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, historian, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for labor theory of value, and has influenced much of subsequent economic thought. He published many works during his lifetime, including The Communist Manifesto (1848) and the first volume of Das Kapital (1867), the two later volumes being completed by his collaborator Friedrich Engels.


Sorted chronologically
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.
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.
  • With disdain I will throw my gauntlet
full in the face of the world,
And see the collapse of this pygmy giant
Whose fall will not stifle my ardour.
Then I will wander godlike and victorious
Through the ruins of the world.
And, giving my words an active force,
I will feel equal to the Creator.
  • Those who live in a country and do not know the language of this country are either occupiers or idiots.
  • The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles.
    • As quoted in The Communist Manifesto (1848), p.2
  • The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

As quoted in the Communist Manifesto (1848) p. 7

  • “And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention, direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, etc.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.”
    • As quoted in The Communist Manifesto (21 February 1848), p19-20.
  • 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.
  • Reason has always existed, but not always in a rational form.
    • Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge (September 1843)
  • Indessen ist das gerade wieder der Vorzug der neuen Richtung, daß wir nicht dogmatisch die Welt antizipieren, sondern erst aus der Kritik der alten Welt die neue finden wollen. ... Ist die Konstruktion der Zukunft und das Fertigwerden für alle Zeiten nicht unsere Sache, so ist desto gewisser, was wir gegenwärtig zu vollbringen haben, ich meine die rücksichtslose Kritik alles Bestehenden, rücksichtslos sowohl in dem Sinne, daß die Kritik sich nicht vor ihren Resultaten fürchtet und ebensowenig vor dem Konflikte mit den vorhandenen Mächten.
    • We do not dogmatically anticipate the world, but only want to find the new world through criticism of the old one. ... But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.
      • Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge (September 1843)
  • The only possible solution which will preserve Germany's honor and Germany's interest is, we repeat, a war with Russia.
    • Marx-Engels Gesamt-Ausgabe, Erste Abteilung, Volume 7, March to December 1848, p. 304. Friedrich Engels. The Frankfurt Assembly Debates the Polish Question. Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No. 70, August 9, 1848.[1]
  • 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).
  • Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretirt; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern.[2]
  • 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.
  • [I]t is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent until all the more or less propertied classes have been driven from their ruling positions, until the proletariat has conquered state power and until the association of the proletarians has progressed sufficiently far – not only in one country but in all the leading countries of the world – that competition between the proletarians of these countries ceases and at least the decisive forces of production are concentrated in the hands of the workers. Our concern cannot simply be to modify private property, but to abolish it, not to hush up class antagonisms but to abolish classes, not to improve the existing society but to found a new one.
  • From your letter it would seem that, during your old man's visit to Manchester, you did not hear that a second document had appeared in the Kölnische Zeitung under the heading 'Der Bund der Kommunisten'. This was the piece we wrote jointly, 'Ansprache an den Bund'—au fond, nothing less than a plan of campaign against democracy.
    • Karl Marx: Letter to Engels, July 13, 1851, Marx and Engels: Collected Works, Vol. 38, Letters 1844-51, Great Britain, Lawrence & Wishart, Electric Book, 2010, p. 384
  • As for the commercial business, I can no longer make head or tail of it. At one moment crisis seems imminent and the City prostrated, the next everything is set fair. I know that none of this will have any impact on the catastrophe.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels (4 February 1852), quoted in The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 39. Letters 1852–55 (2010), p. 32
  • 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. But can there be anything more puerile, more short-sighted, than the views of those Economists who believe in all earnest that this woeful transitory state means nothing but adapting society to the acquisitive propensities of capitalists, both landlords and money-lords?
    • "Forced Emigration," New York Daily Tribune, 22 March 1853.
  • The real point at issue always is Turkey in Europe – the great peninsula to the south of the Save and Danube. This splendid territory [the Balkans] has the misfortune to be inhabited by a conglomerate of different races and nationalities, of which it is hard to say which is the least fit for progress and civilization. Slavonians, Greeks, Wallachians, Arnauts, twelve millions of men, are all held in submission by one million of Turks, and up to a recent period, it appeared doubtful whether, of all these different races, the Turks were not the most competent to hold the supremacy which, in such a mixed population, could not but accrue to one of these nationalities.
    • The Russian Menace to Europe, From Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, edited by Paul Blackstock and Bert Hoselitz, and published by George Allen and Unwin, London, 1953, pp 121-202. Originally published in New York Tribune (7 April 1853)
  • Russia is decidedly a conquering nation, and was so for a century, until the great movement of 1789 called into potent activity an antagonist of formidable nature. We mean the European Revolution, the explosive force of democratic ideas and man’s native thirst for freedom. Since that epoch there have been in reality but two powers on the continent of Europe – Russia and Absolutism, the Revolution and Democracy. For the moment the Revolution seems to be suppressed, but it lives and is feared as deeply as ever. Witness the terror of the reaction at the news of the late rising at Milan. But let Russia get possession of Turkey, and her strength is increased nearly half, and she becomes superior to all the rest of Europe put together. Such an event would be an unspeakable calamity to the revolutionary cause. The maintenance of Turkish independence, or, in case of a possible dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the arrest of the Russian scheme of annexation, is a matter of the highest moment. In this instance the interests of the revolutionary Democracy and of England go hand in hand. Neither can permit the Tsar to make Constantinople one of his capitals, and we shall find that when driven to the wall, the one will resist him as determinedly as the other.
    • The Russian Menace to Europe, From Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, edited by Paul Blackstock and Bert Hoselitz, and published by George Allen and Unwin, London, 1953, pp 121-202. Originally published in New York Tribune (7 April 1853)
  • [B]y quarrelling amongst themselves, instead of confederating, Germans and Scandinavians, both of them belonging to the same great race, only prepare the way for their hereditary enemy, the Slav.
    • The Eastern Question: A Reprint of Letters written 1853 –1856 dealing with the events of the Crimean War, edit., Eleanor Marx Aveling, London, Swan Sonnenschein & Co. (1897) p. 90 [3]
  • 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.
  • Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every Pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets. […] the real work is done by the Jews, and can only be done by them, as they monopolize the machinery of the loanmongering mysteries by concentrating their energies upon the barter trade in securities… Here and there and everywhere that a little capital courts investment, there is ever one of these little Jews ready to make a little suggestion or place a little bit of a loan. […] Thus do these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is as dangerous to the people as the aristocratic organization of landowners… The fortunes amassed by these loan-mongers are immense, but the wrongs and sufferings thus entailed on the people and the encouragement thus afforded to their oppressors still remain to be told. […] 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 loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize their organization.
  • What do you think of the aspect of the money market? … This time, by the by, the thing has assumed European dimensions such as have never been seen before, and I don't suppose we'll be able to spend much longer here merely as spectators. The very fact that I've at last got round to setting up house again and sending for my books seems to me to prove that the 'mobilisation' of our persons is AT HAND.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels (26 September 1856), quoted in The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 40. Letters 1856–59 (2010), pp. 71–72
  • 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 [4]
  • Considering the optimistic turn taken by world trade AT THIS MOMENT…it is some consolation at least that the revolution has begun in Russia, for I regard the convocation of 'notables' to Petersburg as such a beginning. … [O]n the Continent revolution is imminent and will, moreover, instantly assume a socialist character.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels (8 October 1858), quoted in The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 40. Letters 1856–59 (2010), pp. 346–347
  • 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.
  • The position of the revolutionary party in Germany is certainly difficult at the moment, but, with some critical analysis of the circumstances, clear nevertheless. As to the "governments," it is obvious from every point of view, if only for the sake of Germany's existence, that the demand must be put to them not to remain neutral, but, as you rightly say, to be patriotic. But the revolutionary point is to be given to the affair simply by emphasising the antagonism to Russia more strongly than the antagonism against Boustrapa.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels (18 May 1859), quoted in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Selected Correspondence, 1846–1895 (1943), p. 122
  • The product of mental laborscience — 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)
  • [T]he Jewish Nigger, Lassalle… It is now quite plain to me — as the shape of his head and the way his hair grows also testify — that he is descended from the negroes who accompanied Mosesflight from Egypt (unless his mother or paternal grandmother interbred with a nigger). Now, this blend of Jewishness and Germanness, on the one hand, and basic negroid stock, on the other, must inevitably give rise to a peculiar product. The fellow’s importunity is also nigger-like.
    • Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels (Letter, July 30, 1862) in reference to his socialist political competitor, Ferdinand Lassalle. MECW Volume 41, p. 388; first published in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913 and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930
  • We are obviously heading for revolution—something I have never once doubted since 1850. The first act will include a by no means gratifying rehash of the stupidities of '48-'49. However, that's how world history runs its course, and one has to take it as one finds it.
    • Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann (28 December 1862), quoted in The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 41. Letters 1860–64 (2010), p. 437
  • This much is certain, the ERA OF REVOLUTION has now FAIRLY OPENED IN EUROPE once more. And the general state of affairs is good.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels (13 February 1863), quoted in The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 41. Letters 1860–64 (2010), p. 453
  • I have just noticed in the 2nd edition of The Times that the Prussian Second Chamber has finally done something worthwhile. We shall soon have revolution.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels (21 February 1863), quoted in The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 41. Letters 1860–64 (2010), p. 461
  • 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.
Favourite name … Laura, Jenny …
Favourite maximNihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]
Favourite mottoDe omnibus dubitandum [Everything must be doubted].
  • In its historical and political applications far more significant and pregnant than Darwin. For certain questions, such as nationality, etc., only here has a basis in nature been found. E.g., he corrects the Pole Duchinski, whose version of the geological differences between Russia and the Western Slav lands he does incidentally confirm, by saying not that the Russians are Tartars rather than Slavs, etc., as the latter believes, but that on the surface-formation predominant in Russia the Slav has been tartarised and mongolised; likewise (he spent a long time in Africa) he shows that the common negro type is only a degeneration of a far higher one.
    • Letter to Friedrich Engels on P. Trémaux's 1865 work, Origine et Transformations de l'Homme et des autres Êtres (7 August 1866), quoted in Jon Elster, Making Sense of Marx (1985), p. 60
  • Let us pass on to Prussia. Formerly a vassal of Poland, it grew to be a first-rate power only under the auspices of Russia and through the partition of Poland. If Prussia should lose its Polish prey tomorrow, it would sink back into Germany instead of absorbing it. In order to maintain itself as a power distinct from Germany it must lean for support on the Muscovite. Its recent increase of power, far from relaxing the bonds, has made them indissoluble. Besides this increase of power has increased Prussia’s antagonism with France and Austria. At the same time Russia is the pillar on which the arbitrary rule of the Hohenzollern dynasty and its feudal tenants rests. It is its safeguard against popular disaffection. Consequently Prussia is not a bulwark against Russia, but its predestined instrument for the invasion of France and the digestion of Germany.
    • Poland’s European Mission. Speech delivered in London, probably to a meeting of the International’s General Council and the Polish Workers Society on 22 January 1867, text published in Le Socialisme, 15 March 1908.
  • 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).
  • If conquest constitutes a natural right on the part of the few, the many have only to gather sufficient strength in order to acquire the natural right of reconquering what has been taken from them.
  • Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes.
  • 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).
  • Ramsgate is full of Jews and fleas.
  • 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" [5]

