Karl Marx

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The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 181814 March 1883) was a German political philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for the current understanding of labor and its relation to capital, and has influenced much of subsequent economic thought. He published numerous works during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894).

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We are for Free Trade, because by Free Trade all economical laws, with their most astounding contradictions, will act upon a larger scale, upon the territory of the whole earth…
The uniting of all these contradictions in a single group, where they will stand face to face, will result the struggle which will itself eventuate in the emancipation of the proletariat.
As for slavery, there is no need for me to speak of its bad aspects. The only thing requiring explanation is the good side of slavery. I do not mean indirect slavery, the slavery of proletariat; I mean direct slavery, the slavery of the Blacks in Surinam, in Brazil, in the southern regions of North America.
History is not like some individual person, which uses men to achieve its ends. History is nothing but the actions of men in pursuit of their ends.
The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.
Mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, we will always find that the task itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.
When Engels and I first joined the secret Communist Society we made it a condition that everything tending to encourage superstitious belief in authority was to be removed from the statutes.
  • It is a bad thing to perform menial duties even for the sake of freedom; to fight with pinpricks, instead of with clubs. I have become tired of hypocrisy, stupidity, gross arbitrariness, and of our bowing and scraping, dodging, and hair-splitting over words. Consequently, the government has given me back my freedom.
    • Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge (25 January 1843), after the Prussian government dissolved the newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung, of which Marx was the editor.
  • Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
    Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.
  • It is clear that the arm of criticism cannot replace the criticism of arms. Material force can only be overthrown by material force, but theory itself becomes a material force when it has seized the masses. Theory is capable of seizing the masses when it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man the root is man himself. What proves beyond doubt the radicalism of German theory, and thus its practical energy, is that it begins from the resolute positive abolition of religion. The criticism of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the supreme being for man. It ends, therefore, with the categorical imperative to overthrow all those conditions in which man is an abased, enslaved, abandoned, contemptible being—conditions which can hardly be better described than in the exclamation of a Frenchman on the occasion of a proposed tax upon dogs: 'Wretched dogs! They want to treat you like men!'
    • Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1843).
  • If I negate powdered wigs, I am still left with unpowdered wigs.
    • Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1844).
  • History is not like some individual person, which uses men to achieve its ends. History is nothing but the actions of men in pursuit of their ends.
    • The Holy Family, Ch. VI (1845).
  • [T]he task of abolishing the essence of Jewry is in truth the task of abolishing Jewry in civil society, abolishing the inhumanity of today's practice of life, the summit of which is the money system.
    • The Holy Family (1845).
  • Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretirt; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern.[1]
  • Freedom and slavery constitute an antagonism. There is no need for me to speak either of the good or of the bad aspects of freedom. As for slavery, there is no need for me to speak of its bad aspects. The only thing requiring explanation is the good side of slavery. I do not mean indirect slavery, the slavery of proletariat; I mean direct slavery, the slavery of the Blacks in Surinam, in Brazil, in the southern regions of North America.
    Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the [European] colonies, it is the colonies which have created world trade, and world trade is the necessary condition for large-scale machine industry. Consequently, prior to the slave trade, the colonies sent very few products to the Old World, and did not noticeably change the face of the world. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance. Without slavery, North America, the most progressive nation, would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Only wipe North America off the map and you will get anarchy, the complete decay of trade and modern civilisation. But to do away with slavery would be to wipe America off the map. Being an economic category, slavery has existed in all nations since the beginning of the world. All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise slavery at home and import it openly into the New World.
  • Is that to say we are against Free Trade? No, we are for Free Trade, because by Free Trade all economical laws, with their most astounding contradictions, will act upon a larger scale, upon the territory of the whole earth; and because from the uniting of all these contradictions in a single group, where they will stand face to face, will result the struggle which will itself eventuate in the emancipation of the proletariat.
    • Writing in the Chartist newspaper (1847), in Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 6, pg 290.
  • A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain, or but a very insignificant one; and however high it may shoot up in the course of civilization, if the neighboring palace rises in equal or even in greater measure, the occupant of the relatively little house will always find himself more uncomfortable, more dissatisfied, more cramped within his four walls.
  • [T]he very cannibalism of the counterrevolution will convince the nations that there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.
    • “The Victory of the Counter-Revolution in Vienna,” Neue Rheinische Zeitung', 07 November 1848.
  • Did you not read our articles about the June revolution, and was not the essence of the June revolution the essence of our paper?
    Why then your hypocritical phrases, your attempt to find an impossible pretext?
    We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror. But the royal terrorists, the terrorists by the grace of God and the law, are in practice brutal, disdainful, and mean, in theory cowardly, secretive, and deceitful, and in both respects disreputable.
    • The final issue of Neue Rheinische Zeitung (18 May 1849)''Marx-Engels Gesamt-Ausgabe, Vol. VI, p. 503,
    • Variant translation: We are ruthless and ask no quarter from you. When our turn comes we shall not disguise our terrorism.
  • Society is undergoing a silent revolution, which must be submitted to, and which takes no more notice of the human existences it breaks down than an earthquake regards the houses it subverts. The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.
    • “Forced Emigration,” New York Daily Tribune, 22 March 1853.
  • England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindostan, was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution.
  • England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating – the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia… When a great social revolution shall have mastered the results of the bourgeois epoch… and subjected them to the common control of the most advanced peoples, then only will human progress cease to resemble that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.
    • “The Future Results of British Rule in India,” New York Daily Tribune, 08 August 1853
England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating – the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia.
  • As to the Delhi affair, [i.e., the Indian Rebellion of 1857 ] it seems to me that the English ought to begin their retreat as soon as the rainy season has set in in real earnest. Being obliged for the present to hold the fort for you as the Tribune’s military correspondent I have taken it upon myself to put this forward. NB [nota bene; "take note"], on the supposition that the reports to date have been true. It’s possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way.
  • There is something in human history like retribution; and it is a rule of historical retribution that its instrument be forged not by the offended, but by the offender himself. The first blow dealt to the French monarchy proceeded from the nobility, not from the peasants. The Indian revolt does not commence with the ryots, tortured, dishonoured and stripped naked by the British, but with the sepoys, clad, fed and petted, fatted and pampered by them.
    • In an article written for the New York Daily Tribune, September 16, 1857 [2]
  • The product of mental labor — science — always stands far below its value, because the labor-time necessary to reproduce it has no relation at all to the labor-time required for its original production.
    • Addenda, "Relative and Absolute Surplus Value" in Economic Manuscripts (1861-63)
The fact that 1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish moneychangers out of the temple, and that the moneychangers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence.
The importunity of the fellow is also niggerlike. ~ Marx on Ferdinand Lassalle
  • It is now perfectly clear to me that, as the shape of his head and the growth of his hair indicate, he is descendant from the negroes who joined in the flight of Moses from Egypt (unless his mother or grandmother on the father’s side was crossed with a nigger). Now this union of Jewishness to Germanness on a negro basis was bound to produce an extraordinary hybrid. The importunity of the fellow is also niggerlike.
  • Mit allen ihren Mängeln erscheint diese Konstitution mitten in der russisch−preußisch−österreichischen Barbarei als das einzige Freiheitswerk, das Osteuropa je selbständig hervorgebracht hat. Und sie ging ausschließlich von der bevorrechteten Klasse, dem Adel, aus. Die Weltgeschichte bietet kein andres Beispiel von ähnlichem Adel des Adels.
    • Despite all its shortcomings, this Constitution looms against the background of Russo-Prusso-Austrian barbarism as the only work of liberty which Eastern Europe has ever created independently, and it emerged exclusively from the privileged class, from the nobility. The history of the world has never seen another example of such nobility of the nobility.
    • On the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791.
    • "Poland, Prussia and Russia" (1863 manuscript). In Werner Conze and Dieter Hertz-Eichenrode (ed.) Manuskripte über die polnische Frage (1863-1864). Hague: Mouton, 1961.
  • In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material forces of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society — the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. [Es ist nicht das Bewußtsein der Menschen, das ihr Sein, sondern umgekehrt ihr gesellschaftliches Sein, das ihr Bewusstsein bestimmt.] At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces in society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or — what is but a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within which they have been at work before. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so we can not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production. No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore, mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, we will always find that the task itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation. In broad outlines we can designate the Asiatic, the ancient, the feudal, and the modern bourgeois modes of production as so many progressive epochs in the economic formation of society. The bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social process of production — antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism, but of one arising from the social conditions of life of the individuals; at the same time the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism. This social formation constitutes, therefore, the closing chapter of the prehistoric stage of human society.
Favourite name ... Laura, Jenny …
Favourite maxim ... Nihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]
Favourite motto ... De omnibus dubitandum [Everything must be doubted].
  • Your favourite virtue ... Simplicity
    Your favourite virtue in man ... Strength
    Your favourite virtue in woman ... Weakness
    Your chief characteristic ... Singleness of purpose
    Your idea of happiness ... To fight
    Your idea of misery ... Submission
    The vice you excuse most ... Gullibility
    The vice you detest most ... Servility
    Your aversion ... Martin Tupper
    Favourite occupation ... Book-worming
    Favourite poet ... Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Goethe
    Favourite prose-writer ... Diderot
    Favourite hero ... Spartacus, Kepler
    Favourite heroine ... Gretchen [Heroine of Goethe's Faust]
    Favourite flower ... Daphne
    Favourite colour ... Red
    Favourite name ... Laura, Jenny
    Favourite dish ... Fish
    Favourite maxim ... Nihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]
    Favourite motto ... De omnibus dubitandum [Everything must be doubted].
  • Everyone who knows anything of history also knows that great social revolutions are impossible without the feminine ferment. Social progress may be measured precisely by the social position of the fair sex (plain ones included).
  • Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workmen and managers in his business.
  • Neither of us cares a straw for popularity. A proof of this is for example, that, because of aversion to any personality cult, I have never permitted the numerous expressions of appreciation from various countries with which I was pestered during the existence of the International to reach the realm of publicity, and have never answered them, except occasionally by a rebuke. When Engels and I first joined the secret Communist Society we made it a condition that everything tending to encourage superstitious belief in authority was to be removed from the statutes.
    • Remarks against personality cults from a letter to W. Blos (10 November 1877).
  • If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist
    • Original: Ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste.
    • Marx quoted and translated by Engels (in an 1882 letter to Eduard Bernstein) about the peculiar Marxism which arose in France 1882. Original: "Ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste" [3]
  • Private property has made us so stupid and partial that an object is only ours when we have it, when it exists for us as capital ... Thus all the physical and intellectual senses have been replaced by ... the sense of having.
    • Early Writings, translated by T. B. Bottomore, p. 159.
  • "[The career a young man should choose should be] one that is most consonant with our dignity, one that is based on ideas of whose truth we are wholly convinced, one that offers us largest scope in working for humanity and approaching that general goal towards which each profession offers only one of the means: the goal of perfection … If he works only for himself he can become a famous scholar, a great sage, an excellent imaginative writer [Dichter], but never a perfected, a truly great man."
    • "A Young Man's Reflections on the Choice of a Career", in Karl Marx and World Literature (1976) by S. S. Prawer, p. 2.

