Karl Heinrich Marx, better known as Karl Marx (Prussia [present-day Germany] 5 May 1818 – London, England, 14 March 1833).
Philosopher, Economist, Journalist and Political Theorist known as the father of Communist doctrine, also known as Marxism, which raises the struggle of classes and its overcoming through the governance of the proletarian class. Author of The Capital and the Communist Manifesto, in the company of Engels, theoretical frameworks of international communism.
Marx was born in Prussia to a well-to-do family on May 5, 1818. His father was a well-known lawyer, who in 1816, with 35 years, abandoned Judaism, to convert to Christianity, christening Lutheran, perhaps to save himself from a Law established in 1815, which forbade Jews from participating in Prussian high society.
Marx didn’t excel too much in his studies. He was homeschooled, with private instructors, from whom he received a rather refined training. At the age of 12 he was enrolled at the Friedrich-Wilhelm Gymnasuin in Tier, where he remained for five years.
In October 1835, he entered to study at the University of Bonn, where he quickly became infected with the atmosphere of rebellion of this institution. During his year there, he was arrested for drunkenness and public disorder, took on considerable debts and even participated in a duel. His father moved him to Berlin.
The Young Hegelians
In October 1836 he began his studies in Law and Philosophy at the University of Berlin, where Hegel had been a professor until five years earlier, when he died in 1831. At first, Marx rejected Hegelian philosophy.
However, over time he connected with the young Hegelians, a radical group that promulgated strong criticism of the political and religious precepts of the time, and whose principal representatives were Ludwig Feuerbach, who through materialism, placed conditions above ideas; and Bruno Bauer, professor of theology, who was developing a thesis on the non-existence of Jesus Christ as a historical character.
Marx would try to find a complementary system where he could unite the Hegelian dialectic and the materialistic concept of Feuerbach. The young Hegelians began to openly manifest themselves asathes, at the same time as they began to make political approaches.
The Prussian government was alert, lobbying for them to be expelled from universities. By 1841, this radical group had declared itself a left-wing republican organization.
Beginnings as a Journalist
In his personal life, in 1836, when his political ideas had become more radical, Marx secretly engaged with Jenny von Westphalen, a rich young woman, four years his senior. In 1841, he obtained his doctorate in Philosophy, however his political position closed the way to the post of Professor.
In 1842, he dabbled in journalism, being editor of the liberal newspaper Rheinische Zeitung, which was closed by the government on 1 April 1843. In June of that year, after seven years of engagement, she eventually married Jenny von Westphalen, and moved to Paris.
Meeting with Friedrich Engels
In 1843, he founded the magazine Anales Franco-German, together with Arnold Ruge, from whom he separated after the first issue. In 1844, he met Friedrich Engels, who became a contributor to the publication and his personal friend forever. In 1845, they published La Sagrada Familia together.
Later that year, Marx was expelled from France for his participation in another radical publication, moving to Belgium. There, he came into contact with socialist ideas, through Moses Hess, breaking with the young Hegelians. He wrote his thesis on Feuerbach and The German Ideology, developing for the first time his ideas on historical materialism, which were published posthumously.
In 1846, he founded the Communist Correspondence Committee. In 1847, the League of Communists in England, asked Marx and Engels to draft a manifesto.
In 1848, they published The Communist Manifesto, which stated that the history of humanity has been marked by a struggle of classes between oppressors and oppressed, which is only surpassable by the victory of the proletariat and the creation of a new classless society. Earlier that year, the revolution broke out in several European countries such as France, Italy and Austria.
Years in London
In 1849, Marx was expelled from Belgium. He went to France, from where he was also deported, while Prussia denied him entry. He moved to England, where he lived until the end of his days.
During his years in London he helped found the Society for the Education of German Workers, as well as a new headquarters for the Communist League. He was a correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune from 1852 to 1862. However, the years in London were marked by poverty, managing to live worthily thanks to engels’ help.
Capital and the latest years
In 1867, Marx published the first volume of El Capital. He devoted his last years to the edition of the other two volumes, which were published by Engels after his death. He died in London on 14 March 1883.
His body was buried in Highgate Cemetery, on whose grave, in 1954, the Communist Party of Great Britain erected a bust in his honor and a tombstone where a quotation from his thesis on Feuerbach is engraved, as well as the last line of his Manifesto : “Proletarians of the World, unite!”.
Image source: salon.com
July 27, 2019