Karl Heinreich Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in Trier, Rhenish Prussia. His father was Heinrich Marx who was a lawyer and his mother, Henriette Presburg Marx who was a Dutchwoman. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) Both mother and father were family of rabbis which is masters or teacher of Jewish religion. Back then, religion and politics did not mix. Because Karl’s father was Jewish, he then converted to Lutheranism in 1817. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen)This is where Karl Marx was baptized at the age of six in the same church of his father converting later in 1824. Karl went to a Lutheran elementary school throughout his early childhood. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) Furthermore, he became an atheist, one who does not believe in God. Now imagine, coming from descendants of rabbis, deep, deep in his roots and becoming an atheist. This was very weird to me, but I grew to accept it because his understanding of the world was extraordinary. Karl also became a materialist, who believes that physical matter is all that is real. This rejected both his Christian and Jewish religions. Karl Marx stated, “Religion is the opium of the people.” This was the basic principle of modern communism.
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In 1835, Karl attended the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium in Trier for five years and graduating like me at the age of seventeen. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) This program was like the ordinary schooling we went to like high-school. It included history, mathematics, literature and languages. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) In this school Karl became very swift in the two languages French and Latin. He was solid in speaking and writing in these two languages fluently. This gave him the zeal and ambition to learn more languages like Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Russian and English. When I say he have put me to shame, he definitely has. I kind of wish bilingual education was more serious in United States. Karl posted many articles in the New York Daily Tribune show. This is where he mastered English excellently. He enjoyed Shakespeare between 1564 and 1616 and even memorized his favorites.
During his young adult years, Marx decided to enroll in Bonn University located in Bonn, Germany. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) Marx studied courses mostly in law wishing to fulfill is fathers dreams of becoming a lawyer just like he had. Philosophy caught Marx’s attention and he was very interested in the study of knowledge and literature rather than law. At this point, he decided on being a dramatist or what we call a play writer and a poet. After discovering his interest, he wrote so many poems which he just preserved. At Bonn University, he spent a year studying but got caught up by partying and drinking a lot. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) He even piled up plenty debts. Looking at how his life was somewhat going downhill, causes me to understand that things may become rocky or we as individuals can take a wrong turn but still come back being great.
Once Karl’s father saw the bad behavior, he discontinued his stay at Bonn and had him enroll into the University Berlin which was a place for intellectual discussion. This was good place for Karl to get back on track of what interested him which was philosophy. This was a chance for him to get better at what fascinated him so much and what later made him a legend. I appreciated his father for noticing Marx actions and making decision for him to go down a better path. Here, Marx joined a group of radical thinkers where he put his all into. He spent four years and received his doctoral degree in March 1841. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) Learning this about Karl Marx, truly make me see that things can indeed turn around for the better; it just takes patience and a push from loved ones.
Now being an adult, Marx was forced to figure out a way to support himself. He did so by writing and journalism. Marx faced many obstacles, but that did not stop him. In 1842, he became an editor for the Cologne newspaper Rheinische Zeitung. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) This article was held back by the Berlin government from being published. In January 1845, Marx was also kicked out of France because they felt he was instigating order and they didn’t like that. Then he moved to Brussels, Belgium where things came through for him. He founded the German Workers Party and became an active member of the Communist League. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) After writing one of his greatest accomplishments, the Communist Manifesto, he was kicked out once again by the Belgian government. Marx expelled and was banded from many different places which caused him to settle in London, England. This is where they appreciated his journalism and he even contributed about three hundred and fifty-five articles. Journalist didn’t pay much there, but he still made it through.
Karl Marx was influenced by Friedrich Engels and together they wrote the Communist Manifesto. Communist Manifesto is a ringing radical pamphlet urging workingmen of all countries to unite in a communist revolution. (Judge, 2015) According to Marx and Engels, different societies were looked as rich ones against those that were poor which influenced ongoing class differences. (Judge, 2015) They believed the basis of any society was its economy, and that same society controls everything like politics, religion, legal matters and military institution. (Judge, 2015) From what I have interpreted, the rich had more control, and in return the majority of the society were poor. How could each individual live a decent life if their lives are in the hand of someone wealthier that don’t understand everyone else level of social class. Only the rich would benefit.
The Communist Manifesto is where both Marx and Engel spoke up of the two hostile classes and bought some truth to life. In the Russian Revolution between 1917 and 1921, is when the lower class overthrew three hundred year of czar rule. This is where all Marx hard work paid off, by influencing someone else drive to do the job.
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After all Karl Marx was married to Jenny von Westphalen who was known as “the most beautiful girl in Trier”. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) She was also Marx childhood sweetheart and mother of his seven children. Four children died during infancy or childhood which remain three surviving daughters, Jenny, Laura and Eleanor. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) He deeply loved his daughters very much. His wife died of cancer on December 2, 1881 at the age of sixty-seven. Jenny was very much his motivation and she devoted her time to him. Marx death came on March 14, 1883 in London. Marx would smoke a lot, drink wine a lot, and enjoyed heavily spicy food causing him to get ill. (Manuel, Strathern, & Wheen) This illness caused his last twelve years to be quiet without his normal seeking of intellect.
I think that Karl Marx thought that after he died, his knowledge and what he gave to the universe would stop there, but it didn’t. Today, all around the world people enjoy and celebrate the life of Karl Marx. A lot of people around the world call themselves Marxist and does things to contribute with what he has left us with. What drew me to Marx is the drive he had to accomplish so many things and this was the start of Black Lives Matter. We continually fight for black freedom even today. Marx’s notion of people being put in different social classes has a lot to do with racism today. Marx stated, “Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded.” (Crean, 2015) He wanted to make people aware that the black skin was amazing too and until we are even as the white skin, we will continue face issues. Marx saw the war to end slavery as a historic mark in the world.
Most of all, I love the fact that people still celebrate Karl Marx’s life. He left behind a foundation for others to build on. His work gave everyone else motivation to execute their thoughts regardless of what others thought of them. Of all the many countries Marx was expelled from, he showed me there was still a place for him to explore, for others to hear what he believed in and not to give up. Something so sensitive as losing children during childbirth, he showed me that he continued to try. And he was grateful and admired his children that made it through. He gave a clear explanation of the economy to we can understand it even better today. He set the tone for us today leaving us with clarity and understanding of how the world truly works. His work always was foreshadowing by action and its effects is what everyone is blown away by.
We see class struggles every day. Marx showed us how to overcome this struggle. For example, every day in the workplace things are demanded by the owner. And the workplace most of the times cannot be ran without the workers, but the owners would not give workers their worth and respect, but expect workers to bring them the most profit. Marx gave us an understanding of getting together and overthrowing the unfairness. I feel like that is the main problem in society today is that we don’t stick together for what we want.
According to Tom Crean, “Like Marx in his day we need to win people to the understanding of the complete interdependence of the fight for black freedom and the fight of the whole American working class for a socialist future.” This explains that we are still fighting to become one in unity and be treated the same. And to even out working class all across the board.
- Crean, Tom. “Marxism and the Fight for Black Freedom.” Socialist Alternative, Feb. 2015, www.socialistalternative.org/marxism-fight-black-freedom/marxism-fight-black-freedom/.
- Judge, Edward H. Connections: a World History. Prentice Hall, 2015.
- Manuel, Frank E, et al. “Karl Marx Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, Advameg, Inc., www.notablebiographies.com/Ma-Mo/Marx-Karl.html.
- Menand, Louis. “Karl Marx, Yesterday and Today.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/10/karl-marx-yesterday-and-today.
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