Reflections of a Youth on Choosing an Occupation (1835)[edit]

Reflections of a Young Man on The Choice of a Profession

  • [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.
    • in Karl Marx and World Literature (1976) by S. S. Prawer, p. 2.
  • Everyone has a goal which appears to be great, at least to himself, and is great when deepest conviction, the innermost voice of the heart, pronounces it great. … This voice, however, is easily drowned out, and what we thought to be inspiration may have been created by the fleeting moment and again perhaps destroyed by it. … We must seriously ask ourselves, therefore, whether we are really inspired about a vocation, whether an inner voice approves of it, or whether the inspiration was a deception, whether that which we took as the Deity's calling to us was self-deceit. But how else could we recognize this except by searching for the source of our inspiration?
    • Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 36
  • Everything great glitters, glitter begets ambition, and ambition can easily have caused the inspiration or what we thought to be inspiration. But reason can no longer restrain one who is lured by the fury of ambition. He tumbles where his vehement drive calls him; no longer does he choose his position, but rather chance and luster determine it.
Then we are not called to the position where we can most shine. It is not the one which, in the long succession of years during which we may hold it, will never make us weary, subdue our zeal, or dampen our inspiration. Soon we shall see our wishes unfulfilled and our ideas unsatisfied.
  • Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 36
  • We cannot always choose the vocation to which we believe we are called. Our social relations, to some extent, have already begun to form before we are in a position to determine them.
    • Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 37
  • When we have weighed everything, and when our relations in life permit us to choose any given position, we may take that one which guarantees us the greatest dignity, which is based on ideas of whose truth we are completely convinced, which offers the largest field to work for mankind and approach the universal goal for which every position is only a means: perfection.
    • Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 38
  • Only that position can impart dignity in which we do not appear as servile tools but rather create independently within our circle.
    • Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 38
  • When we have chosen the vocation in which we can contribute most to humanity, burdens cannot bend us because they are only sacrifices for all. Then we experience no meager, limited, egotistic joy, but our happiness belongs to millions, our deeds live on quietly but eternally effective, and glowing tears of noble men will fall on our ashes.
    • Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, L. Easton, trans. (1967), p. 39

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

  • Prometheus ist der vornehmste Heilige und Märtyrer im philosophischen Kalender.
  • 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.

Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1843)[edit]

  • The weapon of criticism obviously cannot replace the criticism of weapons. Material force can only be overthrown by material force, but theory itself becomes a material force when it has gripped the masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses when it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem, when it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp things by the root, but for man the root is man himself. The clear proof of the radicalism of German theory, and hence of its political energy, is that it proceeds from the decisive positive abolition of religion.
    • As quoted from David McLellan, Marx before Marxism, MacMillan, 1980, p. 150.
  • The criticism of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the supreme being for man, hence the categorical imperative to overthrow all those conditions in which man is degraded, enslaved, neglected, 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!'
  • 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.
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 foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man.
  • If I negate powdered wigs, I am still left with unpowdered wigs.

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.
  • Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. 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 which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make the 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.
  • Bourgeois society continuously brings forth the Jew from its own entrails.
    • as quoted in "Nationalism and Socialism: Marxist and Labor Theories of Nationalism to 1917", Horace B. Davis, New York: NY, Monthly Review Press (2009) p. 72. Original: Marx, "Zur Judenfrange" in "Werke", I, (1843) pp. 374-376.

Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 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 worker's existence is thus brought under the same condition as the existence of every other commodity. The worker has become a commodity, and it is a bit of luck for him if he can find a buyer, And the demand on which the life of the worker depends, depends on the whim of the rich and the capitalists.
    • Wages of Labor, p. 20.
  • 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.
  • The entire revolutionary movement necessarily finds both its empirical and its theoretical basis in the movement of private property – more precisely, in that of the economy. This material, immediately perceptible private property is the material perceptible expression of estranged human life. Its movement – production and consumption – is the perceptible revelation of the movement of all production until now, i.e., the realisation or the reality of man. Religion, family, state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production, and fall under its general law. The positive transcendence of private property as the appropriation of human life, is therefore the positive transcendence of all estrangement – that is to say, the return of man from religion, family, state, etc., to his human, i.e., social, existence. Religious estrangement as such occurs only in the realm of consciousness, of man's inner life, but economic estrangement is that of real life; its transcendence therefore embraces both aspects. It is evident that the initial stage of the movement amongst the various peoples depends on whether the true recognised life of the people manifests itself more in consciousness or in the external world – is more ideal or real. Communism begins where atheism begins (Owen), but atheism is at the outset still far from being communism; indeed it is still for the most part an abstraction. The philanthropy of atheism is therefore at first only philosophical, abstract philanthropy, and that of communism is at once real and directly bent on action.
    • Private Property and Communism
  • Association, applied to land, shares the economic advantage of large-scale landed property, and first brings to realization the original tendency inherent in land-division, namely, equality. In the same way association also re-establishes, now on a rational basis, no longer mediated by serfdom, overlordship and the silly mysticism of property, the intimate ties of man with the earth, since the earth ceases to be an object of huckstering, and through free labour and free enjoyment becomes once more a true personal property of man.
    • Rent of Land, p. 65.
  • As for large landed property, its defenders have always, sophistically, identified the economic advantages offered by large-scale agriculture with large-scale landed property, as if it were not precisely as a result of the abolition of property that this advantage, for one thing, would receive its greatest possible extension, and, for another, only then would be of social benefit.
    • Rent of Land, p. 66.
  • 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.
  • In order to abolish the idea of private property, the idea of communism is completely sufficient. It takes actual communist action to abolish actual private property. History will com to it; and this movement, which in theory we already know to be a self-transcending movement, will constitute in actual fact a very severe and protracted process. But we must regard it as a real advance to have gained beforehand a consciousness of the limited character a well as of the goal of this historical movement - and a consciousness which reaches out beyond it.
    • p. 99, The Marx-Engels Reader
  • When communist workmen associate with one another, theory, propaganda, etc., is their first end. But at the same time, as a result of this association, they acquire a new need - the need for society - and what appears as a means becomes an end. You can observe this practical processing its most splendid results whenever you see French socialist workers together. Such things as smoking, drinking, eating, etc., are no longer means of contact or means that bring together. Company, association, and conversation, which again has society as its end, are enough for them; the brotherhood of man is on mere phase with them, but a fact of life, and the nobility of man shines upon us from their work-hardened bodies.
    • "The Meaning of Human Requirements"
    • p.99-100,The Marx-Engels Reader
  • Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it - when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc., - in short, when it is used by us. Although private property itself again conceives all these direct realizations of possession as means of life, and the life which they serve as means is the life of private property - labour and conversion into capital. In place of all these physical and mental senses there has therefore come the sheer estrangement of all these senses – the sense of having. The human being had to be reduced to this absolute poverty in order that he might yield his inner wealth to the outer world.
    • p. 87, The Marx-Engels Reader
  • Money, then, appears as this overturning power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc.,which claim to be essences in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence and intelligence into idiocy.
    • "The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society"
    • p. 105, The Marx-Engels Reader
  • He who can buy bravery is brace, though a coward. As money is not exchanged for anyone specific quality, for any one specific thing, or for any particular human essential power, but for the entire objective world of man and nature, from the standpoint of its possessor it therefore serves to exchange every property for every other, even contradictory, property and object: it is the fraternization of impossibilities. It makes contradictions embrace.
    • p. 105, The Marx-Engels Reader
  • The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity - and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally.
    • p. 71, The Marx-Engels Reader
  • The product of labour is labour which has been congealed in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labour. Labour's realization is its objectification.
    • p.71, The Marx-Engels Reader

