Karl MarxKarl Marx was the greatest thinker and philosopher of his time. His views onlife and the social structure of his time revolutionized the way in which peoplethink. He created an opportunity for the lower class to rise Above thearistocrats and failed due to the creation of the middle class.
Despite thisfailure, he was still a great political leader and set the Basis of Communism inRussia. His life contributed to the way people think Today, and because of himpeople are more open to suggestion and are Quicker to create ideas on politicalissues. Karl Heinrich Marx was born May 5th, 1818 in Trier. Although he hadthree other siblings, all sisters, he was the favorite child to his father,Heinrich.
His mother, a Dutch Jewess named Henrietta Pressburg, had no interestin Karl’s intellectual side during his life. His father was a Jewish lawyer, andbefore his death in 1838, converted his family to Christianity to preserve hisjob with the Prussian state. When Heinrich’s mother died, he no longer felt hehad an obligation to his religion, thus helping him in the decision in turningto Christianity. Karl’s childhood was a happy and carefree one. His parents hada good relationship and it help set Karl in the right direction. ” His’Splendid natural gifts’ awakened in his father the hope that they would One daybe used in the service of humanity, whilst his mother declared him to be a childof fortune in whose hands everything would go well.Order now
(The story of his life,Mehring, page 2) In High school, Karl stood out among the crowd. When asked towrite a report on “How to choose a profession” he took a differentapproach. He took the angle in which most interested him, by saying that therewas no way to choose a profession, but because of circumstances one is placed inan occupation. A person with an aristocratic background is more likely to have ahigher role in society as apposed to someone from a much poorer background. While at Bonn at the age of eighteen he got engaged to Jenny Von Westphalen,daughter of the upperclassmen Ludwig Von Westphalen.
She was the childhoodfriend of Marx’s oldest sister, Sophie. The engagement was a secret one, meaningthey got engaged without asking permission of Jenny’s parents. Heinrich Marx wasuneasy about this but before long the consent was given. Karl’s school lifeother than his marks is unknown. He never spoke of his friends as a youth, andno one has ever came to speak of him through his life.
He left high school inAugust of 1835 to go on to the University of Bonn in the fall of the same yearto study law. His father wanted him to be a lawyer much like himself but whenKarl’s reckless university life was getting in the way after a year Heinrichtransferred him to Berlin. Also, he did not go to most lectures, and showedlittle interest in what was to be learned. Karl’s reckless ways were nottolerated at Berlin, a more conservative college without the mischievous ways ofthe other universities.
While at Berlin, Marx became part of the group known asthe Yong Hegelians. The group was organized in part due to the philosophyteacher Hegel that taught from 1818 to his death. The teachings of Hegel shapedthe way the school thought towards most things. Those who studied Hegel and hisideals were known as the Young Hegelians. Hegel spoke of the development andevolution of the mind and of ideas. Although Karl was younger than most in thegroup, he was recognized for his intellectual ability and became the focus ofthe group.
While at Berlin “He came to believe that all the varioussciences and philosophies were part of one overarching, which, when completed,which would give a true and total picture of the universe and man. “(Communist Manifesto, Marx (Francis B. Randal), page 15) Marx was an atheist,and believed that science and philosophy would prove everything. Thus he had nobelief in a god of any type.
Marx believed that Hegel must have been an atheistas well because of his strong belief in the mind. Marx’s doctoral thesis wascompeted in 1841. It carried the title “The Difference Between thePhilosophies of Nature of Democrtius and Epicurus. “(The Making of Marx’sCritical Theory, Oakley, page 11) It had to do with the Greek philosopherEpicurus and how his beliefs related to Marxs’ of that day.
This thesis was anearly indication of the thinking behind Karl Marx. Much of his later work andideas are evident in this essay. He passed his thesis into the University ofJena because Bonn and Berlin required an oral part to the thesis. The quicknesswas also a matter in this.
He passed it in early April, and got his degree inhistory and philosophy in April 15, 1841. After graduation, he was unable tofind work. This caused him to take a job with the German newspaper RheinischeZeitung in early 1842. By the end of the year, Marx made editor-in-chief. A fewmonths after that in 1843 because of his radical writings, and his social views,Marx was forced to step down as editor, and soon after that the paper closedaltogether.
He married Jenny von Westphalen, and with a member of the YoungHegelians, Arnold Ruge went to Paris to publish a radical journal on hisbeliefs. It was evident in his works that he was a revolutionary that advocatedcriticism of everything in existence. This was especially anticipated by theproletariat. The proletariat were the working class of the day.
They were thepoor and made up the majority of people. Marx went on to believe that theproletariat would rise up against the bourgeoisie. Then in 1844 Marx met a manthat would change his life forever. When going to England after doing militaryservice, he meet Marx in Cologne in the offices of the Rheinische Zeitung. Bothof them had gone through the German philosophic school and whilst abroad theycame to the same conclusions but while Marx arrived at an understanding of thestruggles and the demands of the age basis of the French Revolution, Engles didso on the basis of English industry.
