Karl Marx

On this date in 1818, Karl Marx, descended from a long line of rabbis, was born in the Prussian Rhineland. Marx's father converted to Protestantism shortly before Karl's birth. Educated at the Universities of Bonn, Jena and Berlin, Marx founded the Socialist newspaper Vorwarts in 1844 in Paris. After being expelled from France at the urging of the Prussian government, which "banished" Marx in absentia, he studied economics in Brussels.

He and Engels founded the Communist League in 1847 and published the Communist Manifesto. After the failed revolution of 1848 in Germany, in which Marx participated, he eventually wound up in London. Marx worked as foreign correspondent for several U.S. publications. His Das Kapital came out in three volumes (1867, 1885 and 1894). Marx organized the International and helped found the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Although Marx was not religious, Bertrand Russell later remarked, "His belief that there is a cosmic force called Dialectical Materialism which governs human history independently of human volitions, is mere mythology." (Portraits from Memory, 1956.) Marx once quipped, "All I know is that I am not a Marxist." (According to Engels in a letter to C. Schmidt; Who's Who in Hell by Warren Allen Smith.) D. 1883.

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of unspiritual conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

“The first requisite of the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.”

—Marx, "A Criticism of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right" (1844)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo by Everett Historical, Shutterstock.com

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