The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature (1841)[edit]

  • Prometheus ist der vornehmste Heilige und Märtyrer im philosophischen Kalender.
    • Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.
  • Das Philosophisch-Werden der Welt [ist] zugleich ein Weltlich-Werden der Philosophie; ihre Verwirklichung [ist] zugleich ihr Verlust.
    • For the world to become philosophic amounts to philosophy’s becoming world-order reality; and it means that philosophy, at the same time that it is realized, disappears.

On the Jewish Question (1843)[edit]

Zur JudenfrageFull text online
  • Every emancipation is a restoration of the human world and of human relationships to a man himself.
  • Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time. An organization of society [such as communism] which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make [this] Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement.

Paris Manuscripts (1844)[edit]

The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature.
Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Language comes into being, like consciousness, from the basic need, from the scantiest intercourse with other human.
  • Political Economy regards the proletarian ... like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics, and the beadle. … (1) What is the meaning, in the development of mankind, of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labor? (2) What mistakes are made by the piecemeal reformers, who either want to raise wages and thereby improve the situation of the working class, or — like Proudhon — see equality of wages as the goal of social revolution?.
    • First Manuscript – Wages of Labour, p. 6.
  • The fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself.
    • Estranged Labour, p. 30.
  • Communism... is the genuine resolution of the antagonism between man and nature and between man and man; it is the true resolution of the conflict between existence and essence, objectification and self-affirmation, freedom and necessity, individual and species. It is the riddle of history solved and knows itself as the solution.
    • Private Property and Communism, p. 43.
  • Feuerbach is the only one who has a serious, critical attitude to the Hegelian dialectic and who has made genuine discoveries in this field. He is in fact the true conqueror of the old philosophy. The extent of his achievement, and the unpretentious simplicity with which he, Feuerbach, gives it to the world, stand in striking contrast to the opposite attitude (of the others). Feuerbach’s great achievement is: (1) The proof that philosophy is nothing else but religion rendered into thought and expounded by thought, i.e., another form and manner of existence of the estrangement of the essence of man; hence equally to be condemned;(2) The establishment of true materialism and of real science, by making the social relationship of “man to man” the basic principle of the theory; (3) His opposing of the negation of the negation, which claims to be the absolute positive, the self-supporting positive, positively based on itself.
    • Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole, p. 64.
  • Der Philosoph legt sich – also selbst eine abstrakte Gestalt des entfremdeten Menschen – als den Maßstab der entfremdeten Welt an.
    • The philosopher, who is himself an abstract form of alienated man, sets himself up as the measure of the alienated world.

The German Ideology (1845/46)[edit]

The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life.
Die Deutsche Ideologie by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – Full text online
  • Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.
    • Vol. I, Part 1.
  • For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic and must remain so if he does not wish to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.
    • Vol. 1, Part 1.
  • The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature.
    • Volume I; Part 1; "Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook"; Section A, "Idealism and Materialism".
  • The fact is, therefore, that definite individuals who are productively active in a definite way enter into these definite social and political relations. Empirical observation must in each separate instance bring out empirically, and without any mystification and speculation, the connection of the social and political structure with production. The social structure and the state are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals, but of individuals, not as they appear in their own or other people's imagination, but as they really are; i.e. as they are effective, produce materially, and are active under definite material limits, presuppositions and conditions independent of their will.
    The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men, appear at this stage as the direct efflux of their material behaviour. The same applies to mental production as expressed in the language of the politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics of a people. Men are the producers of their conception, ideas, etc. — real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process.
  • Where speculation ends — in real life — there real, positive science begins: the representation of the practical activity, of the practical process of development of men. Empty talk about consciousness ceases, and real knowledge has to take place. When reality is depicted, philosophy as an independent branch of activity loses its medium of existence. At the best its place can only be taken by a summing-up of the most general results, abstractions which arise from the observation of the historical development of men. Viewed apart from real history, these abstractions have in themselves no value whatsoever. They can only serve to facilitate the arrangement of historical material, to indicate the sequence of its seperate strata. But they by no means afford a recipe or schema, as does philosophy, for neatly trimming the epochs of history. On the contrary, our difficulties begin only when we set about the observation and the arrangement — the real depiction — of our historical material, whether of a past epoch or of the present.
    • Vol. I, Part 1, [The Materialist Conception of History].
  • Communism differs from all previous movements in that it overturns the basis of all earlier relations of production and intercourse, and for the first time consciously treats all natural premises as the creatures of hitherto existing men, strips them of their natural character and subjugates them to the power of the united individuals. Its organisation is, therefore, essentially economic, the material production of the conditions of this unity; it turns existing conditions into conditions of unity. The reality, which communism is creating, is precisely the true basis for rendering it impossible that anything should exist independently of individuals, insofar as reality is only a product of the preceding intercourse of individuals themselves.
    • Vol. I, Part 4.
  • Nicht das Bewußtsein bestimmt das Leben, sondern das Leben bestimmt das Bewußtsein.
    • It is in fact not the consciousness dominating life but the very life dominating consciousness.
    • Vol. III, 27.
  • Sprache entsteht, wie das Bewußtsein, erst aus dem Bedürfnis, der Notdurft des Verkehrs mit anderen Menschen.
    • Language comes into being, like consciousness, from the basic need, from the scantiest intercourse with other human.
    • Vol. III, 30.
  • Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.
    • The German Ideology, International Publishers, ed. Chris Arthur, p. 103.

The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848)[edit]

Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich EngelsFull text online
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!
  • A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of Communism.
    • Preamble, paragraph 1, line 1.
  • The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    • Section 1, paragraph 1, lines 1-2.
  • The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley of ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment."
    • Section 1, paragraph 14, lines 1-5.
  • Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeosis epoch from all earlier ones.
    • Section 1, paragraph 18, lines 6-9.
  • All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
    • Section 1, paragraph 18, lines 12-14.
  • "a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increase capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market."
    • Section 1, paragraph 30, lines 3-8.
  • He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and for the propagation of his race.
    • Section 1, paragraph 31, lines 3-8.
  • No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.
    • Section 1, paragraph 34.
  • But every class struggle is a political struggle.
    • Section 1, paragraph 39, lines 8-9.
  • Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class.
    • Section 1, paragraph 44, lines 1-2.
  • Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
    • Section 1, paragraph 47, lines 7-9.
  • What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
    • Section 1, paragraph 53, lines 11-13.
  • The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
    • Section 2, paragraph 13.
  • All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase capital, and allowed to live only so far as the interest to the ruling class requires it.
    • Section 2, paragraph 20, lines 9-13.
  • Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation.
    • Section 2, paragraph 30.
  • The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got.
    • Section 2, paragraph 51, lines 1-2.
  • When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact that within the old society, the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.
    • Section 2, paragraph 58.
  • The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.
    • Section 2, paragraph 64.
  • In place of the bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, shall we have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
    • Section 2, paragraph 72 (last paragraph).
  • In political practice, therefore, they join in all coercive measures against the working class;and in ordinary life, despite the high-falutin phrases, they stoop to pick up the golden apples, and to barter truth, love, and honour for traffic in wool, beet-root sugar, and potato spirits.
    • Section 3, paragraph 9.
  • The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
    WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!
    • Section 4, paragraph 11 (last paragraph)
    • Variant translation: Workers of the world, unite!

