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Classical Social Theory

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Essay title: Classical Social Theory

Classical Social Theory

Karl Marx 12/06/2006

I have chosen to write my essay on Karl Marx because his theory is very interesting. Karl Marx strove to put into sensible effect the humanitarian concept of Feuerbach. In doing so, he, along with close friend Friedrich Engels, founded a new economic movement called Socialism. According to Marx, the supreme end of man is an immature and material one, and consists in happiness. This material happiness must be obtained through a term they call organized collectivism. In fact, according to Marx, reality is governed by economic needs. Economic reality develops, that is, reality must deny itself in order to reach a higher degree of being. This principle means that the present organization of society must be destroyed (even through violent revolution, if necessary, because only through such destruction can a better political, economic, and social organization be achieved. To establish this new format of society, working men (the proletariat) must be organized and take up the struggle against the capitalists who deceive them. The characters in this drama are the social classes; the proletariat is put up against capitalism. This struggle, according to Marx and Engels, will end in triumph for the proletariat, that is, in the conquest for universal Socialism.

Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in the city of Trier in Prussia, which is now Germany. He was one of seven children of Jewish descent. His father was quite liberal, taking part in demonstrations for a constitution in Prussia and reading such authors as Kant, known for their social commentary. His mother, Henrietta, was originally from Holland and never was interested in becoming German, not even to learn the language


properly. Shortly before Marx was born, his father converted the family to an Evangelical Established Church, where Karl was baptized at the age of six. Marx attended high school in his home town where students and teachers were under suspicion of believing in liberal ideals. In October of 1835, he started attendance at the University of Bonn, enrolling in classes like Greek and Roman mythology and the history of art. The student culture at the university included being politically rebellious and Marx was involved, presiding over a political club and joining a club for poets that included some politically active students. He left Bonn after a year and enrolled at the University of Berlin to study law and philosophy. Karl's experience in Berlin was crucial to his introduction to philosophy and to his "adherence to the Young Hegelians." Hegel's philosophy was crucial to the development of his own ideas and theories. Upon his first introduction to Hegel's beliefs, he felt disgusted and wrote his father telling him that he was sickened from standing up on a point he did not believe in.

The Hegelian doctrines exerted considerable pressure in the revolutionary student culture that Marx was involved in and he eventually joined a society called the Doctor Club, involved mainly in the new literary and philosophical movement. The chief figure of that society was Bruno Bauer, a lecturer in theology who thought that the Gospels were not a record of History but that they came from human fantasies arising from man's emotional needs and he also believed that Jesus did not exist as a person. Bruno Bauer was later replaced from his position by the Prussian government. By 1841, Marx's studies were lacking and he submitted a doctoral dissertation to the University at Jena,


known for having lenient acceptance requirements. He got accepted and finally received his degree in 1841. His thesis researched in a Hegelian style the difference between the natural philosophies of Democritus and Epicurus, using his knowledge of mythology. In October of 1842, Karl became the editor of the paper Rheinische Zeitung and wrote editorials on socio-economic issues such as poverty. During this period, he found that his Hegelian philosophy was of little use and he separated himself from his Hegelian friends. Marx helped the paper succeed and it almost became the leading newspaper in Prussia. Later, the Prussian government suspended it because of the pressures from the Russian government. Karl Marx then journeyed to Paris to study French Communism.

In June of 1843, Marx married Jenny Von Westphalen, who came from a very important family of

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