Karl Marx 200 Years On: Five Core Ideas

Karl Marx 200 Years On: Five Core Ideas

Berlin, Germany:  Karl Marx’s work “might be defined in 5 minutes, 5 hours, in 5 years or in a half century,” wrote French political thinker Raymond Aron.

A utopian imaginative and prescient of a simply society for some, a blueprint for totalitarian regimes for others, Marxist thought is specified by the Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital.

Listed below are 5 core concepts of the influential and extremely divisive German thinker, on the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birthday.

‘Class wrestle’

“The historical past of all hitherto present society is the historical past of sophistication wrestle,” says the Communist Manifesto, co-written with Friedrich Engels and revealed in 1848.

Marx believed that humanity’s core battle rages between the ruling class, or bourgeoisie, that controls the technique of manufacturing equivalent to factories, farms and mines, and the working class, or proletariat, which is pressured to promote their labour.

Based on Marx, this battle on the coronary heart of capitalism — of slaves towards masters, serfs towards landlords, employees towards bosses — would inevitably trigger it to self-destruct, to be adopted by socialism and finally communism.

‘Dictatorship of the proletariat’

This concept — coined by early socialist revolutionary Joseph Weydemeyer and adopted by Marx and Engels — refers back to the aim of the working class gaining management of political energy.

It’s the stage of transition from capitalism to communism the place the technique of manufacturing cross from non-public to collective possession whereas the state nonetheless exists.

The idea, together with suppressing “counter-revolutionaries”, was proclaimed by the Russian Bolsheviks in 1918.

Vladimir Lenin wrote that it’s “received and maintained by way of violence”, signalling the authoritarian drift that started after Russia’s 1917 October Revolution.


Marx and Engels wrote the “Manifesto of the Communist Social gathering” in 1848, at a time of revolutionary turmoil in Europe.

It solely reached a large readership in 1872 however turned a part of the canon of the Soviet Bloc within the 20th century.

For Marx, the aim was the conquest of political energy by employees, the abolition of personal property, and the eventual institution of a classless and stateless communist society.

Based on Marx’s principle of historic materialism, societies cross by six levels — primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and at last world, stateless communism.

In actuality, the abolition of personal property and the collectivisation of land resulted in thousands and thousands of deaths, particularly underneath Russia’s Joseph Stalin and China’s Mao Zedong.


“Staff of the world unite!” is the well-known rallying cry that concludes the Manifesto and seeks to create a political construction that transcends nationwide borders.

The thought lay on the coronary heart of Soviet internationalism, uniting the future of nations as geographically distant as the us, Vietnam and Cuba, and revolutionary teams together with the Colombian FARC or the Kurdish Staff’ Social gathering PKK, in addition to anti-globalisation actions.

‘Opium of the individuals’

Marx believed that faith, like a drug, helps the exploited to suppress their quick ache and distress with nice illusions, to the good thing about their oppressors.

The quote often paraphrased as “faith is the opium of the individuals” originates from the introduction of Marx’s work “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Proper”.

In full, it reads: “Faith is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the center of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless situations. It’s the opium of the individuals.”


The thought was used to justify brutal purges of religions in Russia, China and throughout japanese Europe.

Some students level out that Marx noticed faith as solely one among many components explaining the enslavement of the proletariat and will have been stunned to see radical atheism grow to be a core tenet of communist regimes.

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