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 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 the current understanding of labor and its relation to capital, and has influenced much of subsequent economic thought. He published numerous works during his lifetime, the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894).


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.
  • It is a bad thing to perform menial duties even for the sake of freedom; to fight with pinpricks, instead of with clubs. I have become tired of hypocrisy, stupidity, gross arbitrariness, and of our bowing and scraping, dodging, and hair-splitting over words. Consequently, the government has given me back my freedom.
    • Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge (25 January 1843), after the Prussian government dissolved the newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung, of which Marx was the editor.
  • Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
    Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.
  • 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. Leopold Schwartzschild, Karl Marx: The Red Prussian, New York: NY, The Universal Library, Grosset & Dunlap, 1947, p. 202
  • It is clear that the arm of criticism cannot replace the criticism of arms. Material force can only be overthrown by material force, but theory itself becomes a material force when it has seized the masses. Theory is capable of seizing the masses when it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man the root is man himself. What proves beyond doubt the radicalism of German theory, and thus its practical energy, is that it begins from the resolute positive abolition of religion. The criticism of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the supreme being for man. It ends, therefore, with the categorical imperative to overthrow all those conditions in which man is an abased, enslaved, abandoned, contemptible being—conditions which can hardly be better described than in the exclamation of a Frenchman on the occasion of a proposed tax upon dogs: 'Wretched dogs! They want to treat you like men!'
    • Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1843)
  • But take a brief glance at real life. In present-day economic life you will find, not only competition and monopoly, but also their synthesis, which is not a formula but a movement. Monopoly produces competition, competition produces monopoly. That equation, however, far from alleviating the difficulties of the present situation, as bourgeois economists suppose, gives rise to a situation even more difficult and involved. Thus, by changing the basis upon which the present economic relations rest, by abolishing the present mode of production, you abolish not only competition, monopoly and their antagonism, but also their unity, their synthesis, the movement whereby a true balance is maintained between competition and monopoly.

