Analysis Of Karl Marx And Communism Essay

Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in the city of Trier in
Prussia, now, Germany. He was one of seven children of Jewish
Parents. His father was fairly liberal, taking part in demonstrations
for a constitution for Prussia and reading such authors as Voltaire
and Kant, known for their social commentary. His mother, Henrietta,
was originally from Holland and never became a German at heart, not
even learning to speak the language properly. Shortly before Karl
Marx was born, his father converted the family to the Evangelical
Established Church, Karl being baptized at the age of six.

Marx attended high school in his home town (1830-1835) where several
teachers and pupils were under suspicion of harboring liberal ideals.

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Marx himself seemed to be a devoted Christian with a ?longing for
self-sacrifice on behalf of humanity.? In October of 1835, he started
attendance at the University of Bonn, enrolling in
non-socialistic-related classes like Greek and Roman mythology and the
history of art. During this time, he spent a day in jail for being
?drunk and disorderly-the only imprisonment he suffered? in the
course of his life. The student culture at Bonn included, as a major
part, being politically rebellious and Marx was involved, presiding
over the Tavern Club and joining a club for poets that included some
politically active students. However, he left Bonn after a year and
enrolled at the University of Berlin to study law and philosophy.

Marx’s experience in Berlin was crucial to his introduction to Hegel’s
philosophy and to his ?adherence to the Young Hegelians.? Hegel’s
philosophy was crucial to the development of his own ideas and
theories. Upon his first introduction to Hegel’s beliefs, Marx felt a
repugnance and wrote his father that when he felt sick, it was
partially ?from intense vexation at having to make an idol of a view
[he] detested.?The Hegelian doctrines exerted considerable pressure
in the ?revolutionary student culture? that Marx was immersed in,
however, and Marx eventually joined a society called the Doctor Club,
involved mainly in the ?new literary and philosophical movement?
who’s chief figure was Bruno Bauer, a lecturer in theology who thought
that the Gospels were not a record of History but that they came from
?human fantasies arising from man’s emotional needs? and he also
hypothesized that Jesus had not existed as a person. Bauer was later
dismissed from his position by the Prussian government. By 1841,
Marx’s studies were lacking and, at the suggestion of a friend, he
submitted a doctoral dissertation to the university at Jena, known for
having lax acceptance requirements. Unsurprisingly, he got in, and
finally received his degree in 1841. His thesis ?analyzed in a
Hegelian fashion the difference between the natural philosophies of
Democritus and Epicurus? using his knowledge of mythology and the
myth of Prometheus in his chains.

In October of 1842, Marx became the editor of the paper Rheinische
Zeitung, and, as the editor, wrote editorials on socio-economic issues
such as poverty, etc. During this time, he found that his ?Hegelian
philosophy was of little use? and he separated himself from his young
Hegelian friends who only shocked the bourgeois to make up their
?social activity.? Marx helped the paper to succeed and it almost
became the leading journal in Prussia. However, the Prussian
government suspended it because of ?pressures from the government of
Russia.?So, Marx went to Paris to study ?French Communism.?
In June of 1843, he was married to Jenny Von Westphalen, an attractive
girl, four years older than Marx, who came from a prestigious family
of both military and administrative distinction. Although many of the
members of the Von Westphalen family were opposed to the marriage,
Jenny’s father favored Marx. In Paris, Marx became acquainted with
the Communistic views of French workmen. Although he thought that the
ideas of the workmen were ?utterly crude and unintelligent,? he
admired their camaraderie. He later wrote an article entitled ?Toward
the Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right? from which comes the
famous quote that religion is the ?opium of the people.?Once again,
the Prussian government interfered with Marx and he was expelled from
France. He left for Brussels, Belgium, and , in 1845, renounced his
Prussian nationality.

