Karl Marx

.. the Critique of Political Economy. Marx’s “political isolation” ended when he joined the International Working Men’s Association. Although he was neither the founder nor the leader of this organization, he “became its leading spirit” and as the corresponding secretary for Germany, he attended all meetings. Marx’s distinction as a political figure really came in 1870 with the Paris Commune.

He became an international figure and his name “became synonymous throughout Europe with the revolutionary spirit symbolized by the Paris Commune.” An opposition to Marx developed under the leadership of a Russian revolutionist, Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin. Bakunin was a famed orator whose speeches one listener described as “a raging storm with lightning, flashes and thunderclaps, and a roaring as of lions.” Bakunin admired Marx’s intellect but was personally opposed to him because Marx had an “ethnic aversion” to Russians. Bakunin believed that Marx was a “German authoritarian and an arrogant Jew who wanted to transform the General council into a personal dictatorship over the workers.” Bakunin organized sections of the International for an attack on the “dictatorship” of Marx and the General Council. Marx didn’t have the support of a right wing and feared that he would lose control to Bakunin. However, he was successful at expelling the Bakuninists from the International and shortly, the International died out in New York.

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During the next decade of his life, his last few years, Marx was beset by what he called “chronic mental depression” and “his life turned inward toward his family.” He never completed any substantial work during this time although he kept his mind active, reading and learning Russian. In 1879, Marx dictated the preamble of the program for the French Socialist Workers’ Federation and shaped much of its content. During his last years, Marx spent time in health resorts and dies in London of a lung abscess on March 14, 1883, after the death of his wife and daughter. Marx’s work seems to be more of a criticism of Hegelian and other philosophy, than as a statement of his own philosophy. While Hegel felt that philosophy explained reality, Marx felt that philosophy should be made into reality, an hard thing to do. He thought that one must not just look at and inspect the world, but must try to transform the world, much like Jean Paul Sartre’s view that “man must choose what is best for the world; and he will do so.” Marx is unique from other philosophers in that he chooses to regard man as an individual, a human being.

This is evident in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. There, he declares that man is a “natural being” who is endowed with “natural [and] vital powers” that “exist in him as aptitudes [and] instincts.” Humans simply struggle with nature for the satisfaction of man’s needs. From this struggle comes man’s awareness of himself as an individual and as something separate from nature. So, he seeks to oppose nature. He sees that history is just the story of man creating and re-creating himself and sees that man creates himself, and that a “god” has no part in it. Thus, the communist belief in no religion.

Marx also says that the more man works as a laborer, the less he has to consume for himself because his “product and labor are estranged” from him. Marx says that because the work of the laborer is taken away and does not belong to the laborer, the laborer loses his “rightful existence” and is made alien to himself. Private property becomes a product and cause of “alienated labor” and through that, causes disharmony. “Alienated labor is seen as the consequence of market product, the division of labor, and the division of society into antagonistic classes.” So, capitalism, which encourages the possession of private property, encourages alienation of man. Capitalism, which encourages the amassment of money, encourages mass production, to optimize productivity.

Mass production also intensifies the alienation of labor because it encourages specialization and it makes people view the workers not as individuals but as machines to do work. It is this attitude that incites the uprisings of the lower classes against the higher classes, namely, the nobility. Regarding Marx’s attitude toward religion, he thought that religion was simply a “product of man’s consciousness” and that it is a reflection of the situation of a man who “either has not conquered himself or has already lost himself again.” Marx sums it all up in a famous quote, stating that religion is “an opium for the people.” Marx’s hypothesis of historical materialism contains this maxim; that “It is not the consciousness of men which determines their existence; it is on the contrary their social existence which determines their consciousness.” Marx has applied his theory of historical materialism to capitalist society in both The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, among others. Marx never really explained his entire theory through but taking the text literally, “social reality” is arranged in this way: That underlying our society is economic structure; and that above the foundation of economy rises “legal and political..forms of social consciousness” that relate back to the economic foundation of society. An interesting mark of Marx’s analysis of economy is evidenced in Das Kapital, where he “studies the economy as a whole and not in one or another of its” parts and sections. His analysis is based on the precept of man being a productive entity and that “all economic value comes from human labor.” Marx speaks of capitalism as an unstable environment. He says that its development is accompanied by “increasing contradictions” and that the equilibrium of the system is precarious as it is to the internal pressures resulting from its development. Capitalism is too easy to tend to a downward spiral resulting in economic and social ruin.

An example of the downward spiral in a capitalist society is inflation. Inflation involves too much currency in circulation. Because of inflation and the increase in prices of goods resulting from it, the people of the society hoard their money which, because that money is out of circulation, causes more money to be printed. The one increases the effect of the other and thus, the downward spiral. Marx views revolution with two perspectives.