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)[edit]

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
Der 18te Brumaire des Louis NapoleonFull text online. The title of this work relates the 1851 coup of Louis Napoleon to the coup of 18 Brumaire, Year VIII (9 November 1799) by his uncle Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
    • This has been compared to Horace Walpole's statement: "This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel."
    • Variant translation: Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as a tragedy, the second time as farce.
  • Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95. In like manner, the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.
    When we think about this conjuring up of the dead of world history, a salient difference reveals itself. Camille Desmoulins, Danton, Robespierre, St. Just, Napoleon, the heroes as well as the parties and the masses of the old French Revolution, performed the task of their time – that of unchaining and establishing modern bourgeois society – in Roman costumes and with Roman phrases.

Grundrisse (1857/58)[edit]

The circulation of capital realizes value, while living labour creates value.
Labour time as the measure of value posits wealth itself as founded on poverty, and disposable time as existing in and because of the antithesis to surplus labour time; or, the positing of an individual’s entire time as labour time, and his degradation therefore to mere worker, subsumption under labour. The most developed machinery thus forces the worker to work longer than the savage does, or than he himself did with the simplest, crudest tools.
Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie/Rohentwurf [A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy] (1857/58)
  • The object before us, to begin with, material production.
    • Introduction, p. 3, first text page, first line.
  • The industrial peak of a people when its main concern is not yet gain, but rather to gain.
    • Introduction, p. 7.
  • Consumption is also immediately production, just as in nature the consumption of the elements and chemical substances is the production of the plant.
    • Introduction, p. 10.
  • No production without a need. But consumption reproduces the need.
    • Introduction, p. 12.
  • The object of art — like every other product — creates a public which is sensitive to art and enjoys beauty.
    • Introduction, p. 12.
  • The individual produces an object and, by consuming it, returns to himself, but returns as a productive and self reproducing individual. Consumption thus appears as a moment of production.
    • Introduction, p. 14.
  • But there is a devil of a difference between barbarians who are fit by nature to be used for anything, and civilized people who apply them selves to everything.
    • Introduction, p. 25.
  • From another side: is Achilles possible with powder and lead? Or the Iliad with the printing press, not to mention the printing machine? Do not the song and saga of the muse necessarily come to an end with the printer's bar, hence do not the necessary conditions of epic poetry vanish?
    • Introduction, p. 31.
  • A man cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish.
    • Introduction, p. 31.
  • What's sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose.
    • Introduction, p. 37.
  • Supply and demand constantly determine the prices of commodities; never balance, or only coincidentally; but the cost of production, for its part, determines the oscillations of supply and demand.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 58.
  • The unity is brought about by force.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 70.
  • Each pursues his private interest and only his private interest; and thereby serves the private interests of all, the general interest, without willing it or knowing it. The real point is not that each individual's pursuit of his private interest promotes the totality of private interests, the general interest. One could just as well deduce from this abstract phrase that each individual reciprocally blocks the assertion of the others' interests, so that, instead of a general affirmation, this war of all against all produces a general negation.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 76.
  • Die Ideen exis­tie­ren nicht ge­trennt von der Spra­che.
    • Ideas do not exist separately from language.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 83.
  • Money does not arise by convention, any more than the state does. It arises out of exchange, and arises naturally out of exchange; it is a product of the same.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 85.
  • Money appears as measure (in Homer, e.g. oxen) earlier than as medium of exchange,because in barter each commodity is still its own medium of exchange. But it cannot be its own or its own standard of comparison.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 93.
  • The circulation of commodities is the original precondition of the circulation of money.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 107.
  • Since labour is motion, time is its natural measure.
    • Notebook I, The Chapter on Money, p. 125.
  • Exchange value forms the substance of money, and exchange value is wealth.
    • Notebook II, The Chapter on Money, p. 141.
  • Money is therefore not only the object but also the fountainhead of greed.
    • Notebook II, The Chapter on Money, p. 142.
  • In fact of course, this 'productive' worker cares as much about the crappy shit he has to make as does the capitalist himself who employs him, and who also couldn't give a damn for the junk.
    • Notebook II, The Chapter on Capital, p. 193.
  • Surplus value is exactly equal to surplus labour; the increase of the one [is] exactly measured by the diminution of necessary labour.
    • Notebook III, The Chapter on Capital, p. 259.
  • (That is it!)
    • Notebook III, The Chapter on Capital, p. 260 (In English in the original).
  • Capitals accumulate faster than the population; thus wages; thus population; thus grain prices; thus the difficulty of production and hence the exchange values.
    • Notebook III, The Chapter on Capital, p. 271.
  • The devil take this wrong arithmetic. But never mind.
    • Notebook IV, The Chapter on Capital, p. 297.
  • An increase in the productivity of labour means nothing more than that the same capital creates the same value with less labour, or that less labour creates the same product with more capital.
    • Notebook IV, The Chapter on Capital, p. 308.
  • Luxury is the opposite of the naturally necessary.
    • Notebook V, The Chapter on Capital, p. 448.
  • Although usury is itself a form of credit in its bourgeoisified form, the form adapted to capital, in its pre-bourgeois form it is rather the expression of the lack of credit.
    • Notebook V, The Chapter on Capital, p. 455.
  • The circulation of capital realizes value, while living labour creates value.
    • Notebook V, The Chapter on Capital, p. 463.
  • Something that is merely negative creates nothing.
    • Notebook VI, The Chapter on Capital, p. 532.
  • Money is itself a product of circulation.
    • Notebook VI, The Chapter on Capital, p. 579.
  • Die Gesellschaft besteht nicht aus Individuen, sondern drückt die Summe der Beziehungen, Verhältnisse aus, worin diese Individuen zueinander stehn.
    • Any society does not consist of individuals but expresses the sum of relationships [and] conditions that the individual actor is forming.
    • MEW Vol. 42, p. 176.
  • Beauty is the main positive form of the aesthetic assimilation of reality, in which aesthetic ideal finds it direct expression...
    • About Beauty
  • Die Natur baut keine Maschinen, keine Lokomotiven, Eisenbahnen, electric telegraphs, selfacting mules etc. Sie sind Produkte der menschlichen Industrie; natürliches Material, verwandelt in Organe des menschlichen Willens über die Natur oder seiner Betätigung in der Natur. Sie sind von der menschlichen Hand geschaffene Organe des menschlichen Hirns; vergegenständliche Wissenskraft. Die Entwicklung des capital fixe zeigt an, bis zu welchem Grade das allgemeine gesellschaftliche Wissen, knowledge, zur unmittelbaren Produktivkraft geworden ist und daher die Bedingungen des gesellschaftlichen Lebensprozesses selbst unter die Kontrolle des general intellect gekommen, und ihm gemäß umgeschaffen sind.
    • Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it.
    • Notebook VII, The Chapter on Capital, p. 626.
  • The development of fixed capital indicates in still another respect the degree of development of wealth generally, or of capital…
    The creation of a large quantity of disposable time apart from necessary labour time for society generally and each of its members (i.e. room for the development of the individuals’ full productive forces, hence those of society also), this creation of not-labour time appears in the stage of capital, as of all earlier ones, as not-labour time, free time, for a few. What capital adds is that it increases the surplus labour time of the mass by all the means of art and science, because its wealth consists directly in the appropriation of surplus labour time; since value directly its purpose, not use value. It is thus, despite itself, instrumental in creating the means of social disposable time, in order to reduce labour time for the whole society to a diminishing minimum, and thus to free everyone’s time for their own development. But its tendency always, on the one side, to create disposable time, on the other, to convert it into surplus labour...
    The mass of workers must themselves appropriate their own surplus labour. Once they have done so – and disposable time thereby ceases to have an antithetical existence – then, on one side, necessary labour time will be measured by the needs of the social individual, and, on the other, the development of the power of social production will grow so rapidly that, even though production is now calculated for the wealth of all, disposable time will grow for all. For real wealth is the developed productive power of all individuals. The measure of wealth is then not any longer, in any way, labour time, but rather disposable time. Labour time as the measure of value posits wealth itself as founded on poverty, and disposable time as existing in and because of the antithesis to surplus labour time; or, the positing of an individual’s entire time as labour time, and his degradation therefore to mere worker, subsumption under labour. The most developed machinery thus forces the worker to work longer than the savage does, or than he himself did with the simplest, crudest tools.
    • Notebook VII, The Chapter on Capital, pp. 628–629.
  • The economic concept of value does not occur in antiquity.
    • Notebook VII, The Chapter on Capital, p. 696.
  • It might otherwise appear paradoxical that money can be replaced by worthless paper; but that the slightest alloying of its metallic content depreciates it.
    • Notebook VII, The Chapter on Capital, p. 734.
  • Is a fixed income not a good thing? Does not everyone love to count on a sure thing? Especially every petty-bourgeois, narrow-minded Frenchman? the 'ever needy' man?
    • (Bastiat and Carey), pp. 809–810.
  • It is impossible to persue this nonsense any further.
    • (Bastiat and Carey), p. 813 (last text page, second last line).