During the next two years in Brussels, the lifelong collaboration with
Engels deepened further. He and Marx, sharing the same views, pooled
their ?intellectual resources? and published The Holy Family, a
criticism of the Hegelian idealism of Bruno Bauer. In their next
work, they demonstrated their materialistic conception of history but
the book found no publisher and ?remained unknown during its author’s
It is during his years in Brussels that Marx really developed his
views and established his ?intellectual ezding.?From December of
1847 to January of 1848, Engels and Marx wrote The Communist
Manifesto, a document outlining 10 immediate measures towards
Communism, ?ranging from a progressive income tax and the abolition of
inheritances to free education for all children.?
When the Revolution erupted in Europe in 1848, Marx was invited to
Paris just in time to escape expulsion by the Belgian government. He
became unpopular to German exiles when, while in Paris, he opposed
Georg Hewegh’s project to organize a German legion to invade and
?liberate the Fatherland.?After traveling back to Cologne, Marx
called for democracy and agreed with Engels that the Communist League
should be disbanded. During this time, Marx got into trouble with the
government; he was indicted on charges that he advocated that people
not pay taxes. However, after defending himself in his trial, he was
acquitted unanimously. On May 16, 1849, Marx was ?banished as an
alien? by the Prussian government.

Marx then went to London. There, he rejoined the Communist League and
became more bold in his revolutionary policy. He advocated that the
people try to make the revolution ?permanent? and that they should
avoid subservience to the bourgeois peoples. The faction that he
belonged to ridiculed his ideas and he stopped attending meetings of
the London Communists, working on the defense of 11 communists
arrested in Cologne, instead. He wrote quite a few works during this
time, including an essay entitled ?Der Achtzenhnte Brumaire des Louis
Bonaparte? (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte) and also a
pamphlet written on the behalf of the 11 communists he was defending
in Cologne.

From 1850 to 1864, Marx lived in poverty and ?spiritual pain,? only
taking a job once. He and his family were evicted from their
apartment and several of his children died, his son, Guido, who Marx
called ?a sacrifice to bourgeois misery? and a daughter named
Franziska. They were so poor that his wife had to borrow money for
her coffin.

Frederich Engels was the one who gave Marx and his family money to
survive on during these years. His only other source of money was his
job as the European correspondent for The New York Tribune, writing
editorials and columns analyzing everything in the ?political
universe.?Marx published his first book on economic theory in 1859,
called A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.

Marx’s ?political isolation? ended when he joined the International
Working Men’s Association. Although he was neither the founder nor
the leader of this organization, he ?became its leading spirit? and
as the corresponding secretary for Germany, he attended all meetings.
Marx’s distinction as a political figure really came in 1870 with the
Paris Commune. He became an international figure and his name ?became
synonymous throughout Europe with the revolutionary spirit symbolized
by the Paris Commune.?
An opposition to Marx developed under the leadership of a Russian
revolutionist, Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin. Bakunin was a famed
orator whose speeches one listener described as ?a raging storm with
lightning, flashes and thunderclaps, and a roaring as of lions.?
Bakunin admired Marx’s intellect but was personally opposed to him
because Marx had an ?ethnic aversion? to Russians. Bakunin believed
that Marx was a ?German authoritarian and an arrogant Jew who wanted
to transform the General council into a personal dictatorship over the
workers.?Bakunin organized sections of the International for an
attack on the ?dictatorship? of Marx and the General Council. Marx
didn’t have the support of a right wing and feared that he would lose
control to Bakunin. However, he was successful at expelling the
Bakuninists from the International and shortly, the International died
out in New York.

During the next decade of his life, his last few years, Marx was beset
by what he called ?chronic mental depression? and ?his life turned
inward toward his family.?He never completed any subeztial work
during this time although he kept his mind active, reading and
learning Russian. In 1879, Marx dictated the preamble of the program
for the French Socialist Workers’ Federation and shaped much of its
content. During his last years, Marx spent time in health resorts and
dies in London of a lung abscess on March 14, 1883, after the death of
his wife and daughter.

