Karl Marx -An Important Thinker of the 19th Century

 

Karl Marx was one of the most important thinkers of the 19th century. As one of the founders of Communism he predicted that workers world rebel against the owners of factories and take over the economy and the government themselves. In the 1900s Marx's ideas influenced many Communist governments.

Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Germany. He came from a Jewish family but his father converted to Lutheranism before Karl was born. In 1835 Marx began studying law in Bonn and Berlin. There he criticized religion and the Prussian government which was in control of Germany at that time. He turned to journalism and became an editor of a radical newspaper.

In 1843 Marx married the daughter of a wealthy German baron. The couple moved to Paris where they lived with many other intellectuals. There he started feeling sympathy with workers and poor people. He also met and became friends with the German journalist Friedrich Engels. When France became one of Prussia's allies the French government cracked down on people who criticized them.

In 1849 Max fled to London. He had already spent his wife's money and the couple became poor. Marx tried to survive by writing articles for the New York Tribune and other newspapers.

In London Marx founded the International Workingmen's Association, a group that wanted to improve the life of the working class. During this time he wrote his most famous book "Das Kapital" (The Capital)

 

During the Industrial Revolution many factory workers and miners in Germany, France and the United Kingdom did not get much money and had to live and work under bad conditions. In Marx's Manifesto, published in 1848 he said that North America and Europe would collapse, economically and socially. He also invited other workers to join his movement.

In "Das Kapital" Marx argued that the working class produced more goods and services than they could ever use and on the other hand the owners of factories had more than they themselves produced. He argued that this conflict of classes happened throughout history. In the ancient world there were masters and slaves, in the Middle Ages lords and vassals, in the industrial world of the 19th century there were middle class owners and workers.

Marx believed that, as time went on, capitalism would help start a revolution. Producing more and more goods led to overproduction. People could not buy enough and factories would have to fire workers. This, according to Marx would make the working class angry and they would start a revolution to take over the economy and government. A true Communist society would be born.

Marx's theories had a lot of influence in the Communist world. The Soviet Union, under Lenin became the first and largest Communist state. Other Communists nations developed in Eastern Europe, as well as China, Cuba and North Korea. In 1991 Communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Other Communist nations, like China, slowly introduced capitalism into their economies. The fact that many people today criticize capitalism shows that Max's writings still have an impact on our economy.

 

Marx Memorial in Moscow

Memorial of Karl Marx in Moscow

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Words

  • according to = as he said
  • ally = friendly country
  • ancient = old
  • argue = to give clear reasons about something
  • association = organization
  • baron = a nobleman
  • century = a hundred years
  • collapse = break down
  • convert = to change your religion
  • crack down on = to punish people involved in a problem
  • develop = here: to be formed, grow
  • economically = about the economy
  • factory = a building where goods are produced
  • fire = to make someone leave their job
  • flee- fled = escape to
  • founder = a person who starts something
  • goods = things that are produced so that you can sell them
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • impact = effect on
  • improve = to make better
  • influence = to have an effect on
  • intellectual = academic, thinker
  • join = to become a member of
  • law = the set of rules in country
  • movement = organization
  • overproduction = to produce too much
  • owner = a person who has goods, land, factories etc...
  • predict = to foretell or say that something is going to happen
  • Prussia = a powerful German state that existed between the 17th and 19th centuries
  • publish = print
  • rebel = fight back, revolt
  • service = work that a person does
  • slave = a person who is owned by a master and does work for him without getting paid
  • society =people in general
  • survive = here: to make a living
  • take over = take control of
  • throughout = in all of
  • vassal = a person of the Middle Ages who was given land by a lord and promised to fight for him in return