Neither Marx nor his contemporaries would ever have believed that his name would survive for 200 years. For his entire life, he had been known only in limited revolutionary and activist circles. His journalism and published works reached only a small audience. By the 1860s his works had not been in print for twenty years. He had hoped that Capital, published in 1867, would sell enough to liberate him from his lifelong, grinding, poverty. But only 1,000 copies were sold in five years in Germany. His funeral in 1883 was attended by 11 persons.

But he left a vast treasure of learning. Only in their twenties, both Marx and Engels wrote works which made little mass impact at the time, but which have become vastly important in the history of ideas. The most famous of them, now the most recognised political tract of all time, the Communist Manifesto, written in 1848, is still revelatory of capitalism’s contradictions and its trajectory (Yanus Varouflakis “Marx predicted the present crisis and points the way out” April 20 2018). Marx’s ‘Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts’ and Engels, ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England,’ both published in 1844, were to become important classics in the nineteenth century discourse on political economy. Other major publications by Marx include The German Ideology (1845), The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), The Eighteenth Braumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1850), Contribution to Critique of Political Economy (1859), Capital Vol 1 (1867) and dozens more.

While Marx’s major preoccupations were activism and journalism, from which he eked out a bare existence, both dedicated to the struggle against European autocracy, his theoretical work embraced philosophy, social theory and, of course, what he called “political economy.” Marx argued that the creation of surplus and the accumulation of capital generated a struggle for the control of material resources. This was accompanied by the growth of class and class antagonism as well as an ideology which justified the retention and use of those resources for further accumulation. He suggested that once the contradictions are sufficiently exacerbated and the ideological framework, sustaining the system loses its potency, radical transformation forces itself on the agenda…..

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