(The Story of His life, Mehring, page 93)Friedrich Engles was born in 1820 in the Rhine Province of the Kingdom ofPrussia. Like Marx he was brought up with the German philosophies of Hegel, andlike Marx, Engles began to follow the works of Hegel. These parallels betweenMarx and Engles formed a relationship that would last for the rest of eachothers lives. They both contributed to each others works, and co-wrote manythings.
The similarity in background between the two also meant a similarity inideas. The both believed in the struggle of the proletariat and that it wouldrise up against the bourgeoisie. Marx is considerate to be the greater of thetwo philosophies. The one contrast was the way in which one solved problems.
Marx would use historical research to solve a problem, as apposed Engles whoused his imagination and pure mind to come about a solution. These differencesin culture and similarities in beliefs complemented each other well. Thisoutlook on society and the class war was ingenious. It was their greatest worktogether, the communist manifesto, which achieved them their most popularityamong the proletariat, and created the most problems with the government for thetwo. Communist Manifesto or Manifest der Kommunistischen Partel was a bookwritten by Marx with collaboration from Engles.
Basically meaning that Marxwrote it but he discussed the issues in the manifesto with Engles. It documentsthe objectives and principals of the Communist League, an organization of artistand intellectuals. It was published in London in 1848, shortly before therevolution in Paris. The manifesto is divided into four parts, and the beginningof the entire document reads “A specter is haunting Europe” The firstpart outlines his ideas on history and a prediction on what is yet to come. Hepredicts a confrontation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, theworking class and the higher class.
Because of the main logic behind capitalismthe bourgeoisie will seek more power and more wealth. With them doing this, theliving conditions of the proletariat will decrease. Numbers of proletariat willincrease as well as their political awareness, and will revolt against thebourgeoisie and will eventually win. In the second part Marx discusses theimportance of Communism, and if private property is abolished, classdistinctions will be as well. The second part also stresses the importance ofthe necessity of the proletariat and bourgeoisie being common and the level ofclass being the same.
The third part critiques other social ideas of the modernday. The final and fourth part discussed the differences between his politicalissues as apposed to those of the other oppositonal parties. This part ends inbold capital letters “WORKINGMEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!” The days ofNovember 1850 fall almost exactly in the middle of Marx’s life and theyrepresent, not only externally, an important turning point in his life’s work. Marx himself was keenly aware of this and Engles perhaps even more so. (TheStory of his life, Mehring, page 208) Living in political exile his lifechanged. His ideas were no longer followed like they once were.
His isolationfrom the general public provided a new light in his life. Then, in 1855, hisonly son died. His son showed much potential, and was the life of the family. When he died, Jenny became very sick with anxiety, and Marx himself became verydepressed. He wrote to Engles “The house seems empty and deserted since theboy died.
He was its life and soul. It is impossible to describe how much wemiss him all of the time. I have suffered all sorts of misfortunes but now Iknow what real misfortune is. . .
. ” (The Story of his Life, Mehring, page247) After the Communist League disbanded in 1852 Marx tried to create anotherorganization much like it. Then, in 1862 the First International was establishedin London. Marx was the leader. He made the inaugural speech and governed thework of the governing body of the International. When the Internationaldeclined, Marx recommended moving it to the United States.
The ending of theInternational in 1878 took much out of Marx, and made him withdraw from hiswork; much like the ending of the Communist League had done. This time, it wasfor good. The last ten years of his life is known as “a slow death”. This is because the last eight years many medical problems affected his life. Inthe autumn of 1873 he was inflected by apoplexy which effected his brain whichmade him incapable of work and any desire to write.
After weeks of treatment inManchester, he recovered fully. He controlled the demise of his health. Insteadof relaxing in his old age he went back to work on his own studies. His latenights and early mornings decreased his health in the last few years of hislife.
In January of 1883, after the death of his daughter Jenny, he sufferedfrom Bronchitis and made it almost impossible to swallow. The next month a tumordeveloped in his lung and soon manifested into his death on March 14, 1883. Although Marx’s influence was not great during his life, after his death hisworks grew with the strength of the working class. His ideas and theories becameknown as Marxism, and has been used to shape the ideas of most European andAsian countries. The strength of the Proletariat has been due to the work ofMarx.
His ideals formed government known as communism. Although he was never arich man, his knowledge has been rich in importance for the struggle of theworking class. BibliographyHimelfarb, Alexander and C. James Richardson.
Sociology for Canadians: Imagesof society. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryderson Limited, 1991 Mehring, F, Karl Marx,The story of his life, London: Butler and Tanner ltd. , 1936 Marx, K, TheCommunist Manifesto, Germany: J. E. Burghard, 1848 “Karl Marx.
“Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corp. , 1993-1995 Vesaey, G.
and P. Foulkes. Collins dictionary of Philosophy. London:British LibraryCataloguing in Publication Data, 1990