Karl Marx, 1818-1883

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Biographical note

German philosopher, political economist, historian, sociologist, humanist, political theorist, and revolutionary credited as the founder of communism. Marx summarized his approach to history and politics in the opening line of the first chapter of The Communist Manifesto [1848]: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Marx argued that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, will produce internal tensions which will lead to its destruction. Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, socialism will in its turn replace capitalism and lead to a stateless, classless society which will emerge after a transitional period, the "dictatorship of the proletariat".

While Marx remained a relatively obscure figure in his own lifetime, his ideas began to exert a major influence on workers' movements shortly after his death. This influence gained added impetus with the victory of the Marxist Bolsheviks in the Russian October Revolution in 1917, and few parts of the world remained significantly untouched by Marxian ideas in the course of the twentieth century.

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