The Holy Family (1845)[edit]

  • Undeterred by this examination, the French Revolution gave rise to ideas which led beyond the ideas of the entire old world order. The revolutionary movement which began in 1789 in the Cercle Social, which in the middle of its course had as its chief representatives Leclerc and Roux, and which finally with Babeuf’s conspiracy was temporarily defeated, gave rise to the communist idea which Babeuf’s friend Buonarroti re-introduced in France after the Revolution of 1830. This idea, consistently developed, is the idea of the new world order.

The German Ideology (1845-1846)[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
  • Through the emancipation of private property from the community, the State has become a separate entity, beside and outside civil society; but is it nothing more than the form of organization which the bourgeois necessarily adopt both for internal and external purposes, for the mutual guarantee of their property and interests.
    • Part One
    • The Marx-Engels Reader, p. 187
  • Manufacture was all the time sheltered by protective duties in the hoe market, by monopolies in the colonial market, and broad as much as possible by differential duties.
    • ibid, pp. 183
  • In civil law the existing property relationships are declared to be the result of the general will. The jus utendi et abutendi itself asserts on the one hand the fact that private property has become entirely independent of the community, and on the other the illusion that private property itself is based solely on the private will, the arbitrary disposal.
    • ibid, pp. 188
  • 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 separate 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.
  • For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interests the common interest of all the members of society, that is, sality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones. The class making a revolution appears from the very start, if only because it is opposed to a class, not as a class but as the representative of the whole of society; it appears as the whole mass of society confronting the one ruling class.
    • "Concerning the production of Consciousness"
  • Thus, while the refugee serfs only wished to be free to develop and assert those conditions of existence which were already there, and hence, in the end, only arrived at free labour, the proletarians, if they are to assert themselves as individuals, will have to abolish the very condition of their existence hitherto (which has, moreover, been that of all society up to the present), namely, labour. Thus they find themselves directly opposed to the form in which, hitherto, the individuals, of which society consists, have given themselves collective expression, that is, the State. In order, therefore, to assert themselves as individuals, they must overthrow the State.
    • "Communism. The Production of the Form of Intercourse Itself",
    • The Marx-Engels Reader

The Communist Manifesto (1848)[edit]

Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
For more quotes from and about this document, see The Communist Manifesto
  • A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of Communism.
    • Preamble, paragraph 1, line 1.
  • It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself.
    • Preamble, paragraph 3.
  • The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    • Section 1, paragraph 1, lines 1-2.
  • 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.
  • The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.
    • Section 1, paragraph 19
  • 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
  • The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
    • Section 2, paragraph 13.
  • There are, besides, eternal truths, such as Freedom, Justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.
    • Section 2, paragraph 63
  • 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).
  • The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all the other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.
    • Section 2 paragraph 7.
  • 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.
    • 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 (1857-1858)[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 pursue this nonsense any further.
    • (Bastiat and Carey), p. 813 (last text page, second last line).

Comments on the North American Events (1862)[edit]

Comments on the North American Events, Die Presse (12 October 1862)
Lincoln's proclamation … the manifesto abolishing slavery, is the most important document in American history since the establishment of the Union, tantamount to the tearing up of the old American Constitution. … The new world has never achieved a greater triumph than by this demonstration that, given its political and social organisation, ordinary people of good will can accomplish feats which only heroes could accomplish in the old world!
  • The South has conquered nothing — but a graveyard.
  • Reason nevertheless prevails in world history.
  • Lincoln's proclamation is even more important than the Maryland campaign. Lincoln is a sui generis figure in the annals of history. He has no initiative, no idealistic impetus, cothurnus, no historical trappings. He gives his most important actions always the most commonplace form. Other people claim to be "fighting for an idea", when it is for them a matter of square feet of land. Lincoln, even when he is motivated by, an idea, talks about "square feet". He sings the bravura aria of his part hesitatively, reluctantly and unwillingly, as though apologising for being compelled by circumstances "to act the lion". The most redoubtable decrees — which will always remain remarkable historical documents-flung by him at the enemy all look like, and are intended to look like, routine summonses sent by a lawyer to the lawyer of the opposing party, legal chicaneries, involved, hidebound actiones juris. His latest proclamation, which is drafted in the same style, the manifesto abolishing slavery, is the most important document in American history since the establishment of the Union, tantamount to the tearing up of the old American Constitution.
  • Lincoln's place in the history of the United States and of mankind will, nevertheless, be next to that of Washington!
  • Lincoln is not the product of a popular revolution. This plebeian, who worked his way up from stone-breaker to Senator in Illinois, without intellectual brilliance, without a particularly outstanding character, without exceptional importance-an average person of good will, was placed at the top by the interplay of the forces of universal suffrage unaware of the great issues at stake. The new world has never achieved a greater triumph than by this demonstration that, given its political and social organisation, ordinary people of good will can accomplish feats which only heroes could accomplish in the old world!
  • Hegel once observed that comedy is in act superior to tragedy and humourous reasoning superior to grandiloquent reasoning. Although Lincoln does not possess the grandiloquence of historical action, as an average man of the people he has its humour.

Marx and Engels: 1860-1864[edit]

  • I'm amused that Darwin, at whom I've been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labour, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbesbellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society.[1]

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.
  • We suffer not only from the development of capitalist production, but also from the incompleteness of that development. Alongside the modern evils, we are oppressed by a whole series of inherited evils, arising from the passive survival of archaic and outmoded modes of production, with their accompanying train of anachronistic social and political relations. We suffer not only from the living, but from the dead. Le mort saisit le vif!
    • Preface to the First Edition, Capital Volume 1, Peinguin Classics edition 1976.
  • 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.
  • The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labor as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to other forms of production.
    • Vol. I, ch.1, section 4.
  • 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.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 85.
  • 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.
  • Capital is money: Capital is commodities. […] For the movement, in the course of which it adds surplus-value, is its own movement, its expansion, therefore, is automatic expansion. Because it is value, it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 2, pg. 171.
  • It is under the form of money that value begins and ends, and begins again, every act of its own spontaneous generation. It began by being £100, it is now £110, and so on. But the money itself is only one of the two forms of value. Unless it takes the form of some commodity, it does not become capital. There is here no antagonism, as in the case of hoarding, between the money and commodities. The capitalist knows that all commodities, however scurvy they may look, or however badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised Jews, and what is more, a wonderful means whereby out of money to make more money.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 2, pg. 171.
      • Slavoj Žižek addressed Marx's statement in his book The Parallax View (2006), p. 59: In a crisis, the underlying belief, disavowed and just practiced, in this thus directly asserted. it is crucial how, in this elevation of money to the status of the only true commodity ("the capitalist knows that all commodities, however scurvy they may look, or however badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised Jews"), Marx resorts to the precise Pauline definition of Christians as "inwardly circumcised Jews": Christians do not need external actual circumcision (that is, the abandonment of ordinary commodities with use-values, dealing only with money), since they know that each of these ordinary commodities is already "inwardly circumcised," that its true substance is money.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. It is itself an economic power.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 31, pg. 824.
    • N.B. frequently paraphrased as "Force is the midwife of progress" (e.g. [6], [7] (footnote), [8]).
  • 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 their 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.


