Karl Marx


Karl Marx, commonly known in Hungarian as Károly Marx Károly (Trier, 5 May 1818 – London, 14 March 1883) German philosopher, economist, sociologist, theorist of the communist workers” movement and the inspiration behind Marxism, whose work made a significant contribution to the development of social science. One of the most influential thinkers in history, his views have had a major impact on the left-wing labour movement and related philosophical trends. His works include the Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867-1894), of which only the first volume was published in his lifetime, the others being edited by his friend Friedrich Engels.

He was born in Trier, Prussia, into a well-to-do, middle-class, converted, assimilated Jewish family. He studied at the University of Bonn and at Humboldt University, where he became interested in the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the philosophical movement of Young Hegelianism. In 1841 he obtained his doctorate from the University of Jena with distinction. In 1842 he met Friedrich Engels for the first time, with whom he later became a lifelong friend. In 1843 he moved to Paris, which broadened his intellectual horizons considerably. He attended the meetings of the French radical workers” movement and met almost all its major representatives. With his colleagues he founded the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, a journal which published only one double issue. During this period, he wrote his final work of religious criticism, the Introduction to a Critique of Hegel”s Philosophy of Right, and his essay on the Jewish Question. It was from this period that he turned to the study of economics, resulting in his Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. In the summer of 1844 he became involved in the German emigre movement Vorwärts! (“Forward!”), a newspaper of German emigrants, and became its political leader. The most extensive work of his stay in Paris was the satirical work The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism, co-written with Engels, which played an important role in the development of dialectical and historical materialism. In January 1845, at the request of the Prussian government, he was expelled from France for an article he had written and had to move with his family to Brussels. In 1849 he was exiled from Prussia and France for his political activities, and moved with his wife and children to London, where he continued his work undisturbed until his death.

Marx”s doctrines are a set of social, economic and political ideologies, which have been named after him as Marxism. In the Communist Manifesto, he declared that “the history of all previous societies is the history of class struggles”. He believed that a class struggle between social classes with conflicting interests would lead to the victory of the class of the penniless, the proletariat, and thus to the emergence of a classless society. He proclaimed that the capitalist social system would be replaced by a socialist one. He expected revolution to lead the way, and he also believed that private property could be abolished.

Known primarily for his critique of capitalism and his materialist interpretation of history as a history of class struggles, he was a major revolutionary in several European workers” organisations, including the League of Communists and the First International, through his theoretical work and direct participation. The Marxist ideology he laid down was sharply criticised from both the right and the left, and his work provided the main ideological background to the left-wing dictatorships of the 20th century.

Origin, childhood

He was born in 1818 in the town of Trier, in the Rhineland (then a province of the Kingdom of Prussia, now Trier is in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany), into a Jewish family. His father, Heschel Marx Levi Mordechai, was a descendant of rabbis and Jewish merchants, but in 1819 he converted to Lutheranism and was baptised as Heinrich Marx in order to practise as a lawyer. His mother Henrietta Pressburg Hirshel, a Dutchwoman of the Moses faith, was also a rabbi. Karl Marx and his brothers were received into the Lutheran Church in 1824, and his mother in 1825, which protected the family from the anti-Semitism that was then flaring up in the Rhineland.

Very few sources survive about his childhood. According to the recollection of his daughter Eleanor, he was able to impose his will on his brothers and sisters, partly because he already had an extraordinary talent for storytelling and his brothers and sisters tolerated his “bullying” in exchange for his interesting stories. Heinrich Marx grew up in poverty, and social assimilation was a way out of poverty for him. He was a great admirer of the works of Voltaire and Rousseau, but his French education was not limited to his knowledge of German and English culture. Marx did not go to school until the age of 12 and was home-schooled by his father, which established a deep and intimate relationship between the two and partly explains why Marx used his father”s name for a time in his youth. Unlike his father, his mother was uneducated, rather narrow-minded, had little interest in anything other than running the household and the family, and did not learn German well. As Marx grew up, he became increasingly estranged and distant from her.


He began his studies in October 1830, at the age of 12, at the Fridrich Wilhelm Gymnasium in Trier, and graduated in 1835. The long-established gymnasium was founded by Jesuits in 1563, but by the time Marx studied there it was already a state school and under the jurisdiction of the Prussian government in Berlin. Its headmaster was Johann Hugo Wyttenbach, an enthusiast for the Enlightenment and the French Revolution of 1789, and the school”s faculty was characterised by pro-Franco republicanism and a general anti-Prussianism in the Rhineland. In addition to his progressive ethos, the adolescent Marx was directly influenced by oppositional politics, the most significant of which was the Casino Society affair, which concerned his father. On 12 January 1834, the Casino Society of Trier, a gathering place for the liberal bourgeoisie, held a banquet in honour of the delegates of the Rhineland Diet in Trier, at which Heinrich Marx, as chairman of the organising committee, gave a loyal and moderate speech. And on 25 January, on the anniversary of the founding of the Society, the participants sang La Marseillaise and La Parisienne, knelt before the French tricolor, kissed it, and made public statements that prompted the government to retaliate. The Casino was placed under police surveillance and closed for a time, and the gymnasium was searched for subversive literature. Marx”s father and the teachers of the school were also warned, and Wyttenbach was threatened with retirement because of the protests and the liberal atmosphere in the institution under his direction. “The young Marx, in his last years of study, was bound to be influenced by this political agitation in which his father, several of his teachers and schoolmates were involved. Although we have no evidence that he himself took part in this agitation, there is no doubt that this atmosphere contributed greatly to his first political orientation.”

Among his teachers, he was most influenced by the historian Wyttenbach, who, in addition to teaching, was also a remarkable scholar. Marx studied well at grammar school, but was not top of his class. On the basis of his school-leaving certificate, he was ranked 8th out of a class of 32, together with two of his classmates, in terms of his overall performance (2.4 out of 1). During his studies, he received special praise for his achievements in ancient languages, and in his final year he was praised several times for his German papers. This fits in with the fact that at that time he wanted to be a poet and his main interest was literature. His German graduation essay of August 1835, entitled A Young Man”s Reflections on his Choice of Career, showed a surprisingly mature mind. Already at that time, he was of the opinion that the social environment was a decisive factor in determining the individual, which in his later writings was expressed in the concept of class determination: ”But we cannot always choose the occupation to which we feel ourselves called; our relations in society have already begun to some extent before we have been able to determine them.” As a final conclusion to the essay, he identified the individual”s main aim in choosing a career as activity for humanity: ”But the main guide which must lead us in our choice of career is the good of humanity, the perfection of ourselves. Let no one suppose that these two interests are at war with each other like enemies, that the one must destroy the other; such is the nature of man that he can only attain perfection if he works for the perfection and good of his fellow men.” The essay radiates a profound religiosity, the concept of “divinity” is found in four of the first seven paragraphs, and the essentially moral motives take on a religious character by setting the example of Christian self-sacrifice.

In October 1835, in accordance with his parents” wishes, he began studying law at the famous University of Bonn. As he still had poetic ambitions at that time, he also studied literature and aesthetics alongside his legal studies. August Wilhelm Schlegel, a renowned theoretician of Romanticism, taught there, and it was during this period that Marx, abandoning his rationalism, came under the influence of Romanticism. He studied with great diligence, and was so overworked that he fell ill in early 1836. The students were now grouped into student associations according to their social status or place of residence, and Marx became a member, and later one of the presidents, of the ”Landsmannschaft”, a beer club in Trier with some 30 members. His friend at the time was Christian Heinrich Wienenbrügge, a fellow high school graduate who had graduated a year earlier and with whom he shared a room. Their discussions and debates with Wienenbrügge, who was a student in the philosophy faculty, certainly played a significant role in Marx”s interest in philosophy and history, but the fact that the philosophy faculty was lectured by more well-known teachers than the law faculty also contributed to this change. Schlegel”s influence on Marx at this time is undisputed, but the classical philologist Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker also stood out among the university faculty as a man who captivated his audience.

In addition to his studies, Marx was active in the meetings of the brewery, which was characterised by strong anti-Prussianism, and often had clashes with the mostly noble comrades of the comradeship, which often escalated into fights. In August 1836, Marx was involved in a duel with a member of the ”Borussia” association, in which he received a cut above his left eye. The incident provoked the deep indignation of his father, who saw the time as ripe for an immediate change of university. “When Marx left Bonn at the end of August 1836, an investigation was already in progress before the university judge, and was finally terminated only because the student had left.” This was not, however, essentially because of the duel; his father had the foresight to warn his son in early 1836 not to buy too many books, as he would continue his studies in Berlin. Heinrich Marx”s statement to the university regarding his son”s change of university was dated 1 July 1836, so Marx probably undertook the duel knowing that an investigation could not be conducted into his case due to lack of time, and so did not risk expulsion. His university degree certificate of 22 August 1836 testifies to the fact that he had completed his studies with ”excellent diligence and attention”. As regards his conduct, the duel affair was included in his final certificate as ”prohibited carrying of weapons”.

After graduating from Bonn University, 18-year-old Marx went home for a summer holiday and secretly became engaged to his childhood playmate, Jenny von Westphalen, a noblewoman four years his senior. In doing so, he broke the moral norms of the ruling class of his time in three respects: firstly, the secret engagement, secondly, the violation of the separation of the civil and noble orders, and thirdly, it was unthinkable at the time for a bride to be older than her suitor. Marx informed his father, but it was not until March 1837 that his future father-in-law, Ludwig von Westphalen, whom he had known since childhood and who had been a good friend of his father”s, could give his consent to the engagement. “Their love was deep and intimate, and remained so to the end. Their daughter Eleanor once said: ”Without Jenny von Westphalen, her father could never have been what he was.” This passionate love made a powerful contribution to Marx”s rapid intellectual and personal development in the years that followed. Overcoming many obstacles, it took him seven years to marry his fiancée.

In mid-October 1836 he travelled to Berlin. As there was no railway between Trier and Berlin at that time, he made the journey by stagecoach in five days. On 22 October, he enrolled at the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Trier”s Faculty of Law. Berlin”s university, which had a European reputation, differed from Bonn”s not only in size – it had three times as many students – but also in the quality of its standards. The teaching staff included some truly international authorities, such as Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland (medicine), Johann Gottlieb Fichte (philosophy), Friedrich Schleiermacher (theology), Heinrich Julius Klaproth (oriental studies), Barthold Georg Niebuhr (Roman history), Friedrich Carl von Savigny (Roman law), Leopold von Ranke (history) and the most influential Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who taught at the university from 1818 until his death in 1831.

Marx”s first year in Berlin was filled with dry legal studies and romantic attempts at poetry, steeped in an uncertain future and unfulfilled love. Jenny did not correspond with him until their engagement was legalised before her father. Marx, however, feared that Jenny”s father would not consent to their marriage, and this contradiction greatly exacerbated his troubled state of mind. He sent his lover three booklets of poems for Christmas 1836. Marx”s life was radically changed by this love affair. He abandoned his former dissolute, dissolute lifestyle and strove to become worthy of his beloved by his personal achievements, as his father had urged him to do in his letters. He advised her to hone her talents by writing a law or philosophy thesis and to obtain a university professorship as soon as possible.

