Karl Marx s early life was extremely important in shaping the way he thought about society and governments and what he thought could make them better, and his experiences and up-bringing made him a pro-communist writer and believer. Karl Marx was born on May 5th in the year 1818. He was born in the small town of Trier, Germany. Trier is located in Western Germany near France and is considered the most French-like city of Germany. Trier was built by the Romans and lies in the heart of the wine region which makes vineyards the principal business of Trier. The city numbered some 12,000 people back in Marx s time.
Trier was once part of Napoleon s empire, but was incorporated into Prussia by 1815. Western Germany was mostly inhabited by the Jewish. Many Jews converted to Catholicism due to the Jewish faith not being liked by government leaders. Marx was born into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother and father were both Jewish. His father, being the head of the family, converted to Catholicism. Judaism was not accepted especially for the father of the family. Judaism was passed down by Marx s grandfather being a Rabbi and a faithful Jew. Marx s mother refused to convert to Catholicism, but allowed all seven of her children to be baptized.
The Jews had benefited greatly from Napoleon s activities. Napoleon s activities had broken many of the barriers that had made the Jewish Ghetto. Jews were included more throughout society. Napoleon s defeat hurt the Jews and brought back the Ghetto. It also made many of them convert to Catholicism because of the fear of being persecuted and the fact that the German Princes were not nice to the Jews. Also many anti-Jewish lies were made in 1816, so Marx s father took the name Heinrich Marx and was accepted into the Catholic church in 1817. Heinrich was not a genius but he was an intelligent person.
One of Karl s quotes from his college years describes the anti-Jewish beliefs in Germany quite well, The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a mountain on the minds of the living. (Karl Marx, The Passionate Logician, pg. 6) This was pointed towards all the people that still held on to their negative views towards Jews. Heinrich Marx mostly tried to conform with the Prussian Government in public. At one time he expressed non-conformist opinions in public. When he did this the Prussian Police reacted and Heinrich withdrew everything he said.
The police used force in these instances where people expressed non-conformist views. Karl was a very good child. Though he was stubborn, he was definitely more gifted with intelligence than other children. He made strong impressions on his father by his hard work and his superior intelligence over his other siblings. Karl kept his father close while keeping his mother at a distance. Marx did well in grade school. He was well-behaved and got good grades but he did not like school. Karl did not have any close friends in school. He preferred spending time with adults, most likely because they were more intelligent.
Marx spent most of his time with his father and the Royal Prussian Privy Councilor Ludwig Von Westphalen. Ludwig added many ideas to Marx s mind and also gave him more liberal views. Ludwig also had many intellectual interests that helped Karl. Karl had many ways of thinking about the world and of course he was gifted in his intelligence. Many people said he had an abstract approach to the world. which gave him a very legalistic way of thinking. He was also very causistic and analytical about society and the world. He believed that all men were created equal in personal relationships, legally and also politically.
Heinrich Marx and his son Karl had very different opinions on what he should do with his life. Karl had wants and his father had wishes for his son. Heinrich wanted him to do practical things with his intelligence like inventing new things that are useful to people. Marx had no interest in any science or inventions. Marx focused more on what he liked in school. Marx liked literature and rhetoric. He read tirelessly because he thought reading was the most necessary thing for a good education, which helped him become more knowledgeable on all types of things. Karl decided to write poetry for a while in his late teens.
He enjoyed writing essays and poems. Karl was very undecided at this time in his life. He didn t know whether he d follow his dad s wishes or his own wishes. Marx wrote this quote later in his life which really describes this point in his life. We cannot always take up the profession we feel ourselves suited for; our social relations have begun more or less to crystallize before we are able to determine them (Karl Marx, Passionate Logician, pg. 12). Karl s first college experience at the University of Bonn was not a great one. He was not the diligent student of his early years in elementary and high school.
He ran up debts quickly and became very careless about money. He had one arrest for drunkenness and noisiness. He was also involved in a duel with pistols which he admittedly says was the stupidest thing he ever did in his life. He had to leave the University of Bonn for being caught dueling. Marx s parents were extremely disappointed in him because of his actions while at college. After Marx left the University of Bonn he fell in love with the girl he liked in high school. Her name was Jenny and she was known as the most beautiful girl in Trier. She also had some noble lineage. She and Karl decided to get married.
Marx s parents were shocked and not very enthused with the idea of him being married so soon. Before marrying Jenny he decided to finish college to please his father. This time he went to the University of Berlin which was far away from his family and Jenny. He didn t come back until he was finished, which was three years. His father wanted him to study law at the University which Karl didn t mind. Karl was a much more diligent student this time around mostly due to his new found love and responsibility in marrying Jenny. Karl did not pay much attention to politics while he was at college.