    Let me now give you an example of Mr Proudhon's dialectics. Freedom and slavery constitute an antagonism. There is no need for me to speak either of the good or of the bad aspects of freedom. As for slavery, there is no need for me to speak of its bad aspects. The only thing requiring explanation is the good side of slavery. I do not mean indirect slavery, the slavery of proletariat; I mean direct slavery, the slavery of the Blacks in Surinam, in Brazil, in the southern regions of North America. Direct slavery is as much the pivot upon which our present-day industrialism turns as are machinery, credit, etc. Without slavery there would be no cotton, without cotton there would be no modern industry. It is slavery which has given value to the colonies, it is the colonies which have created world trade, and world trade is the necessary condition for large-scale machine industry. Consequently, prior to the slave trade, the colonies sent very few products to the Old World, and did not noticeably change the face of the world. Slavery is therefore an economic category of paramount importance. Without slavery, North America, the most progressive nation, would he transformed into a patriarchal country. Only wipe North America off the map and you will get anarchy, the complete decay of trade and modern civilisation. But to do away with slavery would be to wipe America off the map. Being an economic category, slavery has existed in all nations since the beginning of the world. All that modern nations have achieved is to disguise slavery at home and import it openly into the New World. After these reflections on slavery, what will the good Mr Proudhon do? He will seek the synthesis of liberty and slavery, the true golden mean, in other words the balance between slavery and liberty. Mr Proudhon understands perfectly well that men manufacture worsted, linens and silks; and whatever credit is due for understanding such a trifle! What Mr Proudhon does not understand is that, according to their faculties, men also produce the social relations in which they produce worsted and linens. Still less does Mr Proudhon understand that those who produce social relations in conformity with their material productivity also produce the ideas, categories, i.e. the ideal abstract expressions of those same social relations. Indeed, the categories are no more eternal than the relations they express. They are historical and transitory products. To Mr Proudhon, on the contrary, the prime cause consists in abstractions and categories. According to him it is these and not men which make history. The abstraction, the category regarded as such, i.e. as distinct from man and his material activity, is, of course, immortal, immutable, impassive. It is nothing but an entity of pure reason, which is only another way of saying that an abstraction, regarded as such, is abstract. An admirable tautology! Hence, to Mr Proudhon, economic relations, seen in the form of categories, are eternal formulas without origin or progress. To put it another way: Mr Proudhon does not directly assert that to him bourgeois life is an eternal truth; he says so indirectly, by deifying the categories which express bourgeois relations in the form of thought. He regards the products of bourgeois society as spontaneous entities, endowed with a life of their own, eternal, the moment these present themselves to him in the shape of categories, of thought. Thus he fails to rise above the bourgeois horizon. Because he operates with bourgeois thoughts and assumes them to be eternally true, he looks for the synthesis of those thoughts, their balance, and fails to see that their present manner of maintaining a balance is the only possible one.
    • Letter to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenkov, (28 December 1846), Rue d'Orleans, 42, Faubourg Namur, Marx Engels Collected Works Vol. 38, p. 95; International Publishers (1975). First Published: in full in the French original in M.M. Stasyulevich i yego sovremenniki v ikh perepiske, Vol. III, 1912
  • If I negate powdered wigs, I am still left with unpowdered wigs.
    • Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1844).
  • History is not like some individual person, which uses men to achieve its ends. History is nothing but the actions of men in pursuit of their ends.
    • The Holy Family, Ch. VI (1845).
  • Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretirt; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • The Tories in England long imagined that they were enthusiastic about monarchy, the church, and the beauties of the old English Constitution, until the day of danger wrung from them the confession that they are enthusiastic only about ground rent.
  • Society is undergoing a silent revolution, which must be submitted to, and which takes no more notice of the human existences it breaks down than an earthquake regards the houses it subverts. The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.
    • “Forced Emigration,” New York Daily Tribune, 22 March 1853.
  • [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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Mit allen ihren Mängeln erscheint diese Konstitution mitten in der russisch−preußisch−österreichischen Barbarei als das einzige Freiheitswerk, das Osteuropa je selbständig hervorgebracht hat. Und sie ging ausschließlich von der bevorrechteten Klasse, dem Adel, aus. Die Weltgeschichte bietet kein andres Beispiel von ähnlichem Adel des Adels.
    • Despite all its shortcomings, this Constitution looms against the background of Russo-Prusso-Austrian barbarism as the only work of liberty which Eastern Europe has ever created independently, and it emerged exclusively from the privileged class, from the nobility. The history of the world has never seen another example of such nobility of the nobility.
    • On the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791.
    • "Poland, Prussia and Russia" (1863 manuscript). In Werner Conze and Dieter Hertz-Eichenrode (ed.) Manuskripte über die polnische Frage (1863-1864). Hague: Mouton, 1961.
  • In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material forces of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society — the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. [Es ist nicht das Bewußtsein der Menschen, das ihr Sein, sondern umgekehrt ihr gesellschaftliches Sein, das ihr Bewusstsein bestimmt.] At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces in society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or — what is but a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within which they have been at work before. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic — in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so we can not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production. No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore, mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, we will always find that the task itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation. In broad outlines we can designate the Asiatic, the ancient, the feudal, and the modern bourgeois modes of production as so many progressive epochs in the economic formation of society. The bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social process of production — antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism, but of one arising from the social conditions of life of the individuals; at the same time the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the solution of that antagonism. This social formation constitutes, therefore, the closing chapter of the prehistoric stage of human society.
Favourite name … Laura, Jenny …
Favourite maximNihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]
Favourite mottoDe omnibus dubitandum [Everything must be doubted].
  • Your favourite virtue … Simplicity
    Your favourite virtue in man … Strength
    Your favourite virtue in woman … Weakness
    Your chief characteristic … Singleness of purpose
    Your idea of happiness … To fight
    Your idea of misery … Submission
    The vice you excuse most … Gullibility
    The vice you detest most … Servility
    Your aversionMartin Tupper
    Favourite occupation … Book-worming
    Favourite poetShakespeare, Aeschylus, Goethe
    Favourite prose-writerDiderot
    Favourite heroSpartacus, Kepler
    Favourite heroine … Gretchen [Heroine of Goethe's Faust]
    Favourite flower … Daphne
    Favourite colour … Red
    Favourite name … Laura, Jenny
    Favourite dish … Fish
    Favourite maximNihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me, Terence]
    Favourite mottoDe omnibus dubitandum [Everything must be doubted].
  • The 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 Moses’ flight 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.
    • Marx to Engels in Manchester (30 July 1862), MECW Volume 41, p. 388; first published: abridged in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913, and in full in MEGA, Berlin, 1930.
  • 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.
  • Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workmen and managers in his business.
  • Neither of us cares a straw for popularity. A proof of this is for example, that, because of aversion to any personality cult, I have never permitted the numerous expressions of appreciation from various countries with which I was pestered during the existence of the International to reach the realm of publicity, and have never answered them, except occasionally by a rebuke. When Engels and I first joined the secret Communist Society we made it a condition that everything tending to encourage superstitious belief in authority was to be removed from the statutes.
    • Remarks against personality cults from a letter to W. Blos (10 November 1877).
  • If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist
    • Original: Ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste.
    • Marx quoted and translated by Engels (in an 1882 letter to Eduard Bernstein) about the peculiar Marxism which arose in France 1882. Original: "Ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste"

