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Este é o Mapa da Enciclopédia Marx’s critical theories about society, economics and politics, collectively understood as Marxism, hold that human societies develop through class conflict. In the capitalist mode of production, this manifests itself in the conflict between the ruling classes (known as the bourgeoisie) that control the means of production and the working classes (known as the proletariat) that enable these means by selling their labour power in return for wages. Employing a critical approach known as historical materialism, Marx predicted that capitalism produced internal tensions like previous socio-economic systems and that those would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system known as the socialist mode of production. For Marx, class antagonisms under capitalism, owing in part to its instability and crisis-prone nature, would eventuate the working class’ development of class consciousness, leading to their conquest of political power and eventually the establishment of a classless, communist society constituted by a free association of producers. Marx actively pressed for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised proletarian revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic emancipation.
Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and his work has been both lauded and criticised. His work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital and subsequent economic thought. Many intellectuals, labour unions, artists and political parties worldwide have been influenced by Marx’s work, with many modifying or adapting his ideas. Marx is typically cited as one of the principal architects of modern social science.
Childhood and early education: 1818–1836
Karl Heinrich Marx was born on 5 May 1818 to Heinrich Marx (1777–1838) and Henriette Pressburg (1788–1863). He was born at Brückengasse 664 in Trier, an ancient city then part of the Kingdom of Prussia‘s Province of the Lower Rhine. Marx was ethnically but not religiously Jewish. His maternal grandfather was a Dutch rabbi, while his paternal line had supplied Trier’s rabbis since 1723, a role taken by his grandfather Meier Halevi Marx. His father, as a child known as Herschel, was the first in the line to receive a secular education. He became a lawyer with a comfortably upper middle class income and the family owned a number of Moselle vineyards, in addition to his income as an attorney. Prior to his son’s birth and after the abrogation of Jewish emancipation in the Rhineland, Herschel converted from Judaism to join the state Evangelical Church of Prussia, taking on the German forename Heinrich over the Yiddish Herschel.Marx’s birthplace, now Brückenstraße 10, in Trier. The family occupied two rooms on the ground floor and three on the first floor. Purchased by the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1928, it now houses a museum devoted to him.
Largely non-religious, Heinrich was a man of the Enlightenment, interested in the ideas of the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Voltaire. A classical liberal, he took part in agitation for a constitution and reforms in Prussia, which was then an absolute monarchy. In 1815, Heinrich Marx began working as an attorney and in 1819 moved his family to a ten-room property near the Porta Nigra. His wife, Henriette Pressburg, was a Dutch Jewish woman from a prosperous business family that later founded the company Philips Electronics. Her sister Sophie Pressburg (1797–1854) married Lion Philips (1794–1866) and was the grandmother of both Gerard and Anton Philips and great-grandmother to Frits Philips. Lion Philips was a wealthy Dutch tobacco manufacturer and industrialist, upon whom Karl and Jenny Marx would later often come to rely for loans while they were exiled in London.
Little is known of Marx’s childhood. The third of nine children, he became the eldest son when his brother Moritz died in 1819. Marx and his surviving siblings, Sophie, Hermann, Henriette, Louise, Emilie and Caroline, were baptised into the Lutheran Church in August 1824 and their mother in November 1825. Marx was privately educated by his father until 1830, when he entered Trier High School (Gymnasium zu Trier [de]), whose headmaster, Hugo Wyttenbach, was a friend of his father. By employing many liberal humanists as teachers, Wyttenbach incurred the anger of the local conservative government. Subsequently, police raided the school in 1832 and discovered that literature espousing political liberalism was being distributed among the students. Considering the distribution of such material a seditious act, the authorities instituted reforms and replaced several staff during Marx’s attendance.
In October 1835 at the age of 17, Marx travelled to the University of Bonn wishing to study philosophy and literature, but his father insisted on law as a more practical field. Due to a condition referred to as a “weak chest”, Marx was excused from military duty when he turned 18. While at the University at Bonn, Marx joined the Poets’ Club, a group containing political radicals that were monitored by the police. Marx also joined the Trier Tavern Club drinking society (German: Landsmannschaft der Treveraner) where many ideas were discussed and at one point he served as the club’s co-president. Additionally, Marx was involved in certain disputes, some of which became serious: in August 1836 he took part in a duel with a member of the university’s Borussian Korps. Although his grades in the first term were good, they soon deteriorated, leading his father to force a transfer to the more serious and academic University of Berlin.
Hegelianism and early journalism: 1836–1843
Spending summer and autumn 1836 in Trier, Marx became more serious about his studies and his life. He became engaged to Jenny von Westphalen, an educated member of the petty nobility who had known Marx since childhood. As she had broken off her engagement with a young aristocrat to be with Marx, their relationship was socially controversial owing to the differences between their religious and class origins, but Marx befriended her father Ludwig von Westphalen (a liberal aristocrat) and later dedicated his doctoral thesis to him. Seven years after their engagement, on 19 June 1843, they married in a Protestant church in Kreuznach.
In October 1836, Marx arrived in Berlin, matriculating in the university’s faculty of law and renting a room in the Mittelstrasse. During the first term, Marx attended lectures of Eduard Gans (who represented the progressive Hegelian standpoint, elaborated on rational development in history by emphasising particularly its libertarian aspects, and the importance of social question) and of Karl von Savigny (who represented the Historical School of Law). Although studying law, he was fascinated by philosophy and looked for a way to combine the two, believing that “without philosophy nothing could be accomplished”. Marx became interested in the recently deceased German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, whose ideas were then widely debated among European philosophical circles. During a convalescence in Stralau, he joined the Doctor’s Club (Doktorklub), a student group which discussed Hegelian ideas, and through them became involved with a group of radical thinkers known as the Young Hegelians in 1837. They gathered around Ludwig Feuerbach and Bruno Bauer, with Marx developing a particularly close friendship with Adolf Rutenberg. Like Marx, the Young Hegelians were critical of Hegel’s metaphysical assumptions, but adopted his dialectical method to criticise established society, politics and religion from a leftist perspective. Marx’s father died in May 1838, resulting in a diminished income for the family. Marx had been emotionally close to his father and treasured his memory after his death.