial Russia. As Joseph Schumpeter noted, however, "there [wa]s, between the true meaning of Marx's message and bolshevist practice and ideology, at least as great a gulf as there was between the religion of humble Galileans and the practice and ideology of the princes of the church or the warlords of the Middles Ages."[37]Philosophy and social thought

Marx's polemic with other thinkers often occurred through critique, and thus he has been called "the first great user of critical method in social sciences."[199][200] He criticised speculative philosophy, equating metaphysics with ideology.[204] By adopting this approach, Marx attempted to separate key findings from ideological biases.[200] This set him apart from many contemporary philosophers

Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history. Many intellectuals, labour unions and political parties worldwide have been influenced by Marx's ideas, with many variations on his groundwork.


Marx's theories about society, economics and politics the collective understanding of which is known as Marxism hold that human societies progress through class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a dispossessed labouring class that provides the labour for production. States, Marx believed, were run on behalf of the ruling class and in their interest while representing it as the common interest of all;[15] and he predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism. He argued that class antagonisms under capitalism between the bourgeoisie and proletariat would eventuate in the working class' conquest of political power and eventually establish a classless society, communism, a society governed by a free association of producers.[16][17] Marx actively fought for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic change


Friedrich Engels (28 November 1820 5 August 1895) was a German political philosopher and Karl Marx's co-developer of communist theory. Marx and Engels met in September 1844; discovering that they shared like views of philosophy and socialism, they collaborated and wrote works such as Die heilige Familie (The Holy Family). After the French deported Marx from France in January 1845, Engels and Marx moved to Belgium, which then permitted greater freedom of expression than other European countries; later, in January 1846, they returned to Brussels to establish the Communist Correspondence Committee.

In 1847, they began writing The Communist Manifesto (1848), based upon Engels' The Principles of Communism; six weeks later, they published the 12,000-word pamphlet in February 1848. In March, Belgium expelled them, and they moved to Cologne, where they published the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, a politically radical newspaper. Again, by 1849, they had to leave Cologne for London. The Prussian authorities pressured the British government to expel Marx and Engels, but Prime Minister Lord John Russell refused.

After Karl Marx's death in 1883, Friedrich Engels became the editor and translator of Marx's writings. With his Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) analysing monogamous marriage as guaranteeing male social domination of women, a concept analogous, in communist theory, to the capitalist class's economic domination of the working class Engels made intellectually significant contributions to feminist theory and Marxist feminism.


Marxism is a worldview and method of societal analysis that focuses on class relations and societal conflict, that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, and a dialectical view of social transformation. Marxist methodology uses economic and sociopolitical inquiry and applies that to the critique and analysis of the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change. The term Classical Marxism denotes the collection of socio-eco-political theories expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. "Marxism, as Ernest Mandel remarked, is always open, always critical, always self-critical." As such, Classical Marxism distinguishes between "Marxism" as broadly perceived, and "what Marx believed"; thus, in 1883, Marx wrote to the French labour leader Jules Guesde and to Paul Lafargue (Marx's son-in-law) both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles accusing them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggle; from Marx's letter derives the paraphrase: "If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist".[29][30] American Marxist scholar Hal Draper responded to this comment by saying, "there are few thinkers in modern history whose thought has been so badly misrepresented, by Marxists and anti-Marxists alike"

Critisism of marxism

Democratic socialists and social democrats reject the idea that socialism can be accomplished only through class conflict and a proletarian revolution. Many anarchists reject the need for a transitory state phase. Some thinkers have rejected the fundamentals of Marxist theory, such as historical materialism and the labor theory of value, and gone on to criticize capitalism - and advocate socialism - using other arguments.


Anarchism has had a strained relationship with Marxism since Marx's life. Anarchists reject the need for a transitory state phase, claiming that socialism cannot be established except through decentralized, noncoercive organization. Individualist anarchists, who are often neither socialists nor capitalists, reject Marxism as a statist ideology.

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 884

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