  • 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.
  • Last words are for fools who haven't said enough.


  • The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament.
    • Actually from State and Revolution by Vladimir Lenin, paraphrasing Marx in The Civil War in France.
  • 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.
  • Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.
    • Attributed to Marx (possibly in jest) in W. C. Privy's Original Bathroom Companion (2003).
  • Be careful to trust a person who does not like wine.
    • Written in a letter to Francois Lafargue in Bordeaux, 12 November 1866 as published in MECW Volume 42, p. 334. as "That a man who does not love wine will never be good for anything," which was a restating of the phrase wine, women and song that was attributed to Martin Luther at that time.[11]

Quotes about Marx[edit]

Alphabetized by author
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
  • Labor-power is a commodity sold by the worker in exchange for a "living wage." The worker, Marx insisted, "must constantly look upon his labour-power as his own property, as his own commodity, and this he can do by placing it at the disposal of the buyer temporarily: for a definite period of time. By this means alone, can he avoid renouncing his rights of ownership over it."
    • Bettina Aptheker Woman's Legacy: Essays on Race, Sex, and Class in American History (1982)
  • 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.
  • It can be maintained that Smith was a creator of general equilibrium theory, although the coherence and consistency of his work can be questioned. A fortiori, later systematic expositors of the classical system, such as Ricardo, J. S. Mill, and Marx, in whose work some of Smith’s logical gaps were filled, can all be regarded as early expositors of general equilibrium theory. Marx, in his scheme of simple reproduction, read in combination with his development of relative price theory in volumes 1 and 3 of Das Kapital, has indeed come in some ways closer in form to modern theory than any other classical economist, though of course everything is confused by his attempt to maintain simultaneously a pure labor theory of value and an equalization of rates of return on capital.
    • Kenneth Arrow, "Economic Equilibrium", in David L. Sills (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1968), vol. 4
  • 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.
  • I looked up to these Russians who could discuss by the hour the theories of Marx and Bakunin, who had participated in demonstrations and other revolutionary activity.
  • Much if not all we know about the complex mechanism responsible for the development (and stagnation) of productive forces, and for the rise and decay of social organizations, is the result of the analytical work undertaken by Marx and by those whom he inspired.
    • Paul A. Baran, The Political Economy Of Growth (1957), Chapter One, A General View, p. 5
  • The strength of Marx is precisely that he shared the feelings of the downtrodden, that the prejudice of equality was in his very fiber, joined to the ambition and jealousy of power, which made him ready to destroy the present moral order in the name of a higher which he saw.
  • The power of Marx's diagnosis of modern times is not equalled by his prognosis. Marx shows a fundamental weakness in his attraction to populism, the image of two fundamental working classes, especially early. He installs the proletariat as the motor of history, an imputation which the proletariat never quite understands correctly. His sense of the permanent revolution of capital spills over into the telos of guaranteed socialism, which it never is. He was a powerful critic of capitalism as modernity, who understood the centrality of capital as a relation and as a self-naturalizing illusion. He was a dreamer. His intellectual origins were before modernity, but the scope of his vision was beyond it. His legacy is best imagined as what Ernst Bloch called the warm stream of marxism.
    Was he an original? Yes, and no. The power of Marx's work lies in the brilliant synthesis that he generated from the work of others, working within on the critical horizons of both the streams we conventionally separate as Enlightenment and Romanticism. Perhaps, in our own times, the fate of his thought is to return to the cultures from which it was initially created, as avant-garde returns, finally, to the mainstream.
    • Peter Beilharz, "The Marxist Legacy", in Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory (2011) edited by Gerard Delanty and Stephen P. Turner
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • The intellectual contribution made by Marx to the development of socialism was and remains absolutely unique. But Marx was much more than a philosopher. His influence in moving people all over the world to social action ranks him with the founders of the world's greatest faiths. And, like the founders of other faiths, what Marx and others inspired has given millions of people hope, as well as the courage to face persecution and imprisonment.
  • I cannot help myself; I see here no explanation and reconciliation of a contradiction, but the bare contradiction itself. Marx's third volume 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. And it seems to have been very generally accepted.
    • Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System (1896), Chap. 3 : The Question of the Contradiction
  • That Marx was truly and honestly convinced of the truth of his thesis I do not doubt. But the grounds of his conviction are not those which he gives in his system. They were in reality opinions rather than thoughtout conclusions. Above all they were opinions derived from authority. Smith and Ricardo, the great authorities, as was then at least believed, had taught the same doctrine. They had not proved it any more than Marx. They had only postulated it from certain general confused impressions. But they explicitly contradicted it when they examined things more closely and in quarters where a closer examination could not be avoided.
    • Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System (1896), Chap. 4 : The Error in the Marxian System
  • In this middle part of the Marxian system the logical development and connection present a really imposing closeness and intrinsic consistency. Marx is free to use good logic here because, by means of hypothesis, he has in advance made the facts to square with his ideas, and can therefore be true to the latter without knocking up against the former. And when Marx is free to use sound logic he does so in a truly masterly way. However wrong the starting point may be, these middle parts of the system, by their extraordinary logical consistency, permanently establish the reputation of the author as an intellectual force of the first rank. And it is a circumstance that has served not a little to increase the practical influence of the Marxian system that during this long middle part of his work, which, as far as intrinsic consistency is concerned, is really essentially faultless, the readers who have got happily over the difficulties at the beginning get time to accustom themselves to the Marxian world of thought and to gain confidence in his connection of ideas, which here flow so smoothly, one out of the other, and form themselves into such a well-arranged whole. It is on these readers, whose confidence has been thus won, that he makes those hard demands which he is at last obliged to bring forward in his third volume. For, long as Marx delayed to open his eyes to the facts of real life, he had to do it some time or other.
    • Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System (1896), Chap. 4 : The Error in the Marxian System
  • Marx has not deduced from facts the fundamental principles of his system, either by means of a sound empiricism or a solid economico-psychological analysis; he founds it on no firmer ground than a formal dialectic. This is the great radical fault of the Marxian system at its birth; from it all the rest necessarily springs. The system runs in one direction, facts go in another; and they cross the course of the system sometimes here, sometimes there, and on each occasion the original fault begets a new fault. The conflict of system and facts must be kept from view, so that the matter is shrouded either in darkness or vagueness, or it is turned and twisted with the same tricks of dialectic as at the outset; or where none of this avails we have a contradiction. Such is the character of the tenth chapter of Marx's third volume. It brings the long-deferred bad harvest, which grew by necessity out of the bad seed.
    • Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of His System (1896), Chap. 4 : The Error in the Marxian System
  • As there was a Socialism before Marx, so there will be one after him.