One takes the attitude that revolution should be a great uprising like that of the French revolution. The other “conception” is that of the “permanent revolution” involving a “provisional coalition” between the low and higher classes. However, an analysis of the Communist Manifesto shows inconsistencies between the relationship of permanent and violent revolution; that Marx did not exactly determine the exact relationship between these two yet. Aside from the small inconsistencies in Marx’s philosophy, he exhibits sound ideas that do seem to work on paper but fail in the real world where millions of uncertainties contribute to the error in every social experiment on Earth. Communism never gets farther than socialism in its practice in the real world and that is where the fault lies, in the governments that try to cheat the system while still maintaining their ideal communist society.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1998 M.E. Sharpe Inc. I had the good fortune of meeting Eric Hobsbawm in London while I was writing this review. He gave me a copy of the edition cited above with his striking introduction. It is one of several pieces that I have come across commemorating the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of The Communist Manifesto.

Probably there are many more. Marx and Engels were thirty and twenty-eight when the Manifesto was published in an infinitesimal German edition in February 1848. A tiny group of workers and intellectuals, the League of the Communists, had commissioned a statement of principles late in 1847. It was approved at a meeting in London a few months later. These small beginnings were no measure of the later impact of the Manifesto. By the 1870s it had become the most influential revolutionary document written in the nineteenth century.

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The reasons for its impact are self-evident. The explosive force of the prose, the concision, the sweeping indictment of exploitation, the near eschatological promise of a humane future for mankind – these elements combine in a statement of messianic conviction. The Manifesto reflects Marx and Engels’ historical conception of capitalism as the most recent in a succession of societies that create the conditions for their own replacement. It also reflects the mindset of the moment. The authors had grounds to think that a proletarian revolution was imminent. A depression, unemployment, hunger, and fear swept the working classes throughout Europe and pushed them into open revolt almost as the Manifesto was being published.

Most of the governments on that continent, cobbled together in 1815, were overthrown. Within eighteen months, except for the monarchy of Louis Philippe in France, every one of them was restored. Marx and Engels had witnessed the first and last Europe-wide revolution, although the expectation of another one gained mythical force. But instead of opening Europe to socialism, the insurrections of 1848 led to a vast expansion of capitalism and ultimately to limited liberal democracy. We are all a hundred and fifty years older than Marx and Engels in 1848, so we can review the Manifesto with the accumulated knowledge of those years.

Both truth and error are mercilessly revealed to us as a kind of unearned income just for showing up during Act II after Act I is over. The celebrated characterization of mid-century capitalism as an enormously expansive but unstable system of production can be accepted by every reasonable person, regardless of political persuasion. Marx and Engels’ description of a global market created by railroads, steamships, the telegraph, and cheap goods is a bravura performance, and uncannily familiar. Substitute jet planes, the fax, e-mail, and overnight delivery by FedEx, and we are talking about today’s headlines. Previous ruling classes thrived on stability and calm. But the bourgeoisie are constantly driven by competition to find new, more productive machinery to replace the machinery already in their factories; new, more productive industries to replace the old ones; and to race around the world frenetically looking for new markets.

But all this amazing expansion is too powerful for the narrow confines of the bourgeois social system. Crises of overproduction break out. Capital destroys the wealth it has already created, only to rise from each period of destruction with even more prodigious feats of production. I can attest as a capitalist publisher that in the course of forty years I have progressed from using now antique Linotype machines to the latest desktop computers, any one of which can outperform the entire array of processors used at Los Alamos in the early 1940s to make the atomic bomb. Correspondingly I have had to find ever more sophisticated methods of selling the increasing number of books and journals that we are capable of producing, reaching out to every country in the world, only to be faced with the need to put all those millions of words on CD-ROMs and the Internet and find a way to get paid for doing so. Along with capital came the proletariat, the factory wage-laborers, men, women, and children, without property, desperately ill-paid, overworked, used up, and cast out when they were maimed, sick, or became redundant.

These sullen work-slaves found themselves thrown together in increasingly large numbers in the factories of the cities and towns and began to form unions and political parties in self-defense. As in all previous societies, two classes stood opposed to each other. The bourgeoisie had created its own nemesis: the proletariat. The middle strata – the petty capitalists, shopkeepers, and professionals – fought to survive but were increasingly pushed into the ranks of the proletariat. Out of desperation, the great mass of workers, finally understanding that there was no alternative, would have to rise up and overthrow the few remaining masters of capital and convert their private property into the property of all, administered by a public authority in the interests of all.

