Who Was Karl Marx, and What Were His Philosophies?
With glance at Karl. Marx's curriculum vitae says a lot economist philosopher journalist sociologist political theorist historian. Add to that socialist communist in the original meaning of the word and revolutionary and. That's just a start. Karl Heinrich Marx was one of the most respected minds of the nineteenth century. His meditations on how societies work and how they should work have informed and challenged humans for more than one hundred and fifty years. Yet to the uninitiated marks may be only a bushy mugged symbol of revolution the father of communism the hater of capitalism. He's considered by many especially in the West as the man whose ideas spurred authoritarian communist regimes in Russia China and beyond that again is selling the man short. Because it's not entirely right in his book Karl Marx. A nineteenth century life author. Jonathan Sperber wrote viewed positively. Marks is a far seeing profit social and economic developments an advocate of the emancipatory transformation of state and society from a negative point. Marks is one of those most responsible for the pernicious and features of the modern world. If nothing else marks was a keen observer of the human condition he was deep finger with bold ideas about how to make life better we spoke with Lawrence Talmon who teaches a course on marks and philosophy at the University of Chicago and is the CO author of a chapter on Marx and Marxism in the rootlets. Handbook of philosophy and Relativism domine said Marx himself was first and foremost kind of scientist. He was a student of reality but he himself struggled throughout the course of his career. How exactly to put his ideas to politics. It's important to note that despite his one time lofty standing in what was then the Soviet Union marks was born in tier in the Kingdom of Prussia in eighteen eighteen. That's what's now known. As the Rheinland area of western Germany. After the failed German Revolution of Eighteen. Forty eight marks fled to London where he eventually died in eighteen eighty three. He's buried beneath a large tomb in London's highgate cemetery. Inscribed with the words workers of all lands unite but marks grew up privileged the son of well off and liberal parents in an ancient town that had been racked for decades before his birth by Warren Revolution that upheaval cultural religious and political shaped his parents and was a big part of young. Marx's upbringing later marks attended universities studying law and philosophy where he became engaged to and later married a Prussian baroness it was well studied philosophy and law that marks introduced the works of German Philosopher Yard Ville Helm Friedrich. Hegel whose ideas he used to later. Form his take on Communism Marx began a career. As journalists early twenties writing for radical newspapers in Cologne and Paris the route he consorted with other liberal minded philosophers and by his mid twenties met and collaborated with one of the major influences in his life. Friedrich Engels it was angles who convinced marks that societies working class would be the instrument to fuel revolutions and bring about a more fair and just society in eighteen forty eight the to published a pamphlet. That would be the basis for a new political movement. The communist manifesto in eighteen eighty three after Marx's death engels summed up the main idea in the communist manifesto like this quote that economic production and the structure of society of every stoorikhel epoch necessarily arising therefrom constitute the foundation for the political and intellectual history of that epoch the consequently ever since the dissolution of the primeval communal ownership of land. All history has been a history of class struggles of struggles between exploited and exploiting between dominated and dominating classes at various stages of social evolution. That this struggle however has now reached a stage where the exploited and oppressed class. The proletariat can no longer emancipate itself from the class which exploits and oppresses it. The bourgeoisie without at the same time forever. Freeing the whole of society exploitation oppression and class struggles domine explained marks was always concerned to understand the real underlying causes of social phenomenon the events and institutions that kind of shape the social world marks wanted to kind of dig down beneath the appearances and see what was really going on early on in his career. He thought that the best arena to do that in was philosophy and then as time went on he transitioned more into the social sciences. What's most important about marks is that he very much had a kind of engineering mentality about society he wanted to know. What makes it work? And how if we want to change it do we change it. What are the levers that we have to pull? Marx's eighteen forty seven economics work capital a critique of political economy a takedown of capitalism that decried the exploitation of the working class crystallized debate one that continues today between the West's ruling social and economic theory capitalism and Marx's idea of communism too many. It's a fight that hits rich versus poor bourgeoisie versus proletariate ruling class versus workers. And it's even more than that to those who debate it. It's right versus wrong. An argument about the best path to a perfect society. But that of course is very simplistic and doesn't get Marx's thinking right the Allman said above all else the association the people have with marks is that he some Utopian Pie in the sky dreaming a perfect world that is free of all the nastiness we live in now really that couldn't be further from the truth. Marks had a kind of engineering mindset. He was probably of all the major figures in the history of political thought the most practical the most realistic he was the most concerned with what is really possible. In the real world what marks to find as communism boiled down society that produces goods only for human need not for profit and in which there is no master slave royalty peasants owner worker relationship and therefore no need to overthrow. Anybody certainly clashes with the materialism of capitalism. But it's a long way from what many today see is communism to after the Russian revolution of nineteen seventeen and later under Joseph Stalin's reign some of Marx's ideas along with those of Ladimir Lennon were used to build a new empire. Millions were killed along the way similarly millions died in China under the rule of Mao. Zedong's Communist Party domine acknowledged. It's hard to even talk about what marks out of communism without dragging in all the weight from Soviet Russia and Communist China and obviously a lot of people hold marks responsible for that or -tarian rules like Stalin's and malls were not what Marx had in. Mind it's important to note too. That Marx did not hate capitalism. He actually saw some virtue in the system. He saw it as a necessary precursor to communism and he envisioned some of the technological challenges automation unseating workers for example. That are true today. Domine explained marks was very impressed with the kind of progressive character of capitalism by forcing people from all different walks of life into the same workplaces capitalism. Kind of breaks down. The old divides between communities and so things like race and gender religion. Divide people less. The more people are forced to see each other as equals in the workplace. Marks recognized marveled at the economical and technical growth the capitalism begets and saw it as an improvement from previous societies. Later in life. Domin says mark suggested that a growth capitalism might be a way to move toward communism instead of all out revolution but he still saw communism with no master slave dynamic as the end goal in that way and in others. Marx's idea of communism was far from the atrocities that have been committed in the name of communism elsewhere and his ideas are still perhaps strangely many a beacon and a search for a better way of life in that this practical and deep thinker of the nineteenth century still has relevance in today's world. Dahlman said marks was so committed to giving a kind of rational criticism of everything not just the enemy but to himself in everything he was willing to criticize the old modes of life and show how capitalism kind of improved on them but he was also willing to criticize capitalism and show how we could foresee improvement coming in the future. That is still hopeful vision.