Nineteenth Century Philosophy


Who was Karl Marx?

Karl Marx (1818–1883) was the German revolutionary and philosopher of modern society and economics who is most often credited with having founded communism and socialism as political movements and systems of thought. He is also credited with the impetus behind the modern labor union movement. Marx’s early works are considered utopian and were not published in his lifetime. His magnum opus is Das Kapital (Capital, released in 1867, 1885, and 1894), although the The Communist Manifesto (1848) that he wrote with Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) is less hypothetical and more accessible to the reader.

At the time Marx and Engels wrote, the following did not exist for workers in industrialized nations: minimum wage laws, health care insurance, pension plans, workplace safety regulations, laws against child labor, or specified hours for shifts or work weeks. Neither was there widespread and compulsory public education for the children of workers. While some of these goods do not universally exist at this time in industrialized nations and may not exist at all in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America, they are now generally taken for granted as fundamental human entitlements.


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