Though Karl Marx is best known for Capital and The Communist Manifesto, his revolutionary thoughts and ideas had developed over decades spent in study, discussion and association with a variety of organisations throughout Europe and the US, intent on challenging the establishment order. These six very different texts show how Marx’s ideas evolved and how increasingly fierce his views became.
In 'A Criticism of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right' (1843) (only the introduction was completed) - Marx proposes that the working class has a key part to play in the redemption of humanity. This short work contains one of his most famous epigrams, his criticism of religion as ’the opium of the people’. His growing concerns for the material and economic conditions under which the mass of the population live were revealed in 'On the Jewish Question' (1843), in which he declares that it is not religion that alienates people but their living conditions. Marx had been influenced by early views on materialism by, among others, Ludwig Feuerbach, but in the 11 short comments contained in 'Theses on Feuerbach', (written in 1843 but not published until 1888 by Engels) Marx made it clear that it was necessary to go past theory and invest in practical activity. As he declares in the last comment, ‘Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.’
'The German Ideology' (1846) was another polemic against philosophers in which Marx (and Engels) could also propose their view on world history: ‘Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life.’
'The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon' (1852) shows another side of Marx the writer – the historian. But in relating the French coup of 1851 when Louis-Napoleon became dictator, Marx wrote from his platform of increasingly strong views on class struggle and the capitalist state. 'The Critique of Political Economy' (1859) effectively previews Capital - but of particular interest here is the preface, in which he gives an account of the development of his philosophical, political and economic views and his materialist approach to history.
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Excellent book with great selection of Marx's work
first, the narrator is good and engaging through the book. second this is a great selection of Marx's works, it includes on the jewish question, thesis on fruebach, critique of political economic 1859, the 18th brumaire of Louis Napoleon and the german ideology. if you are new to Marx this book is a better place to start than the communist manifesto as it is more representative of Marx's political philosophy and theory of history than the manifesto. Marx is primarily a critic of capitalism and not a theorist socialism and his insights are still useful today in our present capitalist world. my favorite works were the 18th brumaire of Louis Napoleon and the german ideology. However, the 18th brumaire is very hard to follow if you know nothing about the French revolution of 1848 because Marx is writing for a contemporary audience who he assumes knows what happened well. but if you research a little bit about the revolution, the work becomes so amazing and incitful.
my only complaints were that I was sometimes confused about which work I was in as they aren't clearly divided in sections. additionally it wasn't properly explained that Marx's work on the Jewish question was a piece of satire which was not meant seriously but was meant to make fun of another thinker. but other than that it was amazing and life changing book.
4 people found this helpful
- steve toke
Old one but a good one.
Be good to see how this book still relays to today's society and how Australian political party's are more communist today than we all relies with reflection to this book.