Email Email   

MARX, KARL (1818-1883).

Economist, thinker, and founder of scientific socialism. Born to a German-Jewish family, Marx was destined to become one of the leading revolutionary thinkers of modern times. Exiled from Germany for political activity in 1845, he went to Paris where he joined revolutionary Socialist circles. There, in collaboration with Friedrich Engels, he wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, calling upon the workers to rise in violent revolution against their capitalist oppressors. Exiled from France and then again from Germany, Marx settled in London where he devoted his life to the development and exposition of his theories of history and society and to the organization of an international workers’ movement.

Marx believed that labor was the source of all economic value and that the profits of an employer (a “capitalist”) therefore constituted “theft.” In Marx’s theory, capitalism not only led to the worker’s impoverishment, it also led to the perversion of human nature, which Marx believed to be essentially good. Because Marx held that all history and culture were determined by economic conditions, he favored a world revolution which would give labor its due and permit the “rehumanization” of people. Das Kapital (Capital), setting forth his economic theory, was his most important work, and later became the handbook of both the Socialist and Communist movements. Its assumptions were the basis for early economic policy in the Soviet Union.

Marx was baptized at the age of six, a practice common among German Jews with ambitions for their children, and in his future years he avoided involvement in Jewish life. Only one article, Zur Judenfrage (On the Jewish Question), dealt directly with Jewish affairs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email