  • Of all socialistic writers Karl Marx — not perhaps without an unjust depreciation of others, and especially of Rodbertus, whose scientific rank was high — had gained the greatest influence over his partisans. His work represented, so to speak* the official doctrine of contemporary socialism. It therefore occupied the centre of attack and defence. The polemical literature of the time became a literature on Marx. The circumstances also were of unusual interest. Marx had died before he had brought his work on capital to an end. The unfinished parts were found in manuscript among his belongings in an almost complete form. These were expected to furnish the explanation of a problem which had been the chief cause of the attack against the exploitation theory and which, according to the expectations of both the contending parties, would furnish the deciding test of the tenableness or untenableness of the Marxian system, the problem, namely, of harmonizing and connecting the rate of profits, which experience shows tends toward equality in all forms of investment, with the law of value and the theory of exploitation which Marx had developed in his first volume.
    The publication of the third volume, in which this theme was treated, was delayed until 1894, 11 years after the death of Marx. The interest in the question regarding what Marx himself might have had to say on this most delicate point of his theory showed itself in a sort of prophetic literature that had for its object the development of Marx's probable opinion on the subject of the average rate of profit from the premises given in his first volume. This prophetic literature fills the decade from 1885–1894, and presents a stately array of more or less extensive publications.2 The second act and at the same time the climax of the dramatic development was reached in 1894 by Engels's publication of the posthumous third volume. And then follows as a third act an exceedingly animated literary discussion on the critical estimate of this third volume, its relation to the point of departure taken by Marx in the systematic development of his theories, and the future prospects of Marxism, a discussion that is not likely soon to reach a conclusion.
    I can content myself here with a mere registration of these events, because in an earlier part of this work I have described their scientific content and subjected them to a critical analysis. Nor have I withheld my opinion that the great test has been decidedly against Marx and his theories of value and surplus value, and that for these the beginning of the end seems to be at hand.
  • Marx was a pioneer in the study of principal-agent relationships, though of course he did not use the term. Principal-agent models now form the microeconomic foundation for the study of relationships among classes (though economists do not use that term) in capitalist and other economies, for example the standard treatments of the exchanges between employer and employee, or between lender and borrower. These models are essential to current analysis of workaday economic problems such as the cyclical patterns in wage-setting and productivity, and the quantity constraints that borrowers face in credit markets. Both of these problems have substantial microeconomic importance, but are also important foundations of macroeconomics.
    Marx was a visionary precursor of modern microeconomics, and modern microeconomics has repaid him the favour by clarifying the limits of some of his most important ideas. Among them the labour theory of value as a representation of a general system of exchange (Morishima 1973, 1974), and his “theory of the tendency of the profit rate to fall” (Bowles 1981, Okishio 1961). As Michio Morishima (1974) pointed out, Marx did not resolve the outstanding theoretical problems of his day, but rather anticipated problems that would later be addressed mathematically.
    Modern public economics, mechanism design and public choice theory has also challenged the notion – common among many latter-day Marxists, though not originating with Marx himself – that economic governance without private property and markets could be a viable system of economic governance.
  • That is not to say that the ‘Communism’ which held sway in so many countries bore much resemblance to anything Marx had envisaged. There was a wide gulf between the original theory and the subsequent practice of Communist rule. Karl Marx sincerely believed that under communism – the future society of his imagination which he saw as an inevitable, and ultimate, stage of human development – people would live more freely than ever before. Yet ‘his vision of the universal liberation of humankind’ did not include any safeguards for individual liberty. Marx would have hated to be described as a moralist, since he saw himself as a Communist who was elaborating a theory of scientific socialism. Yet many of his formulations were nothing like as ‘scientific’ as he made out. One of his most rigorous critics on that account, Karl Popper, pays tribute to the moral basis of much of Marx’s indictment of nineteenth-century capitalism. As Popper observes, under the slogan of ‘equal and free competition for all’, child labour in conditions of immense suffering had been ‘tolerated, and sometimes even defended, not only by professional economists but also by churchmen’. Accordingly, ‘Marx’s burning protest against these crimes’, says Popper, ‘will secure him forever a place among the liberators of mankind.’ Those who took power in the twentieth century, both using and misusing Marx’s ideas, turned out, however, to be anything but liberators. Marxist theory, as interpreted by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently refashioned by Josif Stalin in Russia and by Mao Zedong in China, became a rationalization for ruthless single-party dictatorship.
    • Archie Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism (2009), pp. 9-10
  • Across the world academics still clung to the words and ideas of Marx and Engels and even Lenin. Fools. There were even those who said that Communism had been tried in the wrong country; that Russia had been too far backward to make those wonderful ideas work.
  • 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, New York: 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
  • Capitalism is still with us, and Marx developed the most compelling analysis of capitalism. I never saw Marx as a philosopher who informed us about what the revolution was going to be like or what would come after capitalism. He provided a way to understand the world we inhabit and the extent to which political economies insinuate themselves into all aspects of our lives. That was true fifty years ago when I first encountered Marx, but today, with the impact of global capitalism, it's even more true. I could never have imagined the degree to which capitalism would develop.
    • 2012 interview in Conversations with Angela Davis Edited by Sharon Lynette Jones (2021)
  • there is a link, it seems to me, between the internalization of the era of Karl Marx and the new globalisms we are seeking to build today. Of course, the global economy is far more complicated than Marx may have ever attempted to imagine. But at the same time his analyses, it seems to me, are equally resonant today. Capital begins with a look at commodity. The capitalist commodity has penetrated people's lives in ways that are unprecedented. The commodity has entered ... capitalism in general has entered structures of feeling, the intimate spaces of people's lives.
    • 2003 interview in Conversations with Angela Davis Edited by Sharon Lynette Jones (2021)
  • To our American bourgeois newspaper correspondents this all appears rampant disorder and blind mixture of events, defying and denying human intelligence. But to everyone who has read the Communist Manifesto, it is so sublimely ordered and intellectual a performance as to dispel all pessimism of propaganda forever, and raise intelligence and the dissemination of ideas to the highest place in their confidence. Without doubt it is the most momentous event in the history of peoples. And if such an event can be shown to be no accident or mystery, but the orderly maturing and accurate enactment of ideas full-born in a great mind sixty years ago, and cherished and disseminated in the meantime by all those who had strength to believe, then indeed there is hope that intelligence may play its part in every event. Never in all history before could one so joyfully and confidently enter upon the enterprise of publishing and propagating ideas. Dedicating our admiration to the fearless faith in scientific intelligence of Karl Marx, and our energy to hopes that are even beyond his, we issue THE LIBERATOR into a world whose possibilities of freedom and life for all, are now certainly immeasurable.
    • The Liberator article (March 1918) in Crystal Eastman on Women and Revolution
  • Since Marx, studying the genesis of capitalism has been an obligatory step for activists and scholars convinced that the first task on humanity's agenda is the construction of an alternative to capitalist society.
    • Silvia Federici Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (2004)
  • "All the destructive phenomena which unlimited competition gives rise to within one country," wrote Marx, "are reproduced in more gigantic proportions on the world market."
    • Eduardo Galeano Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (1997)
  • "You believe perhaps, gentlemen," said Karl Marx in 1848, "that the production of coffee and sugar is the natural destiny of the West Indies. Two centuries ago, nature, which does not trouble herself about commerce, had planted neither sugarcane nor coffee trees there." The