Das Kapital (Buch I) (1867)[edit]

Capital, Volume I (Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) (1867)
  • Every beginning is difficult, holds in all sciences.
    • Author's prefaces to the First Edition.
  • I pre-suppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for himself.
    • Author's prefaces to the First Edition.
  • The country that is more developed industrially only shows, to the less developed, the image of its own future.
    • Author's prefaces to the First Edition.
  • Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters he hunted down might not see him.
    We draw the magic cap down over eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters.
    • Author's prefaces to the First Edition.
  • The most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human breast, the Furies of private interest.
    • Author's prefaces to the First Edition.
  • The commodity is first of all, an external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind. The nature of these needs, whether they arise, for example, from the stomach, or the imagination, makes no difference. Nor does it matter here how the thing satisfies man's need, whether directly as a means of subsistence, i.e. an object of consumption, or indirectly as a means of production
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 1, pg. 41.
  • To discover the various use of things is the work of history.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 1, pg. 42.
  • Wherever the want of clothing forced them to it, the human race made clothes for thousands of years, without a single man becoming a tailor.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 2, pg. 49.
  • Every commodity is compelled to chose some other commodity for its equivalent.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 3, pg. 65.
  • Gold is now money with reference to all other commodities only because it was previously, with reference to them, a simple commodity.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 3, pg. 81.
  • A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood.Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 81.
  • There is a physical relation between physical things. But it is different with commodities.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 83.
  • Value, therefore, does not stalk about with a label describing what it is.
  • The law of gravity thus asserts itself when a house falls about our ears.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 86.
  • The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 91.
  • Money is a crystal formed of necessity in the course of the exchanges, whereby different products of labour are practically equated to one another and thus by practice converted into commodities.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 2, pg. 99.
  • Under the ideal measure of values there lurks the hard cash.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 3, Section 1, pg. 116.
  • We see then, commodities are in love with money, but "the course of true love never did run smooth".
    • Vol. I, Ch. 3, Section 2, pg. 121.
  • Hence money may be dirt, although dirt is not money.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 3, Section 2, pg. 123.
  • Each piece of money is a mere coin, or means of circulation, only so long as it actually circulates.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 3, Section 2(c), pg. 145.
  • Capital is money, capital is commodities. ... By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 4, pp. 171–172
  • It is in this sense that Franklin says, "war is robbery, commerce is generally cheating."
  • And his money he cannot eat.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 7, pg. 213.
  • Der Weg zur Hölle ist jedoch mit guten Absichten gepflastert, und er konnte ebensogut der Absicht sein, Geld zu machen, ohne zu produzieren.
    • The way to Hell is paved with good intentions, and he might just as easily have intended to make money, without producing at all.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 7, pg. 213.
  • A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst of architects from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 7, pg. 198.
  • — man's heart is a wonderful thing, especially when carried in the purse —
    • Vol. I, Ch. 9, pg. 252.
  • Capital is dead labor,that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 1, p. 257.
  • In every stock-jobbing swindle everyone knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 5, pg. 296.
  • In the United States of North America, every independent movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 7, pg. 329.
  • If this labourer were in possession of his own means of production, and was satisfied to live as a labourer, he need not work beyond beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 11, pg. 336.
  • The directing motive, the end and aim of capitalist production, is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus value, and consequently to exploit labor-power to the greatest possible extent.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 13, pg. 363.
  • Die Technologie enthüllt das aktive Verhalten des Menschen zur Natur, den unmittelbaren Produktionsprozesss seines Lebens, damit auch seiner gesellschaftlichen Lebensverhältnisse und der ihnen entquellenden geistigen Vorstellungen.
    • Technology discloses the active relation of man towards nature, as well as the direct process of production of his very life, and thereby the process of production of his basic societal relations, of his own mentality, and his images of society, too.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 13: "Machinery and Big Industry".
  • As the chosen people bore in their features the sign manual of Jehovah, so the division of labour brands the manufacturing workman as the property of capital.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 14, Section 5, pg. 396.
  • An organised system of machines, to which motion is communicated by the transmitting mechanism from a central automation, is the most developed form of production by machinery.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 1, pg. 416.
  • The tool, as we have seen, is not exterminated by the machine.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 2, pg. 422.
  • In England women are still occasionally used instead of horses for hauling canal boats, because the labour required to produce horses and machines is an accurately known quantity, while that required to maintain the women of the surplus population is below all calculation.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 2, pg. 430.
  • But, suppose, besides, that the making of the new machinery affords employment to a greater number of mechanics, can that be called compensation to the carpet makers, thrown on the streets?
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 6, pg. 479.
  • Unlimited exploitation of cheap labour-power is the sole foundation of their power to compete.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 8, pg. 520.
  • Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the labourer.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15 (last sentence), pg. 556.
  • In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labour-time.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 17, Section IV, pg. 581.
  • Classical political economy nearly touches the true relation of things,without, however,consciously formulating it. This it cannot so long as it sticks in its bourgeois skin.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 19, pg. 594.
  • If production be capitalistic in form, so, too, will be reproduction.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 23, pg. 620.
  • In reality, the labourer belongs to capital before he has sold himself to capital.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 23, pg. 633.
  • Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!
    • Vol. I, Ch. 24, Section 3, pg. 652.
  • But if the labourers could live on air they could not be bought at any price.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 24, Section 4, pg. 657.
  • Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because it has in another place been lost by many. This is centralisation proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 2, pg. 686.
  • In its beginnings, the credit system sneaks in as a modest helper of accumulation and draws by invisible threads the money resources scattered all over the surface of society into the hands of individual or associated capitalists. But soon it becomes a new and formidable weapon in the competitive struggle, and finally it transforms itself into an immense social mechanism for the centralisation of capitals.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 2, pg. 687.
  • Of all the animals kept by the farmer, the labourer, the instrumentum vocale, was,thenceforth, the most oppressed, the worst nourished, the most brutally treated.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 4(e), pg. 742.
  • The Irish famine of 1846 killed more than 1,000,000 people, but it killed poor devils only. To the wealth of the country it did not the slightest damage.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 4(f), pg. 774.
  • Every one knows that there are no real forests in England.The deer in the parks of the great are demurely domestic cattle, fat as London alderman.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 27, pg. 803.
  • The national debt has given rise to joint stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and to agiotage, in a word to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 31, pg. 827.
  • A great deal of capital, which appears to-day in the United States without any certificate of birth, was yesterday, in England, the capitalised blood of children.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 31, pg. 829.
  • One capitalist always kills many.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 32, p. 836.
  • The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with there capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 32, p. 837.
  • But capitalist production begets,with the inexorability of a law of Nature,its own negation. It is the negation of negation.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 32, p. 837.