  • 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 we directly possess, eat, drink, wear, inhabit it, etc., in short, when we use it. Although private property conceives all these immediate realizations of possession only as means of life; and the life they serve is the life of private property, labor, and capitalization. Therefore all the physical and intellectual senses have been replaced by the simple estrangement of all these senses – the sense of having. So that it might give birth to its inner wealth, human nature had to be reduced to this absolute poverty.

Reflections of a Youth on Choosing an Occupation (1835)

Betrachtung eines Jünglings bei der Wahl eines Berufes

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?
  • [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
  • 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.
  • 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)

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

On the Jewish Question (1843)

Zur JudenfrageFull text online
  • Every emancipation is a restoration of the human world and of human relationships to a man himself.
  • 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 [such as communism] which would abolish the preconditions for huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would make [this] Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would be dissipated like a thin haze in the real, vital air of society. On the other hand, if the Jew recognizes that this practical nature of his is futile and works to abolish it, he extricates himself from his previous development and works for human emancipation as such and turns against the supreme practical expression of human self-estrangement.
  • Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew — not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. ... What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money… Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man — and turns them into commodities. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general.

Paris Manuscripts (1844)

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.

Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

  • 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.
    • p. 86, 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 German Ideology (1845/46)

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 b 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 Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848)

Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich EngelsFull text online at the Marxists Internet Archive.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
  • A spectre is haunting Europe; the spectre of Communism.
    • Preamble, paragraph 1, line 1.
  • The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    • Section 1, paragraph 1, lines 1-2.
  • Die Bourgeoisie, wo sie zur Herrschaft gekommen, hat alle feudalen, patriarchalischen, idyllischen Verhältnisse zerstört. Sie hat die buntscheckigen Feudalbande, die den Menschen an seinen natürlichen Vorgesetzten knüpften, unbarmherzig zerrissen und kein anderes Band zwischen Mensch und Mensch übriggelassen als das nackte Interesse, als die gefühllose "bare Zahlung".
    • The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley of ties that bound man to his "natural superiors," and left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment."
      • Section 1, paragraph 14, lines 1-5.
  • Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones.
    • Section 1, paragraph 18, lines 6-9.
  • All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
    • Section 1, paragraph 18, lines 12-14.
  • A class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increase capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
    • Section 1, paragraph 30, lines 3-8.
  • He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for his maintenance, and for the propagation of his race.
    • Section 1, paragraph 31, lines 3-8.
  • No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.
    • Section 1, paragraph 34.
  • But every class struggle is a political struggle.
    • Section 1, paragraph 39, lines 8-9.
  • Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class.
    • Section 1, paragraph 44, lines 1-2.
  • Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
    • Section 1, paragraph 47, lines 7-9.
  • What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.
    • Section 1, paragraph 53, lines 11-13.
  • The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
    • Section 2, paragraph 13.
  • Capital is a collective product, and only by the united action of many members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all members of society, can it be set in motion.
    • Section 2, paragraph 18
  • All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase capital, and allowed to live only so far as the interest to the ruling class requires it.
    • Section 2, paragraph 20, lines 9-13.

  • In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past. In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
    • Section 2, paragraph 22.
  • You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths.
    • Section 2, paragraph 25.
  • Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation.
    • Section 2, paragraph 30.
  • Just as, to the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself, so the disappearance of class culture is to him identical with the disappearance of all culture. That culture, the loss of which he laments, is, for the enormous majority, a mere training to act as a machine.
    • Section 2, paragraph 34-35
  • The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got.
    • Section 2, paragraph 51, lines 1-2.
  • When people speak of ideas that revolutionize society, they do but express the fact that within the old society, the elements of a new one have been created, and that the dissolution of the old ideas keeps even pace with the dissolution of the old conditions of existence.
    • Section 2, paragraph 58.
  • The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.
    • Section 2, paragraph 64.
  • In place of the bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, shall we have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
    • Section 2, paragraph 72 (last paragraph).
  • In political practice, therefore, they join in all coercive measures against the working class; and in ordinary life, despite the high-falutin phrases, they stoop to pick up the golden apples, and to barter truth, love, and honour for traffic in wool, beet-root sugar, and potato spirits.
    • Section 3, paragraph 9.
  • The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
    • Section 4, paragraph 11 (last paragraph)
    • Variant translation: Workers of the world, unite!

