Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Karl Marx's birth anniversary: 20 quotes by the philosopher who changed the world

Today marks the 202nd anniversary since the birth of the greatest of the philosophers, whose teachings changed the course of world's history. Karl Marx was born on 5 May 1818 in Trier, part of then Kingdom of Prussia. 

On the occasion of his 202th birth anniversary, we choosed from the treasury of his writings, 20 memorable quotes:

1. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1844).

2. The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

Theses on Feuerbach (1845).

3. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.

The German Ideology (1845-46).

4. History does nothing, it ‘possesses no immense wealth’, it ‘wages no battles’. It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; ‘history’ is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims..

The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism - alongside Friedrich Engels (1846).

5. The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature.

The German Ideology (1845-46).

6.  The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, that each time ended, either in the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

Manifesto of the Communist Party  — alongside Friedrich Engels (1848).

7. Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class.

Manifesto of the Communist Party  — alongside Friedrich Engels (1848).

8. The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.

Manifesto of the Communist Party  — alongside Friedrich Engels (1848).

9. In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.

Manifesto of the Communist Party  — alongside Friedrich Engels (1848).

10. The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!

Manifesto of the Communist Party  — alongside Friedrich Engels (1848).

11. Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange, and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.

Manifesto of the Communist Party  — alongside Friedrich Engels (1848).

12. Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).

13. Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).

14. The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859).

15. Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.

Das Kapital (1867).

16. Capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.

Das Kapital (1867).

17.  If this labourer were in possession of his own means of production, and was satisfied to live as a labourer, he need not work beyond beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day.

Das Kapital (1867).

18. In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labour-time.

Das Kapital (1867).

19. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.

Das Kapital (1867).

20. Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

Critique of the Gotha Program (1875).