international division of labor was not organized by the Holy Ghost but by men-more precisely, as a result of the world development of capitalism.

    • Eduardo Galeano Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (1997)
  • There is, in Marx, a precious quote: “Mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve” In other words, if an ideal is conceived among a community, it is that the necessary conditions to its realisation are there.
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
  • It was the world-renowned Karl Marx, founder of the Marxist-Leninist science, for which application to American and world historical conditions, we were so fearfully convicted, who long ago predicted that “The time would come when the powers that would be would no longer live by the very laws they themselves have fashioned.”
  • Today's mic-hogging, fast-talking, contentious young (and old) lefties continue to hawk little books and pamphlets on revolution, always with choice words or documents from Marx, Mao, even Malcolm. But I've never seen a broadside with "A Black Feminist Statement or even the writings of Angela Davis or June Jordan or Barbara Omolade or Flo Kennedy or Audre Lorde or bell hooks or Michelle Wallace, at least not from the groups who call themselves leftist. These women's collective wisdom has provided the richest insights into American radicalism's most fundamental questions: How can we build a multiracial movement? Who are the working class and what do they desire? How do we resolve the Negro Question and the Woman Question? What is freedom?
  • Kierkegaard would call Marx's outlook on religion a "demonic religiousness."
    • Controversial Kierkegaard by Gregor Malantschuk 1976, 1980 P. 25
  • But in spite of the shortcomings of his analysis, Marx had raised some basic questions. I was deeply concerned from my early teen days about the gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, and my reading of Marx made me ever more conscious of this gulf. Although modern American capitalism had greatly reduced the gap through social reforms, there was still need for a better distribution of wealth. Moreover, Marx had revealed the danger of the profit motive as the sole basis of an economic system: capitalism is always in danger of inspiring men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life. We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity -- thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.
  • 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.
  • In my view, Marx has trapped himself. He has been primed to expect a deeper layer of real reality underneath mere appearances. And he has chosen the wrong model of the underlying real reality--the labor theory of value, which is simply not a very good model of the averages around which prices fluctuate. Socially-necessary labor power usually serves as an upper bound to value--if something sells for more, then a lot of people are going to start making more of them, and the prices at which it trades are going to fall. But lots of things sell for much less than the prices corresponding to their socially-necessary labor power lots of the time. And so Marx vanishes into the swamp which is the attempt to reconcile the labor theory of value with economic reality, and never comes out.
  • Philosophers in the idealist tradition may be more likely to put forward a determined end to history, for the tradition does not emphasize action in the real world as the empirical tradition does. Experience is the great relativizer and compromiser. Thus, Marx believed he had turned Hegel on his head by emphasizing matter rather than spirit. Marx did not hold that he had abandoned the form of Hegel's thought, which, in turn, Hegel received in considerable part from Kant.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 2. German and Viennese Intellectual Thought
  • Hayek had high regard for Marx in technical economic theory and considered him a predecessor in his business cycle theory. […] It was not in technical economic theory that the classical Austrians disagreed with Marx. So towering a figure in history is Marx that discussion of his thought in summary form is always difficult, for there is so much that he said and that others have said about him. At the same time, so tendentious, ill-spirited, and just plain wrong a thinker was Marx that it is surprising that he may have had some of the influence attributed to him. Hayek's opposition to Marx was in the realm of practical political emanations from Marx's thought. Here he considered Marx's influence to have been wholly pernicious.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 12. Marx, Mill and Freud
  • 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.
  • Karl Marx recognized colonialism as the genesis of what he called "primitive accumulation," connecting colonialism, slavery, and capitalism. He wrote, "The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation." In the foundation of the US, slavery and capitalism are the two cornerstones made possible by colonial dispossession of Indigenous lands.
    • Dina Gilio-Whitaker As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (2019)
  • 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.
  • Whatever the influence of Mill may be, Marxian economics is still today attempting to explain highly complex orders of interaction in terms of single causal effects like mechanical phenomena rather than as prototypes of those self-ordering processes which give us access to the explanation of highly complex phenomena. It deserves mention however that, as Joachim Reig has pointed out (in his Introduction to the Spanish translation of E. von Bohm-Bawerk's essay on Marx's theory of exploitation (1976)), it would seem that after learning of the works of Jevons and Menger, Karl Marx himself completely abandoned further work on capital. If so, his followers were evidently not so wise as he.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (1988), Appendix B: The Complexity of Problems of Human Interaction
  • Marx was keenly aware of capitalism's ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable. And as we witness the denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism, Karl Marx is vindicated as capitalism's most prescient and important critic.
  • 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.
  • [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.
  • [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.
  • Marxism was the deep structure of European radical thought. More than he realized, Marx himself synthesized many early nineteenth-century trends in social criticism and economic theory: he was, for example, both an exemplary French political pamphleteer and a minor commentator on classical British economics. And thus, this German student of Hegelian metaphysics bequeathed to the European Left the only version of its own heritage compatible with local traditions of radical anger and offering a story that could transcend them.
    • Tony Judt, in Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder, Thinking the twentieth century (2012), Ch. 3: Familial Socialism: Political Marxist
  • 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.
  • During the Christmas holidays of 1949 I decided to spend my spare time reading Karl Marx to try to understand the appeal of communism for many people. For the first time I carefully scrutinized Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. I also read some interpretive works on the thinking of Marx and Lenin. In reading such Communist writings I drew certain conclusions that have remained with me as convictions to this day…In short, I read Marx as I read all of the influential historical thinkers from a dialectical point of view, combining a partial yes and a partial no. Insofar as Marx posited a metaphysical materialism, an ethical relativism, and a strangulating totalitarianism, I responded with an unambiguous no; but insofar as he pointed to weaknesses of traditional capitalism, contributed to the growth of a definite self-consciousness in the masses, and challenged the social conscience of the Christian churches, I responded with a definite yes. My reading of Marx also convinced me that truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism. Each represents a partial truth. Historically capitalism failed to see the truth in collective enterprise and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise. Nineteenth-century capitalism failed to see that life is social and Marxism failed and still fails to see that life is individual and personal. The Kingdom of God is neither the thesis of individual enterprise nor the antithesis of collective enterprise, but a synthesis which reconciles the truths of both.
  • 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 Kołakowski (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 Kołakowski, as quoted by Roger Kimball, "Leszek Kolakowski & the anatomy of totalitarianism," New Criterion June 2005.
  • In Capital, Marx has a marvellous chapter [Ed. note--Ch. XI] which I want to translate into the simplest language that even the semi-literate can understand, the chapter on co-operation, where he writes that the collective gives birth to a new force. It is not just the sum-total of people, the sum-total of their forces, but a completely new, much more powerful, force. In his chapter on co-operation Marx writes about the new material force. But when, on its basis, unity of consciousness and will springs up, it becomes an indomitable force....
  • At bottom, the main passion by which he was moved was the passion for justice. He may have hated too strongly, he was jealous, and he was proud. But the mainspring of his life was the desire to take from the shoulders of the people the burden by which it was oppressed. He realized that what, in all varieties of time and place, has caused the downfall of a governing class, has never been some accidental or superficial event. The real cause of revolution is the unworthiness of those who controlled the destinies of a people. Indifference to suffering, selfishness, lack of moral elevation, it was for those defects that he indicted the class from which he sprang. He transformed the fears of the workers into hopes, he translated their effort from interest in political mechanisms to interest in social foundations. He did not trust in the working of laws, he sought always for the spirit that lay behind the order of which they were the expression. He was often wrong, he was rarely generous, he was always bitter; yet when the roll of those to whom the emancipation of the people is due comes to be called, few will have a more honourable, and none a more eminent place.
  • 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.
  • The measures adopted by the Commune and emphasized by Marx are particularly noteworthy, viz., the abolition of all representation allowances, and of all monetary privileges in the case of officials, the reduction of the remuneration of all servants of the state to the level of "workmen's wages." This shows more clearly than anything else the turn from bourgeois democracy, from the democracy of the oppressors to the democracy of the oppressed classes, from the state as a "special force" for the suppression of a given class to the suppression of the oppressors by the general force of the majority of the people—the workers, and the peasants. And it is precisely on this most striking point, perhaps the most important as far as the problem of the state is concerned, that the teachings of Marx have been most completely forgotten.
    • Vladimir Lenin, The State and Revolution (1917), in Essential Works of Lenin (1966), pp. 301-302.
  • 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?
  • Frankly speaking, my dear Karl, I do not like this modern word, which all weaklings use to cloak their feelings when they quarrel with the world because they do not possess, without labour or trouble, well-furnished palaces with vast sums of money and elegant carriages. This embitterment disgusts me and you are the last person from whom I would expect it. What grounds can you have for it? Has not everything smiled on you ever since your cradle? Has not nature endowed you with magnificent talents? Have not your parents lavished affection on you? Have you ever up to now been unable to satisfy your reasonable wishes? And have you not carried away in the most incomprehensible fashion the heart of a girl whom thousands envy you? Yet the first untoward event, the first disappointed wish, evokes embitterment! Is that strength? Is that a manly character?
  • Alas, your conduct has consisted merely in disorder, meandering in all the fields of knowledge, musty traditions by sombre lamplight; degeneration in a learned dressing gown with uncombed hair has replaced degeneration with a beer glass. And a shirking unsociability and a refusal of all conventions and even all respect for your father. Your intercourse with the world is limited to your sordid room, where perhaps lie abandoned in the classical disorder the love letters of a Jenny [Karl’s fiancée] and the tear-stained counsels of your father. … And do you think that here in this workshop of senseless and aimless learning you can ripen the fruits to bring you and your loved one happiness? … . As though we were made of gold my gentleman son disposes of almost 700 thalers in a single year, in contravention of every agreement and every usage, whereas the richest spend no more than 500.
    • Heinrich Marx, as quoted in David McLellan. Karl Marx: A Biography. 1995, pp 26-7
Alas, your conduct has consisted merely in disorder, meandering in all the fields of knowledge, musty traditions by sombre lamplight; degeneration in a learned dressing gown with uncombed hair has replaced degeneration with a beer glass. And a shirking unsociability and a refusal of all conventions and even all respect for your father. Your intercourse with the world is limited to your sordid room, where perhaps lie abandoned in the classical disorder the love letters of a Jenny [Karl’s fiancée] and the tear-stained counsels of your father. ~ Heinrich Marx
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.
  • 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.
  • If you look at early shamanic texts and cultures, the magical powers that the shaman hopes the gods might give him, flying, turning into animals, invisibility, poetry – as if poetry was a magic power. As if it was the equivalent of turning into a dog or flying. As if. What does this tell us? Maybe there was a time when we could legitimately ask the gods for it as a gift. But we know there aren't any gods, and that they can't give those gifts, so the best thing we can do is go to church, listen to the lesson and hope we don't burn. Have no direct contact with whatever form of god we choose to worship. It's like the magical or spiritual equivalent of the big flaw in Marxism. Karl Marx, lovely geezer, very humane, a bit middle class but we'll gloss over that, but his big flaw was that when he said "The reins of society will inevitably rest in the hands of those who control the means of production" didn't take into account middle management. All the people who get between those with the means of production and the society. That translates onto a spiritual level as the shift from our earliest beliefs, which are all shamanic.
  • 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.

