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Karl Marx & Frederick Engels (1818 - 1883)

Marx, Karl & Engles, Frederick

Karl Marx was born on May 5th, 1818 in Trier, Germany (then Prussia), the son of Hirschel and Henrietta Marx. Hirschel abandoned his Jewish faith when Karl was a child in order to escape the Anti-Semitism that ran rampant through Germany. He became a Protestant, going so far as to change his name from to Heinrich. Karl attended school locally until 1835, at which time he entered Bonn University to study law. He ran up large debts and was wounded in a duel. In an attempt to help his son set his life straight, Heinrich paid off Karl's debts, but insisted that he move to Berlin University. Karl earned his degree at Jena in 1841 at the age of twenty-three. He moved to Paris in 1843, where he met Frederick Engels.

Frederick Engels was born on November 28th, 1820 in Barmen, Germany (then Rhineland), the son of a manufacturer. Engels was educated locally at schools run by Protestant Pietists ("a reform movement in the German Lutheran Church during the 17th and 18th centuries, which strove to renew the devotional ideal in the Protestant religion"). Engels was sent to Bremen in 1838 to work as a clerk. He completed his education by reading voraciously, studying philosophy, theology, history, and literature. He published articles under the pseudonym "Friedrich Oswald." In 1843, on his way from England back to Germany, Engels met Marx.

In 1848, The Communist League had asked for a statement on the principles of communism for their society from Marx and Engels. The Communist Manifesto was the result of their collaboration. "The Communist League, an international association of workers, which could of course be only a secret one, under conditions obtaining at the time, commissioned us, the undersigned, at the Congress held in London in November 1847, to write for publication a detailed theoretical and practical programme for the Party. Such was the origin of the following Manifesto, the manuscript of which travelled to London to be printed a few weeks before the February Revolution. First published in German, it has been republished in that language in at least twelve different editions in Germany, England, and America. It was published in English for the first time in 1850 in the _Red Republican_, London, translated by Miss Helen Macfarlane, and in 1871 in at least three different translations in America. The french version first appeared in Paris shortly before the June insurrection of 1848, and recently in _Le Socialiste_ of New York. A new translation is in the course of preparation. A Polish version appeared in London shortly after it was first published in Germany. A Russian translation was published in Geneva in the 'sixties. Into Danish, too, it was translated shortly after its appearance." (from the preface to the 1872 German edition of The Communist Manifesto)

In 1850 Engels went back to England to run the factory that had been his father's. He hoped that he could financially support Marx with the money from the mill. Marx also settled in London after being expelled from Brussels, working on Das Kapital and playing an active part in the International Working Men's Association. Marx died in Hampstead in 1883. Engels spent the rest of his life getting the rest of Das Kapital published. Volume Two of Capital was published in 1885 and Volume Three, in 1894. Engels died on August 5th, 1895.

Famous quotations by Karl Marx & Frederick Engels:

  • A new machine invented in England deprives millions of Chinese workers of their livelihood within a year's time. In this way, big industry has brought all the people of the earth into contact with each other, has merged all local markets into one world market, has spread civilization and progress everywhere.

  • Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included.

  • Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth - the soil and the labourer.

  • Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.

  • Democracy is the road to socialism.

  • From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

  • Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.

  • Religion is the opium of the masses.

  • The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.

  • Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.

  • Suggested sites for Karl Marx & Frederick Engels:

    Encyclopedia article about Karl Marx & Frederick Engels
    Texts by Marx
    The Communist Manifesto
    A doctrine written by Marx and Engels describing the beliefs of the Communist League.

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