Karl Marx
Marx old.jpg
Born: May 5, 1818
Famous For: Founder of Communism
Religion Atheist
Died March 14, 1883

Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in the city of Trier to a Jewish family. They later converted to Protestantism. Marx himself became an Atheist and an anti-theist. Karl Marx was the founder of modern Communist thought along with Friedrich Engels. He wrote several books, including Das Kapital (The Capital). As a member of the International Workingmen's Association, he wrote that "the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves".

Early Life[]

After graduating from a Gymnasium (High School) in Trier, Marx entered the university, first at Bonn and later in Berlin, where he read law, majoring in history and philosophy. He then belonged to a group of Left Hegelian's.

Around 1841 he turned to materialism and became more critical of theology. Marx and other Left Hegelian's founded a newspaper that opposed the Prussian government called Rheinische Zeitung. As the paper became more and more revolutionary, the government decided to close it down. Marx resigned as an editor but that did not save the paper.

In 1843, he married a childhood friend who was from a noble Prussian family. In the fall of the same year, Marx went to Paris to publish a journal. However, due to difficulties with the government, only one issue was published.

Meeting Engels[]

In 1844, Engels came to Paris for a couple of days. He met Marx and they became close friends. Together they founded Marxism. Marx stressed the need to change society. In 1845 he was banished from Paris and he proceeded to move to Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

In 1847-1848 the Communist Manifesto was drawn up and printed in London. After several fiascoes and moving from Paris to Cologne and then back to Paris Marx finally stayed in exile in London. He most likely would have starved to death and never completed Das Kapital had it not been for Engels constant financial aid.

Marx went back into political work in the 1850s and 60s as democratic movements were once again appearing. Upon uniting the labor movement of various forms of non-proletarian socialism (Mazzini, Proudhon, Bakunin, liberal trade-unionism in Britain, Lassallean deviations to the right, etc.) and in combating the theories of all these sects and schools, Marx here hammered out uniform tactics for the proletarian struggle of the working in the various countries.

Marx's health continued to fail as he worked on Das Kapital. He had learned a number of languages in order to study new material. His health still prevented him from being able to complete the last two volumes of Das Kapital so Engels compiled them as best he could from Marx's notes.


Marx’s wife died on December 2, 1881, and on March 14, 1883, Marx passed away peacefully in his armchair. He lies buried next to his wife at Highgate Cemetery in London.

Sources and Marx's Works[]

Collected Works


Stanford Encyclopedia Page

Philosophy Pages