200th Birth Anniversary of Karl Marx

A Critique of Political Economy

IN the mid-1850s Marx began to set down his thoughts on political economy in manuscript form—but only after he had in long years of painstaking labour worked his way through a fantastic number of books, technical writings, legal journals, parliamentary records, and had analysed all the available economic and sociological statistics, newspapers, reports on industry, trade and the stock exchange.

Method of work

Marx knew of course that Dana, the editor, and the owners of the widely distributed New York Daily Tribune, who had asked him to contribute articles to the paper, would not tolerate the open propagating of Communist ideas. This task had to be carried out in other ways, especially through the Communist League members who had emigrated to the USA.

Study of Political Economy

SOON after the Central Bureau of the Communist League was transferred to Cologne, Prussian reaction struck a heavy blow at it. In mid-May 1851, the members of the Cologne Central Bureau and a number of League members in other parts of Germany were arrested. The Prussian government’s aim was the complete destruction of the League and the rooting out of the ideas of Marx and Engels in Germany.

Dictatorship of the Proletariat

JUST as Marx had applied historical materialism to the whole of mankind’s written history in the Communist Manifesto, just as he had used it during the revolution (1848) to investigate the individual developments with brilliant success, in his works, The Class Struggles in France, 1848-50 and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx tested dialectical materialism in the analysis of a longer, exceptionally stormy and just concluded period of contemporary history.

Lessons of the Defeated Revolutions

At the time Marx set foot on English soil (August 26, 1849) London, with a population of more than two millions, was the world’s largest city and the capital of a developed capitalist country, the “workshop” of the world. In the spring of 1848, the European revolution had also knocked on England’s door, when the Chartist movement called mass demonstrations for extension of basic democratic rights. But the movement suffered such a heavy defeat that its revolutionary force was extinguished for a long time.

Deported Again From Germany

MARX saw without illusion the fact that the victories of the counter-revolution had changed the relation of forces significantly in favour of feudal reaction. In Prussia and Austria, the two most important German states the ruling circles set out “by the grace of god” to re-establish the pre-revolutionary situation. But despite the seriousness of the situation, Marx and his comrades had no intention of giving up the battle.

Leader of Revolutionary and Democratic Forces

MARX had founded Neue Rheinsche Zeitung as an “Organ of Democracy”, but as Engels said, he fought for a democratic line “that emphasized the specifically proletarian character in everything, which it could not as yet inscribe on its banner.” The revolutionary-democratic programme of the paper was for the destruction of the Prussian and Austrian States as the most important bulwark of reaction, in order to unite all Germany in a democratic republic.

Life and Work of Karl Marx – X: Founding of a New Paper

COLOGNE, where Marx and Engels arrived on April 11, 1848, was not an accidental choice. The capital of the industrially most advanced Rhine Province had also become a centre of the young working class movement. Here there was a strong organisation of the Communist League. Marx had already worked in Cologne as the Editor-in-chief of the Rheinische Zeitung in 1842-43 and could count on many friends and comrades who shared his views.

The movements of 1848

The appearance of the Manifesto of the Communist party, written by Marx and Engels, February 1848, coincided with the outbreak of the revolution in Europe.

The revolution began in France on February 22-24, the bankers’ king, Louis Philippe, was dethroned and a republic proclaimed. The first reports of the revolution reached Marx while he was in Brussels. On behalf of the Brussels Democratic Association, Marx warmly greeted France’s Republican Government.

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