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Karl Marx (Overview)

Karl Marx

Seventy-Six years ago, on March 17th. 1883, Karl Marx was buried in Highgate Cemetery in London. No massive structure of marble or bronze is needed to remember the man. for his work is its own memorial At the graveside. Friedrich Engels, who was Marx’s best friend and his co-operator for over forty years, said this;

Book Reviews: 'Marx’s Das Kapital for Beginners', 'The Atheist’s Guide to Reality'


Marx’s Das Kapital for Beginners by Michael Wayne; Illustrations by Sungyoon Choi. US $16.99. 138pp.

This little book is on the whole an excellent and handy introduction to the ideas of Karl Marx. Most of it is quite readable and fairly easy to follow, and pretty accurate in its summary of Marx’s Das Kapital. It also touches on a number of his other books in passing. Its main virtue is that it succeeds in showing some of the ways in which Marx’s ideas are in fact as relevant as ever today, despite the widespread myth that he was discredited by the events of the twentieth century.

Interpreting Marx

One of the books the Socialist Party recommends to those wanting an introduction to Marx's ideas is Karl Marx: Selected Writings on Sociology and Social Philosophy, edited and introduced by T.B. Bottomore and Maximilien Rubel. First published as a hardback in 1956, it has since gone through many Pelican paperback re-editions and is, as its title suggests, a collection of extracts from Marx's writings. What does not come out in the introduction is the extent to which Rubel (as opposed to Bottomore) endorses our interpretation of Marx on a number of key points. However, in a later work, Marx Without Myth (1975), also written jointly in English (this time with M. Manale), Rubel clearly spells out that Marx stood for "a classless, stateless and moneyless society".

Marx In His Time

Marxism is not a dogma, not a record of the sayings and doings of Karl Marx to be carefully preserved and uncritically applied whatever the circumstances. Marxism is a method of assessing what, at any particular time, is in the best interest of the working class and should be done to hasten the establishment of Socialism.

Marx was born in 1818 and died in 1883. He became a Socialist around the end of 1843 so his period of socialist political activity covered nearly forty years between 1843 and 1883. Inevitably, and in accordance with his own theories, Marx's political activity to further the cause of Socialism was shaped by the conditions of this time. Let us recall what those conditions were.

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