After the passage of one hundred and fifty years, we know that there a lot of things wrong with these declarations. Marx and Engels did not so much as consider the possibility that the conditions of the working class could be improved within the prevailing system, even though they understood and extolled the astonishing productive powers of capitalism. They did not consider that capitalists as a class might prefer to compromise on such issues as wages and working conditions rather than fight to the death. They did not envisage a capitalist state providing pensions, sickness insurance, and other measures of social support. Nor did they consider the plausible case that the middle classes of shopkeepers, salespeople, teachers, doctors, and bureaucrats would grow as the powers of production increased. In the end, as Eric Hobsbawm observes, the propositions that the proletariat would overthrow capitalism and establish communism did not flow from Marx and Engels’ actual analysis, but from a philosophical tenet that was smuggled into their pages as a hope.

They deduced that history proceeds as a contradiction of opposites followed by a resolution, a deduction borrowed from Hegeljan dialectics. The outlook of Marx and Engels in the 1840s seemed to be confirmed by the French Revolution, a violent break with the past. The prospect of gradual change of a fundamental sort was beyond their ken. The assumption that workers of the world would unite unjustifiably ignores the fact that work …

Karl Marx

Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in the city of Trier in Prussia, now, Germany. He was one of seven children of Jewish Parents. His father was fairly liberal, taking part in demonstrations for a constitution for Prussia. His mother, Henrietta, was originally from Holland. Marx attended high school in his hometown from 1830 to 1835. In October of 1835, he started attendance at the University of Bonn, enrolling in non-socialistic-related classes like Greek and Roman mythology and the history of art. Shortly he lest Bonn and enrolled at the University of Berlin to study law and philosophy. Karl Marx has experienced many changes by Industrial Revolution, as he spent big part of his life in England. He witnessed the exploitation of workers, child labour and poverty of many families. He died in London of a lung abscess on March 14, 1883, after the death of his wife and daughter.

The major contribution to the world economy by Karl Marx was development and creation of ideology of communism and socialism. He believed that private property was the cause of the poverty and degradation of the proletariat. Therefore, he came to settle on the idea that no one person should have control over production of good, ownership of land, and management of funds. And no class should be allowed to have control over these things. The goal of such system is to prevent any one person or group of people from becoming radically rich, while others are extremely poor. Karl Marx believed that the exploitation of the working class must come to an end. That end would be achieved through revolution.
Once this was achieved, everybody would work according to their abilities and then be paid accordingly. Soon after, however, technical innovations would create such abundance of goods that “everyone works according to his abilities and receives according to his needs.” Soon thereafter, money would have no place in society. People would be able to take what they want and would be lacking nothing. Marx then believed that the pleasure of seeing the fruits of labor would be enough to cause man to work. Two most known countries influenced by communism are Russia and China.
Today communism is still considered as a major economic structure in countries like China and Cuba. Even though these countries do not have pure command economic systems, still pig part is taken by communism. Government owns major assets, like natural and capital resources. Government also decided how, what, and for whom the production should be made. Marx’s contribution is highly recognized in those countries, as they strongly believe that communism is ideal economic system for the country.
It is clear that any pure economy is unhealthy for the countries economic system, ether communism or capitalism. Today in our world almost every country has mixed economic system, which include both command and market systems. In some countries communism is practiced more than capitalism, in other countries it is reversed. Thus it tell us that Karl Marx had a great contribution to every country in the world, even though his ideology is not fully concerned. Government, to help many poor people uses his ideas of distribution of income. His achievements will be remembered and honored by many generations.
Karl Marx was not successful in his believes, as today there is no pure command economy exists. But parts oh his ideology helped many countries in achieving stable and safe standards of living. Balancing lower and upper classes and making easier life for many people, Karl Marx will be always remembered.

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Karl Marx

.. ution to the Critique of Political Economy. Marx’s “political isolation” ended when he joined the International Working Men’s Association. Although he was neither the founder nor the leader of this organization, he “became its leading spirit” and as the corresponding secretary for Germany, he attended all meetings. Marx’s distinction as a political figure really came in 1870 with the Paris Commune. He became an international figure and his name”became synonymous throughout Europe with the revolutionary spirit symbolized by the Paris Commune.” An opposition to Marx developed under the leadership of a Russian revolutionist, Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin. Bakunin was a famed orator whose speeches one listener described as “a raging storm with lightning, flashes and thunderclaps, and a roaring as of lions.” Bakunin admired Marx’s intellect but was personally opposed to him because Marx had an “ethnic aversion” to Russians. Bakunin believed that Marx was a “German authoritarian and an arrogant Jew who wanted to transform the General council into a personal dictatorship over the workers.” Bakunin organized sections of the International for an attack on the “dictatorship” of Marx and the General Council. Marx didn’t have the support of a right wing and feared that he would lose control to Bakunin. However, he was successful at expelling the Bakuninists from the International and shortly, the International died out in New York.

