Karl Marx¶s Theory of Human Nature
In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensableand independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society²the real basis, on which rises a legaland political superstructure, and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual lifeprocess in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on thecontrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.
ritique of PoliticalEconomy, 1859)
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
Ten Theses of Feuerbach, 1845)
In this chapter, we examine the work of the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and FriedrichEngels. Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was born the son of a German industrialist who moved toManchester, England. He had considerable experience of the workings of British industry duringthe Industrial Revolution and was able to provide Marx a firsthand insight of industrial realities.Harold Laski describes the cofounder of the Marxist movement:
Always friendly, usually optimistic, with great gifts both for practical action and for getting on withother. . . . Widely read, with a very real talent for moving rapidly through a great mass of material,he was facile rather than profound. He was utterly devoid of jealousy or vanity. He had a happy nature which never agonized over then difficulty of thought. . . . It never occurred to him, during thefriendship of forty years, marked only by one brief misunderstanding, to question his duty to serveMarx in every way he could.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Trier, Germany, into a Jewish family which had convertedto Protestantism. He was educated in
atholic schools and at the University of Berlin, where hestudied Hegel¶s philosophy and became a materialist. He received his doctorate from theUniversity of Jena in 1841. As a youth, Marx was a devout
hristian, but upon finishinggymnasium (the German high school) he became an atheist. He began his career in 1842 as a journalist for the liberal
and soon distinguished himself as a brilliant andradical thinker. In 1843 he married Jenny Westphalen, the close friend of his boyhood. Laterthat year, he and Jenny moved to Paris, where he studied French
and metEngels, who became his lifelong friend and benefactor. Being exiled from Paris for radicalactivities in 1849, he found political asylum in London, where he spent the rest of his life inresearch and writing in organizing the First International Workingmen¶s Association. He wasdescribed by a contemporary as follows: He combines the deepest philosophical seriousness with the most biting wit. Imagine Rousseau, Voltaire, Holbach, Lessing, Heine, and Hegel fusedinto one person²I say fused, not juxtaposed²and you have Dr. Marx.´ He made a powerful