The Interesting Life of Karl Marx: Philosopher, Economist, Historian, Sociologist

Julianbasic

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Photographic portrait of Karl Marx seated with a thumb in his lapel and his hand on his thigh.Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

People are too quick to dismiss Marx.

We all agree that we have to change the way our economy runs, there are too many flaws and injustices, but we dismiss the man who had the most famous ideas about why our economic system is wrong.

However, it isn’t surprising Marx is disliked. His ideas in practice have caused disastrous consequences with economies that collapsed and some of the world's most brutal dictatorships.

His demands do sound a bit ludicrous when you think about it, he wanted private property to be abolished and for no one to own anything. Nowadays, in the UK, Openly Marxist parties received only 1,658 votes in the 2010 elections.

Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Germany. He came from a long line of rabbis but converted to Christianity at 6 years old to better fit into German society. Marx was sent to the University of Berlin where he joined a group of philosophers called the Young Hegelians. They rejected the state of modern politics and economics.

After this, Marx became a part of the Communist Party, which was a tiny group of intellectuals at the time.

Marx gained popularity because he wrote about capitalism, the system that controls all of the Western World. Capitalism was just getting underway at Marx’s time, and he was the most intelligent and introspective critic of his time.

A principle idea of Marx’s which I quite like is the idea of specialization vs generalization. Marx said we are all generalists deep down, and we aren't born to stick to one thing all our lives.

Due to the greedy nature of the economy, we are made to sacrifice our innate human qualities to a single profession or life calling. In Marx’s words, this leaves us “one-sided and dependant” and “depressed spiritually and physically to the condition of a machine.” This idea was called ‘alienation’ (Entfremdung in German) and it was first seen in his work the Manuscripts of 1844.

Whilst Marx wrote all of this and much more, he viewed his writing as descriptions of the current state of humanity, not solutions and methods about what to do in the future.

Marx’s writing show this utopian ideal he had in his head that never came to fruition. In The Communist Manifesto, he talks about an existence where there is no private property, inheritance of money, no tax, no control over banking, free transport and education for everyone, and much more.

Marx moved to London and lived the remainder of his later years there, where he was never really that popular as an intellectual. He died in 1883 with less than a dozen people attending his funeral.

People laughed at his ideas, thinking they would never gain success, but it wasn’t until a few decades later that everything came to fruition

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I am an entrepreneur from London with a passion for reading and writing about self-improvement, productivity, fitness, history, philosophy, and happiness.

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