Marx and Engels Write the Communist Manifesto Part 3

About the history of the Communist Manifesto, the biography of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the origins of the socialists economic idea.


THE Communist Manifesto

WHEN: 1848

In 1864 Marx became influential in the International Workingmen's Association, which was founded in London. His ideas gradually became central to the organization, but were challenged by Bakunin, the revolutionary anarchist. Split by conflicting ideas, the historical group collapsed, to rise again later as the 2nd International. By January, 1867, Marx finished writing Das Kapital, his masterwork, in which he defined capitalism as the discrepancy between the value that labor produces and the value it gets back in wages. It was so difficult to read that even the Russian censor passed it, although he thought it might be subversive, saying, "It is unlikely to find many readers among the general public." Translated into a dozen languages, it has become a bible for socialists everywhere. Marx didn't make much money from it. He said to his son-in-law, "Kapital will not even pay for the cigars I smoked writing it."

If you read about Marx, you will find 2 people--an arrogant, sarcastic, dogmatic demagogue (a reputation he gained by crushing those who disagreed with him), and a kindly, loving, honest family man. Perhaps both estimates of him are somewhat true. He was romantic and loving with his family. On Sundays, they went on long hikes, sometimes stopping for cheese, bread, and ginger beer at an inn somewhere, reading the papers on the grass. Marx would make up stories about a character named Hans Rockle, a happy-go-lucky magician who was a lot like Marx himself. Sometimes he would quote Dante or Shakespeare or sing German folk songs. Heine called Marx "the tenderest, gentlest man I have ever known." It was said that the children on the London streets named him "Daddy Marx." He was fond of playing out sea battles in a tub of water, setting whole fleets of paper ships on fire, to amuse children. Though his general health was good, he, like Job, was plagued with boils. When writing Das Kapital, he wrote Engels, "to finish I must at least be able to sit down. I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles."

And he was poor. On Easter, 1852, one of his children died, and he had no money for a coffin. His wife wrote, "A French refugee gave me Pound2. With this sum I was able to buy the coffin in which my poor Francisca now lies at peace. She had no cradle when she came into the world and for a long time it was difficult to find a box for her last resting place." In 1881, his beloved wife, with whom he was always romantically in love, died. Engels remarked, "Marx is dead, too." Two years later, he was. At the funeral, Engels said, "Before all else, Marx was a revolutionist. Few men ever fought with such passion." And it was true, in spite of the fact that Marx, who fought for the worker, had never worked physically a day in his life, and in spite of the fact that, though he was a revolutionist, he had never manned a barricade.

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