The Great Philosophers

Karl Marx: The most important of the modern philosophers?

It is hard to understand the 20th century without referencing Karl Marx and his ideas

Tuesday 16 November 2021 21:30
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<p>The political theorist wrote with the intention of changing the world</p>

The political theorist wrote with the intention of changing the world

By some measures, Karl Marx (1818–83) is the most important of the modern philosophers, in the sense that it is impossible to understand the history of the 20th century without reference to his ideas.

The revolutions in Russia and China were both, at least ostensibly, Marxist in character. The Second World War turned out in favour of the Allies partly because Hitler, blinded by his hatred of communism, ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union. And the Cold War pitched western-style capitalism against societies which identified themselves as socialist or communist.

Marx’s influence, of course, is not a matter of pure happenstance. He wrote with the intention of changing the world. Thus, his Communist Manifesto, written with his friend Friedrich Engels, ends with a call to arms:

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