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Karl Marx

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Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in the city of Trier in

Prussia, now, Germany. He was one of seven children of Jewish

Parents. His father was fairly liberal, taking part in demonstrations

for a constitution for Prussia and reading such authors as Voltaire

and Kant, known for their social commentary. His mother, Henrietta,

was originally from Holland and never became a German at heart, not

even learning to speak the language properly. Shortly before Karl

Marx was born, his father converted the family to the Evangelical

Established Church, Karl being baptized at the age of six.

Marx attended high school in his home town (1830-1835) where several

teachers and pupils were under suspicion of harboring liberal ideals.

Marx himself seemed to be a devoted Christian with a "longing for

self-sacrifice on behalf of humanity." In October of 1835, he started

attendance at the University of Bonn, enrolling in

non-socialistic-related classes like Greek and Roman mythology and the

history of art. During this time, he spent a day in jail for being

"drunk and disorderly-the only imprisonment he suffered" in the

course of his life. The student culture at Bonn included, as a major

part, being politically rebellious and Marx was involved, presiding

over the Tavern Club and joining a club for poets that included some

politically active students. However, he left Bonn after a year and

enrolled at the University of Berlin to study law and philosophy.

Marx's experience in Berlin was crucial to his introduction to Hegel's

philosophy and to his "adherence to the Young Hegelians." Hegel's

philosophy was crucial to the development of his own ideas and

theories. Upon his first introduction to Hegel's beliefs, Marx felt a

repugnance and wrote his father that when he felt sick, it was

partially "from intense vexation at having to make an idol of a view

[he] detested." The Hegelian doctrines exerted considerable pressure

in the "revolutionary student culture" that Marx was immersed in,

however, and Marx eventually joined a society called the Doctor Club,

involved mainly in the "new literary and philosophical movement"

who's chief figure was Bruno Bauer, a lecturer in theology who thought

that the Gospels were not a record of History but that they came from

"human fantasies arising from man's emotional needs" and he also

hypothesized that Jesus had not existed as a person. Bauer was later

dismissed from his position by the Prussian government. By 1841,

Marx's studies were lacking and, at the suggestion of a friend, he

submitted a doctoral dissertation to the university at Jena, known for

having lax acceptance requirements. Unsurprisingly, he got in, and

finally received his degree in 1841. His thesis "analyzed in a

Hegelian fashion the difference between the natural philosophies of

Democritus and Epicurus" using his knowledge of mythology and the

myth of Prometheus in his chains.

In October of 1842, Marx became the editor of the paper Rheinische

Zeitung, and, as the editor, wrote editorials on socio-economic issues

such as poverty, etc. During this time, he found that his "Hegelian

philosophy was of little use" and he separated himself from his young

Hegelian friends who only shocked the bourgeois to make up their

"social activity." Marx helped the paper to succeed and it almost

became the leading journal in Prussia. However, the Prussian

government suspended it because of "pressures from the government of

Russia." So, Marx went to Paris to study "French Communism."

In June of 1843, he was married to Jenny Von Westphalen, an attractive

girl, four years older than Marx, who came from a prestigious family

of both military and administrative distinction. Although many of the

members of the Von Westphalen family were opposed to the marriage,

Jenny's father favored Marx. In Paris, Marx became acquainted with

the Communistic views of French workmen. Although he thought that the

ideas of the workmen were "utterly crude and unintelligent," he

admired their camaraderie. He later wrote an article entitled "Toward

the Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right" from which comes the

famous quote that religion is the "opium of the people." Once again,

the Prussian government interfered with Marx and he was expelled from

France. He left for Brussels,



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