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Paul Le Blanc

Subject Philosophy
History » Intellectual History
Study of History » History and Theory

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1000-1099, 1800-1899

People Marx, Karl

Key-Topics capitalism, communism, Marxist theory, socialism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405197953.2009.00991.x


Marxism is a body of thought and a practical approach to reality based on contributions of two revolutionaries, Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), who were intent on developing what they called “scientific socialism.” This orientation was denounced as “Marxism” by its critics, but this would-be negative label was, after Marx's death, embraced by those who sought to follow in his footsteps. A variety of interpretations and new – sometimes sharply divergent – paths of thought and action became associated with this “Marxism.” Some scholars have emphasized differences between the ideas Marx and the ideas of others (including his intellectual partner Engels) who have claimed to speak in his name. At the same time, it can be argued that a distinctive orientation emanating from Marx became the core around which a coherent political orientation evolved, contributed to by a number of revolutionaries, which can be termed “revolutionary Marxism.” Germans by birth, Marx's and Engels's interests, knowledge, and commitments (and eventually their influence) were global. Alert to how the Industrial Revolution was transforming human cultures and civilization, they were also intimately involved with democratic and working-class movements struggling (as the young Marx once put it in 1843) for the “overthrow [of] all conditions in which man is a degraded, enslaved, neglected, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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