Biography: Karl Marx
Karl Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Born in Prussia to a middle-class family, he later studied political economy and Hegelian philosophy. As an adult, Marx became stateless and spent much of his life in London, England, where he continued to develop his thought in collaboration with German thinker Friedrich Engels and published various works, the most well-known being the 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto. His work has since influenced subsequent intellectual, economic, and political history.
Marx's theories about society, economics and politics—collectively understood as Marxism—hold that human societies develop through class struggle: a conflict between ruling classes (known as the bourgeoisie) that control the means of production and working classes (known as the proletariat) that work on these means by selling their labour for wages. Through his theories of alienation, value, commodity fetishism, and surplus value, Marx argued that capitalism facilitated social relations and ideology through commodification, inequality, and the exploitation of labour. Employing a critical approach known as historical materialism, Marx propounded the theory of base and superstructure, asserting that the cultural and political conditions of society, as well as its notions of human nature, are largely determined by obscured economic foundations. These economic critiques would result in influential works such as Capital, Volume I (1867).