The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

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

Grundrisse (1857/58)

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

Comments on the North American Events (1862)

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.

Das Kapital (Buch I) (1867)

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.
  • 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. In truth, however, value is here the active factor in a process, in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and commodities, it at the same time changes in magnitude, differentiates itself by throwing off surplus-value from itself; the original value, in other words, expands spontaneously. 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. Value, therefore, being the active factor in such a process, and assuming at one time the form of money, at another that of commodities, but through all these changes preserving itself and expanding, it requires some independent form, by means of which its identity may at any time be established. And this form it possesses only in the shape of money. 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, pg. 107.
      • Slavoj Žižek adressed 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 commoodity ("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.
  • Der Weg zur Hölle ist jedoch mit guten Absichten gepflastert, und er konnte ebensogut der Absicht sein, Geld zu machen, ohne zu produzieren.
    • The way to Hell is paved with good intentions, and he might just as easily have intended to make money, without producing at all.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 7, pg. 213.
  • A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst of architects from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 7, pg. 198.
  • — man's heart is a wonderful thing, especially when carried in the purse —
    • Vol. I, Ch. 9, pg. 252.
  • Capital is dead labor,that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 1, p. 257.
  • In every stock-jobbing swindle everyone knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 5, pg. 296.
  • In the United States of North America, every independent movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 7, pg. 329.
  • If this labourer were in possession of his own means of production, and was satisfied to live as a labourer, he need not work beyond beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 11, pg. 336.
  • The directing motive, the end and aim of capitalist production, is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus value, and consequently to exploit labor-power to the greatest possible extent.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 13, pg. 363.
  • Die Technologie enthüllt das aktive Verhalten des Menschen zur Natur, den unmittelbaren Produktionsprozesss seines Lebens, damit auch seiner gesellschaftlichen Lebensverhältnisse und der ihnen entquellenden geistigen Vorstellungen.
    • Technology discloses the active relation of man towards nature, as well as the direct process of production of his very life, and thereby the process of production of his basic societal relations, of his own mentality, and his images of society, too.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 13: "Machinery and Big Industry".
  • As the chosen people bore in their features the sign manual of Jehovah, so the division of labour brands the manufacturing workman as the property of capital.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 14, Section 5, pg. 396.
  • An organised system of machines, to which motion is communicated by the transmitting mechanism from a central automation, is the most developed form of production by machinery.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 1, pg. 416.
  • The tool, as we have seen, is not exterminated by the machine.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 2, pg. 422.
  • In England women are still occasionally used instead of horses for hauling canal boats, because the labour required to produce horses and machines is an accurately known quantity, while that required to maintain the women of the surplus population is below all calculation.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 2, pg. 430.
  • But, suppose, besides, that the making of the new machinery affords employment to a greater number of mechanics, can that be called compensation to the carpet makers, thrown on the streets?
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 6, pg. 479.
  • Unlimited exploitation of cheap labour-power is the sole foundation of their power to compete.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 8, pg. 520.
  • Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the labourer.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 15 (last sentence), pg. 556.
  • In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labour-time.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 17, Section IV, pg. 581.
  • Classical political economy nearly touches the true relation of things, without, however,consciously formulating it. This it cannot so long as it sticks in its bourgeois skin.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 19, pg. 594.
  • If production be capitalistic in form, so, too, will be reproduction.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 23, pg. 620.
  • In reality, the labourer belongs to capital before he has sold himself to capital.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 23, pg. 633.
  • Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!
    • Vol. I, Ch. 24, Section 3, pg. 652.
  • But if the labourers could live on air they could not be bought at any price.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 24, Section 4, pg. 657.
  • Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because it has in another place been lost by many. This is centralisation proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 2, pg. 686.
  • In its beginnings, the credit system sneaks in as a modest helper of accumulation and draws by invisible threads the money resources scattered all over the surface of society into the hands of individual or associated capitalists. But soon it becomes a new and formidable weapon in the competitive struggle, and finally it transforms itself into an immense social mechanism for the centralisation of capitals.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 2, pg. 687.
  • Of all the animals kept by the farmer, the labourer, the instrumentum vocale, was,thenceforth, the most oppressed, the worst nourished, the most brutally treated.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 4(e), pg. 742.
  • The Irish famine of 1846 killed more than 1,000,000 people, but it killed poor devils only. To the wealth of the country it did not the slightest damage.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 4(f), pg. 774.
  • Every one knows that there are no real forests in England.The deer in the parks of the great are demurely domestic cattle, fat as London alderman.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 27, pg. 803.
  • The national debt has given rise to joint stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and to agiotage, in a word to stock-exchange gambling and the modern bankocracy.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 31, pg. 827.
  • A great deal of capital, which appears to-day in the United States without any certificate of birth, was yesterday, in England, the capitalised blood of children.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 31, pg. 829.
  • One capitalist always kills many.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 32, p. 836.
  • The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with 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)