In the first winter semester, he took two law courses, putting him in the middle of a legal debate between the conservative Savigny and the progressive, liberal Hegel disciple Gans. As a third course, he attended the anthropological lectures of Steffens, a student of Schelling. He became increasingly interested in philosophy, and in early 1837, taking his father”s advice, he began to write a monumental work on the philosophy of law, which ran to some 300 pages, but he was so dissatisfied with it that he abandoned it. The failure of his scientific experiment led him to return to literature, and he began writing a tragedy of fate, Oulanem, which also remained unfinished. He wrote a satirical novel, Scorpion und Felix, and poems of little literary value, but which reflect his intellectual development. He read widely and widely at this time, and it became a habit of his to keep extracts from his reading for the rest of his life. ”By the end of the first semester, his health was undermined by the mental overload and nervous tension caused by the ambiguity of his relationship with his fiancée and her parents. Jenny suffered equally from this situation; she found it hard to bear the thought of keeping her engagement a secret from her family.” Marx tried to resolve the critical situation by writing to Jenny”s parents in March 1837 to ask for her hand in marriage, and they agreed to the match. Jenny”s persistent silence, combined with overwork, caused the young Marx a serious psychological and mental crisis and illness. On medical advice, he moved to the countryside village of Stralau, which contributed significantly to his recovery. Intellectually, he had moved away from Romanticism and the idealism of Kant and Fichte, and was increasingly influenced by the philosophy of Hegel. Hegel”s philosophy, however, was not accepted in one go, but as the result of a longer process. In the spring of 1837, Marx was still mocking Hegel”s ”vulgar way of thinking” and ”obscure language” in epigrams, but in the summer, in the quiet of Stralau, he read everything available from Hegel and came increasingly under his influence. He joined a circle of young Hegelians called the ”Doktorklub”, whose most important members at the time were Adolf Friedrich Rutenberg, Karl Friedrich Köppen and Bruno Bauer. Marx, who was only in his twenties, was so intellectually strong that the members of the Doktorklub, who were 9-10 years older than him and had a doctorate in the humanities, accepted him as one of their intellectual partners, even though he had not published anything of significance for many years. During his first year in Berlin, he underwent a major transformation, the story of which he told to his father in a summary letter. In it, he also expressed his intention to follow his father”s advice and pursue a career in academia instead of law (lawyer or public administration). In his father”s reply, he expressed his deep disappointment, and was relatively vehement in his rebuke of his son for not trying to live up to his parents” expectations and for wasting his energy on things that were meaningless to him. The inevitable confrontation between father and son was not to take place, as Heinrich Marx died on 10 May 1838, and Marx was to be remembered fondly for the rest of his life.

He soon became best friends with the theologian and religious critic Bruno Bauer, who had a great influence on him until his appointment to the University of Bonn in 1839. As an intellectual companion and a kind of mentor, he was then still trying to help launch his future academic career. After Bauer”s departure for Bonn, Marx took Köppen as his best friend. Köppen, who was the first of the Young Hegelians to engage in political struggle, was fascinated by this intellectual relationship, and in 1840 he dedicated his book to Marx, describing it in a later letter as a ”factory of ideas”.

His final certificate states that Marx did not continue his legal studies from 1839 and that he minimised his university studies. In the summer semester of 1839, he only attended lectures on Isaiah by his friend Bruno Bauer, in the winter semesters of 1839-40 and the summer semesters of 1840 he took no courses, and in the winter semester of 1840 he only attended a Euripides studio course. “Between 1839 and 1841, according to his notes, he studied mainly Hegel”s philosophy of nature, Aristotle”s treatise on the soul, Spinoza”s letters, Leibniz, Hume and the philosophy of the Kantian school.” In the winter term of 1838-39, according to his seven notebooks entitled Notes on Epicurean, Stoic and Sceptical Philosophy, he set about studying ancient philosophy after Aristotle, with a view to writing a summary of it, which would form part of his doctoral dissertation on the comparison of the natural philosophy of Epicurus and Democritus. The choice of topic was influenced by Hegel”s Religionsphilosophie on the one hand and Bauer”s work on the other. While Hegel was highly critical of these three philosophical movements, Bauer saw them as philosophers of the development of human consciousness, who fertilised pre-Christianity with their ideas and whose doctrines played an important role in shaping the revolutionary ideology of the contemporary liberal bourgeoisie. But Marx was now interested in the fundamental question of philosophy, the relationship between thought and being, and the role philosophy could play in the practical transformation of the world.

Marx first intended to submit his doctoral thesis to the University of Berlin in print, but because of the atheistic spirit of the thesis, he expected the theistic professors at the university, including Friedrich Julius Stahl, to put up obstacles to the acceptance of his dissertation. In the meantime, his friends, especially Bauer, urged him to speed up the process of obtaining his doctorate. So he chose the University of Jena, which was known to be easier to obtain a doctorate from, and forgoing the time-consuming printing of the thesis, submitted a manuscript copy for examination. On 6 April 1841, he sent his dissertation, The Difference between Democritic and Epicurean Natural Philosophy, to Professor Karl Friedrich Bachmann, Dean of Philosophy at the University of Jena, who submitted his evaluation, summarised as ”I consider it of excellent merit”, to the Faculty Council on the 13th. The quality of the thesis was well above the requirements, and he was awarded the mark in record time on the 15th, without an examination.

With his doctorate, Marx travelled to Trier with the intention of marrying Jenny von Westphalen, his fiancée of more than four years. However, his mother refused to contribute to the payment of his father”s share of the inheritance, as she considered her son”s affairs unsettled, and thus thwarted the wedding. From then on, his relationship with his mother became rather cold. At the same time, Jenny also came into conflict with her half-brother Ferdinand von Westphalen, who stubbornly opposed their marriage.

Barriers to a university career

Marx and Bauer were dissatisfied with the radicalism of the Hallische Jahrbücher published by Arnold Ruge, and at the end of March 1841 they proposed to found a new journal, Archiv des Atheismus, which would represent atheism unabashedly. In July, Marx visited his friend in Bonn to discuss the journal, at that time with the hope that he would probably soon be teaching at the university there. A few weeks later, however, Bauer”s situation became precarious, as on 20 August, Minister of Culture Eichorn asked the theological faculties for their opinion on the compatibility of Bauer”s views with his university position. The faculties voted 15:11 in favour, but their conditions were tantamount to a stigmatisation. In October, reprisals against the Young Hegelians were launched by order of King Frederick William IV. Bauer was forbidden to lecture at the university, Köppen was reprimanded and, together with Rutenberg, who had already been removed from his post, both were placed under police surveillance. Within a few months, Marx”s chances of a university career had been considerably reduced, although he did not completely abandon his plans for some time. In the meantime, his ideological and political development continued, and he began to move gradually away from Bauer”s abstract atheism. Following August von Cieszkowski, he became fascinated by the philosophy of action and practice, which led him logically to political interests, and thus to a closer relationship with the radicalising Ruge.

During his six months or so in Bonn, he met influential university professors, local public figures and made many new friends. The professors at the university made a very negative impression on him, but his acquaintanceships with members of the ”Cologne Circle” had a significant influence on his life. He became close friends with one of the leading members of the circle, Georg Jung, a doctor of law, with whom he had known briefly from the Berlin Doktor Club, and with the philosopher Moses Hess, one of the first representatives of the early utopian theory of communism in Germany and a person of extraordinary agitational ability. The circle also included representatives of the emerging liberal bourgeoisie of the Rhine, Ludolf Camphausen, Prussian Prime Minister in 1848, David Hansemann, Prussian Finance Minister in 1848, Gustav Mevissen, later President of the Rhine Railway Company, and a number of progressive intellectuals with family ties to this large business circle, such as Dagobert Oppenheim, brother of the owner of the banking house Salomon Oppenheim & Cie, and Georg Jung, son-in-law of the Cologne banker Johann Heinrich Stein. In the autumn of 1841, the Cologne Circle, the leader of the liberal opposition in Prussia, prepared the founding of a daily newspaper, the soon-to-be-published Rheinische Zeitung, putting the young Marx at the centre of the political organisation of the emerging Rhineland bourgeoisie.

Becoming a revolutionary democracy

In the meantime, the authorities banned the Hallische Jahrbücher in the summer of 1841, so Ruge moved its publication to Dresden, outside Prussia, and changed its name to Deutsche Jahrbücher. As soon as news of the journal plan reached Ruge, he immediately radicalised the political orientation of the Deutsche Jahrbücher, fearing a defection of authors and readers. The Marxes, experiencing Ruge”s catching up – his new journal”s programme included the struggle for bourgeois democratic liberties and radical humanism – did not completely abandon their journal project, but did not take any practical steps to realise it. Part of this was due to the fact that Marx and Bauer”s collaboration began to weaken from the end of 1841, which was a great success in the work on the second volume of their joint satirical work Die Posuane des Jüngsten Gerichts über Hegel den Atheisten und Antichristen (The Trumpet of the Last Judgement on Hegel the Atheist and Antichrist). While Bauer was writing his part of the book with his usual rapidity, Marx was delaying the formalisation of his own pensum to discuss Christian art and Hegel”s philosophy of law. The writing was hampered by Marx”s personal crisis. From January 1842, he was in Trier because Jenny”s father and good friend Ludwig von Westphalen, who was also a father, became seriously ill and died on 3 March 1842, which was very distressing. This was compounded by the deepening of his conflict with his mother, which led to his being away from home during his stay in Trier, and his own illness. “The explanation is obviously that between 1841 and 1842 a new phase in the young Marx”s development of ideas began; it was at this stage that the development of his revolutionary-democratic views was completed, and it was at this time that Marx directly combined philosophy with politics.” This change was manifested in his distancing himself from Bauer and his further rapprochement with Ruge in political terms and Feuerbach in theoretical terms. Marx took most seriously the oft-stated principle of the Young Hegelians that ”philosophy must become practice”, and his first public appearance in the press would have been in the genre of political journalism, on the subject of freedom of the press, with his article Notes on the recent Prussian censorship order, but this was thwarted by the censors.

Marx and Feuerbach

In November 1841, Ludwig Feuerbach”s seminal work Das Wesen des Christentum (The Essence of Christianity) was published, generating a huge controversy.Its materialist critique of religion was more radical than the idealist critique of religion of his contemporaries, and at the same time it was a fundamental critique of Hegel”s philosophy. “According to the traditional Marxist view, Feuerbach”s ”influence” on Marx is counted from the publication of The Essence of Christianity (1841), whereas it was this work that had the least effect on Marx. However, the Critique of Hegel (1839) and the Principles (1843) played a very important role in Marx”s development.” Feuerbach”s materialist philosophical turn was completed with his essay on the Critique of Hegelian Philosophy, his third publication in the Hallische Jahrbücher, Arnold Ruge”s journal. This brought him such recognition in the German opposition movement that he became one of their most influential philosophical leaders in one fell swoop. All this without the real significance of Feuerbach”s materialism being grasped and accepted by anyone but Marx. Feuerbach”s influence on Marx was essentially natural philosophical, dating from 1839. Marx”s ”cult of Feuerbach” reached its peak not in 1841, at the time of the publication of The Essence of Christianity, but in 1844-45, when Marx hoped to involve Feuerbach in practical political struggles. One of the most important elements of this peak of influence was the publication of The Principles of the Philosophy of the Future in 1843. Marx”s growing interest in Feuerbach”s philosophy in 1843 was due to his recognition of his similar trajectory, and his influence was not merely to take over certain ideas and worldviews from him, but to be consciously confirmed by the identity, since they were both ”neck and neck” on the ”terra incognita” of philosophy. The parallelism of their philosophical development is also illustrated by the philological error which, until 1967, attributed to Marx a ”self-recension” of Feuerbach published under a pseudonym.

A Rheinische Zeitung

The Rheinische Zeitung was published from 1 January 1842, and its owners wanted it to represent primarily the economic interests of the Rhineland bourgeoisie. They were unable to win the renowned economist Friedrich List as their first quasi-editor-in-chief, but one of his pupils, Dr Höffken, was offered the position on his recommendation. Moses Hess was extremely disappointed to be promoted from a key position to associate editor, as he had been instrumental in organising the launch of the journal. It soon became clear that Höffken was unsuitable for the job, as his editorial work had led to a predominance of economics articles of no interest to readers, a lack of flair in dealing with the censor, and a moderate liberal tendency that led to a clash with the other co-editors, among whom the young Hegelian radicalism of the agitator Moses Hess was gaining influence. Marx was not initially involved in the practical organisation of the paper, but he followed its development from the planning stage and, as a back-up adviser and idea generator, attracted the attention of its founders. Thus, when Höffken was forced to resign on 18 January, at Marx”s suggestion, his former friend in Berlin, Rutenberg, who had been suspended from his post as a grammar school teacher for his revolutionary views and was under police surveillance, was made editor-in-chief. However, Rutenberg also proved unsuitable for the role, a fact which Marx himself self-critically admitted a few months later. The actual management of the Rheinische Zeitung was taken over by Dr Rave (former editor-in-chief of the Rheinische Allgemeine Zeitung) and the energetic Hess, and from February the paper became a militant opposition organ of the Young Hegelians. From then on, Bruno Bauer”s high-quality and readable articles made him a leading contributor to the Rheinische Zeitung, whose reputation spread rapidly throughout the country, with subscriptions doubling from an initial 400 in a few months. In exchange for a spectacular increase in subscribers, the owners tolerated what they saw as excessive political radicalism, atheism and anti-government, which prevailed despite the initial moderate strictness of censorship. The authorities in Berlin were quick to take notice of the Rheinische Zeitung”s foray into the Prussian press, all the more so as Rutenberg had a reputation – somewhat overstated – as a formidable revolutionary in government circles. As early as January, the Minister of Justice, von Rochow, had called for the banning of the newspaper, which had a ”subversive tendency”, but the intervention of the provincial president von Bodelschwingh saved him for the time being, saying that he would ”intervene to change the direction of the paper”.

