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Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany, in 1818. After schooling in Tier he entered Bonn University but soon moved to Berlin on his father's request. There he was introduced to G.W.F.Hegel, the professor of philosophy. Marx was especially impressed by Hegel's theory that a thing or thought could not be separated from its opposite. For example, the slave could not exist without his master and vice versa.
After his father's death in 1838, Marx tried journalism in order to earn his own living. His radical political views meant that most editors were unwilling to publish his articles, though. Marx moved to Cologne, where he soon was appointed editor of The Rheinish Gazette, and then to Paris, where he was offered the post of editor of a new political journal, Franco-German Annals. Among the contributors of the journal was the radical son of a wealthy German industrialist, Friedrich Engels. In Paris Marx began mixing with members of the working class for the first time. Marx, who now described himself as a communist, argued that the working class (the proletariat), would eventually be the emancipators of society.
In 1845 Marx received an order deporting him from France. Marx and Engels, who had now become his close friend, decided to move to Belgium, a country that permitted greater freedom of expression than any other European state. Marx spent his time trying to understand the workings of capitalist society, the factors governing the process of history and how the proletariat could help bring about a socialist revolution. Unlike previous philosophers, Marx was not only interested in discovering the truth. As he was to write later, in the past "philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it".
In 1846 Marx set up a Communist Correspondence Committee. The aims of the organization were "the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the domination of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society based on class antagonisms, and the establishment of a new society without classes and without private property". Marx's work, The Communist Manifesto, summarized the forthcoming revolution and the nature of the communist society that would be established by proletariat. After The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848, the government expelled Marx from Belgium.
Marx's excitement about the possibility of world revolution began to subside in 1849. The army had managed to help the Emperor of Austria return to power and attempts at uprisings in Dresden, Baden and the Rhur were put down. Marx now went to Paris where he believed a socialist revolution was likely to take place at any time. However, within a month of arriving, the French police ordered him out of the capital. Only one country remained who would take him, and on the 15th September he sailed to England.
With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty. But despite all his problems Marx continued to work and spent most of the time in the reading room of the British Museum, where he read the back numbers of The Economist and the other books and journals that would help him analyze capitalist system.
In 1867 the first volume of Das Kapital was published. A detailed analysis of capitalism, the book dealt with important concepts such as surplus value (the notion that a worker receives only the exchange-value, not the use-value, of his labour); division of labour (where workers become a "mere appendage of the machine") and the industrial reserve army (the theory that capitalism create unemployment as a mean of keeping the workers in check).
In the final part of Das Kapital Marx deals with the issue of revolution. Marx argued that the laws of capitalism would bring about its destruction. Capitalist competition would lead to a diminishing number of monopoly capitalists, while at the same time, the misery and oppression of the proletariat would increase. Marx claimed that as a class, the proletariat would gradually become "disciplined, united and organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production" and eventually would overthrow the system that is the cause of their suffering.
Karl Marx died on the 14th March, 1883.