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)

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.


  • 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).

Quotes about Marx

Alphabetized by author
To get to know and love the heart that beat within the breast of Marx the scholar you had to see him when he had closed his books and notebooks and was surrounded by his family… ~ Paul Lafargue
Children should educate their parents.
I began to read Capital, just as one reads any book, to see what was in it; I found a great deal that neither its followers nor its opponents had prepared me to expect. ~ Joan Robinson
  • One cannot discuss a socialism which has built an enormous industry by reducing the standard of living of the masses and a capitalism which has raised the standard of living, reduced working hours, and permitted the consolidation of labor unions, as if there were the same realities that Marx considered a century ago or that he anticipated according to a system which has since been refuted by events.
    • Raymond Aron (1955, 2000). The Opium of the Intellectuals. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. p. 337.
  • As far as learning was concerned, Marx was, and still is, incomparably more advanced than I. I knew nothing at that time of political economy, I had not yet rid myself of my metaphysical observations... He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.
    • Mikhail Bakunin, on meeting Marx in 1844, as quoted in Brian Morris, Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom, 1993, p. 14.
  • 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
  • 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 an d 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.
  • Marx's third volume [of Capital] contradicts the first. The theory of the average rate of profit and of the prices of production cannot be reconciled with the theory of value. This is the impression which must, I believe, be received by every logical thinker.
  • As there was a Socialism before Marx, so there will be one after him.
  • The great test [of history] has been decidedly against Marx and his theories of value and surplus value.
  • 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, NY:Norton, pp. 47-48
  • Marxism is already a spiritual (not a religious) teaching aiming at the betterment of society. That is not to say it is a perfect blueprint for a truly spiritual society... It should not be forgotten that Marx was (and of course is) a disciple of the Master Jesus Who inspired him.
Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive. ~ Attributed to Marx by Guy Debord
The merit of Marx is that he suddenly produces a qualitative change in the history of social thought … he expresses a revolutionary concept: the world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed. ~ Che Guevara
  • 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
  • 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.
    • As quoted by Carl Schurz in Karl Marx: The Red Prussian, Leopold Schwartzschild, New York: NY, The Universal Library, Grosset & Dunlap (1947) p. 200
  • It is of course not sufficient to appeal to the authority of Marx, Hegel, or any of their contemporaries follower to establish the validity of the direction of History. In the century and a half since they wrote, their intellectual legacy has been relentlessly assaulted from all directions. The most profound thinkers of the twentieth century have directly attacked the idea that history is a coherent of intelligible process; indeed, they have denied the possibility that any aspect of human life is philosophically intelligible.
  • Marx profoundly affected those who did not accept his system. His influence extended to those who least supposed they were subject to it.
  • If we agree that the Bible is a work of collective authorship, only Mohammed rivals Marx in the number of professed and devoted followers recruited by a single author. And the competition is not really very close. The followers of Marx far outnumber the sons of the Prophet.
  • 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 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].
    • Adolf Hitler, as quoted in Julius Carlebach (1984) Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Judaism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0197100317, pp. 355-356.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • To get to know and love the heart that beat within the breast of Marx the scholar you had to see him when he had closed his books and notebooks and was surrounded by his family, or again on Sunday evenings in the society of his friends. He then proved the pleasantest of company, full of wit and humour, with a laugh that came straight from the heart. His black eyes under the arches of his bushy brews sparkled with pleasure and malice whenever he heard a witty saying or a pertinent repartee.
    He was a loving, gentle and indulgent father. “Children should educate their parents,” he used to say. There was never even a trace of the bossy parent in his relations with his daughters, whose love for him was extraordinary. He never gave them an order, but asked them to do what he wished as a favour or made them feel that they should not do what he wanted to forbid them. And yet a father could seldom have had more docile children than he. His daughters considered him as their friend and treated him as a companion; they did not call him “father”, but “Moor” — a nickname that he owed to his dark complexion and jet-black hair and beard.
