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Marx, Karl (1818–83)


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


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German social thinker and principal theorist of revolutionary communism . Born the son of a prosperous Jewish lawyer in Rhineland Prussia, Marx studied philosophy, history, and law at the universities of Bonn and Berlin. While a student, he became associated with those who interpreted the legacy of hegel in a politically radical fashion. He continued to exploit the Hegelian emphasis on dialectic (that is, on reality as a constant process of unfolding contradictions), but, under the influence of Ludwig Feuerbach, he soon came to relate its operation much more to material forces than to the mental ones privileged by philosophical idealism. Since Marx's left-wing views made him unacceptable as a candidate for academic tenure in the Prussia of the early 1840s, he turned to journalism. It was while reporting in Paris during 1844 that he met engels , who became a lifelong friend, collaborator, and source of financial subsidy. This was also the period when Marx drafted his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (not published until 1932), with their particularly sharp analysis of the forms of human “alienation” inseparable from the processes of capitalism . On the eve of the revolutions of 1848–9 he and Engels issued (at the bidding of the Communist League, and anonymously in the first instance) the Manifesto of the Communist Party . This set out, concisely and vigorously, the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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