  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was published in 1848 and is now re-issued with an interesting introduction by Yanis Varoufakis, Greek economist and politician. He hails the Manifesto as an inspiration to collective action for a better future "urging us to become agents of a future that ends unnecessary mass suffering and to inspire humanity to realize its potential for authentic freedom". Varoufakis interprets the Manifesto not as a call to state authoritarianism, as communism became in practice, nor just an analysis of bitter and enduring class conflict, but rather as a 'liberal text', which he believes is even more relevant today than when it was written.
    • 'Where no man lacks': a post-capitalist order? -- An excerpt, by Phyllis Power Share International magazine (June 2018)
  • [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.
  • Marxism has been declared dead. Yet the questions Marx raised are still alive and pulsing, however the language and the labels have been co-opted and abused. What is social wealth? How do the conditions of human labor infiltrate other social relationships? What would it require for people to live and work together in conditions of radical equality? How much inequality will we tolerate in the world's richest and most powerful nation? Why and how have these and similar questions become discredited in public discourse? And what about art?...I have been trying to decipher the moral ecology of this non-accountable economy, this old order calling itself new. What are its effects on our emotional and affectional and intellectual life? Over the past decade I would have found it harder to look steadily and long at the scene around us without using Marx's perception that economic relationships-the relationships of production-will, unchecked, infiltrate all other social relationships at the public and the most private levels. Not that Marx thought that feelings, spirit, human relationships are just inert products of the economy. Rather, he was outraged by capital's treatment of human labor and human energy as a means, its hostility to the development of the whole person, its reduction of the entire web of existence to commodity: what can be produced and sold for profit. In place of all the physical and spiritual senses, he tells us, there is the sense of possession, which is the alienation of all these senses. Marx was passionate about the insensibility of a system that must extract ever more humanity from the human being: time and space for love, for sleep and dreaming, time to create art, time for both solitude and communal life, time to explore the idea of an expanding universe of freedom. I have talked at some length about capitalism's drive to disenfranchise and dehumanize, to invade the very zones of feeling and relationship we deal with as writers-which Marx described long ago-because those processes still need to be described as doing what they still do.
  • Today in Korea—in Southeast Asia—in Latin America and the West Indies, in the Middle East—in Africa, one sees tens of millions of long oppressed colonial peoples surging toward freedom. What courage—what sacrifice—what determination never to rest until victory!...And arrayed against them, the combined powers of the so-called Free West, headed by the greedy, profit-hungry, war-minded industrialists and financial barons of our America. The illusion of an “American Century” blinds them for the immediate present to the clear fact that civilization has passed them by—that we now live in a people’s century—that the star shines brightly in the East of Europe and of the world. Colonial peoples today look to the Soviet Socialist Republics...One reverently speaks of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin—the shapers of humanity’s richest present and future.
  • 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. […] I have always disagreed with Marx… But my objections to modern Communism go deeper than my objections to Marx. It is the abandonment of democracy that I find particularly disastrous.
    • Bertrand Russell, "Why I am Not a Communist", in Portraits From Memory And Other Essays (1956), p. 211
  • Marxists have always treated justice with some disdain.
    • Alan Ryan, 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.
    • Alan Ryan, Introduction in Justice (1993) edited by Alan Ryan
  • It is tempting to compare Plato with Marx; indeed, I have done so. Like Plato, Marx looked forward to a future in which the state, law, coercion, and competition for power had vanished and politics been replaced by rational organization. But we must not press the comparison.
    • Alan Ryan, On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present (2012), Ch. 2 : Plato and Antipolitics
  • 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 than 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.
  • Karl Marx deserves an honoured place among economic pioneers of steady state and balanced growth equilibrium. What is valid in this seminal contribution is in no sense contrary to mainstream economics of Marx’s predecessors, contemporaries or successors. Even we end with the view that Marx was not so much a mathematical economist as ‘merely’ a great economist, this recognition of his analytical abilities in no sense diminishes our appreciation of him as an original and creative shaper of the science of political economy.
    • Paul Samuelson, "Marx as a mathematical economist", G. Horwich & P. A. Samuelson (Eds.), Trade stability and macroeconomics, essays in honor of Lloyd A. Metzler (1974)
  • Marx was fortunate to have been born eighty years before Walt Disney. Disney also promised a child's paradise and unlike Marx, delivered on his promise.
    • John Ralston Saul in Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (1992), Ch. 2
  • Marxism is a religion. To the believer it presents, first, a system of ultimate ends that embody the meaning of life and are absolute standards by which to judge events and actions; and, secondly, a guide to those ends which implies a plan of salvation and the indignation of the evil from which mankind, or a chosen section of mankind, is to be saved.
  • Never have I met a man [Karl Marx] of such offensive, insupportable arrogance. No opinion which differed essentially from his own was accorded the honor of even a half-way respectful consideration. Everyone who disagreed with him was treated with scarcely veiled contempt. He answered all arguments which displeased him with a biting scorn for the pitiable ignorance of those who advanced them, or with a libellous questioning of their motives. I still remember the cutting, scornful tone with which he uttered – I might almost say 'spat' – the word 'bourgeois'; and he denounced as 'bourgeois' – that is to say as an unmistakable example of the lowest moral and spiritual stagnation – everyone who dared to oppose his opinion.
    • Carl Schurz in Leopold Schwartzschild, Karl Marx: The Red Prussian, New York: NY, The Universal Library, Grosset & Dunlap (1947) p. 200
  • Karl Marx, in envisioning the emancipation of the working class, determined that "money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist." From antiquity to the modern era, Jews have proven tremendously useful as an external enemy, or as a scapegoat for society's ills.
  • How can the labourer be at the mercy of the upper and middle classes when these are admittedly dependent on the labourer for their very subsistence? But let us pass by this contradiction, which underlies all the teaching of Marx, and proceed to consider the consequences of accepting his theory. Let us suppose that the labourer, by working for a day, produces a table worth a pound, ten shillings of which represents the value of the wood, wear and tear of tools, rent of workshop, lighting, &c., &c., and the remaining ten shillings the wear and tear of the man, or his labour. According to Marx, the capitalist who supplies the wood, tools, workshop, &c., does so on the condition that he shall, besides being reimbursed for them by receiving ten shillings out of the price of the table, receive also, out of the other ten shillings due solely to the labourer, as large a share as he can possibly screw out of him by the threat of putting the job up to auction among his starving competitors. Let us suppose that in this way he induces the labourer to content himself with three shillings out of the ten which he has earned, and pockets seven shillings as profit. (I may observe here that Marx, with all his ingenuity, could never explain why a labourer should make a present of more than half his earnings to an employer who was absolutely dependent on him for all his wealth.) Our imaginary capitalist then, selling the table for its value - one pound, makes a profit of seven shillings. But mark what must ensue. Some rival capitalist, trading in tables on the same principle, will content himself with six shillings profit for the sake of attracting custom. He will sell the table for nineteen shillings; that is, he will allow the purchaser one shilling out of his profit as a bribe to secure his custom. The first capitalist will thus be compelled to lower his price to nineteen shillings also, and presently the competition of brisk young traders, believing in small profits and quick returns, will bring the price of tables down to thirteen and sixpence, or even lower if the reduction in price can be used as a pretext for securing another sixpence out of the labourer's three shillings. Take the price at thirteen and sixpence. if the seven shillings be indeed robbed from the labourer, then the purchaser, getting a table worth a pound for thirteen and sixpence, gets six and sixpence of the plunder, and the capitalist only sixpence; that is, the buyer is thirteen times as great a thief as the seller. But who are the buyers?
    • Bernard Shaw, "Who is the Thief?", Justice, March 15, 1884, No. 9, Vol. I
  • 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.
  • No wonder therefore that almost everyone rebelled against Hegel. No one did this more effectively than Marx. Marx claimed to have laid bare with finality the mystery of all history, including the present and the imminent future, but also the outline of the order which was bound to come and in which and through which men would be able or compelled for the first time to lead truly human lives. More precisely, for Marx human history, so far from having been completed, has not even begun; what we call history is only the pre-history of humanity. Questioning the settlement which Hegel had regarded as rational, he followed the vision of a world society which presupposes and establishes forever the complete victory of the town over the country, of the mobile over the deeply rooted, of the spirit of the Occident over the spirit of the Orient; the members of the world society which is no longer a political society are free and equal, and are so in the last analysis because all specialization, all division of labor, has given way to the full development of everyone.
    • Leo Strauss, "Philosophy as Rigorous Science and Political Philosophy", Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 2, no. 1 (1971)
Marxism is undoubtedly a religion, in the lowest sense of the word. Like every inferior form of religious life, it has been continuously used, to borrow the apt phrase of Marx himself, as an opiate for the people. ~ Simone Weil
  • Summarizing his deficiencies, Karl Marx was neither progressive nor enlightened; he was a racist, anti-Semite, a German nationalist, a warmonger, autocratic, anti-freedom proponent, Machiavellian, pro-Black slavery, petty, homophobic, megalomaniac, a bully and slanderer, antichoice, and a reactionary against liberalism and industrial capitalism. In almost every sense, Marx fit the quintessential image of Hitler like a tight glove, both appearing almost indistinguishable. Like father and son, Marx and Hitler were two social justice warriors, determined to weaponize intolerance, racism, and nationalism for what they call the greater good. In so many ways, considering their almost identical political and social makeup, metaphorically speaking, Hitler could easily be regarded as the son of Marx.
    • L.K. Samuels Killing History: The False Left-Right Political Spectrum and the Battle between the 'Free Left' and 'Statist Left,' Freeland Press (2019) p. 361
  • Fundamentalist religion becomes, as Marx so aptly observed, an "opiate of the masses."
    • Vandana Shiva Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace (2005)
  • You cannot conquer an awakened people. You cannot Prussianize Belgium and France. You cannot eradicate the teachings of Marx and Engels from the minds of hundreds of thousands of German Socialists. Surely they would find some way of uniting in spirit and in deed with the comrades of other nations in case of such an invasion on the part of a government which they had always understood and denounced.
  • Marx never made a discovery in the scientific sense. He never had an illumination which turned his previous ideas upside down. He decided beforehand what he wanted to discover and then sure enough discovered it. In practice Marx and still more his friend Engels made many unavowed adjustments to their system, until by the end of their lives hardly any of it remained. At any rate it could be turned to almost any purpose from the most moderate to the most revolutionary.
    • A. J. P. Taylor, 'Introduction' to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1967), pp. 10-11
  • He gave the impression not only of rare intellectual superiority but also of outstanding personality. If he had had as much heart as intellect and love as hate, I should have gone through fire for him. … In view of our aims, I regret that this man, with his fine intellect, is lacking in nobility of soul. I am convinced that the most dangerous personal ambition has eaten away all the good in him. He laughs at the fools who parrot his proletarian catechism, just as he laughs over the communists à la Willich and over the bourgeoisie. The only people he respects are the aristocrats, the genuine ones who are well aware of it. In order to drive them from government, he needs a source of strength, which he can find only in the proletariat. Accordingly, he has tailored his system to them. In spite of all his assurances to the contrary, and perhaps because of them, I took away with me the impression that the acquisition of personal power was the aim of all his endeavours.
    • Gustav Techow (August 1850), quoted in David McLellan (ed.), Karl Marx: Interviews and Recollections (1981), p. 18
  • I find it’s not necessary for me to read Marx because I already agree with him
  • 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
  • Marx completely lacked a scholar's conscience which is the hallmark of a genuine man of learning. In his works there is no trace of the humility of the true researcher who, aware of his own ignorance, approaches his material with an open mind in order to learn. For Marx what has to be proved is known before the research starts.
    • Heinrich von Treitschke, quoted in Hans Blum, Das Deutsche Reich zur Zeit Bismarcks (1893), p. 253, quoted in W. O. Henderson, The Life of Friedrich Engels, Volume II (1976), p. 403
  • Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.
  • Liberty, happiness, autonomy, individuality, spirituality, self-guided development are ideals that Marx and Engels valued above everything else. If they are angry with the bourgeoisie, it is because the bourgeoisie seeks to deny the majority any opportunity to be free. Given Marx and Engels' adherence to Hegel's fantastic idea that no one is free as long as one person is in chains, their quarrel with the bourgeoisie is that they sacrifice everybody's freedom and individuality on capitalism's altar of accumulation.
  • Marxism is undoubtedly a religion, in the lowest sense of the word. Like every inferior form of religious life, it has been continuously used, to borrow the apt phrase of Marx himself, as an opiate for the people.
    • Simone Weil in Raymond Aron (1955, 2011). The Opium of the Intellectuals. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. p. vii.
  • 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.
  • Never, after we have read The Eighteenth Brumaire, can the language, the conventions, the combinations, the pretensions, of parliamentary bodies, if we have had any illusions about them, seem the same to us again. They lose their consistency and color—evaporate before our eyes. The old sport of competition for office, the old game of political debate, look foolish and obsolete; for now we can see for the first time through the shadow-play to the conflict of appetites and needs which, partly unknown to the actors themselves, throw these thin silhouettes on the screen.
    These writings of Marx are electrical. Nowhere perhaps in the history of thought is the reader made to feel the excitement of a new intellectual discovery. Marx is here at his most vivid and his most vigorous—in the closeness and the exactitude of political observation; in the energy of the faculty that combines, articulating at the same time that it compresses; in the wit and the metaphorical phantasmagoria that transfigures the prosaic phenomena of politics, and in the pulse of the tragic invective—we have heard its echo in Bernard Shaw—which can turn the collapse of an incompetent parliament, divided between contradictory tendencies, into the downfall of a damned soul of Shakespeare.
    • Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), p. 201