Marx stayed in Cologne for about two weeks from the end of March 1842, where he made personal contact with the staff of the Rheinische Zeitung and promised to contribute, but as he wrote in one of his letters: “I have given up the plan of settling in Cologne, as life there is too noisy for me, and one does not get to a better philosophy from so many good friends.” By this time Bruno Bauer had been dismissed from the University of Bonn and Marx had finally committed himself to being an independent publicist. He had ambitious plans to write a series of five critical articles on the proceedings of the 6th Rhineland Landtag, which ran from 23 May to 25 July 1841, the minutes of which were published at the time. Only three of these were realised, the first dealing with the practical aspects of freedom of the press, the second with the conflict between the Archbishop of Cologne and the government – this was banned by censorship and the writing was lost – and the third with the debate on the Falopie bill. Marx stayed in Bonn from 10 April to the end of May, his last days of merriment with Bruno Bauer, who soon left for Berlin to try to arrange his reappointment by the government. After Bauer”s departure, Marx buried himself in work. His first series of articles, a critical analysis of the debates on freedom of the press in the Rhineland Landtag, was published in six parts in the Rheinische Zeitung from 5 to 19 May and was a great success.

At the end of May, following the death of her brother Hermann, she returned to Trier, where she spent six weeks, initially in her parents” house. From then on, his mother stopped her financial support, which left him in extremely difficult financial circumstances. Constant reproaches and arguments led Marx to spend the last two weeks in a guesthouse and to break off all contact with his mother. During this time, he could barely do any work, and most of his time was completely wasted. He was only able to complete one major article, a satirical riposte to an angry attack by Karl Heinrich Hermes, the political editor of the ultramontane Kölnische Zeitung.

In mid-July, he returned to Bonn, where he continued his philosophical studies and studied Feuerbach”s works in detail, and at that time he intended to criticise him from an idealistic, left-wing Hegelian position. He also wrote his second series of articles on the illegal arrest of the Archbishop of Cologne, in which he confronted both the Church and the State with his own lack of principle. The Catholic-Protestant controversy made the religious issue such a politically sensitive subject that the article fell victim to censorship and was eventually suppressed. From August onwards, Marx became increasingly involved in the editing of the Rheinische Zeitung, and expressed his strong views on strategic issues.

On 15 October 1842, Marx took over the editorship of the Politika and the Hírek, and in this position he received a salary of 600 thalers a year. Under his leadership, the quality of the paper improved considerably, its articles became more readable and subscriptions began to grow again. In his report of 10 November, the Provincial President, Mr von Schaper, wrote with disappointment: ”The hope I expressed in my report of 6 August that the Rheinische Zeitung should cease to exist of its own accord owing to the small number of subscribers has, I regret to say, not been realised, and I have it from reliable sources that its circulation has recently increased considerably, and that 1 800 copies are now said to be sold. As this number of subscribers seems to be sufficient to ensure the continuance of the paper, and as the tendency of the paper is becoming more and more impudent and hostile, it will now be necessary to take serious measures against it.”

On his very first day as editor, Marx was forced to write the first article on communism of his career. The Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung, not without reason, mainly because of the foreign reports of Gustav Mevissen and Moses Hess, accused the paper of promoting communist ideas, since it had, among other things, taken over a September article from Wilhelm Weitling”s journal as a co-author, and reported on a scientific congress where a section was devoted to the proposals of the Furierists. Marx acknowledged that communism was “an extremely serious challenge for France and England” and wryly criticised the superficiality of the rival journal: “We are not the kind of artists to settle in a single phrase problems which two peoples are working to solve.” After deflecting the accusations with a counter-attack, he retreated by saying that he knew too little about the subject to comment on it in any meaningful way:

“The “Rheinische Zeitung”, which cannot even acknowledge the theoretical reality of communist ideas in their present form, much less wish or even consider their practical realisation possible, will subject these ideas to a thorough critique. But that writings such as those of Leroux, Considérant, and above all the insightful work of Proudhon, cannot be criticized on the basis of superficial momentary ideas, but only after a prolonged and profound study, the Augsburger would realize, if he wished to and could offer more than parlor phrases.”

Marx manoeuvred skilfully, avoiding the devastating intellectual battle that was characteristic of him, but he began to study with redoubled vigour the works of various utopian socialist authors. In this autumn he read Étienne Cabet”s Voyage en Icarie (1842), Victor Considerant”s Destinée Sociale (1834-38), Théodore Dézamy”s Calomnies et Politique de M. Cabet (1842), Charles Fourier The Theory of the Four Movements and General Destinies (Théorie des Quatre Mouvements et des Destinées Generales, 2nd ed. 1841), Pierre Leroux De l”Humanité (1840), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon What is Property? (Qu” est-ce que la Propriété?, 1841).

Among the inspirations that drew his attention to the question of communism, the enthusiastic, agitating, personal influence of Moses Hess, who was in daily contact with him as co-editor, and the “communist” discussion club initiated by Hess and attended by Marx, whose members included Georg Jung, Gustav von Mevissen, Heinrich Bürgers, Conrad Schramm, Gerhard Compes, Carl d”Ester, Karl Heinrich Brüggemann and Fritz Anneke, played a not inconsiderable role. In addition to the immediate impetus, an important historical event was the general strike of the British Chartist movement in August 1842, the news of which reached Prussia and stimulated interest in the workers” movement.

By raising the quality bar and demanding a concrete, fact-based struggle, he came into increasingly sharp conflict with the Berlin Free Circle, which soon ended in a break-up. The roots of their disagreement go back somewhat earlier. In the summer of 1842, Bruno Bauer”s brother Edgar Bauer published a series of articles entitled The Golden Mean, which the Free Party regarded as programmatic, criticising the unprincipled opportunism of the Southern German liberals. Marx, for tactical reasons, disagreed with the ultra-radical thrust of the article, and in a letter to Dagobert Oppenheim of 25 August, he criticised it in depth, pointing out that it was only likely to provoke increased censorship and ultimately the banning of the paper. Here he already pointed out that the measure of political struggle was practical effectiveness as opposed to frivolity. The conflict came to a head when Ruge and Herwegh visited Berlin in November 1842 and came into conflict in principle with the Free. Herwegh, in agreement with Ruge, expressed his critical opinion on this in a note published in the Rheinische Zeitung on 29 November, concluding with the following sentence: ”Scandal and intemperance must be loudly and firmly condemned in an age which demands serious, manly and serene characters for the attainment of its lofty aims.” And Marx, in a letter to Rugé, summarised the shortcomings of the Free Writers, which by then had become intolerable:

“As you know, we are ruthlessly torn apart by censorship on a daily basis, so that the paper can often barely appear. As a result, a whole mass of articles from the ”Free” have been eliminated. Just as much as the censor, I myself took the liberty of deleting it, because Meyen and his colleagues sent us heaps of world-weary and unthinking ramblings, ponderously piled up, with a touch of atheism and communism (which these gentlemen have never studied), for in the time of Rutenberg, who lacked all criticism, independence, and competence, they were accustomed to regard the “Rheinische Zeitung” as their own at-will organ, but I thought that I must not allow this word-twisting in the old way any longer. ” “I called on them to bring out less vague ideas, more pompous phrases, more self-congratulatory self-congratulation and more determination, more immersion in concrete situations, more knowledge of the subject.”

Meyen”s further demands were answered by Marx with a letter of dissent, and Ruge fully agreed with Marx. Bruno Bauer still tried to act as a mediator, but as he was clearly on the side of the Free, Marx did not reply to his letter, and the break was final.

In the autumn of 1842, King Frederick William IV, wanting to restore the Christian character of the state, wanted to tighten up the possibility of divorce. The bill had been drafted in strict secrecy, but Georg Jung, through his friend and elder son of East Prussian President Flotwell, obtained it and published it in the Rheinische Zeitung on 20 October, to much criticism, causing a huge press scandal. The liberal newspapers all picked up the story, leading to a massive social protest in the country. The King was forced to rescind the law, but there were reprisals against the Rheinische Zeitung. Threatening a ban, he demanded the name of the leaker, and, with gates wide open, demanded the removal of the ”dangerous” Rutenberg (he had no information that this had already happened). Editor-in-charge Renard responded with a submission on 17 November, written of course by Marx. In it, he defended the interests of the paper with sophisticated legal arguments, agreed to replace Rutenberg, who was formally replaced by Dr Rave, and with apparent concessions Marx was allowed to continue running the paper unchanged.

In the meantime, in late October and early November, Marx”s 3rd series of articles on the deliberations of the 6th Rhineland Diet, entitled Debates on the Falopian Law, was published, which led to an investigation to find out the identity of the unknown author for criticising the “existing state system”. He wrote in defence of the impoverished peasants” right to collect their customary raw material, since the narrow-minded forest owners had made it a crime punishable by strict penalties. It was the first time that Marx had addressed economic issues in a paper, and it was this article that played a role in turning his interest towards the study of economics.

At the end of November 1842, on his way to England, Friedrich Engels visited the editorial office of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne for the second time, and this time they met in person. Engels recalled this event in a letter of 1895:

“When, towards the end of November (1842), I went to the editorial office of the “Rheinische Zeitung” on a trip to England, I found Marx there, and this was our first – very cold – meeting. In the meantime, Marx had taken action against the Bauer”s, i.e. he rejected the claim that the “Rheinische Zeitung” was primarily a journal of theological propaganda, atheism, etc. He also opposed Edgar Bauer”s phrase-communism, based on ”the broadest gestures” out of sheer amusement, which Edgar soon replaced with other, equally extreme phrases; As I had corresponded with the Bauer family, I was their ally, but they made Marx suspect in my eyes. “

Their first meeting was thus dominated by an atmosphere of mutual mistrust and suspicion. Despite this, they agreed that Engels would be the paper”s correspondent in England. Their collaboration got off to a smooth start, with regular reports, which, thanks to their high quality, were published regularly.

Marx”s tactical moves temporarily eased censorship. Laurenz Dolleschall, a police adviser, was the first censor with whom he was in daily contact as chief editor. However, his intellectual superiority meant that he often persuaded the censor to let an article through. He was therefore dismissed at the request of the President of the Land, Mr Von Schaper, and from 1 December, Mr Wiethaus took over as censor. Marx, however, soon ”re-educated” him as well, by allowing a number of articles that outraged the government to pass. Among these were two series of articles by Marx, one on the banning of the Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung and the other on the justification of the †† correspondent in the Mosel region. Marx saw that the banning of the Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung and the Deutsche Jahrbücher was part of a wider offensive by the government against the liberal press, and therefore analysed the issue from the general perspective of press freedom. And the discussion of the situation of the Moselle vine-growing peasants addressed an explosive social problem in the Rhineland. In January, an article critical of Russian despotism was published, leading to diplomatic protests. This was too much for the government, which banned the paper on 21 January 1843. The deadline to close the paper was set for 1 April, but until then censorship was extremely tightened, even double censorship was introduced. Wiethaus was dismissed and replaced by a ministerial secretary from the press office of the Ministry of the Interior, Saint-Paul, who had been a regular participant in the Free Circle and was therefore well versed in the ideology of the Young Hegelians, making him a formidable censor. He admired Marx”s strength of character and intellectual power, and soon recognised that he was the spiritus rectora, or soul, of the paper. “Doctor Marx,” he wrote, “is undoubtedly the theoretical centre of the paper, the living source of its theories. I have become acquainted with him, he would sacrifice his life for the views which have become his convictions.”

