Biography of Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883)

Philosopher, Economist and German politician. Marx is the founder of scientific socialism or historical materialism and the thinker who gave birth to the conception of the world that today inspires the Communist movement in all countries. Besides, he/she was an active journalist, and especially political energetic and clever that he/she met and knew how to work effectively the social reality of their time.

Life and works

Son of a lawyer, Marx was born in Trier and studied law at the universities of Bonn and Berlin, but at the end, influenced by the reading of Hegel, was devoted to philosophy, determined to find "the Idea of reality". He/She received his doctorate in Jena with the thesis of difference between the philosophy of the nature of Democritus and Epicurus (1841). The two wings that divided the followers of Hegel, Marx chose the left. Due to this advanced position, had to give up his chair in Berlin. Since the drafting of the newspaper Rheinische Zeitung, where he/she worked with B. Bauer, carried out a fierce battle against State institutions, based on a conception of law as a rational figure of liberty. He/She lived in Paris, where he/she met Proudhon and Bakunin. Expelled from Paris at the instigation of the Government of Prussia, he/she went to Brussels, where he/she published poverty of philosophy (1847). Joining your firm the of who would always be his most intimate collaborator, Friedrich Engels (who wrote in collaboration the Holy family, 1845), wrote the famous Communist Manifesto (1848), document of capital importance for the history of thought and the social struggles of our time. In Germany, he/she participated in the revolutionary events of 1848. He/She was tried for treason, and although acquitted, had to emigrate to London (city where he/she died). From there, founded the international workers Association (the so-called first international), oriented ideologically and politically the world labor movement.

Some of his most important works are: economico-filosoficos manuscripts of 1844 (published in 1932); Theses on Feuerbach (1845); German ideology (1845-46); Struggles of classes in France from 1848 to 1850 (1850); Contribution to the critique of political economy (1859, whose preface contains one of the most famous exhibitions of historical materialism); The Capital, undoubtedly his most important work (three vols., of which Marx only reached to publish the first, 1867; the other two Engels published them in 1885 and 1894); Theories of surplus value (in 1862-63, but not published until 1905); Criticism of the program of Gotha (1875, which represents the most advanced point of the political thought of Marx).

The thought of Marx

The man and alienation

For Marx there a human essence in general: man makes himself through history, society and transforming nature. Man is, therefore, first and foremost, a being active, practical, and the work is their main activity. We must overcome the concept of man as a being theoretical conception that comes from Greek philosophy, where the work of transformation of nature was reserved to the slaves. Labour, by contrast, puts man in relationship with nature and with other men. Nature appears as his work and its reality, moreover, as "the man's inorganic body". So the human essence is the reality of the set of social relations.

But the man is alienated in capitalist society. The work, which in principle should be realization of man, is cause of their alienation, and this occurs in a quad dimension: 1. with respect to the product of his work: this not belongs since it has become the "capital" of others. 2. with regard to its own activities: his work is not yours, but of another. 3. with regard to nature: this, instead of being the "inorganic body of man", appears as the property of another. 4. with regard to other men: Unlike the animals, man is able to work not only for themselves, but also for the others. But alienated labour is cut all relation to nature and humanity: everyone works for himself and the "other" appears, all the more, "as being foreign to which belongs the work and the product of the same". Marx concludes that private property is the consequence of alienated labour, or also the "realization of alienation". Therefore it is considered that only communism, understood as the Elimination of private ownership, i.e. of "capital", will enable the Elimination of all the alienation and the humanization of man. The sense of "having" must disappear so that the man can relate to things "for love of the things", and not just to have them.

The dialectic

Marx presents its dialectic as an investment of the Hegelian dialectic. His is a dialectic of reality and not the idea; It is a dialectic of the (Revolutionary) transformation of this reality, and not its justification or "Transfiguration". This dialectic relies mostly on the category of the contradiction, and it is a dialectic open and unfinished, because the story and the real world are also unfinished. There is no, therefore completed system.

Historical materialism

The "materialism" of Marx is not the simple assertion that "everything is matter". Its materialism has controversial meaning and practice. It is opposed to the idealism of Hegel as 'classic' materialism. Against the first, he/she says the priority of being thought about. Against the classical materialism, Marx entered two indictments. First: is an abstract and mechanistic, materialism which reduce the subject to mechanical laws, and second: devoid of dialectical and historical character. Also rebels against the materialism of Feuerbach, because it considers the reality only as an object of contemplation. I.e., if thinking is back to being and reality "reflex" pure ideas, man becomes a pasivo-contemplativo being and nature and man are splintering. In the words of Marx, historical materialism is "the conception of universal history which sees the final cause and the decisive driving force of important historical events in the economic development of the society in the transformation of the mode of production and Exchange, the consequent division of society into different classes and in the struggles of these classes together".

Engels considered Marx as the creator of this materialism, which is his greatest scientific discovery (together with the theory of surplus value). It is actually a non-philosophical theory, but sociological. Some of the basic principles of this system are:

1. the economic structure constitutes the real basis of the sociedad.2. Such a structure is constituted by relations of production and relations of propiedad.3. The concept of productive forces includes the work (or "labour force") and produccion.4 media. The economic structure determines or conditions a superstructure consisting of ideologies, which are the set of representations and values of society at a given time. The dominant ideology is also the ruling class of the time. As such, it tends to justify the economic structure of the momento.5. Conflict erupts through the normal development of the productive force, which no longer find a suitable frame, in the relations of production. Thus he/she enters the phase of social revolution, which also transforms the ideologica.6 superstructure. In conclusion, the story is not driven by the forces of reason, but for the development of the forces of production.