Philosophy of Karl Marx
Episode #10 of the course “Brief history of Renaissance and Modern philosophy”
Born in Prussia, a part of the 19th-century German confederation, economist and writer Karl Marx is remembered as one of the three founders of the social sciences and one of the most influential cultural theorists of all time. Developing a historical analysis of economic relationships, his theory has been extrapolated for applications to modern theories of politics, literature, business, and philosophy. Marx analyzed social structures as based on economic systems, with clear distinctions between the owners, who enjoy life’s fruits, and the workers, who toil and keep little of their labors. In capitalism, Marx saw a system as doomed to failure as the feudal system had been. He hypothesized that the workers would rise up against the owners, leading to a more equal distribution of goods and labor called socialism. Eventually, Marx believed that all social classes would break down and a new social structure of communism would prevail.
Marx’s two most famous works, The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, were co-written and heavily influenced by Karl Marx’s lifelong friend, Friedrich Engels. Together, the two developed a social and political theory that analyzes the history of class economics and its effect on the individual and social psychology. In Manifesto, they discuss not only how humanity got itself into the capitalist situation of oppression between the owner and worker, but also their predictions for a new social consciousness that eliminates that oppression. In Kapital, Marx delves further into a specific critique of the economics of capitalism and the exploitation of the worker by the owner who controls production.
Marx was a wanted man for much of his life, on the run with his wife and seven children. As an outspoken journalist and condemned lecturer, Marx was considered a political threat. He often operated under false names and had his friends and family call him nicknames to avoid detection. He died mostly penniless in England.
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