The banning of the newspaper sparked widespread social outrage. First the shareholders of the paper petitioned the king to annul the decision, then numerous letters were sent to the same effect, and finally petitions were collected to save the paper, one of which Marx signed, but all proved unsuccessful. Marx had the ingenious idea of taking over all critical matters, which might enable him to ensure the survival of the paper. He gave up his anonymity and claimed – not without good reason – that he was the main and only ”troublemaker” at the paper, and then resigned from the editorial board in a spectacular, political protest, but this time he could not deceive the authorities. The Prussian government nevertheless attempted to bribe Marx through the secret adviser for revision, J. P. Esser, a former friend of his father”s, who offered him a high state post, which Marx refused. The cause of the Rheinische Zeitung, his fight for a free press, was intertwined with Marx”s name, which had gained widespread recognition and national sympathy through the opposition newspapers and other publications of the time.

Emigration plans

On 25 January Marx wrote to Arnold Ruge: “It is a nasty thing to do servile work even for the sake of freedom, and to fight with needles instead of sticks. I am tired of hypocrisy, stupidity, crude authority, and our smoothness, bowing, stooping and splitting hairs. So, thanks to the government, I am free again.” His next lines shed light on what he means by this, as he envisages his future life in emigration. I would not be able to do anything in Germany anymore. Here, one falsifies oneself.” At the same time, Ruge also intended to publish the Deutsche Jahrbücher in a renewed form in Switzerland, and he invited Marx to edit it with him. On 17 February Ruge wrote to his friend that “I have reached an agreement with Marx, who is leaving Cologne.” Marx, however, soon came up with a new concept, and in a letter of 13 March he proposed the idea of a symbolic Strasbourg edition of the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. In revolutionary circles, the unification of German and French forces was already a widespread aspiration. Ruge envisioned this in the form of a primarily philosophical journal, while Marx envisioned a political journal with an emphasis on the social element. Otto Wigand eventually withdrew from publishing the new journal and the Marxes joined forces with Julius Froebel. In May, Marx and Froebel travelled to Dresden to meet Ruge in person to put their joint plan into practice. Marx had agreed with Rugé that he would receive a fixed income of 550-600 thalers a year, plus a writer”s fee of up to 250 thalers, and this seemingly secure prospect removed the obstacle to the marriage he had been waiting for for seven years.

His concrete social experience as a political journalist for the Rheinische Zeitung pushed him forward, but the strain of practical work meant that he had no time for systematisation and theoretical generalisation. He therefore saw his departure from the newspaper as a liberation, and in the six months preceding his emigration he threw himself into theoretical work, while realising his marriage. The most significant work of this period was Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie (On the Critique of Hegel”s Philosophy of Law), which he had begun writing in 1842 and which he had now revisited, revised and expanded. The work, which swelled to a book-length, remained in manuscript and was first published in 1927. It is an important milestone in the development of Marx”s thought, his transition from idealism to materialism.

Marriage ceremony

During the years of engagement, the difficulties of getting married increased. In the meantime, Heinrich Marx and Ludwig von Westphalen, who had supported the marriage, had died, and the camp of opponents in both families grew stronger. Marx had been encouraged by his mother to pursue a career with a secure income and to take over the role of breadwinner after the death of his father, who refused to do so and went her own way. She stopped supporting him financially and refused to give him his paternal inheritance, thus frustrating his marriage plans. The family of his favourite, Jenny von Westphalen, which, although it had Scottish noble ancestry on her mother”s side and Prussian aristocratic ancestry through her father, was not wealthy at all, as it had no landed property. There were two strong opponents to the marriage in the family, one being Jenny”s brother, the ”egotistical” Heinrich Georg von Westphalen, and the other being her father”s older half-brother from an earlier marriage, the Pietist Ferdinand von Westphalen, who became Prussia”s Minister of the Interior from 1850 to 1858, the country”s most reactionary period. It was only thanks to their enduring love that they managed to overcome opposition from both their families.

After securing his financial prospects, Marx travelled to Kreutznach to meet his fiancée, where they signed their marriage contract before a notary on 12 June 1843. Marx was by then a materialist, and soon came to believe that “Religion is the sigh of a distressed creature, the spirit of a heartless world, as it is the spirit of a spiritless state. Religion is the opiate of the people”, but he no longer rejected the church wedding. The solemn ceremony in the local Protestant church and the civil registration took place on 19 June.

During their marriage, his wife had seven children, but only three of them, Jenny Marx (1844-1883), Laura Marx (1845-1911) and Eleanor Marx (1855-1898), reached adulthood. (A body of circumstantial evidence, accepted by most Marx scholars, suggests that on 23 June 1851 Marx also had an illegitimate child, Henry Frederic Demuth, born to their housekeeper Helen Demuth, whose paternity Engels assumed. (This is disputed by Yvonne Kapp, Eleanor Marx”s biographer, and Terrell Carver, Engels”s biographer.) ”Little is known of the relationship between Marx and his wife themselves, and little survives of the letters exchanged between the spouses. Laura, who administered the Marx estate after Engels and Eleanor”s death, destroyed almost all private correspondence because she did not want it to fall into unauthorised hands or even to be made public.” What is indisputable, however, is that their relationship survived the greatest trials and they struggled together for the rest of their lives.

After the marriage, he spent a few months in Kreutznach, during which he studied some of the key works of Niccolò Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and works on the history of England, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, with particular attention to the history of the French Revolution of 1789. In all, he annotated 24 books in five notebooks and provided subject indexes with his characteristic thoroughness. The notebooks, which he later called Kreutznach notebooks, were carefully preserved, regularly consulted and used for his writings for many years afterwards. It was during his stay in Kreutznach that he began to write his essay “On the Jewish Question”, which he completed in Paris.


In the meantime, it was decided that the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher would be published in Paris. However, the initial ideas about the future contributors failed one after the other. During Ruge”s trip to Paris, Hughes Felicité was rejected by Robert de Lamennais, Louis Blanc, Alphonse de Lamartine, Pierre Leroux, Étienne Cabet and Victor Considerant, and the core of the original concept, the Franco-German commonality, was destroyed from the start. According to Cornu: “The main reason for the failure was that most French socialists and communists of the time were believers, or at least deists, and were offended by the German radicals who based their theory on the principle of the denial of God and the abolition of religion.” Despite Marx”s best efforts, Feuerbach politely declined the invitation, and Mikhail Bakunin and Georg Herwegh were unable to participate in the editing. Apart from Marx and Ruge, only Engels, Moses Hess, Heinrich Heine and Karl Ludwig Bernays made up the staff, which fell far short of the plans.

Marx and his pregnant wife arrived in Paris in the first half of October and initially shared a house with Rugé at 23 Rue Vaneau. With Marx, Herwegh and Mäurer and their spouses, Ruge tried to create a residential community with a shared household. Herwegh had already refused the offer and the Marxes moved out after two weeks.

Despite the difficulties, the journal was launched, not with an introduction outlining its guidelines, but with the publication of correspondence from the period of preparation, edited by Ruge. This comprised eight letters, of which three to three were written by Marx and Ruge, and one each by Feuerbach and Bakunyin. From the voluminous programmatic texts, most notably Marx”s letter to Ruge in September, it is clear that Marx was the spiritus rectora of the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. Marx”s unfolding materialism is shown by his firm warnings against dogmatism and rigid doctrinaire constructs, which he opposed by emphasising the investigation of reality and practice: “To construct the future and settle everything once and for all is not our task, but it is all the more certain what we have to do at present – I mean a harsh critique of all that exists, a harsh critique in the sense that it is unafraid of its results and just as unafraid of conflict with the powers that be. ” Marx was then still a revolutionary democrat, but he was already writing about “socialist demands”, “social justice”, and contrasting the “rule of man” with the “rule of private property”. The letter was imbued with a commitment to rationalist thinking that was in tune with reality, and was on the way to a materialist worldview. Here, however, his aim was only the reform of consciousness, and in this respect he took the same position as Rugé.

“Nothing prevents us, therefore, from linking and identifying our critique to the critique of politics, to the taking sides in politics, and therefore to the real struggles. Then we do not enter the world in a doctrinaire way with a new principle: here is the truth, here kneel! From the principles of the world, we express to the world new principles. We do not say to the world: stop fighting, it”s nonsense; we shout to you the real battle cry. We are just showing it what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it doesn”t want to.

The first months of his stay in Paris brought about a sea change in Marx”s development. The city, which gathered together the émigré revolutionaries of contemporary Europe, provided him with a wealth of new impulses. He met, exchanged ideas and debated with representatives of socialist, communist, legal and illegal groups. Of these, the influence of the Bund der Gerechten and one of its leaders in Paris, German Mäurer, was very important, especially as he and Mäurer were roommates for a time, and Moses Hess, with whom they had worked together on the Rheinische Zeitung, but only in Paris did they develop a friendship.

In Paris, the Marxes were very popular among young intellectuals and had an active social life. They were frequent visitors to Marie d”Agoult”s famous salon, but they also had a salon-like home and many famous writers and thinkers were regular guests. Such a lively lifestyle not only stimulated political activity, but also led to friendships, for example between Marx and Heinrich Heine, who had an unrequited love affair with Marx”s pretty wife. The Marxes were also on good terms with the Russian philosopher Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, and visited his Paris residence on several occasions. In aristocratic circles, Marx, who was short and scraggly-looking, was nicknamed ”Moor” (”Maure”). In his memoirs, Lafargue notes that his daughters regarded him as a friend, not a father, but a derisive and ironic nickname. He became acquainted with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, whose book “What is Property?” was praised. They became friends over the course of dawn-to-dusk conversations and debates, and Marx tried to introduce him to Hegelian philosophy, which, he later wryly remarked, Proudhon had never thoroughly mastered due to his lack of German. Their friendship did not deepen, however, as Marx”s rapid intellectual development led him to become increasingly critical of him and they parted ways. Another of Marx”s acquaintances in Paris was Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin, who wrote of him many years later in his memoirs. He was then much ahead of me, and even today he is not only superior to me in this respect, but also in that he knows much more. Marx, though younger than I, was already a learned materialist, a conscious socialist and an atheist.” A true friendship never developed between them – their personalities were completely different – and their differences only grew sharper over time.

The tumultuous pace of change in Marx”s life and thought during this period for a critique of Hegel”s philosophy of law. (Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie. Einleitung). In this work, Marx concludes his period of criticism of religion with a witty summary and begins his critique of philosophy, in which he seeks to abolish philosophy in the form of the realisation of philosophy:

“In Germany, criticism of religion is essentially closed, and criticism of religion is a prerequisite for all criticism.The basis of irreligious criticism is: man makes religion, not religion makes man. Religion is the self-consciousness and the self-esteem of a man who has either not yet acquired himself or has already lost himself again. But man is not some abstract being cowering outside the world. Man is the world of man, the state, society. It is this state, this society that produces religion, an inverted world consciousness, because it is itself an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic summary, its logic cast in popular form, its spiritualist honour, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn supplement, its general consolation and justification. Religion is the fantastic realization of the human essence, because the human essence has no real reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly a struggle against the world whose spiritual flavour is religion.

Now, with his programme of abolition of private property, he took the class position of the proletariat and declared himself a revolutionary. The concept of “practice” became one of his central categories, the most important meaning of which is the “practice of revolution” “above principle”:

“The critique of the speculative philosophy of law, as a determined opponent of the German way of political consciousness, does not end in itself, but in tasks for which there is only one means of solution: practice.

It was in this work that Marx came to the important conclusion that the proletariat was the subject and the agent of the revolution, and he found the materialist explanation in the fact that this newly formed social class was forced to carry out the revolution by its “immediate situation”, by “material necessity”. This definition of the proletariat is still quite vague, but it is the most emphatic part of the writing.

“So what is the positive potential of German emancipation?

Marx declared that human emancipation was the “dissolution of the existing world order”, which could take the form of a “radical revolution” “breaking all forms of slavery”. One of the most important preconditions for this revolution is the unification of the theory, philosophy and practice of revolution, the proletariat.

“Just as philosophy finds its material in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its intellectual weapons in philosophy, and as soon as the lightning of thought strikes deep into this naive popular soil, the emancipation of the German into man is complete.”

