Chapter Three – Communism, Karl Marx

Notes on Karl Marx

Karl Marx: Prussian Philosopher, Organizer, Economist Sociologist, etc. 1818-1883


Black and white portrait of Karl Marx's head and upper body. Marx looks solemnly at the camera with his hand tucked into his vest.
Portrait of Karl Marx by John Jabez Edwin Maya


Early Life

  • Born to a wealthy middle-class family
  • Of Jewish origin, his father converted to Lutheranism to escape persecution
  • Marx studied as a lawyer and philosopher at the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin
  • While employed at a newspaper, he began to work on a non-idealist theory of history (later this becomes historical materialism)

Adult Life

  • Moved to Paris in early 1840 and met Friedrich Engels
  • In 1849, following the defeat of revolutions across Europe, he was forced into exile because his political ideas were not well received by authorities.
  • His theory is strongly influenced by the Paris Commune of 1871, Proudhon, Fourier, as well as by Hegel, Ricardo, and Adam Smith
  • Ended his days in brutal poverty in London, UK
  • He was not able to successfully establish a strong workers party, but his ideas influenced labor and workers movements and continue to do so

Dialectic Materialism

  1. State of Nature: freedom and poverty (thesis)
  2. Liberal Civil Society: wealth and lack of freedom (antithesis)
  3. Communist Society: freedom and wealth (synthesis)


  • Political
  • Economic
  • Philosophical
  • Artistic
  • Marx’s thinking is at the base of all modern and postmodern theory

The Communist Manifesto

Marx writes the text when the Communist League commissions him to.

  • He bases his text on a manuscript by Engels
  • Second most published manuscript in the Western World
  • A call to arms
  • The claim that socialism is inevitable is more political than  “scientific”










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