Born on May 5, 1818, in Tier, a part of the German Rhineland
ceded to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
His parents, whose ancestors included numerous Jewish scholars and rabbis,
were converts to the Lutheran faith.
The conversion represented an attempt by the family to
overcome the obstacles to its socioeconomic ambitions posed by
Married Jenny von Westphalen, daughter of a relatively prominent
Prussian government official from his hometown of Trier. The
Westphalen family did not approve of the match.
Established a friendship with Friedrich Engels, son of a wealth textile
manufacturer and the like-minded exponent of radical political causes. For
the rest of his life, Marx found in these two people the emotional, financial
and the intellectual support he needed to pursue his scholarship.
Became immersed in
urban life and the
from which his own
To escape Prussian
repression, Marx next
traveled to Paris, where
he began to work on a
series of essays that
became known as The
Manuscripts of 1844.
Part of a group of
theorists, known as young
Hegelians, that antagonized
powerful supporters of the
status quo by claiming the
time had come to challenge
the Prussian absolutism of
King Frederick William III
After earning a
doctorate in 1841, he
became the editor of the
Rheinische Zeitung, a
journal dedicated to
revealing how Prussian
law but soon
While in Paris, Marx
continued to work as a
journalist and editor of
the Deutch Franzoesche
Johr Buecher. The radical
quality of his work get
him into trouble with the
authorities once again
and eventually led to his
expulsion from France.
Settled next in Brussels, he
joined a group of German
emigres , calling themselves
the Communist League who
were attempting to organize
a clandestine working-class
Wrote the Communist Manifesto of
1848 to explain the differences
between the league’s brand of
socialism and rival approaches by
such theorist as Henri Comte de Saint
Simon, Charles Fourier, Robert Owen,
Michael Balourin and Pierre Joseph
Ends with the famous words: “Let the ruling classes tremble at
a Communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose
but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all
Represents Marx insistence on the unity of theory and what
he calls praxis or practice.
Marx’s goal is to stimulate action by communicating his ideas
to the widest audience possible of intellectuals and workers
alike. As he wrote in his 1845 Theses on Feurbach. “The
philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various
ways. The point however, is to change it.”
From Hegel, Marx learned that history follows a meaningful
pattern of progress and not simply a process of only tangentially
Marx searches for it in the most concrete material aspects of
human existence: production of the basic means to support life
Marx argues, before human beings can engage in imaginative
thought, they must first discover ways to feed clothe, and house
According to Marx, therefore, the manner in which people work
to secure the means for survival provides the underlying
connecting thread of history.
Hegel considers this pattern to be abstract and metaphysical.
END OF DIALECTICAL CHANGE
CAPITALISM = NEW THESIS
NEGATION OF CAPITALISM BY THE
PROLETARIAT THROUGH VIOLENT
FEUDALISM = NEW THESIS
NEGATION OF FEUDALISM BY
CAPITALISTS THROUGH VIOLENT
SLAVERY = NEW THESIS
NEGATION OF SLAVERY BY FEUDAL
LORDS THROUGH VIOLENT
NEGATION OF PRIMITIVE
COMMUNISM BY SLAVEHOLDERS
THROUGH VIOLENT UPHEAVAL
Marx offers historical materialism to explain not only the entire scope of human history
but the qualities of particular epochs as well. He thus argues that legal, intellectual,
political, social, religious, and cultural institutions—in other words, everything going on in
a culture other than economics—are defined by the economic conditions that exist in
that culture at any particular time.
Forces of production
Refers to the technology that people
utilize to create the physical
necessities of life.
Relations of production
Refers to the division of people into
economic classes based on the
function they perform in the
For Marx, the connection between economic classes is by definition manipulative. It always
involves the subjugation of one class by another. As long as economic classes exist, he
stipulates, the majority will always work and be exploited and the dominant class will
always reap the profits.
Superstructure (everything other than economics going on in a
particular society at a particular time:
political, social, religious, legal, educational, cultural
institutions of every kind, etc.)
Substructure (economic conditions = forces and relations
Antithesis that in turn will
Forces of production
change existing political,
Forces of production
Which together make up
Resulting in an
Complement each other and bring about a
Marxian scholarship also owes a debt to the
research of Lewis Morgan, known as the
Father of American Anthropology.
Concluded that the first human beings
lived in societies where there was no
private property and everyone worked
cooperatively on every task to meet the
demands of the common good.
To Marx, the societies Morgan identified
are examples of primitive communism.
who works for the
who owns the industries
Marx describes the relationship between the bourgeoisie
and the proletariat as a form of wage slavery. He predicts
that as the bourgeoisie continue to enrich
themselves, the proletariat will continue to get poorer
and poorer. Unemployment and economic crises will
A final equilibrium
between the forces and
relations of productions
will be achieved, resulting
in the cessation of
This period bears a marked
resemblance to that of
Period of advance
communism, according to
Marx, equality will again
prevail because machines
will all do the work and
everyone will own all the
Will be characterized by
the appearance of “really
human morality which
stands above class
Once a society’s economic substructure is transformed into an authentically level playing
field, he concludes morality will become authentically respectful, tolerant, gentle, and kind in
return. With this authentic equality, also will come the demise of government, religion, and the
traditional family because they are part of an ideological false consciousness.
The government of persons is replaced by the
administration of things.
Religion will no longer be necessary because to Marx, its
purpose is to drug or stupefy the subordinate class into
passively accepting injustice on earth in favor of a perfect life
in heaven—an opium of the masses.
Traditional monogamous family will disappear because its
hierarchal structure relegates children and especially
women, to an inferior status.
Another aspect of Hegelianism that Marx adapts to suit his own materialistic orientation is
Hegel’s theory of alienation.
Hegel maintains that the most effective method for
appropriating the universe is to conquer it through
By thinking about the universe, we can make it our
mental property and achieve the peace of mind we so
The correct means by which human beings
can gain control of their lives and the
universe is by working creatively to produce
the necessary ingredients for survival.
labor theory value
stipulates that a commodity’s value or price depends on the
number of human labor hours spent producing it.
Marx observes that superior capitalist technology enables workers to produce
enough value and make enough money in, say, four hours to feed, clothe, and house
themselves for a day. Yet their bosses insists on, say, eight-hours work day.
Value produced by workers in excess of
socially necessary labor—surplus value—
source of exploitation in capitalist societies.
Hours exerted by workers, that produce
value essential for their survival—socially
Power of human labor
Machinery, buildings, and raw