The only double issue of the journal was published in February 1844. The communist tendencies of Marx and Engels” articles and Heine”s poems mocking the Bavarian king provoked reactions from the Prussian authorities and fuelled the internal divisions within the editorial staff. The Prussian government, with the help of its secret police, monitored communist organisations abroad, especially in France and Switzerland, but failed to get the Guizot government to ban the publication. Border controls were therefore tightened to confiscate the journal, and arrest warrants were issued for Ruge, Marx, Heine and Bernays, who might return home. As a result of the controls, hundreds of copies were confiscated at the border, a considerable loss for a publication with only 1,000 copies. “In Austria, Metternich threatened ”severe measures” against any bookseller who was found in possession of this ”repulsive and outrageous” document.” The persecution hastened the paper”s downfall all the more since the only potential ”market” for the publication was Prussia. On French soil, it had little support from the progressive press, its readership was negligible, and it was also heavily attacked by the Parisian paper of German émigrés, the then reactionary Vorwärts! Ruge immediately realised that Jahrbücher was a complete failure economically and quickly ended his financial involvement in the journal, but as he had no intention of breaking with Marx openly, he took a roundabout route. He secretly persuaded Fröbel, the publisher and printer of the journal, to withdraw from the contract. In this, political differences weighed as heavily as economic impossibility. Marx was unaware of this when he referred to the withdrawal of Julius Froebel for economic reasons in his statement on the dissolution of the paper, published on 14 April.

The financial collapse of the company was accompanied by a rise in political and personal disagreements between the members of the editorial board. As early as August 1843, Ruge and Hess were already in conflict over ideological issues, with Ruge disturbed by Hess”s communist convictions. On the other hand, the political-ideological gap between Ruge and Marx gradually widened. Marx”s development in Paris accelerated enormously, and within a few months he had completed his transformation into a communist and materialist, thus distancing himself from Ruge, who was increasingly hostile to communism. Almost immediately after his arrival in Paris, Ruge fell ill and was unable to take part in the editorial work. The finished paper was a marked departure from his vision, and he did not hide his disappointment, although he did admit that it contained some noteworthy contributions. In his letters he criticised his communist tendencies, but he criticised Marx only for his style. The differences of principle were compounded by financial disagreements. This reproach was all the more justified since Ruge, who had largely recovered his money by selling the journal and had also increased his fortune by lucky speculation, had paid off his outstanding debt to Marx with copies of the journal, leaving Marx to take care of the sale.” The break between Marx and Ruge occurred over the condemnation of Herwegh”s – in Ruge”s view, dissolute – lifestyle, when Marx lashed out against Ruge”s bourgeois mentality. According to Auguste Cornu: “…this was only an occasion for a break: the real reason was that their political and social views were radically different.”

Marx was able to continue his research despite the demise of Jahrbücher, as he was able to raise some money from several sources. Firstly, he sold the copies he had received from Ruge in lieu of royalties; secondly, his friends organised a collection for him in Cologne, which raised 1,000 thalers in mid-March; thirdly, Georg Jung paid 800 francs in compensation for the 100 confiscated copies of the journal. In the meantime, his wife gave birth to their first child, Jenny, on 1 May, but the anxiety of not being able to care for a newborn meant that after a month he travelled to Trier with the baby to learn the basics of baby care from his mother, and stayed in the safety of his parents” home for a few months. This allowed Marx to resume his studies in full force.

Marx had already decided in Kreutznach to study bourgeois society in greater depth. “Now that he had read Engels” article ”Outline of a Critique of National Economics”, it became clear to him that it was in the field of political economy that the fundamental questions of human relations lay, and that the systematic study of these questions from the standpoint of philosophical materialism and proletarian politics which he had developed would yield very great results.” It was during these studies that the unfinished work entitled Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts from 1844, which filled three notebooks, was produced and first published in full in 1932. During his studies in Paris, he also produced five other notebooks closely related to this work, containing extracts from the works of Jean-Baptiste Say, Fryderyk Skarbek, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, John Ramsay McCulloch, Pierre Prévost, Antoine Destutt de Tracy, Friedrich List, John Law, Pierre Le Pesant, Heinrich Friedrich Osiander and others, as well as from Engels” study above. This article by Engels had a unique influence on Marx, both in terms of starting his systematic economic research and in terms of getting Engels noticed as a publicist and revolutionary. The other notable direct literary impulse, beyond the three essays by Moses Hess published in 1843, was his essay On the Essence of Money (Über der Geldwesen) in particular, which was originally to have appeared in the Jahrbücher. The influence of Wilhelm Schulz”s Die Bewegung der Produktion (The Movement of Production) may also be mentioned.

In the spring of 1844, at the beginning of his regular economic studies, Marx was only a layman with an extraordinary interest in economics. This is evidenced by the fact that he was not yet able to distinguish between the classics and their vulgarizers, reading everything in a mixed bag, and, on the other hand, since he did not yet speak English, he learned most of them from French authors or in translation. In the beginning, however, Engels”s references helped him to select the more valuable works, and, as usual, he devoured so much literature that he soon became familiar with it himself. His first notebooks were Jean-Baptiste Say”s Treatise on Political Economy and Fryderyk Skarbek”s The Theory of Social Economy. (Both economists were followers and interpreters of Adam Smith.) His second and third notebooks, however, were filled with extracts from Smith”s seminal magnum opus, Inquiries into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. It is noteworthy that Sayre recorded only one idea of his own in these relevant papers, but it questioned the necessity of private property, the axiomatic cornerstone of bourgeois economics: ”Private property is a fact, the foundation of which is not the province of economics, but which is the foundation of it. There is no political economy without private property. The whole of national economics is therefore based on a fact without necessity.” This remark foreshadowed the crucial importance of property relations in Marx”s later work.

The section on alienated labour is the key chapter of the manuscript. This is also indicated by the fact that there is almost a change of genre in the Manuscripts, the theme, which until then consisted mostly of long quotations enriched with short comments, is transformed into an exposition of independent thoughts, in which the references to individual authors are only allusions.

At the end of August 1844, Engels was on his way back home and stopped in Paris to visit Marx. Their famous meeting on 28 August took place at the famous Café de la Régence. During the ten days Engels spent in Paris, they exchanged views and ideas in a never-ending exchange of views, which he recalled many years later: ”When I visited Marx in Paris in the summer of 1844, it turned out that we were in perfect agreement on all points of theory, and from that moment on our work together began.” There was no trace of the atmosphere of mistrust that had prevailed at their first meeting, and it is fair to say that those few days were a turning point for both of them, the beginning of a lifelong friendship and collaboration. Engels suggested that they write a critique of Bruno Bauer and his associates, originally planned to be 40 pages long. Engels wrote the 20 pages while still in Paris, and was surprised to learn months later that the finished work had swollen to over 300 pages, thanks to Marx”s contribution, and would be published as The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism.

In the spring and summer of 1844, Heinrich Börnstein, the publisher of Vorwärts!, had a major change of political views, joined the circle of so-called humanists – who later preferred to call themselves socialists – and made the paper available to them. From May onwards, under the direction of the new editor-in-chief, Karl Ludwig Bernays, the paper became an increasingly socialist organ, to which Marx contributed a great deal, as he was an unpaid member of the editorial staff from the summer of 1844. The paper devoted much attention to the uprising of the Silesian weavers and the problem of the growing poverty, which provided an opportunity for Ruge and Marx to clash their differing views. Although Ruge scourged Marx in private letters, he did not dare to publicly acknowledge their political conflict, and even tried to portray it as a minor, purely formal difference, an effort that amounted to a deliberate misrepresentation of Marx”s ideas. In fact, Ruge”s views were liberal, and the so-called humanist ideas he extolled were exhausted by the idea of the organisation of labour as a universal panacea. Ruge published his writings under the signature ”A Prussian”, and since he was in fact a Saxon, he could have been mistaken for the author Marx. Marx was annoyed by Ruge”s actions and wrote a discussion paper entitled ”Critical notes to the article “A Prussian”: “The Prussian King and Social Reform””. In it, he argued that pauperism was not a phenomenon peculiar to Prussia alone, but was a characteristic of all developed countries, and that its causes lay in the capitalist economy. As an example, he analysed in detail the British pauperism, which the bourgeoisie hypocritically tried to solve by education and charity. He referred to the total failure of the long-standing British Poor Law, the establishment of a system of punitive workhouses based on the anti-poor ideology of Thomas Malthus. He firmly refuted Ruge”s claim that he doubted the general literacy of German workers, and cited as a counter-argument the work of the master tailor Wilhelm Weitling, entitled Garantien der Harmonie und Freiheit (Guarantees of Harmony and Freedom), which he described as a work of genius. In contrast to Rugé, who described the Weaver”s Revolt as a minor, local event, he argued that, despite its particularity, it was a universal historical act, since the revolt was aimed at recovering the human essence lost under capitalism.

“The community from which the worker is isolated, however, is a community of a very different reality and a very different scope from the political community. This community, from which the worker is separated by his own work, is life itself, physical and spiritual life, human morality, human activity, human enjoyment, human essence. Just as the terrible isolation from this essence is disproportionately more multifaceted, more unbearable, more terrible, more contradictory than the isolation from the political community, so the elimination of this isolation, and even the partial reaction, the revolt against it, is infinitely more infinite than man is infinitely more infinite than the citizen, and human life is infinitely more infinite than political life. The industrial revolt, however partial, therefore contains a universal spirit: the political revolt, however universal, conceals under its most colossal form a narrow-minded spirit.”

By political uprising, Marx was referring to the aspirations of the German liberal bourgeoisie, the bourgeois revolution. He then went on to clarify, by definition, the connections and differences between political and social revolution:

“Every revolution eliminates the old society; to that extent it is social. Every revolution overthrows the old power; to that extent it is political. Revolution in general – the overthrow of existing power and the abolition of old relations – is a political act. But without revolution, socialism cannot be achieved. It needs this political act, in which it needs crushing and abolition. But where its organizing activity begins, where its self-goal, its soul comes to the fore, socialism throws off the political veil.”

The Prussian government had been demanding the expulsion of the editors of Vorwärts! since February 1844, but without success. The weighty reason came in an article by Bernays of 3 August, which, in connection with the failed assassination attempt on Frederick William IV, called on the king to meet the people”s legitimate demands. On 17 August, moreover, Marx published an article mocking the King”s poncey style. The Prussian government responded by asking the French government to take action against Bernays and ban the newspaper. The Foreign Minister, François Guizot, fearing the opposition press, brought proceedings only for failure to pay the required flat fee, and on 13 December the editor-in-chief was sentenced to only two months in prison and 300 francs in damages. The editors of the paper, however, decided to turn it into a monthly journal to avoid paying bail. The Prussian ambassador took a stronger stance, and on 25 January 1845 the Minister of the Interior, Tanneguy Duchâtel, ordered the expulsion of Heine, Börnstein, Bernays, Marx, Bakunyin, Heinrich Bürgers and Ruge. The measure provoked a storm of protest from the opposition press, which led to a reduction in the number of expellees. Heine was left alone in view of his worldwide fame. Ruge appealed on the grounds of his Saxon nationality, and was also removed from the list of expellees. Bernays was taken off the list thanks to the press ban. In the end, Marx, Bakunyin and Bürgers, and, by mistake, the former editor-in-chief Bornstedt, a secret agent of Prussia and Austria, remained on the list of expellees. Marx was under a Prussian arrest warrant and chose Belgium as his next place of residence. He received the warrant on 27 January 1845 and left Paris on 3 February 1845 in the company of Bürgers. The winter of 1844-45 was one of the coldest in Europe, and after a gruelling carriage journey they arrived in Brussels on the 5th, completely frozen.


After arriving in Brussels, the Marxes stayed at the Bois Sauvage Hotel, especially as it was already home to Ferdinand Freiligrath, the renowned poet turned revolutionary democrat who was forced into exile, and the socialist Karl Heinzen. According to Bürgers” recollection, Marx turned to him the next morning and said, “Today we must go to Freiligrath, he is here now, and I must make amends for the Rheinische Zeitung”s having hurt him so much at a time when he was not yet in the bosom of the party; his Hitvallás made up for everything.” From that time on, a long-lasting friendship developed between them, but their political differences with Heizen later deepened. One of the first people he approached was the lawyer Karl Maynz, who helped him obtain a residence permit, and for a long time his correspondence address was Maynz”s flat. On 7 February he submitted his application for permanent residence to King Leo I of Belgium, which he did not easily receive. The Belgian authorities had been gathering information about him, mainly about his political intentions, since an agent”s report – in fact erroneous – that he was planning to publish a newspaper had arrived as early as 14 February. Permission was only granted on 22 March, and on condition that he refrained from daily political publications. He had no difficulty in keeping the promise made in the written statement, because his agenda included writing a book of theoretical interest and continuing his studies. The former was documented, as he had a contract with the publisher Leske in Darmstadt to write a book entitled Critique of Politics and National Economics, for which he had already received an advance. In addition, on the same day, Alexis-Guillaume Hody, the Chief of Police in Brussels, sent a transcript to the Mayor informing him of the conditions for granting the licence, but also asking him to “refuse to make this declaration or to take any other hostile action against the Prussian Government, our neighbour and ally, I would be very pleased if you would inform me immediately.” This is a clear call for the collection of data on Marx, but it is only a sidebar to the opening of the Belgian Public Security Police (Administration de la sűreté publique) file number 73 946 on the writer Charles Marx of Trier. After this, Marx was able to settle with his family in Brussels, where he remained until the outbreak of the revolutions of 1848.

