112 Facts About Marx


Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary.

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Marx's name has been used as an adjective, a noun, and a school of social theory.

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Marx married German theatre critic and political activist Jenny von Westphalen in 1843.

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Marx actively pressed for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised proletarian revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic emancipation.

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Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and his work has been both lauded and criticised.

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Marx is typically cited as one of the principal architects of modern social science.

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Karl Heinrich Marx was born on 5 May 1818 to Heinrich Marx and Henriette Pressburg .

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Marx was born at Bruckengasse 664 in Trier, an ancient city then part of the Kingdom of Prussia's Province of the Lower Rhine.

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Marx's family was originally non-religious Jewish, but had converted formally to Christianity before his birth.

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Marx's maternal grandfather was a Dutch rabbi, while his paternal line had supplied Trier's rabbis since 1723, a role taken by his grandfather Meier Halevi Marx.

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Marx became a lawyer with a comfortably upper middle class income and the family owned a number of Moselle vineyards, in addition to his income as an attorney.

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In 1815, Heinrich Marx began working as an attorney and in 1819 moved his family to a ten-room property near the Porta Nigra.

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Marx's wife, Henriette Pressburg, was a Dutch Jew from a prosperous business family that later founded the company Philips Electronics.

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Marx was privately educated by his father until 1830 when he entered Trier High School, whose headmaster, Hugo Wyttenbach, was a friend of his father.

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In October 1835 at the age of 17, Marx travelled to the University of Bonn wishing to study philosophy and literature, but his father insisted on law as a more practical field.

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Marx joined the Trier Tavern Club drinking society where many ideas were discussed and at one point he served as the club's co-president.

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Additionally, Marx was involved in certain disputes, some of which became serious: in August 1836 he took part in a duel with a member of the university's Borussian Korps.

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Marx became engaged to Jenny von Westphalen, an educated member of the petty nobility who had known Marx since childhood.

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In October 1836, Marx arrived in Berlin, matriculating in the university's faculty of law and renting a room in the Mittelstrasse.

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Marx became interested in the recently deceased German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose ideas were then widely debated among European philosophical circles.

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Marx's father died in May 1838, resulting in a diminished income for the family.

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Marx had been emotionally close to his father and treasured his memory after his death.

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Marx soon abandoned fiction for other pursuits, including the study of both English and Italian, art history and the translation of Latin classics.

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Marx was engaged in writing his doctoral thesis, The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, which he completed in 1841.

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Marx decided instead to submit his thesis to the more liberal University of Jena, whose faculty awarded him his Ph.

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Marx was considering an academic career, but this path was barred by the government's growing opposition to classical liberalism and the Young Hegelians.

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Marx moved to Cologne in 1842, where he became a journalist, writing for the radical newspaper, expressing his early views on socialism and his developing interest in economics.

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Marx criticised right-wing European governments as well as figures in the liberal and socialist movements, whom he thought ineffective or counter-productive.

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The newspaper attracted the attention of the Prussian government censors, who checked every issue for seditious material before printing, as Marx lamented: "Our newspaper has to be presented to the police to be sniffed at, and if the police nose smells anything un-Christian or un-Prussian, the newspaper is not allowed to appear".

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In 1843, Marx became co-editor of a new, radical left-wing Parisian newspaper, the, then being set up by the German activist Arnold Ruge to bring together German and French radicals.

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Marx contributed two essays to the paper, "Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right" and "On the Jewish Question", the latter introducing his belief that the proletariat were a revolutionary force and marking his embrace of communism.

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In, Marx refined his views on socialism based upon Hegelian and Feuerbachian ideas of dialectical materialism, at the same time criticising liberals and other socialists operating in Europe.

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On 28 August 1844, Marx met the German socialist Friedrich Engels at the Cafe de la Regence, beginning a lifelong friendship.

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The study of, and critique of political economy is a project that Marx would pursue for the rest of his life and would result in his major economic work—the three-volume series called Das Kapital.

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Marx was constantly being pulled away from his critique of political economy—not only by the usual daily demands of the time, but additionally by editing a radical newspaper and later by organising and directing the efforts of a political party during years of potentially revolutionary popular uprisings of the citizenry.

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Still, Marx was always drawn back to his studies where he sought "to understand the inner workings of capitalism".

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Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 had been written between April and August 1844, but soon Marx recognised that the Manuscripts had been influenced by some inconsistent ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach.

