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Karl Heinrich Marx, a social scientist

No other idea so enchanted the 20th century as Marxism. [1] Karl Marx was the greatest philosopher and thinker of his time. His views on life and the social structure of his time have revolutionized the way in which people think. Throughout his travels and studies, Karl Marx developed many influential pieces of literature, one of which was the Communist Manifesto. Despite his upper-class position in society, Marx created an opportunity for the working-class to rise above the upper-class. Due to the creation of the middle-class he failed.

Despite his failure, he was one of the greatest political leaders of his time; setting the basis of Communism in Russia. Karl Marx has strongly affected the way we think today. It is because of him that people have become more open to suggestion, and quicker to create ideas regarding political issues. Karl Heinrich Marx, a social scientist, revolutionary and historian, was born into an upper-class Jewish home on May 5th, 1818 in Trier, Germany. Despite the fact that he grew up with three sisters, he was his fathers favourite. His mother, Henrietta Pressburg, a Dutch Jewess, had no interest in Marxs intellectual side.

His father, Heinrich, was a Jewish lawyer, and in order to preserve his job with the Prussian state he converted his family to Christianity before his death in 1838. Marxs childhood was a happy and care-free one. [2] His parents had a strong relationship, which helped to set Marx on the right path. His natural gifts gave his father the hope that they would one day be used in the service of humanity, whilst his mother declared him to be a child of fortune in whose hands everything would go well. [3] Throughout high school Marx stood out among the crowd.

When he was asked to write a report on “How to Choose a Profession” he took a different approach than what his classmates took. He stated that there was no way to choose a profession, and that it is because of circumstances that one is placed in an occupation. For example, an individual with a noble background is more likely to obtain a higher role in society than lower-class citizen would be. Marxs school life, other than his marks, is unknown. He left high school at the age of seventeen to pursue post secondary studies at the University of Bonn in the faculty of law.

Although his father wanted him to pursue a career as a lawyer, Marxs reckless university life was getting in the way, and after a year Heinrich transferred him to Berlin. At Berlin, Marxs irresponsible behaviour and carefree attitude towards his studies would not be tolerated. At the age of eighteen, while at Bonn University, Marx got engaged to Jenny von Westphalen, daughter of the upperclassmen Ludwig von Westphalen. [4] The engagement was secret, meaning that they got engaged without asking for the consent of Jenny’s parents.

Marxs father did not like the idea of the engagement, but after hearing word that the two had gone ahead with it he eventually accepted it. While at Berlin, Marx became part of the group known as the Yong Hegelians. The group was organized by Hegel, a philosophy teacher at the university. Hegel taught until his death in 1818. Those who studied Hegel and his ideals were known as Young Hegelians. The teachings of Hegel shaped the way the school thought towards most things. He spoke of the evolution and development of the mind and ideas.

Although Karl was younger than the majority of Hegelians, he was the focus of the group, and was recognized for his intellectual ability. As a result of his Hegelian studies, He came to believe that all the various sciences and philosophies were part of one overarching, which, when completed, which would give a true and total picture of the universe and man. [5] Believing that science and philosophy would and could, without a doubt, prove everything, Marx was known as an atheist, and therefore had no belief in a God of any sort.

Marx also believes that Hegel must have also been an atheist due to the strong belief he expressed that the mind has control over the outcome of certain situations. [6] Both Bonn and Berlin Universities required an oral part to the thesis, Marx submitted his doctoral thesis, titled “The Difference Between the Philosophies of Nature of Democrtius and Epicurus”[7] to the University of Jena in early April, and received his degree in history and philosophy on April 15, 1841 from Jena. His thesis concerned itself with the Greek philosopher Epicurus and how Marxs beliefs of that day related to his Epicurus.

This thesis is an early example of the Karl Marxs revolutionary thoughts. Much of his later ideals are evident throughout his thesis. After graduation Marx was unable to find work. This forced him to take a job with the German newspaper Rheinische Zeitung in early 1842. By the end of the year, Marx made editor- in-chief. A few months after that in 1843, as a result of his radical writings, and social views, Marx was forced to step down as chief editor, and not long after that the paper closed altogether.

Marx then married Jenny von Westphalen in late 1843, and, alongside a member of the Young Hegelians, Arnold Ruge, traveled to Paris in order to publish a radical journal titled Letters to Arnold Ruge. This journal, which combined both of their beliefs, was, like Marxs other pieces of political writings, controversial. It was evident in the journal that Marx was a revolutionary who promoted criticism of everything in existence. This was especially anticipated by the proletariat. The proletariat was the working class of the day. Marx went on to trust that they would eventually rise up against the bourgeoisie.

