Karl Heinrich Marx was born in Germany on May 5, 1818. He was a social scientist, historian, political economist, humanist, political theorist, philosopher and a revolutionist. Marx was the most known and influential socialist thinker to emerge in the nineteenth century. During his life time, he was highly ignored by scholars and his academic work was largely overlooked. After his death in 1883, his lines of thought in political, economic and social fields gained a rapid and massive acceptance during the socialist movement. Before recent works of other scholars, half of the world’s population lived on and followed regimes believed to be Marxist. The massive and quick adoption of this scholar clearly means that his original ideas were applicable by then, and only needs modifications for them to fit in the modern world (David, 1978, 8).
Marx could not be recognized during his lifetime because he delayed the publication of his writings. During his lifetime, Marx looked at economic, social and political issues realistically, giving criticism where it deserved and giving credit where it was. As a result, republican and absolutist governments continuously deported him far from their territories. Ultra-democratic and conservative bourgeois heaped slanders on him. He had many opponents but no personal enemies. He therefore died beloved, revered and mourned by several millions of his fellow workers in the revolutionary category. He died as a stateless man and buried in Highgate Cemetery which is in London. It is believed that poverty shortened Marx’s life (Isaiah, 1963, 34).
Karl Marx was born in a city known as Trier within the kingdom of Prussia. He was the third child in their family which consisted of seven children. His father had a decency of rabbis but later changed to a Lutheran Christianity. From 1844 to 1848, Marx lived a comfortable life deriving income from salary, sales of his works, gifts from friends and allies. In 1848, his father died and he therefore received a lot of inheritance, making him richer. In early 1850s, this family lived in a three room flat, experiencing high poverty level and great fear of their creditors. Of the seven children, only three reached adulthood. This family led a hand to mouth existence life because resources were limited most of times. After his wife died in 1881, he developed catarrh that worsened his health and finally killed him (Isaiah, 1963, 13).
Karl Marx was educated at home until he reached the age of thirteen. In 1835, he graduated from Trier Gymnasium and enrolled in Bonn University at the age of seventeen. His father insisted him to study law but he wished to study literature and philosophy. He served as a president for a drinking club and this made him to perform poorly in academics. After noticing this, his father transferred him to Humboldt University in Berlin. He earned a doctorate in 1841 after presenting a thesis tackling the difference between Epicurean and Democritean. In 1843, he went to work in Paris with Arnold Ruge, a revolutionist from Germany. He wrote a publication on atheism which was highly criticized by several notions of civil, human rights and political emancipations. Later Marx became a communist and expressed his communistic views in a paper entitled economic and philosophical manuscripts of 1844. He also devoted himself to an extensive study of history specifically the idea of historical materialism. Here, he considered the how the nature of an individual is affected by the material conditions employed during production. He therefore considered the modes of production that existed by then. After analyzing this critically, he predicted collapse of industrial capitalism that existed by then, and a replacement of the same with communism (Shlomo, 1968, 15).
Because of his ideologies, Marx was severally out on trial on allegations of press misdemeanor and charged with incitement towards armed rebellion. These trials were taking place in Germany and they ultimately led to self deportation to London where he remained until he died. In London, Marx involved himself in specified activities which included an attempt to understand capitalism and political economy and organizing revolutionaries. Marx later left philosophy and turned to First International, an anarchist wing. With this knowledge in mind, Marx considered the repeated frustrations and failures of workers movements and revolutions. He seriously engaged in the study of capitalism by analyzing and interpretation the economic data in the Britain library. He came up with several essays on landed poverty, capital, the state, world market, foreign trade and wage labor. He proceeded to write an article on the theories of surplus value, discussing Ricardian and Adam Smith’s theories of political economy. He later on published an analysis of the process of capitalistic production. Here, he highlighted labor theory of value, concept of surplus value and exploitation. He argued that these three factors will lead to the collapse of industrial capitalism due to a fall in profit rate. Karl Marx did not believe that people work in the same way. He still did not believe that the way someone performs in working environment is an individual or personal aspect. He argued that working is a social duty and is determined by social factors and it changes with time. In the production area, he concentrated on forces of production such as technology, natural resources and land. He said the mode of production involves social relationships of people and the means of production (Francis, 1999, 19).
Karl Marx was a revolutionist as well as a fighter. He not only fought for his rights, but also for the greater mass. His greater mission was to overthrow capitalism, an economic element that was full of inequalities and mistreatment of workers. He also aimed at state institutions that sounded authoritative. He contributed to today’s liberalized proletariat. Karl’s fight was full of tenacity, passion and success. Marx brought liberalization in social, economic and political spheres. He influenced people towards mass action when trying to sort out injustice. Even in the world today, people follow this man’s directives in performing reforms in socioeconomic and political aspects of life. Workers now have the voice and the power to demand their rights in the working environment (David, 1978, 12). Citizens have to influence the power on top to address their immediate needs on equally basis. The political parties in power, the constitution, democracy and the kind of politics within a country can now be influenced by citizens. This scholar also pushed the world from economic regimes that were exploitative and benefited the bourgeois. This was a move towards allocating national resources to all citizens regardless of the social status. He therefore fought the social class conflicts and tried to unite the world. Without his contribution, the world would have been a place of political suppressions, dictatorship leadership, monopolistic and oligopolistic economies, inequitable distribution of resources, poor labor rewards and large disparities within the social classes. He therefore delivered the world from authoritative and slavery era to free and democratic era.
Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 1968, pp.15
Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx: His Life and Environment. Oxford, Oxford University Press,
1963, pp.13, 34
David McLellan, Karl Marx: His Life and Thought. London, Harpercollins, 1978, pp.8, 12
Francis Wheen, Karl Marx: A Life. New York, Fourth Estate, 1999, 19