"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
Marx was born in Prussia but died in England, where he had lived for the last thirty-four years of his life.
He developed the theories upon which modern communism is based. He was a philosopher, but possibly best described as a social or political theorist, or a revolutionary communist. He is considered to be the father of communism.
Marx, like Plato, set out his vision of the perfect world; how society should be ordered. But unlike Plato's vision, Marx's vision has been tried in practice.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it."1
Marx, along with his friend Engels, set down his ideas in The Communist Manifesto, which was a statement of his revolutionary philosophy of history. Engels also helped him with perhaps his most famous work, Das Kapital. The central driving force of capitalism, according to Marx, was in the exploitation and alienation of labour. He argued that economic relations determined all other features of a society, including its ideas.
The goal of Marxism, or communism, is the creation of social and economic utopia by the revolution of the proletariat (industrial wage earners who earn their living by selling their labor) which would "centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state."
Marx inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. His influence on the creation of the modern world cannot be understated; his 'revolutionary communism' was reflected in the revolutions in Russia and China, and in the 'cold war' between the capitalist societies and the socialist or communist societies. He was trained as a philosopher, but turned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics and politics.
Religion was something that Marx had little time for, and he didn't believe that it contributed to happiness, "The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion."
According to Marx, Socialism is the route to happiness. Material happiness must be obtained through organized collectivism.
The experiences of the Russian people in the twentieth century suggests to many that Socialism does not bring happiness. But Marx may be right in believing that many of our human weaknesses are encouraged and exploited by capitalism; the system encourages people to relate material gain with happiness, but they merely become slaves to money in their pursuit of a false happiness.
For more information about the great philosophers and their views on narcissism and happiness, read Finding Happiness.
1 Karl Marx