26 August 1824 Baptism of Karl Marx #otdimjh

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Marx was born in Trier, Germany, in 1818. His father, a lawyer, converted from Judaism to Evangelical Protestantism, very probably for reasons of vocational aspiration (McLellan 1987, 8). Heinrich Marx (ne Hirschel ha-Levi) was a follower of the enlightenment thinkers, especially Voltaire and Rousseau (Cuddihy 1974, 119). His lack of strict religious adherence, and influence by the aforementioned intellectuals, is evident in an 1835 letter to his son.

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Karl Marx and his five sisters were baptized into the Evangelical Lutheran Church on 26 August 1824 and he was confirmed in 1834 (Kamenka 1983, lii.). Marx’s early writings suggest that he was familiar with some Christian theology. For example, he wrote a paper on the Gospel of John while at school at the Trier Gymnasium. Marx’s religious interests changed while attending the Hegelian-dominated Universities of Bonn and Berlin. Revealed in a letter to his father, the critical course of much of his subsequent writing becomes evident. He states,

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Marx now had an orientation that started and ended with the physical and discursive interrelation of humans and their interaction with the natural world. This materially, rather than spiritually, determined framework became the foundation for most of his future writing, especially those concerning religion.

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The Origins of Marx’s Religious Thought

Marx’s writings concerning religion are in general polemical. These texts challenge the validity of religion not only in its institutional context, but also in terms of its benefit to human society. They range from direct attacks to more subtle critiques, but rarely lack aggressive rhetoric. This style can be traced to very early writings of Marx. At the age of 24 he wrote:

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It is also important to note that most of his writings concerning religion were also written contemporaneously of the previous statement, for they share its timbre of uninhibited pursuit of what Marx deemed to be true, or at least empirically observable or logically verifiable.

The beginning of Marx’s religious ruminations began as a reaction to the philosophy of Georg Hegel. Hegel’s basic theory of religion and spirituality appealed to the idea of a timeless universal spirit, existing outside the historical and cultural boundaries of religion and religious experience. Spirit thus exists outside religion as an idea. Spirit represents the ideal we seek, usually through individual contemplative asceticism, supineness to the church, and reconciliation to that which exists in the physical world. However, Hegel (1953) never discounted the social need for religion, referring to it as “the sphere where a people gives itself the definition of what it regards as the True [sic]…. [and] the universal soul of all particulars” (64). Hegel, in reference to the religious role in the affairs of the state, posits that

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Religion is the cohesive device that joins the individual with the absolute soul.

Marx soon broke from the Hegelians becoming increasingly more influenced by the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach. Feuerbach believed that Hegel’s absolute spirit was “man’s essence outside man, the essence of thinking outside the act of thinking” (Avineri 1968, 11). He saw humans as a part of nature, of the material world, and as thus a subject within it. God, and any veneration to a thing outside the physical experience of humankind, was alienating. He states,

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Feuerbach saw this initial man/God split as unnecessary, believing instead that our ultimate aspiration should be concentrated on humans experience rather than reverence to spiritual abstraction. As Marx states in his Theses on Feuerbach, “All the mysteries which lead theory into mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice” (Kamenka, 157).

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Marx may have found the thoughts of Feuerbach seminal, but he rendered them explicitly more political. He applied them to the primary social issue of the day, which he perceived to be the economic oppression endemic to the industrial revolution, the result of the bourgeois state and its religious adherence to existing institutions. Aspiration to an abstract universal spirit as the ultimate mode of thought and action, Marx believed, leads us to alienation from our physical circumstances. In support of this Avineri paraphrases Marx: “[Hegel’s] consciousness only approves a reality it cannot change. Such a merely spiritual emancipation forces man to legitimize his chains” (99).

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Reflection and Prayer: So much of twentieth century history is a result of Marx’s secular apocalyptic utopian vision that it is hard to see the development of his thought within Judaism and Christianity. Yet he borrows heavily from both, recasts it in the light of Feuerbach, Hegel and his own development of dialectical materialism. Even his atheism is dependant on the invention and non-existence of the judaeo-christian God, and reaction against Him. Lord, have mercy, and help us know you and worship you in spirit and in truth. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

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https://faculty.unlv.edu/karstensson/MARX.pdf

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http://www.jstor.org/stable/42589813?&seq=4#page_scan_tab_contents

Karl Marx Biography

Born: May 5, 1818
Trier, Germany (formerly in Rhenish Prussia)
Died: March 14, 1883
London, England 

German philosopher and political leader

The German philosopher, revolutionary economist (one who studies the use of money and other material funds), and leader Karl Marx founded modern “scientific” socialism (a system of society in which no property is held as private). His basic ideas—known as Marxism—form the foundation of Socialist and Communist (an economic and government system characterized by citizens holding all property and goods in common) movements throughout the world.

