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Critique And Revolution: The Faces Of Karl Marx

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“The nobility of man shines upon us from their work hardened bodies.” (Manuscripts, 100)[1]. And according to Karl Marx, that is the bottom line. In Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and Manifesto of the Communist Party[2], two of his most profound works, Marx outlines both his harsh critique of capitalism and his prophetic theory of impending communist revolution. Although these texts are extremely complex—Manuscripts is described often as the hardest sixty pages of modern philosophy—their main points can be summed up concisely. For Marx, a worker’s labor, and therefore product, is an extension of himself, and any practice that separates the two, most obviously capitalism’s private property, essentially tears the man apart. A system such as this is beyond repair, and the only feasible solution is a forceful and complete communist revolution ending in the destruction of private property and the reunion of mankind with his labor. The complex philosophizing behind these two doctrines will be revealed shortly, but now the question arises, are they consistent? More specifically, do the circumstances that exist under capitalism, as described in his critique, put the world in a realistic position to undergo his desired revolution? Taking his opinions of the world under capitalism as fact, the answer is yes: the desperation of alienation will drive the growing majority of men to unite and revolt. That said, a thorough examination of both his critique of capitalism and his planned communist revolution are necessary.

Marx begins his discussion of life under capitalism by defining the term “estranged labor.” In essence, estranged labor is a separation between a worker and his product. This can come as a result of a division of labor, the institution of machines in factories, or the rise in importance of money, among other things, but the result is the same: the worker loses control of his product. Estranged labor does not seem inherently flawed until the...

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