Karl Marx’s Contributions to Sociology essay
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Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Germany, to Hershel and Henrietta Marx. He went to school in Trier between 1830 and 1835 and later joined Bonn University where he pursued law studies. He was never serious with his education, as he spent most of his time for socializing. Later Marx joined Berlin University after he had been wounded in a fight in the previous university. This had a positive impact to his studies, as he became more serious. In the university, he became a friend to Bruno Bauer, Karl’s lecturer who had constant problem with the authorities due to his radical political and atheism opinions. Karl was introduced to G.W.F. Hegel writings who were philosophy professor at Berlin by Bauer (Evans 115).
Karl was more fascinated by Hegel theory of history evolving process in which he argued that by all opposite equalization by means of a logical expression thesis, synthesis and antithesis unity would be achieved. His father died in 1838 and Karl was to find ways to earn for living. After his doctoral thesis completion in the University of Jena, he decided to become a lecturer, though the plan failed as his friend Bauer who he hoped, would connect him to a teaching post was dismissed. However, he started his career in journalism, but his articles were not published due to his radical political views. He moved to Cologne circle where his article on press freedom was published in their Rhenish gazette. This helped him to be appointed as the chief editor of the newspaper (Barte).
He met socialist Moses Hess and later started attending his meetings. In January 1843, he published an article on Mosel wine-farmers poverty in the Rhenish gazette which led to its ban by the Prussian authorities. He moved to France after marrying. The reason for moving there also was his wish to avoid the arrest in Germany. He got a job as editor of Franco-German Annals, which was a political journal. He applied the hegemony dialectic theory in an article he wrote after observing the working class members in Paris. The article was published in 1884 which made the journal banned in Germany. Then he referred himself as a communist. He wrote economic and philosophic manuscripts in 1844, where he brought out alienation concept through his ideas. He identified alienation in three categories, in capitalist society. He argued that a worker is alienated from their produces, there is alienation with their own self, and in capitalist society people are alienated from one another as a result of competition. However, he believed that communism would be the solution to the problem (Barte 66).
He became a friend to Friedrich Engels and formed work partnership with him. He was given an order to leave France after the French government was set under pressure by the Prussian government. During this period, he was working on the "Holy Family" article with his comrade Engels. On the 25th January 1845, he received an order for his deportation from France. This led him to move to Brussels, Belgium, together with his friend Engels. They visited England in July 1845 where they spent most of the time reading in Manchester library (Coser 33). He visited London and met George Julian Harley, the chartists’ leader. After his return to Brussels, he worked on his book of the German ideology in which he developed a history theory that argued that human activities play the important role as compared to the thoughts. However, the book was not published.
He formed Communist Correspondence Committee in January 1846 with the aim to link different socialist leaders who lived in different regions, in Europe. England socialists held a conference and formed the Communist league organization under Karl’s influence. He attended the Communist League Central Committee meeting in December 1847 where the aims of the organization were set up. After his return to Brussels, he concentrated on "The Communist Manifesto" which used to be a summary of the communist society nature and the revolution that was forthcoming. In the article, he explained the changes in social classes over the time after which he mentioned the bourgeoisie and proletariat classes were most important back in the 19th century. Bourgeoisie class represented the factory owners and the respective raw materials while proletariat represented the laborers in the factories (Kreis 45). He believed that the classes had the different interests and argued that conflict between them would lead to revolution and proletariat victory.
He was expelled from Belgium after the publication of "The Communist Manifesto" in February, 1848. Together with Engels, he went to Cologne and founded the New Rhenish Gazette which they hoped would encourage revolution. His excitement for world revolution possibility began to sink in 1849, as he got some information that he was to be expelled from Cologne. He went to France where he was also expelled within the first month of his arrival.
He sailed to England on September 15th 1849. The Prussian authorities also tried to put pressure to the British government to expel Karl, but it denied. At the time, his family lived in extreme poverty and was mainly supported by Engels. He spent most of his time in the British Museum reading room. Meanwhile, in 1852 New York the Daily Tribune socialist editor, Charles Dana, offered Karl to write for the newspaper. He was also commissioned by George Ripley to write for the new American encyclopedia. This elevated him financially and even moved to a better place. He published A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy book in 1859 in which he argued that superstructure of politics, religion, law, philosophy and art was determined by forces of the economy. His work in the New York Daily Tribune never lasted for long after it came to a halt in 1860s (Avineri).
However, he continued to work and published Das Kapital first volume in 1867. The book was on capitalism analysis and had dealt with concepts like division of labor, surplus value reserve army for the industry and revolution. He argued that competition among capitalists would reduce monopoly capitalists while the proletariat oppression and misery increases. Meanwhile, the proletariat class would be organized and united by the production capitalists process and be able to terminate the system. He believed surplus value was determined by the labor invested in production of the goods/ surplus labor. Surplus value was the difference between the commodity market and the labor market in any good produced by the capitalists according to him (Elster 44).
However, he conceived that there was improper labor division as the proletariat classes were not paid according to the time they had worked. He never got to finish the second volume of Das Kapital as he died on the 14th of March 1883, two months later after his daughter’s death.