Early life

Karl Heinreich Marx was born in Trier, Rhenish Prussia (present-day Germany), on May 5, 1818, the son of Heinrich Marx, a lawyer, and Henriette Presburg Marx, a Dutchwoman. Both Heinrich and Henriette were descendants of a long line of rabbis (masters or teachers of Jewish religion). Barred from the practice of law because he was Jewish, Heinrich Marx converted to Lutheranism about 1817. Karl was baptized in the same church in 1824 at the age of six. Karl attended a Lutheran elementary school but later became an atheist (one who does not believe in the existence of God) and a materialist (one who believes that physical matter is all that is real), rejecting both the Christian and Jewish religions. It was he who coined the saying “Religion is the opium [drug that deadens pain, is today illegal, and comes from the poppy flower] of the people,” a basic principle in modern communism.

Karl attended the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium in Trier for five years, graduating in 1835 at the age of seventeen. The gymnasium’s program was the usual classical one—history, mathematics, literature, and languages, particularly Greek and Latin. Karl became very skillful in French and Latin, both of which he learned to read and write fluently. In later years he taught himself other languages, so that as a mature scholar he could also read Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Russian, and English. As his articles in the New York Daily Tribune show, he came to handle the English language masterfully (he loved Shakespeare [1564–1616], whose works he knew by heart), although he never lost his heavy German accent when speaking.

Young adult years

In October 1835 Marx enrolled in Bonn University in Bonn, Germany, where he attended courses primarily in law, as it was his father’s desire that he become a lawyer. Marx, however, was more interested in philosophy (the study of knowledge) and literature than in law. He wanted to be a poet and dramatist (one who writes plays). In his student days he wrote a great deal of poetry—most of it preserved—that in his mature years he rightly recognized as imitative and unremarkable. He spent a year at Bonn, studying little but partying and drinking a lot. He also piled up heavy debts.

Marx’s dismayed father took him out of Bonn and had him enter the University of Berlin, then a center of intellectual discussion. In Berlin a circle of brilliant thinkers was challenging existing institutions and ideas, including religion, philosophy, ethics (the study of good and bad involving morals), and politics. Marx joined this group of radical (extreme in opinion) thinkers wholeheartedly. He spent more than four years in Berlin, completing his studies with a doctoral degree in March 1841.

Forced to move on

Marx then turned to writing and journalism to support himself. In 1842 he became editor of the liberal (open to new ideas) Cologne newspaper Rheinische Zeitung, but the Berlin government prohibited it from being published the following year. In January 1845 Marx was expelled from France “at the instigation [order] of the Prussian government,” as he said. He moved to Brussels, Belgium, where he founded the German Workers’ Party and was active in the Communist League. Here he wrote the famous Manifesto of the Communist Party (known as the Communist Manifesto ). Expelled (forced out) by the Belgian government, Marx moved back to Cologne, where he became editor of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in June 1848. Less than a year later, the Prussian government stopped the paper, and Marx himself was exiled (forced to leave). He went to Paris, but in September the French government expelled him again. Marx finally settled in London, England, where he lived as a stateless exile (Britain denied him citizenship and Prussia refused to take him back as a citizen) for the rest of his life.

In London Marx’s sole means of support was journalism. He wrote for both German-and English-language publications. From August 1852 to March 1862 he was correspondent for the New York Daily Tribune, contributing a total of about 355 articles. Journalism, however, paid very poorly; Marx was literally saved from starvation by the financial support of friend and fellow writer, Friedrich Engels (1820–1895). In London in 1864 Marx helped to found the International Workingmen’s Association (known as the First International), for which he wrote the inaugural (opening) address. Thereafter Marx’s political activities were limited mainly to exchanging letters with radicals in Europe and America, offering advice, and helping to shape the socialist and labor movements.

