Karl Marx - 10. Karl Marx: His Work and the Major Changes...

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10. Karl Marx: His Work and the Major Changes in its Interpretation Geert Reuten Subject Economics » History of Thought People Marx, Karl DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631225737.2003.00011.x 10.1 Introduction Karl Marx is known for a 30-page political pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto , written in 1848 together with Friedrich Engels, and for a 2,200-page socio-economic work, Capital , published in three volumes in 1867, 1885, and 1894, the last two edited by Engels. The collected works of Marx and Engels extend to over 50 thick volumes. Marx's magnum opus, Capital , is an analysis of the capitalist system (the term “communism” is mentioned some five times in notes; perhaps five out of 2,200 pages refer in passing to some future society). Marx wrote the work between 1857 and 1878 while living in London. British capitalism provided his main empirical material. The changing appreciation of Capital throughout the twentieth century was influenced by both the degree to which other works of Marx were, or could be, taken into account (section 10.3) and, relatedly, developing methodological views (section 10.4). A reading of the work (section 10.5) is bound to take methodological sides. 10.2 On Marx and his Capital Marx was born in 1818 in Trier and died in 1883 in London. He studied law and philosophy and received a Ph.D. in 1841. Trained to pursue the positions of either a state official or university professor, both his studies and the repressive political climate in Prussia induced a different course. During his student years he helped fight for democratic rights, opposing the vested political regime. His subsequent writings and editorship of a liberal journal brought him into conflict with Prussian censorship. He sought refuge in Paris (1843–5), Brussels (1845–7), and Cologne (1848–9) and finally, in 1849, settled in London. In the hectic 1842–9 period, Marx studied and wrote on philosophical, political, and economic issues, and developed his materialist conception of history (section 10.4.1). He also made contact with radical socialist groups, and met Friedrich Engels, his lifelong personal, political, and intellectual friend. In 1848, aged 30, he and Engels wrote the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei . From 1849 to about 1865, Marx reduced his political activities and concentrated on serious analysis of the capitalist system, combining research with journalistic work to earn his living.
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Many thousands of pages were drafted for his magnum opus in a creative and highly productive period. At the same time, he and his family lived in poverty. Income from Marx's journalistic work was scarce; to survive they relied on gifts from relatives and friends, especially Engels. Marx's research plans were extremely ambitious. He aimed to write a complete systematic
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2010 for the course ECONOMICS 321 taught by Professor H during the Spring '10 term at Kadir Has Üniversitesi.

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Karl Marx - 10. Karl Marx: His Work and the Major Changes...

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