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Accordingly, Marx recognised the need to break with Feuerbach's philosophy in favour of historical materialism, thus a year later after moving from Paris to Brussels, Marx wrote his eleven "Theses on Feuerbach".

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Unable either to stay in France or to move to Germany, Marx decided to emigrate to Brussels in Belgium in February 1845.

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In Brussels, Marx associated with other exiled socialists from across Europe, including Moses Hess, Karl Heinzen and Joseph Weydemeyer.

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Marx used the trip as an opportunity to examine the economic resources available for study in various libraries in London and Manchester.

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In collaboration with Engels, Marx set about writing a book which is often seen as his best treatment of the concept of historical materialism, The German Ideology.

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Whereas the utopians believed that people must be persuaded one person at a time to join the socialist movement, the way a person must be persuaded to adopt any different belief, Marx knew that people would tend, on most occasions, to act in accordance with their own economic interests, thus appealing to an entire class with a broad appeal to the class's best material interest would be the best way to mobilise the broad mass of that class to make a revolution and change society.

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Temporarily settling down in Paris, Marx transferred the Communist League executive headquarters to the city and set up a German Workers' Club with various German socialists living there.

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Marx moved to London in early June 1849 and would remain based in the city for the rest of his life.

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Marx maintained that this would spell doom for the Communist League itself, arguing that changes in society are not achieved overnight through the efforts and will power of a handful of men.

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Meanwhile, Marx became heavily involved with the socialist German Workers' Educational Society.

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The Tribune was a vehicle for Marx to reach a transatlantic public, such as for his "hidden warfare" against Henry Charles Carey.

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Between December 1851 and March 1852, Marx worked on his theoretical work about the French Revolution of 1848, titled The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.

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Marx deemed it fanciful to propose that "will power" could be sufficient to create the revolutionary conditions when in reality the economic component was the necessary requisite.

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Marx continued to write articles for the New York Daily Tribune as long as he was sure that the Tribunes editorial policy was still progressive.

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Marx strongly disagreed with this new political position and in 1863 was forced to withdraw as a writer for the Tribune.

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In 1864, Marx became involved in the International Workingmen's Association, to whose General Council he was elected at its inception in 1864.

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In that organisation, Marx was involved in the struggle against the anarchist wing centred on Mikhail Bakunin .

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In 1859, Marx published A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, his first serious critique of political economy.

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Marx proposes that the driving force of capital is in the exploitation of labor, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value.

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Marx did manage to comment substantially on contemporary politics, particularly in Germany and Russia.

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In one of the drafts of this letter, Marx reveals his growing passion for anthropology, motivated by his belief that future communism would be a return on a higher level to the communism of our prehistoric past.

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In 1962, there were allegations that Marx fathered a son, Freddy, out of wedlock by his housekeeper, Helene Demuth, but the claim is disputed for lack of documented evidence.

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Marx frequently used pseudonyms, often when renting a house or flat, apparently to make it harder for the authorities to track him down.

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Marx drank heavily until his death after joining the Trier Tavern Club drinking society in the 1830s.

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Marx was afflicted by poor health and various authors have sought to describe and explain it.

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Marx was fond of highly seasoned dishes, smoked fish, caviare, pickled cucumbers, "none of which are good for liver patients", but he liked wine and liqueurs and smoked an enormous amount "and since he had no money, it was usually bad-quality cigars".

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From 1863, Marx complained a lot about boils: "These are very frequent with liver patients and may be due to the same causes".

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Marx argued cuttingly, his biting satire did not shrink at insults, and his expressions could be rude and cruel.

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Marx's surviving daughters Eleanor and Laura, as well as Charles Longuet and Paul Lafargue, Marx's two French socialist sons-in-law, were in attendance.

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Marx had been predeceased by his wife and his eldest daughter, the latter dying a few months earlier in January 1883.

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Marx's thought demonstrates influences from many thinkers including, but not limited to:.

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However, Hegel had thought in idealist terms, putting ideas in the forefront, whereas Marx sought to rewrite dialectics in materialist terms, arguing for the primacy of matter over idea.

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Where Hegel saw the "spirit" as driving history, Marx saw this as an unnecessary mystification, obscuring the reality of humanity and its physical actions shaping the world.

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Marx believed that he could study history and society scientifically and discern tendencies of history and the resulting outcome of social conflicts.

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Some followers of Marx, therefore, concluded that a communist revolution would inevitably occur.

