II. The Communist Manifesto
In 1845 Marx was ordered to leave Paris because of his revolutionary activities. He settled in Brussels and began organizing and directing a network of revolutionary groups, called Communist Correspondence Committees, in a number of European cities. In 1847 these committees were consolidated to form the Communist League, and Marx and Engels were commissioned to formulate a statement of principles. The program they submitted, known throughout the world as the Communist Manifesto, was the first systematic statement of modern socialist doctrine and was written by Marx, partly on the basis of a draft prepared by Engels. Marx contributed the central propositions of the Manifesto, which embody the materialist conception of history, or historical materialism. This theory was later explicitly formulated in Marx's Critique of Political Economy (1859). The Manifesto's propositions are that in every historical epoch the prevailing economic system by which the necessities of life are produced determines the form of societal organization and the political and intellectual history of the epoch; and that the history of society is a history of struggles between exploiting and exploited, that is, between ruling and oppressed, social classes. From these premises, Marx drew the conclusion in the Manifesto that the capitalist class would be overthrown and that it would be eliminated by a worldwide working-class revolution and replaced by a classless society. The Manifesto influenced all subsequent communist literature and revolutionary thought generally; it has been translated into many languages and published in hundreds of millions of copies.
III. Political Exile
In 1848 revolutions occurred in
France and Germany, and the Belgian government, fearful that the
revolutionary tide would engulf Belgium, banished Marx. He went first to
Paris and then to the Rhineland. In Cologne he established and edited a
communist periodical, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, and engaged in
organizing activities. In 1849 Marx was arrested and tried in Cologne on a
charge of incitement to armed insurrection; he was acquitted but was
expelled from Germany, and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung was suppressed.
Later in the same year he was again banished from France; he spent the
remainder of his life in London.
IV. Later Years
When the Communist League dissolved in 1852, Marx continued to correspond with hundreds of revolutionists with the aim of forming another revolutionary organization. These efforts and those of his many collaborators culminated in 1864 when the First International was established in London. Marx made the inaugural address, wrote the statutes of the International and subsequently directed the work of its general council or governing body. After the suppression of the Commune, in which members of the First International participated, the International declined, and Marx recommended moving its headquarters to the United States. The last eight years of his life were marked by an incessant struggle with physical ailments that impeded his political and literary labors. Manuscripts and notes found after his death revealed that he had projected a fourth volume of Das Kapital to comprise a history of economic doctrines; these fragments were edited by the German socialist Karl Johann Kautsky and published under the title Theories of Surplus Value (4 volumes, 1905-1910; translated 1952). Other works planned and not executed by Marx included mathematical studies, studies embodying applications of mathematics to economic problems, and studies on the historical aspects of various technological developments.
Marx's influence during his life was not great. After his death it increased with the growth of the labor movement. Marx's ideas and theories came to be known as Marxism, or scientific socialism, which constitutes one of the principal currents of contemporary political thought. His analysis of capitalist economy and his theories of historical materialism, the class struggle, and surplus value have become the basis of modern socialist doctrine. Of decisive importance with respect to revolutionary action are his theories on the nature of the capitalist state, the road to power, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. These doctrines, revised by most socialists after his death, were revived in the 20th century by Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who developed and applied them. They became the core of the theory and practice of Bolshevism and the Third International. Marx's ideas, as interpreted by Lenin, continued to have influence throughout most of the 20th century. In much of the world, including Africa and South America, emerging nations were formed by leaders who claimed to represent the proletariat.
"Marx, Karl," Microsoft®
Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001