After selling most of their belongings in Paris at a bargain price to cover the cost of the trip, Jenny Marx and her daughter set off in the bitter cold, sick, and arrived in Brussels on 21 February. They quickly moved out of the hotel, but did not stay in their next apartment for more than a few weeks. They found a permanent home in May in the eastern suburb of Brussels, St Josse, at 5 rue de l”Alliance. Marx believed he had managed to escape the attention of the authorities, as evidenced by a letter he wrote to Herweg in 1847: “since I left Paris I have taken every precaution to prevent being found and kept away from me.” On the contrary, his address on the rue de l”Alliance is already in the files of the public security police. Soon a small revolutionary colony was established on rue de l”Alliance. Engels, who rented an apartment next door, arrived soon afterwards, and both appeared ready to work together in a more in-depth way. They were joined by Heinrich Bürgers, then by Sebastian Seiler, who had set up a small news agency with a socialist slant, which tried to supply German newspapers in France, Belgium and Germany with news from Germany, and by Jenny”s brother Edgar von Westphalen, Joseph Weydemeyer, Georg Werth and Wilhelm Wolff. Jenny was again expecting a child, and her mother, worried about their untidy circumstances, gave her young maid Helene Demuth in her permanent charge. The then 25-year-old peasant girl from Trier spent the rest of her life running the Marx household, sticking by them through the most critical times and becoming part of the family over the years. Jenny left her husband to make the house habitable, and spent her pregnant months with her daughter and Helene Demuth at her mother”s in Germany. She returned in mid-September and on the 26th their second daughter Laura was born.

Marx”s Theses on Feuerbach was written in the spring of 1845, most probably in March, and survives on pages 51-55 of his 100-page notebook, which contains a wide variety of mixed entries on a wide range of subjects from 1845 to 1847. It was first published by Engels in 1888 as an appendix to a special edition of his Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, under the title Marx on Feuerbach. Engels made some stylistic changes to the text of the theses to facilitate understanding. The alphabetical original text was first published in 1926. Engels”s lines in the introduction to the above-mentioned work are proof of the high esteem in which Marx held Feuerbach”s theses: ”These notes, written down in a rough draft for later elaboration, and by no means intended for printing, are invaluable as the first document in which the genius of the new world-view is laid down. Marx”s move away from Feuerbach was gradual, at the same pace as his critique of Hegelian philosophy, capitalist society and bourgeois national economy led him to a new, practice-oriented materialist worldview. The real weight of his new ideas, expressed in the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts and The Holy Family, had not yet fully dawned on him, although he had already gone beyond Feuerbach in his views. In the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts, he writes of Feuerbach with enthusiastic praise as ”the true conqueror of the old philosophy”, ”the founder of true materialism and realistic science”, and years later, in a reminiscence, he describes this ”Feuerbach cult” with some self-mockery as humorous. As Cornu observes, ”He had hitherto made only sporadic critical remarks about Feuerbach, although these became sharper as he himself approached communism, and their views changed from being different to being contradictory. Marx now criticised Feuerbach”s philosophy as a whole in the Theses. Nevertheless, he did so in a much milder tone than he had previously used with Bauer”s views: he now regarded the latter as simply a reactionary thinker, while in Feuerbach he saw an unchanged progressive philosopher.”

The special significance of Feuerbach”s theses is that Marx distinguishes his materialism from all previous materialisms, thus achieving a new stage of development in the elaboration of dialectical materialism. Feuerbach, although playing a very important role in the critique of idealism, remained an idealist in his social philosophy. Marx made materialism dialectical by placing the category of (social) practice at its centre, and Feuerbach”s metaphysical materialism was freed from its last idealist vestiges. In his first thesis he writes:

“The main defect of all materialism up to now (including Feuerbach”s materialism) is that it conceives of the object, reality, sensuousness, only in the form of the object or the view; not as human sensual activity, practice; not subjectively. Hence it is that the active side, in contrast to materialism, has been developed by idealism – but only in the abstract, since idealism of course does not recognize real sense activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects – objects really distinct from thought objects: but he does not conceive of human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, Christianity in its essence regards only the theoretical relation as truly human, while practice is conceived and recorded only in its dirty-judo form. Hence it does not understand the significance of revolutionary, practical-critical activity.”

“The difference of Marxist philosophy from contemplative materialism is thus above all in the new conception of practice in principle, in the high valuation of its role in cognition.” – Ojzerman states, and then continues, “Social practice is the active material basis of cognition, the subject-object relation in which the ideational and the material are transformed into each other.” According to the second thesis, the objectivity, truthfulness and objectivity of our thinking can only be proved by practice:

“The question of whether human thinking is a matter of objective truth is not a matter of theory, but a practical question. It is in practice that man must prove the truth of his thinking, that is, its reality and its power, its worldliness. The debate about the reality or non-reality of thought which isolates itself from practice is a purely scholastic question.”

According to Marx, practice is not merely the basis of cognition, but also the most important content of social life. In the eighth thesis, he formulates the fundamental law that:

“Social life is essentially practical.”

Marx focuses on a particular form of practice, revolutionary practice. In his third thesis, he criticises Feuerbach”s view that society can be transformed through education:

“The materialist doctrine that people are the product of circumstances and education, that changed people are the product of different circumstances and changed education, forgets that it is people who change circumstances, and that the educator himself must be educated. Hence, he necessarily ends up by dividing society into two parts, one of which is superior to society (e.g. Robert Owen). The coincidence of changing circumstances and human activity can only be conceived and rationally understood as a revolutionary practice.”

According to Marx, Feuerbach”s view of the human essence is flawed. “But what is the human essence?” – Ojzerman asks, and then continues – “Feuerbach holds that it is nothing more than the community of individuals in the sexes, bound together by natural ties. Since each individual possesses certain sex characteristics, he is himself the embodiment of the human essence.” But this conception fails to grasp correctly the social consciousness and its specific form, religion. Marx”s sixth thesis, on the other hand, defines the human essence as the totality of social relations:

” the human essence is not some abstraction inherent in the individual. The human essence is in its reality the totality of social relations.”

“The definition of the human essence as a totality of social relations represents a radical break with Feuerbach”s philosophical anthropology, for which the human essence is something primary, essentially pre-historical, which only unfolds in history. In contrast, according to historical materialism, social relations are variable (and accordingly qualitatively different in different ages), determined by the level of development of the productive forces, and therefore secondary, derivative. From this point of view, the human essence, i.e. the totality of social relations, is constituted by humanity itself in the course of world history.” – Ojzerman assesses the significance of Marx”s conception of human essence.

Marx”s best-known and most quoted Feuerbach thesis is the eleventh, in which he aphoristically confronts the essence of his philosophy not only with the so-called old materialism, but with all previous philosophies. The essential feature of this philosophy is that it goes beyond the understanding and interpretation of the world and sets goals for humanity aimed at a (revolutionary) change of the world.

“Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; but the task is to change it.”

In mid-July 1845, Marx and Engels made a trip to England, from where they returned to Brussels on 24 August. The main purpose of their trip was to broaden their knowledge of economics and to establish direct contacts with the leaders of the League of Truth and the Chartists. Their first stop was Manchester, where Engels was at home and also acted as Marx”s guide. They spent much of their time at the Old Chetham Library in Manchester, where Marx read and took notes on works dealing partly with economics and partly with social and political issues. In August, he travelled to London to meet with the leaders of the League of Righteous Men and the Chartists. The Alliance of the Righteous in London became increasingly closely associated with the Chartists and under their influence significant ideological changes took place within the organisation. Heinrich Bauer, Karl Schapper and Joseph Moll were still supporters of the utopian Étienne Cabet in the early 1940s, but by 1845 they saw the failure of his communism, which had initiated the colonies, and became supporters of the revolution. The influence of Wilhelm Weitling, who was then in London, and George Julian Harney, publisher of the Chartist paper The Nothern Star, played a major role in this. Marx and Engels attended a meeting of Chartists, members of the League of the Righteous and democrats, who accepted Engels” proposal for a meeting of all London democrats and the formation of an association to support the international democratic movement.

In addition to the birth of Laura, another important private event in Marx”s life occurred during the rest of 1845. He wrote a letter to the Mayor of Trier asking for permission to emigrate to the United States of America, which meant renouncing his Prussian citizenship. As Marx revealed to the public in 1848 in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, he had no real intention of emigrating, but had renounced his Prussian citizenship in self-defence to avoid persecution similar to that in France. The mayor-general sent a transcript of the case to the government prelate, who asked for the agreement of the interior minister. Permission was granted by the Minister of the Interior on 23 November, and on 1 December the Prussian government”s Department of the Interior in Trier issued a decree of deprivation of Marx”s Prussian citizenship.

German ideology is the second work Marx and Engels collaborated on after The Holy Family. In terms of content, it is divided into two basic parts, the first, the so-called Feuerbach chapter, is a positive exposition of their social philosophical principles and historical materialism, while the second is a critique of post-Hegel German idealism (Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner) and utopianism (”real” socialism). The immediate reason for writing the book was the publication in September 1845 of Bauer”s and Stirner”s writings, in which they were accused of dogmatism. So, putting aside their planned writings, Marx and Engels worked from September 1845 until the end of August 1846 on the book, which they originally conceived as a satirical polemical work against Bauer, Strirner and ”real” socialism, similar to The Holy Family. However, the emphasis, the genre of the discussion and the title – “The Leipzig Council” – changed along the way, and the critique of Feuerbach, but even more so the explication of their own social philosophical principles, became the primary concern. The book could not be published, as the ”real” socialists were in control of the publishers, and so it remained unfinished. With the exception of a few excerpts, German Ideology was never published in the lifetime of its authors, and the first full critical edition appeared in 1932.

It was in this work that Marx and Engels first set out in detail the basic tenets of the theory of historical materialism. They scientifically proved the thesis that the social existence of people determines their social consciousness. They described the essential basic structure of human society in terms of the mode of production, the main substantive components of which are the productive forces and the relations of production (forms of social interaction), and the contradiction between them is the driving force of historical development. “The development of the productive forces resulting from the satisfaction of needs determines both circulation as exchange, as trade, and the forms of contact, i.e. the social relations which Marx later calls relations of production. In fact, the forms of contact are determined by the productive forces, and these forms have changed as new, more complex productive forces have emerged to satisfy greater needs. Indeed, a given state of production corresponds to a given form of social contact, and it is precisely the form which is necessary for the operation of the productive forces in question. The form of social contact varies with the productive forces.” – is Cornu”s interpretation of the main ideas of German ideology. Marx and Engels summarise the main conclusions of their conception of history as follows:

“1. in the development of the productive forces, a stage is reached at which productive forces and means of contact are created which, under existing conditions, only cause trouble, which are no longer productive forces but destructive forces (machinery and money) – and what is connected with this, a class is created which is forced to bear all the burdens of society without enjoying its advantages, which, being driven out of society, is forced into the most definite antagonism with all other classes; a class which constitutes the majority of all the members of society, and from which the consciousness of the need for a radical revolution, the communist consciousness, which can naturally arise in the ranks of other classes, is derived, in view of the position of the class in question; 2. the conditions under which certain productive forces can be employed are the conditions of the domination of a certain social class, whose social power, deriving from its property, finds practical-idealistic expression in the form of the State of the moment, *** and therefore all revolutionary struggles are directed against a class which has hitherto ruled; 3. in all previous revolutions, the mode of activity has always remained intact, and it has only been a question of a different division of this activity, of the distribution of work to other persons; the communist revolution, on the other hand, is directed against the previous mode of activity, eliminates work**** and abolishes the domination of all classes, including the classes themselves, because this revolution is carried out by the class which is no longer a class in society, which is the expression of all classes, nationalities, etc. 4. for the mass creation of this communist consciousness and for the carrying through of the thing itself, a mass transformation of the people is necessary, which can only be accomplished by a practical movement, by revolution; revolution is therefore necessary not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the overthrowing class can only in revolution come to the point of shaking off all the filth of the past and becoming capable of laying a new foundation for society.”