Das Kapital (Buch II) (1893)[edit]

Capital, Volume II (Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) (1893)
  • Nor is it the irrationality of the form which is taken as characteristic. On the contrary, one overlooks the irrational.
    • Vol. II, Ch. I, p. 30.
  • So long as the product is sold, everything is taking its regular course from the standpoint of the capitalist producer.
    • Vol. II, Ch. II, p. 78.
  • The entire process seems simple and natural, i.e., possesses the naturalness of a shallow rationalism.
    • Vol. II, Ch. III, p. 95.
  • In a constantly revolving circle every point is simultaneously a point of departure and a point of return. If we interrupt the rotation, not every point of departure is a point of return.
    • Vol. II, Ch. IV, p. 104.
  • Denn der Kapitalismus ist schon in der Grundlage aufgehoben durch die Voraussetzung, daß der Genuß als treibendes Motiv wirkt, nicht die Bereicherung selbst.
    • For capitalism is abolished root and branch by the bare assumption that it is personal consumption and not enrichment that works as the compelling motive.
    • Vol. II, Ch. IV, p. 123.
  • A house sold by A to B does not wander from one place to another, although it circulates as a commodity.
    • Vol. II, Ch. VI, p. 152.
  • A circuit performed by a capital and meant to be a periodical process, not an individual act, is called its turnover. The duration of this turnover is determined by the sum of its time of production and its time of circulation.
    • Volume II, Ch. VII, p. 158.
  • As a beast of toil an ox is fixed capital. If he is eaten, he no longer functions as an instrument of labour, nor as fixed capital either.
    • Vol. II, Ch. VIII, p. 163.
  • So far as living instruments of labour are concerned, for instance horses, their reproduction is timed by nature itself. Their average lifetime as instruments of labour is determined by the laws of nature. As soon as this term has expired they must be replaced by new ones. A horse cannot be replaced piecemeal; it must be replaced by another horse.
    • Vol. II, Ch. VIII, p. 174.
  • It goes without saying that the normal durability of fixed capital is calculated on the supposition that all the conditions under which it can perform its functions normally during that time are fulfilled, just as we assume, in placing a mans life at 30 years on the average,that he will wash himself.
  • Volume II, Ch. VIII, p. 176-177.
  • What strikes one here above all is the crudely empirical conception of profit derived from the outlook of the ordinary capitalist, which wholly contradicts the better esoteric understanding of Adam Smith.
    • Vol. II, Ch. X, p. 202.
  • We have just seen that, apart from money-capital, circulating capital is only another name for commodity-capital. But to the extent that labour power circulates in the market,it is not capital, no form of commodity-capital. It is not capital at all; the labourer is not a capitalist, although he brings a commodity to market, namely his own skin.
    • Vol. II, Ch. X, p. 211.
  • Titles of property, for instance railway shares, may change hands every day, and their owner may make a profit by their sale even in foreign countries, so that titles to property are exportable, although the railway itself is not.
    • Vol. II, Ch. X, p. 215.
  • Anyone wanting a new house picks one from among those built on speculation or still in process of construction. The builder no longer works for his customers but for the market.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XII, p. 237.
  • The capitalist cannot store labour-power in warehouses after he has bought it, as he may do with the raw material.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XV, p. 285.
  • In capitalist society however where social reason always asserts itself only post festum great disturbances may and must constantly occur.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XVI, p. 319.
  • But simultaneously with the development of capitalist production the credit system also develops. The money-capital which the capitalist cannot as yet employ in his own business is employed by others, who pay him interest for its use.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XVII, p. 325.
  • On the other hand one must not entertain any fantastic illusions on the productive power of the credit system, so far as it supplies or sets in motion money-capital.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XVII, p. 351.
  • The labour-power is a commodity, not capital, in the hands of the labourer, and it constitutes for him a revenue so long as he can continuously repeat its sale; it functions as capital after its sale, in the hands of the capitalist, during the process of production itself.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XIX, p. 384.
  • It appears then, that capitalist production comprises conditions independent of good or bad will, conditions which permit the working-class to enjoy that relative prosperity only momentarily, and at that always only as the harbinger of a coming crisis.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XX, p. 415.
  • The aggregate capital appears as the capital stock of all individual capitalists combined. This joint stock company has in common with many other stock companies that everyone knows what he puts in, but not what he will get out of it.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XX, p. 437.
  • Since the working-class lives from hand to mouth,it buys as long as it has the means to buy.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XX, p. 449.
  • As the variable capital always stays in the hands of the capitalist in some form or other, it cannot be claimed in any way that it converts itself into revenue for anyone.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XX, p. 452.
  • These numerous points at which money is withdrawn from circulation and accumulated in numerous individual hoards or potential money-capitals appears as so many obstacles to circulation, because they immobilise the money and deprive it of its capacity to circulate for a certain time.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XXI, p. 497.
  • The process is so complicated that it offers ever so many occasions for running abnormally.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XXI, p. 500.
  • Long hours of labour seem to be the secret of the rational and healthful processes, which are to raise the condition of the labourer by an improvement of his mental and moral powers and to make a rational consumer out of him.
    • Vol. II, Ch. XXI, p. 520.

Das Kapital (Buch III) (1894)[edit]

Main article: Capital, Volume III
Capital, Volume III (Capital: A Critique of Political Economy) (1894)
  • In a social order dominated by capitalist production even the non-capitalist producer is gripped by capitalist conceptions.
    • Vol. III, Ch. I, Cost Price and Profit, p. 39.
  • Since property here exists in the form of stock, its movement and transfer become purely a result of gambling on the stock exchange, where the little fish are swallowed by the sharks and the lambs by the stock exchange wolves.
    • Vol. III, Ch. XXVII, The Role of Credit, p. 440.
  • In short, competition has to shoulder the responsibility of explaining all the meaningless ideas of the economists, whereas it should rather be the economists who explain competition.
    • Vol. III, Ch. L, Illusions Created by Competition, p. 866.


Disputed[edit]

  • Democracy is the road to socialism.
    • Attributed to Marx in recent years, including in Communism (2007) by Tom Lansford, p. 48, but the earliest occurrence of this yet located is in The Communist Review (1952) by the Communist Party of Great Britain, p. 15, where it is used to characterize the Communist agenda.


Misattributed[edit]

  • The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament.
  • The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.
    • Attributed to Leo Tolstoy in Romance and Reality (1912) by Holbrook Jackson.
  • Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.
    • Paraphrased and misattributed, actually from "Die Musik des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts und ihre Pflege: Methode der Musik" ("The Music of the Nineteenth Century, and its Culture") by Adolf Bernhard Marx: "Die Kunst ist stets und überall das geheime Bekenntnis und unsterbliche Denkmal ihrer Zeit." ("Art is always and everywhere the secret confession as well as the undying monuments of its time.").
  • Owners of capital will stimulate working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks which will have to be nationalized and State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.
  • We will hang the capitalists with the rope that they sell us.
    • Often attributed to Lenin or Stalin, less often to Marx. According to the book, "They Never Said It", p. 64, the phrase derives from a rumour that Lenin said this to one of his close associates, Grigori Zinoviev, not long after a meeting of the Politburo in the early 1920s, but there is no evidence that he ever did. Experts on the Soviet Union reject the rope quote as spurious.
  • If we were to hang the last capitalist, another would appear to sell us the rope.
    • A variant of the above misquote, sometimes also attributed to Lenin. This gained popularity during the glasnost era when black market activity was at its most visible in the USSR; meant to show the profit motive was human nature and cannot be eradicated.
  • Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through
    • Attributed to Karl Marx, a composer with the same name.

Quotes about Marx[edit]

Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.
Alphabetized by author
To get to know and love the heart that beat within the breast of Marx the scholar you had to see him when he had closed his books and notebooks and was surrounded by his family… ~ Paul Lafargue
Children should educate their parents.
I began to read Capital, just as one reads any book, to see what was in it; I found a great deal that neither its followers nor its opponents had prepared me to expect. ~ Joan Robinson
  • One cannot discuss a socialism which has built an enormous industry by reducing the standard of living of the masses and a capitalism which has raised the standard of living, reduced working hours, and permitted the consolidation of labor unions, as if there were the same realities that Marx considered a century ago or that he anticipated according to a system which has since been refuted by events.
    • Raymond Aron (1955, 2000). The Opium of the Intellectuals. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. p. 337.
  • As far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I. I knew nothing at that time of political economy, I had not yet rid myself of my metaphysical observations... He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.
    • Mikhail Bakunin, on meeting Marx in 1844, as quoted in Brian Morris, Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom, 1993, p. 14.
  • Karl Marx took up the rallying call [of 19th Century progress], and applied his incisive language and intellect to the task of launching this major new and, as he thought, definitive step in history towards salvation—towards what Kant had described as the “Kingdom of God”. Once the truth of the hereafter had been rejected, it would then be a question of establishing the truth of the here and now. The critique of Heaven is transformed into the critique of earth, the critique of theology into the critique of politics. Progress towards the better, towards the definitively good world, no longer comes simply from science but from politics—from a scientifically conceived politics that recognizes the structure of history and society and thus points out the road towards revolution, towards all-encompassing change. With great precision, albeit with a certain onesided bias, Marx described the situation of his time, and with great analytical skill he spelled out the paths leading to revolution—and not only theoretically: by means of the Communist Party that came into being from the Communist Manifesto of 1848, he set it in motion. His promise, owing to the acuteness of his analysis and his clear indication of the means for radical change, was and still remains an endless source of fascination. [...] Marx not only omitted to work out how this new world would be organized—which should, of course, have been unnecessary. His silence on this matter follows logically from his chosen approach. His error lay deeper. He forgot that man always remains man. He forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. He forgot that freedom always remains also freedom for evil. He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism: man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment.
  • The class struggle, which is always present to a historian influenced by Marx, is a fight for the crude and material things without which no refined and spiritual things could exist. Nevertheless, it is not in the form of the spoils which fall to the victor that the latter make their presence felt in the class struggle. They manifest themselves in this struggle as courage, humor, cunning, and fortitude. They have retroactive force and will constantly call in question every victory, past and present, of the rulers. As flowers turn toward the sun, by dint of a secret heliotropism the past strives to turn toward that sun which is rising in the sky of history. A historical materialist must be aware of this most inconspicuous of all transformations.
  • Well I came across Marx rather late in life actually, and when I read him, two things: first of all I realised that he'd come to the conclusion about capitalism which I'd come to much later, and I was a bit angry he'd thought of it first; and secondly, I see Marx who was an old Jew, as the last of the Old Testament Prophets, this old bearded man working in the British Library, studying capitalism, that's what 'Das Kapital' was about, it was an explanation of British capitalism. And I thought to myself, 'Well anyone could write a book like that, but what infuses, what comes out of his writing, is the passionate hostility to the injustice of capitalism. He was a Prophet, and so I put him in that category as an Old Testament Prophet.
    • Tony Benn, in an interview with John Cleary (23 February 2003).
  • [M]odern capitalism has managed to avert, without changing its fundamental characteristics, practically all the consequences which Marx predicted would result from the basic contradiction between the forces and the relations of production. […] Marx predicted an increasing frequency and gravity of "realization" crises, a spectacular decline of the rate of profit, rising unemployment, Verelendung [impoverishment] of the working class, etc., culminating in an increasingly bitter class struggle that would eventually lead to the overthrow of the entire system by a proletarian revolution. These developments would demonstrate, according to Marx, that production for private gain is inherently contradictory rather than merely the cause of some, in principle resolvable, conflicts and problems. Now, none of these predictions (except perhaps a certain amount of economic concentration) has actually occurred […] there is no independent evidence, apart from Marx's word, to support the claim that capitalism remains contradiction ridden.
    • Axel van den Berg (1980). “Critical Theory: Is There Still Hope?” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 86, No. 3 (Nov., 1980), pp. 449-478.
  • In Marx’s class analysis, it is the employer who is the ruler and the employee the ruled. This of course makes no sense economically or in any other way. However, what is wrong with Marxist class analysis is not the class analysis, but rather the Marxism.
    • Walter Block (2000), "Libertarianism vs Objectivism: A Response to Peter Schwartz." Reason Papers Vol. 26 (Summer 2000), pp. 39-62.
  • Marx's third volume [of Capital] contradicts the first. The theory of the average rate of profit and of the prices of production cannot be reconciled with the theory of value. This is the impression which must, I believe, be received by every logical thinker.
  • As there was a Socialism before Marx, so there will be one after him.
  • [T]he great test [of history] has been decidedly against Marx and his theories of value and surplus value.
  • Marx ... died in 1883, at the age of sixty-five, his great work incomplete. Worn out and embittered when a servant asked him whether he had any advice for posterity, he roared: "Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."
    • Peter Bushell, in London's Secret History (1983).
  • In the NKVD as it was now [in 1936], Stalin had a powerful and experienced instrument. At its head stood Yagoda. His deputy in security matters was Stalin’s crony Agranov, who had finished his special operations at Leningrad and handed over that city to the dreadful Sakovsky, who is said to have boasted that if he had Karl Marx to interrogate he would soon make him confess that he was agent of Bismark.
    • Robert Conquest (1990, 2000), The Great Terror: A Reassessment (40th Anniversary Edition) Oxford University Press p. 81.
  • Marxism does not have, and does not even pretend to have, any mechanism to explain the internal development of the social system it describes as “Asiatic.” In these areas of traditionalist despotism, under which the larger part of the world’s population lived for thousands of years, Marx quite explicitly and admittedly found no class conflict, in the absence of opposing groups categorized as economic classes. (Change only came, as he puts in, when Western culture bursts in on them: an unconscious illustration of Marx’s Eurocentrism).
    • Robert Conquest (2000). Reflections of a Ravaged Century, NY:Norton, pp. 47-48
Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive. ~ Attributed to Marx by Guy Debord
The merit of Marx is that he suddenly produces a qualitative change in the history of social thought ... he expresses a revolutionary concept: the world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed. ~ Che Guevara
  • At the opposite pole from such imbecilities, the primarily urban character of the dérive, in its element in the great industrially transformed cities — those centers of possibilities and meanings — could be expressed in Marx’s phrase: "Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive."
    • Guy Debord, Theory of the Dérive (1958); this attribution by Debord is widely cited (without reference) but seems not to be in any of Marx's authenticated writings.
  • It is of course not sufficient to appeal to the authority of Marx, Hegel, or any of their contemporaries follower to establish the validity of the direction of History. In the century and a half since they wrote, their intellectual legacy has been relentlessly assaulted from all directions. The most profound thinkers of the twentieth century have directly attacked the idea that history is a coherent of intelligible process; indeed, they have denied the possibility that any aspect of human life is philosophically intelligible.
  • Marx profoundly affected those who did not accept his system. His influence extended to those who least supposed they were subject to it.
  • If we agree that the Bible is a work of collective authorship, only Mohammed rivals Marx in the number of professed and devoted followers recruited by a single author. And the competition is not really very close. The followers of Marx far outnumber the sons of the Prophet.
  • When asked whether or not we are Marxists, our position is the same as that of a physicist or a biologist when asked if he is a "Newtonian," or if he is a "Pasteurian". There are truths so evident, so much a part of people's knowledge, that it is now useless to discuss them.
  • The merit of Marx is that he suddenly produces a qualitative change in the history of social thought. He interprets history, understands its dynamic, predicts the future, but in addition to predicting it (which would satisfy his scientific obligation), he expresses a revolutionary concept: the world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed. Man ceases to be the slave and tool of his environment and converts himself into the architect of his own destiny.
  • We, practical revolutionaries, initiating our own struggle, simply fulfill laws foreseen by Marx, the scientist. We are simply adjusting ourselves to the predictions of the scientific Marx as we travel this road of rebellion, struggling against the old structure of power, supporting ourselves in the people for the destruction of this structure, and having the happiness of this people as the basis of our struggle.
  • [M]ost of Marx' theories which are not mistaken are meaningless. Marx remained influential, however: his influence never was based on the scientific truth-content of his theories but on their psychological appeal.
  • Though he was proud of his scientific method, most of Marx' predictions are like Jewish prophecies and Christian revelations, inspiring, sometimes self-fulfilling, certainly true for the faithful, but not testable by scientific means.
  • Marx, like Rousseau before him, believed that men are good and made bad only by bad social systems. Unlike Rousseau, he believed that these systems arise from historical necessity. It occurred neither to Marx nor to Rousseau-as it did to Madison-that bad men corrupt good systems just as often as vice versa.
  • Marx did not call for an opposition to the forces of history. On the contrary he accepted all of them, the drive of technology, the revolutionizing effects of democratic striving, even the vagaries of capitalism, as being indeed the carriers of a brighter future.