See also[edit]

Social and political philosophers
Classic AristotleMarcus AureliusChanakyaCiceroConfuciusMozi LaoziMenciusMoziPlatoPlutarchPolybiusSeneca the YoungerSocratesSun TzuThucydidesXenophonXun Zi
Conservative de BenoistBolingbrokeBonaldBurkeBurnhamCarlyleColeridgeComteCortésDurkheimDávilaEvolaFichteFilmerGaltonGentileHegelHeideggerHerderHobbesHoppeHumede JouvenelJüngerKirkvon Kuehnelt-LeddihnLandde MaistreMansfieldMoscaOakeshottOrtegaParetoPetersonSantayanaSchmittScrutonSowellSpenglerStraussTaineTocqueville • VicoVoegelinWeaverYarvin
Liberal ArendtAronBastiatBeccariaBenthamBerlinBoétieCamusCondorcetConstantDworkinEmersonErasmusFranklinFukuyamaHayekJeffersonKantLockeMachiavelliMadisonMaineMillMiltonMenckenMisesMontaigneMontesquieuNietzscheNozickOrtegaPopperRandRawlsRothbardSadeSchillerSimmelSmithSpencerSpinozade StaëlStirnerThoreauTocquevilleTuckerVoltaireWeberWollstonecraft
Religious al-GhazaliAmbedkarAugustine of HippoAquinasAugustineAurobindoCalvinChestertonDanteDayanandaDostoyevskyEliadeGandhiGirardGregoryGuénonJesusJohn of SalisburyJungKierkegaardKołakowskiLewisLutherMaimonidesMalebrancheMaritainMoreMuhammadMüntzerNiebuhrOckhamOrigenPhiloPizanQutbRadhakrishnanShariatiSolzhenitsynTaylorTeilhard de ChardinTertullianTolstoyVivekanandaWeil
Socialist AdornoAflaqAgambenBadiouBakuninBaudrillardBaumanBernsteinButlerChomskyde BeauvoirDebordDeleuzeDeweyDu BoisEngelsFanonFoucaultFourierFrommGodwinGoldmanGramsciHabermasKropotkinLeninLondonLuxemburgMaoMarcuseMarxMazziniNegriOwenPaine RortyRousseauRussellSaint-SimonSartreSkinnerSorelTrotskyWalzerXiaopingŽižek

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  1. Marx, Karl. [1862] 1985. “Marx to Engels in Manchester, 18 June 1862.” Pp. 380–381 in Karl Marx Frederick Engels Collected Works, Marx and Engels: 1860–1864. Moscow: Progress Publishers. "Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 380; First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913."