Marx’s work seems to be more of a criticism of Hegelian and other
philosophy, than as a statement of his own philosophy. While Hegel
felt that philosophy explained reality, Marx felt that philosophy
should be made into reality, an hard thing to do. He thought that one
must not just look at and inspect the world, but must try to transform
the world, much like Jean Paul Sartre’s view that ?man must choose
what is best for the world; and he will do so.?
Marx is unique from other philosophers in that he chooses to regard
man as an individual, a human being. This is evident in his Economic
and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. There, he declares that man is a
?natural being? who is endowed with ?natural [and] vital powers?
that ?exist in him as aptitudes [and] instincts.?Humans simply
struggle with nature for the satisfaction of man’s needs. From this
struggle comes man’s awareness of himself as an individual and as
something separate from nature. So, he seeks to oppose nature. He
sees that history is just the story of man creating and re-creating
himself and sees that man creates himself, and that a ?god? has no
part in it. Thus, the communist belief in no religion.

Marx also says that the more man works as a laborer, the less he has
to consume for himself because his ?product and labor are estranged?
from him. Marx says that because the work of the laborer is taken
away and does not belong to the laborer, the laborer loses his
?rightful existence? and is made alien to himself. Private property
becomes a product and cause of ?alienated labor? and through that,
causes disharmony. ?Alienated labor is seen as the consequence of
market product, the division of labor, and the division of society
into antagonistic classes.?
So, capitalism, which encourages the possession of private property,
encourages alienation of man. Capitalism, which encourages the
amassment of money, encourages mass production, to optimize
productivity. Mass production also intensifies the alienation of
labor because it encourages specialization and it makes people view
the workers not as individuals but as machines to do work. It is this
attitude that incites the uprisings of the lower classes against the
higher classes, namely, the nobility.
Regarding Marx’s attitude toward religion, he thought that religion
was simply a ?product of man’s consciousness? and that it is a
reflection of the situation of a man who ?either has not conquered
himself or has already lost himself again.?Marx sums it all up in a
famous quote, stating that religion is ?an opium for the people.?
Marx’s hypothesis of historical materialism contains this maxim; that
?It is not the consciousness of men which determines their existence;
it is on the contrary their social existence which determines their
consciousness.?Marx has applied his theory of historical
materialism to capitalist society in both The Communist Manifesto and
Das Kapital, among others. Marx never really explained his entire
theory through but taking the text literally, ?social reality? is
arranged in this way:
That underlying our society is economic structure; and
That above the foundation of economy rises ?legal and political?forms
of social consciousness? that relate back to the economic foundation
of society.

An interesting mark of Marx’s analysis of economy is evidenced in Das
Kapital, where he ?studies the economy as a whole and not in one or
another of its? parts and sections. His analysis is based on the
precept of man being a productive entity and that ?all economic value
comes from human labor.?
Marx speaks of capitalism as an unstable environment. He says that
its development is accompanied by ?increasing contradictions? and that
the equilibrium of the system is precarious as it is to the internal
pressures resulting from its development. Capitalism is too easy to
tend to a downward spiral resulting in economic and social ruin. An
example of the downward spiral in a capitalist society is inflation.
Inflation involves too much currency in circulation. Because of
inflation and the increase in prices of goods resulting from it, the
people of the society hoard their money which, because that money is
out of circulation, causes more money to be printed. The one
increases the effect of the other and thus, the downward spiral.

Marx views revolution with two perspectives. One takes the attitude
that revolution should be a great uprising like that of the French
revolution. The other ?conception? is that of the ?permanent
revolution? involving a ?provisional coalition? between the low and
higher classes. However, an analysis of the Communist Manifesto shows
inconsistencies between the relationship of permanent and violent
revolution; that Marx did not exactly determine the exact relationship
between these two yet.

Aside from the small inconsistencies in Marx’s philosophy, he exhibits
sound ideas that do seem to work on paper but fail in the real world
where millions of uncertainties contribute to the error in every
social experiment on Earth. Communism never gets farther than
socialism in its practice in the real world and that is where the
fault lies, in the governments that try to cheat the system while
still maintaining their ideal communist society.


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