  • Try to imagine Rousseau, Voltaire, Holbach, Lessing, Heine and Hegel all rolled into one — truly united so as to make a unified whole and you will get an idea of Marx's makeup.
    • Moses Hess, as quoted in The Western Socialist, Volumes 14-16 (1947).
  • [I]nternational Marxism is nothing but the application--effected by the Jew, Karl Marx--of a general conception of life to a definite profession of political faith; but in reality that general concept had existed long before the time of Karl Marx. If it had not already existed as a widely diffused infection the amazing political progress of the Marxist teaching would never have been possible. In reality what distinguished Karl Marx from the millions who were affected in the same way was that, in a world already in a state of gradual decomposition, he used his keen powers of prognosis to detect the essential poisons, so as to extract them and concentrate them, with the art of a necromancer, in a solution which would bring about the rapid destruction of the independent nations on the globe. But all this was done in the service of his race.
    • Adolf Hitler (1925-26). Mein Kampf (James Murphy translation, 1946).
  • [I]t is quite enough that the scientific knowledge of the danger of Judaism is gradually deepened and that every individual on the basis of this knowledge begins to eliminate the Jew within himself, and I am very much afraid that this beautiful thought originates from none other than a Jew [i.e., Karl Marx].
  • God is dead. Marx is dead. And I don’t feel so well myself.
    • Eugène Ionesco, as quoted in Jewish American Literature : A Norton Anthology (2000) by Jules Chametzky, "Jewish Humor", p. 318.
  • I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels, and Mao when I entered prison and they redeemed me.
    • George Jackson (1994). Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, p. 16.
  • In the Marxian view, human history is like a river. From any given vantage point, a river looks much the same day after day. But actually it is constantly flowing and changing, crumbling its banks, widening and deepening its channel. The water seen one day is never the same as that seen the next. Some of it is constantly being evaporated and drawn up, to return as rain. From year to year these changes may be scarcely perceptible. But one day, when the banks are thoroughly weakened and the rains long and heavy, the river floods, bursts its banks, and may take a new course. This represents the dialectical part of Marx’s famous theory of dialectical (or historical) materialism.
    • Hubert Kay, as quoted in LIFE Magazine's October 18, 1948 cover issue on Karl Marx, p. 66.
  • If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly, if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different.
    • John F. Kennedy, in an address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association (27 April 1961).
  • Engels was always sending Marx money; when he finally retired from the family firm, he made Marx an annuity of £350—several times more than the average family lived on but not enough for Marx, who always adjusted his spending to a level above what his benefactors supplied.
    • Roger Kimball, "The Death of Socialism," New Criterion, April 2002.
  • All of Marx’s major predictions have turned out to be wrong. He said that societies based on a market economy would suffer spiraling class polarization and the disappearance of the middle class. Every society lucky enough to enjoy the fruits of a market economy shows that Marx was wrong about that. He predicted the growing immiseration and impoverishment of the working class in capitalist societies. (Actually, he didn’t merely predict that it would happen, he predicted that it would happen necessarily and inevitably—thanks, Hegel!) The opposite has happened. Indeed, as Kolakowski notes, “in the second edition of Capital Marx updated various statistics and figures, but not those relating to workers’ wages; those figures, if updated, would have contradicted his theory.”
    • Roger Kimball, "Leszek Kolakowski & the anatomy of totalitarianism," New Criterion June 2005.
  • In the sense used by Marx and Engels, the concept of ideology was intended to mean forms of social consciousness which prevent people from realising that their thinking about the world is determined by some conditions which do not depend on them and which are not themselves ingredients of consciousness. In ideological thinking, people imagine that the logic of thinking itself rules their consciousness and they are organically incapable of being aware of the social situations and of the interests which mould their mental work. This concept of ideology as false consciousness or as thinking that cannot be aware of its own sources may indeed be useful […] The defect of the concept, however, is that we never have criteria for stating that a certain theory or doctrine does not fall under the concept, even as far as natural science is concerned; nor may we ever be certain that a criticism of ideology is not itself ideological. No conceivable means are available for stating that Capital is not an ideology in this sense. Certainly, Marx maintained (not only in his famous letter to Ruge, but in The Poverty of Philosophy as well […]) that his own theoretical work was to express the real historical movement, i.e. that he was aware of the social sources of his own thinking and that he was in this sense himself free from ideology; however, there is no way of finding out beyond doubt that Marx or that anybody who conceives his own thinking as an "expression" of a certain historical process is not deluding himself about the meaning of his own self-consciousness.
  • Neither Marx nor Engels ever clearly defined the concept of class, and the last chapter of Volume III of Capital, which was to treat this question, breaks off after three or four paragraphs.
    • Leszek Kolakowski (1978). Main Currents of Marxism, Vol I: The Founders, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 353.
  • Almost all the prophecies of Marx and his followers have already proved to be false, but this does not disturb the spiritual certainty of the faithful, any more than it did in the case of chiliastic sects.
    • Leszek Kolakowski, as quoted by Roger Kimball, "Leszek Kolakowski & the anatomy of totalitarianism," New Criterion June 2005.
  • To get to know and love the heart that beat within the breast of Marx the scholar you had to see him when he had closed his books and notebooks and was surrounded by his family, or again on Sunday evenings in the society of his friends. He then proved the pleasantest of company, full of wit and humour, with a laugh that came straight from the heart. His black eyes under the arches of his bushy brews sparkled with pleasure and malice whenever he heard a witty saying or a pertinent repartee.
    He was a loving, gentle and indulgent father. “Children should educate their parents,” he used to say. There was never even a trace of the bossy parent in his relations with his daughters, whose love for him was extraordinary. He never gave them an order, but asked them to do what he wished as a favour or made them feel that they should not do what he wanted to forbid them. And yet a father could seldom have had more docile children than he. His daughters considered him as their friend and treated him as a companion; they did not call him “father”, but “Moor” — a nickname that he owed to his dark complexion and jet-black hair and beard.
  • The natural scientist must be a modern materialist, a conscious adherent of the materialism represented by Marx, i.e., he must be a dialectical materialist.
    • Vladimir Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 33, pp. 227-236.
  • It is impossible to understand Marx's Capital, and especially its first chapter, without first having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel's Logic. Consequently, half a century later, none of the Marxists has understood Marx!
    • Vladimir Lenin, As quoted by Stephen Hicks (2007). Explaining Postmodernism: Socialism and Skepticism from Rousseau to Foucault, Tempe, AZ: Scholargy Press, p. 126.
  • At times my heart delights in thinking of you and your future. And yet at times I cannot rid myself of ideas which arouse in me sad forebodings and fear when I am struck as if by lightning by the thought: is your heart in accord with your head, your talents? Has it room for the earthly but gentler sentiments which in this vale of sorrow are so essentially consoling for a man of feeling? And since that heart is obviously animated and governed by a demon not granted to all men, is that demon heavenly or Faustian? Will you ever -- and that is not the least painful doubt of my heart -- will you ever be capable of truly human, domestic happiness? Will -- and this doubt has no less tortured me recently since I have come to love a certain person [Marx's then-fiancee, Jenny von Westfalen] like my own child -- will you ever be capable of imparting happiness to those immediately around you?
  • And while Lennon read a book of Marx,
    The quartet practiced in the park,
    And we sang dirges in the dark
    The day the music died.
    • Don McLean, American Pie (1971), verse 10, lines 5-8; McLean here probably makes use of the similarity similar sounds of Lennon's name with that of Vladimir Lenin, and a double entendre which Lennon himself had also used — where he would declared himself and Yoko Ono Marxists in the sense of being followers of Groucho Marx.
Almost all the prophecies of Marx and his followers have already proved to be false... ~ Leszek Kolakowski
Marx the revolutionary shared also with his century, as we have seen, the unholy alliance between positivism and eschatology. There are worse ways of grasping the philosophical gist of Marxism. ~ J.G. Merquior
[Marx is] a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind. ~ Giuseppe Mazzini
Like Hegel, Marx was a prophet communicating to the people the revelation that an inner voice had imparted to him. ~ Ludwig von Mises
  • [Marx is] a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind. [Marx is] extraordinarily sly, shifty and taciturn. Marx is very jealous of his authority as leader of the Party; against his political rivals and opponents he is vindictive and implacable; he does not rest until he has beaten them down; his overriding characteristic is boundless ambition and thirst for power. Despite the communist egalitarianism which he preaches he is the absolute ruler of his party, admittedly he does everything himself but he is also the only one to give orders and he tolerates no opposition.
    • Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72), as quoted in Fritz Raddatz (1975, 1978) Marx: A Political Biography; Boston: Little, Brown; p. 66.
  • [B]esides sharing with the pessimist Ricardo the historicization of the economy, by dint of categories such as scarcity and production as well as the labor theory of value, Marx the revolutionary shared also with his century, as we have seen, the unholy alliance between positivism and eschatology. There are worse ways of grasping the philosophical gist of Marxism.
  • Karl Marx, a visionary, figured out that you can control a slave much better by convincing him he is an employee.
  • All the sophisticated syllogisms of the ponderous volumes published by Marx, Engels, and hundreds of Marxian authors cannot conceal the fact that the only and ultimate source of Marx's prophecy is an alleged inspiration by virtue of which Marx claims to have guessed the plans of the mysterious powers determining the course of history. Like Hegel, Marx was a prophet communicating to the people the revelation that an inner voice had imparted to him.
  • On the one hand, Karl Marx wrote of the inevitability of socialism. But on the other hand, he organized a socialist movement, a socialist party, declared again and again that his socialism was revolutionary, and that the violent overthrow of the government was necessary to bring about socialism.