In 1844 Marx met a man that would forever change his life. On a trip to England, after completing military service, Marx meets Friedrich Engels in Cologne in the offices of the Rheinische Zeitung[8], a famous English paper. Both Engels and Marx had attended a German philosophic school, and while abroad they came to similar conclusions. While Marx understood the struggles and the demands of the time based on the French Revolution, where as Engels understood on the basis of English industry. [9] Friedrich Engels was born in 1820 in the Rhine Province of the Kingdom of Prussia.

Similar to Marx, he was brought up with the German philosophies of Hegel, and began to follow his works. These similarities between the two men, Marx and Engels, formed a relationship that would last for the rest of each others lives. The similarities in background between the two also meant a similarity in ideas. Marx and Engels contributed to each others works, and co-wrote many well-known pieces of literature; On the question of Free Trade (1848), Communist Manifesto (1848), Englands Seventeenth-Century Revolution (1850) and Strategy and Tactics of the Class Struggle (1879).

Both men believed in the struggle of the proletariat and that they (the proletariat), would eventually rise up and defeat the bourgeoisie. Marx is considered to be the greater of the two philosophers. The one contrast was the way in which he solved problems. He would use historical research to solve a problem, as opposed to Engels who would use his imagination and pure mind to come about a solution. These differences in culture and similarities in beliefs complemented each other so well. In fact the Marx-Engels outlook on society, and the class war was ingenious that it prompted Marx the Communist Manifesto in 1848 with input from Engels.

The Manifesto turned out to be their greatest work together. The Communist Manifesto or Manifest der Kommunistischen Partel was a book written by Marx with input from Engels. Marx wrote it and discussed the issues in the Manifesto with Engels. It documents the objectives and principles of the Communist League, an organization of artist and intellectuals. The book was published in London in 1848, shortly before the French Revolution. The Manifesto is divided into four parts. The beginning of the document reads “A specter is haunting Europe”[10].

The first part outlines Marxs ideals on history and a prediction on what is yet to come. Marx predicts a confrontation between the proletariat, the working-class, and the bourgeoisie, the working the upper-class. This is due to the fact that the main logic behind capitalism is that the bourgeoisie will seek more power and wealth. As a result, the living conditions of the proletariat will decrease. Numbers of proletariat will continue increase as well as their political awareness. Likewise, the proletariat will revolt against the bourgeoisie and eventually win.

In the second part Marx discusses the importance of Communism, and if private property is abolished, class distinctions will be as well. The second part also stresses the importance of the necessity of the proletariat and bourgeoisie being common and the level of class being the same. The existing system (the thesis) which Marx expected to see destroyed. [11] The third part of the Manifesto critiques other social ideals of the modern day. The fourth and final part discussed in the Manifesto is the differences between Marxs political issues as opposed to those of the other oppositional parties.

This section ends in bold capital letters that read; “Workingmen Of All Countries, Unite! “[12] Living in political exile, after being banished by the Belgian government for fear of a revolution, Marxs life changed dramatically. His ideals were no longer followed like they had once been. His isolation from society provided a new light in his life. The days of November 1850 fall almost exactly in the middle of Marx’s life and they represent, not only externally, an important turning point in his life’s work. Marx himself was keenly aware of this and Engels perhaps even more so.

In 1855 Marxs only son Heinrich Guido died. His son, showed much potential, and was the life of the family. When Guido died, Jenny became very sick with anxiety, and Marx himself became very depressed. He wrote to Engels; The house seems empty and deserted since the boy died. He was its life and soul. It is impossible to describe how much we miss him all of the time. I have suffered all sorts of misfortunes but now I know what real misfortune is…. [14] After the Communist League dissolved in 1852, Karl Marx tried to create another organization much like it.

In 1862 the First International was established in London, where Marx was the leader. He made the opening speech and governed the work of the governing body of the International. When the International declined, Marx recommended moving it to the United States. The ending of the International in 1878 took much out of Marx, and caused him to withdraw from his work; much like the ending of the Communist League had done; only this time it was for good. Throughout the last eight years many medical problems affected Marxs life, seemingly leading him to a slow death.

In the autumn of 1873 Marx was infected with epilepsy, which affected his brain and deemed him unable to work. After many monotonous weeks of treatment in Manchester, he recovered fully. Instead of relaxing in his old age he went back to work on his own studies. His late nights and early mornings decreased his health in the last few years of his life. In January of 1883, after the death of his daughter Jenny, he suffered from Bronchitis which made it almost impossible for him to swallow. The next month a tumor developed in his lung and soon manifested into his death on March 14, 1883.

What prevented Marx from finishing his lifes work was his illness. By the early 1870s his earlier life-style and privations had irredeemably impaired his health. [15] Although Marxs influence was not great throughout his life, after he died his works grew along with the strength of the working class. His ideals and theories became known as Marxism, and have helped to shape the ideals of most European and Asian countries. Marxs ideals created a form of government known as Communism, and although he was never an economically rich man, his knowledge is rich in importance and guidance for the struggle of the working class.

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