  • The natural scientist must be a modern materialist, a conscious adherent of the materialism represented by Marx, i.e., he must be a dialectical materialist.
    • Vladimir Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 33, pp. 227-236.
  • 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 peoplethe 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?
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.
    • Karl Popper (2002). Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 0-415-28594-1.
  • [W]hen Karl Marx, the most consistent translator of the altruist morality into practical action and political theory, advocated a society where all would be sacrificed to all, starting with the immediate immolation of the able, the intelligent, the successful and the wealthy—whatever opposition he did encounter, nobody opposed him on moral grounds. Predominantly, he was granted the status of a noble, but impractical, idealist.
    • Ayn Rand (1961) For the New Intellectual, NY: Signet.
  • I began to read Capital, just as one reads any book, to see what was in it; I found a great deal that neither its followers nor its opponents had prepared me to expect.
    • Joan Robinson, in Preface to the Second Edition of An Essay on Marxian Economics (1966), p. vi.
  • There can be no doubt about the virulence of the hostility which has been shown by the critics of Marxism. Again and again his economic theories have been said to have been killed. But the superstition which says that those who have been wrongly reported dead will have a long life has certainly proved true in regard to the ideas of Marx. No other body of economic ideas, not even classicism at the height of its power, has exerted so lasting an influence on political practice.
  • Marx's father became a Christian when Marx was a little boy, and some, at least, of the dogmas he must have then accepted seem to have born fruit in his son's psychology.
  • My objections to Marx are of two sorts: one, that he was muddle-headed; and the other, that his thinking was almost entirely inspired by hatred. The doctrine of surplus value, which is supposed to demonstrate the exploitation of wage-earners under capitalism, is arrived at: (a) by surreptitiously accepting Malthus's doctrine of population, which Marx and all his disciples explicitly repudiate; (b) by applying Ricardo's theory of value to wages, but not to the prices of manufactured articles. He is entirely satisfied with the result, not because it is in accordance with the facts or because it is logically coherent, but because it is calculated to rouse fury in wage-earners. Marx's doctrine that all historical events have been motivated by class conflicts is a rash and untrue extension to world history of certain features prominent in England and France a hundred years ago. His belief that there is a cosmic force called Dialectical Materialism which governs human history independently of human volitions, is mere mythology. His theoretical errors, however, would not have mattered so much but for the fact that, like Tertullian and Carlyle, his chief desire was to see his enemies punished, and he cared little what happened to his friends in the process. [...] 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.
  • 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.
  • Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), Ch.1
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Just heard Gen. White's proclamation that we "have Russia zeroed in from all directions." I am waiting now for Vannevar Bush and Ed Teller to announce that our new supersensitive radar picked up a rash of heart tremors from the direction of the USSR, immediately after White's remarkably insignificant statement, I could almost hear Karl Marx laughing in his tomb.
    • Hunter S. Thompson, in a letter to Lieutenant Colonel Frank Campbell (29 November 1957) published in The Proud Highway : Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (2001), p. 76.
  • Similar though Marx and Thoreau may be in their accounts of the consequences of living in a society defined by money, their suggestions for how to respond to it are poles apart. Forget the Party. Forget the revolution. Forget the general strike. Forget the proletariat as an abstract class of human interest. Thoreau's revolution begins not with discovering comrades to be yoked together in solidarity but with the embrace of solitude. For Thoreau, Marx's first and fatal error was the creation of the aggregate identity of the proletariat. Error was substituted for error. The anonymity and futility of the worker were replaced by the anonymity and futility of the revolutionary. A revolution conducted by people who have only a group identity can only replace one monolith of power with another, one misery with another, perpetuating the cycle of domination and oppression. In solitude, the individual becomes most human, which is to say most spiritual.
    • Curtis White, “The spirit of disobedience: An invitation to resistance,” Harper’s, April 2006, pp. 37-38.
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