  • Marx's economic teachings are essentially a garbled rehash of the theories of Adam Smith and, first of all, of Ricardo.
    • Ludwig von Mises (1957), Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution.
  • This solution of the Jewish question [i.e., Marx’s 1845 insistence in The Holy Family on “abolishing Jewry in civil society”] was not very different from Adolf Hitler’s, for it involved the liquidation of Judaism.
    • R. Payne, editor (1972). The Unknown Karl Marx: Documents Concerning Karl Marx, New York University Press, ISBN 0814765548.
  • The Marxist theory of history, in spite of the serious efforts of some of its founders and followers, ultimately adopted this soothsaying practice [of evading testability]. In some of its earlier formulations (for example in Marx's analysis of the character of the 'coming social revolution') their predictions were testable, and in fact falsified. Yet instead of accepting the refutations the followers of Marx re-interpreted both the theory and the evidence in order to make them agree. In this way they rescued the theory from refutation; but they did so at the price of adopting a device which made it irrefutable. They thus gave a 'conventionalist twist' to the theory; and by this stratagem they destroyed its much advertised claim to scientific status.
  • [W]hen Karl Marx, the most consistent translator of the altruist morality into practical action and political theory, advocated a society where all would be sacrificed to all, starting with the immediate immolation of the able, the intelligent, the successful and the wealthy—whatever opposition he did encounter, nobody opposed him on moral grounds. Predominantly, he was granted the status of a noble, but impractical, idealist.
    • Ayn Rand (1961) For the New Intellectual, NY: Signet.
  • I began to read Capital, just as one reads any book, to see what was in it; I found a great deal that neither its followers nor its opponents had prepared me to expect.
    • Joan Robinson, in Preface to the Second Edition of An Essay on Marxian Economics (1966), p. vi.
  • There can be no doubt about the virulence of the hostility which has been shown by the critics of Marxism. Again and again his economic theories have been said to have been killed. But the superstition which says that those who have been wrongly reported dead will have a long life has certainly proved true in regard to the ideas of Marx. No other body of economic ideas, not even classicism at the height of its power, has exerted so lasting an influence on political practice.
  • Marx's father became a Christian when Marx was a little boy, and some, at least, of the dogmas he must have then accepted seem to have born fruit in his son's psychology.
  • My objections to Marx are of two sorts: one, that he was muddle-headed; and the other, that his thinking was almost entirely inspired by hatred. The doctrine of surplus value, which is supposed to demonstrate the exploitation of wage-earners under capitalism, is arrived at: (a) by surreptitiously accepting Malthus's doctrine of population, which Marx and all his disciples explicitly repudiate; (b) by applying Ricardo's theory of value to wages, but not to the prices of manufactured articles. He is entirely satisfied with the result, not because it is in accordance with the facts or because it is logically coherent, but because it is calculated to rouse fury in wage-earners. Marx's doctrine that all historical events have been motivated by class conflicts is a rash and untrue extension to world history of certain features prominent in England and France a hundred years ago. His belief that there is a cosmic force called Dialectical Materialism which governs human history independently of human volitions, is mere mythology. His theoretical errors, however, would not have mattered so much but for the fact that, like Tertullian and Carlyle, his chief desire was to see his enemies punished, and he cared little what happened to his friends in the process.
  • Marxists have always treated justice with some disdain.
    • Introduction in Justice (1993) edited by Alan Ryan
  • Lukes's answer is difficult to summarize, but amounts to the claim that Marx did not concern himself with rights and justice, but with an ethics of emancipation.
    • Introduction in Justice (1993) edited by Alan Ryan
  • From the viewpoint of pure economic theory, Karl Marx can be regarded as a minor post-Ricardian.
    • Paul Samuelson (1962). “Economists and History of Ideas,” The American Economic Review,  March 1962 pp.
  • Marx claimed in Volume 1 [of Capital] that there was some interesting economics involved in a labor theory of value, and some believe his greatest fame in pure economics lies in his at­tempted analysis of "surplus value." Although he promised to clear up the contradiction between "price" and "value" in later volumes, neither he nor Engels ever made good this claim.
    • Paul Samuelson (1962). “Economists and History of Ideas,” The American Economic Review,  March 1962.
  • Marx … was a very bad econometrician of his times, not realizing how much real wages in Western Europe had been raised by new techniques and equipment; and he was a bad theorist because his kind of model would almost certainly lead to shifts in schedules that would raise labor's wages tremendously.
    • Paul Samuelson (1962). “Economists and History of Ideas,” The American Economic Review,  March 1962.
  • Marx has certainly had more customers then any other one aspiring economist. A billion people think his ideas are important; and for the historian of thought that fact makes them important.
    • Paul Samuelson (1962). “Economists and History of Ideas,” The American Economic Review,  March 1962.
  • Some of Marx's followers of the present day have attempted to harmonize their master's contradictory statements, or at least to show that there is still a remnant of truth in the venerable theory, but our author finds little difficulty in exposing the futility of these attempts.
    • William A. Scott and Sigmund Fielbogen, translators, in their preface to Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s Recent Literature on Interest (1903), London, MacMillan & Co, p. xxxix.
  • It had to be admitted in the end that Marx had made mistakes on many points of importance.
    • Werner Sombart (1896), Socialism and the Social System NY: Dutton and Sons, translated by M. Epstein, p. 87.
  • Against anarchists Marx and Engles were in the position of defending the “authority of the majority over the minority.” Marxian passages defending the use of state power against individuals in this connection were later avidly quoted by Lenin in defense of an autocratic power which Marx had not contemplated.
    • Thomas Sowell (1963) “Karl Marx and the Freedom of the Individual,” Ethics 73:2, p 120.
  • Marx saw the coming of communism (in his sense) as the result of a long series of struggles, transforming conditions and men. The kind of society he envisioned required, as Lenin observed, “a person not like the present man on the street.” Marx saw this new sort of person emerging as a natural result of the sobering process of a social struggle lasting perhaps a half-century. The educational role of adversity and setbacks for the proletariat was a recurrent theme in the writings of Marx and Engles. Lenin, on the other hand, believed that the proletariat would never automatically the necessary class outlook and purposeful unity: “Class political consciousness can be brought to the working class only from without.” Whatever the relative merits, in terms of realism, of the Marxist verses the Leninist conceptions of the working class, this crucial shift of assumptions necessitated a fundamental change, however covert, in the line of march towards communism, both before and after the seizure of power [by Lenin and the Bolsheviks].
    • Thomas Sowell (1963) “Karl Marx and the Freedom of the Individual,” Ethics 73:2, pp. 122-123.
  • In the realm of ideas in general, the Marxian vision -- including his theory of history -- has not only dominated various fields at various times, it has survived both the continuing prosperity of capitalism and the economic debacles of socialism. It has become axiomatic among sections of the intelligentsia, impervious to the corrosive effects of evidence or logic. ¶ But what did Marx contribute to economics? Contributions depend not only on what was offered but also on what was accepted, and there is no major premise, doctrine, or tool of analysis in economics today that derived from the writings of Karl Marx. There is no need to deny that Marx was in many ways a major historic figure of the nineteenth century, whose long shadow still falls across the world of the twenty-first century. Yet, jarring as the phrase may be, from the standpoint of the economics profession Marx was, as Professor Paul Samuelson called him, "a minor post-Ricardian."
    • Thomas Sowell (2006). On Classical Economics, Yale University Press, p. 186.
  • Marx himself, unlike his millions of devotees, knew perfectly well what his rubbishy improvisations about "dialectic" etc. are worth. In 1857 he had made certain statements in print about the course of the Indian Mutiny, then going on, and he writes to Engels about these as follows: "It's possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way." This quotation is from p. 152, Vol. 40 (!), of the Collected Works (Lawrence and Wishart). It should be pasted over every door in every Arts faculty in the Western World. (Except that it is, alas, a little late for that.)
  • [P]hysical quantities ... suffice to determine the rate of profit (and the associated prices of production) […] [I]t follows that value magnitudes are, at best, redundant in the determination of the rate of profit (and prices of production). […] Marx’s value reasoning––hardly a peripheral aspect of his work––must therefore be abandoned, in the interest of developing a coherent materialist theory of capitalism.
    • Ian Steedman (1977). Marx after Sraffa, London: New Left Books p. 202, p. 207.
  • Just heard Gen. White's proclamation that we "have Russia zeroed in from all directions." I am waiting now for Vannevar Bush and Ed Teller to announce that our new supersensitive radar picked up a rash of heart tremors from the direction of the USSR, immediately after White's remarkably insignificant statement, I could almost hear Karl Marx laughing in his tomb.
    • Hunter S. Thompson, in a letter to Lieutenant Colonel Frank Campbell (29 November 1957) published in The Proud Highway : Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (2001), p. 76.
  • Similar though Marx and Thoreau may be in their accounts of the consequences of living in a society defined by money, their suggestions for how to respond to it are poles apart. Forget the Party. Forget the revolution. Forget the general strike. Forget the proletariat as an abstract class of human interest. Thoreau's revolution begins not with discovering comrades to be yoked together in solidarity but with the embrace of solitude. For Thoreau, Marx's first and fatal error was the creation of the aggregate identity of the proletariat. Error was substituted for error. The anonymity and futility of the worker were replaced by the anonymity and futility of the revolutionary. A revolution conducted by people who have only a group identity can only replace one monolith of power with another, one misery with another, perpetuating the cycle of domination and oppression. In solitude, the individual becomes most human, which is to say most spiritual.
    • Curtis White, “The spirit of disobedience: An invitation to resistance,” Harper’s, April 2006, pp. 37-38.
  • Marx, when he was thirty, had “worked out his philosophical, sociological and political views so clearly that, right to the end of his life, there was never anything he had to retract”, according to Pollock.
    • Ralph Wiggershaus (1995). The Frankfurt School : Its History, Theories, and Political Significance Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, MIT Press, p. 66.

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