During the next decade of his life, his last few years, Marx was beset by what he called “chronic mental depression” and “his life turned inward toward his family.” He never completed any substantial work during this time although he kept his mind active, reading and learning Russian. In 1879, Marx dictated the preamble of the program for the French Socialist Workers’ Federation and shaped much of its content. During his last years, Marx spent time in health resorts and dies in London of a lung abscess on March 14, 1883, after the death of his wife and daughter. Marx’s work seems to be more of a criticism of Hegelian and other philosophy, than as a statement of his own philosophy. While Hegel felt that philosophy explained reality, Marx felt that philosophy should be made into reality, an hard thing to do. He thought that one must not just look at and inspect the world, but must try to transform the world, much like Jean Paul Sartre’s view that “man must choose what is best for the world; and he will do so.” Marx is unique from other philosophers in that he chooses to regard man as an individual, a human being.

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This is evident in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. There, he declares that man is a “natural being” who is endowed with “natural [and] vital powers” that “exist in him as aptitudes [and] instincts.” Humans simply struggle with nature for the satisfaction of man’s needs. From this struggle comes man’s awareness of himself as an individual and as something separate from nature. So, he seeks to oppose nature. He sees that history is just the story of man creating and re-creating himself and sees that man creates himself, and that a “god” has no part in it. Thus, the communist belief in no religion.

Marx also says that the more man works as a laborer, the less he has to consume for himself because his “product and labor are estranged” from him. Marx says that because the work of the laborer is taken away and does not belong to the laborer, the laborer loses his “rightful existence” and is made alien to himself. Private property becomes a product and cause of “alienated labor” and through that, causes disharmony. “Alienated labor is seen as the consequence of market product, the division of labor, and the division of society into antagonistic classes.” So, capitalism, which encourages the possession of private property, encourages alienation of man. Capitalism, which encourages the amassment of money, encourages mass production, to optimize productivity.

Mass production also intensifies the alienation of labor because it encourages specialization and it makes people view the workers not as individuals but as machines to do work. It is this attitude that incites the uprisings of the lower classes against the higher classes, namely, the nobility. Regarding Marx’s attitude toward religion, he thought that religion was simply a “product of man’s consciousness” and that it is a reflection of the situation of a man who “either has not conquered himself or has already lost himself again.” Marx sums it all up in a famous quote, stating that religion is “an opium for the people.” Marx’s hypothesis of historical materialism contains this maxim; that “It is not the consciousness of men which determines their existence; it is on the contrary their social existence which determines their consciousness.” Marx has applied his theory of historical materialism to capitalist society in both The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, among others. Marx never really explained his entire theory through but taking the text literally, “social reality” is arranged in this way: That underlying our society is economic structure; and That above the foundation of economy rises “legal and political..forms of social consciousness” that relate back to the economic foundation of society. An interesting mark of Marx’s analysis of economy is evidenced in Das Kapital, where he “studies the economy as a whole and not in one or another of its” parts and sections. His analysis is based on the precept of man being a productive entity and that “all economic value comes from human labor.” Marx speaks of capitalism as an unstable environment. He says that its development is accompanied by “increasing contradictions” and that the equilibrium of the system is precarious as it is to the internal pressures resulting from its development. Capitalism is too easy to tend to a downward spiral resulting in economic and social ruin.

An example of the downward spiral in a capitalist society is inflation. Inflation involves too much currency in circulation. Because of inflation and the increase in prices of goods resulting from it, the people of the society hoard their money which, because that money is out of circulation, causes more money to be printed. The one increases the effect of the other and thus, the downward spiral. Marx views revolution with two perspectives.

One takes the attitude that revolution should be a great uprising like that of the French revolution. The other “conception” is that of the “permanent revolution” involving a “provisional coalition” between the low and higher classes. However, an analysis of the Communist Manifesto shows inconsistencies between the relationship of permanent and violent revolution; that Marx did not exactly determine the exact relationship between these two yet. Aside from the small inconsistencies in Marx’s philosophy, he exhibits sound ideas that do seem to work on paper but fail in the real world where millions of uncertainties contribute to the error in every social experiment on Earth. Communism never gets farther than socialism in its practice in the real world and that is where the fault lies, in the governments that try to cheat the system while still maintaining their ideal communist society.

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