Personal life

Marx was married to his childhood sweetheart, Jenny von Westphalen, who was known as the “most beautiful girl in Trier,” on June 19, 1843. She was totally devoted to him. She died of cancer on December 2, 1881, at the age of sixty-seven. For Marx it was a blow from which he never recovered.

The Marxes had seven children, four of whom died in infancy or childhood. He deeply loved his daughters, who, in turn, adored him. Of the three surviving daughters—Jenny, Laura, and Eleanor—two married Frenchmen. Both of Marx’s sons-in-law became prominent French socialists and members of Parliament. Eleanor was active as a British labor organizer.

Marx spent most of his working time in the British Museum, doing research both for his newspaper articles and his books. In preparation for Das Kapital, he read every available work in economic and financial theory and practice.

Marx’s excessive smoking, wine drinking, and love of heavily spiced foods may have been contributing causes to his illnesses. In the final dozen years of his life, he could no longer do any continuous intellectual work. He died in his armchair in London on March 14, 1883, about two months before his sixty-fifth birthday. He lies buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery, where his grave is marked by a bust (sculpture of a person’s head and shoulders) of him.

His works

Marxism achieved its first great triumph in the Russian Revolution (1917–21; when the lower class overthrew three hundred years of czar rule), when its successful leader, Vladimir Ilich Lenin (1870–1924), a lifelong follower of Marx, organized the Soviet Union as aproletarian dictatorship (country ruled by the lower class). Lenin based the new government on Marx’s philosophy as Lenin interpreted it. Thus, Marx became a world figure and his theories became a subject of universal attention and controversy (open to dispute). Marx wrote hundreds of articles, brochures, and reports, but only five books.

His ideas

Marx’s universal appeal lies in his moral approach to socio-economic problems, in his insights into the relationships between institutions and values, and in his ideas about the salvation (to save from destruction) of mankind. Hence Marx is best understood if one studies not only his economics, but also his theory of history and politics. The central idea in Marx’s thought involves two basic notions: that the economic system at any given time determines the current ideas; and that history is an ongoing process keeping up with the economic institutions that change in regular stages.

To Marx, capitalism (an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of goods) was the last stage of historical development before communism. The lowest social or economic class of a community, when produced by capitalism, is the last historical class. The two are fated to be in conflict—the class struggle, which Marx wrote of in the Communist Manifesto —until the lower class inevitably wins. The proletarian dictatorship, in turn, develops into communism, in which there are no classes and no inequalities. The logical suggestion is that with the final establishment of communism, history comes to a sudden end. This Marxist interpretation has been criticized in the noncommunist world as historically inaccurate, scientifically weak, and logically ridiculous. Nevertheless, Marx’s message of an earthly paradise (a classless society) has provided millions with hope and a new meaning of life. From this point of view, one may agree with the Austrian economist Joseph A. Schumpeter that “Marxism is a religion” and Marx is its “prophet.”

For More Information

Manuel, Frank Edward. A Requiem for Karl Marx. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Strathern, Paul. Marx in 90 Minutes. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001.

Wheen, Francis. Karl Marx: A Life. New York: Norton, 2000.

User Contributions:

Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ma-Mo/Marx-Karl.html#ixzz3jpp4mWoP

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/Journal-Thought/129086810.html

Marx soon broke from the Hegelians becoming increasingly more influenced by the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach. Feuerbach believed that Hegel’s absolute spirit was “man’s essence outside man, the essence of thinking outside the act of thinking” (Avineri 1968, 11). He saw humans as a part of nature, of the material world, and as thus a subject within it. God, and any veneration to a thing outside the physical experience of humankind, was alienating. He states,

Feuerbach saw this initial man/God split as unnecessary, believing instead that our ultimate aspiration should be concentrated on humans experience rather than reverence to spiritual abstraction. As Marx states in his Theses on Feuerbach, “All the mysteries which lead theory into mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice” (Kamenka, 157).

Marx may have found the thoughts of Feuerbach seminal, but he rendered them explicitly more political. He applied them to the primary social issue of the day, which he perceived to be the economic oppression endemic to the industrial revolution, the result of the bourgeois state and its religious adherence to existing institutions. Aspiration to an abstract universal spirit as the ultimate mode of thought and action, Marx believed, leads us to alienation from our physical circumstances. In support of this Avineri paraphrases Marx: “[Hegel’s] consciousness only approves a reality it cannot change. Such a merely spiritual emancipation forces man to legitimize his chains” (99).

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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