Philosophy Index

Karl Marx

Karl Marx (1818–1883) was a German theorist who developed many of the ideas which evolved into modern socialism and communism.

Marx believed that communism was the natural course of society, and that it would eventually replace capitalism. He argued that internal troubles would eventually destroy capitalist societies, leading to socialism, and eventually communism.

Marx was influenced by the works of Hegel, especially in his early years. Hegel’s view of history as a mental activity and a motion towards a more rational state of mind appears in Marx through his famous historical materialism. Marx felt that economics was the driving force of society and culture, and that ultimately the material well-being of humans would determine the higher structures of society. He imagined that social sciences would become a division of a single science which also included the natural sciences such as physics and chemistry.

For Marx, the progression through eras of economic systems would necessarily give way to future ones. Just as feudalism fell to capitalism, he believed that capitalism’s struggles would give way to communism. He envisoned a revolt of the working class, the group of workers who, in the capitalist system, would realize that they were working hard to increase the values of properties which they did not own. This would lead to a revolt, and the working class would create a temporary “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The proletariat, that is, the working majority, would have the absolute power in restructuring the government, which would settle into a communist system in which there were no classes, and in which property is owned communally.

Marx immagined that communism was the final stage of society, in which civilization would be able to meet its potential and the welfare of individuals within it would be maximized.

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Name: Karl Heinrich Marx
Born: May 5, 1818, Trier, Prussia
Died: March 14, 1883, London