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190th Anniversary of Marx’s Birth

Monday, May 5, 2008

It’s Marx’s birthday. Let’s PAR-TAY! (Damn it, OK! Who the hell invited Stalin!?).

“And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists, the economic anatomy of classes. What I did that was new was to prove:

  1. that the existence of classes is only bound up with the particular, historical phases in the development of production [See: Historical Materialism]
  2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  3. that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.

Karl Marx
Letter to Weydemeyer
March 5, 1852

Karl Mars was born today 190 years ago in the Prussian city of Trier to a Jewish family that had earlier converted to Protestantism in order to get ahead in Prussian society. According to the Marxist Internet Archieves:

At the insistent request of the Prussian government, Marx was banished from Paris in 1845, considered by both governments a dangerous revolutionary. Marx then moved to Brussels. In the spring of 1847 Marx and Engels joined a secret propaganda society called the Communist League. Marx and Engels took a prominent part in the League’s Second Congress (London, November 1847), at whose request they drew up the Communist Manifesto, which appeared in February 1848. With outstanding clarity, this work outlines a new world-conception based on materialism. This document analysises the realm of social life; the theory of the class struggle; the tasks of the Communists; and the revolutionary role of the proletariat – the creators of a new, communist society.

Marx’s life as a political exile was an extremely difficult one, as the correspondence between Marx and Engels clearly reveals. Poverty weighed heavily on Marx and his family; had it not been for Engels’ constant and selfless financial aid, Marx would not only have been unable to complete Capital but would have inevitably have been crushed by hunger and malnutrition.

Today, especially amongst the worsening food crisis and backlash against neo-liberalism Marx is just as important today as he was in the mid to late 19th century. Randhir Singh states:

It can be legitimately argued that the reasons which in the first place gave rise to the movement for socialism still hold, more so at the beginning of this century than they did at the beginning of the last or at any time earlier. Capitalism remains a deeply exploitative and ecologically disastrous way of organising social life. Apparently triumphant, capitalism continues to operate under the same structural compulsions, producing the same catastrophic consequences as before. It remains ridden with crises and congenitally unable to subordinate its achievements to the needs of human beings, unable, despite its prodigious productive abilities, to offer even bare survival to vast majorities in the world it dominates. Despite its current apotheosis, capitalism has resolved none of the problems which have for more than a century and a half given sustenance to socialist aspirations and struggles. The logic favouring a worldwide transition to socialism remains as compelling today as it has ever been.

the collapse of these [so called communist”] countries now, or their return to the capitalist fold, in any way settle the question of the future of socialism — the struggle still goes on and will, so long as capitalism lasts.

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