Karl Marx


Born: May 5, 1818 in Trier, Kingdom of Prussia, German Confederation
Died: March 14, 1883 (at age 64) in London, United Kingdom
Nationality: German
Famous For: Leading the idea of Marxism

Karl Marx was a German economist, philosopher, sociologist, journalist and historian. His work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labor and its relation to capital. During his lifetime, he published many books.

Early Life of Marx

Karl was born in Prussia (now Germany). He attended Lutheran Elementary School while growing up. Later in life, Karl became an atheist. In 1835, he joined Bonn University located in Germany where he decided to take courses in law despite having great interests in philosophy and even literature.

Just after one year in the university, he joined the University of Berlin. Here, he felt at home after joining other brilliant and great thinkers who were mostly challenging the existing ideas and institutions like religion, ethics, philosophy, and politics. Karl Marx graduated with a doctoral degree in 1841.

Marx’s Career

After his university years, Karl turned to being a writer and a journalist to survive. In 1842, he got a job as an editor of a liberal Cologne newspaper, named Rheinische Zeitung. However, the Berlin government prohibited the publication of this newspaper.

Karl moved to Brussels in Belgium. In Brussels, he founded the German Worker’s Party and was very active in the Communist League. This is where he wrote most of his famous works, including the Communist Manifesto. After Karl was exiled from France and Belgium, Karl finally decided to settle in London.

Life in London

In May of 1849, Karl Marx moved to London. In London, he worked in the journalism department and wrote many German and English publications. Between 1852 and 1862, he worked as a correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune.

He wrote a total of more than 300 articles. Marx also continued to write and formulate his own theories on the nature of the current society and how much he thought it could be made better. He also actively campaigned for socialism.

Leader of an Ideal

Marx’s theories about economics, society, and politics are generally called Marxism. The theories say the entire society progresses through dialectic of class struggle. He was a strong critic of the current socioeconomic form of society and capitalism that he called ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.’

He promoted the idea that society was run by some wealthy middle and the upper classes specifically for their own gain. Karl predicted that this would inevitably create internal tensions that would lead to self-destruction and ultimately a replacement by a new system called socialism.

Under socialism, Karl argued that society would simply be governed by the working class in something he referred to as ‘dictatorship of the proletariat.’ Marx thought that socialism would finally be replaced by the stateless and classless society known as pure communism.

Personal Life and Legacy

Marx was married to Von Westphalen and together they had seven children, but only three of which survived until adulthood. His wife died in December of 1881. After the death of his wife, Karl developed a catarrh that kept him in bad health for 15 months. This developed pleurisy that killed him on March 14, 1883, in London.

Karl Marx’s ideas and his ideology of Marxism started to exert major influence on the socialist movements just after his death. Many scholars have described him as one amongst most influential figures in history.