He actually conformed superficially to the social customs of the university and the customs of the city. Karl made no lasting ideas or impressions while at college though he was more inclined to a mild form of liberalism. Around this time Heinrich s health began declining. He could no longer make enough money to support his family which made Karl think about dropping out and becoming a poet to support his family. At the age of 19 Marx is alone in Berlin, dependent on an allowance from his ailing father and he had no idea of what he was going to do. Nothing was going well for the Marx family.
Many bad things were happening; his brother died after a fight with tuberculosis. His five sisters were married off without substantial dowries, which didn t help the Marx s in their financial situations. On top of all these happenings Karl claimed he had done more at college than he had actually done. This made Heinrich upset and didn t help his condition. Heinrich s life came to an end under increased sadness. He didn t know about Karl and thought he might not amount to anything. Heinrich Marx died in March of 1838. Karl s father s death made him very sad.
He didn t know what to do because his father was his greatest friend. His father s death put Marx in a spiritual limbo for a while. Around this time Karl s political philosophy began to change. He read more and more of the philosopher Hegel s work. This was a sort of haven for him in these tough times. Karl s father s death made him search for a haven and this seemed to be the one he liked most. Karl called Hegel the world philosopher of our age at one point (Karl Marx, The Passionate Logician, pg. 20). Marx focused on Philosophical Rationalism which was popularized by the French and English.
Marx read many works by French and English writers. The Marxist Philosophy, as Marx puts it, came from Hegel and is indebted to Hegel s thoughts. Karl was definitely in need of money. He had no real job and he realized he was not fully trained and could not make money without some sort of training. He decided to get a doctorate degree. He got his P. H. D. from the University of Jena. He studied Jurisprudence while at the university. He also spent a lot of time at the British Museum to document class struggle. Marx finally made attempts at writing articles for newspapers and periodicals.
He published his first article at the age of 24. He used this article to attack the Prussian Government and it s policies. He also used this article to attack religion. Obviously both the Prussian government and some religious groups were upset over these attacks. Marx was still looking for a job after his graduating from the University of Jena. His articles turned out to help him more than he thought as he was offered a job. In 1843 he was offered a job at a daily newspaper. He was appointed to be editor-in-chief of the Rhine Gazzette. Marx loved being an editor.
He liked choosing what went into the newspaper. He was able to write on his beliefs and also put in some of Hegel s philosophy. He published many works in the Rhine Gazette. This newspaper would have weekly columns on Socialist material. Though Marx had not fully begun his pro-socialist views, he was getting closer everyday. In one article he attacked Russia and their policies. He made attacks on the Czarist society which in turn made them terminate Marx s job and pull the newspaper s license. This did not affect Marx very drastically. Marx was still being influenced every day.
He read many works by pro-socialist writers, two of which were Pierre Joseph Proudhon and the Governor of Corsica, Louis Blanc. The writers expressed many ideas. They told how poverty and wealth was the root of all evil and that you should have nothing to call your own. These writers really wanted to help society and they expressed many very drastic ideas to do so. They wanted poverty to end and to help the welfare of the people. Marx finally married Jenny after seven years of engagement. Jenny was his youthful and only love. Around this time Marx came to his final philosophical changes.
He grew a relationship with Moses Hess, a communist rabbi, as Marx called him. Hess had converted others to communistic beliefs. Among these people was Friedrich Engels in1842. Friedrich was high class German, and he also helped convert Marx. Karl went to Paris, France, which was the place where most Hegelians and Communist/Socialists met. Marx was already considered a Socialist. But he still changed his views most drastically while in Paris. He really had no other changes in his philosophy after the meeting in Paris. All Karl s belief s were shaped now.
He knew he was socialist and he knew he wanted to make a difference and change the world. He knew he didn t like Capitalism, he wrote, Capitalism grew up in the interstices of feudalism, in the medieval trading towns, until it burst asunder its feudal fetters (The Wealth of Nations pg. 2). He became good friends with Friedrich Engels and they wrote many works together. Of course, the most important work was the Communist Manifesto, which they wrote together even though they disagreed on some aspects of Communism. Both Marx and Engels never knew they changed the world.
Approximately half of the world follows his writings and these countries include the Soviet Union (which recently broke up and formed a democracy) and China (which is still very communistic). Marx s philosophy s all took shape from the day he was born until the day he was about 28. Marx truly meant to do good for the world and make it a better place. He admittedly knew communism would never work as he wrote in the Communist Manifesto that humans would be incapable of making it work because there would always be someone that would want the power.