Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, social scientist and one of the major contributors to the communist ideology. Marx, along with his colleague Friedrich Engels, put forward his main ideas in two publications: "The Communist Manifesto" and "Das Kapital." These publications in turn were a major influence on Vladimir Lenin, one of the main propagators of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Karl Marx and Das Kapital
Born a German Jew, Karl Marx lived from 1818 to 1893. His family converted to Christianity when he was 6. However, Marx repeatedly rejected the ideas of religion. He studied law at the University of Bonn, heavily influenced by the teachings of Bruno Bauer. Bauer introduced Marx to the works of Hegel and taught the values of atheism. Marx would eventually complete his doctorate at the University of Jena. He went on to work as a journalist in Cologne and Paris, but his outspoken and radical views frequently got him dismissed from his job.
The Communist Manifesto
In Paris, Marx met Friedrich Engels, who shared Marx's views on the fallacies of capitalism. He offered considerable financial support to Marx, and they eventually paired up to write the "Communist Manifesto," published in 1848. The publication detailed and prophesied a revolution where the working-class proletariat eventually overthrew the ruling bourgeoisie. The main reasoning for this revolution was that the current social structure consisted of a proletariat majority who had little choice but to sell their time and labor to the bourgeoisie. This would entail the eventual downfall of capitalist society.
Marx published the first volume of "Das Kapital" in 1867. The publication, heavily backed by socialist ideas, provided an insight into several concepts in industrial-era economic thought. Specifically, the book described how capitalism creates unemployment and how the proletariat receives the exchange value, rather than the use value, of labor. In other words, capitalism creates a surplus of value with workers not fully remunerated for their efforts with respect to the value they create. Marx wrote two more volumes of "Das Kapital" with Engels.
Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin
Karl Marx was not alive during the Russian Revolution, which began in 1917. It was his written works, however, that gave the revolution its impetus. The works of Karl Marx, along with those of Nikolai Chernyshevsky and Alexander Ulyanov, were a major influence on Vladimir Lenin, a young Russian political radical. Lenin established a radical political faction of socialism called the Bolsheviks, who would eventually lead a revolution against the tsarist government in Russia, which at the time was suffering from severe food shortages and rising inflation.
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