It is stated that the prerequisite of the communist revolution is the high development of the productive forces, which, on the one hand, will make the overwhelming majority of mankind completely without property, on the other hand, will create the material basis for the high level of satisfaction of needs, and, thirdly, will establish universal contact of mankind, which will make each country dependent on the revolutionary developments of the others.

“Without it, (1) communism could exist only as a local phenomenon, (2) the powers of contact itself could not have developed as universal, and therefore would have remained unbearable powers, patriotic-baboonish “conditions”, and (3) any expansion of contact would eliminate local communism. Communism is empirically possible only as an act of the dominant peoples “at once” and simultaneously, and this presupposes the universal development of productive power and the world contact that goes with it. The proletariat can therefore only exist in world-historical terms, just as its action, communism, can only exist in general as “world-historical” existence; as the world-historical existence of individuals, that is, as the existence of individuals directly linked to world history.”

Marx and Engels were aware that some form of organisation was needed to spread the ideas they had now elaborated in their principles and to bring together the growing socialist groups, so in January 1846, under the leadership of Marx, Engels and Philippe Gigot, the archivist, the Brussels Communist Correspondence Committee was formed. The historical list of the 18 founding members is as follows: Karl Marx; Fridrich Engels; Philippe Gigot; Jenny Marx; Edgar von Westphalen, Marx”s brother-in-law; Ferdinand Freiligrath, poet; Joseph Weydemeyer, former Prussian lieutenant; Moses Hess, publicist; Herman Kriege, journalist; Wilhelm Weitling, who had arrived in Brussels in the meantime; Ernst Dronke, writer, publicist; Louis Heilberg, journalist; Georg Weerth, poet, publicist; Sebastian Seiler, journalist; Wilhelm Wolff, publicist, professor of classics and philology; Ferdinand Wolff, journalist; Karl Wallau, typesetter; Stephan Born, typesetter, journalist. In his May letter to Proudhon, in which he tries to win him as correspondent in France, Marx summarises the aims of the committee thus:

“Our correspondence is intended to be concerned with the discussion of scientific questions on the one hand, and with a critical review of popular writings and the socialist propaganda which can be expressed in Germany by this means on the other. Our main aim, however, is to bring German socialists into contact with French and English socialists; to inform foreigners of the socialist movements developing in Germany, and Germans living in Germany of the progress of socialism in France and England. In this way, differences of opinion can be expressed; exchange of views and impartial criticism will develop. It is a step which the social movement must take in its literary expression to free itself from national limitations.”

The Brussels Committee sent a letter to a number of socialists and communists in Germany, suggesting that they should form similar correspondent groups. The Communists of Cologne, Elberfeld, Westphalia and Silesia were in regular contact with the Brussels Committee, sending news of local events of relevance to the workers” movement, and receiving circulars and propaganda material from Brussels. In February the Brussels committee also contacted the leader of the Paris group of the League of the Righteous, August Hermann Ewerbeck, and a few months later a correspondence committee was set up there. This was Marx”s first practical, political undertaking, and he carried it out with great thoroughness, investing a great deal of time and effort.

When Weitling relocated to Brussels, he was warmly welcomed by Marx, Engels and their colleagues. However, the initial atmosphere of cordiality soon turned frosty. He held messianistic communist views, imagined himself as some kind of new saviour and, moreover, despised scientific activity. Years later, Engels described his changed behaviour from their first meeting:

“Later Weitling came to Brussels. But he was no longer the naïve young tailor who, amazed by his own talent, sought to clarify what a communist society might be like. Now he was a great man, persecuted by the envy of his superiority, who sniffed out rivals, secret enemies and entrapments everywhere; a prophet, chased from country to country, with a recipe for heaven on earth in his pocket, and who imagined that everyone was trying to steal it from him. Already in London he was at odds with the people of the League, and in Brussels he could get along with no one, although here in particular Marx and his wife showed him almost superhuman patience.”

The conflict erupted on 30 March at a meeting of the Correspondence Committee, at which Pavel Annyenkov was present as a guest, and whose memoirs contain a detailed account of the event. Engels was the first to make an introductory speech. “He could not even finish his speech, because Marx was unable to control himself. – “You, who have caused such a stir in Germany with your rhetoric, what is your justification for your activities and on what basis do you intend to base them in the future? “Weitling replied with a long, rambling, often self-repeating monologue, which Marx vigorously denounced: ”to revolt the workers without a scientific basis or constructive theory “is tantamount to a useless and dishonest form of preaching, which presupposes a called prophet on one side and mere mouth-breathing dunces on the other.”” “”his modest efforts have had perhaps more influence on the common cause than criticism and café analysis of doctrines far removed from the world of tormented, suffering men. ” When he attempted to take on the proletarians, Marx”s anger was finally unleashed. He jumped up from his chair, slammed his fist on the table so hard the lamp rattled, shouted, “No one has ever benefited from ignorance.” The meeting broke up with a rush.” Weitling continued to visit the Marxes for weeks, despite his disgrace, but the final stage of the break-up was reached when Hermann Kriege was condemned.

At a meeting of the Communist Correspondence Committee on May 11, 1846, on the motion of Marx and Engels, with Weitling voting against, a resolution and its detailed justification were adopted, which was afterwards entitled the Circular against Kriege. The first three points of the resolution state: ”1. The tendency represented by the editor Hermann Kriege in the “Volkstribun” is not communist. 2. The childishly pompous manner in which Kriege represents this tendency is most compromising for the Communist Party in Europe and America, since he is considered the literary representative of German communism in New York. 3. The fantastic emotional fantasy which Kriege preaches in New York under the name of “communism” must be most demoralizing to the workers if it is embraced.” In the 14 pages of justification, Marx and Engels dissect Kriege”s writings, sometimes with sarcastic wit, sometimes with rational argument, and deliver a devastating critique. First of all, they take aim at and ridicule the Volkstribun”s comically sentimental, dripping article “To the Women”. Kriege”s article is ”the transformation of communism into a love-fest” – the word ”love” appears exactly 35 times in the article in some context – in its utterly simplistic portrayal of communism as the opposite of egoism filled with love, the authors write. They then go on to demonstrate that the political drive to make all people private property owners is totally unrealistic and reactionary. On the one hand, the limited amount of land that can be subdivided, even on an American scale, would be an insurmountable obstacle, and on the other hand, the capitalist economic environment and unequal productivity would inevitably enrich some people while impoverishing others. The Communist Correspondence Committee in Brussels reproduced the circular in stone print and sent it to the other correspondence committees, including Krieg”s, demanding that it be published in their paper. Kriege had no choice but to publish the letter of criticism, but then launched a series of articles full of slander against Marx, Engels and their comrades. This marked the end of the break with Weitling, who soon left for America and avoided turning the conflict into open hostility. As a result of these events, Moses Hess, who was close to Weitling and held similar views, resigned his membership of the Correspondence Committee and distanced himself from Marx and Engels.

On May 5, 1846, Marx wrote a letter to Proudhon asking him to become the Paris correspondent of the Brussels Committee. Although the tone of the letter as a whole is one of impeccable courtesy, the contents of its postscript must have made Proudhon sensitive: ”I warn you against Mr Grün in Paris. This man is a literary impostor and nothing more, a kind of charlatan who likes to peddle modern ideas. He tries to conceal his ignorance behind pompous and impertinent rhetoric, but has only succeeded in making a fool of himself by his ramblings. He abused the acquaintances which his impudence had made with famous authors to build himself a pedestal and thus compromise them before the German public. Beware of this parasite.” Marx was not talking out of the top of his head, he had in his pocket a thorough Grün critique of the “as yet” unpublished German Ideology, which makes up a whole chapter. However, there was a friendship between Proudhon and Grün based on a kind of relationship of interest, for since Proudhon did not speak German, Grün interpreted for him the literature, especially philosophy, from German sources. Proudhon, in his reply of 17 May, found the warning repugnant, defended Grün and even wrote a moral sermon amounting to a lecture, indirectly accusing Marx of dogmatism and intolerance. Regardless of Proudhon”s subjective intentions, some of the letter”s metaphorical excerpts had explicitly mocking overtones, one example being: ””Our proletarians are so thirsty for science that they would take it very badly if they were given nothing to drink but blood.”” – Franz Mehring is quoted. Towards the end of Proudhon”s letter, he brought to Marx”s attention his new work, The Philosophy of Misery, which was in the process of being printed, and remarked with a certain patronising irony: “Well, my dear philosopher, that is where I am at the moment; provided, of course, that I am not mistaken, and that you will then have the opportunity of a thorough gnawing, to which I will gladly submit.” And if all this were not enough, he notes that Grün is about to translate his work into German, and would be honoured if Marx would help him to disseminate the German version. Marx did not reply to the letter, but as soon as he could he read The Philosophy of Misery, and with his next book, The Misery of Philosophy, he launched a critical barrage.

Many of the revolutionary groups in Paris in the second half of the 1840s were influenced by the views of the petty bourgeois anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, most notably in his The System of Economic Contradictions or Philosophy of Misery, published in the autumn of 1846. In his book, Proudhon opposed workers” strikes, trade unions and all political struggles in general, and theorised that capitalism should be transformed peacefully into a society of independent small producers, which he hoped would be achieved through the use of moneyless exchange banks. Marx immediately recognised the destructive effect of these ideas on the nascent workers” movement and in his book The Misery of Philosophy, he severely criticised Proudhon. In the first half of his book he dissected his erroneous and partly plagiarised economic views, while in the second half he criticised his vulgarised Hegelianism as a philosophical critique. He pointed out that Proudhon does not essentially reject capitalist private property, commodity production, competition or other important structural elements of capitalism. Marx, in explaining his historical-philosophical views, distinguishes between two stages in the development of the proletariat into an independent class: the first is the development of an objective class situation, the second is its subjective consciousness, its organisation into an independent political force with agency:

“Economic conditions first turned the mass of the population into workers. The domination of capital created a common situation and common interests for this mass. In this way, this mass is a class in relation to capital, but not yet a class for itself. In this struggle, of which we have only indicated some of the phases, this mass is united, it is transformed into a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of the class against the class is a political struggle.”

The ultimate historical conclusion of his book is that the class struggle of the proletariat must lead to the abolition of all classes and class rule:

“An oppressed class is the condition of existence of any society based on class antagonism. The liberation of the oppressed class therefore necessarily implies the creation of a new society. In order for the oppressed class to be able to liberate itself, the productive forces already acquired and the existing social relations must no longer coexist. Of all the tools of production, the greatest productive force is the revolutionary class itself. The organization of the revolutionary elements into a class presupposes the existence of all the productive forces that could have developed in the womb of the old society.

The Communist Correspondence Committee in Brussels was in good contact with the leaders of the London League of the Righteous, and the views of Marx and Engels were influential among them. Engels describes the events which led to the formation of the League of Communists as follows:

“He appeared in Brussels at Marx”s and immediately afterwards in Paris at my house, to call once again on behalf of his comrades for us to join the League. They are convinced of the general correctness of our approach, he said, as well as of the need to rid the Alliance of the old conspiratorial traditions and forms. If we want to join, we will be given the opportunity to express our critical communism in a manifesto at a congress of the League, which will then be published as a manifesto of the League; and we will likewise have the opportunity to contribute to the replacement of the League”s obsolete organization by a new, modern and purposeful one.”