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However, Marx famously asserted in the eleventh of his "Theses on Feuerbach" that "philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it" and he clearly dedicated himself to trying to alter the world.

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Marx's theories inspired several theories and disciplines of future including, but not limited to:.

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Fundamentally, Marx assumed that human history involves transforming human nature, which encompasses both human beings and material objects.

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Marx further argues that by moulding nature in desired ways the subject takes the object as its own and thus permits the individual to be actualised as fully human.

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Marx acknowledges that Hegel "grasps the nature of work and comprehends objective man, authentic because actual, as the result of his own work", but characterises Hegelian self-development as unduly "spiritual" and abstract.

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Marx thus departs from Hegel by insisting that "the fact that man is a corporeal, actual, sentient, objective being with natural capacities means that he has actual, sensuous objects for his nature as objects of his life-expression, or that he can only express his life in actual sensuous objects".

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Marx had a special concern with how people relate to their own labour power.

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Marx wrote extensively about this in terms of the problem of alienation.

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Marx described this loss as commodity fetishism, in which the things that people produce, commodities, appear to have a life and movement of their own to which humans and their behaviour merely adapt.

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Marx was an outspoken opponent of child labour, saying that British industries "could but live by sucking blood, and children's blood too", and that U S capital was financed by the "capitalized blood of children".

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Marx hears that the means of production are to be exploited in common, and, naturally, can come to no other conclusion than that the lot of being common to all will likewise fall to the women.

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Marx has not even a suspicion that the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere mean of production.

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Marx noted that this was not an intentional process, but rather due to the immanent logic of the current mode of production which demands more human labour to reproduce the social relationships of capital.

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Together, these compose the mode of production and Marx distinguished historical eras in terms of modes of production.

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Marx differentiated between base and superstructure, where the base is the economic system and superstructure is the cultural and political system.

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Marx regarded this mismatch between economic base and social superstructure as a major source of social disruption and conflict.

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Marx considered the capitalist class to be one of the most revolutionary in history because it constantly improved the means of production, more so than any other class in history and was responsible for the overthrow of feudalism.

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Marx observed that in practically every successful industry, input unit-costs are lower than output unit-prices.

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Marx called the difference "surplus value" and argued that it was based on surplus labour, the difference between what it costs to keep workers alive, and what they can produce.

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Marx noted that even the capitalists themselves cannot go against the system.

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Marx suggested that over time capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies and less and less in labour.

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Since Marx believed that profit derived from surplus value appropriated from labour, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall as the economy grows.

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Marx believed that increasingly severe crises would punctuate this cycle of growth and collapse.

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In section one of The Communist Manifesto, Marx describes feudalism, capitalism and the role internal social contradictions play in the historical process:.

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Marx believed that those structural contradictions within capitalism necessitate its end, giving way to socialism, or a post-capitalistic, communist society:.

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Marx believed that if the proletariat were to seize the means of production, they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, abolishing exploiting class and introduce a system of production less vulnerable to cyclical crises.

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Marx argued in The German Ideology that capitalism will end through the organised actions of an international working class:.

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Marx viewed Russia as the main counter-revolutionary threat to European revolutions.

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Marx was absolutely opposed to Pan-Slavism, viewing it as an instrument of Russian foreign policy.

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Marx had considered the Slavic nations except Poles as 'counter-revolutionary'.

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Marx spent some time in French Algeria, which had been invaded and made a French colony in 1830, and had the opportunity to observe life in colonial North Africa.

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In both cases, Marx recognizes the immense suffering brought about during the transition from feudal to bourgeois society while insisting that the transition is both necessary and ultimately progressive.

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Marx argues that the penetration of foreign commerce will cause a social revolution in India.

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Marx discussed British colonial rule in India in the New York Herald Tribune in June 1853:.

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Marx's ideas have had a profound impact on world politics and intellectual thought.

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Followers of Marx have often debated among themselves over how to interpret Marx's writings and apply his concepts to the modern world.

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The legacy of Marx's thought has become contested between numerous tendencies, each of which sees itself as Marx's most accurate interpreter.

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Marx has been cited as one of the 19th century's three masters of the "school of suspicion", alongside Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, and as one of the three principal architects of modern social science along with Emile Durkheim and Max Weber.

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In contrast to other philosophers, Marx offered theories that could often be tested with the scientific method.

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The then-European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker defended Marx's memory, saying that today Marx "stands for things which he is not responsible for and which he didn't cause because many of the things he wrote down were redrafted into the opposite".

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