Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Karl Marx’s writings, especially Das Kapital, initiated the worldwide growth of communism as a dynamic political force. Economic imbalance prompted a revolutionary uprising of the proletariat, but its form was immensely influenced by this book. Certainly Marx exposed the roots of the Russian Revolution, which occurred decades after his death.
Many of Marx’s revolutionary ideas had already been expressed in his Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei (1848; with Friedrich Engels; The Communist Manifesto, 1850), which he wrote with Friedrich Engels. Das Kapital was, however, more than another call to arms; it was an attempt to base communism on a theory of political economy that was scientifically and dialectically defensible. Whereas the Communist Manifesto is a passionate document, an outline of a political philosophy, and something of a prophecy, Das Kapital is a scholar’s treatise, the product of years of research and reflection, and a work of economic theory that continues to challenge professional economists. This contrast is illuminating, for the communist movement has always been characterized by contrast: the intellectual leads the laborers; the reasoned defense is supplemented by violence and murder; and the scholar’s program comes alive in revolution and the threat of war.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels argue that the history of all societies is a history...
(The entire section is 1412 words.)
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