Although they had previously refused to join the Alliance of the Righteous, they could no longer refuse this offer. Marx joined the League on 23 January 1847 and, together with Engels, set about its complete transformation. The organisation held its first congress in London from 2 to 7 June 1847, with Engels in Paris and Wilhelm Wolff in Brussels as delegates, while Marx, unfortunately, was absent from this historic event due to a lack of funds. A resolution was passed to reorganise the federation, which was renamed the League of Communists, and the petty-bourgeois slogan “All men are brothers” was replaced by the internationalist motto “Proletarians of the world, unite!”. A new, provisional organisational statute was adopted, which still only vaguely defined the aim of the League: “The aim of the League is the liberation of the people through the dissemination and the earliest possible practical introduction of the theory of the community of property.” The congress was extremely cautious on the question of the League”s programme, the so-called “communist creed”, and until the second congress merely submitted Engels” draft, in the form of a question-and-answer session, to the local groups for discussion. Engels rewrote it in late October and November under the title “Principles of Communism”, but even the rewritten text served only as a provisional working draft until a final version was ready.

The Brussels group of the League of Communists was formed on 5 August and elected Marx as its president. The group played an active role in the German Workers” Union in Brussels, where Marx gave a series of lectures on Wage Labour and Capital, which later appeared in print, and in the internationally constituted Democratic Society, of which Marx was also vice-president.

The second congress of the League met in London from 30 November to 8 December, and was attended by Engels and Wolff, as well as Marx. The final organisational statutes were discussed and adopted, which, with the amendments, became fully Marxist and set out the specific aim of the organisation: ”The aim of the League is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society based on class conflicts and the establishment of a new society without classes and without private property.” The Congress entrusted Marx and Engels with the task of writing the federation”s programmatic document in the form of a manifesto, which was entitled The Manifesto of the Communist Party.

The revolutions of 1848

With the outbreak of the French Revolution in February 1848, Marx returned to Paris. As the revolution spread to Germany, he went to Cologne, where he became editor-in-chief of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. He also followed events in Hungary with great sympathy, comparing the activities of Lajos Kossuth in 1848 to those of Danton and Carnot.

After the crushing of the revolutions, Marx was put on trial for crimes committed through the press and for inciting armed resistance against the government. He was acquitted and expelled on the grounds that he did not have Prussian citizenship. He returned to Paris and, after being expelled from there, went to London, where he lived for the rest of his life.


The Marxes” life in exile was initially extremely difficult, they were destitute despite the financial support of their friend Engels, and one of their sons, Edgar, died of tuberculosis. He spent much of the 1850s writing hundreds of ”subsistence” articles for newspapers such as the New York Daily Tribune, and in his spare time he studied the rich economic material in the British Museum library. It was during this time that he accumulated a vast body of notes, published only in 1941 under the title Grundrisse (Grundrisse of Criticism of Political Economy).

His family was destitute and his wife, who was both his colleague and constant support, did not show his suffering and stood by him. It was not an easy time for the couple. “My children died of absorbing, with my milk, the pains, the worries, the eternal sorrow.” The situation was further complicated by the fact that at the same time their housekeeper had a son, whom the selfless Friedrich Engels took on the task of raising. The wealthy friend, incidentally, adored Marx and Jenny von Westphalen was jealous of him because of this. Some historians, analysing this relationship, have said that “Marx also acquired a second wife in Engels.”

Sensing the signs of the economic crisis of 1857, Marx hoped for another revolutionary upswing and threw himself into his economic work with great effort. In 1859, in Berlin, he published A Critique of Political Economy, the first coherent discussion of Marx”s theory of value and his theory of money. This book can be seen as a preliminary work on the basic issues of Capital.

First International

In 1864 the International Confederation of Labour, or the First International, was founded. Marx played an important role in it, being the author of its founding message, its organisational rules and several of its manifestos. He made a great effort to unite the many different tendencies which were based on contradictory foundations and all professed to be socialist (Mazzini in Italy, Proudhon in France, Bakunyin in Switzerland, British Chartism, German Slow Alanism, etc.).

After the fall of the Paris Commune in 1871, he analysed its lessons in The Civil War in France. It was then that Marx”s name first became widely known, including within the labour movement. It was at this time that the conflict between the anarchists led by Bakunin and the Marxists within the International deepened. The disagreement was not over their vision of socialism, but over the way to achieve it. The anarchists envisaged the achievement of a classless society solely through direct action by the masses, through social revolution, without the intermediate phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat that Marx considered inevitable.

At the Congress of The Hague in 1872, the Bakunyinists were finally expelled, the headquarters of the International was moved to New York, and the organisation finally dissolved in 1876.

Twilight of his life

In 1867, after 20 years of work, he published the first volume of Capital. The writing of the next two volumes was increasingly postponed, hampered by his deteriorating health and his work for the International. In 1875, he wrote a critique of the Gothic programme of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, but left most of the work of organising the party to Engels. He devoted all his energies to writing Capital, gathering a huge amount of material for it and learning Russian. He was unable to complete his work, and Engels later put the notes he had left behind into print.

His wife Jenny died in 1881 and Marx died on 14 March 1883. They are buried side by side in Highgate Cemetery, London.

The later Marxist currents have interpreted Marx”s ideas in rather contradictory ways: from dogmatic interpretations of social democracy in the former Soviet Union or the People”s Republic of China and others, to non-dogmatic interpretations of “real socialism” in the former Soviet Union or the People”s Republic of China and others, to critical theory and the new left. Isolated, arbitrarily taken out of context, clichéd Marxist terms and concepts are often summarily labelled as ”vulgar Marxism” , but the trend that develops from its doctrines is called Marxism.


The combination of the teachings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and the social and political ideologies that refer to them is called Marxism. The main aim of this system of ideas, written in the 19th century, is to create a communist society without social classes and without exploitation.According to Lenin, Marxism can be divided into three main parts: Marxist philosophy, Marxist economic theory and Marxist political theory. Marxist doctrines were labelled “scientific socialism” by Engels, who played a decisive role in bringing Marx”s work into the press.

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He was the last thinker to attempt a comprehensive philosophical analysis of society. After Marx”s work, the paths of social science and philosophy became separate. His theoretical importance is reflected in the fact that he is considered one of the three great founders of modern social science, along with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber.

Paul Ricœur considered Karl Löwith Marx and Søren Kierkegaard, alongside Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche, as the two greatest depositories of Hegelian philosophy, the “school of suspicion”.

Marx was the subject of controversy throughout his life, and even after his death, the significance of his person and ideas in the role of Marxism-Leninism, the ideology called Marxism and the dictatorship of Stalin, in bringing agony and suffering to millions of people, was regularly discussed.

Marx”s critics

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, one of the founders of the Austrian School (German: Österreichische Schule), had already criticised it in 1896 in his work Zum Abschluß des Marxschen Systems (On the Conclusion of the Marxian System). According to him, there is a contradiction in Volumes 1 and 3 of Capital: ”I cannot help but see nothing here which is an explanation or a resolution of self-contradiction, but merely the naked contradiction itself. “Since in Volume 1 Marx asserted that in the exchange of commodities the commodity is exchanged for labour, and only briefly noted that this did not reflect real economic movements and that innumerable intermediate steps were needed to understand the circumstances, he nevertheless first detailed in Volume 3 why this leads to the development of the general rate of profit. Böhm-Bawerk assumed that the publication of volumes 2 and 3 had been delayed for so long because Marx had not found a solution to the problems raised that was compatible with his theory, but in fact the manuscript of the third volume was completed before the first.

For Marx, the representation of capitalist production, of the emergence of values and prices, was not born out of necessity, but was conscious and deliberate. According to Böhm-Bawerk, the theory of the general rate of profit and the theory of prices of production contradicts the law of value as presented in Volume 1. In this sense, he is critical of the statements in Capital with which Marx explained why prices of production move within the limits set by the law of value. Böhm-Bawerk”s critique of the Marxian value law was later taken up in a different form by others in the context of the transformation problem.

One of the best known of Marx”s critics is the Austrian-born English philosopher Karl Popper. He lacked philosophical and epistemological aspects, and to this he added an emphatic strategy of immunisation against criticism.

Marx was claimed by many authors to have been an anti-Semite. These accusations were made mainly in connection with his work On the Jewish Question, his mocking correspondence criticising Ferdinand Lassalle, and other letters.The Jewish historian Helmut Hirsch, in his book “Marx and Moses. Karl Marx on the “Jewish Question” and the Jews”, defends Marx against the charge of anti-Semitism. In his work “On the Jewish Question”, for example, Marx demanded equality before the law for Jews, i.e. he held a considerably more progressive view than his contemporaries. However, he was criticised for uncritically adopting words such as ”Schacher” and ”Wucher” and thus reproducing anti-Semitic prejudices and clichés in his writings. It should be noted that Marx”s ancestors were Jewish and it was only as a child that his family became Protestant. As an exponent of materialist philosophy, he criticised all religions as forms of ideology and self-deception (cf. (Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie. Einleitung).

Micha Brumlik wrote with reference to Marx”s letters: “Marx was a fervent anti-Semite throughout his life”. Yet this opinion contrasts with the personal good relations between Marx and, for example, Heinrich Graetz, Wilhelm Alexander Freund, Bernhard Kraus, Sigmund Schott and others. Kurt Flasch writes: “Brumlik”s book is not a reliable study of the history of philosophy”.

Sociologist Detlev Claussen criticises the content of The Jewish Question as “non-materialist and unscientific”, failing to grasp the difference between pre-bourgeois and bourgeois society and getting bogged down in an analysis of the circulation of goods and money. In contrast, Marx”s critique of the historicising of economics in Capital has been noted by many social scientists as opening up a perspective for dealing with anti-Semitism that was only taken further by his followers such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in The Dialectic of Enlightenment (Dialektik der Aufklärung, 1944).

Marxist debates

Within contemporary Marxism, which is divided into numerous and sometimes contradictory tendencies, almost all elements of Marxist theory are fiercely contested. Particularly controversial points are, for example:

Many of Marx”s works remain unfinished, because his death came too early for that, and so Marxism itself is not a closed system. This allows both for different interpretations of Marx and Engels” works and for different degrees of historical contextualisation of the theory and its elements.

Marx and Engels themselves changed their views over time, here and there. For example, they made contradictory statements about whether socialist revolution must necessarily break out in a highly developed capitalist country, or whether it could even come about by skipping the stage of capitalism under the right special circumstances, as Marx himself writes in a letter to Vera Ivanovna Zasulics.

Marx”s ideas have had a major impact on world politics and intellectual life. His work resulted in modern sociology, left a major legacy in economic thought and had a profound influence on philosophy, literature, the arts and almost all disciplines. As a result of his work, the critical tone against the prevailing capitalist social order has been strengthened.

His birthplace in Trier is now a museum. In the German Democratic Republic, the University of Leipzig was called Karl Marx University from 1953 to 1990, and Chemnitz, one of the most populous cities in Saxony, was named Karl-Marx-Stadt. One of East Berlin”s most famous avenues is Karl-Marx-Allee, which was given this name in 1961 and was not changed by German reunification in 1990. The ideologies derived from its ideals formed the basis of many other left-wing regimes of the 20th century.

In Hungary after the Second World War, like in other socialist countries, a cult of personality developed around him. Streets and institutions were named after him, statues were erected in his honour and his doctrines were taught as a compulsory subject. After the fall of communism, all this has now faded into the past, but in 2014, for example, there was a big debate about whether his statue should remain in the lobby of the formerly named Corvinus University of Budapest. In September that year, the statue was removed at the demand of KDNP politicians.

On February 12, 2017, the film Le jeune Karl Marx (The Young Karl Marx), directed by Raoul Peck, was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival to a very positive reception, and its historical authenticity has received numerous accolades from critics and even academics. Michael Heinrich, however, draws attention to the film”s historical inaccuracies and points out that it is a feature film, not a documentary.

In May 2018, on the bicentenary of Marx”s birth, a 4.5 metre high statue of him, donated by the Chinese government, was unveiled in his hometown of Trier. The opening ceremony was attended by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, who defended Marx in his speech, calling him a creative, forward-looking philosopher who “is not responsible for the atrocities committed by those who claimed to be his heirs and followers”.

On 2 May 2018, the German television channel ZDF presented the documentary drama Karl Marx – Ein deutscher Prophet (“Karl Marx: A German Prophet”), which analyses Marx”s life and work and the historical and social context in which Marx”s works were written (directed by Christian Twente). In the documentary, researchers and experts analyse the context of the period. Dramatised biographical episodes are also woven in. Marx is played by Mario Adorf, who has been pushing for this for years.

Paul Lafargue: Personal Memories (1890):

The works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 51 copies (1957-1988)

The Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 51 copies (Kossuth, Bp., 1957-1988


  1. Karl Marx
  2. Karl Marx