Those who must sell their labor power to live are "proletarians." The person who buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a "capitalist" or "bourgeois."
Marx, however, believed that capitalism was prone to periodic crises.
Marx understood that during such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth of new sectors of the economy.
Such an approach (materialistic) revealed the inherent primacy of the economic sphere in shaping all other areas of social activity. It was an inventive summation derived by scientific and empirical endeavour. For Marx, economics is the driving force in human development. According to the materialist conception of history, the sum total of the relations of production—the way humans organised their social production as well as the instruments they used—constituted the real foundation of society. It was on this base that there rose a legal and political superstructure to which corresponded definite forms of social consciousness.
"" What sounds better to you? Being to work, or being to work? Choosing an employer based on pay and benefits, or being forcibly conscripted into an "industrial army?" The phrase "obligation to work" sounds better than "being forced to work by threat of punishment", but without the possibility of positive incentive, it means the same thing. Marx would take away your freedom to choose not to work. Suppose you decide that you would rather move to a small cabin up north, live largely off the land, and do just a little bit of occasional work for spending money? In a capitalist society, you would be forced to adopt an austere lifestyle, but no one would stop you. But Karl Marx would accuse you of not pulling your weight, and you would be to go work the same way as everyone else.
Marx understood the "social relations of " to comprise not only relations among individuals, but between or among groups of people, or . As a and , Marx did not understand classes as purely (in other words, groups of people who consciously identified with one another). He sought to define classes in terms of objective criteria, such as their access to . For Marx, different classes have divergent interests, which is another source of social disruption and conflict. Conflict between social classes being something which is inherent in all human history:
Was Marxism then the saviour of the proliferating disenfranchised working class? Marx and Engels certainly thought so. History however, has not been so convincing. Marx—at least up until the mid 19th century—was unique in the annals of historicism. The originality of his thought lies in the immense efforts to synthesise, in a critical way, the entire legacy of social knowledge since post-Socratic times. According to Carver (1991, p.41) Marx’s seminal body of economic theory was subjected to “logical, philosophical, mathematical, social, political and historical analysis”. His purpose was to achieve a better understanding of the conditions of human development and with this understanding, to accelerate the actual process by which mankind was moving toward an “association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. The desired system would be a communist society based on rational planning, co-operative production, equality of distribution and, quintessentially, liberated from all forms of political and bureaucratic hierarchy.
Karl Marx was married to , the educated daughter of a baron in Germany. Karl Marx's engagement to her was kept secret at first, and for several years was opposed by both the Marxes and Westphalens. He ended up marrying her, though, June 19th, 1843. They stayed in touch throughout the first half of his life, when he was moving around Europe.
During the first half of the 1850s the Marx family lived in poverty in a three room flat in the Soho quarter of London. Marx and Jenny already had four children and two more were to follow. Of these only three survived. Marx's major source of income at this time was Engels who was drawing a steadily increasing income from the family business in Manchester. This was supplemented by weekly articles written as a foreign correspondent for the Money from Engels allowed the family to move to somewhat more salubrious lodging in a new suburb on the then-outskirts of London. Marx generally lived a hand-to-mouth existence, forever at the limits of his resources, although it is worth noting that this did extend to some spending on relatively bourgeois luxuries, which he felt were necessities for his wife and children given their social status and the mores of the time.
Following the death of his wife Jenny in 1881, Marx's health worsened and he died in 1883, as a . He was buried in , London, on . The message carved on Marx's is: "", the final line of . The tombstone was a monument built in 1954 by the — Marx's original tomb was humbly adorned; only eleven people were present at his funeral. In 1970, there was an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the monument .
During the last decade of his life, Marx's health declined and he was incapable of the sustained effort that had characterized his previous work. He did manage to comment substantially on contemporary politics, particularly in Germany and Russia. In Germany, in his , he opposed the tendency of his followers (1826-1900) and (1840-1913) to compromise with the state socialism of in the interests of a united socialist party. In his correspondence with Vera Zasulich, Marx contemplated the possibility of Russia's bypassing the capitalist stage of development and building communism on the basis of the common ownership of land characteristic of the village .
"" Ah, yes. The never-ending communist persecution of "emigrants and rebels." Although neo-Marxists often claim that "true" Marxism does not restrict the right to live where you wish, we can see here that this is simply untrue:
Marx arrived at this understanding via a materialist conception of history, an explanation of which is mandatory in understanding his critique of capitalism and one that also needs to be seen in the historical context of the increasingly exploitative aspect of the industrial revolution, which, by the time Marx had graduated from the university of Berlin in the 1841, was in full and profit-driven swing.